Page images
PDF
EPUB

Mr. Yorke had first acquainted her with Frank's attachment, during the greater part of which the

young

man had been sent to London by his father on business: his return was now daily anticipated, and poor Emily felt the moment was arrived when she must decide; and after many a pang, and hours spent in weeping over her blasted happiness, she summoned resolution to tell Mr. Yorke, that she was prepared to meet Mr. Mason as her future husband. For a short time, the general satisfaction diffused by this concession communicated a gleam of pleasure to her. Frank, and every body appeared so happy, so grateful, that she imbibed a portion of the joy, and they thought, that though tardy, her consent was at last voluntary. But it was the halo of an uneasy mind ; she knew she had sacrificed her own peace to her duty, and she dared not look beyond the surface; there every thing was gay and dazzling, but beneath lurked dark despair.

The wedding-day was at length fixed, every preparation completed, and two short days alone remained, before she was to resign for ever the hand she had so long hoped to confer on him who held her affections. She resigned every hope of earthly happiness, and retired to her couch, to school herself to perform the last severe trial with becoming fortitude, and weep in undisturbed solitude over her early hopes. Little did she know the change the dawning day would bring forth.

CHAP. X.

Though thy pure soul, in honour's footsteps train'd,
Was never yet by disobedience stain'd;
Yet is thy fame exposed to slander's wound,
And fell suspicion whispering around.

Our hero arrived at G-about four o'clock on the following morning; when, having devoted a few hours to repose, and taken a slight and hasty meal, he set out to walk to the spot where lay enshrined his “ all on earth.”

As he pursued his road, he could not help feeling some anxiety on the subject of his reception; his friends' prolonged, and his own voluntary silence : he thought of Agnes, of his sister, his beloved Emily, his kind parent, and his young friends. It was just four years since he had traversed that road, and how different were his feelings ! he had then no fears, no forebodings; all was impatience and wild delight: the distance seemed to increase as his vehicle rolled along; but now, though perhaps equally impatient, something seemed to tell him he was

guilty, at least in part, of his friends' estrangement, and appeared to cast a shade of dread over his mind. A thought, too, of the change four years might have made in the little circle of those he loved, for a moment flitted across his mind, and deeply probed the heart of the wanderer. Thus pondering, he reached the brow of the hill, and gazed down upon the smiling valley: all looked the same as when he left it: there stood the Parsonage, the scene of his infantine joys and sorrows; the church, where he was early taught to raise his hands and heart in adoration; the brook, and its fund of amusement; and yonder, on the hill, the home of his sister. In one moment, his eye comprehended all this, and a tear, one silent tribute to the love he bore his early home, started from its source, and stood on the long lash of his speaking eye.

An instant he paused, ere he descended into the well-known valley. 66 Blessed! thrice blessed and happy spot !” he murmured, as his full heart raised itself in gratitude to the great Author of all; “ may Conrad find you, and all you hold most dear, as prosperous, as happy and smiling as he left you! still may he find the love, the indulgence, that has hitherto formed his joy !”

Summoning his resolution, and indignantly shaking off his momentary emotion, he hastened on, and soon found himself at the Parsonage. The open door afforded him free ingress, and an instant sufficed to find him at the parlour door: his hand trembled so violently, as he laid it on the lock, that it was not without difficulty he opened it. Mr. Camden was sitting with his back towards him, as he entered, and, not seeing him, asked, without raising his head from his book, -“ Agnes, is that you ?”

“ No, dear sir," replied Conrad, as he advanced into the room; “it is one who hopes to remove your displeasure by refutation of supposed errors, and amendment of his real ones.”

As the first tones of the well-known voice struck upon the Rector's ear, the book fell from his hand, and he turned with an abruptness which startled Conrad, who, possessing himself of one of his hands, pursued, -" Pardon me, my best, my only parent, if I have alarmed you;

I “ Conrad !” articulated Mr. Camden, with solemnity, at the same time withdrawing his

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »