Page images

ness over their spirits. Agnes could not but fear she might be robbed of the treasure she had so lately become aware of possessing; and Conrad saw dangers which might assail her in every shape during his absence, or in case of his falling a sacrifice to his duty. But as no alternative offered of avoiding the coming evil, they mutually sought to relieve the forebodings of the other; and the buoyant spirit of youth, ever willing to look to the most pleasing picture, readily engaged them to turn from the contemplation of a dismal to a bright future. The walk was one of unusual length; and Agnes and Conrad returned to the Parsonage, with love and happiness beaming in their countenances, only a short time before their friends.

Mr. Camden heard of Conrad's declaration to his daughter with surprise, not unmingled with pain; for he foresaw, with all a parent's anxiety, the probable web of difficulties and grief they were weaving for themselves in future. He represented to them the folly of making an engagement, which might never be fulfilled, or, at all events, must be for years unconsummated. They were both so young that

To these argu

they scarcely knew their own minds; and he feared, what, in fact, was not improbable, that their affections might be alienated by other objects; and thus the happiness of one or both be compromised. 66 You know, my dear children,” continued this kind friend and tender father, “I can have no object in my hesitation but your happiness, which I own I see endangered by your proceeding. I love you both equally, and would not willingly allow you to harbour sentiments which


prove detrimental to


comfort.” ments he received the most positive assurances of unalterable attachment on both sides : Agnes neither knew nor desired to know the world, or step beyond the sphere in which she had hitherto been placed; and Conrad urged he was no longer a stranger to that world from which Agnes shrank, and consequently less likely to fall into its snares. He had stood undaunted before a masked battery of Spanish eyes : he had preserved his heart entire, notwithstanding the frequent sieges to which it had been subjected; and now he had placed it where alone he wished it to be valued, namely, at Agnes's disposal ; and they united


in entreating Mr. Camden to consent to their living for each other alone. Finding every argument an insufficient barrier to the allpowerful voice of love, Mr. Camden yielded his consent to their looking forward to a future union; and in the contemplation of the joy diffused by his concession, the good rector forgot his conscientious scruples.

The last few days of his stay, Conrad spent in the intoxication of fortunate love, and in the endearing society of the one being he hoped to live for. On the last morning, accompanied by Agnes, he went to the Grove to take leave of Emily. Several hours past on those fairy wheels, which for ever appear to revolve with increased velocity when we are on the point of losing any peculiarly cherished object. During a few moments of private conversation, he failed not to entreat her to combat her unfortunate passion for Ernest Bonner, and to rest assured, that, by harbouring it, she was unconsciously -forming numberless dangers and difficulties in her path, which she would find it impossible to overcome. He expressed a brother's anxiety with regard to her health, which, though improved, was still far from his wishes; and

[ocr errors]

reminded her she ought, for his sake, to be careful of herself. After an affectionate farewell, he returned homewards with Agnes; and within a few yards of the house they were met by Edward Yorke, whom Conrad had not seen for some days: the latter immediately extended his hand, saying, “ I am glad to meet you here, Edward; I feared I should have been obliged to set off without seeing you, as I could not find you at the Grove."

Instead of testifying equal cordiality, Edward drew himself up proudly, and while his countenance assumed a darker expression, said, “That obligation might not have been displeasing to either of us, notwithstanding your apparent satisfaction at this meeting."

Conrad looked perfectly astonished at receiving this answer; and Agnes said gaily, “ Why, Edward, what is the matter? you surely are infected with Emily's gloomy fits. I advise you to shake them off as soon as possible, for they do not seem to be pleasant companions.”

They are not the most unwelcome I could name, Miss Camden,” returned he, looking towards Conrad, who with a heightened colour


answered, “ You might spare the manifestation of your aversion, Edward, at what may chance to be our final interview.” Then turning to Agnes, he continued, " See, dearest, your father is beckoning to you from the window, you had better go to him.” She complied ; and Conrad then addressed Yorke, whose eyes followed her as she answered her father's sum

“I wished to quit you, Edward, devoid of any unpleasant feeling, and I accosted you accordingly. I cannot oblige you to meet me in a similar manner; but allow me to say, I am grieved that your present ill will should have arisen from my inadvertently crossing your path, though as a man of honour and feeling you cannot blame me.”

Edward started : he did not suppose Conrad had an idea of his attachment, and he instantly decided upon lulling his suspicions. Therefore, assuming a smile of kindness, and holding out his hand, he answered, “ Certainly not, Conrad; you have done no more than I should in your place, so let us say no more about it. I must think you a happy fellow, and I congratulate you on your success, which I hope will also follow you abroad.” Conrad half doubted the

« PreviousContinue »