Page images
PDF
EPUB

barkation : her first impulse was to fly to Mr. Camden, and pour into his friendly bosom an account of the difficulties which environed her; but she shrunk from the idea of committing them to a man, even though he might be a good and true friend; and a few weeks deprived her of the will or power of retreating; for Ernest soon made it apparent to her willing ear, that his silence and seeming neglect was only the effect of policy; for he knew his uncle would strongly oppose his forming any connection but that he had so long determined upon. The fond but foolish girl was won over by his expostulations and declarations of passion; and, without daring to look back or forward, she heard his oath of everlasting fidelity, and gave in return, the best and purest present in a woman's power -- her affections ! * But their dream of happiness was but short! After the first ebullition of passion Emily's fears returned, and she saw but thorns and briars in her way; and the constant fear of detection made her cheek turn pale, and caused her to shun the gaze of her foster-parents. In vain Ernest remonstrated, and endeavoured to persuade "himself and her that her dread of detection was

absurd: she inwardly felt they had done wrong, when Ernest's faith was plighted to another, and that other the child of her benefactors, whom also they deceived, and something told her evil would follow. Mr. Yorké frequently alluded to the proposed union of his daughter and nephew; and when he did so, Emily's blood would run cold, and seem in a state of stagnation: but she contrived, by various devices, to cover her uneasiness, and endeavoured to imitate the sang-froid of Ernest, who parried his uncle's intimations by wild and merry humour.

At length the dreaded moment came! their love was discovered ! Mr. Yorke by chance became aware of their secret conferences; in fact, he accidentally overheard part of one of their conversations : anger, at first, would have prompted him to discover himself; but, after a moment's consideration, he determined to restrain his indignation, and to ascertain from his nephew's behaviour how far he had committed his affections. With this view he sent for the

oung man, and, as soon as he appeared, pointing to a seat, he said,

seat, he said, “Do you know, Ernest, , why I have requested your company?”

[ocr errors]

hesitate; you

“ Faith! not exactly sir,” returned he carelessly, “but I am ready to attend to your wishes.”

“ I am happy to hear that, for they regard a subject interesting both to you and me, Ernest; they relate to your marriage !” Ernest felt his heart sink as Mr. Yorke proceeded.

66 From a child I have loved you as my own; I promised your mother, my only sister, that Louisa should be your wife. The time is now come that I wish the ceremony to be consummated; you have just gained your troop, and are able to support a wife. Do you consent · to marry your cousin ?

you

have not loved another?” In spite of his assumed composure a frown darkened his brow: Ernest instantly conjectured the truth was known; and, fixing his eyes on his uncle, he replied gaily, “ You mistake, sir, I have loved many,"

“ Since maids are best in battle woo’d,

And won with shouts of victory !” “ I have loved many, though you know I adore but one. Yet I would willingly defer the period of my marriage on several accounts: the chances of

my life are precarious, and I cannot think you would wish me to become acquainted with conjugal felicity, only to undergo the pain of

a separation which must ensue; for nothing will induce me to give up my profession at present.

“ But,” replied Mr. Yorke, “ a virtuous wife would not refuse to follow you abroad.”

66 True, uncle, but I should neither wish nor expect such a sacrifice; and, therefore, with all due deference, esteem, and gratitude, I must beg to decline your paternal offer of my cousin's hand. Besides, her will is necessary to be consulted, and I am well aware that is not consonant with yours.'

“ Louisa's will, Ernest, is mine; but yours I fear is under the influence of wild and lawless passions, which, as far as it lies in my power, it is my duty to control. Think not I am both deaf and blind : I have heard and seen more than perhaps you would relish did you know it. No beggar shall be your wife! mark me! and remember, the insult of refusing my daughter is great, but pursue the former, and it shall never be forgiven, - you understand me?"

Perfectly, sir,” replied Ernest, composedly; your language is not to be mistaken : but I cannot suppose you

well informed on the subject of my attachment, when you speak of a beggar,

us.

for I have frequently heard you say, that Emily should be portioned as an adopted daughter; and, consequently, in point of money, no unfit match for a soldier of fortune."

“ Such, sir,” returned his uncle in a severe tone, “ may have been my intention; but in the event of your disobedience, neither the protection of my roof, nor the dower of a sixpence, shall be extended to her.”

66 Then it shall be found elsewhere, sir,” said the nephew warmly; “ Emily and I are already one in heart, and no earthly power shall divide

I am of an age to judge for myself, and I will not give her up. By heavens, I will not !”

6. You will think better of it, Ernest Bonner : I give you four-and-twenty hours for reflection, and you will doubtless see the folly of entertaining such sentiments, entailing distress on Emily, and difficulties on yourself, by opposition to my wishes; for as sure as you are a living man, so sure will I act as I have said. To-morrow I expect an answer !”

“ Be it so, uncle; I will not fail to be ready," returned Ernest, as he quitted the room. He sought his chamber, and having locked and double-locked the door, paced the room hastily:

« PreviousContinue »