Page images
PDF
EPUB

softened much by the late rousing of her sensibilities, was still that of one who had been accustomed to admiration; and though she had gradually, and almost unconsciously, laid by all her finery, she still retained an expression which struck Seymour unpleasantly, both from his natural taste for simplicity, and from its unsuitableness to surrounding objects. And Miss Hay, if she thought of Seymour at all, had all old impressions habitually present, although she was often surprised to notice traits which she could not reconcile to those impressions. But she was not much concerned to do justice to one whom she had known as a clodhopper - so their intercourse, though civil and frequent, was frigid enough.

They were one evening, at sunset, returning together to Mr. Ellingham's, and had turned from the high road into the wood, when they were overtaken by a horseman, whose rapid pace continued till he had passed them, when he reined up suddenly, and greeted Miss Hay as an old acquaintance. He was a young man of gentlemanly ap

pearance, and his face was of that striking and animated cast which one does not easily forget. His whole exterior was such as would claim some praise anywhere, and, of course, it was remarkable enough in a wild western forest.

Caroline was evidently embarrassed at the meeting, but, recovering herself, introduced the gentleman as Mr. Avenard, and made enquiries after some city friends. The stranger's manner, in spite of manifest effort, betrayed considerable agitation, and he eyed Seymour with no gratified air. The latter felt himself in the way, but he did not know very well how to get out of it, so the trio rode together to Mr. Ellingham's.

Here Caroline apologised for not inviting the stranger to enter, on account of the situation of the family. His dark eyes flashed at this; and drawing as near her as possible, he asked, in a low tone, when he might hope to see her again.

A

Caroline felt cruelly embarrassed. thousand indistinct thoughts flashed across her mind in an instant. She knew that

Avenard, though never a declared lover, had had abundant reason to suppose himself not disagreeable to her; and her heart whispered that if her sudden departure from the city had not prevented, he would probably have been not only a declared, but an accepted lover. But even the short time which had flown since her return had been sufficient, under the circumstances, to throw an air of coldness and hollowness over most of her city reminiscences, and even over her partiality for this gay young man. The grief of Mrs. Thurston, her distressing illness, and the piety which sustained her under all, had opened to Caroline a new world of thought and feeling; and the delightful consciousness of being useful, had given her a sense of the true value and aim of life. So that Avenard and his claims had been for the time forgotten; and now that they were presented anew, she felt unprepared and uncomfortable.

66

In reply to his question, she said, in a voice as low as his own, "I cannot receive a visit here, but if you will come in

the morning, I will ride over with you to my father's."

He bowed proudly, and without speaking; and, turning his horse's head, rode away evidently dissatisfied; and Seymour Bullitt, not entering as usual, went his way too, with his heart beating inconveniently, and his face almost as red as when Caroline first knew him—and about what?

He could not make mind on his own up this point. What was it to him that this gay young stranger had evidently expected a favourable reception from Miss Hay? He called to mind all the evidences of the young lady's dislike to himself, and they were faithfully recorded in his memory, and then tried to bring proof equally satisfactory of his own indifference to her likes or dislikes. It required all the time occupied in a very long détour - a gallop of half a dozen miles or so, to think over these things; and, after all, when Seymour went to bed, the only fruit of his reflections was a manful resolution not to call at Mr. Ellingham's again while the stranger was in the neighbourhood.

CHAPTER XXXIV.

"There are old trees, tall oaks, and gnarled pines, That stream with gray-green mosses; here the ground Was never trench'd by spade, and flowers spring up

unsown

And die ungather'd."

BRYANT.

"But, hark! what voice, as thunder loud,
Now shakes the wilderness profound ?"
CRYSTALINA.

MRS. THURSTON was so ill that night, and seemed so dreadfully prostrated in the morning, that it was feared she could not survive the day. Caroline, absorbed in grief and anxiety, had scarcely thought of her promise to Avenard, and when he appeared to claim it, she met him at the gate and declared it impossible to leave her friend.

"You seem to have found very dear friends here, Miss Hay," said he, bitterly.

"So dear," she replied, "that I feel that I would almost lay down my own life to save that of the one I am now attending

« PreviousContinue »