« PreviousContinue »
at the table, where she had been writing, and, while a slight tinge of heightened colour mounted to her cheek, she replied, “ I am at a loss, Edward, to account for the circumstance which has procured me the honour of your preference; for I am not aware that I have ever given you any cause to flatter yourself you possessed the slightest hopes of being other to me than a friend.”
“ Then you must, indeed, have been wilfully blind, Agnes; for I have endeavoured, by every means in my power, to testify how great is my devotion, my love for the unparalleled charms of your mind and person. I have enjoyed the delight of constant intercourse with you from infancy; I have watched your opening graces; I have loved you, and fancied I had excited a similar feeling in you in return. Do not be so cruel then, Agnes, as to crush my fondly indulged hope of possessing your hand; you must listen to my just grounds for presuming to think of gaining your good opinion.”
“ No, Edward, I cannot listen to you, because I feel it would be unjust to you to allow you to believe you are, or ever can be, aught to me but a friend ; and equally so to myself to permit language which must certainly give me pain,
since I must be under the necessity of inflicting it on the heart of one whose esteem I value. If you care for my good opinion, I frankly tell you that the most likely way to insure it, will be by discontinuing the language you have just been addressing to me. It is perfectly out of my power to return the warmth of feeling you have expressed for me; and, from this moment, I beg you to consider yourself only as the friend of one, who is sensible of, and grateful for, the honour you undoubtedly intended her: say, Edward, we shall still remain as we have ever been to each other.” She smiled, and held out her hand.
Edward rushed forward, and, seizing it, conveyed it forcibly to his lips, exclaiming, “Agnes, I cannot believe you mean what you say, — you must and will revoke
my cruel doom.” “ I am not in the habit, Edward, of speaking contrary to what I think and feel; therefore I have nothing more to say, but to beg you will excuse my subjecting myself to farther importunity:" so saying, she quitted the apartment, and left him standing motionless, from surprise at her cool determination, and utter rejection of his proffered affections.
In a few minutes he took his hat, and with a gloomy air walked out of the house. Some hours elapsed before he returned home, as he wandered through the neighbourhood indulging his anger; for as soon as his surprise had vanished, indignation assumed its place. That he was refused on account of a preference for Conrad, he could not doubt, and his previous ill will towards him increased twofold: he resolved, if he could not supplant him in Agnes's affection, at least to revenge himself for the indignity which had been offered him. As Conrad was shortly to return to Spain, he judged it most advisable to defer the execution of his design until his departure; "and then,” he said to himself, speaking through his set teeth, 66 then I will be loved or hated with a vengeance.”
When Conrad returned for the purpose of escorting Agnes, he longed to discover whether he had any cause to be apprehensive of Edward's attentions; but he longed in vain : for, although she said he had paid her a visit, neither in word or look did she betray the object of it; and Conrad again felt easy. Some few days after, a party, consisting of the Yorkes, Camdens, and Blessingtons, and several other young people, was formed to visit one of the principal objects of attraction in the neighbourhood, which was a magnificent mansion and grounds belonging to the descendants of the noble house of B
The morning was fine for the season, and at ten o'clock they assembled at the Parsonage. To their great disappointment they found Agnes was not well, and begged to be excused accompanying them. This instantly damped the spirits of all, and they would gladly have relinquished the project until she should be able to go with them. But the house was only on view one day in the week, and their young visiters were to leave them in a few days: the weather likewise was so favourable that Agnes would not hear of their breaking up the party ; neither would she consent, for a long time, to any one remaining with her; but Conrad said she ought not to be left alone, and declared his intention of staying at home.
“ You cannot refuse, Agnes, to let me be your nurse to-day, after your being mine so many weeks; at least you ought not in justice.” His looks told her how greatly he desired a propitious answer; and, without farther hesitation, she yielded to his representations. The pleasure that flashed in his dark eye for an instant called the blood to her cheek; for it told her more than a brother's love was conveyed in that glance; and, without searching far, she found a responding chord in her own bosom.
Their friends departed; and Conrad proposed to amuse Agnes by reading to her, while she plied her needle. To this she willingly consented; and after some time was spent in these rational employments, a walk was proposed and acceded to. Agnes was soon equipped ; and she left the house to join Conrad, who was waiting in the garden. As she approached him he was standing leaning against the little gate, and she stood by his side some moments without his being aware of her vicinity.
“ Well, Conrad," she said, smiling, “ when your ruminations are at an end we will commence our walk.
be the subject you are so deeply engaged in discussing?” He started at the sound of her voice.
« Bless me, Agnes, I did not know you were so near me; I did not hear your step.”
Perhaps not,” answered she; “your thoughts were too deeply buried somewhere to permit you to hear me coming down the path. I dare say you were transported in idea to the shores