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The Children of the Abbey

CHAPTER XIX.

Oh love, how are thy precious, sweetest minutes

Thus ever cross’d, thus vex’t with disappointments

Now pride, now fickleness, fantastic quarrels,

And sullen coldness give us pain by turns.

Rowe.

At the expected time, the marquis and his family arrived, with great splendour, at Ulster Lodge, which was immediately crowded with visitors of the first consequence in the country, among whom were the Kilcorbans, whose affluent fortune gave them great respecta­bility. Mr. Kilcorban wished, indeed, to be first in paying his compli­ments to the marquis, who had a borough in his disposal, he was desirous of being returned for: disap­pointed the last time he sat up as one of the candidates for the county, this was his only chance of entering that house he had long been ambitious for a seat in; he knew, indeed, his oratorical powers were not very great, often saying he had not the gift of the gab like many of the honourable gentlemen: but then he should stamp and stare, and look up to gods and goddesses,* for their appro­bation with the best of them; and besides, his being a 170 member of parliament, would increase his consequence, at least in the country.

* Ladies are admitted into the gallery of the Irish House of Commons.

The female part of his family went from Ulster Lodge to Castle Carberry, which they entered with a more consequential air than ever, as if they derived new consequence, from the visit they had been paying: instead of flying up to Amanda, as usual, the young ladies swam into the room, with what they imagined a most bewitching elegance, and making a sliding courtesy, flung themselves upon a sofa exactly opposite the glass, and alternately viewed themselves, and pursued their remarks on Lady Euphrasia’s dress; “Well, certainly, Alicia,” said Miss Kilcorban, “I will have a morning gown made in imitation of her ladyship’s; that frill of fine lace about the neck, is the most becoming thing in nature; and the pale blue lining sweetly adapted for a delicate complexion.”—“I think, Charlotte,” cried Miss Alicia, “I will have my tambour muslin in the same style, but lined with pink to set off the work.”

“This aunt of yours, my dear,” exclaimed Mrs. Kilcorban, “is really a personable looking woman enough, and her daughter a pretty little sort of body.”

“Oh they are charming creatures,” cried both the young ladies, “so elegant, so irresistibly genteel.”

“Your ideas and mine, then,” said Lady Greystock, “differ widely about elegance, and irresisti­bility, if you ascribe either to the ladies in question. Mr. Kilcorban,” continued she, turning to Amanda, “fearing, I believe, my lord marquis would fly across the seats in a few hours, and that he might catch him ere he took wing, never ceased tormenting us, from the time breakfast was over till we entered the carriage, to make haste, though he might have known it was quite too early for fine folks to be visible.

“Well, we posted off to Ulster Lodge, as if life and death depended on our despatch; Mr. Kilcorban was ushered into the marquis’s study, and we into an empty room, to amuse ourselves, if we pleased, with the portraits of the marquis’s ancestors. Whilst bells in all quarters were tingling—maids and footmen running up and down stairs, and cats, dogs, monkeys and parrots, who I found composed part of their travelling retinue, were scratching, barking, chattering and screaming in a room contiguous to the one we occupied. At length a fine perfumed jessamy made his appearance, and saying the ladies were ready to have the honour of receiving us, 171 skipped up stairs like an Harlequin. The marchioness advanced about two steps from her couch to receive us, and Lady Euphrasia half rose from her seat, after contemplating us for a minute, to know whether we were to be consi­dered as human creatures or not, sunk back into her former attitude of elegant languor, and continued her conversation with a young nobleman, who has accompanied them from England.”

“Well, I hope you will allow he is a divine creature,” exclaimed Miss Kilcorban, in an accent of rapture; “Oh, what eyes he has,” cried her sister, “what an harmonious voice, I really never beheld any one so exquisitely handsome.”

“Lord Mortimer, indeed,” said Lady Greystock; Amanda started, blushed, turned pale—panted as if for breath, and started as if in amazement. “Bless me, Miss Fitzalan,” asked her ladyship, “are you ill?”—“No, madam,” replied Amanda, in a trembling voice, “’tis only—’tis only a little palpitation of the heart I am subject to: I have inter­rupted your ladyship, pray proceed.”—“Well,” continued Lady Greystock, “I was saying that Lord Mortimer was one of the most elegant and engaging young men I had ever beheld; his expressive eyes seemed to reprove the folly of his fair companion, and her neglect made him doubly assiduous, which to me was a most convincing proof of a noble mind.”

How did the heart of Amanda swell with pleasure, at this warm eulogium on Lord Mortimer: the tear of delight, of refined affection, sprung to her eye, and could scarcely be prevented falling.

“Lord, madam,” cried Miss Kilcorban, whose pride was mortified at Amanda’s hearing of the cool reception they had met with; “I can’t conceive the reason you ascribe such rudeness and conceit to Lady Euphrasia: ’tis really quite a miscon­struction of the etiquette necessary to be observed by people of rank.”

“I am glad, my dear,” replied Lady Greystock, “you are now beginning to profit by the many lessons I have given you on humility.”

“I assure you, miss,” said Mrs. Kilcorban, “I did not forget to tell the marchioness she had a niece in the neighbourhood: I thought, indeed, she seemed a little shy on the subject, so I suppose there has been a difference in the families, parti­cularly as you don’t visit her; but at our ball, perhaps every thing may be settled.” Amanda made no reply to this speech, and the ladies departed.

172

Her bosom, as may well be supposed, was agitated with the most violent perturbations, on hearing of Lord Mortimer’s being in the neighbourhood; the pleasure she felt at the first intelligence, gradually subsided on reflecting he was an inmate, probably a friend, to those relations who had contributed to the destruction of her mother; and who, from the character she had heard of them, it was not uncharitable to think, would feel no great regret, if her children experienced a destiny equally severe; might they not imbibe some prejudices against her into his bosom; to know she was the child of the unfortunate Malvina, would be enough to provoke their enmity; or if they were silent, might not Lady Euphrasia, adorned with every advantage of rank and fortune, have won, or at least soon win his affections.

Yet scarcely did these ideas obtrude, ere she reproached herself for them, as injurious to Lord Mortimer, from whose noble nature she thought she might believe his constancy never would be shaken, except she herself gave him reason to relinquish it.

She now cheered her desponding spirits, by recalling the ideas she had long indulged with delight, as her residence was still a secret to the Edwins, whose letters to their daughter were, by Fitzalan’s orders, constantly directed to a distant town, from whence hers in return, were sent; she concluded chance had informed Lord Mortimer of it, and flattered herself, that to avoid the suspicion which a solitary journey to Ireland might create in the mind of Lord Cherbury, he had availed himself of the marquis’s party, come to try whether she was unchanged, and her father would sanction their attachment ere he avowed it to the earl.

Whilst fluctuating between hope and fear, Ellen, all pale and breathless, ran into the room, exclaiming, “He is come! he is come! Lord Mortimer is come.”

“Oh, heavens!” sighed Amanda, sinking back in her chair, and dropping her trembling hands before her. Ellen, alarmed, blamed herself for her precipitation, and flying to a cabinet, snatched a bottle of lavender water from it, which she plentifully sprinkled over her, and then assisted her to a window. “I was so flurried,” cried the good-natured girl, as she saw her mistress recovering. “I did not know what I was about; heaven knows, the sight of poor Chip himself could not have given me more pleasure; I was crossing the hall when I saw his lordship alighting, and to be sure, if one of the 173 old warriors had stepped out of his niche, and the tefil take them all, I say, for they grin so horribly, they affrighten me out of my wits, if I go through the hall of a dark evening; so if one of them old fellows as I was saying, had jumped out, I could not have been more startled: and back I ran into the little parlour, and there I heard his lordship inquiring for my master; to be sure the sound of his voice did my heart good, for he is an old friend, as one may say; so as soon as he went into the study, I stole up stairs; and one may guess what he and my master are talking about, I think.”

The emotion of Amanda increased: she trembled so she could not stand: she felt as if her destiny, her future happiness, depended on this minute. In vain she endea­voured to regain composure; her spirits were wound up to the highest pitch of expectation, and the agitations inseparable from such a state, were not to be represt.

She continued near an hour in this situation, when the voice of Mortimer struck her ear; she started up, and standing in the centre of the room, saw him walking down the lawn with her father, who left him when he had reached the gate, where his servants and horses were. The chill of disap­pointment pervaded the heart of Amanda, and a shower of tears fell from her. Ellen, who had remained in the room, was almost as much disap­pointed as her mistress; she muttered something about the incon­stancy of men; they were all, for her part, she believed, all alike; all like Mr. Chip, captious on every occasion. The dinner bell now summoned Amanda; she dried her eyes, and tied on a little straw hat, to conceal their redness. With much confusion, she appeared before her father; his penetrating eye was instantly struck with her agitation and pallid looks, and he conjectured that she knew of the visit he had received; on receiving that visit, he wondered not at the strength of her attachment; the noble and ingenuous air of Lord Mortimer had immediately prepossessed Fitzalan in his favour; he saw him adorned with all those perfections which are calculated to make a strong and permanent impression on a heart of sensi­bility, and he gave a sigh to the cruel necessity which compelled him to separate two beings of such congenial loveliness; but as that necessity neither was nor could be overcome, he rejoiced that Lord Mortimer, instead of visiting him on account of his daughter, had merely come on account of affairs relating to the castle, and had inquired for her with a coolness which seemed to declare his 174 love totally subdued; not the smallest hint relative to the letter, in which he had proposed for her, dropt from him; and Fitzalan concluded his affections were transferred to some object, more the favourite of fortune than his portionless Amanda.

This object, he was inclined to believe Lady Euphrasia Sutherland, from what Lord Cherbury had said, concerning the splendid alliance he had in view for his son, and from Lord Mortimer’s accompanying the Rosline family to Ireland.

He felt he had not fortitude to mention those conjectures to Amanda; he rather wished she should imbibe them from her own observation, and pride, he then trusted, would come to her aid, and stimulate her to overcome her attachment. Dinner passed in silence; when the servant was withdrawn, he resolved to relieve the anxiety which her looks informed him pressed upon her heart, by mentioning the visit of Lord Mortimer; he came, he told her, merely to see the state the castle was in, and thus proceeded: “Lord Mortimer is, indeed, an elegant and sensible young man, and will do honour to the house from whence he is descended; he had long wished, he told me, to visit the estate which was endeared to him by the remembrance of his juvenile days; but parti­cularly by its being the place of his mother’s nativity, and her favourite residence, and the opportunity of travelling with an agreeable party, had determined him no longer to defer gratifying this wish.

“He mentioned his mother in terms of the truest respect and tenderness, and his softened voice, his tearful eye, proclaimed his heart the mansion of sensi­bility: his virtues, like his praise, will do honour to her memory. He had been told the castle was in a very ruinous state, and was agreeably surprised to find it in as good order as could be expected from its ancient date. He desired to see the garden which had been laid out under the direction of his mother; he expected not to have found a vestige of her taste remaining, and was conse­quently charmed to find himself mistaken; every spot appeared to remind him of some happy hour, especially the Gothic temple; how many happy minutes have I passed in this place, said his lordship, after a silence for some time, with the best of women.—Upon my word, Amanda,” continued Fitzalan, “you have ornamented it in a very fanciful manner; I really thought his lordship would have stolen some of your lilies or roses, he examined them so accurately.”

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Amanda blushed, and her father still perceiving expectation in her eyes, thus went on: “His lordship looked at some of the adjacent grounds, and as he has mentioned what improve­ments he thought necessary to be made in them, I fancy he will not repeat his visit or stay much longer in the kingdom.”

In a few minutes after this conversation, Fitzalan repaired to his library, and Amanda to the garden; she hastened to the temple—never had she before thought it so picturesque, or such an addition to the landscape; the silence of Lord Mortimer, on entering it, she did not, like her father, believe proceeded altogether from retracing scenes of former happiness with his mother: no, said she, in this spot, he also, perhaps, thought of Amanda.

True, he had mentioned her with indifference to her father, but that might, (and she would flatter herself it did,) proceed from resentment, excited by her precipitate flight from Wales, at a period when his received addresses gave him a right to information about all her actions: and by her total neglect of him since; their first interview, she trusted, would effect a recon­ciliation, by producing an explanation; her father then, she flattered herself tender as he was, depending on her happiness, and prepossessed in Lord Mortimer’s favour, would no longer oppose their attachment, but allow Lord Cherbury to be informed of it, who, she doubted not, would in this, as well as every other instance, prove himself truly feeling and disinter­ested.

Thus did Amanda, by encouraging ideas agreeable to her wishes, try to soften the disap­pointment she had experienced in the morning. Fitzalan on meeting his daughter at tea, was not surprised to hear she had been in the Gothic temple, but he was to see her wear so cheerful an appearance; he was no stranger to the human heart, and he was convinced some flattering illusion could alone have enabled her to shake off the sadness with which but an hour before, she had been opprest; the sooner such an illusion was removed, the better; and to allow her to see Lord Mortimer, he imagined would be the most effectual measure for such a purpose.

The more he reflected on that young nobleman’s manner, and what he himself had heard from Lord Cherbury, the more he was convinced Lady Euphrasia Sutherland was not only the object destined for Lord Mortimer, but the one who now possessed his affections; and he believed his visit to Castle Carberry had been made, to announce 176 the alteration of his senti­ments by the coldness of his conduct, and check any hopes which his appearance in the neighbourhood might have created.

He had hesitated about Amanda’s accepting the invitation to the Kilcorbans’ ball, but he now determined she should go, imprest with the idea of her being there convinced of the change in Lord Mortimer’s senti­ments, a conviction he deemed necessary to produce one in her own.

Amanda impatiently longed for this night, which she believed would realize either her hopes or fears.

Errata: Chapter XIX

but then he should stamp and stare, and look up to gods and goddesses
text has be should

“I think, Charlotte,” cried Miss Alicia,
text has Alica,

Whilst bells in all quarters were tingling
text unchanged; all available editions (1800, 1816, 1877) have “tingling”

I really never beheld any one so exquisitely handsome
text has one one

“Well,” continued Lady Greystock
close quote supplied from 1816 edition

How did the heart of Amanda swell with pleasure, at this warm eulogium on Lord Mortimer:
text has eulogism

from Lord Mortimer’s accompanying the Rosline family to Ireland.
text has Roslin

True, he had mentioned her with indifference to her father
, missing

precipitate flight from Wales,
text has precipated


Solitude to Amanda was a luxury, as it afforded her opportunities of indulging the ideas on which her heart delighted to dwell


The wished for night at length arrived, and Amanda arrayed herself for it with a fluttering heart

Introduction and Contents

 

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.