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The Children of the Abbey

188

CHAPTER XXI.

Love reigns a very tyrant in my heart,

Attended on his throne by all his guard

Of furious wishes, fears and nice suspicions.

Otway.

The next morning brought Sir Charles Bingley to Castle Carberry; Fitzalan was out, but Amanda received him in her dressing-room. He told her with evident concern, he was on the point of setting off for the metropolis, to embark from thence immediately for England, having received letters that morning, which recalled him there; he regretted that their intimacy, or rather friendship, as with insinuating softness he entreated permission to call it, was inter­rupted at its very commencement; declared it gave him more pain than she could imagine, or he express; and that his return to Ireland would be expedited for the purpose of renewing it; and requested he might be flattered with an assurance of not being totally forgotten during his absence. Amanda answered him as if she supposed mere politeness had dictated the request: “her father,” she said, “she was sure would be happy to see him if he returned again to their neighbourhood.” At his entrance, he said he could stay but a few minutes, yet he remained about two hours, and when he arose to depart, declared he had reason to think the castle an enchanting one, he found it so difficult to get from it; “yet, unlike the knights of old,” continued he, “I wish not to break the spell which detained me in it.”

Day after day elapsed, and no Lord Mortimer appeared. Amanda, indeed, heard frequently of him, and always as the admirer of Lady Euphrasia; frequently, too, she heard about the family at Ulster Lodge; their superb entertain­ments, and those given in the neighbourhood to them. The Kilcorbans seemed to have given her up entirely; Lady Greystock was the only one of the family who continued to pay her any attention; she called once or twice at Castle Carberry, to see whether her apron was finished, and tell all the news she had picked up to Amanda. The resolution which Amanda had formed, of concealing her melancholy from her father, she supported 189 tolerably well, but she only indulged it more freely in solitude; the idea of Lord Mortimer’s union with Lady Euphrasia, haunted her imagination, and embittered every moment. “Yes,” she would exclaim (as she wandered through the garden which had been converted from a rude wilderness into a scene of beauty, by her super­intending care), “I have planted flowers, but another shall enjoy their sweets; I have planted roses for Mortimer to strew in the path of Lady Euphrasia; I have adorned the landscape, and she shall enjoy its beauty.”

About three weeks after the ball, as she sat at work one morning in the dressing-room, beguiling her thoughts with a little plaintive song, she heard the door softly open behind her; she supposed it to be Ellen; but not finding any one advance, turned round, and perceived, not Ellen, indeed, but Lord Mortimer himself: starting from her chair—the work dropped from her hands, and she had neither power to speak or move.

“I fear I have surprised and alarmed you,” said Lord Mortimer. “I ask pardon for my intrusion, but I was informed I should find Mr. Fitzalan here.”

“He is in the study, I believe, my lord,” replied Amanda, coolly, and with restored composure; “I will go and inform him your lordship wishes to see him.”

“No,” exclaimed he, “I will not suffer you to have so much trouble; my business is not so urgent as to require my seeing him immediately.” He re-seated Amanda, and drew a chair near her.

She pretended to be busy with her work; while the eyes of Lord Mortimer were cast round the room, as if viewing well-known objects, which at once pleased and pained his sensi­bility, by awaking the memory of past delightful days. “This room,” said he, softly sighing, “I well remember; it was the favourite retirement of one of the most amiable of women.”

“So I have heard,” replied Amanda, “the virtues of Lady Cherbury are remembered with the truest gratitude by many in the vicinity of the castle.”

“I think,” cried Lord Mortimer, gazing upon Amanda with the softest tenderness, “the apartment is still occupied by a kindred spirit.”

Amanda’s eyes were instantly bent upon the ground, and a gentle 190 sigh heaved her bosom; but it was rather the sigh of regret than pleasure; with such an accent as this, Lord Mortimer was wont to address her at Tudor Hall, but she had now reason to think it only assumed, for the purpose of discovering whether she yet retained any sensi­bility for him. Had he not treated her with the most pointed neglect: was he not the declared admirer of Lady Euphrasia? had he not confessed, on entering the room, he came to seek not her, but her father? These ideas rushing through her mind, determined her to continue no longer with him: delicacy as well as pride urged her to this; for she feared, if she longer listened to his insinuating language, it might lead her to betray the feelings of her heart; she therefore arose, and said she would acquaint her father his lordship waited for him.

“Cold, insensible Amanda,” cried he, snatching her hand, to prevent her departing, “is it thus you leave me? When we parted in Wales, I could not have believed we should ever have had such a meeting as this.”

“Perhaps not, my lord,” replied she, somewhat haughtily; “but we have both thought more prudently since that period.”

“Then why,” said he, “did not prudence teach you to shun a conduct which could create suspicion?”

“Suspicion, my lord!” repeated Amanda, with a kind of horror in her look.

“Pardon me,” cried he, “the word is disagreeable: but Miss Fitzalan, when you reflect on the manner in which you have acted to me; your precipitate, your clandestine departure, at the very period when a mutual acknow­ledgement of reciprocal feelings should have been attended with the most explicit candour on both sides, you cannot wonder at unpleasant conjectures and tormenting doubts obtruding on my mind.”

“Is it possible, my lord,” said Amanda, “you never conceived the reason of my departure? Is it possible reflection never pointed it out?”

“Never, I solemnly assure you; nor shall I be happy till I know it.” He paused, as if for a reply; but Amanda, agitated by his words, had not power to speak. Whilst he stood silent, trembling, and apparently embarrassed, she heard her father’s voice, as he ascended the stairs. This instantly restored hers. “I must go, my 191 lord,” cried she, starting and struggling to withdraw her hand. “Promise, then, to meet me,” he said, “this evening, at St. Catharine’s, by seven, or I will not let you go; my soul will be in torture till I have your actions explained.” “I do promise,” said Amanda. Lord Mortimer released her, and she retired into her chamber just time enough to avoid her father.

Again her hopes began to revive; again she believed she was not mistaken in supposing Lord Mortimer had come into Ireland on her account. His being mentioned as the admirer of Lady Euphrasia, she supposed owing to his being a resident in the house with her.—About herself, had he been indifferent, he never could have betrayed such emotions; his looks, as well as his language, expressed the feelings of a heart tenderly attached and truly distressed. Lest any circum­stance had happened, which would prevent a renewal of that attachment, she felt as much impatience as he manifested, to give the desired explanation of her conduct.

His lordship was scarcely gone, ere Lady Greystock made her appearance. Amanda supposed, as usual, she only came to pay a flying visit; how great, then, was her mortifi­cation and surprise, when her ladyship told her she was come to spend the day quite in the family way with her, as the ladies of Grangeville were so busy preparing for a splendid entertainment they were to be at the ensuing day, that they had excluded all visitors, and rendered the house quite disagreeable.

Amanda endeavoured to appear pleased, but to converse she found almost impossible, her thoughts were so engrossed by an absent object; happily her ladyship was so very loquacious herself, as at all times to require a listener more than a speaker; she was therefore well satisfied with the taciturnity of her fair companion. Amanda tried to derive some comfort from the hope that her ladyship would depart early in the evening, to which she flattered herself she would be induced by the idea of a comfortable whist party at home. But six o’clock struck and she manifested no inclination to move. Amanda was in agony; her cheek was flushed with agitation; she rose and walked to the window, to conceal her emotion, whilst her father and Lady Greystock were conversing; the former at last said he had some letters to write, and begged her ladyship to excuse his absence for a few minutes.—This she most graciously promised to do, 192 and pulling out her knotting, requested Amanda to read to her till tea time. Amanda took up a book, but was so confused, she scarcely knew what, or how she read.

“Softly, softly, my dear child,” at last exclaimed her ladyship, whose attention could by no means keep pace with the rapid manner in which she read. “I protest you post on with as much expedition as my Lady Blerner’s ponies on the circular.” Amanda blushed and began to read slowly; but when the clock struck seven, her feelings could no longer be repressed. “Good heaven,” cried she, letting the book drop from her hand, and starting from her chair, “this is too much.” “Bless me, my dear,” said Lady Greystock, staring at her, “What is the matter?” “Only a slight head-ache, madam,” answered Amanda, continuing to walk about the room.

Her busy fancy represented Lord Mortimer now impatiently waiting for her—thinking in every sound which echoed among the desolate ruins of St. Catharine’s he heard her footsteps, his soul melting with tenderness at the idea of a perfect recon­ciliation, which an unsatisfied doubt only retarded. What would he infer from her not keeping an appointment so ardently desired, so solemnly promised, but that she was unable to remove that doubt to his satis­faction; perhaps he would not credit the reason she could assign for breaking her engagement: perhaps, piqued at her doing so he would not afford her an opportunity of accounting for it, or the apparent mystery of her late conduct; to retain his doubts would be to lose his tenderness, and at last perhaps expel her from his heart. She thought of sending Ellen to acquaint him with the occasion of her detention at home; but this idea existed but for a moment; an appointment she concealed from her father, she could not bear to divulge to any other person; it would be a breach of duty and delicacy she thought: “No,” said she to herself, “I will not, from the thought­lessness and impetuosity which led so many of my sex astray, overstep the bounds of propriety, and to reinstate myself in the esteem of one person, lose that of others, and above all that of my own heart. If Lord Mortimer refuses to hear my justifi­cation, he will act neither agreeable to candour nor justice, and pride must aid in repelling my regret.”

“You look strangely indeed, my dear,” said Lady Greystock, who was attentively watching her whilst those ideas were rising in her mind. Amanda recollecting the remarks which might be made on 193 her behaviour, and apologizing for the manner in which she had acted, took her seat with some degree of composure. Fitzalan soon after entered the room, and tea was made; when over, Lady Greystock declared they were a snug party for three-handed whist. Amanda would gladly have excused herself from being of the party, but politeness made her conceal her reluctance; her extreme dejection was noticed both by Fitzalan and her ladyship; the latter imputed it to regret at not being permitted by her father to accept an invitation she had received for a ball the ensuing evening.

“Don’t fret about it, my dear creature,” said she, laying down the cards to administer the conso­lation she required, “’tis not by frequenting balls and public places a girl always stands the best chance of being provided for; I, for my part, have been married three times, yet never made a conquest of any one of my husbands in a public place: no, it was the privacy of my life partly obtained for me so many proofs of good fortune.”—Fitzalan and Amanda laughed. “I shall never be dissatisfied with staying at home,” said the latter, “though without either expecting or desiring to have my retirement recompensed as your ladyship’s was.”

“One prize will satisfy you then,” said Fitzalan. “Ah!” cried Lady Greystock, “it is Lady Euphrasia Sutherland who will obtain the capital one; I don’t know where such another young man as Lord Mortimer is to be found.” “Then your ladyship supposes,” said Fitzalan, “there is some truth in the reports circulated, relative to him and Lady Euphrasia.” “I assure you there is,” said she, “and I think the connection to be a very eligible one; their birth, their fortunes are equal.” But ah! thought Amanda, how unlike their dispositions. “I dare say,” proceeded her ladyship, “Lady Euphrasia will have changed her title before this time next year.”

Fitzalan glanced at Amanda; her face was deadly pale, and she put him and Lady Greystock out in the game by the errors she committed. At last the carriage from Grangeville arrived, and broke up a party Amanda could not much longer have supported. Her father perceived the painful efforts she made to conceal her distress; he pitied her from his soul, and pretending to think she was only indisposed, entreated her to retire to her chamber. Amanda gladly complied with this entreaty and began to meditate on what Greystock had said: Was there not a proba­bility of its being true? Might not 194 the indifference Lord Mortimer had manifested on his first arrival in the neighbourhood, have really originated from a change of affections? might not the tenderness he displayed in the morning, have been concerted with the hope of its inducing her to gratify his curiosity, by relating the reason of her journey from Wales, or please his vanity by tempting her to give some proof of attachment? But she soon receded from this idea. Lady Greystock was not infallible in her judgment: reports of approaching nuptials Amanda knew had often been raised without any foundation for them; the present report, relative to Lord Mortimer and Lady Euphrasia, might be one of that nature; she could not believe him so egregiously vain, or so deliberately base, as to counterfeit tenderness, merely for the purpose of having his curiosity or vanity gratified; she felt, however, truly unhappy, and could derive no conso­lation but from the hope that her suspense, at least, would soon be terminated.

She passed a restless night, nor was her morning more composed; she could not settle to any of her usual avocations; every step she heard, she started in expectations of instantly seeing Lord Mortimer, but he did not appear. After dinner, she walked out alone, and took the road to St. Catherine’s. When she reached the ruins, she felt fatigued, and sat down upon a flag in the chapel to rest herself. “Here,” said she, pensively leaning her head upon her hand, “Mortimer waited for me; perhaps with tender impatience. Here too, he perhaps accused me of neglect or deceit.” She heard a rustling behind her, and turning, perceived sister Mary.

“You are welcome, my dear soul,” cried the good-natured nun, running forward and sitting down by her, “but why did you not come in to see us,” continued she, affec­tionately kissing her. Amanda said “such was her intention, but feeling a little indisposed, she had remained in the air, in hopes of growing better.” “Oh Jesu,” cried the sister, “you do indeed look ill, I must go and get you a cordial from our prioress, who is quite a doctress, I assure you.”

Amanda caught her gown as she was running away, and assured her she was better.

“Well then,” said she, resuming her seat, “I must tell you an odd thing which happened here last night; I came out to walk about the ruins between the lights, that is, as one may say, when it is neither dark nor light. As the air was cold, I wrapt my veil about me, and 195 had just turned the cloisters, when I heard a quick foot pacing after me: well, I, supposing it to be one of the sisters, walked slowly that she might easily overtake me; but you may guess my surprise when I was overtaken, not by one of them indeed, but by one of the finest and most beautiful young men I ever beheld. Lord how he did start when he saw me, just for all the world as if I were a ghost: he looked quite wild, and flew off muttering something to himself. Well, I thought all this strange, and was making all the haste I could to the convent, when he appeared again, coming from under that broken arch, and he bowed and smiled so sweetly, and held his hat in his hand so respectfully, whilst he begged my pardon for the alarm he had given me; and then he blushed and strove to hide his confusion with his handkerchief, while he asked me if I had seen e’er a young lady about the ruins that evening, as a parti­cular friend had informed him she would be there, and desired him to escort her home.”

“Why, my dear sir,” says I, “I have been about this place the whole evening, and here has neither been man, woman, or child, but you and myself; so the young lady changed her mind and took another ramble.” “So I suppose,” said he; and he looked so pale, and so melancholy, I could not help thinking it was a sweetheart he had been seeking; so by way of giving him a bit of comfort, “Sir,” says I, “if you will leave any marks of the young lady you were seeking, with me, I will watch here myself a little longer for her, and if she comes, I will tell her how uneasy you were at not finding her, and be sure to despatch her after you.” “No, he thanked me,” he said, “but it was of very little consequence, his not meeting her, or indeed whether he ever met her again,” and walked away.

“Did he!” said Amanda.

“Bless me!” exclaimed the nun, “you are worse instead of better.”

Amanda acknowledged she was, and rising, requested she would excuse her for not paying her compli­ments that evening at the nunnery.

Sister Mary pressed her to drink tea with the prioress, or at least take some of her excellent cordial; but Amanda refused both requests, and the affec­tionate nun saw her depart with reluctance.

Scarcely had she regained the road, ere a coach and six, preceded 196 and followed by a number of attendants, approached with such quickness, that she was obliged to step aside to avoid it: looking in at the window as it passed, she saw Lord Mortimer and Lady Euphrasia seated in it, opposite to each other; she saw they both perceived her, and that Lady Euphrasia laughed, and put her head forward to stare impertinently at her.—Amanda was mortified that they had seen her; there was something at the moment humiliating in the contrast between their situation and hers; she, dejected and solitary; they, adorned and attended with all the advantages of fortune. But in the estimation of a liberal mind, cried she, the want of such advantages can never lessen me—such a mind as I flatter myself Lord Mortimer possesses. Ah, if he thinks as I do, he would prefer a lonely ramble in the desolate spot I have just quitted, to all the parade and magnificence he is about witnessing. The night past heavily away, the idea of Lord Mortimer’s devoting all his attention to Lady Euphrasia, could not be driven from her mind.

The next morning the first object she saw, on going to the window, was a large frigate lying at anchor near the castle. Ellen entering her chamber, sighing heavily, as she always did, indeed, at the sight of a ship, said, she wished it contained her wandering sailor. Amanda indulged a hope that Lord Mortimer would appear in the course of the day, but she was disap­pointed. She retired after tea in the evening to her dressing room, and seated in the window, enjoyed a calm and beautiful scene; not a cloud concealed the bright azure of the firmament; the moon spread a line of silver radiance over the waves, that stole with a melancholy murmur upon the shore; and the silence which reigned around, was only inter­rupted by the faint noise of the mariners on board the frigate, and their evening drum. At last Amanda heard the paddling of oars, and perceived a large boat coming from the ship, rowed by sailors in white shirts and trowsers, their voices keeping time to their oars. The appearance they made was picturesque, and Amanda watched them till the boat disappeared among the rocks. The supper bell soon after summoned her from the window; but scarcely had she retired to her chamber for the night, ere Ellen, smiling, trembling, and apparently overcome with joy, appeared.

“I have seen him,” cried she, hastily, “oh, matam, I have seen poor Chip himself, and he is as kind and as true-hearted as ever. 197 I went this evening to the village to see old Norah, to whom you sent the linen, for she is a pleasing kind of poty, and does not laugh like the rest at one, for their Welch tongue; so when I was returning home, and at a goot tistance from her cabin, I saw a great number of men coming towards me all dressed in white; to be sure, as I heard a great teal apout the white poys, I thought these were nothing else, and I did so quake and tremble, for there were neither hole, or bush, or tree, on the spot, that would have sheltered one of the little tinty fairies of Penmaenmawr.—Well, they came on, shouting and laughing, and merrier than I thought such rogues ought to be; and the moment they espied me, they gathered around me, and began pulling me apout; so I gave a great scream, and tirectly a voice (lort, how my heart jumped at it,) cried out that is Ellen; and to be sure poor Chip soon had me in his arms; and then I heard they were sailors from the frigate, come to get provi­sions at the village; so I turned pack with them, and they had a great powl of whiskey punch, and a whole sight of cakes, and Chip told me all his adventures; and he was so glad when he heard I lived with you, because, he said, you were a sweet, mild young lady, and he was sure you would sometimes remind me of him, and he hopes soon to get his discharge, and then—”

“You are to be married,” said Amanda, interpreting the blushes and hesitation of Ellen.

“Yes, matam, and I assure you Chip is not altered for the worse by a sea-faring life; his voice, indeed, is a little of the roughest, but he told me that was owing to his learning the poatswain’s whistle; poor fellow, he sails to-morrow night; the ship is on the Irish station, and they are to coast it to Dublin.”

“Happy Ellen,” said Amanda, as she retired from her chamber, “thy perturbations and disquietudes are over; assured of the affection of thy village swain, peace and cheerfulness will resume their empire in thy breast.”

The next evening, at twilight, Amanda went down to the beach with her father, to see the fishermen drawing their seines on shore, on which their hopes and the comfort of their family depend. Whilst Fitzalan conversed with them, Amanda rested herself on a low rock, to observe their motions; in the murmur of the waves there was a gentle melancholy, in unison with her present feelings; from a pensive meditation, which had gradually rendered her inattentive to 198 the scene before her, she was suddenly roused by voices behind her. She started from her seat, for in one of them she imagined she distin­guished the accent of Lord Mortimer; nor was she mistaken; he was ascending a winding path near her, accompanied by a naval officer. To pass without seeing her was impossible; and as he approached her, he stopped, apparently hesitating whether or not he should address her. In a few minutes, his hesitation ended with waving his handkerchief as if to bid her adieu, whilst he proceeded to a small boat which had been for some time lying in a creek among the rocks, and which, on receiving him and his companion, immediately rowed to the frigate. Amanda trembled, her heart beat violently. Ellen had informed her the frigate was to sail that night; and what could induce Lord Mortimer to visit it at such an hour, except an intention of departing in it.

Uncertainty is dreadful; she grew sick with anxiety before her father returned to the castle; on entering it, she immediately repaired to her chamber, and calling Ellen hastily, demanded if Chip’s intelligence was true.

“Alas! yes,” replied Ellen, weeping violently, “and I know the reason you inquire. You saw Lord Mortimer going to the ship;—I saw him myself, as I stood on the beach talking to Chip, who was one of the sailors that came in the boat for his lordship and the captain: and, to be sure, the sight left my eyes when I saw my lort departing, pecause I knew he was going away in anger at the treatment he supposed he received from you.”

“From me?” exclaimed Amanda.

“Oh, you will never forgive me for acting so badly as I have done by you,” sobbed Ellen, “put inteed the sight of poor Chip drove everything from my memory put himself. Last night as I was going to Norah’s, I overtook Lord Mortimer on the road, who was walking quite sorrowfully, as I may say, by himself; so to be sure, I thought I could do no less in good manners, than drop him a curtesy as I past; so up he came to me directly; “And my good girl, how are you?” said he, and he smiled so sweetly, and looked so handsome: and then he took my hand; and to be sure his hand was as soft as any velvet; “And pray, Ellen,” said he, “is Miss Fitzalan at home, and disengaged?” I told him you was, and Cot knows, my lord, says I, and melancholy enough too. I left her in the tressing-room window 199 looking out at the waves and listening to the winds. “Well, hasten home,” cried he, “and tell her she will oblige me greatly by meeting me immediately at the rocks beyond the castle.” I promised him I would and he put, nay, inteed, forced five guineas into my hand, and turned off another road, charging me not to forget, put as I was near Norah’s, I thought I might just step in to see how she did, and when I left her I met poor Chip, and lort knows I am afraid he would have made me forget my own tear father and mother.”

“Oh, Ellen,” cried Amanda, “how could you serve me so.”

“Oh tear,” said Ellen, redoubling her tears, “I am certainly one of the most misfortunate girls in the world; but lort, now, Miss Amanda, why should you be so sorrowful; for certain, my lort loves you too well always to be angry; there is poor Chip now, though he thought I loved Parson Howell, he never forgot me.”

Ellen’s efforts at consolation were not successful, and Amanda dismissed her, that unnoticed and unrestrained she might indulge the tears which flowed at the idea of a long, lasting separation, perhaps, from Lord Mortimer; offended, justly offended, as he supposed, with her; the proba­bility was, she would be banished from his thoughts, or if remembered, at least without esteem or tenderness; thus might his heart soon be qualified for making another choice. She walked to the window, and saw the ship already under weigh; she saw the white sails fluttering in the breeze, and heard the shouts of the mariners. “Oh Mortimer!” cried she, “is it thus we part? is it thus the expectations you raised in my heart are disap­pointed? You go hence, and deem Amanda unworthy a farewell; you gaze perhaps at this moment on Castle Carberry without breathing one sigh for its inhabitants; ah, had you loved sincerely, never would the impulse of resentment have conquered the emotion of tenderness; no, Mortimer, you deceived me, and perhaps yourself, in saying I was dear to you: had I been so, never could you have acted in this manner.” Her eyes followed the course of the vessel, till it appeared like a speck in the horizon. “He is gone,” said she, weeping afresh, and withdrawing herself from the window; “he is gone, and if I ever meet him again, it will probably be as the husband of Lady Euphrasia.”

Errata: Chapter XXI

“Promise, then, to meet me,” he said, “this evening
second open quote missing

“Only a slight head-ache, madam,” answered Amanda,
close quote missing

I heard a great teal apout the white poys
text has te white

he hopes soon to get his discharge, and then—”
close quote missing

The next evening, at twilight,
text has “The

she would be banished from his thoughts
text has banished his

She walked to the window, and saw the ship already under weigh;
all editions (1800, 1816, 1877) use this word

“Oh Mortimer!” cried she, “is it thus we part?
open quote missing

it will probably be as the husband of Lady Euphrasia.”
. invisible


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


Lord Mortimer had, in reality, departed with sentiments very unfavourable to Amanda

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.