ebooks

The Children of the Abbey

CHAPTER XXXII.

The breezy call of incense breathing morn:

The swallow twit’ring from its straw built shed.

The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,

No more shall rouse him from his lowly bed.

Gray.

The weakness which Amanda felt in consequence of her late illness, and the excessive sickness she always suffered at sea, made her retire to bed immediately on entering the packet, where she continued till the evening of the second day, when about five o’clock she was landed at the marine hotel. She directly requested the waiter to procure her a messenger to go into town, which being done she sent 322 to engage a place in the northern mail coach, that went within a few miles of Castle Carberry. If a place could not be procured, she ordered a chaise might be hired, that would immediately set out with her, as the nights were moon-light, but to her great joy the man speedily returned, and informed her he had secured a seat in the coach, which she thought a much safer mode of travelling for her, than in a hired carriage, without any attendant.—She took some slight refreshment, and then proceeded to the mail hotel, from whence, at eleven o’clock, she set out, in company with one old gentleman, who very composedly put on a large woolen night cap, buttoned up his great coat, and fell into a profound sleep; he was, perhaps, just such a kind of companion as Amanda desired, as he neither teazed her with insipid conversation, or impertinent questions, but left her undisturbed to indulge her meditations during the journey. The second evening, about eight o’clock, she arrived at the nearest town to Castle Carberry, for which she directly procured a chaise, and set off.

Her spirits were painfully agitated: she dreaded the shock her father would receive from hearing of her sufferings, which it would be impossible to conceal from him; she trembled at what they would both feel on the approaching interview: sometimes she feared he had already heard of her distress, and a gloomy presage rose in her mind, of the anguish she should find him in on her account: yet again, when she reflected on the fortitude he had hitherto displayed in his trials, under the present, she trusted, he would not lose it; and that he would not only support himself, but her, and bind up those wounds in her heart, which perfidy, cruelty, and ingratitude had made. And oh! thought she to herself, when I find myself again in his arms, no temptation shall allure me from them; allure me into a world, where my peace and fame have already suffered such a wreck. Thus alternately fluctuating between hope and fear, Amanda pursued the road to Castle Carberry; but the latter sensation was predominant in her mind.

The uncommon gloominess of the evening added to her dejection, the dark and lowering clouds threatened a violent storm; already a shower of sleet and rain was falling, and every thing looked cold and cheerless. Amanda thought the cabins infinitely more wretched than when she had first seen them: many of their miserable inhabitants 323 were now gathering their little flocks together, and driving them under shelter from the coming storm. The labourers were seen hastening to their respective homes, whilst the plough-boy, with a low and melancholy whistle, drove his slow and wearied team along. The sea looked rough and black, and as Amanda drew nearer to it, she heard it breaking with fury against the rocks.

She felt herself extremely ill: she had left the hamlet ere her fever was subdued, and fatigue, joined to want of rest, now brought it back with all its former violence. She longed for rest and quiet, and trusted and believed these would conquer her malady.

The chaise stopped at the entrance of the lawn, as she wished to have her father prepared for her arrival, by one of the servants. On alighting from it, it returned to town, and she struck into a grove, and by a winding path reached the castle. Her limbs trembled, and she knocked with an unsteady hand at the door. The sound was awfully reverberated through the building: some minutes elapsed, and no being appeared; neither could she perceive a ray of light from any of the windows; the wind blew the rain directly in her face, and her weakness increased so she could scarcely stand. She recollected a small door at the back of the castle, which led to the apart­ments appro­priated to the domestics; she walked feebly to this, to try and gain admittance, and found it open. She proceeded through a long, dark passage, on each side of which were small rooms, till she came to the kitchen; here she found the old woman sitting (to whom the care of the castle was usually consigned), before a large turf fire. On hearing a footstep, she looked behind, and when she saw Amanda, started, screamed, and betrayed symptoms of the utmost terror.

“Are you frightened at seeing me, my good Kate?” cried Amanda.

“Oh holy virgin,” replied Kate, crossing her breast, “one could not help being frightened, to have a body steal unawares upon them.”

“My father is well, I hope?” said Amanda.

“Alack-a-day,” cried Kate, “the poor dear captain has gone through a sea of troubles since you went away.”

“Is he ill?” exclaimed Amanda.

“Ill, ay, and the Lord knows he has reason enough to be ill. But my dear jewel, do you know nothing at all of what has happened at the castle since you went away?”

324

“No, nothing in the world.”

“Heaven help you then,” said Kate; “but my dear soul, sit down upon this little stool, and warm yourself before the fire, for you look pale and cold, and I will tell you all about it. You must know, about three weeks ago my Johnaten brought the captain a letter from the post-office; he knew by the mark it was a letter from England; and so when he comes into the kitchen to me, Kate, says he, the captain has got something now to cheer his spirits, for he has heard from Miss I am sure. So to be sure I said I was glad of it, for you must know, my dear, he was in low spirits, and peaking, as one may say, for a few days before. Well, it was always my custom when he got a letter from England, to go to him as soon as I thought he had read it, and ask about you; so I put on a clean apron, and up I goes to the parlour, and opened the door and walked in. ‘Well sir,’ says I, ‘I hope there is good news from Miss?’

“The captain was sitting with the letter open before him on the table; he had a handkerchief to his eyes, but when I spoke he took it down, and I saw his face, which generally looked so pale, now quite flushed.

“‘This letter, my good Kate,’ says he, ‘is not from my daughter, but I am glad you are come, for I wanted to speak to you. I am going to leave the castle, and I want you to look over all the things, and see they are in the same state as when I came to it; I shall then settle with the servants I hired, and discharge them.’

“I was struck all of a heap: ‘The Lord forbid you should be going to leave us, sir,’ says I.

“The captain got up: he walked to the window; he sighed heavily, and I saw a tear upon his cheek. He spoke to me again, and begged I would do as he had desired me; so with a heavy heart I went and told Johnaten the sad tidings, who was as sorry as myself, for he loved the captain dearly, not only from his being so mild a gentleman, but because he was a soldier, as he himself had been in his youth, and a soldier has always a love for one of his cloth: and Johnaten had often said he knew the captain in America, and that he was a brave officer and a real gentleman.

“Well the captain came out to us, and said he was to be Lord Cherbury’s agent no longer; and, being a good penman, he settled all his own accounts, and his servants’, in the course of the day, and 325 discharged them, giving them both characters, which I warrant will seen get them good places again. Well, he said he must set off for England the next day, so every thing was got ready; but in the middle of the night he was seized with spasms in his stomach; he thought himself dying, and at last rung the bell, and as good luck would have it, my Johnaten heard it, and went up to him directly; had he been without relief much longer, I think he would have died. Johnaten called me up; I had a choice bottle of old brandy lying by me, so I soon blew up a fire, and heating a cup of it, gave it to him directly. He grew a little easier, but was too bad in the morning to think of going on his journey, which grieved him sadly. He got up, however, and wrote a large pacquet, which he sent by Johnaten to the post-office; packed up some things in a trunk and put his seal upon his desk; he said he would not stay in the castle upon any account, so he went out as soon as Johnaten came back from the post-office, leaning upon his arm, and got a little lodging at Thady Bryne’s cabin.”

“Merciful heaven!” exclaimed the agonized and almost fainting Amanda, “support and strengthen me in this trying hour! enable me to comfort my unfortunate father; preserve me from sinking, that I may endeavour to assist him.” Tears accompanied this fervent ejacu­lation, and her voice was lost in sobs.

“Alack-a-day,” said the good natured Kate, “now don’t take it so sadly to heart, my jewel; all is not lost that is in danger, and there is as good fish in the sea as ever were caught; and what though this is a stormy night, to-morrow may be a fine day. Why the very first sight of you will do the captain good. Come cheer up, I will give you some nice hot potatoes for your supper, for you see the pot is just boiling, and some fresh churned butter-milk, and by the time you have eaten it, Johnaten perhaps may come back; he has gone to town to get some beef for our Sunday dinner, and then I will go with you to Thady’s myself.”

“No, no,” cried Amanda, “every minute I now stay from my father seems an age; too long has he been neglected: too long without a friend to sooth or attend him. Oh grant, gracious heaven, grant,” raising her clasped hands, “that I may not have returned too late to be of use to him.”

Kate prest her to stay for Johnaten’s return; but the agony of 326 suspense she endured till she saw her father, made her regardless of walking alone, though the hour was late, dark and tempestuous. Kate finding her entreaties vain, attended her to the door, assuring her if Johnaten returned soon, she would go over herself to the cabin, and see if she could do anything for her. Amanda prest her hand, but was unable to speak. Ill, weak, and dispirited, she had flattered herself, on returning to her father, she should receive relief, support, and conso­lation: instead of which, heart-broken as she was, she now found she must give, or at least attempt giving them herself. She had before experienced distress, but the actual pressure of poverty she had never yet felt. Heretofore she had always a comfortable asylum to repair to, but now she not only found herself deprived of that, but of all means of procuring one, or even the necessaries of life.

But if she mourned for herself, how much more severely did she mourn for her adored father! Could she have procured him comfort; could she in any degree have alleviated his situation, the horrors of her own would have been lessened: but of this she had not the slightest means or prospect. Her father, she knew, possessed the agency too short a time, to be enabled to save any money, parti­cularly as he was indebted to Lord Cherbury ere he obtained it; she knew of no being to whom she could apply in his behalf. Lord Cherbury was the only person on whom he depended in his former misfortune for relief; his friendship, it was evident, by depriving her father of the agency, was totally lost; and to the disconsolate Amanda, no way appeared of escaping “want, worldly want, that hungry, meagre fiend,” who was already close at their heels, and followed them in view.

The violence of the storm had increased, but it was slight in comparison of that which agitated the bosom of Amanda. The waves dashed with a dreadful noise against the rocks, and the angry spirit of the waters roared; the rain fell heavily, and soon soaked through the thin clothing of Amanda. She had about half a mile to walk through a rugged road, bounded on one side by rocks, and on the other by wild and dreary fields. She knew the people with whom her father lodged; they were of the lowest order, and on her first arriving at Castle Carberry, in extreme distress, from which she had relieved them. She recollected their cabin was more decent than many others she had seen, yet still a most miserable dwelling.

327

Wretched as it was, she was glad when she reached it, for the violence of the storm, and the loneliness of the road, had terrified her. The cabin was but a few yards from the beach: there were two windows in front; on one side a pile of turf, and on the other a shed for the pigs, in which they now lay grunting: the shutters were fastened on the windows to prevent their being shaken by the wind; but through the crevices Amanda saw light, which convinced her the inhabitants were not yet retired to repose. She feared her suddenly appearing before her father, in his present weak state, might have a dangerous effect upon him, and she stood before the cabin, consi­dering how she should have her arrival broke to him. She at last tapped gently at the door, and then retreated a few steps from it, shivering with the wet and cold: in the beautiful language of Solomon she might have said, “her head was filled with dew, and her locks with the drops of the night.” As she expected, the door was almost instantly opened; a boy appeared, whom she knew to be son to the poor people. She held of her handkerchief, and beckoned him to her; he hesitated as if afraid to advance, till she called him softly by his name; this assured him; he approached and expressed astonishment at finding she was the person who called him. She inquired for her father, and heard he was ill, and then asleep. She desired the boy to enter the cabin before her, and caution his parents against making any noise that might disturb him; he obeyed her, and she followed him.

She found the father of the family blowing a turf fire, to hasten the boiling of a large pot of potatoes. Three ragged children were sitting before it, watching impatiently for their supper. The mother was spinning, and their old grandmother making bread. The place was small and crowded: half the family slept below, and the other half up aloft, to which they ascended by a ladder, and upon which a number of fowls were now familiarly roosting, cackling at every noise made below. Fitzalan’s room was divided from the rest of the cabin by a thin partition of wood, plastered with pictures of saints and crosses.

“Save you kindly, madam,” said the mistress of the mansion to Amanda, on entering it.

Bryne got up, and with many scrapes, offered her his little stool before the fire. She thanked him, and accepted it; his wife, notwith­standing the obligations she lay under to her, seemed to think as 328 much respect was not due to her as when mistress of the castle, and therefore never left her seat, or quitted her spinning, on her entrance.

“My poor father is very ill,” said Amanda.

“Why, indeed the captain has had a bad time of it,” answered Mrs. Bryne, jogging her wheel; “to be sure he has suffered some little change; but your great folks, as well as your simple folks, must look to that in this world; and I don’t know why they should not, for they are no better than the others, I believe.”

“Arra, Norah, now,” said Bryne, “I wonder you are not shy of speaking so to the poor young lady.”

Amanda’s heart was surcharged with grief; she felt suffocating; she arose, unlatched the door, and the keen cold air a little revived her. Tears burst forth: she indulged them freely, and they lightened the load on her heart. She asked for a glass of water: a glass was not readily to be procured. Bryne told her she had better take a noggin of butter-milk. This she refused, and he brought her one of water.

She now conquered the reluctance she felt to speak to the uncouth Mrs. Bryne, and consulted her on the best method of mentioning her arrival to her father. Mrs. Bryne said he had been in bed sometime, but his sleep was often inter­rupted, and she would now step into his chamber, and try if he was awake; she accordingly did so, but returned in a moment, and said he still slept.

Amanda wished to see him in his present situation, to judge how far his illness had affected him; she stepped softly into his room: it was small and low, lighted by a glimmering rush-light, and a declining fire. The furniture was poor and scanty, in one corner stood a wooden bedstead, without curtains or any shade, and on this, under miserable bed-clothes, lay poor Fitzalan.

Amanda shuddered as she looked round this chamber of wretchedness. “Oh, my father,” she cried to herself, “is this the only refuge you could find?” She went to the bed, she leaned over it, and beheld his face; it was deadly pale and emaciated; he moaned in his sleep, as if his mind was dreadfully oppressed. Suddenly he began to move; he sighed—“Amanda, my dearest child, shall I never more behold you?”

Amanda was obliged to hasten from the room, to give vent to her emotions; she sobbed, she wrung her hands, and in the bitterness of 329 her soul exclaimed, “Alas! alas! I have returned too late to save him.”

They soon after heard him stir. She requested Mrs. Bryne to go in, and cautiously inform him she was come. She complied, and in a moment Amanda heard him say, “Thank heaven, my darling is returned.”

“You may now go in, Miss,” said Mrs. Bryne, coming from the room.

Amanda went in: her father was raised in the bed; his arms were extended to receive her; she threw herself into them; language was denied them both, but tears, even more expressive than words, evinced their feelings. Fitzalan first recovered his voice. “My prayer,” said he, “is granted; heaven has restored my child, to smooth the pillow of sickness, and sooth the last moments of existence.”

“Oh, my father,” cried Amanda, “have pity on me, and mention not those moments; exert yourself for your child, who, in this wide world, has she but thee to comfort, support, and befriend her?”

“Indeed,” said he, “for your sake I wish they may be far distant.”

He held her at a little distance from him; he surveyed her face, her form; her altered complexion, her fallen features, appeared to shock him; he clasped her again to his bosom. “The world, my child, I fear,” cried he, “has used thee most unkindly.”

“Oh! most cruelly,” sobbed Amanda.

“Then, my girl, let the reflection of that world, where innocence and virtue will meet a proper reward, console you:—here they are often permitted to be tried; but as gold is tried and purified by fire, so are they by adversity. Those whom God loves he chastises.—Let this idea give you patience and fortitude, under every trial; never forego your dependence on him, though calamity should pursue you to the very brink of the grave; but be comforted by the assurance he has given, that those who meekly bear the cross he lays upon them shall be rewarded: that he will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and swallow up death in victory.

“Though a soldier from my youth, and accustomed to all the licentiousness of camps, I never forgot my Creator, and I now find the benefit of not having done so: now, when my friends desert, the world frowns upon me; when sickness and sorrow have overwhelmed 330 me, religion stands me in good stead; consoles me for what I lost, and softens the remembrance of the past, by presenting prospects of future brightness.”

So spoke Fitzalan the pious sentiments of his soul, and they calmed the agitations of Amanda. He found her clothes were wet, and insisted on her changing them directly. In the bundle the good Eleanor gave her, was a change of linen and a cotton wrapper, which she now put on, in a small closet, or rather shed, adjoining her father’s room. A good fire was made up, a better light brought in, and some bread and wine from a small cupboard in the room which contained Fitzalan’s things, set before her, of which he made her immediately partake. He took a glass of wine himself from her, and tried to cheer her spirits. “He had been daily expecting her arrival,” he said, “and had had a pallet and bed clothes kept airing for her; he hoped she would not be dissatisfied with sleeping in the closet.”

“Ah! my father,” she cried, “can you ask your daughter such a question?” She expressed her fears of injuring him by having disturbed his repose. “No,” he said, “it was a delightful inter­ruption; it was a relief from pain and anxiety.”

Lord Cherbury, he informed her, had written him a letter, which pierced him to the soul. “He accused me,” said he, “of endea­vouring to promote a marriage between you and Lord Mortimer; of treacherously trying to counteract his views, and take advantage of his unsuspecting friendship. I was shocked at these accusations; but how excruciating would my anguish have been, had I really deserved them; I soon determined upon the conduct I should adopt, which was to deny the justice of his charges and resign his agency, for any farther dealings with a man, who could think me capable of meanness or duplicity, was not to be thought of. My accounts were always in a state to allow me to resign at a moment’s warning. It was my intention to go to England, put them into Lord Cherbury’s hands, and take my Amanda from a place where she might meet with indignities, as little merited by her, as those her father had received were by him. A sudden and dreadful disorder, which I am convinced the agitation of my mind brought on, prevented my executing this intention. I wrote, however, to his lordship, acquainting him with my resignation of his agency, and transmitting my accounts and arrears. I sent a letter to you at the same time, and a 331 small remittance, for your immediate return, and then retired from the castle, for I felt a longer continuance in it would degrade me to the character of a mean dependant, and intimated a hope of being reinstated in my former station; which, should Lord Cherbury now offer, I should reject, for ignoble must be the mind which could accept of favours from those who doubted its integrity. Against such conduct my feelings revolt; poverty to me, is more welcome than indepen­dence, when purchased with the loss of self-esteem.”

Amanda perceived her father knew nothing of her sufferings, but supposed her return occasioned by his letter; she therefore resolved, if possible, not to undeceive him, at least till his health was better.

The night was far advanced, and her father who saw her ill, and almost sinking with fatigue, requested her to retire to rest; she accordingly did. Her bed was made up in the little closet; Mrs. Bryne assisted her to undress, and brought her a bowl of whey, which, she trusted, with a comfortable sleep, would carry off her feverish symptoms, and enable her to be her father’s nurse.

Her rest, however, was far from being comfortable; it was broken by horrid dreams, in which she beheld the pale and emaciated figure of her father, suffering the most exquisite tortures; and when she started from these dreams, she heard his deep moans, which were like daggers going through her heart. She arose once or twice, supposing him in pain, but when she went to his bed she found him asleep, and was convinced from that circum­stance, his pain was more of the mental than the bodily kind. She felt extremely ill; her bones were sore from the violent motion of the carriage, and she fancied rest would do her good; but when, towards morning, she was inclined to take some, she was completely prevented by the noise the children made on rising. Fearful of neglecting her father, she arose soon after herself, but was scarcely able to put on her clothes from excessive weakness. She found him in bed, but awake. He welcomed her with a languid smile, and extending his hand, which was reduced to mere skin and bone, said, “that joy was a greater enemy to repose than grief, and had broken his earlier than usual that morning.”

He made her sit down by him; he gazed on her with unutterable tenderness: “In divine language,” cried he, “I may say, let me see thy countenance; let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and 332 thy countenance is comely, and my soul has pleasure in gazing on it.”

The kettle was already boiling: he had procured a few necessaries for himself, such as tea-things and glasses. Amanda placed the tea-table by the bedside, and gave him his breakfast. Whilst receiving it from her, his eyes were raised to heaven, as if in thankful gratitude for the inestimable blessing he still possessed in such a child. After breakfast he said he would rise, and Amanda retired into the garden till he was dressed, if that could deserve the appel­lation, which was only a slip of ground, planted with cabbages and potatoes, and enclosed with loose stones and blackberry bushes. The spring was already advanced: the day was fine; the light and fleecy clouds were gradually dispersing, and the sky, almost as far as the eye could reach, was of a clear blue. The dusky green of the blackberry bushes was enlivened by the pale purple of their blossoms; tufts of primroses grew beneath their shelter; the fields, which rose with a gentle swell above the garden, were covered with a vivid green, spangled with daisies, buttercups, and wild honey-suckles; and the birds, as they fluttered from spray to spray, with notes of gladness, hailed the genial season.

But neither the season nor its charms could now, as heretofore, delight Amanda; she felt forlorn and disconsolate; deprived of the comforts of life, and no longer inter­ested in the objects around her, she sat down upon a stone at the end of the garden, and she thought the fresh breeze from the sea cooled the feverish heat of her blood. “Alas!” she said to herself, “at this season last year, how different was my situation from the present!” Though not in affluence, neither was she then in absolute distress; and she had, besides, the comfortable hope of having her father’s difficulties removed; like Burns’ mountain daisy, she had then cheerfully glinted forth amidst the storm, because she thought that storm would be o’erblown; but now she saw herself on the point of being finally crushed beneath the rude pressure of poverty.

She recollected the words which had escaped her when she last saw Tudor Hall, and she thought they were dictated by something like a prophetic spirit. She had then said, as she leaned upon a little gate which looked into the domain, “when these woods again glow with vegetation; when every shade resounds with harmony, and the 333 flowers and the blossoms spread their foliage to the sun, ah! ah, where will Amanda be? far distant, in all proba­bility, from these delightful shades; perhaps deserted and forgotten by their master.”

She was indeed far distant from them; deserted, and if not forgotten, at least only remembered with contempt by their master: remembered with contempt by Lord Mortimer. It was an idea of intolerable anguish; his name was no more repeated as a charm to soothe her grief; this idea increased her misery.

She continued indulging her melancholy meditations, till informed by one of the children the captain was ready to receive her. She hastened in, and found him in an old high-backed chair, and the ravages of care and sickness were now more visible to her than they had been the night before; he was reduced to a mere skeleton; “the original brightness of his form” was quite gone, and he seemed already on the very brink of the grave. The agony of Amanda’s feelings was expressed on her countenance: he perceived and guessed its source. He endea­voured to compose and comfort her. She mentioned a physician; he tried to dissuade her from the idea of bringing one, but she besought him, in compassion to her, to consent, and, overcome by her earnestness, he at last promised the ensuing day she should do as she wished.

It was now Sunday, and he desired the service of the day to be read. A small bible lay on the table before him, and Amanda complied with his desire. In the first lesson were these words: “Leave thy fatherless children to me, and I will be their father.” The tears gushed from Fitzalan; he laid his hand, which appeared convulsed with agitation, on the book. “Oh! what words of comfort,” cried he, “are these; what transport do they convey to the heart of a parent burthened with anxiety! Yes, merciful Power I will, with grateful joy, commit my children to thy care, for thou art the friend who wilt never forsake them.” He desired Amanda to proceed; her voice was weak and broken, and the tears, in spite of her efforts to restrain them, stole down her cheeks.

When she had concluded, her father drew towards him, and inquired into all that hid past during her stay in London. She related to him, without reserve, the various incidents she had met with previous to her going to the marchioness’s: acknow­ledged the hopes and fears she experienced on Lord Mortimer’s account: and the arguments 334 he had made use of to induce her to a clandestine union, with her positive refusal to such a step.

A beam of pleasure illumined the pallid face of Fitzalan; “you acted,” said he, “as I expected, and I glory in my child, and feel more indignation than ever against Lord Cherbury for his mean suspicions.”—Amanda was convinced those suspicions had been infused into his mind by those who had struck at her peace and fame. This idea, however, as well as their injuries to her, she meant if possible, to conceal.—When her father, therefore, desired her to proceed in her narrative, her voice began to falter, her mind became disturbed, and her countenance betrayed her agitation. The remembrance of the dreadful scenes she had gone through at the marchioness’s made her involuntarily shudder, and she wished to conceal them forever from her father, but found it impossible to evade his minute and earnest inquiries.

“Gracious heaven,” said he, on hearing them, “what complicated cruelty and deceit! inhuman monsters! to have no pity on one so young, so innocent, so hopeless; the hand of sorrow has indeed prest heavy on thee, my child; but after the marchioness’s former conduct, I cannot be surprised at any action of hers.”

He gave her a note to discharge her debt to Howell, and begged she would immediately write, and return his grateful acknow­ledge­ments for his benevolence.—She feared he incon­venienced himself by parting with the note, but he assured her he could spare it extremely well, as he had been an economist, and had still sufficient money to support them a few months longer in their present situation.

Amanda now inquired when he had heard from her brother: she said he had not answered her last letter, and that his silence had made her very uneasy.

“Alas, poor Oscar!” exclaimed Fitzalan, “he has not been exempt from his portion of distress.”

He took a letter, as he spoke, from his pocket-book, and presented it to Amanda. She opened it with a trembling hand, and read as follows:

My Dear Father.

Particular circumstances prevented my answering your last letter as soon as I could have wished; and, indeed, the intelligence I have to communicate makes me almost averse to write at all. As my situation, however, must sooner or later be known to you, I think it better to inform you of it myself, as I can, at the same time, reconcile you, I trust, to 335 some degree to it by assuring you I bear it patiently, and that it has not been caused by any action which can degrade my character, as a man or a soldier. I have long, indeed, had a powerful enemy to cope with, and it will, no doubt, surprise you to hear that that enemy is Colonel Belgrave. An inter­ference in the cause of humanity provoked his insolence and malignity; neither his words nor looks were bearable, and I was irritated by them to send him a challenge; had I reflected, the probable consequences of such a step must have occurred, and prevented my taking it, but passion blinded my reason, and in yielding to its dictates do I hold myself alone culpable throughout the whole affair. I gave him the opportunity his malicious heart had long desired, of working my ruin. I was, by his order, put under an immediate arrest. A court martial was held, and I was broke for disrespect to a superior officer; but it was imagined by the whole corps I should have been restored. I, however, know too much of Belgrave’s disposition to believe this would be the case; but never shall he triumph in the distress he has caused, by witnessing it. I have already settled on the course I shall pursue, and ere the letter reaches you I shall have quitted my native kingdom. Forgive me, my dear Sir, for not consulting you relative to my conduct; but I feared if I did, your tenderness would interfere to prevent it, or lead you to distress yourself on my account; and to think that you and my dead sister were deprived of the smallest comfort by my means, would be a source of intolerable anguish to me. Blest as I am with youth, health, and fortitude, I have no doubt but I shall make my way through the rugged path of life extremely well. A parting visit I avoided from the certainty of its being painful to us both. I shall write as soon as I reach my place of destination. I rejoice to hear Amanda is so happily situated with Lady Greystock: may your suffering and her merit be rewarded as they deserve. Suffer not, I entreat, too tender an anxiety for my interest to disturb your repose. I again repeat I have no doubt but that I shall do well; that provi­dence in which I trust will. I humbly hope, support me through every difficulty, and again unite me to the friend? so valuable to my heart.—Farewell my dear father, and be assured, with unabated respect and gratitude, I subjoin myself your affec­tionate son,

Oscar Fitzalan.

This letter was a cruel shock to Amanda; she hoped to have procured her brother’s company, and that her father’s melancholy and her own would have been alleviated, by it. Sensible of the difficulties Oscar must undergo, without friends or fortune, the tears stole down her cheeks, and she almost dreaded she should no more behold him.

Her father besought her to spare him the misery of seeing those tears; he leaned upon her for comfort and support, he said, and bid her not disappoint him. She hastily wiped away her tears; and though she could not conquer, tried to suppress her anguish.

Johnaten and Kate called in the course of the day, to know if they could be of any service to Fitzalan.—Amanda engaged Johnaten to go to town the next morning for a physician, and gave Kate the key of a wardrobe, where she had left some things, which she desired her to pack up, and send to the cabin in the evening. Mrs. Bryne gave them one of her fowls for dinner, and Fitzalan assumed an appearance 336 of cheerfulness, and the evening; wore away somewhat better than the preceding part of the day had done.

Johnaten was punctual in obeying Amanda’s commands, and brought a physician the next morning to the cabin. Fitzalan appeared much worse, and Amanda rejoiced that she had been resolute in procuring him advice.

She withdrew from the room soon after the physician had entered it, and waited without in trembling anxiety for his appearance.

When he came out, she asked, with a faltering voice his opinion, and besought him not to deceive her, from pity to her feelings.

He shook his head, and assured her he would not deviate from truth for the world. “The captain was, indeed, in a ticklish situation,” he said; “but the medicine he had ordered, and sea bathing he doubted not, would set all to rights; it was fortunate,” he added, “she delayed no longer sending for him;” mentioned twenty miraculous cures he had performed; admired the immense fine prospect before the door, and wished her a good morning, with what he thought quite a dégagée and irresistible air.

She was willing to believe his assurance of her father’s recovery, as the drowning wretch will grasp at every straw; she eagerly embraced the shadow of comfort, and in the recovery of her father, looked forward to conso­lation for all her sorrows. She struggled against her own illness, that no assiduous attention might be wanting to him; and would have set up with him at night, had he not positively insisted on her going to bed.

The medicines he was ordered he received from her hands, but with a look which seemed to express his conviction of their inefficacy. All, however, she wished him to do he did, and often raised his eyes to heaven, as to implore it to reward her care, and yet a little longer to spare him to this beloved child, whose happiness so much depended on the prolongation of his existence.

Four days passed heavily away, and the assurances of the physician, who was punctual in his attendance, lost their effect upon Amanda.

Her father was considerably altered for the worse, and unable to rise, except for a few minutes in the evening, to have his bed made. He complained of no pain or sickness, but seemed sinking beneath an easy and gradual decay. It was only at intervals he could converse 337 with his daughter. His conversation was then calculated to strengthen her fortitude and resignation, and prepare her for an approaching melancholy event. Whenever she received a hint of it, her agony was inexpressible: but pity for her feelings could not prevent her father from using every opportunity that occurred for laying down rules and precepts, which might be serviceable to her when without a guide or protector. Sometimes he adverted to the past, but this was only done to make her more cautious of the future.

He charged her to avoid any further intimacy with Lord Mortimer, as an essential measure for the restoration of her peace and preservation of his fame, and the removal of Lord Cherbury’s unjust suspicions, who will find at last, continued he, how much he wronged me, and may, perhaps, feel compunction, when beyond his power to make reparation.

To all he desired, Amanda promised a religious observance; she thought it unnecessary in him, indeed, to desire her to avoid Lord Mortimer, convinced as she was that he had utterly abandoned her; but the grief this desertion occasioned, she believed, she should soon overcome, was her father once restored to health, for then she would have no time for useless regrets or retrospection, but be obliged to pass every hour in active exertions for his support and comfort.

A week passed away in this manner at the cabin; a week of wretchedness to Amanda, who perceived her father growing weaker and weaker.

She assisted him, as usual, to rise one evening, for a few minutes; when dressed, he complained of an oppression in his breathing, and desired to be supported to the air. Amanda, with difficulty, led him to the window, which she opened, and seated him by it: then knelt before him, and putting her arms round his waist, fastened her eyes with anxious tenderness upon his face.

The evening was serenely fine; the sun was setting in all its glory, and the sea, illumined by its parting beams, looked like a sheet of burnished silver.

“What a lovely scene!” cried Fitzalan, faintly; “with what majesty does the sun retire from the world; the calmness which attends its departure, is such, I think, as must attend the exit of a good man.”

He paused for a few minutes, then raising his eyes to heaven, 338 exclaimed, “Merciful Power! had it pleased thee, I could have wished yet a little longer to have been spared to this young creature! but thy will, not mine, be done; confiding in thy mercy, I leave her with some degree of fortitude.”

Amanda’s tears began to flow as he spoke; he raised his hand on which they fell, and kissing them off, exclaimed, “precious drops: my Amanda, weep not too bitterly for me; like a weary traveller, think that rest must now be acceptable to me.”

She interrupted him, and conjured him to change the discourse. He shook his head mournfully; pressed her hands between his, and said,

“Yet a little longer, my child, bear with it;” then bid her assure her brother, whenever they met, which he trusted and believed would be soon, he had his father’s blessing; “the only legacy,” he cried, “I can leave him: but one I am confident he merits, and will value; to you, my girl, I have no doubt he will prove a friend and guardian; you may both, perhaps, be amply recompensed for all your sorrows. Providence is just in all its dealings, and may yet render the lovely offspring of my Malvina truly happy.”

He appeared exhausted by speaking, and Amanda assisted him to lie down, entreating him at the same time to take some drops. He consented, and, while she was pouring them out at a little table, her back to the bed, she heard a deep groan: the bottle dropped from her hand, she sprang to the bed, and perceived her father lying senseless on the pillow. She imagined he had fainted, and screamed out for assistance.

The woman of the cabin, her husband and mother, all rushed into the room; he was raised up, his temples and hands chafed, and every remedy within the house applied for his recovery—but in vain—his spirit had forsaken its tenement of clay for ever.

Amanda, when convinced of this, wrung her hands together, then, suddenly opening them, she clasped the lifeless body to her breast, and sunk fainting beside it.

Errata: Chapter XXXII

Tears accompanied this fervent ejaculation,
text has “ejacu-/tion” at line break

no way appeared of escaping “want, worldly want,
text has wordly

“My prayer,” said he, “is granted;
second open quote missing

he hoped she would not be dissatisfied with sleeping in the closet.”
close quote missing

should Lord Cherbury now offer, I should reject
text has offer.

a clandestine union, with her positive refusal to such a step
, missing

A beam of pleasure illumined the pallid face of Fitzalan;
; missing

and return his grateful acknowledgements for his benevolence.
text has acknowldgements

“he has not been exempt from his portion of distress.”
close quote missing

Particular circumstances prevented my answering your last letter as soon as I could have wished; and, indeed, the intelligence I have to communicate makes me almost averse to write at all. As my situation, however, must sooner or later be known to you, I think it better to inform you of it myself as I can, at the same time, reconcile you, I trust, to

page image showing missing text


Many years are now elapsed since I took up my residence in this sequestered hamlet.


She remained a considerable time in a state of insensibility, and, when recovered, she found herself in a bed lain upon the floor, in a corner of the outside room

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.