The Children of the Abbey
As one condemn’d to leap a precipice,
Who sees before his eyes the depth below,
Stops short, and looks about for some kind shrub
To break his dreadful fall.
Amanda went to her chamber the moment Lord Mortimer departed; the nuns were already retired to rest, so that the stillness which reigned through the house added to the awfulness of her feelings, as she sat down to peruse a letter which she had been previously informed would fix her fate.
“TO MISS FITZALAN.
“To destroy a prospect of felicity, at the very moment its enveloping glooms are dispersed, is indeed the source of pangs most dreadful; 402 yet such are the horrors of my destiny, that nothing but intervening between you, Mortimer, and happiness, can save me from perdition! Appalled at this dreadful assertion, the letter drops from your trembling hands; but, oh! dear Miss Fitzalan, cast it not utterly aside till you peruse the rest of the contents, and fix the destiny of the most wretched of mankind, wretched in thinking he shall interrupt not only your peace, but the peace of a son, so noble, so gracious, so idolized as Mortimer is by him. But I will no longer torture your feelings by keeping you in suspense; the preface I have already given is sufficient, and I will be explicit: gambling, that bane of fame and fortune, has been my ruin; but whilst I indulged, so well did I conceal my propensity for it, that even those I called my friends are ignorant of it. With shame I confess, I was ever foremost to rail against this vice, which was continually drawing sums in secret from me, that would have given comfort and affluence to many a child of want. For some time my good and bad fortune were so equal, that my income suffered no considerable diminution. About five years ago, a Mr. Freelove, a particular friend of mine died, and left to my care his only son, who, I dare say, you may recollect having seen at my house last winter: this young man’s property was consigned to my care to manage as much for his advantage as I could; it consisted of a large estate and fifty thousand At the period Freelove became my ward, I had had a constant run of ill luck for many months. The ardour of gaming (unlike every other passion) is rather increased than diminished by disappointment. Without being warned therefore by ill success, I still went on, till all I could touch of my own property was gone. Did I then retire ashamed of my folly? No; I could not bear to do so, without another effort for recovering my losses, and in that effort risked something more precious than I had ever yet done, namely, my honour, by using the money which lay in my hands belonging to Freelove. The long period which was to elapse ere he came of age, emboldened me to this. Ere that period I trusted I should have retrieved my losses, and be enabled not only to discharge the principal, but whatever interest it would have brought, if applied to another purpose. I followed the bent of my evil genius, sum after sum was taken up, and all alike buried in the accursed vortex which had already swallowed so much from me. But when I found all was gone, oh, Miss Fitzalan! I still tremble at the distraction of that moment.
“All, as I have said before, that I could touch of property was gone; the remainder was so settled I had no power over it, except joined by my son. Great as was the injury he would sustain by mortgaging it, I was confident he never would hesitate doing so if acquainted with my distress; but to let him know it was worse than a death of torture could be to me; his early excellence, the nobleness of his principles, mingled in the love I felt for him a degree of awe; to confess myself a villain to such a character, to acknowledge my life had been a scene of deceit; to be abashed, confounded in the presence of my son, to meet his piercing eye, to see the blush of shame mantle 403 his cheeks, for his father’s crimes—oh horrible—most horrible! I raved at the idea, and resolved if driven by necessity to tell him of my baseness, not to survive the confession. At this critical juncture, the Marquis of Rosline came from Scotland, to reside in London; an intimacy which had been dormant for years, between our families was then revived; and I soon found that an alliance between them would be pleasing. The prospect of it raised me from the very depth of despair; but my transports were of short continuance for Mortimer not only showed, but expressed the strongest repugnance to such a connexion.
“Time and daily experience, I trusted, would so forcibly convince him of the advantages of it, as at last to conquer this repugnance: nor did the hope of an alliance taking place entirely forsake my heart, till informed he was already bestowed upon another object. My feelings at this information I shall not attempt to describe: all hope of saving myself from dishonour was now cut off; for though dutiful and attentive to me in the highest degree, I could not flatter myself that Mortimer would blindly sacrifice his reason and inclination to my will. The most fatal intentions again look possession of my mind, but the uncertainties he suffered on your account kept me in horrible suspense as to their execution; after some months of torture, I began again to revive, by learning that you and Mortimer were inevitably separated; and such is the selfish nature of vice, so abandoned is it to all feelings of humanity, that I rather rejoiced at, than lamented the supposed disgrace of the daughter of my friend.
“But the persevering constancy of Mortimer, rather, let me say, the immediate interposition of Providence, soon gave her reason to triumph over the arts of her enemies, and I was again reduced to despair. Mortimer, I dare say, from motives of delicacy, has concealed from you the opposition I gave to his wishes, after your innocence was cleared, and the intentions of Lady Martha Dormer, relative to you, were made known; at last I found I must either seem to acquiesce in these wishes and intentions, or divulge my real motive for opposing them: or else quarrel with my son and sister, and appear in their eyes, the most selfish of human beings; I, therefore, to appearance, acquiesced, but resolved in reality to throw myself upon your mercy: believing that a character so tender, so perfect, so heroic-like, as yours has been, through every scene of distress, would have compassion on a fallen fellow-creature.—Was my situation otherwise than it now is, were you even portionless, I should rejoice at having you united to my family, from your own intrinsic merit. Situated as I am, the fortune Lady Martha Dormer proposes giving you, can be of no consequence to me: the projected match between you and Mortimer is yet a secret from the public, of course it has not lessened his interest with the Rosline family. I have been already so fortunate as to adjust the unlucky difference which took place between them, and remove any resentment they entertained against him, and I am confident the first overture he should make for a union with Lady Euphrasia would be successful. The fortune which would immediately 404 be received with her, is sixty thousand pounds, and five thousand a year; the first would be given up to me in place of the settlement I should make on Lord Mortimer, so that you see, my dear Miss Fitzalan, his marriage with Lady Euphrasia would at once extricate me from all my difficulties.—Freelove in a few months will be of age, and the smallest delay in settling with him, after he attains that period, must brand me with dishonour.
“I stand upon the verge of a dreadful abyss, and it is in your power only to preserve me from plunging into it; you, who like an angel of mercy, may bid me live, and save me from destruction. Yet think not, in resigning Lord Mortimer, if indeed such a resignation should take place, you sacrifice your own interest. No: it shall be my grateful care to secure to you independence; and I am confident, among the many men you must meet, sensible of your worth, and enraptured with your charms, you may yet select one, as calculated to render you happy as Mortimer, while he, disappointed of the object of his affections, will, I have no doubt, without longer hesitation, accept the one I shall again propose to him.
“But should you determine on giving him up, you ask how, and by what means, you can break with him, after what has passed, without revealing your real motive for doing so to him.
“That is indeed a difficulty; but after going so far, I must not hesitate in telling you how it can be removed. You must retire secretly from his knowledge, and leave no clue behind, by which you can be traced. If you comply with the first of my requests, but stop short here, you will defeat all that your mercy, your pity, your compassion could do to save me; since the consequence of any hesitation must be a full explanation: and I have already said it, and now repeat it in the most solemn manner, that I will not survive the divulgement of my secret; for never, no never will I live humbled in the eyes of my son: if then you comply, comply not in part. Pardon me, dear Miss Fitzalan, if you think there is any thing arbitrary in my style; I would have softened, if I could, all I had to say: but the time, the danger, the necessity urged me to be explicit. I have now, to you, as to a superior being, opened my whole heart; its rests with you whether I shall live to atone for my follies, or by one desperate action terminate them. Should you show me mercy, unworthy as I am of it, should you, in compassion to poor Mortimer, comply with a request which can only save him from the pangs he would feel at a father’s quitting life unbidden, my gratitude, my admiration, my protection whilst I live, will be yours, and the first act of my restored life will be to secure you a competence. I shall wait with trembling anxiety for your appearance to-morrow night; till then believe me
“Your sincere, though
“Most unhappy friend
The fatal letter fell from Amanda, a mist overspread her eyes, and she sunk senseless on her chair; but the privation of her misery was 405 of short duration, and she recovered as if from a dreadful dream; she felt cold, trembling, and terrified; she looked round the room with an eye of apprehension and dismay, bewildered as to the cause of her wretchedness and terror, till the letter at her feet again struck her sight.
“Was there no way,” she asked herself, as she again examined the contents, “was there no way by which the dreadful sacrifice it doomed her to, could be avoided? Lady Martha and Lord Mortimer would unite their efforts to save the honour of their wretched relative; they would soothe his feelings—they would compassionate his failings—they would—” but she started in the midst of these ideas, started as from ideas fraught with guilt and horror, as those fatal words rushed upon her mind: “I will not survive the divulgement of my secret;” and she found that to save the father, she must resign the
How unworthy of such a sacrifice, engaged as she was to Lord Mortimer! She began to doubt whether she had a right to make it. What a doubt! She shuddered for having conceived it, and reproached herself for yielding a moment to the suggestion of tenderness, which had given rise to it. She resolved, without a farther struggle, to submit to reason and virtue, convinced that, if accessory to Lord Cherbury’s death, nothing could assuage her wretchedness, and the unhappiness Lord Mortimer would sutler at losing her would be trifling compared to that he would feel if he lost his father by an act of suicide.
“In my fate,” exclaimed she, in a low and broken accent of despair, “there is no alternative! I submit to it, without a farther struggle. I dare not call upon one being to advise me; I resign him, therefore,” she continued, as if Lord Cherbury was really present to hear her resignation, “resign Lord Mortimer: but, oh, my God!” raising her hands with agony to heaven, “give me fortitude to bear the horrors of my situation. Oh, Mortimer! dear, invaluable Mortimer! the hand of fate is against our union, and we must part, never, never more to meet! From the imputation of ingratitude and guilt I shall not be allowed to vindicate myself: no, I am completely the victim of Lord Cherbury—the cruel, perfidious Cherbury, whose treachery, whose seeming acquiescence in the wishes of his son has given me joy but to render my misery more acute!”406
That Lord Mortimer would impute withdrawing herself from him to an attachment for Belgrave she was convinced; and that her fame, as well as peace should be sacrificed to Lord Cherbury, caused such a whirl of contending passions in her mind, that reason and reflection for a few minutes yielded to their violence, and she resolved to vindicate herself to Lord Mortimer. This resolution, however, was of short continuance; as her subsiding passions again gave her power to reflect, she was convinced that by trying to clear herself of an imaginary crime she should commit a real one, since to save her own character, Lord Cherbury’s must be stigmatized, and the consequence of such an act he had already declared, so that not only by the world but by her own conscience, she should forever be accused of his death.
“It must, it must be made,” she wildly cried, “the sacrifice must be made, and Mortimer is lost to me forever.” She flung herself on the bed, and passed the hours till morning in agonies too great for description. From a kind of stupefaction rather than sleep, into which she had gradually sunk towards morning, she was aroused by a gentle tap at the chamber door, and the voice of sister Mary informed her that Lord Mortimer was below, and impatient for his breakfast.
Amanda started from the bed, and bid her tell his lordship she would attend him immediately. She then adjusted her dress, tried to calm her spirits, and, with uplifted hands and eyes, besought heaven to support her through the trials of the day.
Weak and trembling she descended to the parlour.—The moment she entered it, Lord Mortimer, shocked and surprised by her altered looks, exclaimed, “Gracious heaven! what is the matter?” Then feeling the feverish heat of her hands, continued, “Why, why, Amanda, had you the cruelty to conceal your illness? Proper assistance might have prevented its increasing to such a degree.” With unutterable tenderness he folded his arms about her, and while her drooping head sunk on his bosom, declared he would immediately send for the physician who had before attended her.
“Do not,” said Amanda, while tears trickled down her cheeks. “Do not,” continued she, in a broken voice, “for he could do me no good.”
“No good,” repeated Lord Mortimer, in a terrified accent.
“I mean,” cried she, recollecting herself, “he would find it unnecessary 407 to prescribe anything for me, as my illness only proceeds from the agitation I suffered yesterday; it made me pass an indifferent night, but quietness to-day will recover me.”
Lord Mortimer was with difficulty persuaded to give up his intention, nor would he relinquish it till she had promised, if not better before the evening, to inform him, and let the physician be sent for.
They now sat down to breakfast, at which Amanda was unable either to preside or eat. When over, she told Lord Mortimer she must retire to her chamber, as rest was essential for her; but between nine and ten in the evening she would be happy to see him. He tried to persuade her that she might rest as well upon the sofa in the parlour as in her chamber, and that he might then be allowed to sit with her: but she could not be persuaded to this, she said, and begged he would excuse seeing her till the time she had already mentioned.
He at last retired with great reluctance, but not till she had several times desired him to do so.
Amanda now repaired to her chamber, but not to indulge in the supineness of grief, though her heart felt bursting, but to settle upon some plan for her future conduct. In the first place, she meant immediately to write to Lord Cherbury, as the best method she could take of acquainting him with her compliance, and preventing any conversation between them, which would now have been insupportable to her.
In the next place she designed acquainting the prioress with the sudden alteration in her affairs, only concealing from her the occasion of that alteration, and, as but one day intervened between the present and the one fixed for her journey, meant to beseech her to think of some place to which she might retire from Lord Mortimer.
Yet such was the opinion she knew the prioress entertained of Lord Mortimer, that she almost dreaded she would impute her resignation of him to some criminal motive, and abandon her entirely. If this should be the case (and scarcely could she be surprised if it was) she resolved, without delay, to go privately to the neighbouring town, and from thence proceed immediately to Dublin: how she should act there, or what would become of her, never entered her thoughts: they were wholly engrossed about the manner in which she should leave St. Catharine’s.408
But she hoped, much as appearances were against her, she should not be deserted by the prioress. Providence, she trusted, would be so compassionate to her misery, as to preserve her this one friend, who could not only assist but advise her.
As soon as she had settled the line of conduct she should pursue, she sat down to pen her renunciation of Lord Mortimer, which she did in the following words:
“TO THE EARL OF CHERBURY.
“To your wishes I resign my happiness; my happiness, I repeat, for it is due to Lord Mortimer to declare, that a union with such a character as his must have produced the highest felicity; it is also due to my own to declare, that it was neither his rank nor fortune, but his virtues, which influenced my inclination in his favour.
“Happy had it been for us all, my lord, but particularly for me, had you continued steady in opposing the wishes of your son. My reverence for paternal authority is too great ever to have allowed me to act in opposition to it. I should not then, by your seeming acquiescence to them, have been tempted to think my trials all over.
“But I will not do away with any little merit your lordship may perhaps ascribe to my immediate compliance with your request, by dwelling upon the sufferings it entails upon me. May the renunciation of my hopes be the means of realizing your lordship’s, and may superior fortune bring superior happiness to Lord Mortimer!
“I thank your lordship for your intentions relative to me: but whilst I do so, must assure you, both now and forever, I shall decline having them executed for me.
“I shall not disguise the truth; it would not be in your lordship’s power to recompense the sacrifice I have made you, and besides, pecuniary obligations can never sit easy upon a feeling mind, except they are conferred by those we know value as, and whom we value ourselves.
“I have the honour to be,
“Your lordship’s obedient servant,
The tears she had with difficulty restrained while she was writing now burst forth. She rose, and walked to the window to try if the air would remove the which oppressed her: from it she perceived Lord Mortimer and the prioress in deep conversation at a little distance from the convent: she conjectured she was their subject, for, as Lord Mortimer retired, the prioress, whom she had not seen that day before, came into her chamber. After the usual 409 salutations—“Lord Mortimer has been telling me you were ill,” said she: “I trusted a lover’s fears had magnified the danger: but truly, my dear child, I am sorry to say this is not the case; tell me, my dear, what is the matter? Surely now, more than ever, you should be careful of your health.”
“Oh! no,” said Amanda, with a convulsive sob—“oh! no,” wringing her hands, “you are sadly mistaken.” The prioress grew alarmed, her limbs began to tremble, she was unable to stand, and dropping on the nearest chair, besought Amanda, in a voice expressive of her feelings, to explain the reason of her distress.
Amanda knelt before her; she took her hands, she pressed them to her burning forehead and lips, and bedewed them with her tears, whilst she exclaimed she was wretched.
“Wretched!” repeated the prioress; “for heaven’s sake be explicit; keep me no longer in suspense: you sicken my very heart; by your agitation it foretells something dreadful!”
“It does indeed,” said Amanda: “it foretells that Lord Mortimer and I will never be united!”
The prioress started, and surveyed Amanda with a look which seemed to say, “she believed she had lost her senses;” then, with assumed composure, begged “she would defer any further explanation of her distress till her spirits were in a calmer state.”
“I will not rise,” cried Amanda, taking the prioress’s hand, which in her surprise, she had involuntarily withdrawn—“I will not rise till you say, that, notwithstanding the mysterious situation in which I am involved, you will continue to be my friend. Oh! such an assurance would assuage the sorrows of my heart.”
The prioress now perceived that it was grief alone which disordered Amanda; but how she had met with any cause for grief, or what could occasion it, were matters of astonishment to her. “Surely, my dear child,” cried she, “you should know me too well to desire such an assurance: but however mysterious her situation may appear to others, she will not, I trust and believe, let it appear so to me. I wait with impatience for an explanation.”
“It is one of my greatest sorrows,” exclaimed Amanda, “that I cannot give such an explanation: no, no,” she continued, in an agony, “a death-bed confession would not authorize my telling you the occasion of Lord Mortimer’s separation and mine.” The prioress 410 now insisted on her taking a chair, and then begged, as far as she could, without farther delay, she would let her into her situation.
Amanda immediately complied. “An unexpected obstacle to her union with Lord Mortimer,” she said, “had arisen; an obstacle which, while compelled to submit to it, she was bound most solemnly to conceal: it was expedient, therefore, she should retire from Lord Mortimer without giving him the smallest intimation of such an intention, lest, if he suspected it, he should inquire too minutely, and, by so doing, plunge not only her but himself into irremediable distress.—To avoid this, it was necessary all but the prioress should be ignorant of her scheme, and by her means she hoped she should be put in a way of finding such a place of secrecy and security as she required. She besought the prioress, with streaming eyes, not to impute her resignation of Lord Mortimer to any unworthy motive; to that Heaven, which could alone console her for her loss, she appealed for her innocence; she besought her to believe her sincere; to pity but not condemn her; to continue her friend now, when her friendship was most needful in this her deep distress; and she assured her, if it was withdrawn, she believed she could no longer struggle with her sorrows. The prioress remained silent a few minutes, and then addressed her in a solemn
“I own. Miss Fitzalan, your conduct appears so inexplicable, so astonishing, that nothing but the opinion I have formed of your character, from seeing the manner in which you have acted, since left to yourself, could prevent my esteem from being diminished; but I am persuaded you cannot act from a bad motive; therefore, till that persuasion ceases, my esteem can know no diminution. From this declaration you may be convinced, that, to the utmost of my power, I will serve you; yet, ere you finally determine and require such service, weigh well what you are about; consider, in the eyes of the world, you are about acting a dishonourable part in breaking your engagement with Lord Mortimer, without assigning some reason for doing so. Nothing short of a point of conscience should influence you to this.”
“Nothing short of it has,” replied Amanda; “therefore pity, and do not aggravate my feelings by pointing out the consequences which will attend the sacrifice I am compelled to make; only promise,” 411 taking the prioress’s hand, “only promise, in this great and sad emergency, to be my friend.”
Her looks, her words, her agonies, stopped short all the prioress was going to say. She thought it would be barbarity any longer to dwell upon the ill consequences of an action which she was now convinced some fatal necessity compelled her to; she therefore gave her all the consolation now in her power, by assuring her she should immediately think about some place for her to retire to, and would keep all which had passed between them a profound secret. She then insisted on Amanda’s lying down, and trying to compose herself; she brought her drops to take, and drawing the curtains about her, retired from the room. In two hours she returned; though she entered the chamber softly, Amanda immediately drew back the curtain, and appeared much more composed than when the prioress had left her. The good woman would not let her rise, but sat down on the bed to tell her what she had contrived for her.
“She had a relation in Scotland,” she said, “who, from reduced circumstances, had kept a school, for many years; but, as the infirmities of age came on, she was not able to pay such attention to her pupils as their friends thought requisite, and she had only been able to retain them by promising to get a person to assist her. As she thought her cousin (the prioress) more in the way of procuring such an one than herself, she had written to her for that purpose: a clever, well-behaved young woman, who would be satisfied with a small salary, was what she wanted.
“I should not mention such a place to you,” said the prioress, “but that the necessity there is for your immediately retiring from Lord Mortimer, leaves me no time to look out for another; but do not imagine I wish you to continue there; no, indeed, I should think it a pity such talents as you possess should be buried in such obscurity. What I think is, that you can stay there till you grow more composed, and can look out for a better establishment.”
“Do not mention my talents,” said Amanda, “my mind is so enervated by grief, that it will be long before I can make any great exertion; and the place you have mentioned is, from its obscurity, just such a one as I desire to go to.”
“There is, besides, another inducement,” said the prioress, “namely, its being but a few miles from Port Patrick, to which place 412 a fair wind will bring us in a few hours from this. I know the master of a little wherry, which is perpetually going backwards and forwards; he lives in this neighbourhood, and both he and his wife consider themselves under obligations to me, and will rejoice, I am sure, at an opportunity of obliging me; I shall therefore, send for him this evening, inform him of the time you wish to go, and desire his care till he leaves you himself at Mrs. Macpherson’s.”
Amanda thanked the prioress, who proceeded to say, “that, on the presumption of her going to her cousin’s, she had already written a letter for to take; but wished to know whether she would be mentioned by her own or a fictitious name?”
Amanda replied, “By a fictitious one,” and after a little consideration, fixed on that of Frances Donald, which the prioress accordingly inserted, and then read the letter.
“TO MRS. MACPHERSON.
“The bearer of this letter, Frances Donald, is the young person I have procured you for an assistant in your school. I have known her some time, and can vouch for her cleverness and discretion. She is well born and well educated, and has seen better days; but the wheel of fortune is continually turning, and she bears her misfortunes with a patience that to me is the best proof she could give of a real good disposition. I have told her you give but ten pounds a year: her going proves she is not dissatisfied with the salary. I am sorry to hear you are troubled with rheumatic pains, and hope, when you have more time to take care of yourself, you will grow better. All the sisters join me in thanking you for your kind inquiries after them.—We do tolerably well in the little school we keep, and trust, our gratitude to Heaven for its present goodness, will obtain a continuance of it. I beg to hear from you soon,
am, my dear cousin, your sincere friend, and affectionate kinswoman,
“I have not said as much as you deserve,” said the prioress; “but if the letter does not meet your approbation, I will make any alteration you please in it.” Amanda assured her “it did,” and the prioress then said, “that Lord Mortimer had been again at the convent to inquire after her, and was told she was better.” Amanda said, she would not see him till the hour she had appointed for his coming to supper. The prioress agreed, “that as things were changed, she was right in being in his company as little as possible, and to prevent her being in 413 his way, she would have her dinner and tea in her own room.” The cloth was accordingly laid in it, nor would the good-natured prioress depart till she saw Amanda eat something. Sister Mary, she said, was quite anxious to come in, and perform the part of an attendant, but was prevented by her.
The distraction of Amanda’s thoughts was now abated, from having everything adjusted relative to her future conduct, and the company of the prioress, who returned to her as soon as she had dined, prevented her losing the little composure she had with such difficulty acquired.
She besought the prioress not to delay writing after her departure, and to relate faithfully every thing which happened in consequence of her flight. She entreated her not to let a mistaken compassion for her feelings influence her to conceal any thing, as any thing like the appearance of concealment in her letter would only torture her with anxiety and suspense.
The prioress solemnly promised she would obey her request, and Amanda with tears regretted that she was now unable to recompense the kindness of the prioress and the sisterhood, as she had lately intended doing by Lord Mortimer’s desire, as well as her own inclination. The prioress begged her not to indulge any regret on that account, as they considered themselves already liberally recompensed, and had besides quite sufficient to satisfy their humble desires.
Amanda said she meant to leave a letter on the dressing-table for Lord Mortimer, with the notes which he had given her enclosed in it. “The picture and the ring,” said she, with a falling tear, “I cannot part with.” For the things which she had ordered from the neighbouring town, she told the prioress she would leave money in her hands, also a present for the woman who had been engaged to attend her to England, as some small recompense for her disappointment. She meant only to take some linen and her mourning to Scotland, the rest of her things, including her music and books, at some future and better period, might be sent after her.
Amanda was indebted to the sisterhood for three months’ board and lodging, which was ten guineas. Of the two hundred pounds which Lord Mortimer had given her on leaving Castle Carberry one hundred and twenty pounds remained, so that though unable to answer the claims of gratitude, she thanked Heaven she was able to 414 fulfil those of justice. This she told the prioress, who instantly declared “that, in the name of the whole sisterhood, she would take upon her to refuse any thing from her.” Amanda did not contest the point, being secretly determined how to act. The prioress drank tea with her—when over, Amanda said she would lie down, in order to try and be composed against Lord Mortimer came. The prioress accordingly withdrew, saying, “she should not be disturbed till then,”
By this means Amanda was enabled to be in readiness for delivering her letter to Lord Cherbury at the proper hour. Her heart beat with apprehension as it approached; she dreaded Lord Mortimer again surprising her amongst the ruins, or some of the nuns following her to them. At last the clock gave the signal for keeping her appointment. She arose trembling from the bed, and opened the door; she listened and no noise announced any one’s being near; the moments were precious; she glided through the gallery, and had the good fortune to find the hall door open. She hastened to the ruins, and found Lord Cherbury waiting there. She presented him the letter in silence. He received it in the same manner; but when he saw her turning away to depart, he snatched her hand, and in a voice that denoted the most violent agitation, exclaimed, “Tell me, tell me, Miss Fitzalan, is this letter propitious.” “It is,” replied she, in a faltering voice. “Then may heaven eternally bless you,” cried he, falling at her feet, and wrapping his arms about her. His posture shocked Amanda, and his detention terrified her.
“Let me go, my lord,” said she: “in pity to me, in mercy to yourself, let me go, for one moment longer and we may be discovered.”
Lord Cherbury started up. “From whom,” cried he, “can I hear about you?”
“From the prioress of St. Catharine’s,” replied Amanda in a trembling voice, “she only will know the secret of my retreat.”
He again snatched her hand, and kissed it with vehemence. “Farewell, thou angel of a woman!” he exclaimed and disappeared among the ruins. Amanda hurried back, dreading every moment to meet Lord Mortimer; but she neither met him nor any other person. She had scarcely gained her chamber ere the prioress came to inform her, his lordship was in the parlour. She instantly repaired to it. The air had a little changed the deadly hue of her complexion, so that from her looks he supposed her better, and her words strengthened 415 the supposition. She talked with him, forced herself to eat some supper, and checked the tears from falling which sprang to her eyes whenever he mentioned the happiness they must experience when united, the pleasure they should enjoy at Thornbury, and the delight Lady Martha and Lady Araminta would experience whenever they met.
Amanda desired him not to come to breakfast the next morning, nor to the convent till after dinner, as she would be so busy preparing for her journey, she would have no time to devote to him. He wanted to convince her he could not retard her preparations, by coming, but she would not allow this.
Amanda passed another wretched night. She breakfasted in the morning with the nuns, who expressed their regret at losing her—a regret however mitigated by the hope of shortly seeing her again, as Lord Mortimer had promised to bring her to Castle Carberry as soon as she had visited his friends in England. This was a trying moment to Amanda; she could scarcely conceal her emotions, to keep herself from weeping aloud, at the mention of a promise never to be fulfilled. She swallowed her breakfast in haste, and withdrew to her chamber on pretence of settling her things. Here she was immediately followed by the nuns, entreating they might severally be employed in assisting her. She thanked them with her usual sweetness, but assured them no assistance was necessary, as she had but a few things to pack, never having unlocked the chests which had come from Castle Carberry. They retired on receiving this assurance, and Amanda, fearful of another interruption, sat down to write her farewell letter to Lord Mortimer.
“TO LORD MORTIMER.
“A destiny which neither of us can control, forbids our union. In vain were obstacles encountered and apparently overcome, one has risen to oppose it, which we never could have thought of, and in yielding to it, as I am compelled by dire necessity to do, I find myself separated from you without the remotest hope of our ever meeting again—without being allowed to justify my conduct, or offer one excuse which might, in some degree, palliate the abominable ingratitude and deceit I may appear guilty of; appear, I say, for in reality my heart is a stranger to either, and is now agonized at the sacrifice it is compelled to make: but I will not hurt your lordship’s feelings by dwelling on my own sufferings. Already have I caused you too 416 much pain, but never again shall I cross your path to disturb your peace, and shade your prospect of felicity: no my lord, removed to a tedious distance, the name I love no more will sink upon my ear, the delusive form of happiness no more will mock me.
“Had everything turned out according to my wishes, perhaps happiness, so great, so unexpected, might have produced a dangerous revolution in my sentiments, and withdrawn my thoughts too much from heaven to earth; if so, oh! blessed be the power that snatched from my lips the cup of joy, though at the very moment I was tasting the delightful beverage.
“I cannot bid you pity me, though I know myself deserving of compassion: I cannot bid you forbear condemning me, though I know myself undeserving of censure. In this letter I enclose the notes I received from your lordship; the picture and the ring I have retained; they will soon be my only vestiges of former happiness. Farewell, Lord Mortimer, my dear and valuable friend, farewell for ever. May that peace, that happiness you so truly deserve to possess, be yours, and may they never again meet with such interruptions as they have received from the unfortunate
“Amanda M. Fitzalan.”
This letter was blistered with her tears; she laid it in a drawer till evening, and then proceeded to pack whatever she meant to take with her in a little trunk. In the midst of this business the prioress came in to inform her she had seen the master of the wherry, and settled every thing with him. He not only promised to be secret, but to sail the following morning at four o’clock, and conduct her himself to Mrs. Macpherson’s. About three he was to come to the convent for her; he had also promised to provide every thing necessary on board for her.
Matters being thus arranged, Amanda told the prioress to avoid suspicion, she would leave the money she intended for the woman, who had been engaged to accompany her to England, on her dressing table, with a few lines purporting who it was for. The prioress approved of her doing so, as it would prevent any one from suspecting she was privy to her departure. She was obliged to leave her directly, and Amanda took the opportunity of putting up the fifteen guineas in a paper, five for the woman and ten for the nuns. She wished to do more for them, but feared to obey the dictates of generosity, while her own prospect of provision was so uncertain. She wrote as follows to the prioress:417
“TO MRS. DERMOT.
“Was my situation otherwise than it now is, be assured I never should have offered the trifle you will find in this paper as any way adequate to the discharge of my debt; to you, and your amiable companions, I regret my inability (more than I can express) of proving my gratitude to you, and them for all your kindness: never will they be obliterated from my remembrance, and He, who has promised to regard those that befriend the orphan, will reward you for them. I have also left five guineas for the woman you were so good as to engage to attend me to England. I trust she will think them a sufficient recompense for any trouble, or disappointment, I may have occasioned her.
“Farewell, dear Mrs. Dermot, dear and amiable inhabitants of St. Catharine’s, farewell. As Amanda will never forget you in hers, so let her never be forgotten in your orisons, and never cease to believe her
“Grateful, sincere and affectionate,
“A. M. Fitzalan.
By this time she was summoned to dinner. Her spirits were sunk in the lowest dejection at the idea of leaving the amiable woman who had been so kind to her, and, above all, at the idea of the last sad evening she was to pass with Lord Mortimer. His lordship came early to the convent. The dejected looks of Amanda immediately struck him, and renewed all his apprehensions about her health. She answered his tender inquiries by saying she was fatigued.
“Perhaps,” said he, “you will like to rest one day, and not commence your journey to-morrow?”
“No, no,” cried Amanda, “it shall not be deferred. continued she, with a smile of anguish, “I will commence it.”
Lord Mortimer thanked her for a resolution he imagined dictated by an ardent desire to please him, but at the same time again expressed his fears that she was ill.
Amanda perceived that if she did not exert herself, her dejection would lead him to inquiries she would find it difficult to evade; but as to exert herself was impossible, in order to withdraw his attention, in some degree, from herself, she proposed that as this was the last evening they would be at the convent, they would invite the nuns to drink tea with them. Lord Mortimer immediately acquiesced in the proposal, and the invitation being sent was accepted.
But the conversation of the whole party was of a melancholy 418 kind. Amanda was so much beloved among them, that the prospect of losing her filled them with a regret, which, even the idea of seeing her soon again could not banish. About nine, which was their hour for prayers, they rose to retire, and would have taken leave of Lord Mortimer, had he not informed them, that on Miss Fitzalan’s account he would not commence the journey next day till ten o’clock, at which time he would again have the pleasure of seeing them.
When they withdrew he endeavoured to cheer Amanda, and besought her to exert her spirits. Of his own accord, he said, he would leave her early, that she might get as much rest as possible against the ensuing day. He accordingly rose to depart. What an agonizing moment for Amanda—to hear, to behold the man, so tenderly beloved, for the last time: to think that ere that hour the next night she should be far, far away from him, considered as a treacherous and ungrateful creature, despised, perhaps execrated, as a source of perpetual disquiet and sorrow to him! Her heart swelled at those ideas with feelings she thought would burst it, and when he folded her to his bosom, and bid her be cheerful against the next morning, she involuntarily returned the pressure, by straining him to her heart in convulsive agitation, whilst a shower of tears burst from her. Lord Mortimer, shocked and surprised at these tears and emotions, to-seated her, for her agitation was contagious, and he trembled so much he could not support her; then throwing himself at her feet, “My Amanda! my beloved girl!” cried he, “what is the matter! Is any wish of your heart yet unfulfilled? If so, let no mistaken notion of delicacy influence you to conceal it; on your happiness you know mine depends; tell me, therefore, I entreat, I conjure you, tell me, is there any thing I can do to restore you to cheerfulness?”
“Oh! no,” said Amanda, “all that a mortal could do to serve me, you have already done, and my gratitude, the fervent sense I have of the obligations I lie under to you, I cannot fully express. May heaven,” raising her streaming eyes, “may heaven recompense your goodness, by bestowing the choicest of its blessings on you.”
“That,” said Lord Mortimer, half smiling, “it has already done by giving you to me, for you are the choicest blessing it could bestow; but tell me what has dejected you in this manner? something more than fatigue I am
Amanda assured him “he was mistaken,” and fearful of his further 419 inquiries, told him, “she only waited for his departure to retire to rest, which she was convinced would do her good.”
Lord Mortimer instantly rose from his kneeling posture: “Farewell, then, my dear Amanda,” cried he, “farewell, and be well and cheerful against the morning.”
She pressed his hand between hers, and laying her cold wet cheek upon it: “Farewell,” said she, “when we next meet I shall, I trust, be well and cheerful; for in heaven alone (thought she at that moment) we shall ever meet again.”
On the spot in which he left her, Amanda stood motionless, till she heard the hall door close after him; all composure then forsook her, and, in an agony of tears and sobs, she threw herself on the seat he had occupied. The good prioress, guessing what her feelings at this minute must be, was at hand, and came in with drops and water, which she forced her to take, and mingled the tear of sympathy with hers.
Her soothing attentions in a little time had the effect she desired. They revived in some degree her unhappy young friend, who exclaimed, “that the severest trial she could ever possibly experience was now over.”
“And will, I trust and believe,” replied the prioress, “even in this life, be yet rewarded.”
It was agreed that Amanda should put on her habit, and be prepared against the man came for her.—The prioress promised, as soon as the house was at rest, to follow her to her chamber.—Amanda accordingly went to her apartment, and put on her travelling dress. She was soon followed by the prioress, who brought in bread, wine, and cold chicken: but the full heart of Amanda would not allow her to partake of them, and her tears, in spite of her efforts to restrain them, again burst forth. “She was sure,” she said, “the prioress would immediately let her know if any intelligence arrived of her brother, and she again besought her to write as soon as possible after her departure, and to be minute.”
She left the letters, one for Lord Mortimer, and the other for the prioress on the table, and then, with a kind of melancholy impatience, waited for the man, who was punctual to the appointed hour of three, and announced his arrival by a tap at the window. She instantly rose and embraced the prioress in silence, who, almost as 420 much affected as herself, had only power to say, “God bless you, my dear child, and make you as happy as you deserve to be.”
Amanda shook her head mournfully, as if to say, “she expected no happiness,” and then softly stepping along the gallery, opened the hall door, where she found the man waiting. Her little trunk was already lying in the hall: she pointed it out to him, and as soon as he had taken it he departed. Never did any being feel more forlorn than Amanda now did; what she felt when quitting the marchioness’s was comparatively happiness to what she now endured. She then looked forward to the protection, comfort, and support of a tender parent; now she had nothing in view which could in the least cheer or alleviate her feelings. She cast her mournful eyes around, and the objects she beheld heightened, if possible, her anguish. She beheld the old trees which shaded the grave of her father waving in the morning breeze, and oh! how fervently at that moment did she wish that by his side she was laid beneath their shelter! she turned from them with a heart-rending sigh, which reached the ear of the man who trudged before her. He instantly turned, and seeing her pale and trembling, told her he had an arm at her service, which she gladly accepted, being scarcely able to support herself: a small boat was waiting for them about half a mile above Castle Carberry; it conveyed them in a few moments to the vessel, which the master previously told her would be under weigh directly; she was pleased to find his wife on board, who conducted Amanda to the cabin, where she found breakfast laid out with neatness for her. She took some tea and a little bread, being almost exhausted with fatigue. Her companion, imputing her dejection to fears of crossing the sea, assured her the passage would be very short, and bid her observe how plainly they could see the Scottish hills, now partially gilded by the beams of the rising sun; but beautiful as they appeared, Amanda’s eyes were turned from them to a more beautiful object. Castle Carberry. She then asked the woman if she thought the castle could be seen from the opposite coast, and she replied in the negative.
“I am sorry for it,” said Amanda mournfully. She continued at the window for the melancholy pleasure of contemplating it, till compelled by sickness to lie down on the bed. The woman attended her with the most assiduous care, and about four o’clock in the afternoon informed her they had reached Port Patrick. Amanda arose, 421 and sending for the master, told him, “As she did not wish to go to an inn, she would thank him to hire a chaise to carry her directly to Mrs. Macpherson’s.” He said she should be obeyed, and Amanda having settled with him for her passage, he went on shore for that purpose, and soon returned to inform her a carriage was ready. Amanda, having thanked his wife for her kind attention, stepped into the boat, and entered the chaise the moment she landed. Her companion told her he was well acquainted with Mrs. Macpherson, having frequently carried pacquets from Mrs. Dermot to her. She lived about five miles from Port Patrick, he said, and near the sea-coast. They accordingly soon reached her habitation; it was a small low house, of a greyish colour, situated in a field almost covered with thistles, and divided from the road by a ragged looking wall; the sea lay at a small distance from it; the coast hereabouts was extremely rocky, and the prospect on every side wild and dreary in the extreme.
Amanda’s companion, by her desire, went first into the house, to prepare Mrs. Macpherson for her reception. He returned in a few minutes, and telling her she was happy at her arrival, conducted her into the house. From a narrow passage they turned into a small gloomy parlour with clay floor. Mrs. Macpherson was sitting in an old fashioned arm chair, her face was sharp and meagre, her stature low, and, like Otway’s ancient beldame, doubled with age; her gown was grey stuff, and though she was so low, it was not long enough to reach her ankle; her black silk apron was curtailed in the same manner, and over a little mob cap she wore a handkerchief tied under her chin. She just nodded to Amanda on her entrance, and putting on a pair of large spectacles, surveyed her without speaking. Amanda presented Mrs. Dermot’s introductory letter, and then, though unbidden, seated herself on the window-seat till she had perused it.—Her trunk in the meantime was brought in, and she paid for the carriage, requesting at the same time the master of the vessel to wait till she had heard what Mrs. Macpherson would say. At length the old lady broke silence, and her voice was quite as sharp as her face.
“So, child,” said she, again surveying Amanda, and elevating her spectacles to have a better opportunity of speaking, “why, to be sure I did desire my cousin to get me a young person, but not one so young, so very young, as you appear to be.”422
“Lord bless you,” said the man, “if this is a fault, why it is one that will mend every day.”
“Ay, ay” cried the old dame, “but it will mend a little too slow for me; however, child, as you are so well recommended, I will try you. My cousin says something about your being well born, and having seen better days: however, child, I tell you beforehand, I shall not consider what you have been, but what you are now; I shall therefore expect you to be mild, regular, and attentive; no flaunting, no gadding, no chattering, but staid, sober, and modest.”
“Bless you heart,” said the man, “if you look in her face, you will see she’ll be all you desire.”
“Ay, ay, so you may say; but I should be very sorry to depend upon the promise of a face; like the heart, it is often treacherous and deceitful; so pray, young woman, tell me, and remember I expect a conscientious answer, whether you think you will be able to do as I wish?”
“Yes, madam,” replied Amanda, in a voice almost choked by the variety of painful emotions she experienced.
“Well, then we are agreed, as you know the salary I give.” The master of the vessel now took his leave, never having been asked by Mrs. Macpherson to take any refreshment.
The heart of Amanda sunk within her, from the moment she entered Mrs. Macpherson’s door; she shuddered at being left with so unsocial a being in a place so wild and dreary; a hovel near St. Catharine’s she would have thought a palace in point of real comfort to her present habitation: as she then could have enjoyed the soothing society of the tender and amiable nuns. The presence of the master of the vessel, from the pity and concern he manifested for her, had something consolatory in it, and when he left the room she burst into tears, as if then, and not till then, she had been utterly abandoned. She hastily followed him out; “Give my love, my best love,” said she, sobbing violently, and laying her trembling hand on his, “to Mrs. Dermot, and tell her, oh! tell her to write directly, and give me some comfort.”
“You may depend on my doing so,” replied he; “but cheer up, my dear young lady, what though the old dame in the parlour is a little cranky, she will mend, no doubt; so heaven bless you, and make you as happy as you deserve to be.”
Sad and silent, Amanda returned to the parlour, and seating herself 423 in the window, strained her eyes after the carriage, which had brought her to this dismal spot.
“Well, child,” said Mrs. Macpherson, “do you choose anything?”
“I thank you, madam,” replied Amanda, “I should like a little tea.”
“Oh, as to tea, I have just taken my own, and the things are all washed and put by; but if you would like a glass of spirits and water, and a crust of bread, you may have it.”
Amanda said she did not.
“Oh, very well,” cried Mrs. Macpherson, “I shall not press you, for supper will soon be ready. She then desired Amanda to draw a chair near hers, and began torturing her with a variety of minute and trifling questions, relative to herself, the nuns, and the neighbourhood of St. Catharine’s. Amanda briefly said, her father had been in the army, that many disappointments and losses had prevented his making any provision for her, and that on his death, which had happened in the neighbourhood of the convent, the nuns had taken her out of compassion till she procured an establishment for herself.”
“Ay, and a comfortable one you have procured yourself, I promise you,” said Mrs. Macpherson, “if it is not your own fault.” She then told Amanda, “she would amuse her by showing her her house and other concerns.” This, indeed, was easily done, as it consisted but of the parlour, two closets adjoining it, and the kitchen on the opposite side of the entry: the other concerns were a small garden, planted with kale, and the field covered with thistles: “a good comfortable tenement this,” cried Mrs. Macpherson, shaking her head with much satisfaction, as she leaned upon her ebony-headed cane, and cast her eyes around. She bid Amanda admire the fine prospect before the door, and calling to a red-haired and bare-legged girl, desired her to cut some thistles to put into the fire, and hasten the boiling of the kale. On returning to the parlour she unlocked a press, and took out a pair of coarse brown sheets to air for Amanda. She herself slept in one closet, and in the other was a bed for Amanda, laid on a half-decayed bedstead, without curtains, and covered with a blue stuff quilt: the closet was lighted by one small window, which looked into the garden, and its furniture consisted of a broken chair, and a piece of looking-glass stuck to the wall.424
The promised supper was at length served; it consisted of a few heads of kale, some oaten bread, a jug of water, and a small phial half full of spirits, which Amanda would not taste, and the old lady herself took but sparingly; they were lighted by a small candle, which, on retiring to their closets, Mrs. Macpherson cut between them.
Amanda felt relieved by being alone. She could now without restraint indulge her tears, and her reflection; that she could never enjoy any satisfaction with a being so ungracious in her manners, and so contracted in her notions, she foresaw; but disagreeable as her situation must be, she felt inclined to continue in it, from the idea of its giving her more opportunities of hearing from Mrs. Dermot than she should have in almost any other place, and by these opportunities alone could she expect to hear of Lord Mortimer, and to hear of him even the most trifling circumstance, though divided, for ever divided from him, would be a source of exquisite though melancholy pleasure.
To think she should hear of him, at once soothed and fed her melancholy, it lessened the violence of sorrow, yet without abating its intenseness, it gave a delicious sadness to her soul, she thought it would be ill exchanged for any feelings short of these she must have experienced if her wishes had been accomplished; she enjoyed the pensive luxury of virtuous grief, which mitigates the sharp
With gracious drops
Of cordial pleasure—
and which Akenside so beautifully describes; nor can I forbear quoting the lines he has written to illustrate this truth:
Ask the faithful youth
Why the cold urn of her, whom long he lov’d,
So often fills his arms, so often draws
His lonely footsteps at the silent hour,
To pay the mournful tribute of his tears?
O, he will tell thee, that the wealth of worlds
Should ne’er seduce his bosom to forego
That sacred hour, when stealing from the house
Of care and envy, sweet remembrance soothes
With virtue’s kindest looks his aching heart,
And turns his tears to rapture.
Fatigued by the contending emotions she experienced as well as the sickness she went through at sea, Amanda soon retired to her flock 425 bed, and fell into a profound slumber, in which she continued till roused in the morning by the shrill voice of Mrs. Macpherson, exclaiming, as she rapped at the door, “Come, come, Frances, it is time to rise.”
Amanda started from her sleep, forgetting both the name she had adopted, and the place where she was: but Mrs. Macpherson again calling her to rise, restored her to her recollection. She replied she would attend her directly, and hurrying on her clothes was with her in a few minutes. She found the old lady seated at the breakfast table, who, instead of returning her salutation, said, “that on account of her fatigue she excused her lying so long in bed this morning, for it was now near eight o’clock; but in future she would expect her to rise before six in summer, and seven in winter, adding as there was no clock, she would rap at the door for that purpose every morning.”
Amanda assured her “she was fond of rising early, and always accustomed to it.” The tea was now poured out, it was of the worst kind, and sweetened with coarse brown sugar, the bread was oaten, and there was no butter. Amanda, unused to such unpalatable fare, swallowed a little of it with difficulty, and then with some hesitation, said, “she would prefer milk to tea.” Mrs. Macpherson frowned exceedingly at this, and, after continuing silent a few minutes, said, “she had really made tea for two people, and she could not think of having it wasted; besides (she added) the economy of her house was so settled she could not infringe it for any one. She kept no cow herself, and only took in as much milk as served her tea and an old tabby cat.”
Amanda replied it was of no consequence, and Mrs Macpherson said, indeed she supposed so, and muttered something of people giving themselves airs they had no pretension to. The tea table was removed before nine, when the school began; it consisted of about thirty girls, most of them daughters to farmers in the neighbourhood. Amanda and they being introduced to each other, and she being previously informed what they were taught, was desired to commence the task of instructing them entirely herself that day, as Mrs. Macpherson wanted to observe her manner—a most unpleasant task indeed for poor Amanda, whose mind and body were both harassed by anxiety and fatigue. As she had undertaken it, however, she resolved to go through it with as much cheerfulness and alacrity as 426 possible; she accordingly acquitted herself to the satisfaction of Mrs. Macpherson, who only found fault with her too much gentleness, saying, the children would never fear her. At two the school broke up, and Amanda almost as delighted as the children to be at liberty, was running into the garden to try if the air would be of use to a violent head-ache, when she was called back, to put the forms and other things in order; she coloured, and stood motionless, till recollecting that if she refused to obey Mrs. Macpherson, a quarrel would probably ensue, which, circumstanced as she was, without knowing where to go, would be dreadful, she silently performed what she had been desired to do. Dinner was then brought in; it was as simple and as sparing as a Bramin could desire it to be. When over, Mrs. Macpherson composed herself to take a nap in the large chair, without making any kind of apology to Amanda.
Left at liberty, Amanda would now have walked out, but it had just began to rain, and every thing looked dreary and desolate; from the window in which she pensively sat, she had a view of the sea; it looked black and tempestuous, and she could distinguish its awful and melancholy roaring as it dashed against the rocks. The little servant girl, as she cleaned the kitchen, sung a dismal Scotch ditty, so that all conspired to oppress the spirits of Amanda with a dejection greater than she had ever before experienced: all hope was now extinct, the social ties of life seemed broken never more to be re-united. She had now no father, no friend, no lover, as heretofore, to soothe her feelings, or alleviate her sorrows. Like the poor Belvidera, she might have said,
“There was a time
Her cries and sorrows
Were not despis’d, when, if she chanc’d to sigh,
Or but look sad, a friend or parent
Would have taken her in their arms,
Eas’d her declining head upon their breasts,
And never left her till he found the cause;
But now let her weep seas,
Cry till she rend the earth, sigh till she burst
Her heart asunder, she is disregarded.”
Like a tender sapling transplanted from its native soil, she seemed to stand alone exposed to every adverse blast. Her tears gushed forth, and fell in showers down her pale cheeks. She sighed forth 427 the name of her father; “Oh! dear and most benignant of men,” she exclaimed, “my father and my friend, were you living I should not be so wretched; pity and consolation would then be mine: Oh! my father, one of the dreariest caverns in yonder rocks would be an asylum of comfort were you with me; but I am selfish in these regrets, certain as I am, that you exchanged this life of wretchedness for one of eternal peace, for one where you were again united to your Malvina.”
Her thoughts adverted to what Lord Mortimer, in all probability now thought of her; but this was too dreadful to dwell upon, convinced as she was, that from appearances, he must think most unfavourably of her. His picture, which hung in her bosom, she drew out: she gazed with agonizing tenderness upon it; she pressed it to her lips and prayed for the original. From this indulgence of sorrow she was disturbed by the waking of Mrs. Macpherson. She hastily wiped away her tears, and hid the beloved picture. The evening past most disagreeably. Mrs. Macpherson was tedious and inquisitive in her discourse, and it was almost as painful to listen as to answer her. Amanda was happy when the hour of retiring to bed arrived, and relieved her from what might be called a kind of mental bondage.
Such was the first day Amanda passed in her new habitation, and a week elapsed in the same manner without any variation, except that on Sunday she had a cessation from her labours, and went to the kirk with Mrs. Macpherson. At the end of the week she found herself so extremely ill from the fatigue and confinement she endured, as Mrs. Macpherson would not let her walk out, saying, “gadders were good for nothing;” that she told her, “except allowed to go out every evening she must leave her, as she could not bear so sedentary a life.” Mrs. Macpherson looked disconcerted and grumbled a great deal; but as Amanda spoke in a resolute manner she was frightened, lest she should put her threats into execution, she was so extremely useful in the school, and at last told her, “she might take as much exercise as she pleased, every day after dinner.”
Amanda gladly availed herself of this permission; she explored all the romantic paths about the house, but the one she chiefly delighted to take was that which led to the sea; she loved to ramble about the beach, when fatigued to sit down upon the fragment of a rock, and 428 looked towards the opposite shore; vainly then would she try to discover some of the objects she knew so well; Castle Carberry was utterly undistinguishable; but she knew the spot on which it stood, and derived a melancholy pleasure from looking that way.
In these retired rambles she would frequently indulge her tears, and gaze upon the picture of Lord Mortimer. She feared no observation, the rocks formed a kind of recess about her, and in going to them she seldom met a creature.
it consisted of a large estate and fifty thousand pounds.
text has pounds,
to save the father, she must resign the son.
she should forever be accused of accelerating his death.
text has accellerating
remove the faintishness which oppressed her:
text unchanged: 1800 edition has “faintness”
addressed her in a solemn voice.
expected close quote missing
she had already written a letter for her to take
text has for he to take
“And am, my dear cousin, your sincere friend, and affectionate kinswoman,
line break supplied from 1800 edition to agree with preceding comma
To-morrow,” continued she, with a smile of anguish,
text has To-morrow,’
something more than fatigue I am sure.”
close quote missing
a small gloomy parlour with a clay floor.
text has an clay
Lord Cherbury hastened to support and calm her agitation, by assuring her Lord Mortimer was in perfect safety.
A fortnight passed in this way, and she began to feel surprise and uneasiness at not hearing from Mrs. Dermot