The Children of the Abbey
——I solitary court
The inspiring breeze.
The ensuing morning Oscar, Amanda, and Sir Charles, began their journey. The Rushbrooks who regarded Amanda as the cause of their present happiness, took leave of her with a tender sorrow that deeply affected her heart. The journey to Wales was pleasant and expeditious, the weather being fine, and relays of horses being provided at every stage. On the evening of the third day, they arrived about sunset, at the village which lay contiguous to Edwin’s abode; from whence, as soon as they had taken some refreshment, Amanda set off, attended by her brother, for the cottage, having ordered her luggage to be brought after her. She would not permit the attendance of Sir Charles, and almost regretted having travelled with him, as she could not help thinking his passion seemed increased by her having done so.—“How dearly,” cried he, as he handed her down stairs, “shall I pay for a few short hours of pleasure, by the unceasing regret their remembrance will entail upon me.”
Amanda withdrew her hand, and bidding him farewell, hurried on. Oscar proceeded no farther than the lane which led to the cottage with his sister. He had no time to answer the interrogations which its inhabitants might deem themselves privileged to make; neither did he wish his present situation to be known to any others than those already acquainted with it: Amanda therefore meant to say she had taken the opportunity of travelling so far with two particular friends, who were going to Ireland. Oscar promised to write to her immediately from thence, and from Scotland, as soon as he had seen the marquis. He gave her a thousand charges concerning her health, and took a tender farewell. From his too miserable dejection, 565 Amanda rejoiced she had not revealed her own sorrows to him. She trusted it would be in her power, by soothing attentions, by the thousand little nameless offices of friendship, to alleviate his; to pluck the thorn from his heart, which rankled within it, was beyond her hopes; in their dispositions, as well as fates, there was too great a similitude to expect this.
Amanda lingered in the walk as he departed; she was now in the very spot that recalled a thousand fond and tender remembrances; it was here she had given a farewell look to Tudor Hall; it was here her father had taken a last look at the spire of the church where his beloved wife was interred; it was here Lord Mortimer used so often to meet her; her soul sunk in the heaviest sadness; sighs burst from her overcharged heart, and with difficulty she prevented her tears from falling; all around was serene and beautiful, but neither the serenity nor the beauty of the scene could she now enjoy; the plaintive bleating of the cattle that rambled about the adjacent hills, only heightened her melancholy, and the appearance of autumn, which was now far advanced, only made her look back to the happy period when admiring its luxuriance had given her delight: the parting sunbeams yet glittered on the windows of Tudor Hall; she paused involuntarily to contemplate it; hours could she have continued in the same situation, had not the idea that she might be observed from the cottage made her at last hasten to it.
The door lay open; she entered, and found only the nurse within, employed at knitting. Her astonishment at the appearance of Amanda is not to be described.—She started, screamed, surveyed her a minute, as if doubting the evidence of her eyes; then running to her, flung her arms about her neck, and clasped her to her bosom.
“Good gracious!” cried she, “well to pe sure, who ever would thought of such a thing: well to pe sure, you are as welcome as the flowers in May. Here we have peen in such a peck of troubles apout you, many and many a time has my goot man said, that if he knew where you were, he would go to you.” Amanda returned the embraces of her faithful nurse, and they both sat down together.
“Ah! I fear,” said the nurse looking tenderly at her for a few minutes, “you have been in a sad way since I last saw you. The poor tear captain, alack! little did I think when he took you away from us, I should never see him more!” Amanda’s tears could no 566 longer be suppressed; they gushed in torrents from her, and her deep sobs spoke the bitterness of her feelings.
“Aye,” said the nurse, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron, “gentle or simple, sooner or later, we must all go the one way: so, my tear child, don’t take it so much to heart. Well, to pe sure, long pefore this I thought I should have seen or heard of your peing greatly married; put I pelieve it is true enough, that men are like the wind, always changing. Any one that had seen Lord Mortimer, after you went away, would never have thought he could prove fickle; he was in such grief my very heart and soul pitied him; to pe sure, if I had known where you were, I should have told him: I comforted myself, however, by thinking he would certainly find you out, when, Lort! instead of looking for you, here he’s going to pe married to a great lady, with such a long hard name, a Scotch heiress I think they call her: aye, golt is every thing in these days. Well, all the harm I wish him is, that she may plague his life out.”
This discourse was too painful to Amanda; her tears had subsided, and she endeavoured to change it, by asking after the nurse’s family. The nurse, in a hasty manner, said they were well, and thus proceeded:—“Then there is parson Howell; I am sure one would have thought him as steady as , but no such thing: I am sure he has changed, for he does not come to the cottage half as often to ask about you as he used to do.”
Amanda, notwithstanding her dejection, smiled at the nurse’s anger about the curate, and again requested to hear particulars of her family. The nurse no longer hesitated to comply with her request. She informed her they were all well, and then at a little tance at the mill in the valley. She also added, that Ellen was married to her faithful Chip, had a comfortable cottage, and a fine little girl she was nursing, and to whom from her love to her tear young laty, she would have given the name of Amanda; but she feared people would deem her conceited to give her so fine a one. The nurse said she often regretted having left her tear young laty, and then, even Chip himself could not console her for having done so. Tears again started to Amanda’s eyes at hearing of the unabated attachment of her poor Ellen; she longed to see and congratulate her on her present happiness. The nurse, in her turn, inquired into all that had befallen Amanda, since their separation, and shed tears at hearing of her dear 567 child’s sufferings since that period. She asked about Oscar, and was briefly informed he was well.—The family soon returned from the dance, and it would be difficult to say whether surprise or joy was most predominant at seeing Amanda. One of the young men ran over for Ellen, and returned in a few minutes with her, followed by her husband, carrying his little child. She looked with wild delight. She clasped Amanda in her arms, as if she would never let her depart from them, and wept in the fulness of her heart.—“Now—now,” cried she, “I shall be quite happy; but oh! why, my tear young laty, did you not come amongst us pefore? you know all in our power we would have done to render you she now recollected herself, and modestly retired to a little distance. She took her child and brought it to Amanda, who delighted her extremely by the notice she took of it and Chip. If Amanda had had less cause for grief, the attentions of these affectionate cottagers would have soothed her mind; but at present nothing could diminish her dejection. Her luggage was by this time arrived; she had brought presents for all the family, and now distributed them. She tried to converse about their domestic affairs, but found herself unequal to the effort, and begged to be shown to her chamber. The nurse would not suffer her to retire till she had tasted her new cheese and Welch ale. When alone within it she found fresh subjects to remind her of Lord Mortimer, and consequently to augment her grief; here lay the book-case he had sent her. She opened it with trembling impatience; but scarcely a volume did she examine in which passages were not marked by his hand for her particular perusal. Oh! what mementos were these volumes of the happy hours she had passed at the cottage; the night waned away, and still she continued weeping over them. She could with difficulty bring herself to close the book-case, and when she retired to rest her slumbers were short and unrefreshing. The next morning, as she sat at breakfast, assiduously attended by the nurse and her daughters, (for Ellen had come over early to inquire after her health,) Howell entered to pay her a visit; the previous intimations she had received of the alterations in his sentiments, rendered his visit more pleasing than it would otherwise have been to her; his pleasure was great at seeing her, but it was not the wild and extravagant delight of a lover, but the soft and placid joy of a friend. After his departure, which was not soon, she accompanied 568 Ellen to view her cottage, and was infinitely pleased by its neatness and romantic situation; it lay on the side of a hill, which commanded a beautiful prospect of Tudor Hall: every thing she beheld reminded Amanda of Lord Mortimer; even the balmy air she breathed, on which his voice had so often floated.
The sad indulgence of wandering through the shades of Tudor Hall, which she had so eagerly desired, and fondly anticipated, she could not long deny herself. The second evening after her arrival at the cottage, she turned her solitary steps to them; their deep embowering glens, their solitude, their silence, suited the pensive turn of feelings, here, undisturbed and unobserved, she could indulge the sorrows of her heart; and oh! how did recollection augment those sorrows, by retracing the happy hours she had spent within those shades. A cold, a death-like melancholy pervaded her feelings, and seemed repelling the movements of life; her trembling limbs were unable to support her, and she threw herself on the ground. For some minutes she could scarcely breathe; tears at length relieved her painful oppression; she raised her languid head, she looked around, and wept with increasing violence at beholding what might be termed moments of former happiness. She repeated, in soft and tremulous accents, the name of Mortimer; but as the beloved name vibrated on her ear, how did she start at recollecting that she was then calling upon the husband of Lady Euphrasia. She felt a momentary glow upon her cheeks; she arose, and sighed deeply. “I will strive to do right,” she cried, “I will try to wean my soul from remembrances no longer proper to be indulged.” Yet still she lingered in the wood; the increasing gloom of evening rendered it, if possible, more pleasing to her feelings, whilst the breeze sighed mournfully through the trees, and the droning bat fluttered in the air, upon which the wild music of a harp from one of the neighbouring cottages softly floated.
Amanda drew nearer to it: it looked dark and melancholy; she sighed; she involuntarily exclaimed, “oh! how soon will it be enlivened by bridal pomp and festivity.”
She now recollected the uneasiness her long absence might create at the cottage, and as soon as the idea occurred hastened to it. She met Edwin in the lane, who had been dispatched by his wife in quest of her. The good woman expressed her fears that such late rambles 569 would injure the health of Amanda: “it was a sad thing” she said, “to see young people giving way to dismal fancies.”
Amanda did not confine her rambles entirely to Tudor Hall: she visited all the spots where she and Lord Mortimer used to ramble together. She went to the humble spot where her mother lay interred. Her feelings were now infinitely more painful than when she had first seen it; it recalled to her mind, in the most agonizing manner, all the vicissitudes she had experienced since that period; it recalled to view the calamitous closure of her father’s life; the sorrows, the distresses of that life, and she felt overwhelmed with grief; scarcely could she prevent herself from falling on the grave, and giving way in tears and lamentations, to that grief. Deprived of the dearest connections of life; blasted in hopes and expectations, “oh! well had it been for me,” she cried, “had this spot at once received the mother and child: and yet,” she exclaimed, after a minute’s reflection, “oh! what, my God, am I, that I should dare to murmur or repine at thy decrees? Oh! pardon the involuntary expression of a woe-worn heart, of a heart that feels the purest gratitude for thy protection through past dangers. Oh! how presumptuous,” she continued, “to repine at the common lot of humanity—at the lot of her,” she continued, casting her tearful eyes upon the grave, where the last flowers of autumn were now withering, “who reposes in this earthly bed, who, in life’s meridian, in beauty’s prime, sunk the sad victim of sorrow into the arms of death. Oh! my parents, how calamitous were your destinies? even your ashes were not permitted to moulder together; but in a happier region your kindred spirits are now united. Blessed spirits! your child will strive to imitate your examples; in patient resignation to the will of Heaven, she will endeavour to support life; she will strive to live, though not from an idea of enjoying happiness, but from an humble hope of being able to dispense it to others.”
Such were the words of Amanda at the grave of her mother, from which she turned like a pale and drooping lily, surcharged with tears.
At the end of a week she heard from Oscar, who told her in the course of a few days he expected to embark for Scotland. Amanda had brought materials for drawing with her, and she felt a passionate desire of taking views of Tudor Hall; views she believed would 570 yield her a melancholy pleasure, when she should be far and forever distant from the spot they represented.
This desire, however, she could not gratify, without the assistance of her nurse, for she meant to take her views from the library, and she feared if she went there without apprizing the housekeeper, she should be liable to interruption. She therefore requested her nurse to ask permission for her to go there. The nurse shook her head, as if she suspected Amanda had a motive for the request, she did not divulge. She was, however, too anxious to gratify her child, to refuse complying with it, and accordingly lost no time in asking the desired permission, which Mrs. Abergwilly readily gave, saying, “Miss Fitzalan was welcome to go to the library whenever she pleased, and should not be interrupted.”
Amanda did not delay availing herself of this permission; but it was some time after she entered the library, ere she could compose herself sufficiently for the purpose which had brought her to it. In vain did nature appear from the windows, displaying the most beautiful and romantic scenery to her view, as if to tempt her to take up the pencil. Her eyes were dimmed with tears as she looked upon this scenery, and reflected, that he who had once pointed out its various beauties, was lost to her forever. By degrees, however, her feelings grew composed, and every morning she repaired to the library, feeling, whilst engaged within it, a temporary alleviation of sorrow.
Three weeks passed in this manner, and at the expiration of that period, she received a letter from Oscar. She trembled in the most violent agitation as she broke the seal, for she saw by the post-mark, he was in Scotland; but how great was her surprise and joy at the contents of this letter, which informed her, every thing relative to the important affair so lately in agitation, was settled in the most amicable manner; that the avowal of his claim occasioned not the smallest litigation; that he was then in full possession of the fortune bequeathed him by the earl, and had already received the congratulations of the neighbouring families on his accession, or rather restoration to it. He had not time, he said, to enumerate the many particulars which rendered the adjustment of affairs so easy, and hoped the pleasing intelligence his letter communicated, would atone for its brevity; he added, he was then preparing to set off for London, with 571 Sir Charles Bingley, of whose friendship he spoke in the highest terms, to settle some affairs relative to his new possessions, and particularly about the revival of the Dunreath title, which, not from any ostentatious pride, he desired to obtain, as he was sure she would suppose, but from gratitude and respect to the wishes of his grandfather, who, in his will, had expressed his desire that the honours of his family should be supported by his heir. When every thing was finally settled, he proceeded to say, he would hasten on the wings of love and impatience to her, for in her sweet society alone, he found any balm for the sorrows of his heart, sorrows which could not be eradicated from it, though fortune had been so unexpectedly propitious; and he hoped, he said, he should find her then gay as the birds, blooming as the flowers of spring, and ready to accompany him to the venerable mansion of their ancestors.
The joyful intelligence this letter communicated she had not spirits at present to mention to the inhabitants of the cottage: the pleasure it afforded was only damped by reflecting on what Lord Mortimer must feel from a discovery which could not fail casting a dark shade of obloquy upon his new connexions. She was now doubly anxious to finish her landscapes, from the prospect there was of quitting Wales so soon. Every visit she now paid the library, was paid with the sad idea of its being the last. As she was preparing for going there one morning, immediately after breakfast, the nurse, who had been out some time previous to her rising, entered the room with a look of breathless impatience, which seemed to declare she had something wonderful to communicate. “Goot lack-a-taisy,” cried she, as soon as she had recovered her breath, lifting up her head from the back of the chair on which she had thrown herself, “goot lack-a-taisy, well to be sure, there is nothing put wonderful things happening in this world! Here old dame Abergwilly sent in such a hurry for me this morning; to pe sure I was surprised, but what was that to the surprise I felt when I heard what she had sent to me for.” It was now Amanda’s turn to feel breathless impatience. “Good heavens!” she exclaimed, “what did she tell you?”
“Aye, I know,” cried the nurse, “the commotion you would be in when I told you the news; if you were guessing from this time till this time to morrow, you would never stumble upon what it is.”
“I dare say I should not,” cried Amanda, “so do be brief.”572
“Why, you must know—put Lort, my dear chilt, I am afraid you made but a bad breakfast, for you look very pale; inteed I made no great one myself, for I was in such a hurry flurry with what Mrs. Abergwilly told me, that, though she made some nice green tea, and we had a slim cake, I could scarcely touch any thing.”
“Well,” said Amanda, tortured with anxiety and impatience, “what did she tell you?”
“Why, my tear chilt, down came a special messenger from London last night, to let them know that Lort Cherbury was tead, and that Lort Mortimer had sold Tudor Hall, and the stewart is ordered to pay all the servants off, and tischarge them, and to have every thing in readiness against the new lantlort comes down to take possession.—Oh! Lort, there is such weeping and wailing at the Hall, the poor creatures, who had grown old in the service, hoped to have finished their tays in it; it is not that they are in fear of want, the young lort has taken care of that, for he has settled something yearly upon them all, but that they are sorry to quit the family. Poor Mrs. Abergwilly, nothing can comfort the old soul; she has neither chick nor chilt, and she told me she loved the very chairs and tables, to which, to pe sure, her hand has given many a polishing rub. She says she thinks she will come and lodge with me; but if she does, she says I must not put her in a room from whence she can have a view of Tudor Hall, for she says she will never be able to look at it when once it gets a new master; so this, my tear chilt, is the sum totum of what I have heard.”
Amanda was equally astonished and affected by what she heard. She wished to know if the nurse had received any intelligence of Lord Mortimer’s marriage, but she could not bring herself to ask the question: besides, upon reflection, she was convinced she should have heard it had it been the case. With Lord Cherbury died all hopes of the restoration of her fame in the opinion of his son: “Yet why,” she asked herself, “should I regret this? Since thus separated, it is better, perhaps, he has ceased to esteem me, as undoubtedly it must lessen his feelings on my account,” Why he should part with Tudor Hall she could not conceive, except it was to humour some caprice of Lady Euphrasia’s, who it was probable (she imagined) knew that the attachment between her and Lord Mortimer had there commenced. “Ah!” cried Amanda, “she never could have relished its beauties—beauties 573 which, if Lord Mortimer thinks as I do, would, if reviewed, only have augmented his sorrows—sorrows which propriety now demands his repelling.” She hastened to the Hall, but was some time there ere she could commence her enjoyment, so much had she been agitated. The landscape she was finishing was taken from the little valley which lay beneath the windows of the music room, the romantic ruins of an old castle overhung an eminence at its extremity; and of the whole scene she had taken a most accurate copy; it wanted but one charm to please her, and that charm was the figure of Lord Mortimer, with whom she had often wandered round the ruins. Her hand was ready in obeying the impulse of her heart, and she soon beheld sketched, in the most striking manner, the elegant features of him so ardently beloved. She gazed with rapture upon them, but it was a short lived rapture.—She started, as if conscious she had committed a crime, when she reflected on the situation in which he now stood with another woman; her trembling hand hastened to atone for its error by expunging the dangerous likeness, and the warm involuntary tear she shed at the moment aided her design. “Oh! how unnecessary,” she cried, as she made this sacrifice to delicacy, “to sketch features which are indelibly engraven on my heart.” As she spoke, a deep and long-drawn sigh reached her ear; alarmed, confounded, at the idea of being overheard, and of course the feelings of her heart discovered, she started with precipitation from her seat, and looked around her with a kind of wild confusion: but gracious heavens! who can describe the emotions of her soul, when the original of that picture, so fondly sketched, so hastily obliterated, met her eye.—Amazed, unable to speak, to move, almost to breath, she stood motionless and aghast, the pale statue of surprise, as if she neither durst or could believe the evidence of her eyes. Well, indeed, might she have doubted them, for in the pale countenance of Lord Mortimer scarce a vestige of his former self (except in the benignancy of his looks) remained. His faded complexion, the disorder of his hair, his mourning habit, all heightened the sad expression of his features, an expression which declared that he and happiness were never so disunited as at the present moment; the first violence of Amanda’s feelings in a little time abating, she somewhat recovered the use of her faculties, and hastily switching up her drawings, moved with weak and trembling steps to the door. She had nearly reached 574 it, when the soft and tremulous voice of Lord Mortimer arrested her course. “You go then, Miss Fitzalan,” cried he, “without one adieu; you go, and we never more shall meet.” The agonizing manner in which these words were pronounced, struck a death-like chill upon the heart of Amanda. She stopped and turned around involuntarily, as if to receive that last and sad adieu which she was half reproached for avoiding. Lord Mortimer approached her; he attempted to speak, but his voice was inarticulate; a gust of sorrow burst from his eyes, and he hastily covered his face with a handkerchief, and walked to a window.
Amanda, unutterably affected, was unable to stand; she sunk upon a chair, and watched with a bursting heart the emotions of Lord Mortimer. Oh! with what difficulty at this moment did she confine herself within the the rigid rules of propriety—with what difficulty did she prevent herself from flying to Lord Mortimer—from mingling tears with his, and lamenting the cruel destiny which had disunited them forever. Lord Mortimer in a few minutes was sufficiently recovered again to approach her. “I have long wished for an opportunity of seeing you,” said he, “but had not courage to desire an interview. How little did I imagine this morning, when, like a sad exile, I came to take a last farewell of a favourite residence, that I should behold you! Fate, in granting this interview, has for once befriended me. To express my horror, my remorse, my anguish, not only for the error, a combination of events influenced me into concerning you—but for the conduct that error led me to adopt, will I think, a little lighten my heart: to receive your pardon will be a sweet, a sad consolation; yet,” continued he, after a moment’s pause, “why do I say it will be a consolation? Alas! the sweetness that may lead you to accord it, will only heighten my wretchedness at our eternal separation.” Here he paused. Amanda was unable to speak. His words seemed to imply he was acquainted with the injuries she had sustained through his father’s means, and she waited in trembling expectation for an explanation of them. “The purity of your character,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, “was at length fully revealed to me. Good Heavens! under what afflicting By that being, to whom you so generously made a sacrifice of what then—you might have considered your happiness.”
“Did Lord Cherbury, then,” said Amanda, with inexpressible eagerness, “did he then (at last) justify me?”575
“Yes,” cried Lord Mortimer, “he proved you were indeed the most excellent, the most injured of human beings, that you were all which my fond heart once believed you to be; but oh! what were the dreadful emotions of that heart to know his justification came too late to restore its peace. Once there was a happy period, when, after a similar error being removed, I had hoped, by a life ever devoted to you, to have made some reparation, some atonement, for my involuntary injustice; but, alas! no reparation, no atonement, can now be made.”
Amanda wept; she raised her streaming eyes to heaven, and again cast them to the earth.
“You weep,” cried Lord Mortimer, in a tone expressive of surprise, after surveying her some minutes in silence; “my love, my Amanda,” continued he, suddenly seizing her hand, while he surveyed her with a most rapturous fondness, a crimson glow mantling his cheek, and a beam of wonted brilliancy darting from his eye; “What am I to imagine from those tears?—Are you then, indeed, unaltered?”
Amanda started; she feared the emotions she betrayed had convinced Lord Mortimer of the continuance, the unabated strength of her affection; she felt shocked at her imprudence, which had alone, she was convinced, tempted Lord Mortimer to address her in such a manner. “I know not, my lord,” cried she, “in what sense you ask whether I am unchanged; but of this be assured, a total alteration must have taken place in my sentiments, if I could remain a moment longer with a person, who seems at once forgetful of what is due to his own situation and mine.”
“Go then, madam,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, in an accent of displeasure, “and pardon my having thus detained you; pardon my involuntary offence, excuse my having disturbed your retirement, and obtruded my sorrows on you.”
Amanda now reached the door; her heart recoiled at the idea of parting in such a manner from Lord Mortimer, but prudence bid her hasten as fast as possible from him; yet slow and lingeringly she pursued her way; ere she had gone many yards she was overtaken by Lord Mortimer; his pride was inferior to his tenderness, which drove him to despair at the idea of his parting in displeasure from her. “Oh! my Amanda,” cried he, seizing her hand, and almost breathless with emotion, “add not, by your anger, to the bitterness of this sad hour; since we must part, oh! let us part in amity, as friends that 576 regard each other. You have not yet (if indeed it is possible for you to do so) pronounced your forgiveness of the persecutions you underwent on my account; you have not yet granted your pardon for the harshness, the cruelty with which a dreadful error tempted me to treat you.”
“Oh! my lord,” said Amanda, again yielding to the softness of her soul, while tears trickled down her cheeks, “why torture me by speaking in this manner? How can I pronounce forgiveness when I never was offended? when wretched and deserted I appeared to stand upon the great theatre of life without one hand to offer me assistance, your ready friendship came to my relief, and poured the balm of comfort over the sorrows of my heart; when deprived by deceit and cruelty of your good opinion, even then your attention and solicitude pursued my wandering footsteps, and strove to mark a path of comfort for me to take. These, these are obligations that never can be forgotten, that demand, that possess my eternal gratitude, my”— A warmer expression rose to her lips, but was again buried in her heart. She sighed, and after a pause of a minute, thus went on; “for your happiness, my warmest, purest prayers, are daily offered up: oh! may it yet be equal to your virtues, greater I cannot wish it.”
Lord Mortimer groaned in the excruciating agony of his soul. “Oh! Amanda,” he said, “where—where can I receive consolation for your loss? Never—never in this world!” He took her hands within his, he raised them to heaven, as if supplicating its choicest blessings on her head. “For my happiness you pray,” he exclaimed—“ah! my love, how unavailing is the prayer!”
Amanda now saw more than ever the necessity of hastening away. She gently withdrew her hands, and hurried on as fast as her trembling limbs could carry her. Still Lord Mortimer attended her; “Yet Amanda,” cried he, “a little moment. Tell me,” he continued, again seizing her hand, “do not these shades remind you of departed hours? Oh! what blissful ones have we not passed beneath their foliage, that foliage which I shall never more behold expanding to the breath of spring.”
Amanda trembled: this involuntary, but sad declaration of the loss of a seat so valued by him, overpowered her: her respiration grew faint, she could not support herself, and made a motion to sit down upon the grass, but Lord Mortimer eagerly caught her to his bosom. She had not strength to resist the effort, and her head reclined upon 577 his shoulder; but who can speak her feelings, as she felt the beating heart of Mortimer, which from its violent palpitations, seemed as if it would burst his bosom to find a passage to her feet. In a few minutes she was a little recovered, and sensible of the impropriety of her situation, was now resolutely determined to quit Lord Mortimer. “We must part, my lord,” cried she, disengaging herself from his arms, notwithstanding a gentle effort he made to detain her; “we must part, my lord,” she repeated, “and part forever.”
“Tell me, then,” he exclaimed, still impeding her course, “tell me whether I may still hope to live in your remembrance, whether I may hope not to be obliterated from your memory by the happiness which will shortly surround you: promise I shall at times be thought of with your wonted, though, alas! unavailing wishes for my happiness, and the promise will perhaps afford me consolation in the solitary exile I have doomed myself to.”
“Ah! my lord,” said Amanda, unable to repress her feelings, “why do I hear you speak in this manner? In mentioning exile, do you not declare your intention of leaving unfilled the claims which situation, family, and society have upon you? Oh! my lord, you shock, shall I say more, you disappoint me! Yes, I repeat it, disappoint the idea I have formed of the virtue and fortitude of him who, as a friend, I shall ever regard: to yield thus to sorrow, to neglect the incumbent duties of life, to abandon a woman to whom so lately you plighted your solemn vows of love and protection; Oh! my lord, what will her friends, what will Lady Euphrasia herself say to such cruel, such unjustifiable conduct?”
“Lady Euphrasia!” repeated Lord Mortimer, recoiling a few paces. “Lady Euphrasia!” he again exclaimed, in tremulous accents, regarding Amanda with an expression of mingled horror and wildness: “Gracious heaven! is it, can it be possible you are ignorant of the circumstances which lately happened? Yes, your words, your looks declare you are so.”
It was now Amanda’s turn to repeat his words. She demanded, with a wildness of countenance equal to that he had just displayed, “what were the circumstances he alluded to?”
“First tell me,” cried he, “was the alteration in your manner produced by your supposing me the husband of Euphrasia?”
“Supposing you her husband?” repeated Amanda, unable to answer 578 his question in a moment of such torturing suspense; “and are you not so?”
“No,” replied Lord Mortimer, “I never had the misfortune to offer vows which my heart could not ratify. Lady Euphrasia made another choice. She was your enemy, but I know your gentle spirit will mourn her sad and sudden fate.” He ceased, for Amanda had no longer power to listen; she sunk, beneath surprise and joy, into the expanded arms of her beloved Mortimer. It is ye alone who, like her, have stood upon the very brink of despair, who, like her, have been restored, unexpectedly restored to hope, to happiness, that can form any judgment of her feelings at the present moment—at the moment when recovering from her insensibility, the soft accent of Lord Mortimer saluted her ear and made her heart, without one censure from propriety, respond to rapture, as he held her to his bosom; as he gazed on her with tears of impassioned tenderness, he repeated his question, whether the alteration in her manner was produced alone by the supposition of his marriage: but he repeated it with a sweet, a happy consciousness of having it answered according to his wishes.
“These tears, these emotions, oh! Mortimer, what do they declare?” exclaimed Amanda. “Ah! do they not say my heart never knew a diminution of tenderness, that it could never have forgotten you. Yes,” she continued, raising her eyes, streaming with tears of rapture, to Heaven, “I am now recompensed for all my sufferings; yes, in this blissful moment I meet a full reward for them.” Lord Mortimer now led her back to the library, to give an explanation of the events which had produced so great a reverse of situation: but it was long ere he could sufficiently compose himself to commence his narrative, alternately he fell at the feet of Amanda, alternately he folded her to his bosom, and asked his heart if its present happiness was real. A thousand times he questioned her whether she, was indeed unaltered, as often implored her forgiveness for one moment doubting her constancy. Amanda exerted her spirits to calm her own agitation, that she might be enabled to sooth him into tranquillity. At length she succeeded, and he terminated her anxious impatience by giving her the promised relation.
I am sure one would have thought him as steady as Penmaenmawr
text has Penmænmawr
you know all in our power we would have done to render you happy;”
close quote missing
within the cold, the rigid rules of propriety
under what afflicting circumstances!
I left it with the idea that I might no more behold Adela
Overwhelmed with grief and disappointment at the supposed perfidy of Amanda, Lord Mortimer had returned to England