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The Children of the Abbey

CHAPTER VIII.

O let me now into a richer soil

Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and flowers

Diffuse their warmest, largest influence;

And of my garden be the pride and joy.

Thomson.

The moment he thought he could see Amanda, Mortimer hastened to the cottage: the nurse, as she had promised, would not reproach him, though she strongly suspected his having done something to offend her child: but her sullen air declared her dissatis­faction. “Miss Fitzalan was too ill,” she said, “to see company,” (for Lord Mortimer had inquired for Amanda by her real name, detesting the one of Dunford, to which, in a great degree, he imputed his unfortunate conduct to her.) The nurse spoke the truth in saying Amanda was ill: her agitation was too much for her frame, and in the morning she felt so feverish she would not rise; she had no spirits, indeed, to attempt it. Sunk to the lowest ebb of dejection, she felt solitude 77 alone congenial to her feelings. Hitherto the morning had been patiently expected; for with Mortimer she enjoyed its

“Cool, its fragrant, and its silent hour.”

But no Mortimer was now desired. In the evening he made another attempt, and, finding Ellen alone, sent in a supplicatory message by her to Amanda. She was just risen, and Mrs. Edwin was making tea for her: a flush of indignation overspread her pale face, on receiving his message. “Tell him,” said she, “I am astonished at his request, and never will grant it. Let him seek elsewhere a heart more like his own, and trouble my repose no more.”

He heard her words, and in a fit of passion and disappointment flew out of the house. Howell entered soon after, and heard from Ellen an account of the quarrel; a secret hope sprung in his heart at this intelligence, and he desired Ellen to meet him in about half an hour in the valley, thinking by that time he could dictate some message to send by her to Amanda.

As the parson had never paid Miss Fitzalan any of those attentions which strike a vulgar eye, and had often laughed and familiarly chatted with Ellen, she took it into her head he was an admirer of hers; and if being the object of Chip’s admiration excited the envy of her neighbours, how much would that increase when the parson’s predilection was known. She set about adorning herself for her appointment; and while thus employed, the honest, faithful Chip entered, attired in his holiday clothes to escort her to a little dance. Ellen bridled up at the first intimation of it; and, delighted with the message Amanda had sent to Lord Mortimer, which in her opinion was extremely eloquent, she resolved now to imitate it.

“Timothy,” said she, drawing back her head, “your request is the most improperest that can be conceived, and it is by no means convenient for me to adhere to it. I tell you, Tim,” cried she, waving the corner of her white apron, for white handkerchief she had not, “I wonder at your presump­tionness in making it; cease your flattering expressions of love; look out amongst the inferiority for a heart more like your own: and trouble my pleasure no more.”

Chip paused for a moment, as if wanting to comprehend her meaning. “The short and the long of it then, Nell,” said he, “is, that you and I are to have nothing more to say to each other.”

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“True,” cried his coquettish mistress.

“Well, well, Nell,” said he, half crying, “the time may come, when you will repent ever having served a true-hearted lad in this manner.” So saying he ran from the house.

Ellen surveyed herself with great admiration, and expected nothing less than the immediate offer of the parson’s hand. She found him punctual to his appointment, and after walking some time about the valley, they sat down together upon a little bank. “Ellen,” said he, taking her hand, “do you think there is any hope for me?”

“Nay, now, inteed, Mr. Howell,” cried she, with affected coyness, “that is such a strange question.”

“But the quarrel perhaps,” said he, “may be made up.”

“No, I assure you,” replied she with quickness, “it was entirely on your account that it ever took place.”

“Is it possible?” exclaimed he, pleasure sparkling in his eyes, “then I may reurge my passion.”

“Ah tear now, Mr. Howell, you are so very pressing.”

“Do you think,” asked he, “she is too ill to see me?”

“Who too ill?”

“Why, Miss Fitzalan.” (For the moment Ellen knew Lord Mortimer acquainted with Amanda’s name, she thought there was no longer reason for concealing it from any one, and had informed Howell of it.)

“Miss Fitzalan!” repeated she, starting and changing colour.

“Yes, Ellen, the dear, lovely Miss Fitzalan, whom I adore more than language can express, or imagination can conceive.”

Adieu to Ellen’s airy hopes! Her chagrin could not be concealed, and tears burst from her. The curate tenderly inquired the cause of her emotion: though vain, she was not artful, and could not disguise it.—“Why really you made such speeches, I thought—and then you looked so. But it is no matter: I pelieve all men are teceitful.”

From her tears and disjointed sentences, he began to suspect something, and his gentle mind was hurt at the idea of giving her pain; anxious, however, to receive his doom from Amanda, he again asked if she thought he could see her. Ellen answered him snappishly, she could not tell, and hurried to the cottage, where a flood of tears soon relieved her distress. To be dressed so charmingly, and for no purpose, was a pity: she therefore resolved on going to the dance, 79 consoling herself with the old saying, of having more than one string to her bow; and that if Chip was not as genteel, he was quite as personable a man as the curate. Walking down the lane she met a little boy, who gave her a letter from Chip. Full of the idea of its containing some overtures of recon­ciliation, she hastily broke it open, and read to the following effect:

Ellen, after your cruelty, I could not bear to stay in the village, as I never could work another stroke with a light heart, and every tree and meadow would remind me of the love my dear girl once bore her poor Chip. So, before this comes to hand, I shall be on my way to enter one of the king’s ships, and heaven knows whether we shall ever meet again: but this I know, I shall always love Ellen, though she was so cruel to her own faithful

“Tim Chip.”

Thus did the vanity of Ellen receive a speedy punishment. Her distress for some days was unabated, but at last yielded to the mild arguments of Amanda, and the hopes she inspired of seeing the wandering hero again.

Howell at last obtained an interview, and ventured to plead his passion. Amanda thanked him for his regard, but declared her inability of returning it as he wished; assuring him, however, at the same time, of her sincere friendship.

“This, then, shall suffice,” said he. “Neither sorrow nor disap­pointment are new to me; and when they oppress me, I will turn to the idea of my angel friend, and forget (for some moments at least) my heavy burthen.”

Lord Mortimer made several attempts for again seeing Amanda, but without success; he then wrote, but his letters were not more successful. In despair of finding neither letters nor messages received by Amanda, he at last, by stratagem, effected an interview: meeting one of the young Edwins returning from the post-town with a letter, he inquired, and heard it was for Miss Fitzalan; a little persuasion prevailed on the young man to relinquish it, and Lord Mortimer flew directly to the cottage—“Now,” cried he, “the inexorable girl must appear, if she wishes to receive her letter.” The nurse informed Amanda of it; but she, suspecting it to be a scheme, refused to appear. “Indeed, I do not deceive her,” exclaimed Lord Mortimer, “nor will I give the letter into any hands but hers.”

“This, my lord,” said Amanda, coming from her chamber, “is 80 really cruel; but give me the letter,” impatiently stretching out her hand for it.

“Another condition remains to be complied with,” cried he, seizing her soft hand, which she, however, instantly withdrew, “you must read it, Miss Fitzalan, in my presence.”

“Good heavens! how you torment me!” she exclaimed.

“Do you comply, then?”

“Yes,” she replied, and received the letter from him.

The pity and compunction of his lordship increased, as he gazed on her pale face, while her eyes eagerly ran over the contents of a letter, which was as follows:

TO MISS FITZALAN.

“To be able to communicate pleasure to my Amanda, rewards me for tedious months of wretchedness—Dry up your tears, sweet child of early sorrow; for the source of grief exists no longer. Lord Cherbury has been kind beyond my warmest expectations, and has given me the ineffable delight, as far as pecuniary matters can do, of rendering the future days of Amanda happy. In my next I can be more explicit. At present I have not a moment I can call my own, which must excuse this laconic letter. The faithful Edwins will rejoice in the renewed fortune of their dear Amanda’s affec­tionate father,

“Augustus Fitzalan.

“Jermyn Street &c. &c.”

The emotions of Amanda were irrepressible; the letter dropped from her trembling hands, and her streaming eyes were raised to heaven. “Oh, bless him,” she exclaimed; “gracious heaven, bless the benefactor of my father, for this good deed. May sorrow nor misfortune ever come across his path.”

“And who, may I ask,” said Lord Mortimer, “merits so sweet a prayer from Amanda?”

“See,” cried she, presenting him the letter, as if happy at the moment to have such a proof of the truth of what she had alleged to him.

Lord Mortimer was affected by the letter: his eyes filled with tears, and he turned aside to hide his emotion: recovering himself, he again approached her. “And while you so sweetly pray for the felicity of the father,” said he, “are you resolved upon dooming the son to despair? If sincere repentance can extenuate error, and merit mercy, I deserve to be forgiven.”

Amanda rose, as if with an intention of retiring; but Lord Mortimer 81 caught her hand. “Think not,” cried he, “I will lose the present opportunity (which I have so long desired, and with such difficulty obtained) of entering into a vindi­cation of my conduct: however it may be received by you, it is a justice I owe my own character to make; for as I never wilfully injured innocence, so I cannot bear to be consi­dered its violator. Amidst the wildness, the extravagance of youth, which with compunction I acknow­ledge being too often led into, my heart still acquitted me of ever committing an act which could entail upon me the pangs of conscience. Sacred to me has virtue ever been, how lowly soever in situation.”

The idea of his being able to vindicate himself scarcely afforded less pleasure to Amanda, than it did to Lord Mortimer. She suffered him to reseat her, while he related the circum­stances which had led him astray in his opinion of her. Oh! how fervent was the rapture that pervaded Amanda’s heart when, as she listened to him, she found he was still the amiable, the noble, the generous character her fancy had first conceived him to be! Tears of pleasure, as exquisite as those she had lately shed, again fell from her; for oh! what delight is there in knowing, that an object we cannot help loving we may still esteem! “Thus,” continued Lord Mortimer, “I have accounted for my error; an error which, except on account of your displeasure, I know not whether I should regret; as it has convinced me, more forcibly than any other circum­stance could have done, of the perfections of your mind; and has, besides, removed from mine, prejudices which, not without cause, I entertained against your sex. Were every woman in a similar situation to act like you,

——Such numbers would not in vain,

Of broken vows and faithless men complain.

“To call you mine is the height of my wishes: on your decision I rest for happiness. O! my Amanda, let it be a favourable decision, and suffer me to write to Mr. Fitzalan, and request him to bestow on me the greatest pleasure one being can possibly receive from another, a woman lovely, and educated as you have been.”

When he mentioned appealing to her father, Amanda could no longer doubt the sincerity of his intentions. Her own heart pleaded as powerfully as his solicitations did for pardoning him; and if she did not absolutely extend her hand, she at least suffered it to be taken 82 without any reluctance. “I am forgiven then,” said Lord Mortimer, pressing her to his bosom. “Oh, my Amanda, years of tender attention can never make up for this goodness.”

When his transports were a little abated, he insisted on writing immediately to Fitzalan: as he sealed the letter, he told Amanda he had requested an expeditious answer. The happiness of the youthful pair was communicated to the honest rustics, whom Lord Mortimer liberally rewarded for their fidelity to his Amanda, and whom she readily excused for their ambiguous expressions to him, knowing they proceeded from simplicity of heart, and a wish of serving her, yet without injuring themselves, by betraying the manner in which they procured intelligence of her situation.

The day after the reconciliation, Lord Mortimer told Amanda he was compelled for a short time to leave her; with what reluctance, he hoped, she could easily perceive; but the visit he had come into Wales for the purpose of paying, had been so long deferred, his friend was growing impatient, and threatened to come to Tudor Hall to see what detained him there. To prevent such a measure, which he knew would be a total inter­ruption to the happiness he enjoyed in her society, Lord Mortimer added, he intended to pass a few days with him; hoping by the time he returned, there would be a letter from Mr. Fitzalan, which would authorize his immediate preparations for their nuptials. Amanda wished (but was unable) totally to hide the uneasiness she felt at the prospect of a separation: the idea, however, of his speedy return rendered it but transient, and he departed in a few hours after he had mentioned his intention.

Amanda had never before experienced such happiness as she now enjoyed: she now saw herself on the point of being elevated to a situation (by a man too she adored,) which would give her ample opportunities of serving the dearest connections of her heart, and of gratifying the benevolence of her disposition, and the elegance of her taste.

Oh! how delightful to think she should be able to soothe the declining period of her father’s life, by providing for him all the requisite indulgences of age! oh! how delightful to think she should be accessary to her dear Oscar’s promotion! how rapturous to imagine, at her approach the drooping children of misery would brighten with pleasing presages of relief, which she would amply 83 realize! Such were Amanda’s anticipations of what she termed the blessings of an affluent fortune: felicity, in her opinion, was to be diffused to be enjoyed. Of Lord Cherbury’s sanction to the attachment of his son, she entertained not a doubt; her birth was little inferior to his, and fortune was entirely out of the question; for a liberal mind, she thought, could never look to that, when on one side was already possessed more than sufficient for even the luxuries of life. Such were the ideas of the innocent and romantic Amanda; ideas, which made her seem to tread on air, and which she entertained till subsequent experience convinced her of their fallacy.

Errata: Chapter VIII

“I am astonished at his request . . . . and trouble my repose no more.”
both quotation marks missing

had often laughed and familiarly chatted with Ellen
text has “chat-” (only) at line-end

“your request is the most improperest that can be conceived
open quote missing

“I wonder at your presumptionness in making it;
open quote missing

“But the quarrel perhaps,” said he, “may be made up.”
text has up,”

“Do you think,” asked he, “she is too ill to see me?”
text has to ill

“This, then, shall suffice,” said he.
open quote missing

he inquired, and heard it was for Miss Fitzalan
text has Miss. Fitzalan

Were every woman in a similar situation to act like you
text has similiar


Howell was no stranger to the manner in which hours rolled away at the cottage


Amanda was sitting in the recess in the garden

Introduction and Contents

 

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