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The Children of the Abbey

CHAPTER IX.

Alas! the story melts away my soul!

That best of fathers, how shall I discharge

The gratitude and duty which I owe him?

By laying up his counsels in your heart.

Cato.

Amanda was sitting in the recess in the garden, the fourth evening of Lord Mortimer’s absence, when suddenly she heard the rattling of a carriage; her heart bounded, and she flew into the house; at the very moment a chaise stopped at the door, from which, to her inexpressible amazement, her father descended.

Transfixed to the spot, it was many minutes ere she had power to bid him welcome, or return the fond caresses he bestowed upon her. “I am come, Amanda,” said he, eagerly inter­rupting the joyful speeches of the Edwins, “to take you away with me; and one hour is all I can give you to prepare yourself.”

“Good Heaven!” said Amanda, starting, “to take me away immediately?”

“Immediately,” he repeated, “and as I know you are attached to this good girl,” (turning to Ellen,) “I shall be happy, if her parents permit, to procure her attendance for you.”

The Edwins, who would have followed themselves, or allowed any of their family to follow Fitzalan and his daughter round the world, 84 gladly consented to her going; and the girl, exclusive of her attachment to Amanda, which was very great, having pined ever since her lover’s departure, rejoiced at the idea of a change of scene.

Not so Amanda; it made her suffer agony; to be torn from Lord Mortimer in the hour of recon­ciliation and explanation, was more than she could support with fortitude. Her father, perhaps, had not received his letter; but it was but justice then to him and Lord Mortimer to reveal her situation. She left her trunk half-packed, and went out for that purpose; but as she stood before him with quivering lips and half-averted eyes, at a loss to begin, he took her hand, and softly exclaimed, “My love, let us for the present wave every subject; the moments are precious, hasten to put on your habit, or we shall be too late at the stage where I propose resting to night.” Amanda turned in silence to her chamber to comply with the desire; tears ran down her cheeks, and for the first time she conceived the idea of being hurried away to avoid Lord Mortimer; but why, she could not think. Honour as well as tenderness, she thought, demanded her acquainting him with the cause of her precipitate journey: but when she took up a pen for that purpose, her hand was unsteady, and she was so much disturbed by the nurse and her daughters, who ran backwards and forwards in all the bustle of preparation, that she could not write: her father prevented a second effort, for he was continually coming to her chamber door, urging her to be quick, and, by thus watching, completely prevented her delivering any message to the nurse for Lord Mortimer; so great was his eagerness to depart, he would not suffer the horses to be taken from the chaise, or any refreshment to be brought him by the Edwins, notwith­standing their pressing entreaties; neither would he answer their interroga­tories as to where he was going, saying they should know hereafter. The parting embrace was at last given and received with a heavy heart; Amanda was handed to the carriage; silence prevailed; all the travellers were equally though differently affected: the cottage and the spire of the village church had awakened the most affecting remembrances in the mind of Fitzalan, and tears fell from him to the memory of his unfortunate Malvina; sighs burst from Amanda as she viewed the white turrets of Tudor Hall, and Ellen sobbed on passing the forsaken cottage of poor Chip. From all these affecting and beloved objects the rapidity of the carriage soon conveyed them, 85 but the impressions they left upon their mind were not so easily eradicated. Fitzalan was the first to break the unsocial silence, and it seemed as if he did so for the purpose of rousing the dejection of his daughter. A cross road from the cottage shortly brought them to Conway ferry, which they were obliged to pass, and here, had Amanda’s mind been at ease, she would have felt truly gratified by viewing the remains of gothic magnificence which Castle Conway exhibited; as it was, she could not behold them unmoved, and, whilst she admired, she gave the passing tribute of a sigh to grandeur and decay. They only continued in Conway till a carriage was provided for them, and soon came beneath the stupendous projections of Penmaenmawr: this was a scene as new as awful to Amanda. “Well, Cot in heaven pless their souls,” Ellen said, “what a tefil of a way they should be in if one of them huge stones rolled down upon the carriage.” They stopped not again till they reached Bangor ferry, where they were to rest for the night. Amanda’s strength and spirits were now so entirely exhausted, that had not a glass of wine been immediately procured her, she would have fainted from weakness; this a little revived her, and the tears she shed relieved in some degree the oppressions of her heart; her father left her and Ellen together, while he went to give directions about the journey of the ensuing day.

Amanda went to the window and threw up the sash; the air from the mountains she thought refreshed her; the darkness of the hour was opposed by a bright moon, which cast a trembling radiance upon the water, and by its partial gleams exhibited a beautiful scene of light and shade, that, had Amanda been in another frame of mind, she would infinitely have admired; the scene too was almost as silent as it was lovely, for no voice was heard, except a low murmur from voices below stairs. While she stood here in a deep reverie, the paddling of oars suddenly roused her, and she beheld a boat on the opposite shore, which in a few minutes gained the one where she was, and she saw coming from it to the inn a large party of gentlemen, whose air and attendants announced them to be men of fashion; they seemed by their discourse to be a convivial party; the light was too dim to allow their faces to be discerned, but in the figure of one, Amanda thought she perceived a strong resemblance to Lord Mortimer: her heart throbbed; she leaned forward to endeavour to distinguish 86 more plainly, and at the moment heard his well known voice ordering his groom to have the horses ready at twelve o’clock, as he would take the advantage of such fine weather to set off at that hour for Tudor Hall. The party were then ushered into a room contiguous to the one occupied by Amanda, while the bustling of the waiters, and the clattering of knives, forks, and plates, announced the preparations for a late dinner. Oh! what were now the agitations of Amanda, to think that in one moment she could inform Lord Mortimer of her situation! but the transport the idea gave was relinquished almost as soon as felt, as such a measure she thought might perhaps for ever disoblige her father. In this tumult of doubt and perplexity he found her, and by his conduct convinced her that he not only knew of Lord Mortimer’s being in the house, but wished her to avoid him, for he instantly led her from the window, and, shutting it down, darted, for the first time in his life, a severe frown at her: a dagger in the breast of Amanda could scarcely have given her more pain; a cold horror ran through her veins, and she was oppressed by as many fears as if she had been conscious of offending him. The supper he had ordered was a little retarded by the late dinner of his gay neighbours; he would have had it in another room, had another been engaged: vainly did his timid companions try to eat: Amanda was sick, and Ellen frightened, though she knew not why; the waiter was dismissed, and the most unsocial silence prevailed.

Unbounded gaiety reigned in the next apartment, from which every sound could be plainly distin­guished. Dinner over, the exhilarating juice went round, and bumper toasts were called; Lord Mortimer at last was asked for a fair nymph. “I will give you,” exclaimed he, in a voice which denoted his being uncommonly elevated, “an angel!” Amanda’s heart beat violently, and her cheeks glowed. A name for this celestial beauty, demanded one of the party; “Amanda,” cried his lordship. “O faith, Mortimer, that won’t do,” said another of his companions, “this angel shall not pass without the rest of her name.” “Miss Fitzalan then,” exclaimed his lordship. “Oh, oh,” cried a new voice, with a loud laugh, after due honour had been paid to the toast, “I begin to unravel a mystery; upon my soul, I could not conceive till this instant what had kept you so long at the Hall; for I had seen the maiden part of the household and knew the metal there not very attractive; but this Amanda, I suppose, 87 is the rosy daughter of some poor curate in this vicinity, who for”—“Beware,” inter­rupted Lord Mortimer, in an agitated voice, “of what you say; give me no reason to repent having introduced a name so valued into this company; the situation of Miss Fitzalan is not exactly what you suppose; but let this suffice for you, to know it is such as secures her from every species of impertinence; and was it even less protected, her own elegance and propriety would elevate her above receiving any.” The face of Fitzalan during this conversation was crimsoned over, and he again darted a frown at the trembling Amanda, which almost petrified her; he told her that she and Ellen must retire immediately to rest, as they had a long journey before them the ensuing day, which would require their rising early.—Amanda for the first time in her life wished to be relieved from his presence, and gladly rose to obey him: he attended her himself to the room prepared for her, which was directly over that where the gentlemen sat: to think of rest was impossible; the severity of her father’s looks, and her precipitate journey—she knew not whither—but evidently for the purpose of avoiding Lord Mortimer, filled the thoughts of Amanda with confusion and distress. Ellen essayed artless conso­lation.

“What the tefil do you think,” said she, “if I was to go down and give his lordship an intimation of your peing here? You could easily contrive to see him in the garden, or else we could pring him up here, and if the captain surprised us, we could pop him in a moment behind the curtain.” Amanda motioned her to silence, unwilling to lose the smallest sound of Lord Mortimer’s voice, and determined, anxious as she was to see him, never to act in opposition to her father. At length the horses were led from the stable, and the convivial party descended to them. Amanda softly raised the window, and saw Lord Mortimer eagerly vault upon the saddle. He gave a hasty adieu to his friends and galloped off. They mounted at the same time, but took a contrary direction. Amanda leaned out till she could no longer hear the clattering of the horse’s hoofs: her heart sunk as the sound died upon her ear; she wept as she retired from the window; the idea of Mortimer’s disap­pointment aggravated her grief; she no longer opposed Ellen’s efforts to undress her; exhausted by fatigue, sleep soon closed her eyes, and her fancy again transported her to Tudor Hall, and Mortimer.

88

By the first dawn of day a knock at her chamber door roused her from this pleasing illusion, and she heard her father desiring her to rise immediately; drowsy as she was, she instantly obeyed the summons, and awaking Ellen, they were ready to attend him in a few minutes; a boat was already prepared, and on gaining the opposite side they found a carriage in waiting. Day was now just dawning; a gray mist enveloped the mountains, and cast a shade of obscurity upon all the inferior objects; at length the atmosphere began to brighten: the lucid clouds in the east were tinged with golden radiance, and the sun in beautiful and refulgent majesty arose, gladdening the face of nature with his potent beams; the trees, the shrubs, seemed waving their dewy heads, in sign of grateful homage, while their winged inhabitants, as they soared in the air, poured forth the softest notes of melody, Amanda, in spite of sadness, beheld the charming scene with admiration, and Fitzalan contemplated it with delight. “All nature,” he exclaimed, “points out to man the gratitude due to the divine Dispenser of good: hardened must that heart be against the feelings of sensi­bility, which the harmony and fragrance of this early hour awakens not to a perfect sense of it.” Amanda assented more by a smile than words (for she was ill able to speak) to his remark. They stopped not till they reached Gwintey, where they breakfasted, and then proceeded, without resting again, to Holyhead, which place Fitzalan announced as they entered it: and now Amanda first conceived the idea of being brought to another kingdom, in which her father soon confirmed her, for, as soon as they alighted, he inquired when a packet would sail, and heard with evident pleasure about six in the afternoon; he directly desired three passages to be engaged; and having ordered an early dinner, dismissed Ellen into another room, and seating himself by Amanda, he took her hand, and with a tender voice thus addressed her: “To give pain to your gentle heart has inflicted torture on mine, but honour compelled me to the conduct which I have adopted, and which I trust and believe, Amanda will excuse, when she knows my motive for it, which in due order she shall hear. On Lord Cherbury’s arrival in town, I was immediately informed of it, according to the promise of his domestics, and directly sent him my letter: scarcely had he read it, ere, with all the ardour of real friendship, he came and brought me to his house, where we might securely reflect on 89 what was to be done; his lordship soon formed a plan that at once inspired me with gratitude and pleasure, as it promised me competence, without depriving me of indepen­dence: this was to accept the agency of a consi­derable estate in the north of Ireland, which he possessed in right of his wife, the late Countess of Cherbury, who was an Irish heiress: he proposed my residing in the mansion house, offering to advance a sum sufficient to answer all demands and exigencies; and striving to lighten the obligations he conferred upon me, by declaring he had long been seeking a man of well-known probity, as his last agent had gone off consi­derably in arrears with him. I accepted his generous offer, and soon freed myself from the power of Belgrave. I now felt a tranquillity I was long a stranger to, and was busied in preparing to come down to you, when Lord Mortimer’s letter, like a clap of thunder, broke the happy calm I had enjoyed. Gracious Heaven! I shuddered to think that at the very period Lord Cherbury was building up my fortunes, the hopes he entertained for his darling son were in a way of being destroyed, through means of a connexion of mine. He had hinted to me his having already settled upon a splendid alliance for Lord Mortimer, which he also hinted his heart was set on: this the infatuated young man had himself some knowledge of, for in his rash letter he entreated my secrecy relative to his proposal for you, till beyond the reach of mortals to separate you. No doubt he would never have asked my consent, had he thought he could have procured you without it; he took me, I suppose, for some needy and ambitious creature, who would, though at the expense of integrity, grasp at the opportunity of elevating a child to rank and fortune; but never was an erring mortal more mistaken; though dearer to me than the air I breathe, though the lovely child of my lost Malvina, though a cherub whose innocent endear­ments often raised in me, as Prospero says—

“An undergoing stomach—to bear up

Against what should ensue,”

I would rather see you breathless at my feet, than, by conscious and apparent meanness, deserve and incur the malevolence of calumny. I committed the letter to the flames, and requested Lord Cherbury’s final commands; being desirous to commence my journey without longer delay, as your delicate state of health, I said, made me anxious 90 to have you immediately under my own care; he complied with my request, and I travelled post, resolved to separate you and Lord Mortimer, even if prepared for the altar: nor was I alone actuated to this by gratitude to Lord Cherbury, or consi­deration for my own honour—no, with these, a regard for your peace equally influenced me; a soul of sensi­bility and refinement like yours could never, I know, be happy if treated with repulsive coldness by the family of her husband; parti­cularly if her conscience told her she merited that coldness by entering it clandestinely. Could I bear to think that you, so lovely in person, so amiable in manners, so illustrious in descent, should be called an artful and necessitous contriver; an imputation which, most undoubtedly, your union with Lord Mortimer would have incurred. No! to the God who gave you to my care, I hold myself responsible, as far as in my power, for preserving your peace; to the mother, whose last words implored my tenderness for her offspring, I hold myself accountable; to me she still exists; I think her ever near, and ere I act, always reflect whether such an action would meet her appro­bation: such is the respect virtue excites; it lives when the frail texture of mortality is dissolved. Your attachment, when repelled by reason and fortitude, will soon vanish; as for Lord Mortimer, removed from the flame which warmed his heart, he will soon forget it ever played around it. Should he, however, be daring enough to persevere, he will find my resolution unalterable. Honour is the only hereditary possession that ever came to me uninjured; to preserve it in the same state has been ever my unremitted study; it irradiated the gloomy morning of care, and I trust it will gild the setting hours of existence.” Amanda’s emotions deprived her of speech or action; she sat a pale statue, listening to her father’s firm and rapid language, which announced the abolition of her hopes; ignorant of her inability to speak, he felt hurt at her silence, and rising abruptly, walked about the room with a disordered air. “I see, I see,” cried he at last, looking mournfully upon her, “I am destin’d to be unhappy; the little treasure which remained from the wreck of felicity, I had hoped (vain hope!) would have comforted and consoled me for what then was lost.” “Oh, my father!” exclaimed Amanda, suddenly starting and sighing deeply, “how you pierce my heart!” His pale, emaciated looks seemed to declare him sinking beneath a burden of 91 care; she started up and flung herself into his arms. “Dearest, best of fathers,” she exclaimed, in a voice broken by sobs, “what is all the world to me in comparison of you? Shall I put Lord Mortimer, so lately a stranger, in competition with your happiness? Oh, no! I will henceforth try to regulate every impulse of my heart according to your wishes.” Fitzalan burst into tears; the enthusiasm of virtue warmed them both: hallowed are her raptures, and amply do they recompense the pain attendant on her sacrifices.

Dinner was brought in, to which they sat down in their usual social manner, and Amanda, happy in her father’s smiles, felt a ray of returning cheerfulness. The evening was delightfully serene when they went on board, and the vessel, with a gentle motion, glided over the glittering waves; sickness soon compelled Amanda and Ellen to retire from the deck; yet, without a sigh, the former could not relinquish the receding prospect of the Welch mountains. By the dawn of next morning the vessel entered the bay of Dublin, and Fitzalan shortly after brought Amanda from the cabin to contemplate a scene which far surpassed all her ideas of sublimity and beauty; a scene which the rising sun soon heightened to the most glowing radiance. They landed at the Marine Hotel, where they breakfasted, and then proceeded in a carriage to an hotel in Capel-street, where they proposed staying a few days, for the purpose of enjoying Oscar’s company, whose regiment was quartered in Dublin, and making some requisite purchases for their journey to the north; as the carriage drove down Capel-street, Amanda saw a young officer standing at the corner of Mary’s Abbey, whose air very much resembled Oscar’s: her heart palpitated; she looked out and perceived the resemblance a just one, for it was Oscar himself; the carriage passed too swiftly for him to recognize her face, but he was astonished to see a fair hand waving to him; he walked down the street, and reached the hotel just as they were entering it.

Errata: Chapter IX

Unbounded gaiety reigned in the next apartment,
text has Undoubted gaiety

“O faith, Mortimer, that won’t do,”
texts (1877 and 1816) have “wont”

and knew the metal there not very attractive;
text has mettle
; invisible

Ellen essayed artless consolation.
text has “art/less” without hyphen at line break

her fancy again transported her to Tudor Hall, and Mortimer.
. missing

the vessel, with a gentle motion, glided over the glittering waves;
text has the the glttering


The moment he thought he could see Amanda, Mortimer hastened to the cottage


The raptures of this meeting surpassed description

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.