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The Old Manor House:

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CHAPTER XXXV.

Torn by these distracting contests between love and duty, Orlando continued for some moments to traverse the place where Warwick had left him. His two younger sisters appeared to interrupt without relieving this painful debate. He learned from them that Captain Warwick and Isabella were gone together for a walk, and that the former had sent them to him, as he wanted to speak with them. A new doubt now arose in the mind of Orlando—Ought he to communicate to Selina what was going forward, of which she appeared to be ignorant? or conceal within his own bosom what he could not prevent, or entirely disapprove? After a little consideration he thought it would be best not to make Selina a party: and he endeavoured to dissemble as well as he could the conflict of passions which were preying on his heart. His father, pale and dejected, with a slow and languid step, soon after joined them: he bade the two girls go to their mother, and then taking Orlando’s arm, they walked together to a greater distance from the house.

You go then to-morrow, Orlando? said Somerive: there are no hopes of any favourable reverse to this cruel sentence? Mrs. Rayland, I find,—he hesitated—does not wish to interfere, Sir, replied Orlando. On the contrary, she seems to think that a young man of my age and profession cannot be so well employed as in the actual service of his country.

Somerive answered only with a deep sigh; and after a short pause Orlando went on:

I beseech you, my dearest Sir, not to make yourself thus unhappy. Consider that, notwith­standing 87 this temporary parting, my prospects are infinitely better than I had any right to expect, and—

They might, however, have been better, said his father in his turn interrupting him—at least they might have been more permanently assured, if you had listened to the proposals we heard yesterday: instead of quitting your family, you might then have been settled near it in affluence.

Let us not, my dear father, answered Orlando, discuss that any more; I would not marry Miss Holly­bourn, if she could give me a kingdom.

Nor give up your boyish fancy for that girl at the Hall to save your family, to save your father!

Orlando started as if he trod on a serpent: this was a string that jarred too much, it threatened to destroy all the virtuous resolutions which he had been labouring to adopt; for it seemed to be cruelty and injustice in his father to reproach him; and, conscious of the sacrifice he hoped to have fortitude enough to make, it appeared too hard that he was at that moment blamed for not making more.

No, Sir, said he, I will not give up my fancy for the girl at the Hall, as you are pleased to term her; but I see not how my affection for her can injure my family, nor how my resigning her could save them—For God’s sake, do not imbitter the few hours we are to pass together, either by the reproaches which indeed I do not deserve, or by concern which the occasion does not demand. Believe me, your son suffers enough, without the additional misery of seeing you either displeased with him or grieving for him.

Orlando, then fearful that any farther conversation with his father, in the humour he seemed to be in, would serve only to give pain to them both, and wishing to be alone for a few minutes before he again saw Warwick, went another way; and on his 88 return to the house he found an official letter directing him to repair immediately for Portsmouth, where the captain of his company was assembling his men in order to embark immediately for America.

Thus certain that he must set out the next day, and that he had only a few moments before he must meet Warwick and give his answer, he hid himself in the least frequented part of the shrubbery that adjoined to the house, and again considered of the tempting offer that was made him. Fascinating as it was, and though his excessive affection for Monimia was often on the point of overbalancing every other consideration whatever; his pride and his duty, his affection for his father, and his respect for himself, united at length to conquer his inclination.

How could he bear to plunge a dagger into the heart of his father, who had little other hope on earth but in him? or, if he could determine on that, and fortify himself against the reproaches his conscience might make him, how could he submit to be obliged for his support, for the support of Monimia, to Warwick? There was something repugnant to the generous feelings of Orlando, in Warwick’s using the very money his uncle had given him, as the means of disap­pointing his benefactor. But, whatever apology Warwick might make to himself for this, Orlando thought there could be none for him if he were to participate in money thus acquired. He knew that, accustomed to expence and indulgences, as his friend was, a thousand pounds would be no very permanent resource when Isabella was to share it; and he could not bear that, he should be supposed to connive at her flight, only to become with Monimia a burthen to her and Warwick. On the slender pay of an ensign it were madness to think he could support a wife, however humble might be her wishes; and his marriage 89 would cut him off for ever from all hopes of that assistance from Mrs. Rayland, which his father, even though he should forgive, had not the power to afford him. Could he then endure to expose his beloved Monimia to the incon­veniences of following a camp, without having the means of procuring her such alleviations as it allowed? He might die in the field, and leave her exposed to hazards infinitely greater than those which could befall her in England. This last consideration determined him—It decided his wavering virtue, and he resolved to give Warwick a positive refusal immediately before he should relapse, and to conceal the almost invincible temptation he had been under from his Monimia, lest her weaker, softer heart yielding to it, he should again find himself unable to resist it.

He now hastened to find Warwick; and fortunately met him at the entrance of the house, whither they were summoned to dinner. Warwick inquired with great eagerness on what he had resolved. To be miserable, answered Orlando, in abstaining from what is wrong. I shall be miserable, if I agreed, Warwick, to your proposal; and I have determined, since either way I must be unhappy, to be so with integrity rather than self-reproach.

What the devil! said Warwick, you won’t go then my way?

No, I will not.

But you will not, I hope, Sir, cried Warwick half angry—you will not think it necessary to prevent your sister?

Orlando, who did not greatly relish the peremptory manner in which this was said, answered coldly,—You have my honour, Captain Warwick, and any other question is an affront.

Forgive me, my friend, replied Warwick, resuming his usual good humour—forgive me for doubting 90 you. I cannot live without Isabella, nor do I intend to try at it—I have prevailed upon her, not without difficulty I assure you, to consent to meet me at Portsmouth. You know how much happiness your going with Monimia would have given to us all! But I have not a moment to argue the matter with you. You say you are determined—So am I; and all I ask of you is, that you will not rob me of my happiness, upon the same false, cold sort of reasoning system to which you are sacrificing your own.

A servant now coming out to say that dinner waited, they went into the house. A melancholy and silent meal was soon concluded. The General’s horse was brought to the door, on which Warwick was to go to the next post town: and he rose to take leave of the family, which he did with a composure that amazed Orlando, who had no idea how a man could so conceal the feelings which must on such an occasion naturally arise. Isabella was far from appearing so tranquil; but all the rest were too much engaged with their own sensations to remark those which her countenance betrayed, though to Orlando her confusion was evident.

Warwick went up to receive the last orders of his uncle, and then prepared to mount his horse; when Orlando took his arm, and begged he would send the servant on with the horses, and give him a few moment’s attention as they walked on after them.

Warwick readily agreed, in hopes that he had changed his mind; but Orlando soon put an end to such expectations by asking him in what way Isabella was to meet him. I have given you my honour, Warwick, said he, not to betray you; but I must have yours in return that my sister shall be exposed to no improper adventures. How is she who never was from home in her life, but for a few 91 days with her mother in London, to find her way to Portsmouth?

Ridiculous! exclaimed Warwick, to find her way to Portsmouth! One would really think she was to take a flight to the extreme parts of the earth, instead of hardly five-and-thirty miles. My poor friend, thou hast not been used, I see, to these little adventures—I have an aid-de-camp, who, in the absence of his commander, can secure a little deserter for him. Isabella is determined to trust me; and it may suffice you to know that I love her too well not to take every possible precaution for her safety.

No, said Orlando, it may not suffice—Though I have promised not to interfere, it is only on condition that I am sure my sister will not suffer either in her person or her reputation. Give me therefore the particulars.

Warwick then related, that his servant, on whom he could depend, was on the evening they should appoint to be ready with a post-chaise and four at some place they could fix upon; where after supper Isabella, instead of retiring to her room, should meet it—Nothing is more easy, I suppose, said Warwick, or less dangerous, than for your sister to do this; and, when she is once off in the chaise, relays of horses being ordered at the two stages between this and Portsmouth, my servant following on horseback, will escort her thither in less than four hours; there I shall have a vessel ready to carry us to Jersey—Money, my dear boy! Money, my dear boy! Money, contrivance and courage are all that are necessary. I have found the two first, and have given the last to the only person that wanted it. I have convinced Isabella that, if she follows my directions, she may be at Portsmouth before she is missed, and married before any one can guess 92 where to look for her. Well, Orlando, you now have my whole plan; and I trust to your honour not to render it abortive.

And I, replied Orlando, trust my sister to yours, not without reluctance and remorse—We shall probably meet at Portsmouth?

Probably, answered Warwick; for the two companies are to embark at the same time; and I only trust to some private interest, which I have prevailed upon my uncle to make for me, to procure leave to embark in whatever vessel is most convenient.—The captain of one of the frigates is my particular friend, and I shall probably get a birth with him instead of going in a transport. Orlando, to whom the whole scheme appeared easily practicable, now again felt all the disposition to join in it which he had before combated: but again his reason came to his aid, and he saw Warwick depart without betraying any symptoms of that struggle which still tore his heart.

Once more, however, he subdued it; and recalled his resolution to go through the trying scene which was to wait him on his return to the house, where he was early in the evening to bid adieu to all his family, in order to sup with Mrs. Rayland as she had desired; and then! the last cruel parting with Monimia, more dreadful than any of his former sufferings, was to embitter his last moments at Rayland-Hall.

The last adieu between a father so affectionate and unhappy and a son so beloved, need not be described—it would indeed be difficult to do it justice. As his mother and his sisters hung weeping about him he could not help addressing some words to Isabella, however unfavourable the time, which she seemed perfectly to under­stand—though she shrunk from them, and had carefully avoided giving 93 him any opportunity of speaking to her alone. At length Orlando tore himself away; and not daring to look behind him, yet hardly feeling the ground beneath him, he hurried to the Hall.

Mrs. Rayland received him with as much calmness as if he only came on a usual visit. Of the violent emotions which agitated him she had no idea. Time and uninterrupted prosperity had so blunted the little sensibility nature had given her, that she was utterly incapable of participating or comprehending the acute feelings of her young favourite: yet in her way she was extremely kind to him; and, after giving him another course of excellent advice, which lasted near two hours, she told him, that as his first equipment might have taken a good part of her former present, she had another note of fifty pounds at his service. This present was extremely acceptable to Orlando, who had not above sixty left of her preceding bounty. Mrs. Rayland, detaining Orlando an hour longer than he expected, at length dismissed him with her blessing; and Orlando shed tears of gratitude on her hand, which he kissed, and, without being able to speak, left her.

He then took leave of the servants; but gave to Mrs. Lennard, with whom he desired to speak in her own room, more time than to the rest; and desirous of doing what he could to soften the situation of his Monimia, he determined to speak to her aunt on her behalf.

You know, Madam, said he, that on my last departure you spoke to me of your niece: let me now speak to you of her. My absence may satisfy you as to those suspicions, that I know not why you entertained of me—but let me entreat you to be kind to my lovely young friend, for whom I scruple not to avow to you a very great regard.

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What! cried Mrs. Lennard, has she ever then been such an ungrateful girl as to say I was unkind to her?

Never, said Orlando:—in the conversations we have accidentally had, your niece has always spoken of you with gratitude and respect: but, after what you once said to me about her, I should be remiss were I to quit the house without trying to obviate any little lurking prejudice which may at some future time be remembered to her disadvantage: allow me therefore to intercede with you, not only to forget any of these circumstances which may prejudice your mind against her, but to increase that tenderness for her, which does so much honour to your heart.

Thank you, Sir, said Mrs. Lennard, but I hope I do not want your advice, nor any body’s, to do my duty to the girl, since she is left upon my hands.

Orlando never felt so great an inclination as at that moment, to take Monimia off her hands; and, as he found little was to be hoped for from his solicitations in her favour, he took leave of Mrs. Lennard, and endeavoured, when alone, to collect all his resolution for this final adieu with Monimia; to drive from his recollection the offer of Warwick, which still recurred to tantalize and torment him; to conceal from her that it ever had been made, and to fortify her mind for their long separation while he felt his own sinking under it.

Among other things it occurred to him, that if death or caprice deprived Monimia of the cold and reluctant protection her aunt now afforded her, she might be not only desolate but pennyless. He determined, therefore, to leave with her one of the banker’s notes he had just received, of five-and-twenty pounds, and to pass these last moments in arming her against every possible contingency 95 which might happen during his absence, and, as far as he could, instructing her how to act if they occurred.

Monimia, with swollen eyes, from which the tears slowly fell notwith­standing her endeavours to restrain them, listened in silence, as with a faultering tone and in disjointed sentences he went through this mournful task. She promised in a voice hardly articulate to attend to all he desired, and to keep a journal of her life; though what will it be, said she, but a journal of sufferings and of sorrow?

But when that sorrow, those sufferings are over, my Monimia, cried Orlando, trying to speak cheerfully, with what transport shall we look back on this journal, and compare our past anxieties with our actual happiness!—Let that idea encourage you amidst the heavy days that are to intervene before we meet again. Whatever you suffer, remember that your Orlando will return to dry your tears! And take care of your precious health, my Monimia, preserve it for him.

She could only answer by a deep drawn sigh; while Orlando, cruel as the scene was, could not determine to put an end to it. Day already dawned; and as he did not mean to go to bed, but had ordered the under-keeper to attend him with the horses as soon as it was light, he knew that he should soon be called by Jacob: yet could he not determine to lead Monimia back to her turret till he heard the man at the door, who, tapping at it, informed him the horses were ready, and the hour passed at which he ordered himself to be called.

Monimia then arose and said—Farewell then, Orlando! He had no power to answer her; but led her silently through the chapel, round the court, and to her turret. The moment that tore him from her could not be delayed; he took the last embrace, 96 and hastily bade her shut the door, lest he should fail into such a paroxysm of anguish as might render him unable to leave her at all. Monimia, who could not have supported the pain she endured much longer, with feeble and trembling hands obeyed him; but as slowly he descended the stairs, he heard her loud sobs, and was on the point of returning again to snatch her to his bosom, and declare it impossible to part with her.

The loud noise of a whip, which Jacob, impatient of his long delay, now sounded around the house, roused him once more.

He started from the dangerous reflection he was indulging, that it was yet in his own power to take Monimia with him, or at least to secure her following him with his sister; and again recovering his courage, he descended the stairs, left for the last time the beloved turret, and in a few moments mounted his horse, and rode almost at full speed through the park. He was soon on the high road to the first post-town towards Portsmouth; and having ascended an high down that afforded him the last view he could have of Rayland Hall, he stopped on the top of it, and, turning his horse’s head, fixed his eyes on the seat of all his past happiness, of all his future hopes, and thought how much he probably had to suffer before he should revisit it again, how probable it was that he should never see it more!

Jacob, who had but little notion of all this, yet supposed the captain, as he was now called at the Hall, was sorry to leave all his friends and Miss Monimmy, and hunting and shooting, and such like, to go to the wars, now thought it might be kind to console him: but Orlando heeded not the very eloquent harangue, which had lasted near a quarter of an hour, but suddenly turned his horse, and set out as speedily as before.

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He took a post horse at the town, and put his portmanteau into a Portsmouth diligence that was passing; then dismissing his favourite horse, which he would take no farther, and recommending him particularly to Jacob, who promised to attend to him while he fed at liberty in the park, he made the servant a handsome present, and on the hack which was ready he proceeded as if he was pursued; for the speed with which he rode seemed to give him something like relief. A very short time brought him to Portsmouth; where he found his baggage from London just arrived; and learned that some of the soldiers were already embarked, that the wind was fair, and that new orders for the greatest expedition were arrived that day to the commander of the reinforcement going to America.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXV

she seems to think that a young man of my age and profession cannot be so well employed as in the actual service of his country
[Mrs. Rayland thinks that Orlando ought to do the job he is getting paid to do? What a quaint, old-fashioned idea.]

he hid himself in the least frequented part of the shrubbery
text has had himself

whatever apology Warwick might make to himself for this
[Towards the end of the novel, we’ll meet another case of “apology” in this slightly archaic sense of “justification”.]

Money, my dear boy! Money, my dear boy!
[Repetition in the original, both in British Novelists and in the 2nd edition.]

I shall probably get a birth with him
spelling unchanged

Orlando, who had not above sixty [pounds] left of her preceding bounty
[Inquiring minds want to know: What did he spend it on?]


Mr. Somerive exclaimed, Good God; what is to be done now?


Exhausted by the fatigue of body and mind

The Old Manor House:
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.