The Children of the Abbey
Think’st thou I’ll make a life of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh surmises. No, to be once in doubt,
Is to be resolv’d. But yet
I’ll see before I doubt: when I doubt, prove,
And on the proof there is no more but this,
Away at once with love and jealousy.
Lord Mortimer had, in reality, departed with sentiments very unfavourable to Amanda; he had waited impatiently at St. Catharine’s, in fond expectation of having all his doubts removed by a candid explanation of the motives which caused her precipitate journey from Wales; his soul sighed for reconciliation; his tenderness was redoubled by being so long restrained; the idea of folding his beloved Amanda to his bosom, and hearing that she deserved all the tenderness and sensibility which glowed in that bosom for her, gave him the highest pleasure: but when the appointed hour passed, and no Amanda appeared, language cannot express his disappointment: almost distracted by it, he ventured to inquire concerning her, from sister Mary; and long after the friendly nun had retired to the convent, continued to wander about the ruins, till the shadows of night had enveloped every object from his view.
“She fears to come then,” exclaimed he, quitting the desolate spot, oppressed with the keenest anguish, “she fears to come because she cannot satisfy my doubts; I witnessed her agitation, her embarrassment this morning, when I hinted at them; the mystery which separated us will not be explained, and it is vain to think we shall ever meet, as I once flattered myself we should.”
This thought seemed to strike at all his hopes, the distress and disorder of his mind was depicted on his countenance, and escaped not the observation and raillery of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia: but their raillery was in vain, and unanswered by him; he was absorbed in a train of pensive reflections, which they had neither power to remove or disturb.
Most unwillingly he accompanied them the ensuing day to a splendid entertainment, given purposely for them, in the neighbourhood. 201 The unexpected sight of Amanda, as she stood on a little elevated bank, to avoid the carriage, caused a sudden emotion of surprise and delight in his bosom; the utmost powers of eloquence could not have pleaded her cause so successfully as her own appearance at that minute did; the languor of her face; its mild and seraphic expression; her pensive attitude, and the timid modesty with which she seemed shrinking from observation, all touched the sensibility of Lord Mortimer, awakened his softest feelings, revived his hopes and made him resolve to seek another opportunity of demanding an explanation from her. The sudden colour which flushed in his cheeks, and the sparkling of his eyes, as he looked from the carriage, attracted the notice of his companions: they smiled maliciously at each other, and Lady Euphrasia declared she supposed the girl was stationed there to try and attract admiration, which, perhaps, her silly old father had told her she merited; or else to meet with adventures. Lord Mortimer drew in his head, and the contrast between her ladyship and the fair being he had been looking at, never struck him so forcibly as at that moment, and lessened one as much as it elevated the other in his estimation.
He wandered near the castle the next evening, in hopes of meeting Amanda; his disappointment was diminished by seeing Ellen, who he was confident would be faithful to the message intrusted to her; with this confidence he hastened to the rocks, every moment expecting the appearance of Amanda. Her image, as it appeared to him the preceding day, dwelt upon his imagination, and he forcibly felt how essential to his peace was a with her. An hour elapsed, and his tenderness again began to give way to resentment: it was not Ellen, but Amanda he doubted. He traversed the beach in an agony of impatience and anxiety; a feverish heat pervaded his frame, and he trembled with agitation. At length he heard the distant sound of the supper bell at Ulster Lodge, which never rang till a late hour. All hopes of seeing Amanda were now given up, and every intention of meeting her at a future period relinquished. She avoided him designedly, it was evident! he could have curst himself for betraying such anxiety about her, and his wounded pride revolted from the idea of seeking another interview. “No, Amanda,” he exclaimed as he passed the castle, “you can no longer have any claim upon me; mysterious appearances in the most candid mind will raise 202 suspicions: in giving you an opportunity for accounting for such appearances, I did all that candour, tenderness, sensibility, and honour could dictate; and instead of again making efforts to converse with you, I must now make others, which I trust will be more successful, entirely to forget you.”
The next morning he accompanied the marquis in his barge to the frigate, where he was agreeably surprised to find in the commander an old friend of his. Captain Somerville returned to Ulster Lodge with his visitors, and there, in a half jesting, half serious manner, asked Lord Mortimer to accompany him in his intended cruise. This his lordship instantly promised he would, with pleasure: he was completely tired of the Rosline family, and he was besides glad of an opportunity of convincing Amanda, he was not quite so fascinated to her as she perhaps believed, by his quitting the neighbourhood ere their departure. As he descended to the boat, the sight of Amanda shook his resolution; she seemed destined to cross his path, merely to give him disquietude; an ardent wish sprung in his heart to address her, but it was instantly suppressed, by reflecting how premeditately she had avoided him; pride therefore prompted him to pass her in silence, yet as the boat receded from the shore, his eyes were riveted to the spot on which she stood, and when he could no longer see the white gown fluttering in the wind, he gave a sigh to the remembrance of the happy days he had passed with her at Tudor Hall; another to the idea that such hours would never more be enjoyed by him.
The family at Ulster Lodge were both mortified and disappointed by his departure, though he, perceiving their displeasure, had endeavoured to lessen it, by promising to wait their arrival in Dublin, and return with them to England. His departure seemed a tacit intimation that he was not as much attached to Lady Euphrasia as they wished him to be; a suspicion of this nature had, indeed, for some time pervaded their minds, and also that his affections were elsewhere disposed of: they had reason to believe that the person who possessed them dwelt in the vicinity of the lodge, from the great alteration which took place in his manner, immediately after his arrival at it. In hopes of discovering who this was, they watched him critically at all the parties he frequented with them, but soon found it was not the present but the absent objects had the power of exciting emotions in him. At the name of Amanda Fitzalan, or her father, 203 they observed him colour, and frequently saw him contemplate Castle Carberry, as if it contained a being infinitely dear to him; to Amanda, therefore, they feared he was attached, and supposed the attachment commenced at Kilcorban’s ball where they had noticed his impassioned glances at this hated, though because too lovely, relation. The most unbounded rage took possession of their souls; they regretted having ever come to Ireland, where they supposed Lord Mortimer had first seen Amanda, as Lord Cherbury had mentioned the children of Fitzalan being strangers to him and his family. They knew the passions of Lord Cherbury were impetuous, and that ambition was the leading principle of his soul: anxious for an alliance between his family and theirs, they knew he would ill brook any obstacle which should be thrown in the way of its completion, and therefore resolved if Lord Mortimer at their next meeting appeared averse to the wishes of his father, to acquaint the earl with the occasion of his son’s disinclination, and represent Fitzalan and his daughter as aiding and abetting each other, in an insidious scheme to entangle the affections of Lord Mortimer, and draw him into a marriage: a scheme which, to a man of the world (as they knew Lord Cherbury to be,) would appear so very probable as to gain implicit credit. This they knew would convert the esteem he felt for Fitzalan into hatred and contempt: his favour would consequently be withdrawn, the father and child again sink into indigent obscurity. To think that Amanda, by dire necessity, should be reduced to servitude; to think the elegance of her form should be disguised by the garb of poverty, and the charms of her face faded by misery, were ideas so grateful, so ecstatic to their hearts, that to have them realized, they felt they could with pleasure relinquish the attentions of Lord Mortimer to have a pretext for injuring Fitzalan with his father; though not quite assured their suspicions were well founded, they would never have hesitated communicating them as such to Lord Cherbury; but for their own satisfaction they wished to know what reasons they had to entertain them. Lady Greystock was the only person they observed on a footing of intimacy with Amanda, and through her means flattered themselves they might make the desired discovery. They therefore began to unbend from their haughtiness, and make overtures for an intimacy with her: overtures she received with delight, and in their present attention forgot 204 their past neglect, which had given her such disgust. As they became intimate with her, they were much amused by a shrewd manner she possessed of telling stories, and placing the foibles and imperfections of their visitors in the most conspicuous and ludicrous light, particularly such visitors as were not agreeable to them. With the foibles of human nature she was well acquainted, also with the art of turning those foibles to her own advantage. She perceived the egregious vanity of the marchioness and Lady Euphrasia, and by administering large portions of what Sterne styles the delicious essence of the soul, soon became an immense favourite. After an injunction of secrecy, the marchioness communicated her fears relative to Lord Mortimer and Amanda, which she pretended regard for one, and pity for the other, had excited; as an attachment either of an honourable or dishonourable nature, she knew Lord Cherbury would never pardon. To know, therefore, how far matters had proceeded between them, would be some satisfaction, and might perhaps, be the means of preventing the ill consequences she dreaded. Lady Greystock was not to be imposed on; she perceived it was not pity for Amanda, envy and jealousy which had excited the fears of the marchioness. If Lord Mortimer was attached to Amanda, from his sentiments and manner, she was convinced it was an attachment of the purest nature. She carefully concealed her thoughts, however, affected to enter into all the alarms of the marchioness, and, as she saw she was expected to do, promised all in her power should be done for discovering what attachment subsisted between his lordship and Miss Fitzalan. For this purpose she began to grow constant in her visits at Castle Carberry, often spending whole days in the most familiar manner with Amanda, and endeavouring, by various methods, to beguile her of the secrets of her heart. Sometimes she rallied her on her melancholy; sometimes expressed pity for it, in strains of the most soothing tenderness; would frequently relate little fictitious and embellished anecdotes of her own youth, in which she said she had suffered the most exquisite misery, from an unfortunate entanglement; would then advert to Lord Mortimer; express her wonder at his precipitate departure, and her admiration of his virtues, declaring, if ever Lady Euphrasia gained his heart, which she much doubted, she must be considered as one of the most fortunate of women.205
Delicacy sealed the lips of Amanda, and guarded her secret. She believed her passion to be hopeless, and felt that to be offered consolation on such a subject, would, to her feelings, be truly humiliating. But though she could command her words, she could not her feelings, and they were visibly expressed in her countenance; she blushed whenever Lord Mortimer was mentioned; looked shocked if an union between him and Lady Euphrasia was hinted at; and smiled if a probability was suggested of its never taking place.—Lady Greystock at last relinquished her attempts at betraying Amanda into a confession of her sentiments: indeed, she thought such a confession not very requisite, as her countenance pretty clearly developed what they were; and she deemed herself authorised to inform the marchioness, that she was sure something had passed between Lord Mortimer and Amanda, though, what she could not discover, from the circumspection of the latter. The marchioness was enraged, and more determined than ever on involving Amanda in destruction, if Lord Mortimer hesitated a moment in obeying the wishes of his father, by uniting himself to Lady Euphrasia.
Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXII
he forcibly felt how essential to his peace was a reconciliation with her.
text has reconcilation
his favour would consequently be withdrawn, and the father and child
text has dnd the
it was not pity for Amanda, but envy and jealousy
text has hut envy
The next morning brought Sir Charles Bingley to Castle Carberry
A month after the departure of Lord Mortimer, the Rosline family left Ulster Lodge.