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Upon her beauteous brow."

Spring of life! whither art thou flown?

A few hot sighs - and scalding tears - fleeting raptures and still fading
hopes - and then - thou art gone for ever. Lovelorn we look on beauty: no
blush now answers to our glance; for cold is our gaze, as the deadened
emotions of our heart.

Fresh garlands bedeck the lap of Spring. Faded as the shrivelled flowers,
that withering sink beneath her rosy feet: yet we exclaim: - Spring of
life! how and whither art thou flown?

Clarendon Gage was a happy man. He had entered upon the world with very
bright prospects. The glorious visions of his youth were still unclouded,
and his heart beat as high with hope as ever.

Experience had not yet instilled that sober truth, that Time will darken
the sunniest, as well as the least inviting anticipations; and that the
visions of his youth were unclouded, because they were undimmed by the
reflections of age.

Clarendon Gage was happy and grateful; and so might he well be! Few of us
are there, who, on our first loving, have met with a love, fervent,
confiding, and unsuspecting as our own, - fewer are there, who in
reflection's calm hour, have recognised in the form that has captivated
the eye, the mind on which their own can fully and unhesitatingly
rely, - and fewest of all are they, who having encountered such a treasure,
can control adverse circumstances - can overcome obstacles that oppose - and
finally call it their own.

Passionate, imaginative, and fickle as man may be, this is a living
treasure beyond a price: than which this world has none more pure - none as
enduring, to offer.

Ah! say and act as we may - money-making - worldly - ambitious as we may
become - who among us that will not allow, that in the success of his
honest suit - that in his possession of the one first loved - and which
first truly loved him - a kind ray from heaven, seems lent to this
changeful world. Such affection as this, lends a new charm to man's
existence. It lulls him in his anger - it soothes him in his sorrow - calms
him in his fears - cheers him in his hopes - it deadens his grief - it
enlivens his joy.

It was a lovely morning in May - the first of the month. Not a cloud
veiled the sun's splendour - the birds strained their throats in praise
of day - and the rural May-pole, which was in the broad avenue of
walnut trees, immediately at the foot of the lawn, was already
encircled with flowers. Half way up this, was the station of the
rustic orchestra - a green bower, which effectually concealed them
from the view of the dancers.

On the lawn itself, tents were pitched in a line facing the house. Behind
these, between the tents and the May-pole, extended a long range of
tables, for the coming village feast.

Emily Delmé looked out on the fair sunrise, and noted the gay
preparations with some dismay. Her eye fell on her favourite bed of
roses, the rarest and most costly that wealth and extreme care could
produce; and she mournfully thought, that ere those buds were blown, a
very great change would have taken place in her future prospects. She
thought of all she was to leave.

Will _he_ be this, and more to me?

How many a poor girl, when it is all too late, has fearfully asked herself
the same question, and how deeply must the answer which time alone can
give, affect the happiness of after years!

Emily took her mother's miniature, and gazing on that face, of which her
own appeared a beautiful transcript; she prayed to God to support him who
was still present to her every thought.

The family chapel of the Delmés was a beautiful and picturesque place of
worship. With the exception of one massive door-way, whose circular arch
and peculiar zig-zag ornament bespoke it co-eval with, or of an earlier
date than, the reign of Stephen - and said to have belonged to a ruin apart
from the chapel, whose foundations an antiquary could hardly trace - Delmé
chapel might be considered a well preserved specimen of the florid Gothic,
of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The progress of the edifice, had been greatly retarded during the wars of
the Roses; but it was fortunately completed, before, the doctrine of the
Cinquecentists - who saw no beauty save in the revived dogmas of
Vitruvius - had so far gained ground, as to make obsolete and
unfashionable, the most captivating and harmonious style of Architecture,
that has yet flourished in England.

Its outer appearance was comparatively simple - it had neither spire,
lantern, or transepts - and its ivy-hidden belfry was a detached tower.

The walls of the aisles were supported by massive buttresses, and
surmounted by carved pinnacles; and from them sprung flying buttresses,
ornamented with traced machicolations, to bear the weight of the embattled
roof of the nave.

The interior was more striking. As the stranger entered by the western
door, and proceeded up the nave, each step was re-echoed from the crypt
below: - as he trod on strange images, and inscriptions in brass;
commemorative of the dead, whose bones were mouldering in the subterranean
chapel. On them, many coloured tints fantastically played, through
gorgeously stained panes - the workmanship of the Middle Ages.

The richly carved oaken confessional - now a reading desk - first attracted
the attention.

In the very centre of the chapel, stood a white marble font, whose chaplet
of the flower of the Tudors, encircled by a fillet, sufficiently bespoke
its date. Between the altar and this font was a tomb, which merits special
attention. It was the chantry of Sir Reginald Delmé, the chief of his
house in the reign of Harry Monmouth. It was a mimic chapel, raised on
three massive steps of grey stone. The clustered columns, that bore the
light and fretted roof, were divided by mullions, rosettes, and trefoils
in open work; except where the interstices were filled up below, to bear
the sculptured, and once emblazoned shields of the Delmés, and their
cognate families. The entrance to the chantry, was through a little turret
at its north-eastern corner, the oaken door of which, studded with
quarrel-headed nails, was at one time never opened, but when the priests
ascended the six steep and spiral steps, and stood around the tomb to
chant masses for the dead.

The diminutive font, and the sarcophagus itself, had once been painted. On
this, lay the figure of Sir Reginald Delmé.

On a stone cushion - once red - supported by figures of angels in the
attitude of prayer, veiling their eyes with their wings, reposed the
unarmed head of the warrior: - his feet uncrossed rested on the image of a
dog, crouching on a broken horn, seeming faithfully to gaze at the face of
his master.

The arms were not crossed - the hands were not clasped; but were joined as
in prayer. Sir Reginald had not died in battle. Above the head of the
sleeping warrior, hung his gorget, and his helmet, with its beaver, and
vizor open; and the banner he himself had won, on the field of Shrewsbury,
heavily shook its thick folds in the air. The fading colours on the
surcoat of the recumbent knight, still faintly showed the lilies and
leopards of England; - and Sir Henry himself was willing to believe, that
the jagged marks made in that banner by the tooth of Time, were but cuts,
left by the sword of the Herald, as at the royal Henry's command, he
curtailed the pennon of the knight; and again restored it to Sir Reginald
Delmé - a banner.

The altar, which extended the whole width of the chapel, was enclosed by a
marble screen, and was still flanked by the hallowed niche, built to
receive the drainings of the sacred cup.

The aisles were divided from the nave, by lancet arches, springing from
clustered columns. But how describe the expansive windows, with their rich
mullions, and richer rosettes - their deeply moulded labels, following the
form of the arch, and resting for support on the quaintest masks - how
describe the matchless hues of the glass - valued mementoes of a bygone
age, and of an art that has perished?

The walls of the chapel were profusely ornamented with the richest
carving; and the oaken panels of the chancel, were adorned with those
exquisite festoons of fruit and flowers, so peculiarly English. The very
ceiling exacted admiration. It closed no lantern - it obstructed no
view - and its light ribs, springing from voluted corbels, bore at each
intersection, an emblazoned escutcheon, or painted heraldic device. The
intricate fan-like tracery of the roof - the enriched bosses at each
meeting of the gilded ribs - gave an airy charm and lightness to the whole,
which well accorded with the florid Architecture, and with the chivalrous
associations, with which it is identified.

And here, beneath this spangled canopy, in this ancient shrine, whose
every ornament was as a memory of her ancestors; stood Emily Delmé, as
fair as the fairest of her race, changeful and trembling, a faint smile
on her lip, and a quivering tear in her eye.

Clarendon Gage took her hand in his, and placed on her finger the golden
pledge of truth, and as he did so, an approving sunbeam burst through the
crimson-stained pane, and before lightening the tomb of Sir Reginald, fell
on her silvery veil - her snowy robe - her beautiful face.

There was a very gay scene on the lawn, as they returned from the chapel.

The dancing had already commenced - strains of music were heard from on
high - the ever moving circle became one moment contracted, then expanded
to the full length of the arms of the dancers, as they actively footed it
round the garlanded May-pole.

At the first sight of the leading carriage, however, a signal was
given - the music suddenly ceased - and the whole party below, with the
exception of one individual, proceeded in great state towards an arch,
composed of flowers and white thorn, which o'ercanopied the road.

The carriage stopped to greet the procession.

On came the blushing May-Queen, and Maid Marian - both armed with wands
wreathed with cowslips - followed by a jovial retinue of morrice dancers
with drawn swords - guisers in many-coloured ribbons - and a full train of
simple peasants, in white smock-frocks.

The May Queen advanced to the carriage, followed by the peasant girls, and
timidly dropped a choice wreath into the lap of the bride. Loud hurras
rung in the air, as Sir Henry gave his steward some welcome instructions
as to the village feast; and the cavalcade continued its route.

We have said that one individual lingered near the May-pole. As he was
especially active, we may describe him and his employment. He was
apparently about fifteen. He had coarse straight white hair - a face that
denoted stupidity - but with a cunning leer, which seemed to belie his
other features.

He was taking advantage of the cessation of dancing, to supply the
aspiring musicians with sundry articles of good cheer. A rope, armed with
a hook, was dropped from their lofty aërie, and promptly drawn up, on the
youngster's obtaining from the neighbouring tents, wherewithal to fill
satisfactorily the basket which he attached.

Sir Henry Delmé and George had been so much abroad, and Emily's attachment
to Clarendon was of so early a date, that it happened that the members of
the Delmé family had mixed little in the festivities of the county in
which they resided; and were not intimately known, nor perhaps fully
appreciated, in the neighbourhood.

But the family was one of high standing, and had ever been remarkable for
its kind-heartedness; and what _was_ known of its individuals, was so much
to their credit, that it kept alive the respect and consideration that
these circumstances might of themselves warrant.

Sir Henry, on the other hand, regarded his sister's marriage as an event,
at which it might be proper to show, that neither hauteur nor want of
sociability, had precluded their friendly intercourse with the
neighbouring magnates; and consequently, most of the principal families
were present at Emily's wedding.

While this large assemblage increased the gaiety of the scene, it was
somewhat wearisome to Delmé, who was too truly attached to his sister, to
be otherwise than thoughtful during the ceremony, and the breakfast that
succeeded it.

At length the time came when Emily could escape from the gay throng; and
endeavour, in the quiet of her own room, to be once more calm, before she
prepared to leave her much-loved home.

The preparations made, a note was despatched to her brother, begging him
to meet her in the library. As he did so, a fresh pang shot through
Delmé's heart.

As he looked on Emily's flushed face - her dewy cheek - and noted her
agitated manner; he for the first time perceived, her very strong
resemblance to poor George, and wondered that he had never observed
this before.

Clarendon announced the carriage.

"God bless you! dear Henry!"

"God bless and preserve you! my sweet! Clarendon! good bye! I am sure you
will take every care of her!"

In another moment, the carriage was whirling past the library window; and
Sir Henry felt little inclined, to join the formal party in the
drawing-room. Sending therefore a brief message to Mrs. Glenallan, he
threw open the library window, and with hurried steps reached a
summer-house, half hidden in the shrubbery. He there fell into a deep
reverie, which was by no means a pleasurable one.

He thought of Emily - of George - of Acmé, - and felt that he was becoming an
isolated being.

And had _he_ not loved too? As this thought crossed him, his ambitious
dreams were almost forgotten.

Sir Henry Delmé was aroused by the sound of voices. A loving couple, too
much engaged to observe _him_, passed close to the summer-house.

It was the "Queen of the May," the prettiest and one of the poorest
girls in the parish, walking arm in arm with her rural swain. They had
left the "roasted beeves," and the "broached casks," for one half-hour's
delicious converse.

There was some little coquettish resistance on the part of the girl, as
they sat down together at the foot of a fir tree.

Her lover put his arm round her waist.

"Oh! Mary! if father would but give us a cow or so!"

This little incident decided the matter. Delmé at once resolved that Mary
Smith _should_ have a cow or so; and also that his own health would be
greatly benefited, by a short sojourn at Leamington.

Chapter XV.

The Meeting.

"Oh ever loving, lovely, and beloved!
How selfish sorrow ponders on the past,
And clings to thoughts now better far removed,
But Time shall tear thy shadow from me last."

We know not whether our readers have followed us with due attention, as we
have incidentally, and at various intervals, made our brief allusion to
the gradual change of character, wrought on Delmé, by the eventful scenes
in which he so lately played a prominent part.

When we first introduced him to our reader's notice, we endeavoured to
depict him as he then really was, - a man of strong principles, warm
heart, and many noble qualities; but one, prone to over-estimate the
value of birth and fortune - with a large proportion of pride and
reserve - and with ideas greatly tinctured with the absurd fallacies of
the mere man of the world.

But there was much in the family events we have described, to shake
Delmé's previous convictions, and to induce him to recal many of his
former opinions.

He had seen his brother form a connection, which set at naught all those
convenances, which _he_ had been accustomed to regard as essential to, and
as indeed forming the very ingredient of, domestic happiness.

And yet Sir Henry Delmé could not disguise from himself, that if, in
George's short-lived career, there had been much of pain and sorrow, they
were chiefly engendered by George's mental struggle, to uphold those very
opinions to which he himself was wedded; and that to this alone, might be
traced much of the suffering he had undergone. This was it that had so
weakened mind and body, as to render change of scene necessary; - this was
it that exposed Acmé to the air of the pestiferous marshes, and which left
George himself - a broken hearted man - totally incapable of bearing his

On the other hand, the sunny happiness his brother had basked in, - and it
was very great, - had sprung from the natural out-pourings of an
affection, which, - unfettered as it had been by prudential
considerations, - had yet the power to make earth a heaven while Acmé
shared it with him, and the dark grave an object of bright promise, when
hailed as the portal, through which _he_ must pass, ere he gazed once
more on the load-star of his hopes.

In the case, too, of Emily and Clarendon, although their union was far
more in accordance with his earlier theories, yet he could not but note,
how little their happiness seemed to rest on their position in society,
and how greatly was it based on their love for each other.

These considerations were strengthened, by a growing feeling of
isolation, which the death of George and of Acmé, - the marriage of his
sister, - and probably the time of life he had arrived at, were all
calculated to awaken.

With the knowledge of his disease, sprung up the hope of an antidote; and
it may be, that the little episode of the May Queen in our last chapter,
came but as a running comment, to reflections that had long been cherished
and indulged.

The thoughts of Sir Henry Delmé anxiously centred in Julia Vernon; and as
he recalled her graceful emotion when they last parted, the unfrequent
blush, - it might be of shame, it might be of consciousness, - coloured his
sun-burnt cheek.

At length, - the guests being dismissed, Delmé was at leisure to renew an
acquaintance, which had already proved an eventful one to him. He had
heard little of Miss Vernon since his return to England. His sister had
thought it better to let matters take their own course; and Julia, who
knew that in the eyes of the world, her circumstances were very different
to what they had been previous to her uncle's death; had from motives of
delicacy, shunned any intercourse that might lead to a renewed intimacy
with the family.

Her health, too, had been precarious, and her elasticity of mind was gone.
Slowly wasting from day to day, she had sought to banish all thoughts
that were not of a world less vain than this - and her very languor of
body - while it gave her an apology for declining all gaieties, induced a
resigned spirit, and a quiet frame of mind.

When Sir Henry Delmé was announced, Julia was alone in the drawing-room.
At that name, she attempted to rise from the sofa; but she was weak, and
her head fell back on the white pillow.

Delmé stood for a moment irresolute, - a prey to the deepest pangs
of remorse.

Well might he be shocked at that altered form!

Her figure was greatly attenuated, - her cheeks sunken, - her eyes bright
and large; while over the forehead and drooping eyelid branched the
sapphire veins, with their intricate windings so clearly marked, that
Delmé almost thought, that he could trace the motion of the blood beneath.
That momentary pause, and the one mutual glance of recognition, told a
more accurate tale than words could convey.

As Sir Henry pressed that small transparent hand, Julia's thin lip
quivered convulsively. She attempted to speak, but the exertion of
utterance was too great, and she burst into a flood of tears.

"Julia! my own Julia! forgive me! we will never part more!"

After this interview, it is needless to say that there was little else to
be explained. Mrs. Vernon was delighted at Julia's happy prospects, and it
was settled that their marriage should take place in the ensuing August.
Such arrangements as could be made on the spot to facilitate this, were at
once entered on.

At the end of two months, it became necessary that Delmé should proceed to
town, for the purpose of seeing the Commander-in-Chief, in order to
withdraw a previous application to be employed on active service. He was
anxious also to consult a friend, whom he proposed appointing one of the
trustees for his marriage settlement; and Clarendon and Emily had exacted
a promise, that he would pay them a visit on his way to Delmé Park; which
he had determined to take on his route to town, that he might personally
inspect some alterations he had lately planned there.

It was with bright prospects before him, that Delmé kissed off the big
tear that coursed down Julia's cheek; as she bade him farewell, with as
much earnestness, as if years, instead of a short fortnight, were to
elapse before they met again.

Miss Vernon's health had decidedly improved. She was capable of much
greater exertion; and her spirits were sometimes as buoyant as in
other days.

When Sir Henry first reached Leamington, the only exercise that Julia
could take was in a wheel chair; and great was her delight at seeing a
hand present itself over its side, and know that it was _his_. Latterly,
however, she had been able to lean on his arm, and take a few turns on the
lawn, and had on one occasion even reached the public gardens.

Mrs. Vernon, with the deceptive hope common to those, who watch day by day
by the side of an invalid's couch, and in the very gradual loss of
strength, lose sight of the real extent of danger, had never been
desponding as to her daughter's ultimate recovery; and was now quite
satisfied that a few weeks more would restore her completely to health.

Sir Henry Delmé, with the gaze of a lover, would note each flush of
animation, and mistake it for the hue of health; while Julia herself _felt
her love, and thought it strength_.

There was only one person who looked somewhat grave at these joyous
preparations. This was Dr. Jephson, who noticed that Julia's voice
continued very weak, and that she could not get rid of a low hollow cough,
that had long distressed her.

Clarendon and his wife were resident at a beautiful cottage near Malvern,
on the road to Eastnor Castle. The cottage itself was small, and half
hidden with fragrant honey-suckles, but had well appointed extensive
grounds behind it. _They_ were not of the very many, who after the first
fortnight of a forced seclusion, - the treacle moon, as some one has called
it, - find their own society, both wearisome and unprofitable. _Theirs_ was
a lover felt but by superior and congenial minds - a love, neither sensual
nor transient - a love on which affection and reflection shed their
glow, - which could bear the test of scrutiny, - and which owed its chief
charm to the presence of truth.

Delmé passed a week at Malvern, and then proceeded towards town, with the
pleasing conviction that his sister's happiness was assured.

Twenty-four hours at Delmé sufficed to inspect the alterations, and to
give orders as to Lady Delmé's rooms.

Sir Henry had received two letters from Julia, while at Malvern, and both
were written in great spirits. At his club in London another awaited him,
which stated that she had not been quite so well, and that she was writing
from her room. A postscript from Mrs. Vernon quite did away with any alarm
that Sir Henry might otherwise have felt.

Delmé attended Lord Hill's levee; and immediately afterwards proceeded to
his friend's office. To his disappointment, he was informed that his
friend had left for Bath; and thinking it essential that he should see
him; he went thither at an early hour the following day.

At Bath he was again doomed to be disappointed, for his friend had gone
to Clifton. Sir Henry dined that day with Mr. Belliston Græme; and on
returning to the hotel, had the interview with Oliver Delancey, that has
been described in the thirteenth chapter of our first volume.

On the succeeding morning, Delmé was with the future trustee; and finally
arranged the affair to his entire satisfaction. His absence from
Leamington, had been a day or two more protracted than he had anticipated,
and his not finding his friend in London, had prevented his hearing from
Miss Vernon so lately as he could have wished.

Sir Henry had posted all night, and it was ten in the morning when he
reached Leamington. He directed the postilion to drive to his hotel, but
it happened that on his way he had to pass Mrs. Vernon's door.

As the carriage turned a corner, which was distant some hundred yards from
Mrs. Vernon's house, Sir Henry was surprised by a momentary check on the
part of his driver.

It had rained heavily during the early part of the day. The glasses were
up, and so bespattered with the mud and rain, that it was impossible to
see through them. Sir Henry let them down; saw a confused mass of
carriages; and could clearly discern a mourning coach.

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