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had pushed every interest he possessed, and left no steps unattempted an
honorable man could resort to, to effect his object. The desire to provide
for his sisters had been backed by the ardor of a passion that had reached
its crisis; and the young peer who could not, in the present state of
things, abandon the field to a rival so formidable as Denbigh, even to
further his views to preferment, was waiting in anxious suspense the
decision on his application. A letter from his friend informed him, his
opponent was likely to succeed; that, in short, all hopes of success had
left him. Chatterton was in despair. On the following day, however, he
received a second letter from the same friend, unexpectedly announcing his
appointment. After mentioning the fact, he went on to say - "The cause of
this sudden revolution in your favor is unknown to me, and unless your
lordship has obtained interest I am ignorant of, it is one of the most
singular instances of ministerial caprice I have ever known." Chatterton
was as much at a loss as his friend, to understand the affair; but it
mattered not; he could now offer to Emily - it was a patent office of great
value, and a few years would amply portion his sisters. That very day,
therefore, he proposed, and was refused.

Emily had a difficult task to avoid self-reproach, in regulating her
deportment on this occasion. She was fond of Chatterton as a relation - as
her brother's friend - as the brother of Grace, and even on his own
account; but it was the fondness of a sister. His manner - his words,
which, although never addressed to herself, were sometimes overheard
unintentionally, and sometimes reached her through her sisters, had left
her in no doubt of his attachment; she was excessively grieved at the
discovery, and had innocently appealed to her aunt for directions how to
proceed. Of his intentions she had no doubt, but at the same time he had
not put her in a situation to dispel his hopes; as to encouragement, in
the usual meaning of the term, she gave none to him, nor to any one else.
There are no little attentions that lovers are fond of showing to their
mistresses, and which mistresses are fond of receiving, that Emily ever
permitted to any gentleman - no rides - no walks - no tête-à-têtes. Always
natural and unaffected, there was a simple dignity about her that forbade
the request, almost the thought, in the gentlemen of her acquaintance: she
had no amusements, no pleasures of any kind in which her sisters were not
her companions; and if anything was on the carpet that required an
attendant, John was ever ready. He was devoted to her; the decided
preference she gave him over every other man, upon such occasions,
flattered his affection; and he would, at any time, leave even Grace
Chatterton to attend his sister. All this too was without affectation, and
generally without notice. Emily so looked the delicacy and reserve she
acted with so little ostentation that not even her own sex had affixed to
her conduct the epithet of squeamish; it was difficult, therefore, for her
to do anything which would show Lord Chatterton her disinclination to his
suit, without assuming a dislike she did not feel, or giving him slights
that neither good breeding nor good nature could justify. At one time,
indeed, she had expressed a wish to return to Clara; but this Mrs. Wilson
thought would only protract the evil, and she was compelled to wait his
own time. The peer himself did not rejoice more in his ability to make the
offer, therefore, than Emily did to have it in her power to decline it.
Her rejection was firm and unqualified, but uttered with a grace and a
tenderness to his feelings, that bound her lover tighter than ever in her
chains, and he resolved on immediate flight as his only recourse.

"I hope nothing unpleasant has occurred to Lord Chatterton," said Denbigh,
with great interest, as he reached the spot where the young peer stood
leaning his head against a tree, on his way from the rectory to the hall.

Chatterton raised his face as he spoke: there were evident traces of tears
on it, and Denbigh, greatly shocked, was about to proceed as the other
caught his arm.

"Mr. Denbigh," said the young man, in a voice almost choked with emotion,
"may you never know the pain I have felt this morning. Emily - Emily
Moseley - is lost to me - for ever."

For a moment the blood rushed to the face of Denbigh, and his eyes flashed
with a look that Chatterton could not stand. He turned, as the voice of
Denbigh, in those remarkable tones which distinguished it from every other
voice he had ever heard, uttered -

"Chatterton, my lord, we are friends, I hope - I wish it; from my heart."

"Go, Mr. Denbigh - go. You were going to Miss Moseley - do not let me detain
you."

"I am going with _you_, Lord Chatterton, unless you forbid it," said
Denbigh, with emphasis, slipping his arm through that of the peer.

For two hours they walked together in the park; and when they appeared at
dinner, Emily wondered why Mr. Denbigh had taken a seat next to her
mother, instead of his usual place between herself and her aunt. In the
evening, he announced his intention of leaving B - - for a short time
with Lord Chatterton. They were going to London together; but he hoped to
return within ten days. This sudden determination caused some surprise;
but, as the dowager supposed it was to secure the new situation, and the
remainder of their friends thought it might be business, it was soon
forgotten, though much regretted for the time. The gentlemen left the hall
that night to proceed to an inn, from which they could obtain a chaise and
horses; and the following morning, when the baronet's family assembled
around their social breakfast, they were many miles on the road to the
metropolis.


Chapter XV.


Lady Chatterton, finding that little was to be expected in her present
situation, excepting what she looked forward to from the varying
admiration of John Moseley to her youngest daughter, determined to accept
an invitation of Borne standing to a nobleman's seat about fifty miles
from the hall, and, in order to keep things in their proper places, to
leave Grace with her friends, who had expressed a wish to that effect.
Accordingly, the day succeeding the departure of her son, she proceeded on
her expedition, accompanied by her willing assistant in the matrimonial
speculations.

Grace Chatterton was by nature retiring and delicate; but her feelings
were acute, and on the subject of female propriety sensitive to a degree,
that the great want of it in a relation she loved as much as her mother
had possibly in some measure increased. Her affections were too single in
their objects to have left her long in doubt as to their nature with
respect to the baronet's son; and it was one of the most painful orders
she had ever received, that which compelled her to accept her cousin's
invitation. Her mother was peremptory, however, and Grace was obliged to
comply. Every delicate feeling she possessed revolted at the step: the
visit itself was unwished for on her part; but there did exist a reason
which had reconciled her to that - the wedding of Clara. But now to remain,
after all her family had gone, in the house where resided the man who had
as yet never solicited those affections she had been unable to withhold,
it was humiliating - it was degrading her in her own esteem, and she could
scarcely endure it.

It is said that women are fertile in inventions to further their schemes
of personal gratification, vanity, or even mischief. It may be it is true;
but the writer of these pages is a man - one who has seen much of the other
sex, and he is happy to have an opportunity of paying a tribute to female
purity and female truth. That there are hearts so disinterested as to lose
the considerations of self, in advancing the happiness of those they love;
that there are minds so pure as to recoil with disgust from the admission
of deception, indelicacy, or management, he knows; for he has seen it from
long and close examination. He regrets that the very artlessness of those
who are most pure in the one sex, subjects them to the suspicions of the
grosser-materials which compose the other He believes that innocency,
singleness of heart, ardency of feeling, and unalloyed, shrinking
delicacy, sometimes exist in the female bosom, to an extent that but few
men are happy enough to discover, and that most men believe incompatible
with the frailties of human nature. Grace Chatterton possessed no little
of what may almost be called this ethereal spirit and a visit to Bolton
parsonage was immediately proposed by her to Emily. The latter, too
innocent herself to suspect the motives of her cousin, was happy to be
allowed to devote a fortnight to Clara, uninterrupted by the noisy round
of visiting and congratulations which had attended her first week; and
Mrs. Wilson and the two girls left the hall the same day with the Dowager
Lady Chatterton. Francis and Clara were happy to receive them, and they
were immediately domesticated in their new abode. Doctor Ives and his wife
had postponed an annual visit to a relation of the former on account of
the marriage of their son, and they now availed themselves of this visit
to perform their own engagement. B - - appeared in some measure deserted,
and Egerton had the field almost to himself. Summer had arrived, and the
country bloomed in all its luxuriance of vegetation: everything was
propitious to the indulgence of the softer passions; and Lady Moseley,
ever a strict adherent to forms and decorum, admitted the intercourse
between Jane and her admirer to be carried to as great lengths as those
forms would justify. Still the colonel was not explicit; and Jane, whose
delicacy dreaded the exposure of feelings that was involved in his
declaration, gave or sought no marked opportunities for the avowal of his
passion. Yet they were seldom separate, and both Sir Edward and his wife
looked forward to their future union as a thing not to be doubted. Lady
Moseley had given up her youngest child so absolutely to the government of
her aunt, that she seldom thought of her future establishment. She had
that kind of reposing confidence in Mrs. Wilson's proceedings that feeble
minds ever bestow on those who are much superior to them; and she even
approved of a system in many respects which she could not endeavor to
imitate. Her affection for Emily was not, however, less than what she felt
for her other children: she was, in fact, her favorite, and, had the
discipline of Mrs. Wilson admitted of so weak an interference, might have
been injured as such.

John Moseley had been able to find out exactly the hour they breakfasted
at the deanery, the length of time it took Egerton's horses to go the
distance between that house and the hall; and on the sixth morning after
the departure of his aunt, John's bays were in his phaeton, and allowing
ten minutes for the mile and a half to the park gates, John had got
happily off his own territories, before he met the tilbury travelling
eastward. I am not to know which road the colonel may turn, thought John:
and after a few friendly, but rather hasty greetings, the bays were again
in full trot to the parsonage.

"John," said Emily, holding out her hand affectionately, and smiling a
little archly, as he approached the window where she stood, "you should
take a lesson in driving from Frank; you have turned more than one hair, I
believe."

"How is Clara?" cried John, hastily, taking the offered hand, with a kiss,
"aye, and aunt Wilson?"

"Both well, brother, and out walking this fine morning."

"How happens it you are not with them?" inquired the brother, throwing his
eyes round the room. "Have they left you alone?"

"No Grace has this moment left me."

"Well, Emily," said John, taking his seat very composedly, but keeping his
eyes on the door, "I have come to dine with you. I thought I owed Clara a
visit, and have managed nicely to give the colonel the go-by."

"Clara will be happy to see you, dear John, and so will aunt, and so am
I" - as she drew aside his fine hair with her fingers to cool his forehead.

"And why not Grace, too?" asked John, with a look of a little alarm.

"And Grace, too, I fancy - but here she is, to answer for herself."

Grace said little on her entrance, but her eyes were brighter than usual,
and she looked so contented and happy that Emily observed to her, in an
affectionate manner -

"I knew the eau-de-Cologne would do your head good."

"Is Miss Chatterton unwell?" asked John, with a look of interest.

"A slight headache," said Grace, faintly, "but I feel much better."

"Want of air and exercise: my horses are at the door; phaeton will hold
three easily; run, sister, for your hat," almost pushing Emily out of the
room as he spoke. In a few; minutes the horses might have been suffering
for air, but surely not for exercise.

"I wish," cried John, with impatience, when at the distance of a couple of
miles from the parsonage, "that gentleman had driven his gig out of the
road."

There was a small group on one side of the road, consisting of a man, a
woman, and several children. The owner of the gig had alighted, and was in
the act of speaking to them, as the phaeton approached at a great rate.

"John," cried Emily, in terror, "You never can pass - you upset us."

"There is no danger, dear Grace," said the brother, endeavoring to check
his horses; he succeeded in part, but not so as to prevent his passing at
a spot where the road was very narrow; a wheel hit violently against a
stone, and some of his works gave way. The gentleman immediately hastened
to his assistance - it was Denbigh.

"Miss Moseley!" cried he, in a voice of the tenderest interest "you are
not hurt in the least, I hope."

"No," said Emily, recovering her breath, "only frightened;" and taking his
hand, she sprang from the carriage.

Miss Chatterton found courage to wait quietly for the care of John. His
"dear Grace," had thrilled on every nerve, and she afterwards often
laughed at Emily for her terror when there was so little danger. The
horses were not in the least frightened, and after a little mending, John
declared all was safe. To ask Emily to enter, the carriage again, was to
exact no little sacrifice of her feelings to her reason; and she stood in
a suspense that too plainly showed that, the terror she had been in had
not left her.

"If," said Denbigh, modestly, "if Mr. Moseley will take the ladies in my
gig, I will drive the phaeton to the hall, as it is rather unsafe for so
heavy a load."

"No, no, Denbigh," said John, coolly, "you are not used to such mettled
nags as mine - it would be indiscreet for you to drive them: if, however,
you will be good enough to take Emily into your gig - Grace Chatterton, I
am sure, is not afraid to trust my driving, and we might all get back as
well as ever."

Grace gave her hand almost unconsciously to John, and he handed her into
the phaeton, as Denbigh stood willing to execute his part of the
arrangement, but too diffident to speak. It was not a moment for
affectation, if Emily had been capable of it, and blushing with the
novelty of her situation, she took her place in the gig. Denbigh stopped
and turned his eyes on the little group with which he had been talking,
and at that moment they caught the attention of John also. The latter
inquired after their situation. The tale was a piteous one, the distress
evidently real. The husband had been gardener to a gentleman in a
neighboring county, and he had been lately discharged, to make way, in the
difficulty of the times, for a relation of the steward, who was in want of
the place. Suddenly thrown on the world, with a wife and four children,
with but the wages of a week for his and their support, they had travelled
thus far on the way to a neighboring parish, where he said he had a right
to, and must seek, public assistance. The children were crying for hunger,
and the mother, who was a nurse, had been unable to walk further than
where she sat, but had sunk on the ground overcome with fatigue, and weak
from the want of nourishment. Neither Emily nor Grace could refrain from
tears at the recital of these heavy woes; the want of sustenance was
something so shocking in itself, and brought, as it were, immediately
before their eyes, the appeal was irresistible. John forgot his
bays - forgot even Grace, as he listened to the affecting story related by
the woman, who was much revived by some nutriment Denbigh had obtained
from a cottage near them, and to which they were about to proceed by his
directions, as Moseley interrupted them. His hand shook, his eyes
glistened as he took his purse from his pocket, and gave several guineas
from it to the mendicant. Grace thought John had never appeared so
handsome as the moment, he banded the money to the gardener; his face
glowed with unusual excitement, and his symmetry had lost the only charm
he wanted in common, softness. Denbigh, after waiting patiently until
Moseley had bestowed his alms, gravely repeated his directions for their
proceeding to the cottage, when the carriages moved on.

Emily revolved, in her mind, during their short ride, the horrid distress
she had witnessed. It had taken a strong hold on her feelings. Like her
brother, she was warm-hearted and compassionate, if we may use the term,
to excess; and had she been prepared with the means, the gardener would
have reaped a double harvest of donations. It struck her, at the moment,
unpleasantly, that Denbigh had been so backward in his liberality. The man
had rather sullenly displayed half a crown as his gift, in contrast with
the golden shower of John's generosity. It had been even somewhat
offensive in its exhibition, and urged her brother to a more hasty
departure than, under other circumstances, he would just at the moment
have felt disposed to make. Denbigh, however, had taken no notice of the
indignity, and continued his directions in the same mild and benevolent
manner he had used during the whole interview. Half a crown was but
little, thought Emily, for a family that was starving; and, unwilling to
judge harshly of one she had begun to value so highly, she came to the
painful conclusion, her companion was not as rich as he deserved to be.
Emily had not yet to learn that charity was in proportion to the means of
the donor, and a gentle wish insensibly stole over her that Denbigh might
in some way become more richly endowed with the good things of this world.
Until this moment her thoughts had never turned to his temporal condition.
She knew he was an officer in the army, but of what rank, or even of what
regiment, she was ignorant. He had frequently touched in his conversations
on the customs of the different countries he had seen. He had served in
Italy, in the north of Europe, in the West Indies, in Spain. Of the
manners of the people, of their characters, he not unfrequently spoke, and
with a degree of intelligence, a liberality, a justness of discrimination,
that had charmed his auditors; but on the point of personal service he had
maintained a silence that was inflexible, and not a little
surprising - more particularly of that part of his history which related to
the latter country; from all which she was rather inclined to think his
military rank was not as high as she thought he merited, and that possibly
he felt an awkwardness of putting it in contrast with the more elevated
station of Colonel Egerton. The same idea had struck the whole family, and
prevented any inquiries which might be painful. He was so connected with
the mournful event of his father's death, that no questions could be put
with propriety to the doctor's family; and if Francis had been more
communicative to Clara, she was too good a wife to mention it, and her own
family was possessed of too just a sense of propriety to touch upon points
that might bring her conjugal fidelity in question.

Though Denbigh appeared a little abstracted during the ride, his questions
concerning Sir Edward and her friends kind and affectionate. As they
approached the house he suffered his horse to walk, and, after some
hesitation, he took a letter from his pocket, and handing it to her,
said -

"I hope Miss Moseley will not think me impertinent in becoming the bearer
of a letter 'from her cousin, Lord Chatterton. He requested it so
earnestly, that I could not refuse taking what I am sensible is a great
liberty; for it would be deception did I affect to be ignorant of his
admiration, or of his generous treatment of a passion she cannot return.
Chatterton," and he smiled mournfully, "is yet too true to cease his
commendations."

Emily blushed painfully, but she took the letter in silence; and as
Denbigh pursued the topic no further, the little distance they had to go
was ridden in silence. On entering the gates, however, he said,
inquiringly, and with much interest -

"I sincerely hope I have not given offence to your delicacy, Miss Moseley.
Lord Chatterton has made me an unwilling confidant. I need not say the
secret is sacred, on more accounts than one."

"Surely not, Mr. Denbigh," replied Emily, in a low tone; and the gig
stopping, she hastened to accept the assistance of her brother to alight.

"Well, sister," cried John, laughing, "Denbigh is a disciple to Frank's
system of horse-flesh. Hairs smooth enough here, I see. Grace and I
thought you would never get home." Now, John fibbed a little, for neither
Grace nor he had thought in the least about them, or anything else but
each other, from the moment they separated until the gig arrived.

Emily made no reply to this speech, and as the gentlemen were engaged in
giving directions concerning their horses, she seized an opportunity to
read Chatterton's letter.

"I avail myself of the return of my friend Mr. Denbigh to that happy
family from which reason requires my self-banishment to assure my amiable
cousin, of my continued respect for her character, and to convince her of
my gratitude for the tenderness she has manifested to feelings she cannot
return. I may even venture to tell her what few women would be pleased to
hear, but what I know Emily Moseley too well to doubt, for a moment, will
give her unalloyed pleasure - that owing to the kind, the benevolent, the
brotherly attentions of my true friend, Mr. Denbigh, I have already gained
a peace of mind and resignation I once thought was lost to me for ever.
Ah! Emily, my beloved cousin, in Denbigh you will find, I doubt not, a
mind, principles, congenial to your own. It is impossible that he could
see you without wishing to possess such a treasure; and, if I have a wish
that is now uppermost in my heart, it is, that you may learn to esteem
each other as you ought, when, I doubt not, you will become as happy as
you both deserve to be. What greater earthly blessing can I implore upon
you!

"Chatterton."

Emily, while reading this epistle, felt a confusion but little inferior to
that which would have oppressed her had Denbigh himself been at her feet,
soliciting that love Chatterton thought him so worthy of possessing; and
when they met, she could hardly look in the face a man who, it would seem,
had been so openly selected by another, as the fittest to be her partner
for life. The unaltered manner of Denbigh himself, however, soon convinced
her that he was entirely ignorant of the contents of the note, and it
greatly relieved her from the awkwardness his presence at first
occasioned.

Francis soon returned, accompanied by his wife and aunt, and was overjoyed
to find the guest who had so unexpectedly arrived. His parents had not yet
returned from their visit, and Denbigh, of course, would remain at his
present quarters. John promised to continue with them for a couple of
days: and everything was soon settled to the perfect satisfaction of the
whole party. Mrs. Wilson knew the great danger of suffering young people
to be inmates of the same house too well, wantonly to incur the penalties,
but her visit had nearly expired, and it might give her a better
opportunity of judging Denbigh's character; and Grace Chatterton, though
too delicate to follow herself, was well contented to be followed,
especially when John Moseley was the pursuer.


Chapter XVI.


"I am sorry, aunt, Mr. Denbigh is not rich," said Emily to Mrs, Wilson,
after they had retired in the evening, almost unconscious of what she
uttered. The latter looked at her niece in surprise, at a remark so
abrupt, and one so very different from the ordinary train of Emily's
reflections, as she required an explanation. Emily, slightly coloring at



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperPrecaution → online text (page 11 of 36)