Mary Jane Mackenzie.

Geraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) online

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them, by incessant wishes and vain ex-
periments to prolong a life which, though
she could no longer enjoy, she was not
content to resign.

The sight of youth, health, and beauty,

increased the bitterness of her repinings ;

and when Geraldine hovered near her with

a friendly wish to amuse and soothe her,

N 4



^2 GERALDINE.

she was frequently surprised by the peevish
discontent, and shocked by the asperity
with which her attentions were repulsed.
If she sought to entertain by sprightly anec-
dote, Georgiana was not in spirits to bear
it ; if she alluded to graver and more solemn
subjects, " it was cruel to increase her sad-
ness by such gloomy conversation ;" if left
alone, she called herself forsaken ; if in-
treated to join the family party, ** they
forgot her feebleness and delicacy, and had
no pity for her sufferings." But the patient
tenderness of Geraldine was not to be sub-
dued J she paid daily visits to the poor in*
valid ; listened with humane attention to
the oft-repeated tale of her complaints ;
endured her waywardness with unvaried
sweetness, and watched the happy moment
to glide in a word of hope and comfort.

Mrs. Mowbray soon became weary of
such a scene. She had been for a time
overwhelmed by the disastrous fate of Fan-
ny, and grieved by the obvious decline of
Georgiana; but the lapse of some months



GBRALDINE. 273

had calmed her feelings and habit resumed
its sway.

Montague, unable to meet Geraldine
with composure, had adopted his mother's
suggestion, and was now in London, deeply
engaged in the study of the law ; and Mrs.
. Mowbray, declaring that it was impossible
to live without society, and that the com-
pany of a few friends would be of infinite
service, both to Georgian a and herself,
once more issued those well-turned and
flattering invitations which she had so often
found resistless. Lady Cotterel and her
daughter were among the first visitants
who obeyed the summons ; and, as Lord
and Lady Glenmore were then at their
cottage orneef the usual routine of dinners
and civilities commenced. Edmund VVent-
worth was also in the country, and his
visits at Woodlands were more frequeu:
than ever. He was always at hand tc-
ride, or walk, or laugh, or argue with
Miss Cotterel ; and the lady seemed inclined
to endure, if not to accept his attentions.



'274 GERALDIKE.

She had been introduced at a favourable
moment at Wentworth Hall : Miss Went-
worth was paying a visit to her old friend
Miss Vincent ; her absence was a relief
to all the party, and the unobtrusive and
cheerful piety of Helen, could not now
be contemplated, even by Edmund, with-
out a sentiment of respect. It was for-
tunate that Miss Wentworth had accepted
her friend's invitation ; for her opinions
were daily losing something of their so-
briety, and becoming more wild and ex-
travagant. Finding herself wiser than
«.:>me teachers, she becran to fancv herself
wiser than all ; and was indeed in a fair
way to become * wise above what is written.'
She projected new systems, suggested new
interpretations, discovered new lights, and
at length persuaded herseU^ that, at the
ripe age of twenty-five, she could assist to
re-model and purify that system of Chris-
tianity, which had been received witli
humble reverence, by Newton, Locke, and
Boyle, and which had excited the admir-



GERALDINE. §75

ation of the learned, and formed the con-
solation of the pious during successive
ages.

Miss Vincent, rather alarmed by the
novel opinions of her former pupil, and
calculating upon the influence she might
still possess, invited her, in the hope of
restraining these aberrations ; and Miss
Wentworth accepted the invitation with
alacrity, anxious to make a proselyte of
her old friend, and to display her zeal,
and disseminate her opinions in a distant
neighbourhood.



K 6



^76



GERALDINE*



CHAP. XXXI.

Miss Cotterel perceived, at a glance, the
deficiencies and agremens of Wentworth
Hall j and in a morning call at the vicar-
age, finding Geraldine alone, detailed her
opinions without reserve,

" This morning,'* said she, '* we li^ve
made our courtesies in every house in the
neighbourhood ; and I persuaded Mrs.
Mowbray to leave me for half an hour at
the vicarage on our return ; reserving the
lonne boiichcy as children do, for the last.''

*< I hope these visits have put you in
such good humour with our neighbour-
hood," returned Geraldine, ** that we may
hope to retain you in it for some time
longer."

«< Why, yes, upon the whole I like it



GERALDINK. 277

vastly well/' said Miss Cotterel. " To be-
gin with Wentworth Hall ; there is so
much sterHng old-fashioned excellence
about Mr. Wentworth, and so much inno-
cence about that pretty Helen, that one
feels inclined, for their sakes, to tolerate
Mrs. Wentworth's marvellous stupidity.
She appears constantly in the predicament
of the old woman in the play, who was
< thinking of nothing.' I despaired of hear-
ing her speak a syllable until she suddenly
burst forth with an eulogium on over-cast,
satin-stitch, and catherine-wheels. Well,
from thence we went to take a peep at the
bride, the happy Mrs. Latimer : she was as
bridal as possible ; all softness and beauty ;
blushed a great deal and talked very little.
I am sure St. Pierre's doctrine of con-
trasts is exemplified in that pair ; for if she
does not know how to talk, he does not
know how to be silent : however, with those
fine animal spirits, and that fine flow of
words, he must be very useful as a coun-
try neighbour, and invaluable at a dinner-

3



278 GERALDINE.

party. From thence we proceeded to the
Bernards j and there the first person whom
we encountered, was that short-square,
good humoured vulgarian, Mrs. Abingdon.
My mother, who, to do her justice, is cer-
tainly one of the best-bred women in the
world, talked to her precisely as if she
had been one of her own caste ; and
listened with the most astonishing and
praise-worthy civility, to her comparative
estimate of the joys of town and country ;
which w^as summed up in these decisive
words — * Well, to be sure, the country is
wonderful pleasant ; but, after all, give me
London.' ''

Geraldine, laughing, enquired whether
Miss Cotterel found Harriet in a gay or
sentimental mood.

" Oh ! she was as languishing as possi-
ble," replied Miss Cotterel, " receiving with
the prettiest consciousness imaginable, the
attentions of a vastly finical-looking gentle-
man, whom she was anxious to show off as
her lover. If I had not discovered the se-



GERALDINE. 279

cret by her looks, I must have found it out
by the tender sigh which she heaved, w hen
I wished her good morning. You need
not smile ; for, certainly, it was a most deli-
cate and touching mode of revealing the
truth. Our next visit was to Lady Glen-
more : you know, or rather you do not
know, that we hate one another. Lady
Glenmore thinks art, and I think sincerity,
the first, second, and third requisite in the
female character. She calls my sincerity c^tz-
dour when 1 am within hearing, and blunt-
ness in my absence ; and, as I am rather
fond of giving things their right names, I
invariably call her soft, smooth manner dis-
simulation. She is, and was, and will be
vay aversion : however, now that we have
this snug room to ourselves, instead of
talking of her, let me enquire a little into
your own affairs. Do you know that in
spite of that pretty, quiet, demure look of
yours, I suspect that you are a sad co-
quette.

*< Pi;fiy, when is this < holy palmer' who



280 GERALDINE.

has won your * affections so light and
so vain/ to carry you home as his bride.
Oh! if you blush « celestial rosy-red'
iibout it, when couched in such pretty
delicate terms, 1 may as well ask the ques-
tion plainly ; so, pray, tell me, my dear Miss
Beresford, when are we to expect bride-
cake and favours from Mr. and Mrs.
Charles Maitland ?'

** And tell me, my dear Miss Cotter el,"
said Geraldine ; ** when are we to expect
them from Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Went-
worth ?"

« Oh ! that business is quite in its dawm,"
exclaimed Miss Cotterel, " not discover-
able by any eye less practised than yours
in such concerns ; and if it ever should hap-
pen, it will be the most common-place affair
imaginable ; — no difficulties — no rivalsliip
— not a single parental frown to be hoped
for, to give the thing a little spirit."

" Now there will be a great deal more tclat
about yours ; for, depend upon it, Montague
will either bribe some one to forbid the



GERALDINE. 281

banns at the critical moment when you are
blushing and trembling before the altar ;
or he will spring from behind some pillar,
and shoot Mr. Maitland, just as heis handing
you out of church. You know, after a man
has been once mad enough to send a chal-
lenge to a clergyman, there is no knowing
what lengths he may go. So I recommend,
that Mr. Maitland should provide himself
with invisible armour, or get himself plunged
into the Styx, or some such expedient,
to prevent the possibility of your being held
up as a warning to all coquettes in days to
come."

" I am certain," said Geraldine, " that
in * sober seriousness,' you acquit me of
coquetry; therefore it is not worth while
to combat a phantom."

<* Whatever may be my own private
opinion," returned Miss Cotterel, '* I can
tell you that half the young ladies in Lon-
don, are indignant at this transfer of your
hoart. If, upon discovering Montague to
be unfaithful, you had drowned yourself,



282 GERALDINE,

like Ophelia, or if you had pined yourself
into a consumption, and died in a regular^
genteel, proper manner, of a broken heart,
they would have worshipped your memory ;
but, to marry and be happy, is out of all
rule. You have disappointed them dread-
fully. Their most substantial consolation,
however, arises from the reflection, that
Montague is at liberty ; for, with the help of
his fine eyes and fine verses, he did prodi-
gious execution among them on his debuL

" Now, I know by your look, that you are
thinking what a charming thing it will be
to escape from these impertinent, malicious
young ladies, to a certain pretty quiet rec-
tory, where you may exclaim all day long

What is the world to me,
Its pride, its pleasures, and its nonsense all.

Why, my dear," continued she, laugh-
ing, " you have absolutely picked Mrs.
Herbert's spectacle-case to pieces : do pray
hide it, for it is the most ridicidous-looking
thing I ever saw."



GEEALDINE. 28S

Geraldine blushed, laughed, laid down
the spectacle-case, and, snatching up some
muslin, began to work with surprising in-
dustry.

** Do not flatter yourself, however," said
Miss Cotterel, '* that, when you run away
from the rest of this wicked world, you will
get rid of me. Whether maid or wife, I
intend to bestow myself upon you now and
then, ibr the charitable purpose of remind-
ing you, that you are still upon earth, and
have not actually made your escape to
paradise."

" I shall treasure that promise," replied
Geraldine ; ^' but I think your society
would rather assist in keeping up than in
dispelling such an illusion."

" No, no, my dear, I am not to be flat-
tered by that pretty speech. I know some-
thing of myself, difficult as that science is
usually deemed; and, I found out, long ago,
that I had at least * a thousand and one'
faults ; but to know and to correct them, are
distinct affairs. Love, perhaps, may do some-



284 GERALDINE.

thing for me ; for I hope that these faults
are not absolutely interwoven with the tex-
ture, but stand out like embroidery upon
the surface. And now that I have edified
you with that pretty simile, I will wish you
good morning ; for here comes Mr. Hait-
ian d, with a very lover-like step, as rapid
as if we were shivering amidst the frosts of
December, instead of panting beneath the
fervour of a July sun. Listen, Geraldine,

His very foot has music in't
As it comes up the stair.

" Stay, pray stay,'* said Geraldine, en-
deavouring to detain her j " he will have so
much pleasure in seeing you."
; " Well 1 I will oblige you, certainly,"
replied Miss Cotter el, ** if, in your turn,
you will consent that I should whisper to
him the subject of our conversation, and
give him a true and particular account of
the demolition of poor Mrs. Herbert's spec-
tacle-case. I am sure it deserves to be re*
corded among the numberless mischiefs
prompted or perpetrated by love,"



GERALDINE. 2S5

Mr. Maitland now entered the room,
and Miss Cotterel nodding her adieus took
leave. He appeared too much pre-occu-
pied to testify any very keen regret at
the abrupt departure of this Hvely lady.
He had just returned from the quiet rec-
tory, to which she had alluded. The ar-
rangements there were complete ; the
projected improvements accomplished ;
all within was comfort ; all around beauty ;
and with a rapid and animated hand, he
sketched a descriptive picture for Geral-
dine. The sloping meadows, extending
before the house, refreshed by a few genial
showers, were smooth and green asavelv^et
lawn ; the wood that fenced it from the
keen north-east was rich in leafy honours j
the garden full of blooming sweets ; cluster-
ing roses courted the hand to pluck them,
and Mr. Maitland ventured in gentle whis-
pers to regret that they should waste their
sweetness.

Geraldine listened with downcast, but



2S6 GERALDINE.

not unapproving looks ; and after a few
more of those persuasive whispers, which
' lovers love,' his regrets were exchanged
for gratitude.



GERALDINE. 287



CHAP. XXXII.

What business can you have in Lon-
don at this season, my dear young lady ?'*
said Mr. Wentworth to Miss Cotterel, who
had been passing a week at Wentworth
Hall, and whose frank and easy manners
had won his good graces. *' I shaU not
hear of your leaving Hampshire for three
months at least."

" Notwithstanding this flattering pro-
hibition, my dear Sir," replied Miss Cot-
terel, ** I must be on my road to London in
three days ; and the most cruel part of the
story you have yet to learn ; for I mean to
carry off Helen in my train."

Mr. Wentworth requested an explan-
ation.

« I suppose, Helen," said Miss Cotterel,



288 GERALDINE.

" that the moment is arrived in which we
may be allowed to reveal the secret of
our dignity elect. You are to know, then,
Sir," continued she, addressing Mr. Went-
worth, " that upon a certain day, in a cer-
tain month, about the time when you are
recommencing your warfare upon the poor
partridges and hares on your manor, we
are to play the part of bride's maids to a
certain young lady of your acquaintance ;
and as we wish, if possible, to look as
handsome as the bride, it is quite essential
that we should lose no time in choosing the
most bewitching hats, and caps, that can
be found. I am sorry to confess it ; but
tliey certainly are powerful auxiliaries to
female beauty."

*< So the wedding day is fixed?" said
Mr. Wentworth.

" It is," replied Miss Cotterel ; *' and
as Mr. Mowbray, declines being present
at the ceremony, you may expect a com-
munication not only from the bride's maid,
but from the bride-groom e/^c/ 5 for from



GERALDINE. 289

your hands he hopes to receive his lady
fair."

" There is no person to whom I would
give her with more pleasure," returned
Mr. Wentworth. <* Maitland is a great fa-
vourite of mine. I cannot quite understand
how he comes to be the man ; but I dare
say it is all right."

*« It would be endless to trouble our-
selves with the caprices of love and lovers,"
observed Miss Cotterel, *'they have always
been incomprehensible ; but I think this af-
fair rather less complicate, than these things
usually are. A few words may explain it.
The young lady yielded her heart and pro-
mised her hand to a gallant knight, whose
vows were music to her ear. He talked
of eternal love, and she believed him.
He proved, however, to be one of that class,
(I hope, for the honour of your sex, it is
not a large one) who forget, that —

' It is good to be merry and wise ;
It is good to be honest and true ;
It is good to be off with the old love,
Before we be on with the new.'
VOL. III. O



^90 GERALDINE.

" He whispered vows to other ladies,
and thei/ believed him. What was to be
done in this case ? The lady felt as ladies
do on such occasions : she revoked her
promise, and endeavoured to recall her
heart. It was some time before this was
effected ; but at length the little wanderer
returned.

" In process of time, Love, who longed to
entangle this heart once more in his nets,
assumed another, but not a less captivating
form. The lady, however, did not recog-
nise her old friend with a new face — she
mistook him for friendship. One day, to
her infinite surprise, he threw off his dis-
guise, and stood revealed as love. She
wondered at the transformation ; but love
only smiled triumphantly. Now, I hope,
my dear Sir, that you will agree with me
in the opinion, that the lady stands
exonerated."

« Yes, my dear," replied Mr. Went-
worth, laughing and shaking her heartily
by the hand; " I understand the affair



€ERALDINE. 291

now, and it is all natural enough ; and,
pray, tell me,*' said he, still holding her
hand, " how comes it to pass that love,
who is so busy with other hearts, leaves
yours out of the question."

" Oh ! I am resolved to have nothing to
do with him, till he has got rid of his
wings," said Miss Cotterel. <* Do you
tliink that day will ever arrive ?'*

<« Why, I can't answer for that, indeed,
my dear," replied Mr. Went worth ; *< but
when he becomes acquainted with you, I
think he will be apt to forget the use
of them. Will not that satisfy you?"

At this moment Edmund entered the
room, and Miss Cotterel, anxious that the
discussion upon love and his wings should
be suspended, turned towards Mrs. Went-
worth and enquii'ed into the progress of
her, work.

" No one ever plied a needle with so
much perseverance and dexterity as your-
self, my dear Madam," said she j ^' you
o 2



^92 GERALDINE.

will soon have finished this beautiful
flounce."

" I wish to get this pattern done to-
night, my dear,'* said Mrs. Wentworth,
without raising her eyes from her work,
" because to-morrow will be Sunday."

Mrs. Wentworth generally breathed a
sigh of resignation as she folded up her
work on Saturday evening; and, if the
secrets of her heart had been disclosed, it
would have appeared that this rest from
her labours was irksome rather than wel-
come ; indeed, without diving quite so far,
it was in some degree betrayed, to curious
observers, by a certain restlessness in her
movements, a frequent consultation of her
watch, and a disposition to gape, with
which she %vas afflicted on the return of that
day ; and certainly, if there was a moment
in which she was peculiarly alive to the
blessing of existence, it was that in which
she seated herself in smiling silence by her
work-table, on the second day of the week.



GERALDINE. 293

Edmund now approached this table to
detach Miss Cotterel from the work she
was so busily admiring, and to persuade her
to take a turn in the park. He had heard
of the London journey ; and, by a most
fortunate coincidence, was summoned to
town precisely on the day on which they
proposed travelling thither.

Circumstances eq^dMy fortunate enabled
him to escort them on their return ; and it
was soon whispered in the fashionable
circles that Miss Cotterel, after having had
a duke, an earl, and sundry baronets at her
feet, was about to bestow herself and her
fortune on the son of a plain, old-fashioned
country gentleman.

Report said that the marriage was not to
take place till the ensuing spring, when it
would be celebrated with a magnificence
suitable to the splendid fortune of Miss
Cotterel, and the hospitality according
with the benevolent and oldfashioned feel-
ings of Mr. Wentworth.



2g4 GERALDINE.

In the interim, the few simple prepar-
ations that were to precede a less splendid
marriage went busily on. It was one in
which pomp and pageantry were to bear no
part, and they were speedily completed.



GERALDINE. SQ^



CHAP. XXXIII.

It was on a fine soft September morning,
that the bells of Hartley rung out a joyous
peal.

Nature smiled sweetly on the lovely
bride, who stood in bashful beauty before
the altar of the village-church. Her heart
beat quickly, and tears glistened in her eyes ;
but sorrow had no part in those tears, nor
regret in that emotion. Tender confidence
and sweet anticipations blended with the
solemnity of the moment. Love and gra-
titude, kindling into rapture, beamed on the
countenance of him with whom she was
exchanging the holy vow, which pledged
them to love and suffer, to weep and to re-
joice together: nor were the chastened
hopes that filled their hearts, likely to wi-



296 GERALDINE.

ther as earthly hopes are wont to do ; for
they were not founded on false and vi-
sionary views ; amidst their brightest dreams
they remembered that * the web of life, is
ora mingled yarn.' They looked not then
for unclouded felicity, even in that calm
retirement, where love and tenderness, and
all the smiling train of social pleasures, met
in delightful union. Rich and pure as
these enjoyments were, and gratefully as
they were cherished ; they still knew them
to be mortal, and therefore fugitive.

But in that world, to which their hopes look'd on,
Time enters not, nor mutability ;
Beauty and goodness are unfading there.



THE END,



Printed by Strahan and Spottiswoode,
Printers- Street, London.



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Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) → online text (page 11 of 11)