Mary Jane Mackenzie.

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

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** Pray, do you mean, by this imperial
pronoun, to include me ?" enquired Mr.

" Certainly," replied his lady. —

" Because I beg to say," continued he,
that I have not the slightest intention of
leaving England, especially on the quixotic
expedition of detaching a man from one or
more mistresses."

" I do not desire your assistance," said
Mrs. Mowbray ; ** it would do nothing but
mischief. On these occasions men never


succeed ; they do not know how to manage;
they can shake their heads, remonstrate,
and dictate ; but they cannot, like women,
manoeuvre and triumph/*

" Remember the fate of Alnaschar, my
dear," said Mr. Mowbray, with a smile.
*^ Neither journey nor triumph are yet
achieved. Pray, will this effort be made for
your brother — or his daughter — or his
money ?"

" My motives, like the motives of all
other human beings, are of a mixed nature,"
said Mrs. Mowbray ; " you know there is
no such thing as singleness of heart in this
wicked w^orld: not one Parson Adams to
be found now, for love or money. For my
part, I make no pretensions to this quality,
which every body praises and no one pos-

*« I know it, my dear," said Mr. Mow-
bray ; " I have long been perfectly aware,
that you are neither better nor worse than
the rest of the world."

D 4t


** Really, Mr. Mowbray, you are too

" You plan and plot," continued he,
without noticing her exclamation ; " and
who does not? kings and emperors ma-
noeuvre, and so do their subjects, from
the prime minister to the beggar. Society
is something like a piece of tapestry : that
part which is presented to the eye forms a
fair picture enough ; but the knots, and
numberless stitches and contrivances by
which this effect is produced, are wisely
kept out of sight."

** It is well they are," said Mrs. Mow-
bray j ** or we should not long be in good
humour with each other."

While Mr. and Mrs. Mowbray were dis-
cussing Mr. Beresford's weakness, and the
weakness of human nature, Geraldine was
endeavouring to quell the murmuring spirit
that rose in her heart, and to reason herself
into patience and submission. The glow
of hope and happiness that had filled it to
overflowing an hour before, became every


morneiit more faint ; and the idea of her
father's neglect and desertion weakened
lier confidence in every other human being.

A fond recollection of her mother
blended itself with this train of thought,
and she felt a strong wish to see once more,
before it passed into the hands of a stranger,
that home of joy and peace, which, asso-
ciated with this image, appeared almost
sacred in her eyes.

On returning to tlie drawing-room, she
expressed this wish to Mrs. Mowbray, who,
intent upon the journey to Italy, and al-
ready surrounded by maps, tours, and
guides, only shook her head while Ge-
raJdine was speaking, and exclaimed, —

"It is not to be done, my dear child I
we must travel, indeed, and with as much
speed as * William of Deloraine, good at
need 5' but to still fairer climes than that
of Devonshire."

She imparted the project to Geraldine,
who listened to it vrith trembling eagerness,
D 5


and with many apprehensions respecting
her father.

So long a journey, thus suddenly resolved
upon, convinced her that Mrs. Mowbray
had fears which she did not choose to avow.
Sometimes she fancied that secret intelli-
gence had reached her ; but her disengaged
manner, and the surprise occasioned by the
advertisement, contradicted this idea.

Geraldine could not be persuaded of the
impracticability of visiting Devonshire.
A fortnight at least must elapse, before the
preparations for their voyage could be com-
pleted, and three days surely might be

Mrs. Mo\vbray objected to this needless
fatigue and waste of spirits.

** Why should you go, my dear ?" said
she, ** you will only weep, and wail, and
feel as Eve did when she bade farewell to
the flowers of Eden. Do, pray, stay quietly
at home, and spare yourself all the heart-
aches you can/'


" Oh ! it would be a pleasure, a luxury
to me, to see them once more," exclaimed
Geraldine, pursuing the train of her own
thoughts, unconvinced by Mrs, Mowbray's

*' Well, then, my dear," returned her

aunt, ** it will give you an opportunity of

exercising the virtue of self-denial, which

is one of the roads to heaven, according to

your creed and Mr. Fullarton's. Poor

little thing," continued she, patting her

cheek, *« you look as if you liked it rather

better in theory than practice; however,

don't blush so about the matter. I do not

profess to value consistency as much as

some people. Those persons who pique

themselves upon consistency, have too

much starch and buckram to please me.

I have a perfect dread of them."

" But does consistency always imply
severity of morals?" said Geraldine: ** I
think I have known persons consistent even
in error."

** Vastly wt^ll, my dear !" said Mrs, Mow*
D 6


bray, *' I give you credit for that dexterous
hit ; but I will not accept the praise of con-
sistency, even in this ambiguous shape. A
character for consistency, is the most in-
convenient thing in the world. If I ever
professed it, I should feel just like a caged
bird, the poor thing is perpetually peeping
through the bars of its prison, and longing
to soar, east and west, and north and soutli,
but it is compelled always to utter the mo-
notonous wail, ' I can't get out.' "

Geraldine, too intent upon the idea of
revisiting Devonshire, to be amused with
Mrs, Mowbray's wit, was silent for a few
minutes, and then said, —

*' Possibly we should meet Mr. Copeland,
at West Grove, and learn what instructions
he has lately received from my father."

This was precisely a suggestion calcu-
lated to influence Mrs. Mowbray.

** A happy thought Geraldine," said she,

** it certainly would be desirable to luive

an interview with Copeland, before we

leave England. My brother's, ' Joha of



the Scales,' must surely be well acquainted
with the state of his affairs ; and, perhaps,
with his secrets."

Geraldine disclaimed the idea of becom-
ing acquainted with her father's secrets,
through such a medium."

*' You are very right my dear," said Mrs.
Mowbray, ** by ail means coniine yourself to
lawful inquiries alter his health and wel-
fare, but as you are not the keeper of my
conscience, I shall feel perfectly at liberty
to cross-question him as much as 1 please.
I will mention the scheme to Mr. Mow-
bray, and if the answer of the oracle be
favourable, we will set off for Devonshire



It was with feelings of melancholy gratifi-
cation that Geraldine approached the little
village adjoining West Grove.

On an evening like the present, calm,
still, and beautiful, she had passed through
it the last time, leaning on the arm of her
mother. The labourers, returning with
slow and wearied step from their daily toil,
had quickened their pace, at her approach,
and bowed in silent gratitude to their be-
nefactress. The little children had ceased
their sports on the green, and run to claim
a smile from the kind lady. The '* busy
housewife" had left her wheel, to drop a
courtesy, and call down blessings upon her.

More than five years had since passed,
but the scene was fresh as yesterday in Ge-


raldine's recollection. She contrasted it
sorrowfully with the present moment. As
their gay equipage drove rapidly through
the viUage, the returning labourer stopped
for a moment at the sound of the carriage,
and then continued * homew^ard to plod
his weary way.' The little children, shad-
ing their eyes from the beams of the setting
sun, stared for an instant at the carriage,
and quickly resumed their noisy sport.
She felt like an alien, amidst objects dear
and familiar.

At length they entered the well-remem-
bered gate, leading immediately to West
Grove, and casting a rapid and eager
glance around, she became silent from ex-
cess of emotion.

The softness of twilight w^as succeeding
the glow of evening ; but still she could
clearly distinguish every object. All were
beautiful — all unchanged. The trees, un-
der the shade of which she had so often
played, still flung their broad anus across
the turf in wild magnificence ; the axe had


not been suffered to despoil their beauty.
The groups of myrtle and flowering
shrubs, more luxuriant than ever, waved
their tender branches in the cool even-
ing breeze; and the gadding woodbine
* wasted around its rich perfume.'

" And this sweet place is to pass into
the hands of a stranger !" exclaimed Geral-
dine ; ** Oh ! if my father could have
seen it once more, surely, he would not
have parted with it for ever."

'* It is a strange business, indeed, my
dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, rousing, at the
sound of her voice, from a reverie into
which she had fallen. "I am all impa-
tience to unravel the mystery ; quite as
eager for a sight of Mr. Copeland and his
brown wig, as Elize was for an inter-
view with her * sylph husband ;' but I
don't know when that will happen, for we
creep as if we had borrowed Cinderella's
mice and pumpkin. Thank Heaven !" ex-
claimed she, after a short pause, " we are
witliin sight of the house ; for this dream-


ing light and their stupid pace have
almost sent me to sleep."

In a few minutes the carriage stopped;
and Geraldine, with a beating heart, fol-
lowed Mrs. Mowbray into the hall. They
made their way, among trunks and pack-
ing cases, to the library : — there, bare
walls and empty shelves presented them-
selves : the pictures and books had disap-

Geraldine, struck by the change, was no
longer able to restrain her tears.

*' I hope you will excuse the confusion,
Ma'am," said the servant who conducted
them ; ** but, Mr. Davidson, the gentleman
who has bought the house, is in such a
hurry to get in, that we are all quite at
sixes and sevens."

" The estate is sold, then," said Mrs.
Mowbray ; '' and, pray, who is this Mr. Da-
vidson ?"

" A great India Nabob, I think they
say. Ma'am," replied the servant.

♦* Rich and tasteless, of course ;" ex-


claimed Mrs. Mowbray, turning to Geral-
dine. " Mr. Copeland is here, to superin-
tend the business, I suppose ?'* continued
rfie, again addressing the servant.

" Yes, Ma'am ; but I am not certain that
he is within."

" 1 will thank you to let him know of
our arrival, if he is to be found," said
Mrs. Mowbray.

" The die is cast, then," continued she,
as soon as the servant had quitted the
room. "This will be a farewell visit at
West Grove."

Geraldine vainly endeavoured to rally
her spirits : memory was too busy. This
room, now so forlorn and deserted, had
often been the scene of her childish sports ;
and a thousand times resounded with her
laughing voice. ' Her mother's work-table,
by the side of which she had so often sta-
tioned herself, stood in its accustomed
place : near it was the foot-stool, on which
she sat to lisp her early lessons. She re-
membered the smile of ineffable tender-


ness with which those lessons had been
listened to ; the sweet caress that fol-
lowed ; and, as the tears trickled down her
cheeks, longed to be a child again.

The entrance of the servant with tea
interrupted her mournful musings. He
informed Mrs. Mowbray that Mr. Cope-
land was arranging some business at a
farm five miles distant, and would not be
at West Grove till the morning.

Until the]morning, then, Mrs. Mowbray
was reluctantly compelled to wait ; and
while she was closeted with Mr. Copeland,
Geraldine found her way to her mother's
dressing-room ; and again, the most affect-
ing recollections filled her mind. There,
with her little hands fondly clasped in
those of her mother, had her morning and
evening devotions been paid j there, many
a fervent prayer had been offered up for
her temporal and eternal happiness, and
many a holy lesson sweetly taught.

From the dressing-room she wandered
through the house and grounds j and from


thence to the village, lingering in every
favourite spot, and looking, even at the most
common objects, with that peculiar interest
which is felt when we are about to part
with them for ever.

She visited the school which had been
established by Mrs. Beresford, the cottages
which had so often been cheered by her
bounty. Every where some proofs of her
active and judicious benevolence presented
themselves. Industry had been encou-
raged, ignorance enlightened, disease miti-
gated, affliction soothed.

Geraldine knew that these effects could
not have arisen from the operation of
casual impulse, and occasional feeling; and
the principle to which they might be traced
became every hour more precious in her

Mrs. Mowbray appeared anxious to set
off as soon as her conference with Mr.
Copeland had ended. She had ascertained
that Mr. Beresford's expenditure during
the last eighteen months had considerably


exceeded his income ; Mr. Copeland had
ventured to lay before him the state of
affairs, and to propose certain retrench-
ments ; he received in return only more
urgent commands for remittances, and an
order for the immediate sale of the West
Grove estate : and that a confidential mes-
senger was now on his way to Florence
with the sum thus produced. Mr. Cope-
land concluded by saying that Mr. Beres-
ford had parted with all his disposable pro-
perty, and that his embarrassments must
become formidable if a plan of retrench-
ment were not speedily adopted.

<' Our measures must be prompt and
decisive, Geraldine," said Mrs. Mowbray,
when she had listened to this detail ; ** if
we can persuade your father to return im-
mediately to England, all may yet be well.
1 dare say we have ingenuity enough to
break the rosy fetters that detain him in

" It is an office of so delicate a nature,*'


returned Geraldine, ** that I feei reluctant
to engage in it.'*

" I may perhaps be mistaken/' said
Mrs. Mowbray ; " there are several other
ways of dissipating a good fortune, which
he may have chosen. He may be ex-
changing his good English gold for bas-
reliefs, and broken cornices ; for pictures
of saints, and statues of goddesses ; but if
he be spell-bound by a wicked enchantress,
we must busy ourselves in preparing some

Geraldine thought it sacrilege to her
mother's memory to admit such a suspicion ;
and yet a secret fear lurking in her heart
induced her to ponder upon the best mode
of conduct to be adopted.

She had long ceased to place implicit
confidence in Mrs. Mowbray's judgment.
She disdained the by-ways and crooked
policy familiar to that lady, believing the
simple truth, that he only who, * walketh
uprightly, walketh surely/

Even if Mrs. Mowbray's suspicions were


well founded, she doubted whether it would
be right to dive into her father's secrets,
and intrude unbidden into his presence.
She stated these objections to Mrs. Mow-
bray with all the energy and simplicity of
truth, and they were opposed with all the
ingenuity of sophistry.

The voyage to Italy was resolved upon ;
and Mrs. Mowbray had only one regret, —
that Montague was too distant to be their

** Mr. Mowbray has resolved not to go/*
said she ; " and, indeed, I am not very anx-
ious to press him into the service. He is
the most tiresome travelling companion
on eartli, for he has seen every thing under
tlie sun, or at least, every thing that he de-
sires to see ; and always posts on as if life
and death depended on our reaching the
Black Lion, or White Hart at a given mo-
ment. I don't believe he would go three
pacos out of his road for a laurel-leaf from
Virgil's tomb, or a branch of Shakspeare's
mulberry-tree ; so we have not much to re-


gret in him : but where to find a substitute
just at this moment, I know not."

This difficulty, however, did not prove in:
surmountable. The subject being dis-
cussed in Mr. FuUarton's presence, he la-
mented that his own feeble health prevented
his taking a journey which must be neces-
sarily rapid ; but proposed that the ladies
should accept the protection of Mr. Mait-
land, whom, he felt assured, would be
happy to supply Montague's place, as far
as his place could be supplied.

This proposition was gladly acceded to
by Mrs. Mow^bray, and highly agreeable to
Geraldine. She had the utmost confidence
in Mr. Maitland's judgment; and as the
friend of Montague, felt privileged to con-
sult him upon any point in which her own
was insufficient.



Previous to their leaving England, Ge-
raldine had a brief interview with Fanny-
She found Mr. Spenser, as usual, absent ;
and Panny distributing her smiles and mt
amongst an idle, gay, licentious circle.

Her manner, always light and careless,
had now acquked a freedom which terrified
Geraldine. She was surrounded by ad-
mirers openly contending for her favour,
who met neither with reproof nor dis-
couragement. Among these, Sir Henry
Ireton, a young baronet of dissipated
habits, and fascinating manners, appeared
the most prominent. The rest were toler-
ated ; he was distinguished. The attentions
of other young men were received as a
tribute j his seemed to be enjoyed as a



privilege. Confidential whispers, and an-
swering glances passed between them.

Geraldine felt sick at heart as she bade
her farewell. Slie was sporting like a
playfid child on the brink of a precipice,
unconscious or heedless of danger ; and no
friendly hand appeared to guide or rescue

*^ Shall I not make one effort,^* said Ge-
raldine, shuddering at the picture which
presented itself to her mind ; " but, alas I
in what language, to which she wdll listen,
can I address her.'' She snatched a pen,
and with a rapid and trembling hand,
wrote the following letter.

'' To Mrs, Spenser,

<' Our short interview, yesterday, my
dear Fanny, left so distressing an impres-
sion on. my mind, that I cannot leave Eng-
land without venturing to expostulate
with you on the system of conduct you are
pursuing : pardon the freedom of the ex-
pression ^ my time is too limited, and my


heart too full, to allow of fastidiousness in
the choice of words ; I must speak plainly.

" I recollect and feel the peculiar trials of
your domestic life. I never think of them
without deep and painful sympathy ; but,
were they ten times as keen and aggra-
vated as they now are, I should implore
you to remember that there are woes, to
which, even yours would appear light as

" Can the sorrows inflicted by^the caprice,
or negligence of a beloved object be for a
moment compared with the pangs arising
from wounded fame, from conscious guilt,
from self-inflicted degradation ? You are
not formed to endure patiently the look of
■^corn, the smile of triumph, the cold con-
tempt of the world.

" Forgive my fears, forgive the expression
of them. Believe that nothing but the
sincerest affection could have extorted it.

*' My dear, dear, Fanny, do not throw this
letter aside with the playful wilfulness
which I have so often witnessed. Oh!
E 2


that I knew of any language that woulil
affect your heart

" I might have urged considerations far
more awful and authoritative, than those
to which I have "alluded ^ I might have
spoken of consolations which can soothe
the deepest misery, and shed a softening
beam over the darkest hour. But you
would have listened with impatience. I
can only hope that a day may come, when
they will have their full effect.

" I once more conjure you, for your own
sake, for that of your dear child, and for
the sake of all who love you ; to consider
the many blessings which still surround
you ; to endure with resignation and dig-
nity the evils of your lot , and not, by vain
attempts to escape or resent them, plunge
yourself into hopeless, and irretrievable

" Accept, my dear Fanny, the kindest,
and best wishes of

« Your affectionate

*' Geraldine.'*


. The next morning, a note was put into
her hands, the contents of which were as
follows : —

^« To Miss Beresford.

" How am I to answer your eloquent
letter, my dear Geraldine. Shall I resent
your fears, and tell you that you might as
well have trembled for that peerless lady
who withstood the wiles of Comus ? Shall
I descant upon the dignity of virtue, and
my own high sense of honour ? or shall I
confess, that retaliation would be sweet to
an outraged heart ; that] there are mo-
ments, in which I feelso reckless and des-
perate, that your fears and forebodings,
may possibly be verified.

** I did not hastily throw your letter aside :
for a moment, it occasioned an exquisite
pain at my heart ; but the pang is over.

" I make no promises ; any thing is better
than wearing away life, in silent endur-
ance. U one scheme of happiness fails, is
it not wise to try another ? Is it not better
E 3


to chase a butterfly from bush to bUsh,,
and flower to flower, or to pursue a smiling
phantom, than to sit and pine in sullen
discontent ?

" I might have dissembled with you ; but
your earnest, candid letter, deserved at
least a candid answer.

" Farewell j I wish that in your voyage to
Italy, and in the voyage of life, you may
meet only with soft gales and smooth seas :
my bark' is toiling through stormy waves,
bfeneath a cloudy sky ; but I would rather
jiuifer shipwreck at once, amidst rocks and
v/hirlpools, than be left, like Ariadne, to
waste my life in wearisome loneliness.

*^ Believe, dear Geraldine, that whether
erring or prudent, happy or wretched, I
shall always be

" Your affectionate
" Fanny/*

Geraldine's fears were rather increased
than allayed by this letter. Never had she
felt so forcibly, or lamented so keenly, the


fatal defects of Fanny's education and ha-
bits : never had she been so fully sensible
of the inestimable value of those principles,
the fruits of which are gentleness, patience,
and long-suffering.

Of Mr. Spenser, indeed, she could not
think without indignation, and she medi-
tated upon his inexcusable conduct, and
the faults and failings of lovers and hus-
bands, till her thoughts insensibly wandered
to Montague. She shuddered at the idea
that the defects of his character, in some
degree, resembled those of Mr. Spenser;
and resolved, however severe the internal
conflict she might endure, however dreary
and desolate the path of life might appear,
never to become his wife, if he again gave
her reason to doubt the stability of his af-

It became her most anxious wish, to see
his conduct regulated by pure Christian
principles, that they might be united, not
only by the tender bonds of love, but in one
faith, and one hope.

E 4



In a few days all preparations were com^
pleted, and they embarked for Italy in a
vessel bound immediately to Leghorn.

The voyage, though a favourable one^
appeared indescribably tedious to Mrs*
Mowbray, who declared, that she quite
agreed with Dr. Johnson, in defining a
ship to be a prison, in which is incurred
the risk of being drowned j that, for her
part, she never desired to behold the sea
again, except from a viranda at some
fashionable bathing place ; and, as to its
magnificence and sublimity, they did vastly
well to think and talk of, but nothing could
be more tiresome or monotonous.

To Geraldine, the voyage had not ap-
pealed insupportably tedious. Mr. Mait-


. land's conversation had afforded her a rich
and constant resource j and she could not
regret the opportunity, thus afforded her,
of becoming more intimate with his cha-
racter. Its admirable consistency excited
a feeling of affectionate respect. Without
any ostentation of piety, without any re-
pulsive solemnity of manner, he never for-
got, the great cause to which he had de-
voted himself : and amidst his various and
delightful attainments, piety always ap-
peared conspicuous and pre-eminent.

To the eye of taste, nature in all her
beautiful variety, presents a dehghtful pic-
ture y but her lovehness excites a far more
touching and sacred emotion, when con-
templated by a mind in which refined taste
and devotional habits are happily blended '.

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