Mary Jane Mackenzie.

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

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frequent and gloomy.

Mr. Spenser expressed a wish that his
child might be placed at Woodlands, during
his absence ; to which Mr. Mowbray reluc-
tantly consented, stipulating with his lady,
that it should be kept from his sight as
much as possible.

Mrs. Mowbray, after the lapse of a week
or two, discovered that to lament and
moralise over what was irremediable, was a
very useless occupation ; and she again
crowded the house with gay visitors, invited
for the avowed purpose of recruiting her
spirits, after the cruel shock they had sus-

When the inteUigence of Mr. Beresford's
death, and Geraldine's change of fortune,
was communicated to Mr. Fullarton, he
had formed the resolution of making her


the heiress of his own little property , which,
though trifling when compared with the
rich inheritance she had expected, would
still be a welcome addition to her present
slender income.

He had at first no intention of making
his purpose known during his life ; but
feeling numerous and increasing objections
to Woodlands as a permanent residence for
Geraldine, he resolved to announce his de-
sign of adopting her as a daughter, and re-
quested that henceforward the vicarage
might be considered as her home.

The plan was submitted to Mr. and Mrs.
Mowbray, and met with their immediate
concurrence. Mrs. Mowbi'ay, indeed,
talked of her feelings, and of the pain with
which she made the sacrifice ; but confessed
that, all things considered, and especially
since that provoking business w^ith Mon-
tague, she could not, from tenderness to
Geraldine, oppose the plan.

Deeply touched by Mr. FuUarton's good-
ness, Geraldine expressed her sense of it,



not only by the gentle attentions, but the
willing obedience of a daughter ; and un-
der his judicious kindness, her principles
became daily more firm and vigorous, and
her character more lovely and engaging.



When Mrs. Spenser's fatal history tran-
spired at Woodlands, Mr. Maitland had
felt it impossible to adhere to his rigid
system of seclusion ; inexpressibly shocked,
he sympathised deeply in Geraldine's af-
fliction ; and to mitigate and soothe it, again
became his daily task : together they
mourned over the degradation of this bril-
liant and lovely being, and formed many a
fruitless scheme for rescuing her from the
misery which must too soon become her

But if the defects and fall of Fanny ex-
<jited Mr. Maitland's heartfelt pity, they
served to heighten the powerful contrast
presented by the virtues and graces of Ge-
raldine. He felt them to be resistless, and
L 2


having ascertained that Montague's dis-
missal was fixed and irretrievable, his pas-
sion for Hebrew suddenly abated ; and for-
saking his lexicons and lonely fireside, he
joined the party at the vicarage. Pruden-
tial maxims were forgotten ; he remembered
only that GeraldineVas the loveliest of the
lovely in mind and person, and that she
was unfettered by any engagement.

Whether her heart would ever be a se-
cond time enthralled, he considered doubt-
ful ; at present it was luxury to listen to
her without self-reproach ; to gaze upon her
without feeling it to be a crime.
l\ Her manner towards him was distin-
guished by a kindness the most engaging,
mingled with a respect amounting to de-
ference. Her eyes sparkled with pleasure
when he entered ; but it was the open, un-
disguised pleasure of friendship ; there was
none of the downcast fluttering conscious-
ness indicating love.

She did not, however, sigh as formerly,
at the name of Montague : she spoke of


him sometimes with pity, always with
gentleness ; but in a firm and unembarrassed
tone. Mr. Maitland listened with the
trembling eagerness of jealous love ; but he
could detect no lurking regret, no secret

Nearly tw^o months glided away in that
quiet and intimate intercourse, which un-
folds the character in all its minutia.
c > Geraldine mingled occasionally in the
gaieties of Woodlands ; but they seemed only
to increase the zest wdth which she returned
to the sober duties and dearer enjoyments of
her more humble home. Well bred, and
graceful, she could not mingle in the most
brilliant scenes without exciting admiration;
but it w^as in the domestic circle that her
manner assumed a more enchanting grace,
and her character unfolded in full and
perfect beauty.

Every succeeding day increased Mr.

Maitland's anxiety to ascertain whether her

heart could again be brought to feel and

acknowledge the power of love ; but no-

L 3


thing appeared to satisfy his doubts: no
restlessness, no embarrassment were per-
ceptible. She seemed scarcely to have a
wish ungratified; and during their little
social evenings, he was frequently struck
by the expression of perfect enjoyment
which pervaded her countenance.

Could there then be the most distant
hope for him ? Of love, indeed, Geraldine
did not dream ; she felt that a delicious
calm had stolen over her heart, that there
was a charm almost exquisite in the soft
serenity of her present life, and she was con-
tent to enjoy without tracing it to its
source ; nor did she for a moment contem-
plate the possibility of any change.

This state of repose and unconsciousness
was interrupted by an unexpected incident.

As she w^as seated, as usual, with Mrs.
Herbert, at her w^ork-table, Mr. FuUarton
entered the room with an open letter in his
hand, and a countenance beaming with be-
nevolent pleasure.

** You will rejoice, I am sure,*' said he.


<* when you hear the good news I have to
communicate. This letter is from Mr.
Maitland ; he is unexpectedly called away
upon business of a very agreeable nature ;
having received a presentation to a living
worth five hundred pounds per annum.
He is not aw^are through whose interest the
gift has been obtained, but imagines, from
the channel through w^hich it comes, that
he is indebted either to Montague, or Mr.

Geraldine's first feeling, upon hearing
this intelligence, w^as one of warm and un-
mingled pleasure. She shared cordially in
Mr. Fullarton's joy, and was impatient to
offer her kindest congratulations. The
next minute, she felt conscious of a secret
fear, lest this living should be far distant
from Hartley ; and upon learning that it
was at least fifty miles off, a pang of keen
regret seized her heart, and she continued
silent and thoughtful throughout the re-
mainder of the day.

Mr. Fullarton observed, that the loss he
L 4


should sustain in Mr. Maitland, both as a
curate, and a companion, would be almost
separable ; but that, notwithstanding this
circumstance, he still rejoiced in an ar-
rangement so advantageous to his young

Geraldine blushed at her own selfishness,
and endeavoured to persuade herself that
she too rejoiced, but it was all in vain;
she could only sigh, as she looked at the
empty chair which he had been accustomed
to occupy ; and for the first time since her
residence at the vicarage, felt glad when
the evening had passed away.

The next day, she made a strong effort
to shake off this depression ; and by the
help of incessant occupation, succeeded in
maintaining a degree of cheerfulness during
the day ; but as evening drew near, at the
hour when Mr. Maitland's rapidly ap-
proaching footstep had usually been heard,
her spirits again sunk ; she tried to talk
with ease and playfulness, but a spell ap-
peared to enchain her faculties, — an insuf-


ferable weight to press upon her heart.
Was she, indeed, in the same room which
had hitherto seemed the chosen abode of
peace and joy ? She looked round ; —
Mrs. Herbert's eyes still turned upon her
with unaltered kindness, her smile was as
sweet as ever ; Mr. Fullarton talked with
his accustomed intelligence, and yet the
hours were insupportably long. She ac-
cused herself of ingratitude to those dear
and valued friends ; she thought herself
inexcusable : but, notwithstanding all her
exertions and self-reproaches, an indescrib-
able heaviness of heart, defying all her ef-
forts, remained.

L 5



liME slowly wore away, and a fortnigirt
which had appeared eternal to Geraldine,
had elapsed since Mr. Maitland's departure 5
when, as they were seated at breakfast, his
footstep was suddenly heard in the hall,
and in another minute he was by her side.
The vivid blush which instantly overspread
Geraldine's countenance, spoke the wel-
come that her silence might have rendered
doubtful J and not daring to trust her voice,
she busied herself in changing the position
of the tea-cups, till the flutter of joy and
surprise had a little subsided.

Mr. Maitland had passed the three pre-
ceding days at his living ; and had found
the house beautifully situated, and capable,
with a few alterations, of being made a very
desirable residence.


The word alteration, was the only one
in this sentence which had any charm for
Geraldine. She indulged a secret hope,
that it would be some time before the house
was prepared for his reception ; and her
spirits were considerably revived by hear-
ing him assure Mr. Fullarton, that no con-
sideration would induce him to leave Hart-
ley until a gentleman could be found as
his successor, whose principles and habits
met with Mr. Fullarton's entire appro-
bation. Geraldine recollected witli great
complacency, that workmen were frequently
dilatory; and that a curate, the counter-
part of Mr. Maitland, might not readily be
found. Her smiles returned ; — she en-
deavoured to dismiss the future from her
mind, and to enjoy the present moment ;
and Mr. Maitland, who knew not that
during his absence she had drooped as a
flower deprived of light and air, felt his
fears that her heart was untouched, con-
firmed by the unchanged cheerfulness of
her manner.

L 6


These fears became daily more intoler-
able, and he often rose with a determin-
ation of terminating this state of suspense
before the close of the day ; but a dread of
the immediate separation, which must be
the consequence of a positive rejection on
the part of Geraldine, as often deterred
him from accomplishing his purpose.

He lingered on, from day to day, per^
suading himself that no favourable oppor-
tunity had presented itself; alternately
hoping, doubting, and fearing, till a letter,
requiring his presence at his living, roused
him to exertion.

With a rapid step, he passed through the
village to the pathway leading to the vi-
carage, resolved that the next hour should
be decisive.

It was one of those soft bright days
which occasionally occur in the early part
of the month of March, when, but for the
leafless trees, we should believe that the
reign of winter had suddenly yielded to
that of summer.


As Mr. Maitland pursued his rapid walk,
he saw Geraldine at some distance before
him, lingering as if to enjoy the balmy
breath of these first days of spring. She
stopped to speak to a poor man, who, for
the first time after a painful illness, was
seated at his cottage door, rejoicing in the
cheering beams of the sun, and in the
health-giving breeze. The heavy hours of
pain and sickness had often been cheered
by Geraldine' s kindness ; and at the mo-
ment Mr. Maitland joined her, the poor
man was offering his fervent thanks, and
praying Heaven to bless her.

Geraldine blushed so beautifully when
she found that these thanks had been over-
heard ; her glowing cheeks and silent em-
barrassment formed so fine a contrast with
the pallid countenance and feeble garrulity
of the invalid, that Mr. Maitland thought
her infinitely more lovely than ever ; and
as she hurried on to escape the repeated
thanks of the poor old man, he drew her



arm within his and walked on for some mi-
nutes in silence.

Geraldine at length interrupted the pause
by a remark upon the beauty of the morn-
ing ; to which Mr. Maitland made no reply.

Rather surprised, she repeated this re-
mark with more emphasis.

«' Pardon me," exclaimed he, *' it is, in-
deed, very beautiful; but I had scarcely
perceived it."

*' Can such a sun as this be wasted upon
you?" said Geraldine, looking up at him
with a playful smile.

" Yes," replied he ; " even such a sun
may shine in vain for me. I must leave
Hartley to-day, and — "

<« To-day 1" repeated Geraldine : the
smile which had lighted up her features
being instantly succeeded by an expression
of the deepest disappointment.

<« May I then hope," said Mr. Maitland,
as he watched this rapid transition, " that
you will sometimes regret my absence j


tliat you are not entirely, utterly, indif-
ferent upon the subject?"

** Indifferent !" said Geraldine, in a tone
of gentle reproach ; ^' can you think me so
unfeeling, — so ungrateful ?"

*' I think you the gentlest and loveliest
of human beings !" exclaimed Mr. ]\Iaitland,
with uncontrollable fervor ; " and you have
long been dearer to me than language can

Geraldine continued silent ; her heait
beat with a violence which prevented her
uttering a word. Surprise rapidly kindling
into delight, enchained her lips, and all
power of expression failed.

" Speak, dearest Geraldine 1" continued
Mr. Maitland. ** Tell me if I have presumed
too far — if this confession is, indeed, un-
pardonable — if from this hour we must se-
parate for ever — or be eternally united in
the precious bonds of mutual affection."

Not for a moment could Geraldine hesi-
tate between such an alternative. In
trembling accents, but in a tone which


instantly changed Mr. Maitland's fears to
extasy, she acknowledged herself unequal
to the separation ; and, before she could
recover her composure, or Mr. Maitland
had exhausted half his expressions of fer-
vent gratitude, they reached the gate of
the vicarage.



While these events occurred at the vi-
carage, Mrs. Spenser was drinknig deeply
of the cup of mortification and misery.

The fatal step she had taken had scarcely
afforded her momentary relief, \yhen she
rashly acceded to the schemes of Sir Henry
Ireton, her heart exulted in the idea that
her husband would feel the jealous pangs
which he had so often inflicted : but she
was doomed to experience, in its utmost
force, that

Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils.

It scarcely sustained her through the agony
of contemplating, for the last time, the
lovely child she thus cruelly abandoned ;
nor could it quiet the anguish of her heart


as she cast a lingering look upon the home
which she was forsaking for ever.

The incessant and devoted attentions of
Sir Henry Ireton in some degree soothed
the perturbation of the moment, and from
Richmond they proceeded, not as Mr.
Spenser had imagined, to France, but to
a house which Sir Henry had engaged in
a small village in Dorsetshire.

There he purposed remaining under the
shelter of an assumed name, until the sens-
ation excited by the affair in the fashion-
able circles should have subsided.

To a situation thus remote and secluded
was Fanny conveyed in the month of De-
cember, and she soon found the raptures
and gratitude of her lover a poor exchange
for the privileges she had forfeited.

The few respectable neighbouring fa-
milies were not slow^ in discovering that
there was something ambiguous in the si-
tuation of the parties ; and the compliment
of a passing bow was the only mark of
civility they deemed it prudent to bestow.


Thus excluded from the pleasures of
society, and totally unfitted for solitude,
goaded by recollections of the past, and
wearied by the monotony of the present,
every succeeding hour increased the wretch-
edness of Fanny.

Sir Henry, indeed, continued to watch
her looks, and live upon her smiles ; but
this homage, though it soothed her vanity,
left her heart untouched ; and Fanny,
pining, sad, and spuitless, was so com-
plete a contrast to the Fanny whom he had
wooed and won, that he soon began to
regret, and at length to murmur, at the

She, in return, complained of the soli-
tude in which they lived, and proposed a
visit to Paris until their future plans could
be arranj^ed.

Sir Henry complied, but with a secret
feeling of pique and mortification at the
discovery that his society was so little
prized, which boded future disunion.

Upon their arrival at Paris, Fanny sought


to lose her regrets in dissipation, and
mingled incessantly in the gayest scenes
and parties. The terms on which she lived
with Sir Henry scarcely excited a remark.
It was merely whispered that she had made
an arrangement with her friend ; and the
Parisian belles had not a thought, or even
a gesture to waste upon such an e very-day

But though the accommodating courtesy
of French manners, and the brilliant scenes
in which she again engaged, could chase
away ennui, they could not shield her from
corroding care.

Among the influx of visitors to the
French capital, were many English families
of rank and fashion, with whom she had
formerly associated ; and Fanny was deeply
mortified by their marked and pointed

One or two, indeed, of the least fastidious,
admitted her into their coteries ; but from
the majority she was doomed to endure
either the averted glance, which bespok


determined avoidance, or the haughty stare,
indicating recognition, and repelling in-

In vain she armed herself with looks
equally haughty, and assumed a careless
and disengaged tone. Her heart was
pierced ; the sting had penetrated deeply ;
and the concealment of her feelings served
only to increase their intensity.

Sir Henry, who had not forgiven her
obvious indifference, became daily less pro-
digal of his smiles and compliments ; and
in a short time, transferred them to those,
who had answering smiles to give.

In the present irritable state of Fanny's
mind, this was not to be endured : she had
recourse to reproaches and remonstrance ;
talked of the sacrifices she had made, the
station she had resigned for him.

To all this Sir Henry listened with
cold politeness ; acknowledged with a smile,
which might have been mistaken for a
sneer, his infinite obligations; and then
quitted her to pass the morning in the bou-


doir of a new favourite, and the evening at
the gaming-table.

The transition from coldness to indiffer-
ence, and from indifference to alienation,
is not very difficult ; and to this point Sir
Henry was rapidly advancing.

Fanny was now doomed to listen to com-
plaints of the enormous amount of their
expenditure, and to hints on the virtue of
frugality. She thought upon the indulgent
husband, who, even to the moment of her
flight, had lavished a thousand rich gifts
upon her; and anguish mingled with tlie
contempt and indignation with which her
heart was almost bursting. Coarse allusions
to her situation ; insults, couched in the
specious form of apologies ; afiected lament-
ations over the impossibility of introducing
her into certain circles, because the wives
and daughters were all sans reproche ; —all
this was Fanny destined to bear, not for the
man she loved, but for one whom she de-
spised. Weary of herself, and returning
hatred for scorn ; detesting solitude ; yet


wretched in society ; humiliated, but not
self -abased ; desponding, but not repentant
— her life became daily more irksome. She
looked forward, but in the dreary prospect
not a single spot appeared upon which hope
might rest. A residence in England would
expose her to greater mortifications. She
reverted to the past ; and, recaUing the
warning of Geraldine, shuddered at the
conviction, that she had indeed involv-
ed herself in hopeless and irretrievable

But Fanny was not formed for patient
endurance j and thoughts at once gloomy
and desperate, took possession of her
mind: she now^ passed whole evenings in
solitude, pleading indisposition as an excuse
for excluding her Parisian acquaintance.

In these hours, the picture of her early
home presented itself, invested with all the
softening tints which memory gives. Father,
mother, brother, friend, w^ere there as-
sembled : her child, perhaps, was sporting
around them j but never more would its


light footstep, and laughing voice, salute
her ear. Alas ! for her, there was neither
child nor kindred; they were lost for ever.
She was an outcast, forlorn and dis-



At a late hour one evening, she was roused
from these melancholy musings, by a sort of
struggle in the anti-room leading to the
apartment in which she was sitting. She
had given strict order's to be denied, and^
the servant was repeating them in every
possible variety of key, but apparently in

" I insist upon seeing her immediately,'*
exclaimed a voice, at which Fanny trembled,
though its tone was familiar to her ; and a
moment after, Montague hastily entered,
followed by the servant, eager to exculpate
himself. She instantly dismissed him, and
shaking mth emotion, scarcely dared to
raise her eyes to Montague ; who, over-



powered by contending feelings, stood in
silence before her.

At length, endeavouring to rally her
spirits and conceal her confusion, she ex-r
claimed in a tone of assumed gaiety, —

" What can possibly have brought you
to Paris ? not love of me, I am afraid ; but
whatever be your errand, you are welcome."

Montague shuddered, and, with a manner
somewhat cold and stern, replied, ** I came
on no peaceful errand. I came not hither
to sanction your crime, but to assist in
avenging it. Alas ! dearly has that ven-
geance been purchased."

Fanny, mute with terror, looked ear-
nestly in Montague's face, as if to implore
his forbearance.

"1 see," continued he, in a mournful
and tremulous tone, '' that feeling is not ex-
tinct, though honour and virtue are gone
for ever ; and I can pity you, for the hour
of retribution is come." Then, assuming
an accent of greater firmness — " My tale is
biief," said he, "though terrible. Sir


Henry Ireton and your husband met this
evening by appointment. Your lover is
safe" — he paused.

" And my husband ?" exclaimed Fanny,
grasping his arm in agony —

" Was shot through the heart," con-
tinued Montague, in a deep, low tone,
" and died in my arms."

A mortal paleness covered the face of
Fanny ; and, trembUng violently, she clung
to him for support.

Placing her on a sofa, he stood by her
side, contemplating in silence the workings
of her agonized countenance. After the
lapse of a few minutes, it assumed a sad

<« Have you any thing more to tell me?"
said she, speaking in a voice of forced and
unnatural calmness; ** any message of
wrath, or any of forgiveness ? I can bear
it now."

" From the fatal moment of your flight,"
said Montague, deeply affected, " he spoke
of you as one * more sinned against than
M 2


sionning ;' sought not to palliate his errors ;
to conceal your wrongs ; generously forbore
a legal prosecution ; protected your name
fvom infamy ; provided for you with muni-
ficence, and died to avenge the disgrace
you had inflicted."

Fanny made a strong effort to control
her emotion, and was about to reply, when
the voice of Sir Henry, giving some direc-
tions to his servants, and his approaching
footsteps were heard.

*< Oh ! hide me, take me from him,*'
exclaimed Fanny, clinging to Montague,
with agony and despair ; "his sight is
hateful. — Do not," continued she, shud-
dering from head to foot, " do not leave
me with the murderer of ray husband."

<« Unfortunate, as guilty," cried Mon-
tague, pressing her for a moment fondly to
his bosom, and then struggling to free him-
self from her grasp ; " I can do little for
you. If you wish to consult or hear from
me, this is my address," said he, throwing
his card upon the table. But Sir Henry


Ireton and I, can meet only as mortal ene-
mies. Do not detain me, therefore, un-
der his roof, lest his blood be upon my

Fanny relaxed her grasp ; and shrieking
as Sir Henry entered the room, fell back
upon the sofa in violent hysterics. The

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Online LibraryMary Jane MackenzieGeraldine; or, Modes of faith and practice. : A tale, in three volumes. (Volume 3) → online text (page 9 of 11)