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And now on the midnight sky I look,
And my heart grows full to weeping;
Some tale of that loved one keeping.
On the banks of that lonely river ;
Shall hang round its waters for ever.
What language can describe the tumult of contending and agonising feelings, which swelled the heart of Lucy Harcourt, almost to bursting, at this unveiling of her idol, at this overthrow of all her hopes and expectations from him? Bitter indeed was the disappointment, at discovering a monster of sensuality, a systematic seducer, in the being she had pourtrayed to herself as the most charming, refined, and generous of his sex. Hard to bear was this first rude lesson of her young experience of mankind, and dreadful was the idea, that her father and Mr. Wentworth might only be the rare and beautiful exceptions,—not the standing rule by which to form her opinion of them. That, probably, in the rough path she had just commenced to tread, she might encounter many even worse than the man whose remembrance made her shudder. “And, this is life !” she continued; "this is that sad, that dark page of worldly wisdom, the most innocent must peruse! Oh! must we only gain knowledge, to learn from it suspicion, caution, and distrust? Oh! what a loss is such gain ! how profitless is all, compared to that happy confidence, that ardent trustfulness, which result from our purer ignorance !”
The tears streamed in torrents down her pale face, and fell unheeded on her clasped hands, as, seated immovably in the chair in which she sank, as Lord Morton left the room, she en
* Concluded from p. 155, vol. lii. July, 1818.--VOL. LIII.—NO. CCVII.
deavoured to rouse herself from these painfully absorbing reflections, to collect her scattered thoughts, to recall a portion of the courage which had so wonderfully supported her through her long and mortifying interview with him, to enable her to meet the father, she felt assured would, after all, return a beg. gar, with no consolation, save her cheerful sympathy, her ready and spontaneous commiseration.
“ How should she console him? how explain, that through HER, his ruin was accomplished ? that she had opened the door to poverty,—she had dug the grave of sorrow, to receive his worn and bowed frame?
“She ought to have conciliated the man who could, and no doubt would, effect their entire destruction, rather than have driven him to such extremities, for the sake of the dear old man who had quitted her a few hours before so elate with hope. Yet, how for a moment compromise her virtue, even in appearance, by not resenting, as she had done, the indignity offered to it?
“ Had not that father taught her every ennobling sentiment to which she had given utterance ?-had he not even compelled her to swear to maintain that virtue inviolable, even should a death of famine threaten them both ?-0, my father! I have obeyed you. Your child is victorious over evil, although her heart is transpierced in the contest!
“ Direct me, Othou merciful Providence, who guided me through this, the severest trial of my existence, how to receive the parent for whose well-being alone I desire its prolongation ”
After a variety of resolutions, rejected as soon as formed, she determined to regulate her conduct and communication, by her father's manner and deportment on his return. One glance would suffice, to convince her of the result of his visit,-of the fulfilment or not of his anticipations; whether, in fact, Lord Morton had, in the hatred and disappointment of his heart, proved himself as implacably revengeful as his parting words led her to apprehend.
She, therefore, assumed a calmness she was far from feeling, and obliterating as much as possible, the traces of the anguished tears she had been so profusely shedding, she awaited with a fond and anxious impatience the moment of his arrival from the Hall.
Her heart beat tumultuously, and then died away with a sick sensation of faintness, as she saw him approaching, driven in the same tilbury, and by the same respectful domestic who had been sent for him in the morning, who, after assisting him to alight, took his leave without delaying an instant, despite Mr. Harcourt's hospitable invitation to tea.
With one bound she was in her father's arms, when hiding her face on his bosom, she listened breathlessly to the first words he should speak, as being the confirmation of despair, or the revival of hope.
Unbounded then was her astonishment, nay, delight, to hear him say, in a tone of the liveliest gratitude, as he returned her warm embrace : “Well, dearest, you were not deceived in Lord Morton, for I have found him all you described, Lucy: the most considerate, the most liberal, the most noble minded of mankind.
“But sit down, darling, for you tremble and look pale; quite close, and I will tell you all. Such a happy day as I have spent, the very happiest since your mother's death! Are you
'! listening, love?”
“ Most intently, dear father, pray proceed,” replied the bewildered girl.
“ The horse was the steadiest I ever sat behind, the gig the best hung, and the driver most expert. The day, as you know, was exquisite, the air clear and exhilarating; now and then, a soft and balmy gale, lifting up my grey hair, and playing with something like youthful health over my withered cheek. The weather, certainly, has much influence on our feelings. This I experienced most signally in my drive; nature, as it were, sympathising with my errand, made me in high spirits, and when I reached the Hall, and was received in the library by Lord Morton, alone, in the most urbane manner, I could scarcely return his salutation with becoming decorum, for the joyful and upspringing emotions of my heart; which caused me to forget, for the moment, that I was only an aged mendicant in the presence of youthful mercy.
“He desired me to be seated, and then entered on my affairs with scrutinizing attention. Being satisfied with the investigation, which he was pleased to observe, reflected the highest credit on me; he asked me what I required to enable me to recover the serious injury the untoward season had done me? * Time, my lord, only time, to pay you to the utmost farthing, and become once more an independent, and perhaps, happy man.'
But, my dear sir, would you not rather that I should cancel all arrears at once?' By no means, my lord,' I exclaimed, 'that would excite the jealousy of others, and raise up enemies around me; the unwonted favours of the great being always liable to an invidious and malignant construction. Give me only time, my lord, and leave the rest to God, and as willing a
pair of hands as an upright mind ever stimulated to honest exertion.'
Well, Harcourt, be it so,' he replied, 'I admire your resolution to be above obligation, even to me.
Take what time you choose, or, if with all your truly laudable endeavours, you are still unable to discharge the debt, which a series of misfortunes have entailed on you, recollect, that I now consider it liquidated; in confirmation of which, here is a receipt in full, which, if you do not wish to offend me, you will accept without scruple.' "O, my lord, you are too, too good,' I answered, as well as the choking tears would allow me to speak.
“But, you are weeping yourself, Lucy," he observed, suddenly interrupting his interesting narrative, as his ear caught the quick, convulsive sobs of his agitated daughter, "Come, come, there is no occasion for tears, now! I am a foolish old man, to tell you all this, but, I thought you would be glad to hear that your paragon was indeed so perfect !"
“So I am, dear father. Do not mind my tears, joy always has a subduing effect on me."
“So it had on your precious 'mother. It made her more holy, more heavenly minded; she never expressed it gaily, but, her soul wore a brighter smile, a tenderer gladsomeness."
“Oh, Lucy! how radiant will you make the fireside of him who is so blest as to call
store of sweet womanly affections, your deep sensibility, your clinging, feminine reliance. Trust me, a wife is never so winning, never so endearing, as when she looks to her husband for support, encouragement, and confidence. Her beauty, her strong tie is her utter dependence. Never aim then at domestic dominion ; be in the wife, that which you are in the child, obedient, timid, fond, and confiding, and you will be idolized by your husband, as you are by your father. I tire you, perhaps, with so much talking; shall I leave the remainder of what I have still to say, until to-morrow, darling ?”
“Oh, no, no! pray finish now, I shall rest all the better for it, be assured.”
“Of course, dear, I objected to avail myself of his lordship’s generosity; he would, however, take no denial, although, I urged a thousand potent reasons for refusing; but, folding up the receipt, he actually thrust it into my pocket, saying, as with a desire to spare my feelings: This is strictly between ourselves, not even Sackville shall know of it; so, keep your own counsel, and do as you please about ever paying me; and now,' he continued, let me show you the way to the dining-room, where you will find refreshments ready for you, with your old