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heart had a habit of standing perfectly still in an emergency, and now it had stopped so suddenly, and stood still so long, that she was on the verge of fainting.
"You are not well; you are wearied; you have remained on your feet too long. Let me take you to a seat, Miss Kavanagh," said the Colonel. With a gasp and a shiver, Kate recovered and rejoined Mrs. Clifton; and she permitted herself to fall into no more weakness that night. But Kate had unconsciously betrayed her secret to the officer; and, by the interference of her good angel, this knowledge, thus obtained, enabled Colonel Conyers to do Kate a service of vital importance in after-years.
"Archer is come," said Mrs. Clifton, as Catherine took her
"I know it-I met him," replied Catherine, and both fell into silence, for at that instant Major Clifton and the beautiful Georgia passed them; and from that time, and so long as they sat there, again and again, in the slow revolving of the great circle of promenaders, the pair passed and repassed them-Georgia smiling, cooing, murmuring, in her low, alluring music; and Archer Clifton bending over her, with his brilliant grey eyes feeding on her lovely face, seeming to sink deeper and deeper into the bathos of her charms, while Carolyn turned sick with jealousy, and Catherine faint with dread, and the correspondent of the Fiddle-de-dee made a note of the distinguished favour with which the most beautiful Mrs. C, the reigning belle of Richmond, received the devoirs of her distant relative, the celebrated Major C. Fear nothing, Carolyn, or Catherine, Archer Clifton is not in love with his uncle's widow-that very relationship would repel the idea, if nothing else; but he is not indifferent to the honour of monopolising the reigning queen of the ton.
Aunt Cabell," said Carolyn, “I cannot sit up longer. I must go home."
And Mrs. Cabell consented to gratify her wish. In fact, it was growing late; and the ultra-fashionables, the last to come and the first to leave, were beginning to disappear. Mrs. Georgia unwillingly discovered this fact; but she thought that at least she could adroitly secure the services of her companion as an escort home, and detain him to any hou in the little paradise of her own boudoir. She therefo
expressed herself ennuied, and intreated Major Clifton to conduct her to the cloak-room. He attended her thither; and there he met again his cousin Carolyn. She looked so fair, so wan, so fragile, that he could not for a moment take his eyes from her. He hastily adjusted the mantle over the shoulders of Georgia, handed her her muff and hood, and, excusing himself for a moment, hurried back to his mother's side.
"You have company home, madam, have
you not ?"
Certainly, Archer; I should not be here without such a provision. Here comes Colonel Conyers now to attend us." Good-night, then; I will see you early to-morrow. Goodnight, Kate." He was off.
Mrs. Cabell and Carolyn, leaning on Major Cabell's arms, reached their carriage-door. The major dropped his cousin's arm a moment to assist his mother in, and to settle her in her seat; and, during that moment, Carolyn felt an arm passed around her waist, and a voice whisper, "Carolyn, my beloved cousin! my bride! am I forgiven ?"
She burst into tears, and dropped her proud head on his bosom, exclaiming, "O Archer! am I forgiven?"
He placed her in the carriage, and, springing in past Major Cabell, took the seat by her side, leaving the major to follow as he could, and forgetting the very existence of Mrs. Georgia.
Kate was close to them; she saw and heard it all. Nodding her head slowly several times, she murmured, “ Thank God! Thank God! O merciful Father! help me to say that sincerely. Thank God!"
Three weeks after this they were married. The ceremony was performed in the ancient church of St. John's on Richmond Hill-one of the oldest places of worship on the whole continent. Mrs. Cabell would willingly have made this event the occasion of a great deal of ostentatious display; but the recent afflictions in the family, and the fragility of the bride, rendered other arrangements necessary. Therefore, immediately after the ceremony, which came off at an early hour of the morning, the newly-married couple, taking advantage of the very fine weather, departed for Norfolk, with the intention of sailing thence to Havana, where, by the advice of an eminent physician, for the re-establishment of the bride's health, they purposed to spend the winter.
Mrs. Georgia Clifton, with all the other members of the family connexion, had, of course, been present at the marriage; and no one was so lavish of smiles, tears, caresses, and congratulations, as the dark-eyed syren. But when all was over, and the bridal pair had departed, refusing the invitation of Mrs. Cabell to go home and dine with a party of friends, she hurried to her lodgings, pushed open the door of her luxurious boudoir, fastened it on the inside, and threw herself down, rolling over, tearing at the carpet, and gnashing her teeth in an agony of disappointment, jealousy, and impotent rage.
But not long did the Circe of Richmond yield herself up to anguish and despair. Christmas was approaching, when she was expected to entertain a select number of her worshippers at White Cliffs. It was expedient that she should go down a few days in advance of the party, to make ready for their reception; therefore, about five days after the marriage, she left the city.
Mrs. Clifton remained a week longer in town, to give Catherine an opportunity of attending a course of lectures on Moral Philosophy; and their escort every evening was Colonel Conyers.
LIFE'S VARIOUS PHASES.
It was always Mrs. Clifton's rule to spend Christmas at home; so she arranged to leave Richmond on the twentythird. It was three o'clock on the dark, cold, winter morning that the stage called for them. Our travellers were muffled up to the ears in hoods, cloaks, shawls, and furs; and when they entered the coach, they seemed to fill up all the back. It was so dark that they could see nothing, and the stage seemed to be vacant of other passengers than themselves; until Mrs. Clifton, settling her own outer garments, spoke, cautioning Catherine to fold her cloak carefully about her. Then another voice spoke, from the opposite seat, exclaiming in a tone of surprise and pleasure, "Why, is it possible! Mrs. Clifton and Miss Kavanagh ?"
Yes, Colonel Conyers; and I am as much pleased as sur
prised to find you here! How comes it that we are fellowtravellers ?" said the lady, placing her own in his offered hand.
And how do you do, Miss Kavanagh? Really, I-am so overjoyed to find you here! Why, you must know, my dear Mrs. Clifton, that I have been due at White Cliffs for several days; I am, in fact, the laggard of a party-but, in truth, I could not tear myself from Richmond while you and Miss Kavanagh remained. But last night, after taking leave of you, as I supposed, for some length of time, under great depression of spirits, Miss Kavanagh, I sent and had a place taken in this stage for L, which I understand to be the nearest stage-station to White Cliffs. Why, how little did I suspect that we were to travel by the same coach! Truly, life is full of paper walls. A word dropped by either of us last night would have revealed the fact to the other. But how delighted I am, Miss Kavanagh! And may I hope, Mrs. Clifton, that our journey lies for some distance together?" For the whole distance, I am happy to say. The plantation of White Cliffs and the farm of Hardbargain join. Our journey terminates at L.”
"Really! Why this is excellent! So, instead of being separated, we shall travel all the way together, and then continue to be neighbours for some weeks. Miss Kavanagh, I
There was not much travelling at that season of the year, so our party of three had the coach to themselves; and Colonel Conyers devoted himself with great assiduity to the comfort of the ladies.
At the end of the second day, just as the level beams of the setting sun were gilding all the village windows, the stage rolled into L
There, before the little tavern-door, waited Mrs. Clifton's old-fashioned carriage.
"Did you notify the family of White Cliffs of your intended arrival here to-day ?" asked Mrs. Clifton of Colonel Conyers.
"No, madam. My journey was resolved upon so suddenly, out of my grief and my impatience at the supposed loss of your own and Miss Kavanagh's society, that I had no time to write."
"Ah! that is the reason why their carriage is not waiting
for you. Colonel Conyers, if you will take a seat with us to Hardbargain, and rest for a few hours or a few days as you please, we shall be very glad, and we shall furnish you with a conveyance to White Cliffs whenever you wish to go."
Colonel Conyers expressed himself but too happy to accept Mrs. Clifton's invitation; and they all entered the oldfashioned carriage, and set out for Hardbargain. The farm was nine miles distant, and the road the very roughest, even of mountain turnpikes. Colonel Conyers ventured to wonder how any carriage could stand it, and surmised that RCounty must be blessed with the best wheelwrights in the world, to which Mrs. Clifton replied that they had the very best to be met with anywhere.
It was ten o'clock at night when they reached Hardbargain; but they found the hall lighted up, fires blazing in the parlour and the dining-room, and a substantial supper waiting for the order of the mistress. The farmhouse looked cheerful, hospitable, and inviting; and Colonel Conyers rubbed his hands in delight. He remained over night. The next day was Christmas, and nothing but the binding engagement to render an account of himself to the beautiful Georgia at least by Christmas could have forced him to White Cliffs that day. He accepted Mrs. Clifton's cordial invitation to come over often while he remained in the neighbourhood.
In fact, Mrs. Clifton had seen that Colonel Conyers was very much pleased with Catherine, and she felt desirous that he should have an opportunity of winning the affections of her favourite. Colonel Conyers took the largest advantage of Mrs. Clifton's hospitality, and not even the charms of the syren of White Cliffs could wile him away from his daily evening ride over to Hardbargain; and so, after a few weeks, as there is no accounting for tastes, and as the most extraordinary things sometimes really do happen, it turned out that Colonel Conyers actually did lay his heart, hand, and fortune at the feet of the humble girl whom his own subordinate officer, Captain Clifton, had despised, and, furthermore, that he was rejected by her. Yes, gratefully, kindly, but firmly and finally rejected; and, full of disappointment, humiliation, and sorrow, the gallant colonel abruptly concluded his visit, and returned to town.
"O Catherine, my dear, if you could but have liked him