Imágenes de páginas

these bugbears of the little, when a just occasion for meeting and braving them occurs.'

"But I do not consider this an adequate occasion. That this quarrel will be finally adjusted I firmly believe. And I think it a pity and a shame that to-morrow evening three hundred guests should be disappointed and dispersed, to spread a subject of speculation and scandal all over the country. And this merely because you will yet a little longer indulge your anger

"I am not angry, mother. If I were only angry, I should let the marriage go on, if Miss Clifton thought proper to do so; for I should know that my anger would pass away. No, I am not angry, mother, but shocked, repulsed, and totally estranged. I could no more marry Miss Clifton now than I could take any other loathed object to my bosom! The idea makes me shudder!"



[ocr errors]

"Still I affirm that all this is intense anger, nothing else; and that there will come a reaction. Why, in anger, Archer, the object is as much loathed as in love it is desired; but that is temporary, and this, I hope, you will find permanent. I hope, at bottom, you respect Carolyn ? I esteem her. She has been a spoiled child, but has so many undeveloped good qualities that she only wants the discipline of a little affection to make her a very excellent woman. I shall say no more about this affair to-night, but wait to see what disposition I shall find you in to-morrow."

At this moment there was a knock at the door, and instantly afterwards Henny came in and informed her mistress that Mr. Kavanagh had come to take his sister home.

Put up

"Ask Mr. Kavanagh to sit down in the hall. your sewing, Catherine, my dear!" said the lady.

Catherine arose to fold up her work, while Captain Clifton looked very much as if he would like to stop her again.

"Does she not remain with you at night, madam ?" he inquired.


Certainly not-her brother always comes for her at bed

"How early does she come in the morning?"


She never comes in the morning. Catherine has her own domestic affairs to attend to during the forenoon. never gets here till late in the afternoon."


"Then I shall not see her to-morrow-not see her again

for many months—perhaps never see her again! Come here, Catherine!"

Catherine came to his side, and stood, as usual, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, and her cheek painfully flushed. He took her hand and pressed it in his own, while he said, “Catherine, you have heard all that passed between myself and Mrs. Clifton this evening ?"

A quick, short, but not ungraceful nod was all her answer. “And you know that I am going away on a distant and dangerous service; I leave here very early in the morning-I may never come back, Catherine," he said slowly, looking at her steadily.

Her hand in his grew cold, her cheek paled, her heart stopped still as death; but no word did she speak in reply. "Catherine, before I go, I intend to give you a command ; do you hear me?"

A spasmodic nod was her reply.

"I may be gone many years. In the meanwhile, you will grow up to womanhood, Catherine. Do not have any lovers-beaux, as young girls call them-while I am away; and, above all things, do not choose a husband without first consulting me through my mother."

Not knowing what to reply to this, Catherine remained perfectly silent.

"Will you obey me in this, girl?" he asked rather impatiently.

A low, earnest, choking “Yes, sir," was her answer.

"Kiss me, then, for I may never return!" said Archer Clifton, folding her for one moment to his bosom, and pressing a kiss upon her full lips.

But her lips grew cold at the touch-her face paled and fell away from his bosom-her form drooped and sank back over his arm, where she lay like one dead, in a swoon.

Surprised, alarmed, Clifton raised her in both arms, and hastened to the lounge, where he laid her, calling to his mother. The lady came forward without any trepidation, and, bringing a bottle of Hungary water, bagan to chafe her temples and face, and finally gave that task to Clifton, while she herself loosened Kate's dress.

"What could have been the cause of this, mother? Is she subject to these attacks ?"

"I never knew her to faint before, though I have seen her

under very trying circumstances with that old man, her grandfather."

"What could have occasioned it ?"


Why, the sudden news of your going away on dangerous service, of course,' said Mrs. Clifton, as she resumed the bottle, and continued to chafe the girl's face and hands. The child loves you, Archer; she has a very grateful, affectionate heart, and very strong feelings. She loves us both; and when you bade her good-bye, for a long and perilous absence, is it strange she should have been overcome? When soldiers talk of danger, children may be forgiven for being frightened. Do go and tell Kavanagh that Kate must remain here to-night, and dismiss him.

He went; and before he came back again, Kate, with a long-drawn sigh, had opened her eyes and recovered.

"You must raise her, and take her up stairs, my dear Archer. She must suffer no more agitation to-night," said Mrs. Clifton.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


And he lifted the form of Catherine, and took her up stairs, while his mother called Henny. When they had laid the young girl on a bed, and left her to the care of Henny, and had returned to the parlour again, Captain Clifton said, 'Mother, take care of that girl! She has been the innocent, unconscious cause of my trouble to-day, but I cannot feel dislike or even indifference towards her. Take care of that humble maiden, mother, as if she were your daughter and my sister. Don't let any rustic beaux come near her, mother. I cannot endure the idea of her marrying, or even being wooed by any low, miserable fellow of her brother's grade. And do not permit any young gentlemen of the neighbourhood to trifle with her heart, or endanger her good name. You know how easily, even without her fault, that sole possession of a poor maiden is lost. The thought that such an unmerited misfortune should befall Kate exasperates me beyond measure, and I feel like quarrelling with the whole order of society!"


What, you! the proud conservator of rank! Truly, Archer, one would think Carolyn had some little ground of complaint!" said the lady, with her little, low, half-dignified, half-jolly laugh.

"This from you, mother!" exclaimed Archer Clifton reproachfully. "I thought you knew me better. You do

know me better! But I must have some hand in this girl's good fortune."

Mrs. Clifton, who was walking about the room, quietly setting things in order for the night, made no reply, but only smiled; and soon after she lighted a night-lamp, and, placing it in the hand of her son, bade him good-night, and retired to her chamber. Captain Clifton remained pacing up and down the room, in troubled thought, some time after she had left, before seeking his own couch.



MORNING came at length. Carolyn Clifton arose unrefreshed, weak, dizzy, and sick. This was the first night's rest she had ever lost in her life; and on looking in the glass, habitually the first thing the beauty ever did after rising, she was shocked to see what havoc one night's evil passions had made in her appearance. What a fright she had become ! How pale her cheeks! how dragged the muscles! how red, dim, and sunken her eyes! And this upon her wedding-day; and when she had a quarrel to make up with her intended husband, too! When, in fine, every circumstance pressingly demanded that she should appear in the highest beauty. Would Archer Clifton-would that fastidious, artistic worshipper of the beautiful-feel inclined. to a reconciliation with such a spectre as herself, she mentally inquired, as she gazed wonderingly, deploringly upon her haggard face? Carolyn was vain, and proud, and scornfulso vain, and proud, and scornful, that she did not know, could not imagine that that very haggard face, haggard with sorrow for the estrangement and the separation, would be a stronger appeal, make a deeper impression, upon the heart of her lover than all the glory of her beauty had ever done. And thus vanity, pride, and scorn punish their subject, not only by depriving her of very much respect and affection she would otherwise have, but by making her insensible of that love and esteem that really does surround her.

Carolyn at length rang for her woman; and after some


little delay she came in, evidently just aroused up out of her sleep, and wondering that her young mistress should summon her before sunrise. But as soon as she saw her lady, her wonder gave way to alarm, and she exclaimed, “My good gracious alive, Miss Carolyn! What's der matter, honey?"

"Has anyone arrived this morning, Aunt Darky ?" inquired Miss Clifton, without noticing the old woman's alarm.

"No, chile, sure not. Who should ribe at dis onlikely hour ob de mornin'? Ledst it war de doctor. Has you sent for de doctor, honey? But, Lord, indeed, chile, you better lay down ag'in. Don't keep on standin' dere holdin' up your hair, weak as you looks, an' I'll run and see!"

"Aunt Darky, I am not ill. I have had a bad night's rest, that's all. Go, and-"

"A bad night's res', and like enough, honey! I had a berry bad night's res' de night afore me an' Old Nick took up 'long o' each oder! 'Deed, chile, I was sort o' scared, an' sorter happy 'cause I was scared. An', 'deed, chile, 'tween so many contrydictions, I couldn onderstan' myself, and kept awake all night. Lord, honey, it's nat'ral! We's all alike, 'cept 'tis de collor; an' dat' only outside show, skin deep. But bless you, honey, that wa'n't nothin' to the night resses I'se lost since dat, with long o' cryin' babies, an' teethin' babies, an' sick chillun, an' ole man Nick comin' home drunk ebery time ole marse give him any holiday money to spen on hisself. Now, praise be de Lor', de chillun's all raised, an' married, an' settle off, an' I'm a free 'oman! An' I tell my gals how I ain' gwine be bother long o' der chillun, now in my ole days!"

"Aunt Darky," said Miss Clifton, feeling no way flattered by the parallel, "go and get my bath ready, and have a cup of strong coffee brought the instant I leave it."

"Yes, honey; and hadn't de baff's water better have de air tuk off o' it, as you'se not so strong dis mornin'?"

"Yes, yes; what makes you trouble me by questions? You ought to know what is proper to be done.'



An' so I allus does know, honey; ony when I does my mos' properess, you does'n alluz see it into dat light, an' you fines faurt 'long o' me," said the old body, as she left the


When Miss Clifton had left her warm bath, and had par

« AnteriorContinuar »