Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

that had the abstracts before him, on give me a quiet home!” A pang shot preparing Mr Aubrey's marriage, through Mr Aubrey's heart; but he settlement?"

felt that he had, for the présent, suc“Oh, you are alluding to the 'Opin. ceeded in his object. ion' I mentioned to you this even- Mr Aubrey's distracted mind was ing?" enquired Mr Parkinson.-" I indeed, as it were, buffeted about have it at my house, and will show it that night on a dark sea of trouble ; you in the morning. The doubt he while the beloved being beside him expressed on one or two points gave lay sleeping peacefully, all uncon. me, I recollect, no little uneasiness, scious of the rising storm. Many as you may remember, Mr Aubrey." times, during that dismal night, would

“ I certainly do,” he replied, with he have risen from his bed to seek a a profound sigh ; " but though what momentary relief, by walking to and you said reminded me of some- fro, but that he feared disturbing her, thing or another that I had heard and disclosing the extent and depth when a mere boy, I thought no more of his distress. It was nearly five of it. I think you told me that the o'clock in the morning before he at gentleman who wrote the opinion was length sunk into sleep ; and of one a nervous fidgety man, always raising thing I can assure the reader, that difficulties in his clients' titles--and, however that excellent man might one way or another, the thing never have shrunk and shrink he did gave me any concern-never even rom the sufferings that seemed in store occurred to my thoughts, till to-day.” for him, and those who were far dearer

,“ You see, if only one link, or part to him than life itself, he did not give of a link, in a chain, is infirm," said Mr way to one repining or rebellious Runnington—" however remote." thought. On the contrary, his real

6. You will take a little refresh frame of mind, on that trying occasion, ment, gentlemen, after your journey?" may be discovered in one short prayer, said Mr Aubrey, suddenly interrupt- which he more than once was on the ing him-glad of the opportunity it point of expressing aloud in words would afford him of reviving his own * Oh my God! in my prosperity I exhausted spirits by a little wine, be. have ever acknowledged thee; forsake fore returning to the drawing-room. me not in my adversity !” He swallowed several glasses of wine At an early hour in the morning without any sensible effect; and the his carriage drew up at Mr Parkinson's bearers of the dreadful intelligence door; and he brought with him, as just communicated to the reader, after he had promised, a great number of a promise by Mr Aubrey to drive title-deeds and family documents. On over to Grilston early in the morning, these, as well as on many others which and bring such of his title-deeds as were in Mr Parkinson's custody, that were then at the Hall, took their de- gentleman and Mr Runnington were parture ; leaving him considerably anxiously engaged during almost calmer, but with a fearful oppression every minute of that day and the enat his heart. Long accustomed to suing one; at the close of which, they control his feelings, he exerted him- had, between them, drawn up the self to the utmost on the present oc- rough draft of a case, with which Mr casion--and almost entirely succeed Runnington set off for town by the ed. His face, however, on re-entering mail ; undertaking to lay it, within the drawing-room, which his mother, twenty-four hours, before the Attorattended by Kate, had quitted for her ney-General, and also before one of bedroom, somewhat alarmed Mrs the greatest conveyancers of the day ; Aubrey ; whom, however, he at once commended to their best and earliest quieted, by saying that he certainly attention, by very liberal fees and had been annoyed—“ excessively an- extra gratuities to their clerks. He noyed” at a communication just made pledged himself to transmit their to him; “and which might-in fact- opinions, by the very first mail, to prevent his sitting again for Yatton." Mr Parkinson ; and both those gen56 There, doctor, am I not right?” tlemen immediately set about active said Mrs Aubrey, appealing to Dr preparations for defending the ejectTatham-“ did I not tell you that ment. The “ eminent conveyancer" this was something connected with fixed upon by Messrs Runnington and politics ? Charles, I do hate politics Parkinson, was Mr Tresayle, whose clerk, however, on looking into the because he saw Dr Tatham coming papers, presently carried them back

out of Williams's cottage, where he to Messrs Runnington, with the in- had been paying a visit to poor Phæbe. formation that Mr Tresayle had, a The little doctor was plunthering few months ago, rs advised on the on, ankle-deep in snow, towards the other side.” The next person whom vicarage, when Mr Aubrey (who had Mr Runnington thought of, was- sent home his carriage with word that singularly enough -- Mr Mortmain, he should presently follow) came up who was occasionally employed, in with him, and greeting him with unheavy matters, by the firm. His usual fervour, said that he would acclerk, also, on the ensuing morning company him to the vicarage. returned the papers, assigning the - You are in very great trouble, my same reason as had been given by dear friend," said the doctor, seriousMr Tresayle's clerk. All this formed ly—“ I saw it plainly last night ; but a startling corroboration, truly, of of course I said nothing. Come in to Messrs Quirk and Gammon's assur- my little house here_let us talk freely ance to Mr Runnington, that they had with one another ; for, as iron sharp“ had the first conveyancing opinions eneth iron, so doth the countenance of in the kingdom ;” and evidenced the a man his friend. Is it not so ?” formidable scale on which their ope- .66 It is indeed, my dear doctor," rations were being conducted. There replied Mr Aubrey, suddenly softened were, however, other “ eminent con- by the affectionate simplicity of the veyancers besides the two above doctor's manner.

How much the mentioned ; and in the hands of Mr good doctor was shocked by the comMansfield, who, with a less extended munication which Mr Aubrey presentreputation, but an equal practice, was ly made to him, the reader may easily a far abler man, and a much higher imagine. He even shed tears, on style of conveyancer than Mr Mort- beholding the forced calmness with main, Mr Runnington left his client's which Mr Aubrey depicted the gloomy interests with the utmost confidence. prospect that was before him. 'Twas Not satisfied with this, he laid the not in vain that the pious pastor led case also before Mr Crystal, the ju- the subdued and willing mind of his nior, whom he had already retained in beloved companion to those sources of the cause-a man whose lucid under- consolation and support which a true standing was not ill indicated by his Christian cannot approach in vain. name. Though his manner in court Upon his bruised and bleeding feelwas feeble and unimpressive, and his ings were poured the balm of true appearance even childish ; his temper religious consolation; and Mr Aubrey irritable, and his demeanour ridicu- quitted his revered companion with a lously supercilious ; he was an inva- far firmer tone of mind than that with luable acquisition in an important which he had entered the vicarage.

He knew, probably, little else But when he passed through the park than law; but to that he had for some gates, the sudden reflection that he twenty years applied himself with un- was probably no longer the proprietor wearying energy; and he consequents of the dear old familiar objects that ly became a ready, accurate, and thou met his eye at every step, almost overrough lawyer, equal to all the practical powered him. exigencies of his profession. He On entering the Hall, he was informbrought his knowledge to bear on ed that one of the tenants, Peter Johnevery point presented to him with son, had been sitting in the servants' beautiful precision. He was equally hall for nearly two hours, waiting to quick and cautious-artful to a degree see him. Mr Aubrey repaired at once

-But I shall have other opportunities to the library, and desired the man to of describing him ; since on him, as be at once shown in. Johnson had on every working junior, will devolve been for some twenty-five years a the real conduct of the defendant's tenant of a considerable farm on case in the memorable action of Doe the estate, had scarcely ever been on the demise of Titmouse v. Roe. a few weeks behind-hand with his

As Mr Aubrey was driving home rent, and had always been considered from the visit to Mr Parkinson which one of the most exemplary persons in I have above mentioned, he stopped the whole neighbourhood. He had his carriage on entering the village, now, poor fellow, got into trouble

cause.

indeed, for he had, a year or two deep sigh, after a moment's hesitabefore, been persuaded to become tion. security for his brother-in-law as a He was as good as his word. tax-collector ; and had, alas ! the day Had Mr Aubrey been naturally of before, been called upon to pay the a cheerful and vivacious turn, the conthree hundred pounds in which he trast now afforded by his gloomy manstood bound—his worthless brother- ner must have alarmed his family. As in-law having absconded with nearly it was, however, it was not so strong £1000 of the public money. Poor and marked as to be attended with that Johnson, who had a large family to effect, especially as he exerted himself support, was in deep tribulation, bow. to the utmost to conceal, or at least ed down with grief and shame ; and to control his distress. That something after a sleepless night had at length had gone wrong, he freely acknowventured down to Yatton, and with a ledged ; and, as he spoke of it always desperate boldness asked the benevo- in connexion with political topics, he . lent squire to advance him £200 to succeeded in parrying their queswards the money, to save himself from tions, and checking suspicion. But, being cast into prison. . Mr Aubrey whenever they were all collected toheard his sad story to the end with- gether, could he not justly compare out one single interruption; though them to a happy group, unconscious to a more practised observer than the that they stood on a mine which was troubled old farmer, the workings of about to be fired ? his countenance, from time to time, About a week afterwards, namely, must have told his inward agitation. on the 12th of January, arrived little “I lend this poor soul £200!” thought Charles's birthday, when he became he, “who am penniless myself ? Shall five years old ; and Kate had for some I not be really acting as his dishonest days been moving heaven and earth to relative has been acting, and making get up a children's party in honour free with money that belongs to an- of the occasion. After considerable other?

riding and driving about, she succeedI assure you, my worthy friend,” ed in persuading the parents of some said he at length, with a little agita- eightor ten children-two little daughtion of manner,

“ that I have just ters, for instance, of the Earl of Oldacre now a very serious call upon memor (beautiful creatures they were, to be you know how gladly I would have sure)-little Master and the two Miss complied with your request."

Bertons, the children of one of the « Oh, sir, have mercy on me! I've county members—Sir Harry Oldfield, an ailing wife and seven children an orphan of about five years of age, to support,” said poor Johnson, wring- the infant possessor of a magnificent ing his hands.

estate--and two or three other little “ Can't I do any thing with the Go- girls—to send them all to Yatton vernment?”

for a day and a night, with their go. No, sir; I'm told they're so mighty vernesses and attendants. angry with my rascally brother, they'll 'Twas a charming little affair. It listen to nobody! It's a hard matter went off brilliantly, as the phrase is, for me to keep things straight at home and repaid all Kate's exertions. She, without this, sir. I've so many mouths her mother, and brother and sister, all to fill--and if they take me off to pri- dined at the same table with the merry son, Lord! Lord! what's to become of little guests, who (with a laughable us all ?"

crowd of attendants behind them, to be Mr Aubrey's lip quivered. Johnsure) behaved remarkably well on the şon fell on his knees, and the tears ran' occasion. Sir Harry (a little thing down his cheeks. “ I've never asked about Charles's age, the black riband a living man for money before, sir - round his waist, and also the halfand, if you'll only lend it me, God mourning dress worn by his maid, Almighty will bless you and yours- who stood behind him, showed how you'll save us all from ruin-I'll work recent was the event which had made day and night to pay it back again!" him an orphan) proposed little Au

* Rise--rise, Johnson," said Mr brey's health, in (I must own) a someAubrey, with emotion. You shall what stiff speech, demurely dictated have the money, my friend, if you will to him by Kate, (who sat between him call to-morrow," he added, with a and her beautiful little nephew.) She

then performed the same office for 66 Charles !"-called out Mrs AuCharles, who stood on a chair while brey ; who had watched the whole delivering his eloquent acknowledge. affair, and could hardly keep her ment of the toast.

countenance- come here directly, [Oh that anguished brow of thine, Charles.” Aubrey, (thank God it is unobserved!) “ Yes, mamma!” he exclaimed but it tells me that the iron is entering quite unaware of the serious aspect thy soul.]

which things were assuming--and, And the moment that he had done without quitting the dance, where he -Kate folding her arms around him was (as his jealous mistress too plainly and kissing him_down they all jump- saw, for, despite her grief, her eye ed, and, a merry throng, scampered seemed to follow all his motions) skipoff to the drawing-room, (followed by ping about with infinite glee with a Kate,) where blind-man's buff, hus- third partner--a laughing sister of his bands and wives, and divers other last partner. little games, kept them in constant • Come here, Charles," said Mr enjoyment. After tea they were to Aubrey ; and in an instant his little have dancing-Kate mistress of the son, all flushed and breathless, was at ceremonies--and 'twas quite laugh- his side. able to see how perpetually she was Well, dear papa!” said he, keepfoiled in her efforts to form the little ing his eye fixed on the little throng he sets. The girls were orderly enough had just quitted, and where his desert--but their wild little partners were ed partner was skipping about alone. quite uncontrollable. The instant they " What have you been doing to were placed, and Kate had gone to Lady Anne, Charles ?” said his fathe instrument and struck off a note ther. or two_heigh !-there was a scram- “ Nothing, dear papa !” he replied, bling little crowd, jumping, and still wistfully eyeing the dancers. laughing, and chattering, and sing- You know you left me, and went ing | Over and over again she formed to dance with Miss Berton; you did, them into sets, with the like results. Charles !” said the offended beauty. But at length a young lady, one of " That is not behaving like a little their governesses, took Miss Aubrey's gentleman, Charles,” said his father. place at the piano, leaving the latter The tears came into the child's eyes. to superintend the performances in I'm very sorry, dear papa, I will person. She at length succeeded in dance with her getting up something like a country- “ No, not now,” said Lady Anne dance, led off by Charles and little haughtily. Lady Anne Cherville, the eldest daugh- “ Oh, pooh! pooh !-kiss and be ter of the Earl of Oldacre, a beautiful friends," said Mrs Aubrey, “ and go child of about five years old, and who, and dance as prettily as you were doing judging from appearances, bade fair, before." Little Aubrey put his arms in due time, to become another Lady round Lady Anne, kissed her, and Caroline Caversham. You would have away they both started to the dance laughed outright to watch the coqu again. While the latter part of this tish airs which this little creature gave scene was going on, Mr Aubrey's herself with Charles, whom yet she eye caught the figure of a servant who evidently could not bear to see dan- made his appearance at the door, and cing with another.

then retired, (for such had been Mr “Now I shall dance with somebody Aubrey's orders, in the event of any else!” he exclaimed, suddenly letting messenger coming from Grilston.) go Lady Anne, and snatching hold of Hastily whispering that he should a sweet little thing, Miss Berton, return soon, he left the room. In the that was standing modestly beside bim. hall stood a messenger from Mr ParThe discarded beauty walked with a kinson; and on seeing Mr Aubrey, he stately air, and a swelling heart, to- took out a packet and retired, Mr wards Mrs Aubrey, who sat beside Aubrey, with evident trepidation, reher husband on the sofa ; and on pairing to his library. With a tremreaching her, she stood for a few mo. bling hand he broke the seal, and ments silently watching her late part- found the following letter from Mr ner busily engaged with her successor Parkinson, with three other enclo-and then she burst into tears.

sures; NO. CCXCIY, VOL. XLVII.

2 F

6 Grilston, 121h Jan. 18-. a groan that came from the depths of “ My dear Sir,

his heart, he rose, and walked to and “ I have only just received, and at fro, sensible of the necessity of exertonce forward to you, copies of the ing himself, and preparing himself, in three opinions given by the Attorney- some degree, for encountering his moGeneral, Mr Mansfield, and Mr Crys- ther, his wife, and his sister. Taking tal. I lament to find that they are up his candle, he hastened to his dressof a most discouraging character. ing-room, where he hoped, by the They are quite independent of each aid of refreshing ablutions, to succeed other, having been laid before their in effacing at least the stronger of respective writers at the same moment; these traces of suffering wbich his yet you will observe that all three of glass displayed to him, as it reflected them have hit upon precisely the same the image of his blanched and agitated point, viz. that your grandfather had countenance. A sudden recollection no right to succeed to the inheritance of the critical and delicate situation of till there was a failure of the heirs his idolized wife, glanced through his of Dame Dorothy Duddlington. If, heart like a keen arrow. He sunk therefore, our opponents have con- upon the sofa, and, clasping his hands, trived to ferret out any one who sa- looked the most forlorn object that tisfies that designation, (I cannot con- could be imagined. While he was in jecture how they ever got upon the this deplorable state of mind, the door scent,) I really fear we must prepa was pushed hastily but gently open ; for the worst. I have been quietly and, first looking in to see that it was pushing my enquiries in all directions, really he of whom she was in search, with a view to obtaining a clue to the in rushed Mrs Aubrey, pale and agicase intended to be set up against us, tated, having been alarmed by his and which you will find very shrewdly non-appearance in the drawing-room, guessed at by the Attorney. General. and the look of the servant from Nor am I the only party in the field whom she had learned that his maswho has been making pointed en- ter had been for some time gone up quiries in your neighbourhood; but stairs. of this more when we meet to-morrow. of Charles ! my love! my sweet 86 I remain

love !” she exclaimed wildly, rushing " Yours very respectfully, up to him, flinging herself down be

" J. PARKINSON. side him, and casting her arms round Charles Aubrey, Esq., M.P.his neck. Overcome by the sudden

ness of her appearance and moveHaving read this letter, Mr Aubrey ments, for a moment he spoke not, sunk back in his chair, and remained but stared at her as if stupified. motionless for more than a quarter of “ For mercy's sake--as you love an hour. At length he roused himself me!-tell me, my darling, darling and read over the opinions; the effect Charles, what has happened !” of which he found had been but too “Nothing-love--nothing;” but his correctly given by Mr Parkinson. look belied his speech. Some suggestions and enquiries put

ri Oh! am not I the wife of your by the acute and experienced Mrbosom, dearest? Charles, I shall go Crystal, suddenly revived recollections distracted if you do not tell me what of one or two incidents even of his has happened. I know that someboyish days, long forgotten, but which, thing.-something dreadful." He put as he reflected upon them, began to his arm round her waist, and drew her re-appear to his mind's eye with sick. tenderly towards him. He felt her ening distinetness. Wave after wave heart beating violently. He kissed of agony passed over him, chilling and her cold forehead, but spoke not. benumbing his heart within him ; so " Come, dearest! let me share that, when his little son came some your sorrows,” said she, in a thrilling time afterwards rnuning up to him, voice. • Cannot you trust your with a message from his mamma, that Agnes ? Has not Heaven sent me she hoped he could come back to see as a helpmeet for them all play at snapdragon before or I love you, Agnes! ay, more they went to bed, he answered him than ever man loved woman!” he mechanically, hardly seeming sensible murmured, and buried his face in her even of his presence. At length, with bosom. Her arms folded him in closer

you?"

« IndietroContinua »