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a tale




Page 135


Sitting then in shelter shady,
To observe and mark his mone
Suddenly I saw a Lady
Hasting to him all alone,
Clad in maiden-white and green:
Whom I judg'd the Forrest Queen.

The wood-man's bear.

During several weeks succeeding her danger and deliverance,
Ellen Langton was confined to her chamber,
by illness, resulting from the agitation she had endured.
Her father embraced the earliest opportunity to express
his deep gratitude to Fanshawe for the inestimable service
he had rendered, and to intimate a desire to requite
it, to the utmost of his power. He had understood that
the student's circumstances were not prosperous, and,
with the feeling of one who was habituated to give and
receive a `quid pro quo,' he would have rejoiced to share
his abundance with the deliverer of his daughter. But
Fanshawe's flushed brow and haughty eye, when he
perceived the thought that was stirring in Mr. Langton's
mind, sufficiently proved to the discerning merchant,
that money was not in the present instance a circulating
medium. His penetration, in fact, very soon informed
him of the motives by which the young man had been
actuated, in risking his life for Ellen Langton; but he


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made no allusion to the subject,—concealing his intentions,
if any he had, in his own bosom.

During Ellen's illness, Edward Walcott had manifested
the deepest anxiety respecting her; he had wandered
around and within the house, like a restless ghost,
informing himself of the slightest fluctuation in her
health, and thereby graduating his happiness or misery.
He was at length informed that her convalescence had
so far progressed, that on the succeeding day she would
venture below. From that time, Edward's visits to
Doctor Melmoth's mansion were relinquished;—his
cheek grew pale, and his eye lost its merry light,—but
he resolutely kept himself a banished man. Multifarious
were the conjectures to which this course of conduct
gave rise; but Ellen understood and approved his
motives. The maiden must have been far more blind
than ever woman was, in such a matter, if the late events
had not convinced her of Fanshawe's devoted attachment;
and she saw that Edward Walcott, feeling the
superior, the irresistible strength of his rival's claim,
had retired from the field. Fanshawe, however, discovered
no intention to pursue his advantage. He paid her
no voluntary visit, and even declined an invitation to tea,
with which Mrs. Melmoth, after extensive preparations,
had favoured him. He seemed to have resumed all the
habits of seclusion, by which he was distinguished previous
to his acquaintance with Ellen,—except that he
still took his sunset walk, on the banks of the stream.

On one of these occasions, he staid his footsteps by
the old leafless oak, which had witnessed Ellen's first
meeting with the angler. Here he mused upon the
circumstances that had resulted from that event, and
upon the rights and privileges—for he was well aware
of them all—which those circumstances had given him.


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Perhaps the loveliness of the scene, and the recollections
connected with it,—perhaps the warm and mellow sunset,—perhaps
a temporary weakness in himself, had
softened his feelings, and shaken the firmness of his
resolution, to leave Ellen to be happy with his rival.
His strong affections rose up against his reason, whispering
that bliss,—on earth and in Heaven, through time
and Eternity,—might yet be his lot with her. It is impossible
to conceive of the flood of momentary joy,
which the bare admission of such a possibility sent
through his frame; and just when the tide was highest
in his heart, a soft little hand was laid upon his own,
and, starting, he beheld Ellen at his side.

Her illness, since the commencement of which, Fanshawe
had not seen her, had wrought a considerable,
but not a disadvantageous change in her appearance.
She was paler and thinner,—her countenance was more
intellectual—more spiritual,—and a spirit did the student
almost deem her, appearing so suddenly in that solitude.
There was a quick vibration of the delicate blood in her
cheek, yet never brightening to the glow of perfect
health; a tear was glittering on each of her long dark
eye lashes; and there was a gentle tremor through all
her frame, which compelled her, for a little space, to
support herself against the oak. Fanshawe's first
impulse was, to address her in words of rapturous delight;
but he checked himself, and attempted—vainly,
indeed—to clothe his voice in tones of calm courtesy.
His remark merely expressed pleasure at her restoration
to health; and Ellen's low and indistinct reply had as
little relation to the feelings that agitated her.

`Yet I fear,' continued Fanshawe, recovering a degree
of composure, and desirous of assigning a motive (which
he felt was not the true one) for Ellen's agitation,—`I


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fear that your walk has extended too far for your

`It would have borne me farther, with such a motive,'
she replied, still trembling,—`to express my gratitude to
my preserver.'

`It was needless Ellen, it was needless; for the deed
brought with it its own reward,' exclaimed Fanshawe,
with a vehemence that he could not repress. `It was
dangerous, for'—

Here he interrupted himself, and turned his face

`And wherefore was it dangerous?' inquired Ellen,
laying her hand gently on his arm; for he seemed
about to leave her.

`Because you have a tender and generous heart, and
I a weak one,' he replied.

`Not so,' answered she, with animation. `Yours is a
heart, full of strength and nobleness; and if it have a

`You know well that it has, Ellen,—one that has
swallowed up all its strength,' said Fanshawe. `Was it
wise, then, to tempt it thus—when, if it yield, the result
must be your own misery?'

Ellen did not affect to misunderstand his meaning.
On the contrary, with a noble frankness, she answered
to what was implied, rather than expressed.

`Do me not this wrong,' she said, blushing, yet
earnestly. `Can it be misery—will it not be happiness
to form the tie that shall connect you to the world?—
to be your guide—a humble one, it is true, but the one
of your choice—to the quiet paths, from which your
proud and lonely thoughts have estranged you? Oh!
I know that there will be happiness in such a lot, from
these and a thousand other sources.'


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The animation with which Ellen spoke, and, at the
same time, a sense of the singular course to which her
gratitude had impelled her, caused her beauty to grow
brighter and more enchanting with every word. And
when, as she concluded, she extended her hand to Fanshawe,
to refuse it was like turning from an angel, who
would have guided him to heaven. But, had he been
capable of making the woman he loved a sacrifice to her
own generosity, that act would have rendered him unworthy
of her. Yet the struggle was a severe one, ere
he could reply.

`You have spoken generously and nobly, Ellen,' he
said. `I have no way to prove that I deserve your
generosity, but by refusing to take advantage of it.
Even if your heart were yet untouched,—if no being,
more happily constituted than myself, had made an impression
there,—even then, I trust, a selfish passion
would not be stronger than my integrity. But now,'—
He would have proceeded, but the firmness, which had
hitherto sustained him, gave way. He turned aside to
hide the tears, which all the pride of his nature could
not restrain, and which, instead of relieving, added to
his anguish. At length he resumed. `No, Ellen, we
must part now and forever. Your life will be long and happy.
Mine will be short, but not altogether wretched,—
nor shorter than if we had never met. When you hear
that I am in my grave, do not imagine that you have
hastened me thither. Think that you scattered bright
dreams around my path-way,—an ideal happiness, that
you would have sacrificed your own to realize.'

He ceased; and Ellen felt that his determination was
unalterable. She could not speak; but taking his
hand, she pressed it to her lips; and they saw each
other no more. Mr. Langton and his daughter, shortly


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after, returned to the sea-port, which, for several succeeding
years, was their residence.

After Ellen's departure, Fanshawe returned to his
studies with the same absorbing ardour, that had formerly
characterized him. His face was as seldom seen among
the young and gay;—the pure breeze and the blessed
sun-shine as seldom refreshed his pale and weary brow;
and his lamp burned as constantly from the first shade of
evening, till the grey morning light began to dim its
beams. Nor did he, as weak men will, treasure up his
love in a hidden chamber of his breast. He was in
reality the thoughtful and earnest student that he seemed.
He had exerted the whole might of his spirit over
itself,—and he was a conqueror. Perhaps, indeed, a
summer breeze of sad and gentle thoughts would sometimes
visit him; but, in these brief memories of his love,
he did not wish that it should be revived, or mourn over
its event.

There were many who felt an interest in Fanshawe;
but the influence of none could prevail upon him to lay
aside the habits, mental and physical, by which he was
bringing himself to the grave. His passage thither was
consequently rapid,—terminating just as he reached his
twentieth year. His fellow students erected to his
memory a monument of rough-hewn granite, with a
white marble slab, for the inscription. This was
borrowed from the grave of Nathanael Mather, whom,
in his almost insane eagerness for knowledge and in his
early death, Fanshawe resembled.


Many tears were shed over his grave; but the thoughtful
and the wise, though turf never covered a nobler
heart, could not lament that it was so soon at rest. He
left a world for which he was unfit; and we trust, that,


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among the innumerable stars of heaven, there is one
where he has found happiness.

Of the other personages of this tale,—Hugh Crombie,
being exposed to no strong temptations, lived and died
an honest man. Concerning Doctor Melmoth, it is unnecessary
here to speak. The reader, if he have any
curiosity upon the subject, is referred to his life, which,
together with several sermons and other productions of
the Doctor, was published by his successor in the Presidency
of Harley College, about the year 1768.

It was not till four years after Fanshawe's death, that
Edward Walcott was united to Ellen Langton. Their
future lives were uncommonly happy. Ellen's gentle,
almost imperceptible, but powerful influence, drew her
husband away from the passions and pursuits that would
have interfered with domestic felicity; and he never regretted
the worldly distinction of which she thus deprived
him. Theirs was a long life of calm and quiet bliss;—
and what matters it, that, except in these pages, they
have left no name behind them?