University of Virginia Library


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Un gentil-homme merveilleusement sujet à la goutte, estant
pressé par les médecins de laisser de tout l'usage des viandes
salées, avoit accoustumé de respondre plaisamment, que sur
les efforts et tourmens du mal il vouloit avoit à qui s'en prendre;
et que s'escriant et mauldissant tantôt le cervelat, tantôt le jambon,
il s'en sentoit d'aultant allegé.


Isabella returned to her father's apartment in a
frame of mind rather adverse to her performing
accurately the tasks of the “best nurse in the

“What the devil ails you, Belle?” exclaimed
her father; “you are putting the cushion under the
wrong foot!—there—there—that will do—that's
right—now kiss me, Belle, dear. I did not mean
to speak cross to you; but your mother has been
fidgeting here a little eternity. I wonder what
the deuse is the reason she can never make any
thing lie easy. She does try her best, poor soul;
but she has no faculty—none in the world. What
is this good news, Belle, she tells me Jasper has

“It amounts to nothing, sir.”

“Humph!—I thought as much.” A pause ensued.
“Hark!” resumed Mr. Linwood—“is not


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that Helen Ruthven's voice on the stairs?—call her
in, Belle.” Miss Ruthven entered. “Glad to see
you, my dear—like to see living folks alive. Belle
is sitting up here like a tomb-stone, neither seeing,
hearing, nor moving. `How am I, child?'—alive,
thank God, and better—the enemy has cleared out
of the citadel, and is firing away at the outworks—
expect to eat a capital dinner to-day—Major St.
Clair has sent me a brace of woodcock—a man
of taste is Major St. Clair! Woodcock, currant-jelly,
and a glass of madeira, will make a Christian
of me again. I should be as happy as the king
if it were not—heigh ho, poor Herbert! Oh, Jupiter
Ammon, what a twinge!—Belle, do loosen
that flannel—your mother has drawn it up like a
vice—there—there—that will do. Do for conscience'
sake tell me some news, Helen, my dear.”

“I came on purpose, sir, to tell Isabella a famous
piece of news; but I met Jasper Meredith—”

“What of that, child?”

“He has told the news, sir, of course.”

“He may have told it to Belle; but I am none
the better for it: so pray tell on, my dear.”

“Meredith's mother has arrived.”

“His mother!” echoed Isabella.

“His mother!” repeated Mr. Linwood, in a voice
that drowned hers—“When?—how?—where?”

“Ah,” thought Miss Ruthven, with infinite satisfaction,
“they are not in smooth water yet, or this
fact would have been announced.”—“The ship,”


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she replied to Mr. Linwood, “arrived last night,
and is at anchor below, waiting for a wind.”

“What ship, child?”

“The Thetis, or Neptune, or Minerva?”

“It can't be, my child; there is no such ship

“It may be called by some other name, sir; I
never remember ships' names; but Mrs. Meredith
has most certainly arrived, and her niece, Lady
Anne Seton, with her.”

“Extraordinary—most extraordinary! Did Jasper
ever speak to you of expecting them, Belle?”

“Never, sir.”

“Do, for Heaven's sake, Belle, speak more than
one word at a time—go on, Helen—what else did
you hear?”

Miss Ruthven was nothing loath to speak, and
she proceeded:—“I met St. Clair at Mrs. Archer's.
By-the-way, I admire your aunt excessively, Belle.”
Miss Helen was a wholesale flatterer, and practised
all the accesses to the heart through admiration
of one's favourite friends and relations. “How
sweetly she is settled; but I could not but laugh
at her scruples about using the Ludlows' furniture.
I told her it was the good and universal rule of the
city to make the most of what the rebel runaways
had left behind them. You do not assent, Belle.
I am sure your father agrees with me—do you not,
Mr. Linwood?”

“Mrs. Archer has a way of her own. Go on


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with your news, my child—was Mrs. Meredith

“I really do not know, sir; Isabella has the best
right to know.”

Isabella blushed painfully. This was the answer
Helen Ruthven wished, and she proceeded:—
“St. Clair was with Jasper when the news arrived,
and he says Meredith appeared delighted; but then
St. Clair does not penetrate below the surface, and
Meredith is a bit of a diplomatist—don't you think
so, Isabella?”

“It is neither very flattering to Jasper nor to
his mother,” replied Isabella, evading Helen Ruthven's
annoying question, “to doubt his joy at the
arrival after a ten years' separation.”

“Perhaps not; but then we must see things as
they are—mothers are sometimes inconvenient
appendages, and sometimes—troublesome spies.
At any rate, I do not believe it is pure maternal
love that has brought the lady out. St. Clair says
she is not that kind of person; she loves her ease,
he says, and loves the world of London, and would
not come here without a powerful motive. Your
aunt said that the pleasure of seeing her son would
be motive enough to most mothers; but your aunt
is all mother. By-the-way, what a sweet fellow
Ned Archer is. I did not see Lizzy—her mother
says she is not yet recovered from her fright—she
is so nervous—poor thing! I do not wonder.”

“Go on, Helen. What motive did you find out


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for Madam Meredith?—wise heads yours, to think
a woman acts from motive.”

“Ah, sir, but we did find one; a right, rational,
and probable one too. Perhaps you do not know
that Lady Anne Seton is Mrs. Meredith's ward,
and that she is, moreover, a rich heiress.”

“Well, what of that?”

“Oh, a vast deal `of that'—a fortune is a most
important item in a young lady's catalogue of
charms; and poor Mrs. Meredith flatters herself
she has a son yet to be charmed.”

Miss Ruthven fixed her eyes, that had the quality
of piercing, on Isabella; but Isabella's were riveted
to the embroidery on which her hands were employed,
and she did not raise them, nor move a
muscle of her face.

Mr. Linwood breathed out an expressive “humph,”
and asked if fortune was the young lady's only

“Oh, on! St. Clair gave me a catalogue of them
as long as my arm. In the first place, she is just
sweet eighteen—very pretty, though a little too
much inclined to embonpoint—rather pale, too—
very sweet eyes, hazel, soft, and laughing—not a
classic nose; but pretty noses are rare—hair of
the loveliest brown; but that matters not now,
when no one, save Isabella, wears `hair of the
colour God chooses'—a sweet pretty mouth she
has, St. Clair says; and her hands, arms, and feet


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are such beauties, that she has been asked to sit
to a sculptor.”

“The deuse, girls! She'll cut you all out.”

“She may prove a dangerous rival, Isabella.”

Isabella looked disturbed, and was so; not so
much at Miss Ruthven's allusion as at a sudden
recollection. Meredith had urged her immediate
decision as momentous to them both. “Is he,”
thought she, “afraid that his resolution, his affections,
are not strong enough to resist a siege from
his mother?” Rallying her spirits, she asked “if
St. Clair had only furnished a schedule of Lady
Anne's personal charms?”

“Oh, my dear friend, yes. She enters the lists
armed cap-á-pie—she has been partly educated in
France—dances like a sylph, and speaks French
like a Parisian angel.”

“Don't be gulled by that, girls; if she sputters
away in French, it is a pretty sure sign she has
nothing worth saying in English.”

“But St. Clair says, Mr. Linwood, that she is
agreeable and good-humoured—a sort of person
that everybody likes.”

“Then I sha'n't like her, that's flat; for I don't
like that kind of fit that fits everybody.”

“But you like her name?—Lady Anne Seton.
There is such a charm in a name—a title too—a
rose by any other name might be as sweet; but a
name with the prefix of `lady' is far more captivating


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for it, Lady Isabella. There is a coronet in
the very sound.

“Do you know St. Clair says, that if Isabella
were to appear in England, she might soon write
herself lady?” She added, in a whisper, “he says,
Belle—don't be offended—that if an earl, or even a
baronet were to address you, it would fix a certain
person at once; he has such deference for rank,
that if you were merely to have it within your
grasp, you would be perfectly irresistible to him.”

“St. Clair talks idly,” replied Isabella, proudly,
and the tears, in spite of her efforts to repress
them, starting into her eyes; “he knows very little
of Jasper Meredith.” Alas! such a suggestion, even
from such a source, had power to wound her.
“Helen,” she added, “papa is getting tired, and
must take his drops, and try for his nap.”

“Bless me, my dear, forgive me for staying; I
always get so interested in your interests. Good
morning, dear Mr. Linwood; make haste and get
well. Farewell, dear Isabella, I am going to reconnoitre,
and will report progress;” and kissing
both father and daughter, she departed.

“Helen Ruthven is very fond of you, Belle,”
said her father.

Isabella smiled; but it was a bitter smile. She
did not care to rectify her father's opinion; but
she thought Helen Ruthven much like a bee, who
stings while laden with sweets.

“Very odd, Mrs. Meredith coming out just now,”


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continued Mr. Linwood; “the ocean covered with
rebel privateers—bringing over this girl too—a
right woman's move. Give me my drops, Belle—
they will sharpen my appetite—thank you, dear—
Pah! what's this—that devilish rhubarb—you've
spoiled my dinner, Belle.”

“A thousand pardons, papa—take this water—
now rest a little, and then your drops.”

“Never mind, my dear—set down the glass, and
come and kneel down by me, Belle. There's
something the matter with you, my child; I am
sure of it. You cannot deceive me, Belle—you
are as transparent as that glass. Twice since you
came from the parlour you have blundered, first
with the cushion, and now the drops. It's an uncommon
thing for you, my dear, to look one way
and row t'other. Jasper was with you, Belle
—has he offered himself?—Don't hesitate—I am
in no condition to be trifled with—has Jasper
done it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have you accepted or rejected him?”


“Do you love him, Belle?”

“Dear papa!” said she, springing to her feet,
and walking to the extremity of the room; “do
not question me any farther.”

“Come back to me, Belle—kneel down by me
again, and listen to me. I can tell you a love.
story: yes—little like a lover as I now seem.


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When I was eight-and-twenty, still in the hey-day
of life, I loved, with my whole soul, your aunt
Archer—don't flinch, child—listen. She was very
young, just from school; twelve years younger than
I, eight than your mother; but then she promised
all she has since been. She rejected me.
In a fit of pique I married your mother—mark
the consequences. She has been the poor, subservient,
domestic drudge—”

“Oh, papa! pray—”

“I am telling a plain story, Belle, and you must
hear it; but never mind what she has been. You
can't dispute that I have been unreasonable, peevish,
passionate, and so we have worn away life
together; and now, when the curtain is about to
fall, I look back on my useless existence—my
wasted talents—my lost opportunities, and mourn
over it all—in vain!” His voice was choked with

“Oh, do not say so, sir; you are the dearest,
kindest of fathers.”

“To you, Belle; and what thanks to me for
that? I have been proud of you—I have loved
you—there it is; if I had loved your mother, I
should have been the kindest of husbands. Love
makes virtue easy. `Love,' the Scripture says,
`is the fulfilling of the law.' I say those must be
saints who fulfil the law without it. Conscience
does not sleep even in such a self-lover as I am;
and think you, Belle, I am not often tormented


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with the thought, that I was created for something
better than to make my dinner the chief good of
every day—to pamper myself with the bounties
of Providence, and fret and fume at every straw
in my way? No, my dear child, you never have
felt my petty tyranny; but you hold the master-key
to my heart. Poor Herbert! I sacrificed him
to a gust of passion. It was I that drove him into
the ranks of the rebels.”

“Pray compose yourself, sir; do not say any

“I must finish what I began upon—I have gone
aside from it—Jasper Meredith! Ah, Belle, that
name conjures the blood back to your cheeks—
Jasper Meredith has fortune which, thanks to this
unnatural war, we want enough. He has rank
which I honour, and talents which all men honour;
but if he has not your whole heart, child, let him
and his fortune, rank, and talents, go to the devil.”

“Thanks, dearest father, for your counsel; and
trust me, I will be assured of something better and
higher than fortune, rank, or talents, before I bind
myself in that indissoluble bond.”

“I believe it, Belle; I know it.” Mr. Linwood
felt, though he did not perfectly comprehend the
emotions that at this moment irradiated Isabella's
beautiful face. “And, my child,” he continued,
“ever since you have come to woman's estate, I
have resolved that whoever you loved, let his name,
condition, fortune, be what it would, your hand


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should go with your heart, Belle; and I fear not
to stand by my resolve, for I know that your giving
your heart means your respect, honour, esteem,
and all that one of God's creatures can feel for

“You are right, sir.”

“I'm sure of it—now kiss me, dear—that's a seal
to the bond. Read to me the last London Gazette
—no matter where. I'll doze away the time till