University of Virginia Library


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Why talk we not together hand in hand
And tell our griefs in more familiar terms?
But thou art gone, and leav'st me here alone,
To dull the air with my discoursive moan.”

Marlowe and T. Nash.

She sat upon the long with her face buried in her
hands.” More than once as I rode away that evening
did I repeat these words to myself. Wherefore
should she exhibit such emotion? Wherefore should
she sob at my departure? Did she not love? Was
she not betrothed to another? Of this I had no doubt,
and what could I think? Was not such emotion natural
enough? Had we not been born as it were together?
Had we not been together from the earliest
dawn of infancy—at that period when children, like
clustering buds upon a rose bush in early spring, rejoice
to intertwine, as if the rude hands of the world
were never to pluck them asunder, and place them
in different and foreign bosoms? Was it not natural
enough that she should show some sign of sorrow at
thus parting with a youthful playmate? I laboured to
persuade myself that this was all; yet the more I reflected
upon the matter, the more mysterious and


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contradictory did it seem. If it were that her emotion
were natural to her as a long familiar playmate,
why had she been so estranged from me, for so many
previous and painful months? Why did she look
always so grave, in later days, whenever we met?
Why so reserved? So different from the confiding
girl who had played with me from infancy? Why
so slow to meet me as formerly? Why so unwilling
to wander with me as before among the secluded
paths which our own feet had beaten into confirmed
tracks? Why, above all, so much more intimate and
free with John Hurdis, who had never been her
companion in childhood, and who, it was the most
surprising thing in the world to me, should be her
companion now? He coarse, listless, unsympathising—in
his taste low, in his deportment unattractive,
in his conversation, tedious and prosing, in his propensities,
if not positively vicious, at least far from
virtuous or good!

What had they in common together? How could
they mingle? How unite? By what arts had he won
her to his wishes? By what baser arts had he estranged
her from mine? Of some of these, indeed, I
had heard. More than once already had I exposed
him. His hints and equivokes had, as I thought,
recoiled only upon his own head; and yet the ties
grew and increased between them, even, as the walls
and barriers continued to rise and thicken between
herself and me. I degraded him, but disdained any
longer to strive for her. The busy neighbourhood


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soon informed me how idle would be such struggles.
They declared her betrothed to John Hurdis, and
did not stop at this. They went farther and proclaimed
her to have been bought by his money to
see in him those qualities and that superior worth,
which, but for this, she had been slow to discover.
Should I struggle against his good fortune? Should
I desire to win one whose market value was so readily
understood by all. I turned from the contest in
disdain; and wondering at her baseness as a matter
no less surprising than humiliating, I strove to fling
her from my thoughts as I would the tainted and
offensive weed, which had been, at one time, a pure
and chosen flower.

I had not been successful. I could not fling her
from my thoughts. Night and day she was before
me; at all hours, whatever were my pursuits, my
desires, my associates. Her image made the picture
in the scene; her intelligence, her mind, the grace of
her sentiments, the compass and the truth of her
thoughts were forced upon me for contemplation, by
the obtrusive memory, in disparagement of those to
which I listened. How perfect had she ever before
seemed to me in her thoughts and sentiments! How
strange that one so correct in her standards of opinion,
should not have strength enough to be the thing
which she approved! This is the most mortifying
conviction of humanity. We build the temple, but the
god does not inhabit it, though we solicit him with
incense, and bring our best offerings to his altars.


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I reached the dwelling of William Carrington ere
I felt that my journey was begun. The velocity of
my thoughts had made me unconscious of that of my
motion—nay, had prompted me to increase it beyond
my ordinary habit. When I alighted, my horse
was covered with foam.

“You have ridden hard,” said Carrington.

“No; I think not. I but came from 'Squire Easterby's.”

He said no more then, for the family was around;
but that night, when we retired, our conversation
was long, upon various subjects, and, in the course
of it, I told him all the particulars of my rencontre
with John Hurdis, and of my parting interview
with Mary Easterby. He listened with much attention
and then spoke abruptly.

“You do that girl wrong, Richard. You are
quite too harsh to her at times. I have heard and
seen you. Your jealousy prompts you to language
which is ungenerous to say the least; and which you
have no right to use. You never told her that you
loved her—never asked her to love you—what reason
can you have to complain, either that she is beloved
by, or that she loves another?”

“None!—I do not complain.”

“You do. Your actions, your looks, your language,
are all full of complaint. The show of dissatisfaction—of
discontent—is complaint, and that
too of the least manly description. It savours too
much of the sullenness of a whipt school boy or one


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denied his holiday, to be manly. Let us have no
more of it, Richard.”

“You speak plainly enough.”

“I do, and you should thank me for it. I were
no friend if I did not. Do not be angry, Richard,
that I do so. I have your good at heart, and I think
you have been fighting seriously against it. You
think too bitterly of your brother to do him justice.”

“Speak nothing of him, William.”

“I will not say much, for you know I like him
quite as little as yourself. Still I do not hate him
as you do, and cannot agree with you, therefore, as
to the propriety of your course towards him. You
cannot fight him as you would a stranger, and have
done with it.”

“I could—you mistake—I feel that I could fight
him with even less reluctance than I would a stranger.”

“I grant you that your hostility is bitter enough
for it, but you have too much sense of propriety left
to indulge it. You cannot, and should not, were I
by, even if you were yourself willing. Have done
with him then; and as you have already separated,
let your thoughts maintain as rigid a distance from
him as your person.”

“And leave him the field to himself?”

“Have you not already done so? Have you not
pronounced the field unworthy fighting for! Pshaw!
man, this is but wasting valour.”


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I listened gloomily, and in utter silence, as he
went on thus:

“But,” he continued, “I am not so sure either,
that the field is in his possession, or that it is so unworthy.
I tell you, you do Mary Easterby injustice.
I do not think that she loves your brother. I doubt
that she even likes him. I see no proof of it.”

“Aye, but there is proof enough. You see not
because your eyes are elsewhere. But say no
more, William; let us drop this hateful subject.”

“I am afraid your jealous spirit makes it hateful,
Richard. That girl, Mary, is a treasure too valuable
to be given up so lightly. By my soul, were I
not otherwise bound, I should struggle for her


“Yea! Even I—William Carrington. Nay, look
not so grim and gluttonous. You forget that you
renounce the spoil, and that I am sworn elsewhere.
I would that all others were as little in your path
as I am.”

“And I care not how many crowd the path when
I am out of it,” was my sullen answer.

“Ah, Richard, you were born to muddy the
spring you drink from. You will pay for this perversity
in your nature. Be more hopeful—more
confiding, man. Think better of your own nature,
and of the nature of those around you. It is the
best policy. To look for rascals, is to find rascals,


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and to believe in wrong, is not only to suffer, but
to do wrong. For my part, I would rather be deceived
than doubt; rather lose, than perpetually fear
loss; rather be robbed than suspect every one I
meet of roguery.”

“I answer you through my experience, William,
when I tell you that you will pay dearly for your
philanthropy. Your faith will be rewarded by

“Stay!” he cried; “no more. You would not
impute insincerity to Catharine Walker.”

“No; surely not.”

“Then let the world be false, and play double
with me as it pleases. She cannot—I know her,
Dick—I know her. She will perish for me as freely,
I am sure, as I would for her. And shall I doubt,
when she is true. Would to heaven, Richard, you
would believe but half so confidently in Mary.”

“And what use in that?”

“Why, then, my life on it, she will believe in
you. I somehow suspect that you are all wrong in
that girl. I doubt that these old women, who have
no business but their neighbours' to attend to, and for
whose benefit a charitable society should be formed
for knocking them all in the head, have been coining
and contriving as usual to the injury of the poor
girl, not to speak of your injury. What the devil
can she see in that two hundred pounder, John Hurdis,
to fall in love with.”


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“His money.”

“No, by G—d, Richard, I'll not believe it. The
girl is too humble in her wants, and too content in
her poverty, and too gentle in her disposition, and
too sincere in her nature, to be a thing of barter. If
she is engaged to John Hurdis, it is a d—d bad
taste to be sure, of which I should not have suspected
her; but it is not money.”

“There is no disputing tastes,” I rejoined bitterly;
“let us sleep now.”

“Ah, Richard, you have an ugly sore on your
wrist, which you too much love to chafe. You toil
for your own torture, man. You labour for your
own defeat. I would you could rid yourself of this
self-troubling nature. It will madden you, yet.”

“If it is my nature, William,” I responded gloomily;
“I must even make the most of the evil, and
do as well with it as I can.”

“Do nothing with it—have done with it. Believe
better of yourself and others. Think better of Mary
Easterby and your brother.”

“I cannot. You ask me to think better of them,
yet name them together. To have been successful
in your wish, you should have put them as far asunder
as the poles. But say no more to me now, William.
I am already fevered, and can hear nothing,
or heed nothing that I hear. I must sleep now.”

“Well, as you will. But, look out and tell me


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what sort of night we have. I would be sure of a
pleasant day to-morrow.”

He was already in his bed, and I looked out as he
desired. The stars were few and gave a faint light.
The winds were rising, and a murmur, almost a
moan, came from the black forests in the distance.
It seemed like the voice of a spirit, and it came to
me as if in warning. I turned to my companion, but
he was already asleep. I could not then sleep, desire
it as I might. I envied him—not his happiness,
but what I then misdeemed his insensibility. I
confounded the quiet mind, at peace with all the
world and in itself secure, with the callous and unfeeling
nature. Sleep is only the boon of the mind
conscious of its own rectitude, and having no jealous
doubts of that of its fellows. I had no such consciousness
and could not sleep. I resumed my seat beside
the window, and long that night did I watch the
scene—lovely beyond comparison—before, in utter
exhaustion, I laid my head upon the pillow. The
night in the forests of Alabama was never more
beautiful than then. There was no speck in the
heavens; not even the illuminated shadow of a cloud;
and the murmur of the wind swelling in gusts from
the close containing woods, was a music, rather than
a mere murmur. In the vexed condition of my
mood, the hurricane had been more soothing to my
rest, and more grateful to my senses.