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Saturday, and on Monday they de- gaiety of manner, “ Milly ! do you part—and then, dearest, dearest, Mil- know I must have one long braid of licent! we shall be once more all the that smooth raven hair (which is so world to each other.” Tears came becomingly arranged, now you have into Vernon's eyes as he uttered the humored me by leaving off that dowdy last words; and after a short pause, cap), by way of talisman, to bind me during which he had been gazing upon to you during four-five days—it may Millicent with troubled yet tender ear- be a whole week of separation." nestness, he vehemently added,- Millicent started, and the hectic of a “ Would to God they were already moment suffused her pale face ; but gone! would to God I had never seen she only looked her surprise, and Verthem, Milly !" And his painful agi- non went on to explain, rather contation distressed the affectionate heart fusedly, while he was profitably busied of Millicent, who endeavored to soothe in unrolling her ball of sewing thread, him with every tender and comforting that Dr. Hartop had given himn such assurance, best calculated to recon- a pressing invitation to accompany cile him to himself, and allay what she him and Lady Octavia to Exeter, and conceived to be the sudden storm of be their guest during the Musical compunctious retrospection. That Festival, which was to take place the evening, whether in the fond weakness week ensuing, that he felt it would of her heart, yearning to give com- have been not only ungracious, but fort, or that she really began to enter- ungrateful, to decline the courteous tain hopes of prolonged life, (still proposal ; " and so, dearest Millidear-how dear to her if to be passed cent,” he continued, looking up from with Vernon !) for the first time since the handiwork on which his eyes had her danger had been made known to been fixed with intense interest during bim, she spoke of the future-of an the first part of his communication, earthly future- looked at him almost “I have promised to go,-that is, believingly when he talked of their with a mental reservation that you union, and did not shake her head, continue well enough for me to leare nor smile as she had smiled of late, you without anxiety for those few when he talked of it as an event that days, and that you will not feel unwas now assuredly to take place be- comfortable at my doing so." While fore the close of that autumn already Vernon was speaking, Millicent had entered upon. Once or twice, indeed, time to recover from the painful emoshe seemed to shrink, as if from hope; tion into which she had been surprisbut it was evident, at least it seemed ed by his unexpected information, evident to Vernon, that she did not and inwardly rebuking herself for its turn from it as formerly ; and as with unreasonable selfishness, she said him there was no medium between promptly and cheerfully, “ You did despair and joyful certainty, he hailed quite right, dear Horace. I am so her doubtful encouragement as a well that I can spare you safely, and pledge of perfect security, which shall enjoy with you, in imagination, would justify him for having acceded the inusical treat that will be to you to a plan which he had hitherto hesi- such a real banquet. On Monday, tated from communicating to Milli- you said--the day after to-morrowcent, though he had entered the Cot- and to stay till - ?”_" Only till tage that morning with the express the Saturday ensuing-I intend-I purpose. Now, however, there was believe," replied Horace to her look no reasonable cause to deter him of anxious inquiry. “ At farthest, from speaking—all was so safe-Mil. the Monday after ; and in that case, licent so well, and in such good spi- Falkland, who stays for some weeks rits ; so without further deliberation, at Sea Vale, would take my duty."he said, smilingly, but with some- « But you will not stay away longerwhat of a hurried tone and a forced not much longer ?” hesitatingly, yet almost imploringly, rejoined Millicent, without thinking of me.”_". Without in a lower and less cheerful tone, a thinking of you, Milly ? Shall I not sudden shade slightly clouding the se- have yourself, your own dear living renity of her mild countenance. "I self, as well as that precious picture am very nervous still, and may not we shall so often look upon together?” long continue so well as I am now ; - But, dearest Horace, if it should and then, if any change should take be otherwise, if that picture only place-Nay, do not look so disturbed, should become yours, place it somedear Horace-I am so well now !- where where you may see it often but do not stay away too long."-"I when you are alone and in your quiet will not go—I will not go, Milly ! if hours of serious thought. But do not it gives you one moment's pain, dear look so very serious now, I spoke but girl !-But how is this, Milly ?-a of an “if,' a passing thought. Tominute agone, and you spoke so cheer- morrow I shall send you away cheerfully and hopefully ; and now—that fully.”_" If you do not, Milly, here I quivering lip!-those glistening eyes! remain, be sure. A word would keep
-Millicent! my beloved ! what means me-only half a word. Speak it, besuch sudden change ?” -Forgive loved ! I almost wish you would.” me, dear Horace ! I am ashamed of But she spoke not, and bidding her my waywardness-of my caprice,” she an affectionate farewell for the night, faltered out, concealing her face, now he was turning to depart, but lingered bathed in tears, against Vernon's yet a moment to point out to her a shoulder—" But it is the infirmity of small white rosebud, which promised my enervating malady-the effect of yet to blossom in its sheltered corner. weakness-of unstrung nerves ; and “Look, Milly,” he said, “ The last sometimes an unbidden thought sud- rose of summer.' Your favorite rose denly crosses and subdues me, and I will yield you yet one blossom. Becannot restrain these foolish tears. fore it is full-blown, I will be here to But they always do me good, Horace; pluck and place it in your bosom.” and after the shower comes sunshine, Words lightly spoken sometimes sink you know," and she looked up at deeply into loving hearts, especially him as she spoke the last word, with under circumstances such as Millistill dewy eyes and a faintly brighten- cent's, where physical causes acted ing smile, that beautifully illustrated morbidly upon a mental system, by her simple metaphor. But the humid nature sensitive, and perhaps not ray scarcely broke out into cloudless wholly free from a taint of superstisunshine, though she recovered perfect tious weakness. From that hour the serenity, and would not listen for a rose became her calendar, and she moment to Vernon's reiterated, but watched its unfolding leaves, as if their rather fainter proposition, of wholly perfect expansion was to be the crisis relinquishing his intended excursion of her fate.
“ Remember," said he, as they By what means, or under what prestood together in the Cottage porch, tences, Lady Octavia had succeeded in just before he left her that evening- obtaining for Vernon an invitation to “ Remember, Milly, I am to take accompany Dr. Hartop and herself to away with me one of those ebon locks. Exeter, matters little to the reader of If it is not ready for me to-morrow, I this story. The success of her ladyshall cut it off myself. I wish I had ship's maneuvres has been sufficientyour picture, Milly !"-" I wish you ly illustrated by the preceding converhad, dear Horace," she quickly an- sation. The day that intervened beswered ; " I have often wished it fore that of his departure being Sunlately-I should like you to have it; day, Vernon was detained from the but there is my father's, that will be Cottage during a great portion of it yours, Horace ; and it is so like me, by bis clerical duties.' Then his asyou know, you will never look upon it sistance was required at the Rectory in packing up certain portfolios, al- prolong his absence from her so long bums, and various nicknackeries, not beyond the term he had pledged himto be safely entrusted even to the in- self to at parting? Alas! it is but too valuable Jenkins, so that, although he easy to picture to one's self the feelcontrived to look in two or three times ings of the lonely invalid—the first upon Millicent, each visit was but for sharp pang of disappointment—the a few hurried minutes, the last brief- sickness of hope deferred-the sinkest of all. And well for her that it ing of the spirit into utter hopelesswas so, for though she had successful- ness. And it would be tedious and ly struggled through the day to main- distasteful to enumerate all the frivotain a semblance of cheerful compo- lous excuses alleged by Vernon for sure, and bad indeed partly reasoned his continuance at Exeter, excuses herself out of what she meekly ac- which, for a time, however, were more counted unreasonable disquietude ; as indulgently admitted by the generous, evening drew on, the mental ex- unsuspicious Millicent, than satisfaccitement subsided, her spirits seemed tory to his own heart and slumbering, to ebb away with the departing day- though not seared, conscience. Yet light, and she felt as if they would he had partly succeeded in stilling, hardly hold out “to speed the parting though not stunning, the inward acfriend” with that cheerful farewell cuser. “ Millicent's first letter had with which she had promised to dis- been cheerfully and cheeringly writmiss him. Vernon also had his rea- ten. She was undoubtedly well-80 sons for brief leave-taking; but his well, that a few days, more or less" adieus, though fondly affectionate, But it was easier to drive away rewere more than cheerful, hurried over flection altogether than, by resorting with a voluble gaiety, and an exuber- to it, to acquire perfect self-justificaance of spirits that seemed hardly na- tion—so he fled from himself and his tural. « Till Saturday, dearest !” own thoughts to the siren, in whose were his parting words, and before charmed presence all but his own Millicent's long-restrained feelings captivations were forgotten. Lady had broken out into one choking sob, Octavia's attractions had not, however, before the brimming tears had forced achieved, unaided, the triumph over their way over her aching eyelids, he Vernon's best resolves-it might well was out of sight and out of hearing, be said over his best principles; and though the garden-gate still vibrated still their power had extended over with the swing which had closed it his imagination only, leaving his heart behind him. And the lock of raven true to its first affection, if true that hair, which was to be his “talisman,” preference may be called, which, when which Millicent had not neglected to put to the test, will sacrifice no selfish make ready as he had enjoined her, gratification, no unworthy vanity, to though with womanly coyness (wo- the peace and welfare of its ostensible manly feeling rather) she had hesitat- object. Everything combined with ed to give unclaimed-He was gone, her ladyship’s witchery to complete and had forgotten to claim it.
Vernon's mental intoxication. A whirl The middle of the third week from of dissipation, consequent on the prothe day of Vernon's farewell to Milli- vincial gathering for the Musical Fescent, found him still at Exeter. Shall tival, of which Lady Octavia condewe tell how the time crept at Sea scended to be the presiding deity, no Vale in his absence ? or how it had other high-born or fashionable beauty flown with him in that world of no- being at hand to dispute her preemivelty to which he found himself trans- nence. The marked favor with which ported? Or shall we count over, link he was publicly distinguished by this by link, “ the chain of untoward cir- goddess, the admired of all eyes—the cumstances" (so he wrote of them to envy of many, and the general notice Millicent) which had caused him to and consideration it obtained for him, and the still more dangerous influence ciently prolonged, and that if the deof her seductive sweetness and varied liriuro she had worked up to a crisis powers of charming, in those frequent were not timely checked, she might tête-à-têtes which she had anticipated find herself publicly committed, in a with so much sagacious prescience “in way that would not only militate antique bay windows and shadowy against her own serious views, but cloisters"-the perpetual excitement probably come to the knowledge of of music, of dancing, of novelty, where Dr. Hartop, and incur bis severe disall was new to him,-everything con- pleasure. Lady Octavia was far too spired, together with Lady Octavia's well-bred to give the cut direct to arts and the weak points of Vernon's any body, and too “good-hearted” to character, to complete that intoxica- inflict more than unavoidable mortifition which was at its height about the cation on a person, for whom, as she time (the third week of his stay at expressed herself to the confidential Exeter), when, in pursuance of our Jenkins, she should always retain a task as a faithful chronicler, we must compassionate interest. But while resume a more circumstantial detail, she was meditating how to “ whistle though still as brief as may be, of his him softly down the wind,” Fate stept further progress.
in to her assistance in the shape of an In the miscellaneous assemblage old acquaintance, who very unexpectdrawn together by the music meeting, edly made his appearance at Exeter Lady Octavia's discriminating survey with a party of friends, with whom he had found in the male part of it no was on a shooting excursion. Lord individual so qualified to do credit to George Amersham was one of those her taste and patronage as the hand- persons, who, without being very some, and interesting, and really ele- young, very handsome, very clever, gant Vernon ; and so interesting did at all wealthy, or in any way “a he become, in the daily increasing in- marrying man,” had, by some necrotimacy of familiar intercourse; so ra- mancy, so established his supremacy pidly developed under her ladyship's in all matters of taste and ton, that fostering encouragement, were his la- his notice was distinction, and his fatent capabilities for “ better things," vor fame. No wonder that suffrage as she was pleased to express herself; so important was briguée hy all feand to such advantage did he appear male aspirants for fashionable ascendamong all surrounding competitors, ency; and Lady Octavia had been so that had the fair Octavia been of those fortunate as to obtain it on her first with whoin
coming out. The appearance of such « Un peu d'amour, un peu de soin, a star in the provincial hemisphere,
Mene souvent le cœur bien loin," to which she was condemned pro tem. there is no saying how far beyond its pore, would at all times have been original design « le roman d'un jour” hailed by the lovely exile as an espemight have extended. But her lady- cial mercy, but “under existing cirship's heart, not composed in the first cumstances,” (to use the diplomatic instance of very sensitive atoms, had phrase,) she esteemed it quite provibeen laid to harden so effectually in dential, as nothing now could be so the petrifying spring of fashionable easy and so natural as the transfer of education, as to have become proof to her attention from Vernon to her old “ Cupid's best arrow, with the golden acquaintance. head,” if not shot from the vantage The former was soon made sensible ground of a broad parchment field, of the change, though at first more cabalistically endorsed with the word surprised and perplexed at it, than “ settlement ;" and having achieved aware of the systematic alteration of her avowed triumph, by “ fooling Ver- Lady Octavia's deportment. But his non to the top of his bent," she began obtuse perceptions were soon to be to suspect the pastime had been suffi- sufficiently enlightened. A subscription ball, which was to take place on George's friends. When her partner, the second night of Lord George's after the set was over, had conducted stay at Exeter, was also to be honor- her to a seat, Vernon drew near, with ed by the presence and patronage of the hope (expectation it would have Lady Octavia Falkland and ber party, been a few nights previous) of enincluding the noble sportsman and gaging her for the next quadrille. But his friends-Vernon as a matter of she was still engrossed by her partcourse-Doctor Hartop as a matter of ner, and the others of Lord George's necessity—and as one of convenience, party,--himself having comfortably a deaf and purblind old lady, the re- established himself on the best balf lict of a deceased canon, who made of the sofa, of which she occupied a herself useful in a twofold capacity corner, entrenched behind two of the -ostensibly as Lady Octavia's cha- gentlemen, who were conversing with peron, and veritably as an unwearied her; so that Vernon could only proffer sitter-out of (she could not be called his request, by speaking it across Lord a listener to) Dr. Hartop's long stories, George, so audibly, as to make him and an established member of his se- color at the sound of his own voice, lect whist set. This party had dined with a painful consciousness of awk. at the Rectory, and Lord George's ward embarrassinent, which was not rank having of course entitled him to dininished by perceiving that his conduct Lady Octavia to the eating words were wasted « on the desert room, and take his seat beside her, air,” at least that they had only drawn it was equally a matter of course, on him a grave stare from Lord (the other guests being also men of George, and the eyes of many surpretensions, if not of rank,) that the rounding loungers, though the Lady bottom of the table and the deaf old Octavia's were perversely fixed in an lady, who had been duly marshalled opposite direction, and she appeared out by the Doctor, should fall to the perfectly unconscious, not only of his lot of Vernon, whose proximity to the address, but of his vicinity. Just then door, however, secured him the office a space was cleared for waltzing—the of holding it open for the ladies when magic sounds set twenty pairs of tethey should pass to the drawing-room. totums in rotatory motion, and Lord But just at that moment, Lady Oc- George, who “never danced,” lantaria, actuated perhaps by some com- guidly, and with apparent effort, rouspunctious consciousness that her at- ed himself from his recumbent postentions had been too entirely en- ture, and, to the no small amazement grossed during dinner by her neigh- of Vernon's unsophisticated mind, bors at the upper end of the table, without addressing a word to Lady was seized by a fit of such extraor- Octavia, or farther ascertaining her dinary cordiality towards the canon's consent, than by passing one arm round deaf relict, that she passed her fair her slender waist as she arose from arm with affectionate familiarity with- the sofa, whirled her off, seemingly in that of the worthy old lady, and “nothing loath,” into the giddy circle. began whispering something in the Vernon was suddenly sensible of a lappets of her cap, which lasted till vehement longing to breathe the fresh they reached the stairfoot, and the air, and contemplate the beautiful dining-room door had closed behind moonshine. We cannot exactly prothem. Lord George and two of the nounce how long he indulged in soliother gentlemen accompanied Dr.Har- tary meditation ; but when he reëntop and the ladies to the ball-room tered the ball-room, the waltz was in the Doctor and Mrs. Buzby's car- over-an after set of quadrilles just riages. The third walked thither finished, and the dancers were crowdwith Vernon, and when they entered ing about the refreshment tables, the Assembly-room, Lady Octavia was Vernon mechanically mingled with already dancing with one of Lord the throng, and in a few minutes