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to my views! You know, said she," as she paused and surveyed the beautiful landscape before her, (the trees now clad in their spring dress of brightest and freshest green, while herds of deer gracefully grouped themselves here and there, beneath the deepest shade), “ you know I have only one, and but one draw. back to make my happiness complete, and that is, dear Lord Grey, though very well disposed, has not yet received the truth in its power;" and a tear glistened in Lady Grey's eye as she spoke.
" In this, my dear friend,” returned Mrs. Vernon, “ we are similarly tried; but we must remember, •for our comfort and consolation, that this can be no work of ours, we can only pray. Regeneration is the gift of God; and though we know the Lord accomplishes His saving purposes in different ways, there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all, as St. Paul has it in 2 Cor. xii. 6. The unconverted must feel their want before they will either seek or accept relief at the hand of grace, you know.”
“ Yes, "I know, I feel this ; and I do trust my prayers for my dear husband will be heard ; and that, in the Church which His right hand hath planted, and in which He has never failed to produce lively tokens of His sovereign grace, he may yet be found a glorious trophy of redeeming love."
Further conversation was interrupted by Lord Grey here joining them. He had been detained by his head gardener, who was desirous of having his
directions about cutting down some trees; but now, taking his wife's arm in his, he walked with her and Mrs. Vernon towards the house, where the carriage already awaited the latter.
“I must ask for my little truant,” said Mrs. Vernon.
“ I am sure Edith would very willingly rob you of her," laughingly returned Lady Grey, as she despatched a servant in quest of both the children.
They soon made their appearance; but it was necessary to pacify Edith's distress at losing so charming a little companion, by repeating again to her that their separation would be of short dura- tion; Mildred would certainly come back.
“ You will not fail to let me hear from you, my dear friend,” said Mrs. Vernon to Lady Grey, as Lord Grey handed her into the carriage; “ I shall be so anxious to hear all about you."
“ Certainly, certainly,” returned her friend, as she stood with her little girl at the door, nodding an affectionate farewell.”
“You are too tired to-day, dear," said hisLordship, as he led his wife back into the house, after the departure of Mrs. Vernon; “but to-morrow I must get you to walk with me, and give me your opinion on the improvements I am making near the Lower Lodge; I can do nothing without you.” And he seated himself beside her, as he spoke.
“ Well, I am very tired to-day; but to-morrow I shall be charmed, dear Reginald-I quite long to
see what you are about there. Little Edith was telling me wonders, the other day, about it all. But tell me, is not Isabella Vernon a nice creature ?”
“She appears, indeed, all you have described her,” returned Lord Grey, “perfectly unaffected, and natural. I shall be very glad to see her here later, as she proposes. But Mr. Vernon-what sort of man is he? As pleasant as his wife?”
“ To be very candid, you must know," returned Lady Grey, “ he never made a very pleasing impression on me; but then, I know but very little of him. His selfishness, if nothing else, in keeping my dear little friend in so bleak and uncongenial a part, as where they have so long been living in the North, merely because he is a sportsman; and she so amiable and devoted to him, that she has made herself contented hitherto with blindly following his will. It never spoke very much with me in his favour. But then, dear (and she put her hand playfully in his, smiling as she spoke), few are so spoiled by their husbands as I am by you, and you must not let me prejudice you against Mr. Vernon.”
Poor Lady Grey! How little did she know, perhaps she had never acknowledged the truth to herself, that this very defect, selfishness, she was so condemning in Mr. Vernon, was almost as glaring a feature in Lord Grey's own character. The following day, unhappily, too fully evinced this fact !
" She rests in hope, waiting till He
Who died and lives for aye, shall come
And call her to her home.”
“Come, Edith, let us have a stroll! I think we shall have no more rain ; it has poured enough all night.”
Wholly unmindful of this exceeding imprudence in her very delicate situation, Lady Grey readily acceded to the proposition for her husband's wishes were ever hers--and hastened to prepare herself, and ringing for her faithful and affectionate attendant, who had lived with her for years, desired her to give her her bonnet and shawl, as she was going out with Lord Grey.
“Your ladyship, perhaps, is not aware that it has rained incessantly all night; the park will be very damp, I fear," ventured the faithful Norris, whilst obeying her mistress's orders with evident reluctance.
“Oh, nothing to hurt, Norris," replied Lady Grey, “I am not afraid of a little damp; the air, on the contrary, will do me good, and Lord Grey has set his mind so much on my going as far as the Lower Lodge, I could not refuse him. You
must not be so nervous about me; walking, Norris, is essential to me, you know.”
“Yes, my Lady; but not, I think, in such very damp weather.”
Lady Grey, notwithstanding, descended to the terrace, where she found Lord Grey impatiently awaiting her. They had not, however, gone very far before a drizzling, misty rain overtook them; but having now nearly reached the spot where the improvements were already far advanced, which his lordship so much wished to show Lady Grey, he observed, it would be too vexatious to turn back ; and, with the protection of her good cloak and his umbrella, he encouraged her so much to proceed, it was impossible for his amiable wife to make any resistance. And now the sky cleared, and appeared to promise a cessation ; at all events, while she viewed the surprise prepared for her in the form of a lovely grotto, which concealed its double purpose of an ice-house, though, as yet, in a very unfinished state. Lady Grey was highly delighted with the plan of it, and she would have remained much longer, damp as was the ground, but for the rain, which now again began to descend. Everything seemed to portend a heavy storm.
“ We had better, I think, dear, return by the shrubberies," suggested Lord Grey. “You will find it more sheltered."
“But much farther, dearest Reginald, I fear," ventured Lady Grey, timidly.