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My steeple-chase after a wife was interrupted, by receiving notice of my promotion to a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in a regiment in the West Indies, and orders to join in a month, or six weeks at farthest. This obliged me to go immediately to London, and, happening to pass, on the day after my arrival, the fashionable school in Place, where my sister was a parlour boarder, I could not-hurried as I was, resist calling, from the feeling that we might soon be separated, probably for years.
I was ushered into the drawing-room, and received by one of the stately, and somewhat awful ladies, at the head of the establishment; whose portly figure, and showy style of dress, presented the utmost imaginable contrast, with those of a fair, sylph-like, young creature, in deep mourning, who sat drawing in the bowwindow of the apartment.
There was something about this elegant interesting creature, which rivetted my attention in spite of myself. I felt half sorry she should be so very young-(apparently not above seventeen)—and ashamed to be so caught by one so little beyond childhood. There is no fool like an old fool! thought I to myself. I have seen many prettier faces in my time, and why should I think twice about a school girl.
I did think about her though—and look at her too ; and as Miss T
apparently froni some scruple of propriety, in remaining tete-a-tete with a smart officer, evidently discouraged her efforts to escape, I had full leisure to gaze on the sweetest and most regular of profiles, Long dark lashes, fringing a cheek, pale, but not wan-lips, whose expression was that of one of Raphael's angels—and a lovely polished forehead, round which luxuriant auburn curls defied the confinement of a little cap—which, I concluded, she must wear from slight indisposition, and which, from contrast with her young cherub face, only made her more interesting. Her black dress, only enhanced the transparency of her skin, and the delicacy of her figure ; in short, the tout ensemble, dress, figure, and face, were, in my opinion, perfect. There are few women, as every one knows who has been abroad, who do not look angels from behind a convent grate-and, to an Englishman, a boardingschool is very apt to convey the same impression. I had never been within one before, so that my feeling on the subject was quite fresh ; and as I had never dreamt of losing my heart there, it was perhaps the more patural place for me to find out that I had one.
My sister, good girl! kept me waiting, as sisters will do—(for she was quite unaware of our probable approaching separation-so that conversation between Miss T- and I began to flag. I could not talk to her on the only subject I cared sixpence about-nor could she have answered me if I lad-s0, not being able to speak of the young lady in the window, we spoke to her.
Miss Tasked me if I was fond of drawings, and I had no more hesitation in answering
yes !” than if it had been true. Indeed, so it was, for I found myself suddenly innoculated with a passion for the Fine Arts, which prompted me to rise, and beg leave to admire more nearly what had enchanted me at a distance. Whether this was the drawing or the artist, I was of course not bound to declare.
The subject was a pair of beautiful twin children, evidently from nature or memory, for she had no model before her, “ Your brother and sister, I presume ?"
said I'; for you seem to have them completely in your mind's eye ?"
She sighed, as she answered, with a slight blush,“ I am not so fortunate as to have either."
“ Near relations, then I am sure ?” said I, trying to fancy a resemblance.
“ Not relations," answered Miss T, for her fair pupil; only connected,—the children of a very dear friend.” The pencil trembled in the young painter's hand. She became so evidently uneasy and desirous to escape, that Miss T-'s prudery gave way to her good nature ; and softly saying, “ My dear Mrs. Mon. tolieu, will you be kind enough to hasten Miss Donovan ? her brother's time is limited ;" she opened the door, and the beautiful vision vanished,
“ My dear Mrs. Montolieu !" repeated I, mentally, “ Did I hear aright ? Mrs!! to this girl of sixteenthis girl with whom I was already half in love ?"--So, according to an inconceivable fatality, I was again doomed to find a paragon in a married woman,-one probably left on account of extreme youth, and a husband's absence, to finish her imperfect education ! Miss Tread my ungovernable curiosity in my face, and was about to gratify it when my sister entered; and the worthy governess, concluding I should be better pleased with Sophy's elucidations than her own, sailed majestically out of the room.
Sophy! my dear girl !" cried I, after our first hearty greeting, “ who is that beautiful little creature, whom Miss T— has absolutely petrified me, by calling Mrs ? How came she to be a wife at her years, and left at school with her charms ? Her husband is either much to be blamed or pitied !"
“ He is to be lamented, poor fellow !” said Sophy, looking very grave.
“ He is dead! and Alexina, at eighteen, has been nearly two years a widow !” I could not for my life even pretend to be sorry, but I was shocked, and sobered. There was something so very romantic and unusual in the whole affair, that if romance and mystery be the food of love, (and a diet on which I think it thrives marvellously.) mine had wherewithal to make it grow like a mushroom. “ A widow !" I exclaimed, mechanically-thinking whether the two cherub children could by any possibility be her own. “ A widow! then why does she live here ?"
“ For a very simple reason, brother John-that she has no other place of abode. Poor Alexioa !-hers is a strange, yet soon told history. She was placed here in infancy, by an eminent foreign merchant, who daly paid, in the handsomest manner, for her education, till, about three years ago, on his sudden death, the disorder of his affairs put a stop to the supplies,-nor among his papers could a trace be found of the history or connexions of his protégée. That she was foreign, was evident, from her speaking only French when brought hither ; but that France is not her country, is equally so, from her infant recollections, imperfect as they necessarily were at three years old."
" But her marriage :" said I, impatiently. “ Her widowhood ?"
“ It is a dismal thing, dear John, to have not a friend in the world, -not even a brother to cling to, in a worse than orphan condition. I thought poor Alexina would have sunk under the sense of desolation, which, in spite of the kindness of Miss T-, preyed on her gentle heart and delicate feelings. She was apparently
hastening into a decline, when an amiable girl, her favourite companion, invited her, with affectionate earnestness, on leaving school, to accompany her for the winter into Devonshire. This was not a proposal to be declined by one so forlorn and friendless ; but had the poor drooping lily foreseen the suffering that wellmeant kindness was to entail on her, she would have shrunk from it with dismay. Her friend was all she could fondly wish ; and her parents, though cold, selfish, and unconciliating, were too fond of their indulged daughter, to blame, while they wondered at, ber Quixotic affection for a nameless orphan.
“ Health soon reanimated the poor girl's frame, and mantled on her blooming cheeks ; and her beauty, whose bud had been chilled and repressed by incipient illness, expanded into rare perfection. The very harsh old people at Sidbury felt its influence, and grew kinder to the creature, whom every one else loved and admired ; and Alexina fancied herself too happy! Her friend Lney, whose every feeling she shared with sisterly sympathy, was revelling in all the luxury of a permitted and reqnited attachment_and was ere long to be married to the object of her early affection, Captain Wil. loughby, a young but distinguished officer.
“ The wedding would bave wanted its dearest, as well as brightest ornament, had Alexina not remained to act the part of bride's-maid, It received an unexpected guest, in Lucy's only brother, an amiable and accomplished young man, whom parental jealousy and tyranny had sent to seek independence in India, but who, an early sufferer from its climate, had been reluctantly sent home, with a covstitution severely shattered but it was hoped, not irremediably injured. His parents, softened by the helpless weakness of their only son, hailed his return with joy and kindness; and cheered by this reception, and invigorated by his native breeze, he seemed daily, though slowly, to recover.
“ There was perhaps an unconscious balm in the smiles of Lucy's friend, which acted as a charm on his harassed spirits ; for he uniformly revived under her presence, and drooped when she was out of his sight. You, Jack, who seem even now to have been fascinated by the faded relics of her dazzling beauty, need hardly be told how soon, or how deeply Edmund Montolieu loved! You know the world too-selfish, callous, mercenary as it is--and can fancy the indignant reception the arowal of his attachment met with from bis ambitious parents. With the dignified frankness of one, whom, by driving him from them, they had taught to act for himself, he calmly announced to them, before making the proposal, bis unalterable determination to ask the hand of Alexina. Their unbridled and impolite resentment drove the poor girl to seek refuge at her friend Lucy’s--whose recent marriage afforded her a temporary home—and there, it was long ere the united eloquence of love and friendship could prevail on this high-spirited (and I am confident, high-born) young creature, to enter, not clandestinely indeed, but unsanctioned by parental authority, a family so undeserving of her.
- There were powerful motives to compliance. On the one hand, an amiable and disinterested lover, present competence at least, and future afluence; on the other, absolute destitution, or a home either the boon of charity, or purchased by the most cruel of sacrifices, that of quiet, leisure, and independence. How few at
sixteen would long have hesitated ? and yet Alexina did so-for, with all her gratitude and esteem for Edmund, she had no irresistible passion to blind her judg. ment-and it was only when, at the end of a long and alarming relapse of illness, even his unfeeling parents ungraciously consented to the match, that she yielded to such generous and perservering affection, and became, surrounded by his barely civil relations, without one connexion of her own to countenance the trembling interloper, the wife of the transported Edmund.
“ The lovely timid creature had scarce time to cling, with all the devotedness of now genuine and unrepressed attachment, to the only being (save her Lucy) in all the glittering circle, who would not have repulsed her in disdain, when the fragile reed on which her young hopes rested, withered from beneath her grasp ! Exhausted by conflicting emotions, and long an unsuspected prey to that disease of the heart, which suddenly arrests the springs of life, and freezes in a moment the fount of consciousness and joy, Edmund Montolieu was carried from the altar to the grave ! and that sumptuous wedding feast, which empty state and hollow congratulation had provided, was untasted-bat by the sorrowing poor, who viewed in awe-struck silence the ominous dole.
“ The poor young widow felt like one whose frame and faculties a thunder-bolt has nearly annihilated, and when the first few days of speechless woe were past, the unfeeling parents, like too many, smarting under the reproaches of conscience, instead of deploring the harsh severity which had first expatriated and then harassed their son, sought to transfer the cause of his early death to a passion, which, had it been less thwarted, might perhaps have prolonged his feeble existence.
“ Poor Alexina, with the generosity and recklessness of youth, had instructed Edmund not to irritate his parents by urging any settlements on one so utterly portionless, to which he at length consented, more from the impression of its being an unavailing effort, than from acquiescence in her disinterested prayers. She was, therefore, on his death, with the exception of a small sum left by him in India, wholly unprovided for -and it was a destitution in which she could almost at first rejoice ; since all other connexion between them seeming likely to expire with her poor husband, it would have been bitter indeed, to owe to his proud relations an extorted provision, to which they might think a couple of hours' union with their heir but an insuffi. cient title.
“Lucy's unvarying sympathy and affection was again her first resource ; but the regiment of Captain Willoughby being under orders for the West Indies, Alexina, feeling that her longer residence might estrange her friend from her bereaved parents, and prevent her pass. ing under their roof her last months in England, steadily insisted on returning to the protection of her maternal friend, Miss T-. From her she experienced such a reception as her strong claims on esteem and compassion ensured; and while the young widow imagined that her slender pittance might prevent her from being a burden to her governess, she forebore, out of respect, or the prejudices of her husband's family, as well as from the hopeless languor of sorrow, attempting to exercise her own talents in that line. But woes,' says the poet, • love a train!' and there came accounts from India of the wreck of her little all, in one of those extensive
failures so common in the East; and Alexina, now as pennyless as before her inaspicious marriage, insisted on testifying at once her gratitude and independence, by devoting to Miss T-—'s assistance the talents she owed to her care."
“ And the children ?" asked I, awaking on the cessation of Sophy's narrative, from the deep reverie into which its strange tenor had thrown me.
“ The children are Lucy’s---born just before her qnitting England, and resigned, with all the deep reluctance of a young and sorely divided heart, to the care of a sister of her husband's; the voyage, the climate, and their tender age, presenting insuperable obstacles to their going out to Barbadoes.”
“I an under orders for Barbadoes myself,” exclaimed I, my dear Sophy! I quite forgot to tell you, that it was this which brought me here to day. I have got a Lieutenant-Colonelcy in a regiment stationed there. probably captain Willoughby's.--and must join in the course of a month or six weeks---But," added I, scarce noticing poor Sophy's blank looks, and exclamations about yellow fever." I must really see something more of your fair friend! how shall I manage it? Could not I offer to carry out the picture of the children, and letters to their parents! A capital thought. But then this would hardly entitle me to call more than once, just at the last, to get my dispatches.--and at a school too---really Sophy, these Protestant nunneries of yours are almost as difficult of access as foreign ones."
“ But," said Sophy, after a moment's thought," the picture is very far from being finished ; and the little creatures cannot come here to sit, for they are only recovering from the hooping-cough. Suppose I should advise Mrs. Montolieu to go and stay a few days in Baker Street, where she is a great favourite, to finish her drawing confortably? You might go there in the character of Willoughby's new Colonel, without much suspicion."
Blessings on you for the thought, my dear Sophy!” exclaimed I; “ for invention, one school girl is worth a score of field officers. Do get this accomplished--and I will put you down in my book for the best husband in my own regiment, or any ten in the service! So saying, I gave her a hearty kiss, and ran off to the War-Office.
The move was dexterously and unsuspiciously effected. The widow's anxiety to send her Lucy a faithful portrait of her dear babes, nearly equalled mine to see more of the fair artist ; and, under cover of a proper introduction to the amiable sister of Captain Willoughby, and her good honest fellow of a husband, I spent more than one whole day, and various precious mornings in Baker Street. At first, I was to the whole family only Frank's new Colonel, a very stupid, good sort of man, who talked little and ateless, and seemed famous for nothing but fond. ness for children and drawings.
The lovely widow exerted herself to bespeak my friendship and goodwill for the absent objects of her affection-and I was half mortified, to observe with what unsuspecting bonhomie she laid herself out to entertain me, It was chiefly of course by speaking of Lucy and her husband--and it was with a warmth and sincerity of devotion, which made me transfer to brothers and sisters-inlaw my former envy and uncharitableness towards married men.
In about three weeks, during which I put to the full test the hospitality of my new friends, I began to perceive on my entrance, a slight suppressed smile
their good humoured faces, and an increase of. pensive gravity on that of their fair guest. The picture was quite finished—and I received unequi. vocal hints that it and the letters now only awaited my farewell visit. In a couple of days Alexina was to retire to her nunnery, and as she now studiously avoided our earlier tete a tetes, I had no resource but to write her a letter, explaining the state of my heart, and nrging the soldier's plea of necessity for my precipitation-and requesting to be permitted to receive my answer in person on the morrow. I cannot pretend to remember what was in the letter-I only know that the paper was not gilt, and the lines by no means particularly even.
On the following morning I sallied from my hotel, far earlier than decency warranted for paying a visit in Baker Street-80 I determined to divert the intolerable suspense hy transacting some business about Charing Cross. This occupied me so much longer than I expected, that I was flying in all the agonies of impatience along the Haymarket, when I ran against a young Lieutenant of my late regiment, a very fine lad, for whom I had always had a great fancy, and. who, being equally partial to me, had, I knew, been moving heaven and earth to raise the needful to purchase a step in the regiment I was now about to command.
Percival, my dear fellow !” said I,“ how goes it? I have not a moment to spare-urgent business, a thousand miles off, at the very west end of the
I saw his countenance fall, poor lad, and could not help observing he looked pale and vexed. “ Is anything the matter, Henry?” asked 1, still in a great hurry. “ Oh, not much, Colonel,
" said he. are in haste-only-only" and here he hesitated,
Speak out, Harry : do; there's a good fellow.” “ Only some little difficulty, then, about the money for my step. I fear I shall not be able to get out. with you,"
« Oh! is that all ? Come to me tomorrow about it, and I will see what can be done."
“ But, " said the young man, modestly, “ the money, should have been lodged some days ago ; and Greenwood says he can wait no longer.
I looked at the lad, and saw his whole soul was. in the affair. I remembered a story about a pretty West Indian girl he had Airted with at Canterbury, and thinking my own suit would not prosper the. less for lending him a lift. I performed one of the few. actions I call heroic, and turning back with the best grace I could muster, put my arm in his, and went into Drummond's
While I was waiting to speak to one of the partners about an immediate advance of the needful to poor. Harry, I saw a clerk twisting in every possible light, and trying to decipher one of those nondescript foreign letters, which are to well-grown, well. folded English ones, what mishapen dwarfs are to
This one was as broad as it was long, and had its hump.back all covered with characters, which, might have been Runic inscription, for any resemblance they bore to a Christian A, B, C.
" I see you
seeing a curious idler lounging near him in a mili- ever, that this will not greatly advance matters, as Mr. tary surtout, handed it up to me, saying, Perhaps, Livingstone, you are aware, died some years ago, aud sir, you might be able, from your knowledge of foreign his establishment is entirely broken up. hands, to throw some liglit on this direction.” There “ That is very unlucky” said the banker to the was an outer envelope, on which might be plainly clerk; while the old man, only gathering from the enough read, in a cramped chevaux de frise-like French blank looks of both a result unfavourable to his hopes, hand, this somewhat primitive address.
cast up his eyes to Heaven, with an affecting mixà Monsieur Monsieur Drummond,
ture of sorrow and resignation. My poor master!” Banquier très renommé, à Londres.
ejaculated he, in French, and turned away to hide a So far all was well; and the renowned banker being tear. about as well known in London as Dr. Boerhaave in “ But, sir,” said the clerk, “ we have made out the world, both letters had found their appointed desti- the young lady's christian name, and this gentleman nation. But within the envelope was a sealed billet, seems to think" scribbled all over, as aforesaid, with characters which, “ And is the surname all that puzzles you ?" asked from their dissimilarity to any European scrawl I had Mr. D.
“ Surely that can be at once supplied by this ever seen, I immediately set down for Tartar hierogly- good old man. phics from Russia, which mighty empire having per- The question was put in French, and promptly an. tinaciously retained a style of its own, chooses to have swered—“Fedoroff-only daughter of my master, Count. an alphabet also.
Fedoroff, and an English lady his late wife.” The words expressed by these hyperborean symbols, What a revolution did these few words make in my I began to perceive were French ; and gathering eru. relative situation with Alexina! I felt as if all was dition I proceded, like many a sage decipherer I dis. for ever at an end between us--but, I hope, not the tinctly traced, “ à son Excellence Mademoiselle ;"- but less disposed to forward the inquiries of a sorrowing beyond this rather anomalous union of titles, all was parent, and restore her to his arms. I briefly, and, involved in the hopeless darkness that attends guessers I am sure, very incoherently, stated what I knew of at proper names. I had lately, however, seen some her history and residence ; and while the transported Russian coins, bought by a brother officer of a French old steward flew on the wings of duty and affection soldier returned from Moscow, and the characters com- to cheer his master's heart with the tidings, I set of, posing the word " Alexander ” happened to be fresh summoning all the courage and disinterestedness I in my memory With this clew, I put together pot-hook could muster, to prepare the mind of his daughter for after pot-hook, and found, with no small emotion, the so overwhelming a discovery-to build up-i feared, result to be- Alexina! The name might be, nay, was, on the ruins of my own baseless fabric of happinessa common one in Russia, especially of late years,—yet the superstructure of hers. I could not spell and put it together without feeling a This daughter, the long-lost and wept-for heiress a revulsion in my whole frame, and as if it could belong of Count Fedoroff, to marry a moderately endowed but to one being in the world. How did I labour to English soldier ! to go to the West Indies, or elsewhere, apply my scanty stock of Russian lore to this unspeak- and, as the old song has it, “ lie in a barrack !” lmably important suruame which succeded ! but in vain! possible !-Once I was selfish enough to wish the That it began with F was all I could, satisfactorily knot had been already tied—but I was soon myself ascertain ; but the clerk and I between us, were enabled, again, and could rejoice that no answer had yet in by his naming over various eminent Russia merchants, any degree committed her, to unite her fate with to hazard a shrewd guese at the one to whose care the mine—and, on the word of an honest man, by the inner letter had been so mystically addressed.
time I knocked at the door in Baker Street, I felt This gentleman, the clerk, told me,.was no more, and only the delight of conferring happiness, where I had died deeply involved. in. circumstances exactly had so fondly anticipated receiving it. coinciding with Sophy's account of Alexina's guardian. My air, of conscious exultation whenfirst ushered into The case now became terribly critical, and I was just the room, where sat Alexioa with her friend, Mrs. about to suggest what I knew on the subject, when a F-, must, I am sure, have appeared to the last partner came in, accompanied by a feeble tottering old degree. coxcombical and absurd. It soon gave place man, with the air of one of those respectable, almost to more selfish and bitter feelings, on beholding again, dignified-looking valets, or Maitre d'Hotel's belonging (and, with no symptoms of severity on her lovely to the old regime ;, his hair queued and powdered, and countenance,) the creature I was about tacitly to rehis dress scrupulously adhering to a fashion unknown linquish for life. Mrs F. rose to leave the room : and, in England for the last half century.
though fearful the emotion 1. should excite might Mr. B-," said the banker, addressing himself to render. her presence desirable, I could not, for the the clerk, “ has anything been made out about that life of me, interfere to detain her. letter which.came some weeks ago from abroad? This “ I fear, Mrs. Montolieu," said 1, in great agitaperson is just arrived in England, and looks to us for tion, “ I am much later than you might justly have a clew to discover a young lady, to whom, he says, his had reason to expect, but the business which detained previous letter was addressed."
me was of a nature" “ Sir,” said the clerk, in some confusion, “ the letter “ Oh! no apology is necessary, Colonel Donovan," was unfortunately laid aside till this morning, when, said she, with the unaffected modesty and gentleness with the assistance of this gentleman, I have just suc. which characterized her whole deportment. “I must ceeded in ascertaining the name of the house to whose have little confidence indeed in the flattering sentiment care the billet is addressed. It is to be feared, how. expressed in your letter of yesterday, to suppose you.
would voluntarily defer ascertaining mine. I can only assure you"
“ Assure me of nothing, my dear madam,” inter. rupted I, “ if you would have me keep my senses, and go through my duty as a man of honour should do forget that anything has passed hetween us—that I ever had the presumption to aspire to your hand."
I really believe this humble, long-depressed child of misfortune, thought me suddenly deranged, so like bitter mockery did my expressions appear.
“ I am not mad, indeed," said I, reading her thought, “ though I have had much to make me so this morning; but only the bewildered herald of a very astonish. ing, and, let me add, deligtful discovery, relative to yourself"
“ To me !" she repeated with an accent of unbounded surprise"I thought, till yesterday, nothing could occur to break the tenor of my monotonous existence"Here a soft blush tinged her pale cheek-and it went to my very heart to see, that the sweet soul was mortified by my want of curiosity to know how she had felt yesterday, and was feeling to day.
“ Alexina !' said 1, for the first time in my life feeling the brotherly right so to call her if I could avail myself of your unsuspecting innocence, I should be a villain. Yesterday you thought yourself, and I thought you, alone in the world ; and on that supposition, what we might both have done is now as if it had never been. You are no longer-thanks be to a merciful Providence !-a friendless orphan. You have a father, the sole comfort of whose declining age is the vague, and till this day, almost relinquished hope of folding you once more in his arms."
She grew very pale—trembled riolently, but, to my infinite relief, did not faint quite away.
There was water on the table beside her drawings- sprinkled some of it on her face, and she soon revived; for the swoon of joy carries its own cordial with it.
When the pious effusions of a full heart to the Father of the fatherless, had given place to less sacred emotions, her first words were, “ You will assist me in making up to this dear father, for our long, long separation, will you not ?-But, perhaps," added she, more gravely—the pride of women taking alarm at my continued silence “ perhaps there is something in my father's character or circumstauces, which many have produced a change in your intentions-If 80and her blush was no longer of conscious timidity.
“ There is, indeed, everything in your father's situation to make me retract my rash proposal of yesterday! When it was made, I left a lover's exquisite sympathy for beauty in misforune; and a Briton's pride in placing coinpetence at least within her reach. You are the daughter and heiress of a proud Russian noble; and Jack Donovan has only to say, “ God bless you both together !” and try to forget his short dream of happiness admid a life of duty and vicissitude."
“), too, have duties, Colonel Donovan," answered she, her calm serenity not in the least impaired by the brilliant prospect I had set before her ; that, to my father, I trust I shall never forget; and oh! what delightful arrears of lore I shall have to bestow on (I fear from your sad silence) my sole remaining parent! But circumstances, melancholy enough, God knows! have given me early independence; and I
should deserve to be spurned by my new-found parent, could his rank or fortune for one moment make me forget your conduct when I had neither. Read that note, which, in distrust of my nerves for a personal in. terview, I wrote last night, to be delivered to you this morning. The sentiments it contains might have ga. thered added strength and energy from what I have now heared of our relative position ; but I wish you to see them as they emanated from the unconscious fulness of a grateful heart. Take them as my unalterable answer. Were my father capable of sacrificing his child's honour and happiness to pride or ainbition, I might tearfully request you to lend her to him for the remnant of a closing existence ; but it would be to return, strengthened by filial duty, to other, and perhaps dearer ties. Donovan! I am yours irrevocably,--bear me witness, my vows are sealed before their confirmation can possibly expose me to the charge of disobedience !"
I had only time for incoherent expressions of admiration for this noble girl, and resolution to abide by her father's determination, when, as I had arranged with Nicolai the old steward, a carriage drove up to the door, out of which I saw him step first, and proffer his assistance to a fine noble-looking wreck of a man, who, enfeebled by infirmity and emotion, could scarcely ascend the staircase. I went to detain him a moment below, while I in two words explained the matter to Mrs. F-, and to my sister Sophy, who, burning to know the result of my proposals, had invited herself to spend the day in Baker Street.
Their sndden acquaintance with these delightfal tidings gave to both of them an appearance of such equal agitation with their fair friend's, that nothing short of parental instinct could have enabled bim to distinguish her. When the fine old man entered, his white hair flowing on either side of his woe-worn countenance, all involuntarily rose. He seemed bewildered by the presence of so many females, and in danger of sinking under the scene. Sophy, who happened to be nearest the door, having made a hasty movement to save him from falling, he gazed for a moment steadfastly in her face, then shook his head, and pushing her not ungently aside, made another step or two forward. It was to receive in his arms and heart, his own Alexina, whom, in the first transports of recognition, he called by tbe name of her long-lost English mother. We left the parent and child to their own unutterable emotions, and indemnified our. selves by sharing the transports of old Nicolai, who, after kissing with passionate devotion the hand of his master's daughter, withdrew, and gave us the details of their long separation and its cause.
They were much too long and complicated to be repeated here. Suffice it to say, that the capricious tyranny of Paul, and his wayward antipathy to everything even remotely connected with England, involved Count Fedoroff in sudden and apparently hopeless disgrace,-and a banishment to Siberia ; amid the first shock of which, the unfortunate mother, before accompanying her busband, embraced with avidity the opportunity afforded by the hurried fight of her countrymen from Peterg. burgh, to send her only child, a puny, tender infant, wholly unfit for the horror of a Siberian journey, to seek an asylum in England. An ample supply of money and jewels, sufficient to defray her education for years, accompanied the infant; but as the whole transaction (the affair of a few brief feverish moments of maternal