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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHome As Found - Chapter 23
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Home As Found - Chapter 23 Post by :DerekGehl Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :728

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Home As Found - Chapter 23

Chapter XXIII

"How silver sweet sound lovers' tongues at night, Like softest music to attending ears!"

ROMEO AND JULIET

"A poor matter, this of the fire-works," said Mr. Howel, who, with an old bachelor's want of tact, had joined Eve and Paul in their walk. "The English would laugh at them famously, I dare say. Have you heard Sir George allude to them at all, Miss Eve?"

"It would be great affectation for an Englishman to deride the fire- works of any _dry climate," said Eve laughing; "and I dare say, if Sir George Templemore has been silent on the subject, it is because he is conscious he knows little about it."

"Well, that is odd! I should think England the very first country in the world for fire-works. I hear, Miss Eve, that, on the whole, the baronet is rather pleased with us; and I must say that he is getting to be very popular in Templeton."

"Nothing is easier than for an Englishman to become popular in America," observed Paul, "especially if his condition in life be above that of the vulgar. He has only to declare himself pleased with America; or, to be sincerely hated, to declare himself displeased."

"And in what does America differ from any other country, in this respect?" asked Eve, quickly.

"Not much, certainly; love induces love, and dislike, dislike. There is nothing new in all this; but the people of other countries, having more confidence in themselves, do not so sensitively inquire what others think of them. I believe this contains the whole difference."

"But Sir George does _rather like us?" inquired Mr. Howel, with interest.

"He likes some of us particularly well," returned Eve. "Do you not know that my cousin Grace is to become Mrs.--I beg her pardon--Lady Templemore, very shortly?"

"Good God!--Is that possible--Lady Templemore!--Lady Grace Templemore!"

"Not Lady Grace Templemore, but Grace, Lady Templemore, and graceful Lady Templemore in the bargain."

"And this honour, my dear Miss Eve, they tell me you refused!"

"They tell you wrong then, sir," answered the young lady, a little startled with the suddenness and _brusquerie of the remark, and yet prompt to do justice to all concerned. "Sir George Templemore never did me the honour to propose _to me, or _for me, and consequently he _could not be refused."

"It is very extraordinary!--I hear you were actually acquainted in Europe?"

"We were, Mr. Howel, actually acquainted in Europe, but I knew hundreds of persons in Europe, who have never dreamed of asking me to marry them."

"This is very strange--quite unlooked for--to marry Miss Van Cortlandt! Is Mr. John Effingham in the grounds?"

Eve made no answer, but Paul hurriedly observed--"You will find him in the next walk, I think, by returning a short distance, and taking the first path to the left."

Mr. Howel did as told, and was soon out of sight.

"That is a most earnest believer in English superiority, and, one may say, by his strong desire to give you an English husband, Miss Effingham, in English merit."

"It is the weak spot in the character of a very honest man. They tell me such instances were much more frequent in this country thirty years since, than they are to-day."

"I can easily believe it, for I think I remember some characters of the sort, myself. I have heard those who are older than I am, draw a distinction like this between the state of feeling that prevailed forty years ago, and that which prevails to-day; they say that, formerly, England absolutely and despotically thought for America, in all but those cases in which the interests of the two nations conflicted; and I have even heard competent judges affirm, that so powerful was the influence of habit, and so successful the schemes of the political managers of the mother country, that even many of those who fought for the independence of America, actually doubted of the propriety of their acts, as Luther is known to have had fits of despondency concerning the justness of the reformation he was producing; while, latterly, the leaning towards England is less the result of a simple mental dependence,--though of that there still remains a disgraceful amount--than of calculation, and a desire in a certain class to defeat the dominion of the mass, and to establish that of a few in its stead."

"It would, indeed, be a strange consummation of the history of this country, to find it becoming monarchical!"

"There are a few monarchists no doubt springing up in the country, though almost entirely in a class that only knows the world through the imagination and by means of books; but the disposition, in our time, is to aristocracy, and not to monarchy. Most men that get to be rich, discover that they are no happier for their possessions; perhaps every man who has not been trained and prepared to use his means properly, is in this category, as our friend the captain would call it, and then they begin to long for some other untried advantages. The example of the rest of the world is before our own wealthy, and, _faute d'imagination_, they imitate because they cannot invent. Exclusive political power is also a great ally in the accumulation of money, and a portion have the sagacity to see it; though I suspect more pine for the vanities of the exclusive classes, than for the substance. Your sex, Miss Effingham, as a whole, is not above this latter weakness, as I think you must have observed in your intercourse with those you met abroad."

"I met with some instances of weakness, in this way," said Eve, with reserve, and with the pride of a woman, "though not more, I think, than among the men; and seldom, in either case, among those whom we are accustomed to consider people of condition at home. The self- respect and the habits of the latter, generally preserved them from betraying this feebleness of character, if indeed they felt it."

"The Americans abroad may be divided into two great classes; those who go for improvement in the sciences or the arts, and those who go for mere amusement. As a whole, the former have struck me as being singularly respectable, equally removed from an apish servility and a swaggering pretension of superiority; while, I fear, a majority of the latter have a disagreeable direction towards the vanities."

"I will not affirm the contrary," said Eve, "for frivolity and pleasure are only too closely associated in ordinary minds. The number of those who prize the elegancies of life, for their intrinsic value, is every where small, I should think; and I question if Europe is much better off than ourselves, in this respect."

"This may be true, and yet one can only regret that, in a case where so much depends on example, the tone of our people was not more assimilated to their facts. I do not know whether you were struck with the same peculiarity, but, whenever I felt in the mood to hear high monarchical and aristocratical doctrines blindly promulgated, I used to go to the nearest American Legation."

"I have heard this fact commented on," Eve answered, "and even by foreigners, and I confess it has always struck me as singular. Why should the agent of a republic make a parade of his anti-republican sentiments?"

"That there are exceptions, I will allow; but, after the experience of many years, I honestly think that such is the rule. I might distrust my own opinion, or my own knowledge; but others, with opportunities equal to my own, have come to the same conclusion. I have just received a letter from Europe, complaining that an American Envoy Extraordinary, who would as soon think of denouncing himself, as utter the same sentiments openly at home, has given an opinion against the utility of the vote by ballot; and this, too, under circumstances that might naturally be thought to produce a practical effect."

"_Tant pis_. To me all this is inexplicable!"

"It has its solution, Miss Effingham, like any other problem. In ordinary times, extraordinary men seldom become prominent, power passing into the hands of clever managers. Now, the very vanity, and the petty desires, that betray themselves in glittering uniforms, puerile affectations, and feeble imitations of other systems, probably induce more than half of those who fill the foreign missions to apply for them, and it is no more than we ought to expect that the real disposition should betray itself, when there was no longer any necessity for hypocrisy."

"But I should think this necessity for hypocrisy would never cease! Can it be possible that a people, as much attached to their institutions as the great mass of the American nation is known to be, will tolerate such a base abandonment of all they cherish!"

"How are they to know any thing about it? It is a startling fact, that there is a man at this instant, who has not a single claim to such a confidence, either in the way of mind, principles, manners, or attainments, filling a public trust abroad, who, on all occasions except those which he thinks will come directly before the American people, not only proclaims himself opposed to the great principles of the institutions but who, in a recent controversy with a foreign nation, actually took sides against his own country, informing that of the opposing nation, that the administration at home would not be supported by the legislative part of the government!"

"And why is not this publicly exposed?"

"_Cui bono_! The presses that have no direct interest in the matter, would treat the affair with indifference or levity, while a few would mystify the truth. It is quite impossible for any man in a private station to make the truth available in any country, in a matter of public interest; and those in public stations seldom or never attempt it, unless they see a direct party end to be obtained. This is the reason that we see so much infidelity to the principles of the institutions, among the public agents abroad, for they very well know that no one will be able to expose them. In addition to this motive, there is so strong a desire in that portion of the community which is considered the highest, to effect a radical change in these very institutions, that infidelity to them, in their eyes, would be a merit, rather than an offence."

"Surely, surely, other nations are not treated in this cavalier manner!"

"Certainly not. The foreign agent of a prince, who should whisper a syllable against his master, would be recalled with disgrace; but the servant of the people is differently situated, since there are so many to be persuaded of his guilt. I could always get along with all the attacks that the Europeans are so fond of making on the American system, but those which they quoted from the mouths of our own diplomatic agents."

"Why do not our travellers expose this?"

"Most of them see too little to know anything of it. They dine at a diplomatic table, see a star or two, fancy themselves obliged, and puff elegancies that have no existence, except in their own brains. Some think with the unfaithful, and see no harm in the infidelity. Others calculate the injury to themselves, and no small portion would fancy it a greater proof of patriotism to turn a sentence in favour of the comparative 'energies' and 'superior intelligence' of their own people, than to point out this or any other disgraceful fact, did they even possess the opportunities to discover it. Though no one thinks more highly of these qualities in the Americans, considered in connexion with practical things, than myself, no one probably gives them less credit for their ability to distinguish between appearances and reality, in matters of principle."

"It is probable that were we nearer to the rest of the world, these abuses would not exist, for it is certain they are not so openly practised at home. I am glad, however, to find that, even while you felt some uncertainty concerning your own birth-place, you took so much interest in us, as to identify yourself in feeling, at least, with the nation."

"There was one moment when I was really afraid that the truth would show I was actually born an Englishman--"

"Afraid!" interrupted Eve; "that is a strong word to apply to so great and glorious a people."

"We cannot always account for our prejudices, and perhaps this was one of mine; and, now that I know that to be an Englishman is not the greatest possible merit in your eyes, Miss Effingham, it is in no manner lessened."

"In my eyes, Mr. Powis! I do not remember to have expressed any partiality for, or any prejudice against the English: so far as I can speak of my own feelings, I regard the English the same as any other foreign people."

"In words you have not certainly; but acts speak louder than words."

"You are disposed to be mysterious to-night. What act of mine has declared _pro or _con in this important affair."

"You have at least done what, I fear, few of your countrywomen would have the moral courage and self-denial to do, and especially those who are accustomed to living abroad--refused to be the wife of an English baronet of a good estate and respectable family."

"Mr. Powis," said Eve, gravely, "this is an injustice to Sir George Templemore, that my sense of right will not permit to go uncontradicted, as well as an injustice to my sex and me. As I told Mr. Howel, in your presence, that gentleman has never proposed for me, and of course cannot have been refused. Nor can I suppose that any American gentlewoman can deem so paltry a thing as a baronetcy, an inducement to forget her self-respect."

"I fully appreciate your generous modesty, Miss Effingham; but you cannot expect that I, to whom Templemore's admiration gave so much uneasiness, not to say pain, am to understand you, as Mr. Howel has probably done, too broadly. Although Sir George may not have positively proposed, his readiness to do so, on the least encouragement, was too obvious to be overlooked by a near observer."

Eve was ready to gasp for breath, so completely by surprise was she taken, by the calm, earnest, and yet respectful manner, in which Paul confessed his jealousy. There was a tremor in his voice, too, usually so clear and even, that touched her heart, for feeling responds to feeling, as the echo answers sound, when there exists a real sympathy between the sexes. She felt the necessity of saying something, and yet they had walked some distance, ere it was in her power to utter a syllable.

"I fear my presumption has offended you, Miss Effingham," said Paul, speaking more like a corrected child, than the lion-hearted young man he had proved himself.

There was deep homage in the emotion he betrayed, and Eve, although she could barely distinguish his features, was not slow in discovering this proof of the extent of her power over his feelings.

"Do not call it presumption," she said; "for, one who has done so much for us all, can surely claim some right to take an interest in those he has so well served. As for Sir George Templemore, you have probably mistaken the feeling created by our common adventures for one of more importance. He is warmly and sincerely attached to my cousin, Grace Van Cortlandt."

"That he is so now, I fully believe; but that a very different magnet first kept him from the Canadas, I am sure.--We treated each other generously, Miss Effingham, and had no concealments, during that long and anxious night, when all expected that the day would dawn on our captivity. Templemore is too manly and honest to deny his former desire to obtain you for a wife, and I think even he would admit that it depended entirely on yourself to be so, or not."

"This is an act of self-humiliation that he is not called onto perform," Eve hurriedly replied; "such allusions, now, are worse than useless, and they might pain my cousin, were she to hear them."

"I am mistaken in my friend's character, if he leave his betrothed in any doubt, on this subject. Five minutes of perfect frankness now, might obviate years of distrust, hereafter."

And would you Mr. Powis, avow a former weakness of this sort, to the woman you had finally selected for your wife?"

"I ought not to quote myself for authority, for or against such a course, since I have never loved but one, and her with a passion too single and too ardent ever to admit of competition. Miss Effingham, there would be something worse than affectation--it would be trifling with one who is sacred in my eyes, were I now to refrain from speaking explicitly, although what I am about to say is forced from me by circumstances, rather than voluntary, and is almost uttered without a definite object. Have I your permission to proceed?'

"You can scarcely need a permission, being the master of your own secrets, Mr. Powis."

Paul, like all men agitated by strong passion, was inconsistent, and far from just; and Eve felt the truth of this, even while her mind was ingeniously framing excuses for his weaknesses. Still, the impression that she was about to listen to a declaration that possibly ought never to be made, weighed upon her, and caused her to speak with more coldness than she actually felt. As she continued silent, however, the young man saw that it had become indispensably necessary to be explicit.

"I shall not detain you, Miss Effingham, perhaps vex you," he said, "with the history of those early impressions, which have gradually grown upon me, until they have become interwoven with my very existence. We met, as you know, at Vienna, for the first time. An Austrian of rank, to whom I had become known through some fortunate circumstances, introduced me into the best society of that capital, in which I found you the admiration of all who knew you. My first feeling was that of exultation, at seeing a young countrywoman--you were then almost a child, Miss Effingham--the greatest attraction of a capital celebrated for the beauty and grace of its women----"

"Your national partialities have made you an unjust judge towards others, Mr. Powis." Eve interrupted him by saying, though the earnestness and passion with which the young man uttered his feelings, made music to her ears: "what had a young, frightened, half-educated American girl to boast of, when put in competition with the finished women of Austria?"

"Her surpassing beauty, her unconscious superiority, her attainments, her trembling simplicity and modesty and her meek purity of mind. All these did you possess, not only in my eyes, but in those of others; for these are subjects on which I dwelt too fondly to be mistaken."

A rocket passed near them at the moment, and, while both were too much occupied by the discourse to heed the interruption, its transient light enabled Paul to see the flushed cheeks and tearful eyes of Eve, as the latter were turned on him, in a grateful pleasure, that his ardent praises extorted from her, in despite of all her struggles for self-command.

"We will leave to others this comparison, Mr. Powis," she said, "and confine ourselves to less doubtful subjects."

"If I am then to speak only of that which is beyond all question, I shall speak chiefly of my long cherished, devoted, unceasing love. I adored you at Vienna, Miss Effingham, though it was at a distance, as one might worship the sun; for, while your excellent father admitted me to his society, and I even think honoured me with some portion of his esteem, I had but little opportunity to ascertain the value of the jewel that was contained in so beautiful a casket; but when we met the following summer in Switzerland, I first began truly to love. Then I learned the justness of thought, the beautiful candour, the perfectly feminine delicacy of your mind; and, although I will not say that these qualities were not enhanced in the eyes of so young a man, by the extreme beauty of their possessor, I will say that, as weighed against each other, I could a thousand times prefer the former to the latter, unequalled as the latter almost is, even among your own beautiful sex."

"This is presenting flattery in its most seductive form, Powis."

"Perhaps my incoherent and abrupt manner of explaining myself deserves a rebuke; though nothing can be farther from my intentions than to seem to flatter or in any manner to exaggerate. I intend merely to give a faithful history of the state of my feelings, and of the progress of my love."

Eve smiled faintly, but very sweetly, as Paul would have thought, had the obscurity permitted more than a dim view of her lovely countenance.

"Ought I to listen to such praises, Mr. Powis," she asked; "praises which only contribute to a self-esteem that is too great already?"

"No one but yourself would say this; but your question does, indeed, remind me of the indiscretion that I have fallen into, by losing that command of my feelings, in which I have so long exulted. No man should make a woman the confidant of his attachment, until he is fully prepared to accompany the declaration with an offer of his hand;--and such is not my condition."

Eve made no dramatic start, assumed no look of affected surprise, or of wounded dignity; but she turned on her lover, her serene eyes, with an expression of concern so eloquent, and of a wonder so natural, that, could he have seen it, it would probably have overcome every difficulty on the spot, and produced the usual offer, notwithstanding the difficulty that he seemed to think insurmountable.

"And yet," he continued, "I have now said so much, involuntarily as it has been, that I feel it not only due to you, but in some measure to myself, to add that the fondest wish of my heart, the end and aim of all my day-dreams, as well as of my most sober thoughts for the future, centre in the common wish to obtain you for a wife."

The eye of Eve fell, and the expression of her countenance changed, while a slight but uncontrollable tremor ran through her frame. After a short pause, she summoned all her resolution, and in a voice, the firmness of which surprised even herself, she asked--

"Powis, to what does all this tend?"

"Well may you ask that question, Miss Effingham! You have every right to put it, and the answer, at least, shall add no further cause of self-reproach. Give me, I entreat you, but a minute to collect my thoughts, and I will endeavour to acquit myself of an imperious duty, in a manner more manly and coherent, than I fear has been observed for the last ten minutes."

They walked a short distance in profound silence, Eve still under the influence of astonishment, in which an uncertain and indefinite dread of, she scarce knew what, began to mingle; and Paul, endeavouring to quiet the tumult that had been so suddenly aroused within him. The latter then spoke:

"Circumstances have always deprived me of the happiness of experiencing the tenderness and sympathy of your sex, Miss Effingham, and have thrown me more exclusively among the colder and ruder spirits of my own. My mother died at the time of my birth, thus cutting me off, at once, from one of the dearest of earthly ties. I am not certain that I do not exaggerate the loss in consequence of the privations I have suffered; but, from the hour when I first learned to feel, I have had a yearning for the tender, patient, endearing, disinterested love of a mother. You, too, suffered a similar loss, at an early period, if I have been correctly informed----"

A sob--a stifled, but painful sob, escaped Eve; and, inexpressibly shocked, Paul ceased dwelling on his own sources of sorrow, to attend to those he had so unintentionally disturbed.

"I have been selfish, dearest Miss Effingham," he exclaimed--"have overtaxed your patience--have annoyed you with griefs and losses that have no interest for you, which can have no interest, with one happy and blessed as yourself."

"No, no, no, Powis--you are unjust to both. I, too, lost my mother when a mere child, and never knew her love and tenderness. Proceed; I am calmer, and earnestly intreat you to forget my weakness, and to proceed."

Paul did proceed, but this brief interruption in which they had mingled their sorrows for a common misfortune, struck a new chord of feeling, and removed a mountain of reserve and distance, that might otherwise have obstructed their growing confidence.

"Cut off in this manner, from my nearest and dearest natural friend," Paul continued, "I was thrown, an infant, into the care of hirelings; and, in this at least, my fortune was still more cruel than your own; for the excellent woman who has been so happy as to have had the charge of your infancy, had nearly the love of a natural mother, however she may have been wanting in the attainments of one of your own condition in life."

"But we had both of us, our fathers, Mr. Powis. To me, my excellent, high principled, affectionate--nay tender father, has been every thing. Without him, I should have been truly miserable; and with him, notwithstanding these rebellious tears, tears that I must ascribe to the infection of your own grief, I have been truly blest."

"Mr. Effingham deserves this from you, but I never knew my father, you will remember."

"I am an unworthy confidant, to have forgotten this so soon. Poor Powis, you were, indeed, unhappy!"

"He had parted from my mother before my birth and either died soon after, or has never deemed his child of sufficient worth to make him the subject of interest sufficient to excite a single inquiry into his fate."

"Then he never knew that child!" burst from Eve, with a fervour and frankness, that set all reserves, whether of womanly training, or of natural timidity, at defiance.

"Miss Effingham!--dearest Miss Effingham--Eve, my own Eve, what am I to infer from this generous warmth! Do not mislead me! I can bear my solitary misery, can brave the sufferings of an isolated existence; but I could not live under the disappointments of such a hope, a hope fairly quickened by a clear expression from your lips."

"You teach me the importance of caution, Powis, and we will now return to your history, and to that confidence of which I shall not again prove a faithless repository. For the present at least, I beg that you will forget all else."

"A command so kindly--so encouragingly given--do I offend, dearest Miss Effingham?" Eve, for the second time in her life, placed her own light arm and beautiful hand, through the arm of Paul, discovering a bewitching but modest reliance on his worth and truth, by the very manner in which she did this simple and every-day act, while she said more cheerfully--

"You forget the substance of the command, at the very moment you would have me suppose you most disposed to obey it."

"Well, then, Miss Effingham, you shall be more implicitly minded. _Why my father left my mother so soon after their union, I never knew. It would seem that they lived together but a few months, though I have the proud consolation of knowing that my mother was blameless. For years I suffered the misery of doubt on a point that is ever the most tender with man, a distrust of his own mother; but all this has been happily, blessedly, cleared up, during my late visit to England. It is true that Lady Dunluce was my mother's sister, and as such might have been lenient to her failings; but a letter from my father, that was written only a month before my mother's death, leaves no doubt not only of her blamelessness as a wife, but bears ample testimony to the sweetness of her disposition. This letter is a precious document for a son to possess, Miss Effingham!"

Eve made no answer; but Paul fancied that he felt another gentle pressure of the hand, which, until then, had rested so lightly on his own arm, that he scarcely dared to move the latter, lest he might lose the precious consciousness of its presence.

"I have other letters from my father to my mother," the young man continued, "but none that are so cheering to my heart as this. From their general tone, I cannot persuade myself that he ever truly loved her. It is a cruel thing, Miss Effingham, for a man to deceive a woman on a point like that!"

"Cruel, indeed," said Eve, firmly. "Death itself were preferable to such a delusion."

"I think my father deceived himself as well as my mother; for there is a strange incoherence and a want of distinctness in some of his letters, that caused feelings, keen as mine naturally were on such a subject, to distrust his affection from the first."

"Was your mother rich?" Eve asked innocently; for, an heiress herself, her vigilance had early been directed to that great motive of deception and dishonesty.

"Not in the least. She had little besides her high lineage, and her beauty. I have her picture, which sufficiently proves the latter; had, I ought rather to say, for it was her miniature, of which I was robbed by the Arabs, as you may remember, and I have not seen it since. In the way of money, my mother had barely the competency of a gentlewoman; nothing more."

The pressure on Paul was more palpable, as spoke of the miniature; and he ventured to touch his companion's arm, in order to give it a surer hold of his own.

"Mr. Powis was not mercenary, then, and it is a great deal," said Eve, speaking as if she were scarcely conscious that she spoke at all.

"Mr. Powis!--He was every thing that was noble and disinterested. A more generous, or a less selfish man, never existed than Francis Powis."

"I thought you never knew your father personally!" exclaimed Eve in surprise.

"Nor did I. But, you are in an error, in supposing that my father's name was Powis, when it was Assheton."

Paul then explained the manner in which he had been adopted while still a child, by a gentleman called Powis, whose name he had taken, on finding himself deserted by his own natural parent, and to whose fortune he had succeeded, on the death of his voluntary protector.

"I bore the name of Assheton until Mr. Powis took me to France, when he advised me to assume his own, which I did the more readily, as he thought he had ascertained that my father was dead, and that he had bequeathed the whole of a very considerable estate to his nephews and nieces, making no allusion to me in his will, and seemingly anxious even to deny his marriage; at least, he passed among his acquaintances for a bachelor to his dying day."

"There is something so unusual and inexplicable in all this, Mr. Powis, that it strikes me you have been to blame, in not inquiring more closely into the circumstances than, by your own account I should think had been done."

"For a long time, for many bitter years, I was afraid to inquire, lest I should learn something injurious to a mother's name. Then there was the arduous and confined service of my profession, which kept me in distant seas: and the last journey and painful indisposition of my excellent benefactor, prevented even the wish to inquire after my own family. The offended pride of Mr. Powis, who was justly hurt at the cavalier manner in which my father's relatives met his advances, aided in alienating me from that portion of my relatives, and put a stop to all additional proffers of intercourse from me. They even affected to doubt the fact that my father had ever married."

"But of that you had proof?" Eve earnestly asked.

"Unanswerable. My aunt Dunluce was present at the ceremony, and I possess the certificate given to my mother by the clergyman who officiated. Is it not strange, Miss Effingham, that with all these circumstances in favour of my legitimacy, even Lady Dunluce and her family, until lately, had doubts of the fact."

"That is indeed unaccountable, your aunt having witnessed the ceremony."

"Very true; but some circumstances, a little aided perhaps by the strong desire of her husband, General Ducie, to obtain the revival of a barony that was in abeyance, and of which she would be the only heir, assuming that my rights were invalid, inclined her to believe that my father was already married, when he entered into the solemn contract with my mother. But from that curse too, I have been happily relieved."

"Poor Powis!" said Eve, with a sympathy that her voice expressed more clearly even than her words; "you have, indeed, suffered cruelly, for one so young."

"I have learned to bear it, dearest Miss Effingham, and have stood so long a solitary and isolated being, one in whom none have taken any interest--"

"Nay, say not that--_we_, at least, have always felt an interest in you--have always esteemed you, and now have learned to--"

"Learned to--?"

"Love you," said Eve, with a steadiness that afterwards astonished herself; but she felt that a being so placed, was entitled to be treated with a frankness different from the reserve that it is usual for her sex to observe on similar occasions.

"Love!" cried Paul, dropping her arm. "Miss Effingham!--Eve--but that _we_!"

"I mean my dear father--cousin Jack--myself."

"Such a feeling will not heal a wound like mine. A love that is shared with even such men as your excellent father, and your worthy cousin, will not make me happy. But, why should I, unowned, bearing a name to which I have no legal title, and virtually without relatives, aspire to one like you!"

The windings of the path had brought them near a window of the house, whence a stream of strong light gleamed upon the sweet countenance of Eve, as raising her eyes to those of her companion, with a face bathed in tears, and flushed with natural feeling and modesty, the struggle between which even heightened her loveliness, she smiled an encouragement that it was impossible to misconstrue.

"Can I believe my senses! Will _you_--_do you--_can you listen to the suit of one like me?" the young man exclaimed, as he hurried his companion past the window, lest some interruption might destroy his hopes.

"Is there any sufficient reason why I should not, Powis?"

"Nothing but my unfortunate situation in respect to my family, my comparative poverty, and my general unworthiness."

"Your unfortunate situation in respect to your relatives would, if any thing, be a new and dearer tie with us; your comparative poverty is merely comparative, and can be of no account, where there is sufficient already; and as for your general unworthiness, I fear it will find more than an offset, in that of the girl you have so rashly chosen from the rest of the world."

"Eve--dearest Eve--" said Paul, seizing both her hands, and stopping her at the entrance of some shrubbery, that densely shaded the path, and where the little light that fell from the stars enabled him still to trace her features--"you will not leave me in doubt on a subject of this nature--am I really so blessed?"

"If accepting the faith and affection of a heart that is wholly yours, Powis, can mate you happy, your sorrows will be at an end--"

"But your father?" said the young man, almost breathless in his eagerness to know all.

"Is here to confirm what his daughter has just declared," said Mr. Effingham, coming out of the shrubbery beyond them, and laying a hand kindly on Paul's shoulder. "To find that you so well understand each other, Powis, removes from my mind one of the greatest anxieties I have ever experienced. My cousin John, as he was bound to do, has made me acquainted with all you have, told him of your past life, and there remains nothing further to be revealed. We have known you for years, and receive you into our family with as free a welcome as we could receive any precious boon from Providence."

"Mr. Effingham!--dear sir," said Paul, almost gasping between surprise and rapture--"this is indeed beyond all my hopes--and this generous frankness too, in your lovely daughter--"

Paul's hands had been transferred to those of the father, he knew not how; but releasing them hurriedly, he now turned in quest of Eve again, and found she had fled. In the short interval between the address of her father and the words of Paul, she had found means to disappear, leaving the gentlemen together. The young man would have followed, but the cooler head of Mr. Effingham perceiving that the occasion was favourable to a private conversation with his accepted son-in-law, and quite as unfavourable to one, or at least to a very rational one, between the lovers, he quietly took the young man's arm, and led him towards a more private walk. There half an hour of confidential discourse calmed the feelings of both, and rendered Paul Powis one of the happiest of human beings.

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Chapter XXIV"You shall do marvellous wisely, good Reynaldo, Before you visit him, to make inquiry Of his behaviour." HAMLET Ann Sidley was engaged among the dresses of Eve, as she loved to be, although Annette held her taste in too low estimation ever to permit her to apply a needle, or even to fit a robe to the beautiful form that was to wear it, when our heroine glided into the room and sunk upon a sofa. Eve was too much absorbed with her own feelings to observe the presence of her quiet unobtrusive old nurse, and too much accustomed to
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Chapter XXIIGentle Octavia, Let your best love draw to that point, which seeks But to preserve it. ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA. We shall not say it was an accident that brought Paul and Eve side by side, and a little separated from the others; for a secret sympathy had certainly exercised its influence over both, and probably contributed as much as any thing else towards bringing about the circumstance. Although the Wigwam stood in the centre of the village, its grounds covered several acres, and were intersected with winding walks, and ornamented with shrubbery, in the well-known English style, improvements also of
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