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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAlice, Or The Mysteries - Book 1 - Chapter 8
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Alice, Or The Mysteries - Book 1 - Chapter 8 Post by :Heidi66469 Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1764

Click below to download : Alice, Or The Mysteries - Book 1 - Chapter 8 (Format : PDF)

Alice, Or The Mysteries - Book 1 - Chapter 8

BOOK I CHAPTER VIII

FRIEND after friend departs;
Who hath not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts
That finds not here an end.--J. MONTGOMERY.


THAT night Mrs. Leslie sought Lady Vargrave in her own room. As she entered gently she observed that, late as the hour was, Lady Vargrave was stationed by the open window, and seemed intently gazing on the scene below. Mrs. Leslie reached her side unperceived. The moonlight was exceedingly bright; and just beyond the garden, from which it was separated but by a slight fence, lay the solitary churchyard of the hamlet, with the slender spire of the holy edifice rising high and tapering into the shining air. It was a calm and tranquillizing scene; and so intent was Lady Vargrave's abstracted gaze, that Mrs. Leslie was unwilling to disturb her revery.

At length Lady Vargrave turned; and there was that patient and pathetic resignation written in her countenance which belongs to those whom the world can deceive no more, and who have fixed their hearts in the life beyond.

Mrs. Leslie, whatever she thought or felt, said nothing, except in kindly remonstrance on the indiscretion of braving the night air. The window was closed; they sat down to confer.

Mrs. Leslie repeated the invitation given to Evelyn, and urged the advisability of accepting it. "It is cruel to separate you," said she; "I feel it acutely. Why not, then, come with Evelyn? You shake your head: why always avoid society? So young, yet you give yourself too much to the past!"

Lady Vargrave rose, and walked to a cabinet at the end of the room; she unlocked it, and beckoned to Mrs. Leslie to approach. In a drawer lay carefully folded articles of female dress,--rude, homely, ragged,--the dress of a peasant girl.

"Do these remind you of your first charity to me?" she said touchingly: "they tell me that I have nothing to do with the world in which you and yours, and Evelyn herself, should move."

"Too tender conscience!--your errors were but those of circumstances, of youth;--how have they been redeemed! none even suspect them. Your past history is known but to the good old Aubrey and myself. No breath, even of rumour, tarnishes the name of Lady Vargrave."

"Mrs. Leslie," said Lady Vargrave, reclosing the cabinet, and again seating herself, "my world lies around me; I cannot quit it. If I were of use to Evelyn, then indeed I would sacrifice, brave all; but I only cloud her spirits. I have no advice to give her, no instruction to bestow. When she was a child I could watch over her; when she was sick, I could nurse her; but now she requires an adviser, a guide; and I feel too sensibly that this task is beyond my powers. I, a guide to youth and innocence,--_I_! No, I have nothing to offer her, dear child! but my love and my prayers. Let your daughter take her, then,--watch over her, guide, advise her. For me--unkind, ungrateful as it may seem--were she but happy, I could well bear to be alone!"

"But she--how will she, who loves you so, submit to this separation?"

"It will not be long; and," added Lady Vargrave, with a serious, yet sweet smile, "she had better be prepared for that separation which must come at last. As year by year I outlive my last hope,--that of once more beholding _him_,--I feel that life becomes feebler and feebler, and I look more on that quiet churchyard as a home to which I am soon returning. At all events, Evelyn will be called upon to form new ties that must estrange her from me; let her wean herself from one so useless to her, to all the world,--now, and by degrees."

"Speak not thus," said Mrs. Leslie, strongly affected; "you have many years of happiness yet in store for you. The more you recede from youth, the fairer life will become to you."

"God is good to me," said the lady, raising her meek eyes; "and I have already found it so. I am contented."

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