« PreviousContinue »
rank and situation. Without such demonstration he thought he never could count, either upon the actual existence of the feelings themselves of which he was in search, or the fidelity of the heart which might seem to possess them. To be sure he would have wished to have found his object in the midst of elegance and splendour; but, exclusive of his having sought it there in vain, his being every where known to possess many thousands a year, prevented all possibility of making an experiment on the reality and extent of the affection he wished to prove. He, therefore, as we have before hinted, had for some time past turned from the rich and great, without much immediate plan as to any others, when chance threw this daughter of nature and retirement in his way; and if Eugenia's mind answered his as a companion, all the rest, he imagined, was completely out of doubt. He therefore willingly gave some days to the farther contemplation of this great object; and his pleasure was complete on finding that, while her heart seemed framed to carry love to its most romantic excess, her mind was of so plastic a nature that he might mould it to what he pleased. An amiable yielding to the opinion and wishes of those she loved, was evidently its characteristic. But as yet he had made no actual experiment on her affections; and, indeed, such was the glow of her friendship, as Eugenia called it,
(and took no pains to conceal it, either from him, her mother, or herself), that no other man would perhaps have thought of making any.
He had represented himself to Mrs. Belson merely as a man of good connexions; and so far he was relieved from the fear that his fortune stood in the way of a free decision, should his own heart prompt him to go on.
But he wished still more; and in his romance, his eccentricity, or his refinement-call it what we please—he conceived the strange design of experimenting upon the strength of his young friend's attachment to him, removed from all extraneous influence, even of hope. ·
Nothing was ever perhaps more difficult, or more unfair; yet he both resolved and contrived to execute it. To inquire into the justice of the attempt never struck him as necessary.
It was in the third week of their acquaintance, that, in hinting more of his history to Mrs. Belson, he gave her to understand that the whole soul of an uncle, on whom was his sole dependance for any thing like fortune, was fixed upon his forming a high matrimonial connexion : he was, therefore, any thing but his own master, as to the disposal of his hand; and though nothing had yet passed in form between himself and the lady, yet his uncle had insisted upon carte blanche being left with him on the subject, before he allowed him to proceed on his travels.
Mrs. Belson received this confidence with evident disappointment, as well as surprise; and changing to a cold seriousness, asked if she might be allowed to communicate the information to Eugenia. Nie
"I can have no wish to withhold it," said Tremaine. Pos : 11 B to s ;!
It 14. To his great joy, it seemed to make no difference in the feelings of that young lady, or if anyy only to release her from the little restraint she had hitherto imposed upon her expressions of admiration and regard for him.
But this did not satisfy her more prudent mamma; who, with no unreasonable caution, expressed so much anxiety at an intercourse, which she said might destroy her daughter's peace, while it never could crown her affection as it deserved, that, as a price almost for permission to remain, Tremaine was forced to beat a parley, and come to terms. It was therefore settled that after a little time he should return to England, and obtain the release of his promise to his uncle, of giving him the disposal of a heart which was no longer his own..
Mrs. Belson was prudent enough to be very par-. ticular in endeavouring to sift out how far he was in this likely to succeed; but she could learn no more than that he had the best hopes; failing in which, he would still beg to present himself to
Eugenia with such chances as his own very small fortune might afford him. Mrs. Belson balanced some time upon this, as any good mother would, and talked of the proper authority of relations on whom we depend, but Eugenia coming to Tremaine's aid, and declaring that she would rather be his friend, than even the wife of a richer man, she yielded, and Tremaine gave himself up to happiness without alloy. Orri DF ne t170421918 19
" Then confess
Which makes me fear the enjoying of my love !"
An incident, however, now occurred, critical to the happiness of our man of refinement. He could not be so much in the family of Mrs. Belson, nor so pointedly the favourite of that lady and Eugenia, without feeling his interest extend to her younger sisters. Lavinia, the next in age, though not above
thirteen or fourteen, was of peculiar vivacity, and possessed great powers of observation. She often rallied them both upon their friendship-laying a particular emphasis upon the word; and, in mere girlish spirits, would sometimes exclaim, 6 Poor Captain Monson !” and then, as if conscious of having done wrong, would run away, and appear no more for some time.
Tremaine, from the first curious, became in the end alarmed at this; and at length requested to know of Eugenia what the espièglerie meant;-who Captain Monson was, and what interest he had in connection with hers?
Eugenia with firmness enough, and a sincerity of manner which calmed much of his fear, said it was due to his friendship that he should know. 6 He was a ward of my father,” said she, few years
older than myself; bred up from infancy with me; of great worth: and who once gave me his love.”
6 And for no return?” asked Tremaine, in an agitation he could not conceal.
6 Ah! what can I say ?” exclaimed Eugenia. 16 You do not like me for this confession !"
“ I have heard none," answered Tremaine, " and I wait an honest avowal.”
“ You shall have it,” said Eugenia—“ I did love him, to a degree.”