Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors]

and I will swear ten oaths, that my ci devant bride has also a word for you in private, that would not be so conveniently spoken before my sisters; I have therefore brought you together here, so make the most of your time, for I shall return for Adeline in a quarter of an hour.” Saying this, he walked away, leaving us both not a little disconcerted. Adeline could not compose herself, and my presence of mind seemed to have forsaken me altogether. At last, however, I found my voice, and said, “A singular accident, dear Adeline, has brought us together, I seek a companion for life.--could I but hope" A deep blush, which came direct from the heart, overspread her lovely face, and drawing from her work-bag a paper, she handed it to me, saying softly, this letter has doubtless fallen by accident into the will, my name is mentioned in it." It was a letter from my mother, which had got amongst the folds of the will. I had written to her much about Adeline, and the good lady had, in her answer, said, “ that this would indeed be a daughter after her own heart :" "and will you too call her mother, my Adeline.” Take me to her," whispered she, and the warm kiss which I impressed on her cheek, was the seal of our union. In a few weeks I carried Adeline home as my wife, and my mother is quite convinced that I have succeeded to a wish in

getting myself suited.”

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

abc

He

bles

Out

THE STORY OF ARNAUT..

A few years ago, I was dismissed by my friends in London with several letters of introduction to families through whose neighbourhood I projected a summer tour. Among the rest, was one addressed to Francis Arnaut. He was a young man of whom I had heard much talk. Every body liked him, and every body spoke of his talents and virtues as something out of the common way. His history, indeed, made him rather an object of interest, even without this character. Hé was a being of ardent feelings and hasty impulse, and the

very outset of his career had been blighted by an inconsiderate marriage. His wife had returned to her friends, and he was living in late repentance to stalk about a fine mansion and sigh over its solitude. His fortune had come to him by a series of untimely deaths. He had no brother, no sister, and no relation to share it with him; and a very short trial had convinced him that his domestic affections had unfitted him for the heartless bustle of the world beyond him. This was a vague outline, but it excited my curiosity, and I turned out of my road one sunshiny morning to pay him a visit.

VOL. III.

K

The country was a fine sweep of real English landscape; an ocean of undulating foliage, with here and there a little green island, dotted with cattle, and intersected with shining streams. On one of these, after winding through numerous shady lanes, and inquiring at divers rustic cottages, I discovered the white walls of Arnaut's abode. It was a beautiful Italian villa in the midst of a glorious amphitheatre of oaks, terminated by a blue distance which was mingling imperceptibly with the sky. A steeple and a few upright columns of smoke stole through the trees to shew that it was not altogether a solitude; and, presently I passed through an irregular romantic village, which presented several pretty white-washed cottages, giving good promise of something interesting. I looked up at the little church clock, and found it just eleven, but not thinking it necessary to obserye town etiquette, I entered the long winding shrubbery, and announced my arrival.

Arnaut was a tall, handsome young man, though something too slender, and pale even to sickliness. His features too were marked with premature lines of reflection, which bespoke a troubled heart. I was introduced to him in his study, the open window of which admitted the soft breath of a July morning; and the carol of a thousand birds which were sporting in a wilderness of lilacs and laburnums. The freshness and gaiety without, I thought, contrasted somewhat painfully with what I saw within. There was a look of

to

restlessness and care both in the room and its tenant ; a pair of mould candles burnt to the sockets, hinted that he had sat up all night, and the disordered state of his dress, his neckcloth cast off, and his shoes doubled down into slippers, seemed to bear them out in this intimation. He came forward to meet me with a smile of welcome, which, though I did not doubt its genuineness, I thought an effort of fatigue. His first care was to make some rational excuse for his strange appearance ; lest, as he said, I should be alarmed, with the idea that I was to sojourn with a poet or a philosopher.

« He had been doing, he scarce knew what; abusing a vile novel, and whistling a worse opera, and forgetting

go to bed. The truth was, that his solitary life made day and night so like each other, that he was sometimes in the habit of confounding them; a lack of perception which my company would happily rectify." His conversation continued in the same vein, alike the property of mirth and melancholy; and this, I afterwards found, had become natural to him. It was the perpetual strug. gle of a joyous disposition, against the influence of untoward circumstances.

Whilst he sat at breakfast, I had leisure to look round upon his usual occupations. His room was a perfect chaos. Musical instruments were scattered in every direction, some unstrung and some broken, as if taken up from caprice, and thrown away in disgust. Materials for painting were equally numerous ; canvasses

of all sorts and sizes lay beneath my feet; some with heads, some with landscapes—all touched in a bold, off hand, impatient manner, but none finished. Myriads of boúks, in all the languages of Babel, were strewed amongst them; and a host of guns, and fishing-rods, and fox-brushes, completed the universality of the proprietor's genius. Alas ! how happy had any one of these resources made many a man, under double the grievances which Arnaut could have numbered! In him, they indicated nothing but a mind toiling incessantly to escape from itself, but too restless to be relieved by any thing. He seemed aware of my thoughts, and asked me, with a constrained laugh, if I did not think him a match for the admirable Crichton.

I must give you to understand," said he, “that I had the misfortune to be born one of those little-witted gentlemen, who, unable to obtain proficiency in any one accomplishment, are determined to immortalize themselves by a smattering of a great many ; and, truth to say, I am not sure but this patch-work of the mind, is after all, the best wear ; for those pipes, and painting. brushes, and fishing-rods, and fiddle-sticks, have made me more friends in this miserable working-day world

, than I could have won by a wit like the shoulders of Hercules, with all the cardinal virtues to boot. Every new whím I strike out is a hot-bed to hatch new friends; and if my invention keeps pace with the diligence of my tudy, I shall have a decent crop by the time I die. For tance, the Squire likes me because I sport with him;

the lady praises me because I paint for her ; and the
daughter smiles upon me, because I fiddle to her. And
when I am an astrologer and a conjuror, (which I mean
to be), I shall be equally delightful for casting nativities
and raising devils.” This was an ingenious excuse for
the multiplicity of his pursuits ; but it was made with a
smile of melancholy which gave thelie to every word of it.

In the course of the morning, I found that the popu-
larity of which he had boasted, was not overrated ;

for our visits through the village, to which he was in haste to introduce me, no one could have been more welcome. He was at home every where—the young girls in particular, brightened up when he entered, and all of them had some grand secret, or some unfinished drawing, or new piece of music, to draw him into a little gossip in the corner. This was generally the discussion of some playful feud, arising out broken engagements to ride, or take sketches, and so forth ; and, indeed, if all the charges were true, he had been much more forgetful than most men would have been under such temptation. "Pray what is the reason," said a gay little beauty, who was amongst the dissatisfied,” “ that you have ceased to be

my cavaliere sorvente?—You were once as regular as the postman." "I was afraid to trust myself in such dangerous company.” “And it was therefore, that you devoted your service to the wonder of Elm cottage ?"

young lady turned to me with an affectation of pique, and talked about the attraction of the place,

The

[ocr errors]
« PoprzedniaDalej »