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could be in his power to do, that might advance him in the good opinion and esteem of Constantia ! such was his gratitude to the old gentleman for his kind, ness, that he could scarce refrain from throwing himself at his feet, and he implored him instantly to point out the happy means, which he would im. plicitly embrace, were they ever so difficult, ever so dangerous.
There will be neither hardship nor hazard,' replied Mr. Somerville, in what I shall advise. Great things may be accomplished in a short time where the disposition is good and the understanding apt: though your father neglected your education, it is no reason you should neglect yourself ; you must shake off your indolence; and as the first step necessary towards your future comfort is to put your. self at ease in point of fortune,you must make your. self master of your own estate ; that I suspect can only be done by extricating your affairs from the hands they are in; but as this is a business, that will require the assistance of an honest and able agent, I shall recommend to you my own lawyer, on whose integrity you may securely rely; he will soon reduce your affairs to such a system of regularity, that you will find it an easy business, and when you discover how many sources of future happiness it opens to you, you will pursue it as an employment of no less pleasure than advantage.'
To this good advice Ned promised the fullest and most unreserved obedience; Mr. Somerville resumed his subject and proceeded; "When you have thus laid the foundation in oeconomy, what remains to be done will be a task of pleasure : this will con. sist in furnishing your inind and enlarging your experience, in short, Sir, rubbing off the rust of in. dolence and the prejudices of a narrow education : now for this important undertaking I have a friend in my eye, whose understanding, temper, morals and manners qualify him to render you most essen, tial services; with this amiable and instructive companion I should in the first place recommend you to take a tour through the most interesting parts of your own country, and hereafter, as occasion shall serve, you may, or you may not, extend your travels into other countries : this is the best coun. sel I have to give you, and I tender it with all pos. sible good wishes for your success.'
A plan proposed with so much cordiality and holding forth such a reward for the accomplishment of its conditions,could not fail to be embraced with ardour by the late despairing lover of Constantia. The worthy lawyer was prepared for the undertak. ing, and Ned was all impatience to convince Mr. Somerville, that indolence was no longer his ruling defect. He gave instant orders for his journey, and then flew to Constantia, at whose feet he poured forth the humble, yet ardent,acknowledgments of a heart overflowing with gratitude and love: it seemed as if love's arrow, like Ithuriel's spear, possessed the ma. gic powers of transformation with a touch : there was a spirit in his eyes, an energy in bis motions, an illumination over his whole person, that gave his form avd features a new cast : Constantia saw the sudden transformation with surprise, and as it evinced the flexibility of his nature and the influence of her own charms, she saw it also with delight : So soon !' was her only reply, when he announced his immediate departure, but those words were uttered with such a cadence, and accompanied by such a look, as to the eye and ear of love conveyed more meaning than volumes would contain, unaided by such expression. Yes, adorable Constantia,' he exclaimed,' I am now setting forth to give the ear. liest proof in my power of a ready and alert obedi" ence to the dictates of my best adviser ; these few moments, which your condescension indulges me with are the only moments I shall not rigidly de. vote to the immediate duties of my task : inspired with the hope of returning less unworthy of your attention, I cheerfully submit to banish myself from your sight for a time, content to cherish in my heart the lovely image there imprest, and flattering my. self I have the sanction of your good wishes for the success of my undertaking. Constantia assured him he had her good wishes for every happiness in life, and then yielding her hand to him, he tenderly pressed it to his lips and departed.
It would be an uninteresting detail to enumerate the arrangements, which Ned by the instructions of his friendly and judicious agent adopted on his re. turn to Poppy-hall. His affairs had indeed been much neglected, but they were not embarrassed, so that they were easily put into such order and regulation, as gave him full leisure for pursuing other objects of a more animating nature: with this view he returned to his friend Mr. Somerville, and was again blest with the presence of Constantia, to whom every day seemed to add new graces : he was wel. comed by all parties in the most affectionate man. ner; Mr. Somerville, upon conversing with his lawyer, received a very flattering report of Ned's activity and attention, nor was he displeased to hear from the same authority, that his estate and property far exceeded any amount, which the unpre. tending owner himself had ever hinted at.
It was now the latter end of April, and Ned had allowed himself only a few days to prepare for his tour, and to form an acquaintance with the amiable person, who at Mr. Somerville's request had en. gaged to accompany him ; their plan was to employ six months in this excursion through England
and part of Scotland, during which they were to visit the chief towns and principal manufactories, and Mr. Somerville had further contrived to lay out their course, so as to fall in with the houses of some of his friends by the way, where he had secured them a welcome in such societies, as promised no less profit than amusement to a young person in the pursuit of experience. Measures had been taken to provide equipage, servants, and all things requisite for a travelling establishment, amongst which a few well.selected books were not forgotten, and thus at length equipped, Ned with his companion, on the first morning of the month of May, having taken leave of Mr. Somerville and Mrs. Goodison, and received a tender adieu from his beloved Constantia, stept reluctantly into his chaise, and left the finest eyes in the creation to pay the tribute of a tear to the sorrows of the scene.
From this period I had heard nothing of his proceedings till a few days ago, when I was favoured by him with the following letter, dated from the house of Mr. Somerville :
I am just returned from a six months tour, in the course of which I have visited a variety of places and persons in company with a gentleman, from whose pleasing society I have reaped the highest enjoyment, and if I do not deceive myself, no small degree of profit and instruction.
Before I sate out upon this excursion, I had the satisfaction of seeing my private affairs put in such. a train, and arranged upon so clear a system, that I find myself in possession of a fund of occupation for the rest of my days in superintending the concerns of my estate,and interesting myself in the welfare and prosperity of every person, who depends upon me.
"When I returned to this charming place, the re. ception I met with from Mr. Somerville was as flattering as can be conceived ; the worthy mother of my beloved Constantia was no less kind to me; but in what words can I attempt to convey to you the impression I felt on my heart, when I was welcomed with smiles of approbation by the ever-adorable object of my affection ? What transport did it give me, when I found her anxious to enquire into every circumstance that had occurred in the course of my travels! none were too minute for her notice ; she seemed to take an interest in every thing that had happened to me,and our conversations were renewed time , after time without weariness on her part, or any prospect of exhausting our subject.
. At this time I had no other expectation but of a second excursion with the conductor of the first, and as that gentleman was in frequent conference with Mr. Somerville, I took for granted they were concerting the plan of a foreign tour; and though my heart was every hour more and more foodly at. tached to Constantia, so that a separation from her was painful to reflect on, yet I was resolved at all events not to swerve from my engagements with her grandfather, and therefore held myself in trembling expectation of another summons to go forth: delightfully as the hours passed away in her society, I dreaded lest any symptoms of self-indulgence should lower me in her opinion, or create suspicions in Mr. Somerville and Mrs. Goodison that I was in any danger of relapsing into my former indolence: I therefore seized the first opportunity of explaining myself to those respectable friends, when Constantia was not present, and addres-ing myself to Mr. Somerville, assured him that I was not disposed to forget any part of his good advice, nor so much my own enemy as to evade any one of those conditions