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the company had gone, and the bride departed for the splendid mansion of her husband. “Oh, Louisa,” she said, “if you could but have seen poor Mr. Etheredge when Dr. Oxford asked him for the ring, and he could not find it, first feeling in one pocket, then in another, and when Caroline was ready to faint at the ridiculous figure he was making, and he trembling with fright, thinking he could not be married at all, there it was in his own glove, where he had put it to have it handy. And then his aunt, old Miss Etheredge, who is about seventy years old, and has not been in company this century, with such a cap! and a velvet dress that looked as if it had walked out of some old picture, it was so forlorn and oldfashioned, and yet she had a splendid pair of diamond ear-rings, and a Sevigné that really dazzled my eyes. She really looked as if she had no business with them, and I hoped every moment to see her take them out, and present them to the bride, but the stingy old thing never thought of it, and no doubt considered them vastly becoming. Then there were old Mrs. Griscom and Miss Griscom crying as if their hearts would break, and that odious Mary Trefoil that Caroline delights in, and I hate, with her gorgeous embroidered satin, looking ready to die with envy that she was not getting married herself, yet so very sentimental that she could take no supper from her excess of feeling; and that booby, Charles Spencer, who did nothing but throw himself into attitudes, and say ‘yes,” “certainly,” “assuredly,' to every one who had the sense to make a remark, a sin of which he was never guilty in all his life. And Mr. Lomond, with his finished elegance, flourishing, complimenting and bowing until I was really afraid he would break in two, paying the same compliments to every lady, and when he had gone all round, he began again with me, and said the very same things over again. I have affronted him for ever, for I could not help letting him know that I had heard it all before, and you never saw a man so crestfallen in your life. I cannot tell you how I enjoyed his confusion.” So ran on Susan, with her usual good nature, and with much more in the same strain, which we have not time to repeat. After the wedding there was of course the usual gaiety, which continued almost without interruption through the winter, and two more springs and summers passed away, and Mrs. Delford's family were still engrossed in the same round of heartless dissipation, bearing no record of well-spent hours in the advancement of either their moral or intellectual culture. Not so, however, with Louisa. From the timid, sensitive girl, she had now ripened into the lovely and intelligent woman. The discipline she had undergone in her aunt's family, by stifling the growth of the affectionate feelings of her heart, had thrown her the more upon the resources of her intellect, and in its cultivation the happiest hours of the three long years since her father's death had been passed. The en
thusiasm of her character seemed to find an echo in the bright creations of genius, and from the vapid frivolity and selfish vanity that surrounded her, she turned with delight to the companionship of those master minds, who by leading her to the contemplation of all that is great and good, elewated her thoughts above the world and the paltry interests that absorb so many of the immortal souls within it. Time had its usual blessed influence in moderating her grief, but the wound was too deep to be entirely healed—the memory of her father was still enshrined as the dearest object of her affection, and her sense of his loss was undiminished. About this time a young lady from another city, a distant relative of Mr. Delford, came to pay a visit to his family, and had not been with them many days before she began to feel a strong interest in Louisa. She was the daughter of a very distinguished man, and as such, independent of personal endowments, was entitled to, and received great attention. But few could associate with Mary Egerton without discovering that she was one of those who adorn their station much more than it can adorn them. She was handsome, accomplished, intelligent, highly cultivated and amiable—not what the world calls amiable, which is a term too often applied to vapid dulness which seems too indolent to rouse itself to opposition, but possessed of amiability in its highest sense—one who loved her friends with ardour, and was dearly loved in return, but who had the independence to think for herself, and to utter her sentiments without fear, when they might benefit another, even to her own injury. She was now about twenty-five, old enough to have considerable knowledge of the world, in which she had mixed largely; and her quick powers of observation enabled her to discriminate those shades of character which are so often kept out of view by the uniform disguise of conventional politeness. Though highly gifted and greatly admired, she was still unmarried. Why, she perhaps can tell—I will not. The kind attention Miss Egerton bestowed upon Louisa seemed to awaken within her powers she had before been unconscious of possessing. In the society which usually frequented Mrs. Delford's house, she had learned to think she must be of quite an unsocial temper, as she could take but little interest in what was going forward. But now, under the magic wand of Mary Egerton, it seemed to have changed its character; a few superior people were added to the circle attracted by the guest, and a new tone was immediately given to the whole. Powers and faculties which had before been held in abeyance, now started into life, and Louisa was astonished to see many from whom she had formerly heard nothing but insipid chat, now sustaining their part with credit in instructive and delightful conversation. The quick eye of Miss Egerton soon discovered the position Louisa occupied in her aunt's family. Her generous feelings were at once interested for her, and she determined if possible to try to inspire her with a confidence in herself that might place her above the necessity of submitting to the selfish impositions of the family, particularly of Susan, who would avail herself to the uttermost of Louisa's good nature, and frequently repay her kindness with taunts and contempt. With this view she insisted upon it that Louisa should return home with her, and Mrs. Delford, though disappointed that Susan was not included in the invitation, finding that Louisa was very anxious to go with her friend, gave her permission to do so. Miss Egerton had for several years been at the head of the establishment of her father, who was now advanced in life, and had long been a widower. She was his youngest child, and the others being either married or established at a distance from home, she was the presiding genius there. “Now Louisa,” she said to our heroine soon after her arrival, “I am going to establish you completely as one of the family. Whenever you are tired of papa and me there is your own little room, where I have put some books I know you love, that you can retreat to and be as unsociable as you please. But I insist upon it that whenever our friends are around us, or you and I are out together as we shall often be, that you must not be as you were at home, ashamed of the sound of your own voice when a stranger is present.” “Oh dear Mary, you know I never go into company,” replied Louisa, “and here it is so much pleasanter to listen than it was at Aunt Delford's that I am afraid I shall be more silent than ever.” “But I intend you shall go into company, and enjoy it too,” said her friend. “You are now nineteen, and absolutely require a little association with the world to make you feel your own consequence. You say you are like another being since you have known me. Now there are a hundred people in this town that are just as clever as I am in whose society you will enjoy a great deal of pleasure, provided you will let them see what you really are.” “If there are so many here it is strange there should be so few at home,” said Louisa. “I have heard Aunt Delford, Caroline and Susan talk of almost every body in society there, and it always seemed to me they must be a very disagreeable set, and I never saw any thing that led me to alter my opinion except while you were with us.” “Well, you will not have Aunt Delford to judge for you here, so you must find out for yourself. You are a good girl, and have been too much used to obedience to dispute my sovereign authority, and I say that you can and must go wherever I want you to go, and we will soon see how you like it.” Louisa loved her too well to think of resisting, and as Mary had foreseen the simple dignity of her friend's manners, the intelligence of her conversation and the loveliness of her appearance
THE COUSIN S.
soon attracted attention in the refined circle to which she was introduced. “Do you think Mrs. Delford and Susan would like the people here any better than those at home?” asked Miss Egerton of Louisa one day. “I am sure she would—she could not help it, they are so infinitely superior,” replied Louisa. “And I am just as sure she would not,” said her friend. “She is one of a class who seldom admire any thing that is not immediately connected with themselves or can minister in some way to their own vanity. The people you have heard her abuse at home are probably just as good as those you admire so much here. Louisa, I must talk to you a little about your situation in your aunt's family—that you are not happy there is evident.” “I have never said so to a human being,” said Louisa, her eyes filling with tears. “I love my uncle and he is always kind to me, and if my aunt and Susan would only let me love them.”— “But they never will unless they change their natures, which is not probable. The unkind, ungenerous manner in which I saw you treated shocked me before I had been a week in Mr. Delford's house, and I must say I blame him for permitting it; had it not been that I feared to wound his feelings and hoped to be a friend to you, I should have left the house within a very short time of my entering it. Do not cry so bitterly Louisa, it is I that am abusing them, not you. Believe me, it is for your good that I do it, for I think you only increase the evil under which you suffer by your passive unresisting temper. To your aunt it is your duty to submit, and she is much more kind to you than Susan, to whom you owe no such duty—her conduct is really insufferable.” “But you know Susan has a very quick temper—she was not kind even to Caroline.” “Her quick temper is no excuse for oppression. Were you a humble dependant on her bounty she could not require more from you than she now does. And those younger children too, George and Sophia—the demands they make upon your time and attention are absolutely unceasing.” “They love me, and Susan will never do any thing they ask her, poor children.” “Spoiled children if you please,” said Mary, “that show their love by calling upon you to minister to all their foolish fancies. One generous grateful heart has no chance among such a mass of selfishness as lives and flourishes there. Take my advice Louisa, and on your return try to assume the place you ought to occupy in the family; now you are little better than a servant without her wages. Be affectionate as ever to your aunt, but when Susan and the rest attempt to impose upon you, go quietly to your own room, and let them wait upon themselves. I am sure I sometimes thought your limbs would give way in some of their perpetual progresses up and down stairs, and from one end of the town to the other.
I was often tempted to ask why they did not sometimes send their waiting maid.” “Oh Lucille is entirely too dignified to run about for what they want.” “Why do they keep her then?” “She dresses hair beautifully, and arranges my aunt's caps and turbans with so much taste that they could not get on at all without her. Nothing else would induce them to submit to her impertinence as they do. I sometimes wonder they can bear it.” “Vanity will make people endure a great deal. She gratifies theirs by the exercise of her taste, and they think it distingué to have a Parisian dressing maid. Those who value such paltry distinctions must make some sacrifice to retain them. When you go home you must get Lucille to dress your hair too, and go out sometimes with your aunt and Susan as you have done with me.” “Indeed I cannot promise to do that,” said Louisa, “for I am sure I should not enjoy it at all. Whenever I was at any of my aunt's parties I would wish myself away a hundred times in the course of the evening—and besides, I think it a sad waste of existence to devote it to such trifling pursuits as most of the people I see there pass their lives in.” “And you are paying me the compliment of thinking I want to degrade you into a mere butterfly of fashion? Thank you, Louisa—I will just ask you one question—why do you think I urge this upon you?” “To make me happier, of course,” said Louisa. “Yes, and to increase your influence in life, particularly in the family in which your lot has been cast. You have more talent, cultivation and higher views of duty than any about you, but of what avail is it to them? Who listens to your opinion about any matter of importance? Do they not consider you romantic, bookish, knowing nothing of the world? Oh Louisa, you may perhaps have been sent among them for some good purpose. Look at that thoughtless Mrs. Etheredge, almost breaking her husband's heart with her silly vanity, and priding herself upon the number of her admirers—she a wife and mother. Who can tell where her silly vanity may lead her.” “But could I do any thing to make her less fond of admiration?” said Louisa. “Believe me, I do the most I can when I go, as I often do, and sit in the nursery with her babies when she is in company. I have often asked her how she could bear to leave them so much, and she says they do as well without her as with her. Poor Mr. Etheredge looks so very sad and thanks me so kindly for staying, that it is a greater satisfaction to me than going to any party could be.” “And so it ought to be,” said Mary; “but the question is, whether your influence with this poor deluded woman would not be greater if she saw you valued by the world she so worships, than it now is when she regards you as a good little do. mestic drudge about whom no one cares?”
she does not mind Susan much, who often says very hard things to her about her fondness for admiration.” “Susan and you are very different characters. Were I her adviser instead of yours, I would shut her up in a convent, or maybe in a worse place for the rest of her life. She could then harm no one—as to doing good, she is not capable of it. You have the power, but situated as you are you cannot use it. The class of people you live among value goodness but little for its own sake; it must have the current stamp, and may then perhaps be appreciated.” “Ah, if it only had been my lot to remain in the sweet retirement where I was once so happy, and knew nothing of the world and its ways. After being the sole object of affection to such a man as my dear father, it is doubly hard to be the unloved creature I have been ever since.” “You know, dear Louisa, that it is not for us shortsighted mortals to dispute the appointments of Providence. Your past and present trials may have been more beneficial to the development of your character than the calm repose of your former life. We must all expect trouble, yours came early upon you, and I hope may soon pass away. Under all circumstances you must remember that you have at least one true and devoted friend who will never desert you.” And Louisa felt that it was so, and after her return home endeavoured to follow the advice of one she loved and admired so much. Her aunt and cousins could not help being surprised that the Cinderella of their fireside should have been metamorphosed by any fairy into a person of consequence during her absence; but with Mrs. Delford's usual egotism she ascribed all the attention Louisa had received to her relationship to herself. “I knew very well, Louisa,” she said, ‘‘that my acquaintances there would be very civil to you. My hospitality to strangers has been such that there are few parts of the Union which my daughter or my niece could visit without being much noticed. My friends have really been kind, and I have no doubt, Louisa, they saw by your manners and conversation that the advantages of the position you occupy in my family had not been lost upon you.” Louisa could hardly suppress a smile at the idea of Mrs. Delford's claims to attention being superior to those of her distinguished host, even in the city that esteemed him one of its greatest ornaments. But what will not vanity appropriate? Mrs. Delford continued: “During your absence, Louisa, we have made the acquaintance and secured the friendship of one of the most charming men I ever met with. Even Susan is completely fascinated with him, and you know it must be endowments of no common order that can gain the admiration of a girl of her superior mind.”
Louisa inquired the gentleman's name. “Mr. St. Leger, a man of family and fortune.” “I have heard General Egerton speak of him; just from his travels in the East, is he not?” “He has been travelling not only in the East, but in all parts of the world, for the last seven or eight years. And then he is so graceful and accomplished, to say nothing of his good looks—is passionately fond of music, and you know there are few here that can compare with Susan in musical talent. He is now out of town, but will return in a day or two, when you will find I have not said a word too much in his praise.” Louisa's curiosity was a little excited to see this prodigy that could move even Susan to admiration, and she was pleased when a few evenings after Mr. St. Leger was announced to the family circle assembled in the drawing-room. He was not presented to Louisa, but she was accustomed to such neglect, and was therefore surprised when after having paid his compliments to the circle Mr. St. Leger advanced towards her as she sat with a book before her in a distant part of the room, saying “Miss Hargrave, I presume,” with à glance at Mrs. Delford. “Ah, I had quite forgotten,” said she; “Miss Hargrave, Mr. St. Leger.” “Miss Hargrave will I know excuse my anticipating your introduction, my dear madam, when I deliver my credentials in the form of a letter from her friend Miss Egerton, who I am happy to say I left last evening in perfect health.” So saying he handed a letter to Louisa. Before she could more than look her acknowledgment Mrs. Delford put in. “I am much obliged to you, Mr. St. Leger, for troubling yourself with Louisa's letter. Miss Egerton is well you say—I did not think she was in her usual looks when she left us two months ago. My friends were all very attentive to her while she was staying here, and of course it was exceedingly gratifying to me that they were so, but such a constant round of dissipation was almost too much for her.” “So she informed me,” said the gentleman, “but at the same time said it was impossible to resist the kind importunities of her father's numerous friends here.” “The general is, I hope, in his usual health?” said the unabashed matron. “I did not know you were intimate in the family.” “I was extremely so with General Egerton's son, who you may recollect died abroad, and have since corresponded with his father, but never had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance until my recent visit to him.” Meanwhile Louisa had slipped very quietly from the room to enjoy in private her friend's letter, in which she eulogized the bearer, and begged Louisa to receive him as a friend. “I only regret,” she added, “that you left us as soon as you did, for the very next day brought this delightful addition to our domestic circle—he tells me that vol. xxvii.-3
he is intimate at Mrs. Delford's, and I hope you will let him become well acquainted with you.” After Louisa returned to the drawing-room, where the circle had been increased by the arrival of other visitors, Mr. St. Leger drew his chair next her and entered into conversation. He was an uncommonly handsome man, of little more than thirty years of age, and his manner was frank, dignified and polished. Susan was apparently engaged with a lounging exquisite on the other side of the room, but while Louisa was listening with sparkling eye to Mr. St. Leger, while he spoke of her friend and expressed his admiration of one she loved so well, she caught Susan's eye fixed upon her with a look that positively startled her. A few moments afterwards Mrs. Delford called her, and after a little conversation sent her from the room to attend to something for one of the children, and she did not again return to it. So it happened on almost every occasion of Mr. St. Leger's visits. Susan was usually called to the piano-forte as soon as the gentleman began to talk to her cousin, and as he was very fond of music, and she was a fine performer, he was of course obliged to listen, and Louisa was engrossed by her aunt or got rid of in some other way. Mrs. Delford's management for once overshot the mark. Mr. St. Leger was clearsighted though unsuspicious, and of a very generous temper. He had become interested in our heroine, both from her own attractions and the high opinion Miss Egerton entertained of her, and was really desirous to cultivate her acquaintance, never dreaming that by so doing he was counteracting any secret plan that had been formed against his liberty and happiness—for he was not vain. But when he found Mrs. Delford so continually thrusting herself in the way of his enjoyment of Louisa's society he became observant of the treatment she generally received in the family, and his sympathies were at once roused in her behalf. Pity and admiration are dangerous inmates in a generous bosom, and Mr. St. Leger, the admired and courted, soon found that the intelligence, gentleness and beauty of the oppressed orphan had made a deep impression upon him. It was not long before Susan made the same discovery, and her dislike to her cousin now deepened into the most deadly hatred. This she however resolved to conceal under the mask of more than usual kindness, and Louisa, who was of too noble a nature to suspect treachery, thanked her friend Mary Egerton most sincerely for suggesting the mode of conduct by which she thought she had gained the respect of her worldlyminded relative. Of Mr. St. Leger's attachment to herself she had not as yet any suspicion, but how did she feel towards him? This she hardly dare ask herself. Gratitude, ardent gratitude, that he, the gifted, the admired, should in the gayest assemblies leave the side of the brightest daughters of fashion to devote himself to her, and give
her consequence by the attention he bestowed upon her—this she must feel; admiration too of his talents, his varied acquisitions, the rich and copious stream of eloquence with which, when excited by his subject, he would delight his listeners—his reverential loving spirit, so unlike the carping hypercriticism of so many of the present day, which seemed so open to all that was good, and dwelt not on the evil. And then the tribute paid by all to his many virtues, his enlarged charities, she thought that every woman must feel this. And Louisa was a woman, an ardent, sensitive, enthusiastic woman, and she loved devotedly and with her whole soul before she even thought of loving. Her aunt, intent as usual on self-glorification, tried to persuade herself it was only respect for the family that induced Mr. St. Leger to attach himself so frequently to Louisa's side. “You cannot think,” she said one day to her husband, “how kind Mr. St. Leger is to Louisa. You know she has not a very general acquaintance among the gentlemen, and often sits still while the others are dancing, and he always makes it a point to go and sit by her and talk to her. It is so thoughtful in him, whenever he cannot be with Susan he is always with Louisa.” “And do you think he talks with Louisa to please Susan?” asked Mr. Delford. “I rather fancy it is to please himself. Since you told me you thought he had a liking for Susan I have observed St. Leger whenever I have seen him with the girls, and certainly think he likes Louisa best.” “Louisa!” cried Mrs. Delford; “impossible!” “She is, of course, not to be compared with Susan, my dear, in any thing else, but she is certainly prettier, and most men are guided very much by the eye in choosing a wife.” Poor Mrs. Delford was for a few moments confounded by finding her secret misgivings thus confirmed by her husband, but she soon took courage and endeavoured by such powerful words (for arguments they were not) to prove him mistaken in his conjectures, that he was at last obliged to recant and say that “possibly it might be so.” Meantime Susan's new-born kindness towards Louisa continued unabated, and on the occasions that Mrs. Delford had alluded to she would frequently leave the dancers and join her cousin and Mr. St. Leger in their conversation. Here she was usually followed by Mr. Lomond, the gentleman she had so ridiculed at the time of Caroline's wedding, but who had quite forgiven the offence, and she would generally contrive to detach St. Leger from Louisa and fix Lomond in his place. By degrees the attentions of this latter gentleman became somewhat annoying; he would fasten himself by Louisa's side, load her with compliments, and evidently seemed determined to make himself agreeable to her. Louisa was too well bred to be positively rude to him, and too little accustomed to society to possess the art by which a woman of any tact can generally free herself from such annoyances. She therefore submitted to it with
the best grace she could, though she sometimes actually cried with vexation when a whole evening would pass, and this uninteresting being maintain his post and not allow her a single moment's unrestrained conversation with Mr. St. Leger, who gradually ceased to seek the opportunities for it he once would so gladly have embraced. At length, after becoming more and more distant in his manner towards her, Mr. St. Leger left town for an indefinite period. “He should,” he said, “travel through the whole country—he had been a wanderer so long that he found he could not be contented by remaining in one place—perhaps he might go to the Rocky Mountains”—in fact it was evident he did not think of a return. The whole family were startled at this sudden determination, and Mrs. Delford was certainly deeply disappointed. But alas! for poor Louisa. Who can tell the feeling of utter desolation that came upon her when she heard these cruel words? She nearly fainted on the spot, but her woman's pride came to her aid and enabled her to bid him a farewell as cold and distant as his own. She had sufficient presence of mind after the door had closed upon him to make some tri-" fling remark to Susan, and then feign an excuse for retiring to her own chamber. But Susan saw the anguish of her victim, and her cold grey eye glistened with joy at the success of her arts. I am revenged, she thought, now I can rest in peace. Oh woman! with all the fine-strung chords of your deep affections, why is it they are so often wrung with agony instead of sounding forth the clear notes of joy? Why is it that the most gifted among you so often suffer most, and the storms of life beat most tempestuously on the tenderest natures? Why, but that you may feel that here is not your rest, and that you may long more ardently for that better land where sorrow never enters. Deep and fearful was the conflict in Louisa's breast, and sorely did nature rebel at the trial she was called on to endure. Many wearisome days and darkened nights were appointed her before any approach to submission was attained. But did she blame him she now found was so dear to her for all the sorrow he had caused? No-she felt that though he had been all kindness, “all duty, all observance” towards her, it might have been but a generous friendship on his part, and only reproached herself for the vanity that made her for a short season hope she might be loved. He was too good, too noble for aught like falsehood to approach, and she acknowledged that her sufferings were the consequence of her own blind folly. She was humbled too in the consciousness that her strength of character had been overrated by the friend whose good opinion she most valued. “Little did Mary know,” she would say, “my innate weakness when she spoke of my being a guide to others. Even Caroline is wiser than I, for with all her vanity she has never made the utter shipwreck of her happiness that I have