« السابقةمتابعة »
peaceful home--to the neighbourhood where Valancourt was-where St. Aubert had been; and her imagination, piercing the veil of distance, brought that home to her eyes in all its interesting and romantic beauty. She experienced an inexpressible pleasure in believing that she beheld the country around it, though no feature could be distinguished, except the retiring chain of the Pyrenees; and inattentive to the scene immediately before her, and to the flight of time, she continued to lean on the window of a pavilion, that terminated the terrace, with her eyes fixed on Gascony, and her mind occupied with the interesting ideas which the view of it awakened, till a servant came to tell her breakfast was ready. Hér thoughts thus recalled to the surrounding objects, the straight walks, square parterres, and artificial fountains of the garden, could not fail, as she passed through it, 19 appear the worse, opposed to the negligent graces and natural beauties of the grounds at La Vallee, upon which her recollection bad been so intensively employed.
“ Whither have you been rambling so early?'' said Madame Cheron, as her niece entered the break fast-room. “ I don't approve of these solitary walks;" and Emily was surprised, when, having informed her aunt that she had been no further than the gardens, she understood these
til hers umetimes
rose from be
garde tre from
- I desire you
to be included in the reproof. will not walk there again at so early an hour unattended," said Madame Cheron; "my gardens are very extensive; and a young woman, who can make assignations by moonlight at La Vallée, is not to be trusted to her own inclinations elsewhere."
Emily, extremely surprised and shocked, had scarcely power to beg an explanation of these words, and when she did, her aunt absolutely refused to give it, though, by her severe looks and half sentences, she appeared anxious to impress Emily with a belief that she was well informed of some degrading circumstances of her conduct. Conscious innocence could not prevent a blush from stealing over Emily's check; she trembled, and looked confusedly under the bold eye of Madame Cheron, who blushed also; but hers was the blush of triumph, such as sometimes stains the countenance of a person, congratulating himself on the penetration which had taught him to suspect another, and who loses both pity for the supposed criminal and indignation of his guilt, in the gratification of his own vanity.
Emily, not doubting that her aunt's mistake arose from the having observed her ramble in the garden on the niglat preceding her departure from La Vallée, now mentioned the motive
of it, at which Madame Cheron smiled contemptuously, refusing eiiher to accept this explanation or to give her reasons for refusing it; and soon after she concluded the subject by saying, “ I never trust people's assertions, I always judge of them by their actions; but I am willing to try what will be your behaviour in future.”
Emily, less surprised by her aunt's moderation and mysterious silence than by the accusation she had received, deeply considered the latter, and scarcely doubted that it was Valancourt whom she had seen at night in the gardens of La Vallée, and that he had been observed there by Madame Cheron; who now, passing from one painful topic only to revive another almost equally so, spoke of the situation of her niece's property in the hands of M. Motteville. While she thus talked with ostentatious pity of Emily's misfortunes, she failed not to inculcate the duties of humility and gratitude, nor to render Emily fully sensible of every cruel mortification, who soon perceived that she was to be considered as a dependant, not only by her aunt but by her aunt's servants.
She was informed that a large party were expected to dinner, on which account Madame Cheron repeated the lesson of the preceding night concerning her conduct in company, and
Emily wished that she might have courage enough to practise it. Her aunt then proceeded to examine the simplicity of her dress, adding, that she expected to see her attired with gaiety and taste; after which, she condescended to show Emily the splendor of her chateau, and to point out the particular beauty or elegance which she thought distinguished each of her numerous suites of apartments. She then withdrew to her toilet, the throne of her homage;--and Emily to her chamber, to unpack her books, and to try to charm her mind by reading till the hour of dressing.
When the company arrived, Emily entered the saloon with an air of timidity, which all her efforts could not overcome, and which was increased by the consciousness of Madame Cheron's severe observation. Her mourning dress, the mild dejection of her beautiful countenance, and the retiring disidence of her manner, rendered her a very interesting object to many of the company; among whom she distinguished Signor Montoni and his friend Cavigni, the late visitors at M. Quesnel's, who now seemed to converse with Madame Cheron with the familiarity of old acquaintance, and she to attend to them with particular, pleasure.
This Signor Montoni had an air of conscious superiority, animated by spirit, and strengthened
hy talents, to which every person seemed inrolontarily to yield. The quickness of his perception was strikingly expressed on his countenance, yet that countenance could submit implicitly to occasion; and more than once in this day the triunoph of art over nature might have been discerned in it. His visage was long and rather narrow, yet he was called handsome; and it was, perhaps, the spirit and vigor of his soul, sparkling through his features, that triumphed for him. Emily felt admiration, but not the
. allmiration that leads to esteem; for it was mixed with a degree of fear she knew not exactly wherefore.
Cavigni was gay and insinuating as formerly; and, though he paid almost incessant attention to Madame Cheron, he found some opportunities of conversing with Emily, to whom he directed at first the sallies
of his wit, but now and then assumed an air of tenderness, which she observed and shrunk from. Though she replied but litile, the gentleness and sweetness of her manners encouraged him to talk, and she felt relieved when a young lady of the party, who spoke incessantly, obtruded herself on his notice. This lady, who possessed all the sprightliness of a French woman, with all her coquetry, affected to understand every subject, or rather there was no affectation in the case; for, never