« السابقةمتابعة »
ened it, for he stood looking about him, and handling the glass to no purpose. His assistant did all the work, and yet somehow did not seem to get on with it. The truth was, the fellow was innocent and yet not so, for he had brought our hero with him as his journeyman. Pomona, watching narrowly, discovered the secret, but for reasons best known to herself, pretended otherwise, and the men were to come again next day.
That same evening my lady's maid's cousin's husband's aunt came to see her,—a free jolly maternal old dame, who took the liberty of kissing the mistress of the house, and thanking her for all favours. Pomona had never received such a long kiss. "Excuse" cried the housewife, "an old body, who has had daughters and grand-daughters, aye, and three husbands to boot, God rest their souls; but dinner always makes me bold,-old and bold, as we say in Gloucestershire,-old and bold; and her ladyship's sweet face is like an angel's in heaven." All this was said in a voice at once loud and trembling, as if the natural jollity of the old lady was counteracted by her years.
Pomona felt a little confused at this liberty of speech; but her goodnature was always uppermost, and she respected the privileges of age. So, with a blushing face, not well knowing what to say, she mentioned something about the old lady's three husbands, and said she hardly knew whether to pity her most for losing so many friends, or to congratulate the gentlemen on so cheerful a compa nion. The old lady's breath seemed to be taken away by the elegance of this compliment; for she stood looking and saying not a word. At last she made signs of being a little deaf, and Betty repeated as well as she could what her mistress had said. "She
is an angel for certain," cried the gossip, and kissed her again. Then perceiving that Pomona was prepared to avoid a repetition of this freedom, she said, "But lord! why doesn't her sweet ladyship marry herself, and make somebody's life a heaven upon earth? They tell me she's frightened at the cavaliers and the moneyhunters, and all that; but God-a-mercy, must there be no honest man that's poor? and mayn't the dear sweet soul be the jewel of some one's eye, because she has money in her pocket?"
Pomona, who had entertained some such reflections as these
herself, hardly knew what to answer; but she laughed, and made some pretty speech.
Ay, ay," resumed the old woman. "Well, there's no knowing." (Here she heaved a great sigh). "And so my lady is mighty curious in plants and apples, they tell me, and quite a gardener, lord love her, and rears me cart-loads of peaches. Why, her face is a peach, or I should like to know what is. But it didn't come of itself neither. No, no; for that matter, there were peaches before it; and Eve didn't live alone, I warrant me, or we should have had no peaches now, for all her gardening. Well, well, my sweet young lady, don't blush and be angry, for I am but a poor foolish old body, you know, old enough to be your grandmother; but I can't help thinking it a pity, that's the truth on't. Oh dear! Well; gentlefolks will have their fegaries, but it was very different in my time, you know; and lord! now to speak the plain scripter truth; what would the world come to, and where would her sweet ladyship be herself, I should like to know, if her own mother that's now an angel in heaven had refused to keep company with her ladyship's father, because she brought him a good estate, and made him the happiest man on God's yearth?"
The real love that existed between Pomona's father and mother, being thus brought to her recollection, touched our heroine's feelings; and looking at the old dame, with tears in her eyes, she begged her to stay and take some tea, and she would see her again before, she went away. "Ay, and that I will, and a thousand thanks into the bargain from one who has been a mother herself, and can't help crying to see my lady in tears. I could kiss 'em off, if I warn't afraid of being troublesome; and so God bless her, and I'll make bold to make her my curtsey again before I go."
The old body seemed really affected, and left the room with more quietness than Pomona had looked for, Betty meanwhile shewing an eagerness to get her away, which was a little remarkable. In less than half an hour there was a knock at the parlour door, and Pomona saying "Come in," the door was held again by somebody for a few seconds, during which there was a loud and apparently angry whisper of voices. Our heroine, not without agitation, heard the words "no, no," and "yes," repeated with vehemence, and
then "I tell you I must and will; she will forgive you, be assured, and me too, for she'll never see me again." And at these words the door was opened by a gallant-looking young man, who closed it behind him, and advancing with a low bow, spoke as follows:"If you are alarmed, Madam, which I confess you reasonably may be at this intrusion, I beseech you to be perfectly certain, that you will never be so alarmed again, nor indeed ever again set eyes on me, if it so please you. You see before you, Madam, that unfortunate younger brother (for I will not omit even that title to your suspicion) who, seized with an invincible passion as he one day beheld you from your garden wall, has since run the chance of your displeasure, by coming into the house under a variety of pretences, and inasmuch as he has violated the truth, has deserved it. But one truth he has not violated, which is, that never man entertained a passion sincerer; and God is my witness, Madam, how foreign to my heart is that accursed love of money, (I beg your pardon, but I confess it agitates me in my turn to speak of it), which other people's advances and your own modesty have naturally induced you to suspect in every person situated as I am. Forgive me, Madam, for every alarm I have caused you, this last one above all. I could not deny to my love and my repentance, the mingled bliss and torture of this moment; but as I am really and passionately a lover of truth as well as of yourself, this is the last trouble I shall give you, unless you are pleased to admit what I confess I have very little hopes of; which is, a respectful pressure of my suit in future. Pardon me even these words, if they displease you. You have nothing to do but to bid me-leave you; and when he quits this apartment, Harry Vernon troubles you no more."
A silence ensued for the space of a few seconds. The gentleman was very pale; so was the lady. At length she said, in a very under tone, "This surprise, sir—I was not insensible—I mean, I perceived-Sure, sir, it is not Mr Vernon, the brother of my cousin's friend, to whom I am speaking?"
"The same, Madam."
"And why not at once, sir-I mean-that is to say-Forgive me, sir, if circumstances conspire to agitate me a little, and to throw me in doubt what I ought to say. I wish to say what is
becoming, and to retain your respect." And the lady trembled as she said it.
"My respect, Madam, was never profounder than it is at this moment, even though I dare begin to hope that you will not think it disrespectful on my part to adore you. If I might but hope, that months or years of service
"Be seated, sir, I beg;-I am very forgetful. I am an orphan, Mr Vernon, and you must make allowances as a gentleman" (here her voice became a little louder)" for anything in which I may seem to forget, either what is due to you, or to myself."
The gentleman had not taken a chair, but at the end of this speech he approached the lady, and led her to her own seat with an air full of reverence.
"Ah, Madam, "said he, "if you could but fancy you had known me these five years, you would at least give me credit for enough truth, and I hope enough tenderness and respectfulness of heart (for they all go together) to be certain of the feelings I entertain towards your sex in general, much more towards one, whose nature strikes me with such a gravity of admiration at this moment, that praise even faulters on my tongue. Could I dare hope that you meant to say anything more kind to me than a common expression of good wishes, I would dare to say that the sweet truth of your nature not only warrants your doing so, but makes it a part of its humanity."
"Will you tell me, Mr Vernon, what induced you to say so decidedly to my servant (for I heard it at the door) that you were sure I should never see you again."
"Yes, Madam, 1 will; and nevertheless I feel all the force of your enquiry. It was the last little instinctive stratagem that love induced me to play, even when I was going to put on the whole force of my character and my love of truth! for I did indeed believe that you would discard me, though I was not so sure of it as I pretended."
There, sir," said Pomona, colouring in all the beauty of joy and love," there is my hand. I give it to the lover of truth; but truth no less forces me to acknowledge, that my heart had not been unshaken by some former occurrences."
Charming and adorable creature!" cried our hero, after he had recovered from the kiss which he gave her. But here we leave them to themselves. Our heroine confessed, that from what she now knew of her feelings, she must have been inclined to look with compassion on him before; but added, that she never could have been sure she loved him,-much less had the courage to tell him so, till she had known him in his own candid shape.
And this, and no other, is the True Story of Vertumnus and Pomona.
NEW COMEDY OF THE MERCHANT'S WEDDING. THE Black Prince, produced the other day at Drury lane, was founded on some of the greatest writers of the greatest age of our poetry; and it did not succeed. The new piece produced at Covent garden, called the Merchant's Wedding, is founded on some of the least writers of that age (great men nevertheless); and it has succeeded. The reason is, that the noble limbs of the former were torn asunder to patch up a modern body; and a poor monster was made up, not the less absurd for having a left leg not his own, and a fine eye put in his head with no brain behind it. In the latter case, the adapter has shewn a proper reverence for his work; the play is almost entirely to be found in the two authors (Mayne and Rowley), on whom it is founded; and if the rest is Mr Planche's own, it does great credit to his taste. There was a pretty passage in this gentleman's preface to his Oberon (the piece that Weber composed) which shewed that he knew how to be in the company of men of genius; and his modesty has been rewarded. *
A letter, by the way, has appeared in the newspapers, wondering how it was that certain passages from Beaumont and Fletcher nearly got the Black Prince condemned, while certain other pas. sages, the invention of the ingenious adapter, were loudly applauded. We know not how this might have been the first night. It was not so the night we saw it. But you may piece-meal anything
*We allude to his quotation from Saadi, the Persian moralist.