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self. He knew that he should be of the night began to fall, they higher and better in every way from turned away through one of the the very hour in which she pro- shaded field-paths towards the mised to become his wife.
woods, and Mr. Carew's voice began And to a certain degree he was to falter as he talked. right. Esther was not a woman to Now Esther Fleming, in spite of inspire any other than a worthy and all the self-communings recorded at an honest passion. Mr. Carew's the end of the last chapter, was not mental condition was not visibly in love with Mr. Carew one whit. improved by his love; indeed, he She was flattered exceedingly by his became, if anything, more awkward evident regard for her; she thought and less agreeable in her society frequently, “If this is love, love is than he had been at first, but he was a very pleasant thing, and so is life.' none the less bettered in his spirit, She liked to put on her best muslin less selfish, less worldly, less self- frock and a flower in her waist-belt, seeking than he had ever been be- when she walked out to meet him fore since he was born (less so than on the hills; she liked to hear his he will ever be again while he lives). voice sink as he spoke to her; she And on the evening when he finally liked to feel, for the first time in her determined to tell her his love he life, that inordinately strong sensafelt and knew that a richer stake tion common to all women's hearts, was about to be won or lost by him namely, pleasure in possessing a than any upon which, during his young, and brave, and handsome two-and-twenty years of life, his man for her trembling slave. But hopes had ever before been staked. she did not love him. No shade
This state of feeling had not, of of real passion had crossed her course, all arisen out of that one heart, no deeper emotion than that meeting in the woods, or that one of flattered vanity had made her twilight parting on the moorside. cheek flush and her eyes sink beMr. Carew had, through a succes- neath his. A girl very honestly, I sion of happy accidents, met Esther was going to say icily, brought up, every day during the fortnight of as she had been, does not, you his stay at Lynmouth : had met her know, warm into sudden emotion as by the seaside, in the valleys, on the quickly as do indwellers of towns or moors; once, by special invitation readers of romance, or frequenters of Miss Joan, had spent a long even-. of crowded assemblies (young woing with her in her own garden at men, in a word, whose stimulated Countisbury. Acquaintance is never imagination has acted out the drama slow of ripening between persons of love a great number of times whose united ages scarce make forty before the actual uprising of the years. A fortnight is quite enough curtain), although passion in such to bring the deepest passion of a a nature as Esther's is, when once very young man to maturity. On aroused, strong and obstinate in this evening, when his confession proportion to the very slowness of was just trembling upon Oliver's its growth. And so, not being at lips, it seemed to him as though his all in love, but only fancying she love had already existed for years, was, and knowing, instinctively, that as though no further knowledge of Oliver's declaration was coming, life or of Esther could be needed Esther felt intensely happy and than that which these dozen of proud at the thought of accepting country walks, of lingering twilight him, and knew none of the agony, partings, had accorded him.
the fear, the torturing doubts, the It was a glorious summer night; ague fits of suspense, which expethe last night in June. From the rience should one day tell her are heathy uplands around Countisbury the sure heralds of any scene of mathey had watched the sun set until ture and earnest passion. all its gold was merged in pale and It was, as I said, a glorious sumfading azure above the sea; then, mer night. In dark and wintry when the shadows deepened round days to come, and when all the lovethe twilight moors, and the purple delusion had become hollowness and vanity in her sight, how clearly again as he canght sight of her face. Esther could recall every outward 'Oh, Esther-Miss Fleming, I mean sound and sensation of that next —will you say that again ?" half-hour! the faint swirr of the 'I did not know I had said it;' scythe from distant hayfields in the but her cheeks were covered with valley; the sonorous drone of wild blushes, her lips could scarce bring bees on the wing; the hushed cry of out the equivocation, the last inthe cuckoo from the woods; the stinctive effort at denial. elastic warmth of the thyme-laden Will you say it now?' air. One by one she could remem- Mr. Carew!' ber all the mass of summer foliage Miss Fleming, will you say it, over which at the time her eyes un- and make me the happiest man in consciously passed, as, with beating all England? Will you tell me that heart and flushing cheeks, she you won't forget me?—that I may turned away from Oliver's pleading think of you and write to you someface, the pink and scarlet wreaths times, when I am away? Oh, of honeysuckle bending low around Esther! cried the lad, passionately, the foam-like balls of elder, and tall will you let me love you? You red fox-gloves in the hedges, or can't prevent that, for I love you meeting in close embrace with the from my soul already. Will you delicate tendrils of the wax-like let me hope that some day you will briony across the path; the dim and care a little for me?' mellow light cast by the transparent A subject could not have wooed Jeafage overhead-yes, the single a queen more humbly. He never briar-rose that stood out so clear in tried to take her hand; he hardly its half-blown crimson against the dared to look into her face. He sky just at the moment when Oli- could have proposed to marry any ver's voice no longer faltered, and London young lady at a ball, in the she was forced to meet his pleading full presence of tall brothers and face and answer, she remembered Argus-eyed duennas, with less diffiall.
dence than he felt towards this simYou will not quite forget me, ple girl of eighteen amidst the lonely Miss Fleming? You will think, silence of the country lanes. 'Esther, once or twice during the next year, will you give me no answer?' of the hours we have spent to- Oliver!' gether?'
All he sought, all he wanted “Yes, I shall think of them, Mr. (just then) upon earth was in that Carew.'
one word. Esther, you will let me *For a whole year?'
hope?' 'Anything I could remember for He looked into her eyes-her a year I could remember for my frank and girlish eyes—and thought life.'
he read there the very fruition of * Anything? Your meeting with hope; thought that in their unthat old parson in the valley of abashed bright happiness there was Rocks last summer, or with me, or the confession of real love., any other utterly unimportant cir- * Esther, you will be my wife?' cumstance. I understand; your 'Some day, sir, perhaps. I am memory is good; simply that.'
very young now.' Mr. Carew's tone grew ironical. "Never say “sir," any more. I He wondered whether he was mak- am only Oliver to you now.' ing a fool of himself; he reflected "Yes, Oliver.' bitterly upon the levity and false- How the word thrilled through ness of all women's natures.
the lad's heart again, coming from 'I should remember things I did her lips. • You promise me.
I not care for, but I should not think
am exacting, Esther; I must have about them,' began Esther ; then more than a mere indifferent "yes" she stopped short.
on such a subject. You promise ‘And you will think of our walks, me that you will be my wife?' and, sometimes, of me?' cried Oliver, "As you wish, sir.' eagerly, and flushing with hope Long afterwards, Esther Fleming
strove to assuage reproachful con- you please, to their own ambrosial science with the thought that she but infantine raptures, and turn to did not give the verbal promise he the remarkably prosaic people who required from her. I am afraid awaited Esther's return beside the that when eyes and cheeks do not frugal supper table of the Countissay nay 'tis but a spirit of Jesuitic bury farm. casuistry that can seek refuge in the fact that the lips have not promised. * Esther is out late,' said Joan, What are mere bare words at such ostensibly shouting in her mother's a time? Oliver, poor boy, never ear, but with her keen eyes fixed on knew whether she said 'I promise, David's face. · We had better eat or 'I do not;' he knew simply that our supper, and not wait, mother. she had accepted him, and so think- Mr. Carew will have met her again; ing, trod upon air for the remainder and when young people like him of the night. He was really in- and Esther meet, old ones like us tensely happy, as much in love as are not likely to be remembered.' it was possible for him to be; too He is a well-looking lad,' renewly intoxicated to reflect upon the marked old Mrs. Engleheart, dreamiexceeding folly of the entanglement, ly. 'I have seen him here sometoo enamoured of himself to doubt times, haven't I, Joan ?' for one instant the reality of Esther's • You saw him for one entire love. With the passion of men and evening, a week ago, mother; don't women there mixes some degree of you remember, we had tea under bitterness, some recollection, some the thorn, and afterwards'-her eyes dread, from the first moment that at this juncture pierced David clean the enchanted cup is raised to the through and through—'afterwards lips. With boy-and-girl sentiment Mr. Carew and Esther walked for there is no bitterness at all; and, an hour or more up and down the however mawkish older persons terrace in the moonlight. Don't may consider the draught, they in you remember I said to you 'twas a their simplicity do, no doubt, regard wonder they could find so much to it as nectar fresh from the hands of say after such a short acquaintance?' the gods. Only one thing, reader, • Esther is a clever girl,' said Mrs. don't let us older persons attempt Engleheart, turning round to David to chronicle their first raptures. to confirm her opinion;' and perhaps Some singularly rare love scenes this Mr.-Mr.- what is his name, may come within the limits of fic- Joan?-is serious in his attentions. tion that aspires to be sensible; but Don't you think so, nephew ?' the earliest stage of a very imma- It was very possible David thought ture engagement is not of these. so; but he did not look up from his Oliver and Miss Fleming lingere
book. among the silent lanes till ten that *Unless I thought it a great deal night. They thought of the stars, more than possible, I should not they thought vaguely of their own countenance all these daily walks delicious future. They were silent together,' broke out Joan, promptly. frequently for long spaces at a time; *Mr. Carew, if he is a young man of their conversation when they spoke common honour, must declare his consisted of monosyllables, at once intentions after all that has ocdisconnected and inane. Could the curred.' prince of realistic writers—could All that has occurred !' repeated M. de Balzac himself-make much David, with a groan of the spirit out of such innocuous raw mate- that Joan's sharp senses divined rials? I think not very much. Love, rather than heard. What, in heato be amenable to art, must be ven's name, do you mean by that, misplaced, or darkened by impedi- Joan ?' ments, or coming very near indeed 'I mean,' said Miss Engleheart, to the end of the third volume; and very drily, and confronting David as Oliver's and Esther's love is at full, and looking, as he felt, poor present in no one of these condi- creature, right into every weak part tions, we will leave the lovers, if every smallest cranny or interVOL. V.-NO. XXVIII.
stice of his heart,-'I mean that for in secret the light of his life so long & fortnight this young stranger has was at an end. He must return to met Esther daily, and has walked the prosaic middle age out of which with her for hours; and that the Esther's fond young face had for a girl keeps the flowers he gives her few years cheated him: must go in her room, and makes foolish ex- back from life to vegetation; must cuses when I find them there, and make such interest for his days as cannot even mention Carew's name Joan did; must have Joan instead without blushing. You don't know of Esther for a companion; succumb anything about such matters, cousin, to Joan; marry Joan, very likelyshe pursued, pitilessly; but when it mattered little now whether he I was young I remember all this did or not. Well, let him swallow was called being in love; and if our all this horrible bitterness like a Esther cares seriously for the young man—not make his foolish passion man Carew, I suppose it is desirable any more ridiculous than it was that his intentions towards her already by moping and pining like should be openly declared.'
a love-sick lad. Miss Joan was for sharp decisivo Joan noted the effect of her gentle treatment in all disorders, mental tonic in a certain determination with and bodily. She knew the extent of which David flung aside his book the malady under which poor David and seized hold of his knife and was suffering to the full as well as fork; and during the whole of the he did himself, and was for extir- meal continued to administer genepating it, as one would a thorn out rous doses of the same wholesome of the fleshly man, by sudden vio- draught to her unhappy victim. lence. The searing of a
'It wouldn't be ill in you, David, with red-hot iron wire was a remedy to ask Carew to dinner. I have not Joan had successfully tried upon seen any one at my mother's table herself in toothache: could not a for fifteen years; but I think for foolish passion be treated in like Esther's sake this young man should manner? a moment of sharp in- be invited.' tolerable anguish, and then the pain "Yes, Joan.' gone for ever. I think there was 'If his attentions end as I intend some wisdom in her opinion-at them to do, it will be one of the least as regarded David. When the most fortunate things that ever cutting, cruel truth fell on him thus happened in our family. I have had suddenly from his cousin's lips he a letter this evening from Aunt felt, as he had not felt during this Tudor, and my own opinion is that entire fortnight, that he must rouse she is breaking up. Her feet are himself, not only to endure, but to swelling, David.' conquer. All these dull suffering 'Are they indeed, Joan?' days of mechanical reading, these Mother,' emphatically, to the sleepless nights, these agonies of poor patient old lady at her side, mute jealousy, must have an end. did I tell you that Aunt Tudor's He would have to act, to give Esther feet are swelling ?' to her lover, to listen to family dis- * Dear, dear! cried Mrs. Englecussions on her prospects, to see her heart, in her deprecating way, ' now married. Loving her as he did, I call that very odd indeed of Thalia. should he not make the poor exer- She is two years younger than me, tion of striving, at least, not to cloud and when we were girls —' her happiness? He had been gentle 'I know what it means, David,' as ever with her since he knew the proceeded Joan, who seldom tronutter hopelessness of his own pas- bled herself to hear anybody out. sion; but he had been moody and 'I remember Uncle Garratt and a silent in his manner when she tried dozen other people going off in the to rouse him-unsympathizing in same way. She writes more than the poor child's natural hearty ever of her parties and her gaiety, spirits. This should be over now; and her excellent health and spirits, he would rally his forces and con- but she doesn't deceive me. She's quer. The feeling which had been breaking up fast.'
'I thought I heard you tell your We would try, Joan.'
live in poverty without trying to
We have sometimes thought it with the notion that a wretched
be able some day or other to get the
to work for her own bread!' And
the old lady glanced towards the
the inheritance of his own descend-
as I am-honest at least. I should
need; and I am proud to say the
answered Joan, sharply; "he comes
of honourable ancestors like our