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loved almost every one whom he saw. At that moment there was only one person in the whole world that he hated, viz., the miserable individualif any such there were-who might have happened to forestall him in the affections of Miss Aubrey. The bare idea made his breath come and go quickly, and his cheek flush. Why, he felt that he had a sort of right to Miss Aubrey's heart; for had they not been born, and had they not lived almost all their lives, within a few miles of each other? Had they not often played together?-were not their family estates almost contiguous? Delamere advanced into the room, assuming as unconcerned an air as he could; but he felt not a little tried when Miss Aubrey, on seeing him, gaily and frankly extended her hand to him, supposing him to have only the moment before entered the house. Poor Delamere's hand slightly quivered as he felt it clasping the soft lillied fingers of her whom he had thus resolved to make his wife: what would he not have given to have carried them to his lips! Now, if I were to say that in the course of that evening, Miss Aubrey did not form a kind of a sort of a faint notion of the possible state of matters with young Delamere, I should not be treating the reader with that eminent degree of candour for which I think he, or she, is at present disposed to give me credit. But Kate was deeply skilled in human nature, and settled the matter by one very just reflection, viz., that she was one year and seven months older than Delamere; and, therefore, that it was not likely that, &c. &c. &c. Besides, the son and heir of Lord De la Zouch-pooh!—pooh !—'tis a mere boy, at College-how ridiculous! So she gave herself no trouble about the affair; exbibited no symptoms of caution or coyness, but laughed and sung, and talked, and played, just as if he had not been present.
He was a handsome young fellow,
During the evening, Mr Delamere took an opportunity of asking Miss Aubrey who wrote the verses which he pointed to, as they lay on the piano. The handwriting, she said, was hers, but the verses were composed by her brother. He asked for the copy, with a slight trepidation. She readily gave it to him he receiving it with (as he
supposed) a mighty unconcerned air. He read it over that night, before getting into bed, at least six times; and it was the very first thing he looked at on getting out of bed in the morning. Now Miss Aubrey certainly wrote an elegant hand—but as for character, of course it had none. He could scarce have distinguished it from the handwriting of any of his sisters, or cousins, or friends;-How should he? All women are taught the same hard, angular uniform hand-but good, bad, or indifferent, this was Kate Aubrey's handwriting-and her pretty hand had rested on the paper while writingthat was enough. He resolved to turn the verses into every kind of Greek and Latin metre he knew of
In short, that here was a 66 course of true love" opened, seems pretty evident; but whether it will “ run smooth" is another matter.
Their guests having at length departed, Mr Aubrey, his wife, and sister, sate before the fire gossiping over the events of the day for some twenty minutes, and then they rose to retire. He went, very sleepy, straight to his dressing-room; they to the nursery, to see how the children were going on, as far as they could learn from their drowsy attendants. Little Aubrey would have reminded you of one of the exquisite children's heads sketched by Reynolds or Lawrence, as he lay breathing imperceptibly, with his rich flowing hair spread upon the pillow, in which his face was partly hid and his arms stretched out. Mrs Aubrey
put her finger into one of his hands, which was half open, and which closed as it were instinctively upon it with a gentle pressure. "Look, Kate," softly whispered Mrs Aubrey. Aubrey leaned forward and kissed his little cheek with an ardour that almost awoke him. After a glance at a tiny head partly visible above the clothes, in an adjoining bed, and looking like a rose-bud half hid amongst the leaves, they withdrew.
The little loves!-how one's heart thrills with looking at them!" said Miss Aubrey, as they descended, "Kate!" whispered Mrs Aubrey, with an arch smile, as they stood at their respective chamber doors which adjoined. "Mr Delamere is improved -is not he?—Ah, I understand."
Agnes, how can you"- hastily answered Miss Aubrey, with cheeks
suddenly crimsoned. "I never heard such nonsense."
"Right, right, love, think over it!" said Mrs Aubrey, and the next moment the blooming wife had entered her bedroom. Miss Aubrey slipped into her dressing-room, where Harriet, her maid, was sitting asleep before the fire. Her beautiful mistress did not for a few minutes awake her; but placing her candlestick on the toilettable, stood in a musing attitude.
"It's so perfectly ridiculous," at length she said aloud, and up started her maid. Within a quarter of an hour Miss Aubrey was in bed, but by no means asleep.
"Has he left any family, Charles ?" enquired Mrs Aubrey with a sigh, her eye still fixed on the letter.
"I-I really don't know-poor fellow! We lose a vote for Shellington -we shall, to a certainty," he added, with an air of chagrin visibly stealing over his features.
"How politics harden the heart, Charles! Just at this moment to be”
"It is too bad Agnes; I am-but you see-stay, I don't know either, for there's the Grassingham interest come into the field since the last"
"Charles, I do really almost think," exclaimed Mrs Aubrey, with sudden emotion, stepping to his side, and throwing her arms round him affec tionately" that if I were to die, I should be forgotten in a fortnight, if the House were sitting".
"My love, how can you say such things?" enquired Aubrey, kissing her forehead.
The next morning, about eleven o'clock, Mr Aubrey was seated in the library, in momentary expectation of his letters; and a few moments before the postman's rat-tat was heard, Mrs and Miss Aubrey made their appearance, as was their wont, in expectation of any thing that might have upon the cover, in addition to the address "CHARLES AUBREY, ESQ., M. P.," his arms in silence. On the occasion
&c. &c. &c.,
the words, letters, or figures," Mrs Aubrey," or "Miss Aubrey" in the corner. In addition to this, it was not an unpleasant thing to skim over the contents of his letters, as one by one he opened them, and laid them aside; for both these women were daughters of Eve, and inherited a little of her curiosity. Mr Aubrey was always somewhat nervous and fidgety on such occasions, and wished them gone; but they only laughed at him, so he was fain to put up with them. On this morning there were more than Mr Aubrey's usual number of letters; and in casting her eye over them, Mrs Aubrey suddenly took up one that challenged attention; it bore a black seal, had a deep black bordering, and had the frank of Lord Alkmond, at whose house in Shropshire they had for months been engaged to spend the ensuing Christmas, and were intend ing to set off on their visit the very next day. The ominous missive was soon torn open; it was from Lord Alkmond himself, who in a few hurried lines announced the sudden death of his brother; so that there was an end of their visit to the Priory.
"Well!" exclaimed Mr Aubrey, calmly, rising after a pause, and standing with his back to the fire, in a mu sing posture.
"When Agnes was born, you know"--she murmured inarticulately. Her husband folded her tenderly in
she alluded to, he had nearly lost her; and they both had reason to expect that another similar season of peril was not very distant.
"Now, Charles," said Miss Aubrey, presently assuming a cheerful tone; "now for dear old Yatton!"
"Yes, Yatton! - Positively you must!" added Mrs Aubrey, smiling through her tears.
"What!-Go to Yatton? we must set off to-morrow-they've had no warning."
"What warning does mamma require, Charles? Isn't the dear old place always in apple-pie order?”
"How you love the dear old place,' Kate!" exclaimed Aubrey, in such an affectionate tone as brought his sister in an instant to his side, to urge on her suit; and there stood the Lord of Yatton embraced by these two beautiful women, his own heart seconding every word they uttered.
"How my mother would stare!" said he at length, irresolutely.
"What a bustle every thing will be in!" exclaimed Kate. "I fancy I'm there already! The great bla zing fires- the holly and mistletoe. We must all go, Charles-children and all."
"Why, really, I hardly know".
Within a very few minutes that respectable functionary had made his appearance and received his instrucThe march to Shropshire was countermanded and hey! for Yatton, for which they were to start the next day about noon. Mr Griffiths' first step was to pack off Sam, Mr Aubrey's groom, by the Tally-ho, the first coach to York, starting at two o'clock that very day, with letters announcing the immediate arrival of the family. These orders were received by Sam, (who had been born and bred at Yatton,) while he was bestowing, with vehement sibillation, his customary civilities on a favourite mare of his master's. Down dropped his currycomb; he jumped into the air; snapped his fingers; then he threw his arms round Jenny and tickled her under the chin. "Dang it," said he, as he threw her another feed of oats, "I wish thee was going wi' me-dang'd if I don't!" Then he hastily made himself a bit tidy; presented himself very respectfully before Mr Griffiths, to receive the wherewithal to pay his fare; and having obtained it, off he scampered to the Bull and Mouth, as if it had been a neck-and-neck race between him and all London, which should get down to Yorkshire first. A little after one o'clock, his packet of letters was delivered to him; and within another hour Sam was to be seen (quite comfortable with a draught of spiced ale given him by the cook, to make his dinner sit well) on the top of the Tally-ho, rattling along the great North road.
"Come, Kate," said Mrs Aubrey, entering Miss Aubrey's room, where she was giving directions to her maid, "I've ordered the carriage to be at the door as soon as it can be got ready; we must go off to Coutts''-see!" She held two thin slips of paper, one of which she gave Miss Aubrey-'twas a check for one hundred pounds-her brother's usual Christmas-box-" and then we've a quantity of little matters to buy this afternoon. Come, love, quick!"
Now, Kate had spent nearly all her
money, which circumstance, connected with another which I shall shortly mention, had given the poor girl not a little concern. At her earnest request, her brother had, about a year before, built her a nice little school, capable of containing some eighteen or twenty girls, on a slip of land near the vicarage, and old Mrs Aubrey and her daughter found a resident schoolmistress, and, in fact, supported the little establishment, which, at the time I am speaking of, contained some seventeen or eighteen of the villagers' younger children. Miss Aubrey took a prodigious interest in this little school, scarce a day passing without her visiting it when she was at Yatton; and what Kate wanted, was the luxury of giving a Christmas present to both mistress and scholars. That, however, she would have had some difficulty in effecting but for her brother's timely present, which had quite set her heart at ease. the carriage was crowded with the things they had been purchasingarticles of clothing for the feebler old villagers; work-boxes, samplers, books, testaments, prayer-books, &c. &c. &c., for the school; the sight of which, I can assure the reader, made Kate far happier than if they had been the costliest articles of dress and jewellery.
On their return,
The next day was a very pleasant one for travelling-" frosty, but kindly." About one o'clock there might have been seen standing before the door the roomy yellow family carriage, with four post-horses, all in travelling trim. In the rumble sat Mr Aubrey's valet and Mrs Aubrey's maid-Miss Aubrey's, and one of the nurserymaids, going down by the coach which had carried Sam-the Tally-ho. coach-box was piled up with that sort of luggage which, by its lightness and bulk, denotes lady-travelling: inside were Mrs and Miss Aubrey, muffled in furs, shawls, and pelisses; a nurserymaid, with little Master and Miss Aubrey, equally well protected from the cold; and the vacant seat awaited Mr Aubrey, who at length made his appearance, having been engaged in giving specific instructions concerning the forwarding of his letters and papers. As soon as he had taken his place, and all had been snugly disposed within, the steps were doubled up, the door closed, the windows drawn up-crack! crack! went the whips of the two postilions,
and away rolled the carriage over the dry hard pavement.
"Now that's what I calls doing it uncommon comfortable," said a potboy to one of the footmen at an adjoining house, where he was delivering the porter for the servants' dinner; "how werry nice and snug them two looks in the rumble behind."
"We goes to-morrow," carelessly replied the gentleman he was addressing.
"It's a fine thing to be gentlefolk," said the boy, taking up his pot-board. "Ya-as," drawled the footman, twitching up his shirt collar.
On drawing up to the posting-house, which was within about forty miles of Yatton, the Aubreys found a carriage and four just ready to start, after changing horses; and whose should this prove to be, but Lord De la Zouch's, containing himself, his lady, and his son, Mr Delamere. His lordship and his son both alighted on accidentally discovering who had overtaken them; and coming up to Mr Aubrey's carriage windows, exchanged surprised and cordial greetings with its occupants,-whom Lord De la Zouch imagined to have been by this time on their way to Shropshire. Mr Delamere manifested a surprising eagerness about the welfare of little Agnes Aubrey, who happened to be lying fast asleep in Miss Aubrey's lap: but the evening was fast advancing, and both the travelling parties had yet before them a considerable portion of their journey. After a hasty promise on the part of each to dine with the other, before returning to town for the season-a promise which Mr Delamere at all events resolved should not be lost sight of-they parted. 'Twas eight o'clock before Mr Aubrey's eye, which had been for some time on the look-out, caught sight of Yatton woods; and when it did, his heart yearned towards them. The moon shone brightly and cheerily, and it was pleasant to listen to the quickening clattering tramp of the horses upon the dry hard highway, as the travellers rapidly neared a spot endeared to them by every tender association. When with
in half a mile of the village, they overtook the worthy Vicar, who had mounted his nag, and been out on the road to meet the expected comers, for an hour before. Aubrey roused Mrs Aubrey from her nap, to point out Dr
"All well?" he exclaimed, riding close to the window.
"Yes, but how is my mother?" enquired Aubrey.
High spirits-high spirits: was with her this afternoon. Have not seen her better for years. So surprised. Ah! here's an old friendHector!"
Papa! papa!" exclaimed the voice of little Aubrey, struggling to get on his father's lap to look out of the window, "That is Hector! I know it is! He is come to see me ! I want to look at him!"
Mr Aubrey lifted him up as he desired, and a huge black-and-white Newfoundland dog almost leaped up to the window at sight of him clapping his little hands, as if in eager recognition, and then scampered and bounded about in all directions, barking most boisterously, to the infinite . delight of little Aubrey. This messenger had been sent on by Sam, the groom, who had been on the look-out for the travellers for some time; and the moment he caught sight of the carriage, pelted down the village, through the park at top speed, up to the hall, there to communicate the good news. The travellers thought that the village had never looked so pretty and picturesque before. The sound of the carriage dashing through it, called all the cottagers to their doors, where they stood bowing and curtsying. It soon reached the parkgates, which were thrown wide open in readiness for its entrance. As they passed the church, they heard its little bells ringing a merry peal to welcome their arrival; its faint chimes went to their very hearts.
"My darling Agnes, here we are again in the old place," said Mr Aubrey, in a joyous tone, affectionately kissing Mrs Aubrey and his sister, as, after having wound their way up the park at almost a gallop, they heard themselves rattling over the stone pavement immediately under the old turreted gateway. In approaching it, they saw lights glancing about in the hall windows; and before they had
drawn up, the great door was thrown open, and several servants (one or two of them greyheaded) made their ap pearance, eager to release the travellers from their long confinement. A great wood-fire was crackling and blazing in the fireplace opposite the door, casting a right pleasant and cheerful light over the various antique objects ranged around the walls; but the object on which Mr Aubrey's eye instantly settled was the venerable figure of his mother, standing beside the fireplace with one or two female attendants. The moment that the carri ge door was opened, he stepped quickly out, (nearly tumbling, by the way, over Hector, who appeared to think that the carriage-door was opened only to enable him to jump into it, which he prepared to do.)
"God bless you, Madam!" faltered Aubrey, his eyes filling with tears, as he received his mother's fervent, but silent greeting, and imagined that the arms folded round him were somewhat feebler than when he had last felt them embracing him. With similar affection was the good old lady received by her daughter and daughterin-law.
"Where is my pony, grandmamma?" quoth little Aubrey, running up to her, (he had been kept quiet for the last eighty miles or so, by the mention of the aforesaid pony.) "Where is it? I want to see my little pony directly! Mamma says you have got a little pony for me with a long tail; I must see it before I go to bed; I must, indeed
is it in the stable?” "You shall see it in the morning, my darling-the very first thing," said Mrs Aubrey, fervently kissing her beautiful little grandson, while tears of joy and pride ran down her cheek. She then pressed her lips on the deli cate but flushed cheek of little Agnes, who was fast asleep; and as soon as they had been conducted towards their nursery, Mrs Aubrey, followed by her children, led the way to the diningroom--the dear delightful old diningroom, in which all of them had passed so many happy hours of their lives. It was large and lofty; and two antique branch silver candlesticks, standing on sconces upon each side of a strange old straggling carved mantlepiece of inlaid oak, aided by the blaze given out by two immense logs of wood burning beneath, thoroughly
illuminated it. The walls were oakpaneled, containing many pictures, several of them of great value; and the floor also was of polished oak, over the centre of which, however, was spread a thick richly-coloured turkey carpet. Opposite the door was a large mullioned bay-window, then, however, concealed behind an ample flowing crimson curtain. On the further side of the fireplace stood a high-backed and roomy arm-chair, almost covered with Kate's embroidery, and in which Mrs Aubrey had evidently, as usual, been sitting till the moment of their arrival—for on a small ebony table beside it lay her spectacles, and an open volume. Nearly fronting the fireplace was a recess, in which stood an exquisitely carved black ebony cabinet, inlaid with white and red ivory. This, Miss Aubrey claimed as her own, and had appropriated it to her own purposes ever since she was seven years old. "You, dear old thing!" said she, throwing open the folding-doors"Every thing just as I left it! Really, dear mamma, I could skip about the room for joy! I wish Charles would never leave Yatton again!"
"It's rather lonely, my love, when none of you are with me," said Mrs Aubrey. "I feel getting older"
"Dearest mamma," interrupted Miss Aubrey, quickly, "I won't leave you again! I'm quite tired of town I am indeed!”
Though fires were lit in their several dressing-rooms, of which they were more than once reminded by their re spective attendants, they all remained seated before the fire in carriage costume, (except that Kate had thrown aside her bonnet, her half-uncurled tresses hanging in negligent profusion over her thickly-furred pelisse,) eagerly conversing about the incidents of their journey, and the events which had transpired at Yatton since they had quitted it. At length, however, they retired to perform the refreshing duties of the dressing-room, before sitting down to supper. fortable meal, within twenty minutes' time or so, they partook with hearty relish. What mortal, however delicate, could resist the fare set before them-the plump capon, the delicious grilled ham, the poached eggs, the floury potatoes, home-baked bread, white and brown-custards, mince
Of that com.