Зображення сторінки

vain. Everything she had loved had either deserted or scorned her : she had fulfilled more than her duty towards her uncle; she had sympathised with Lord Fitzarlington, the man she loved, over the woman he mourned ; and this may be said to have been poor Ethel's only pleasure. She had long since resigned herself to this state of existence; she had long ceased to hope for the enjoyment of happiness, and had looked forward to it only in another world.

Lord Fitzarlington had been a daily and hourly spectator of her ceaseless attentions to the now childish Lord Altamont. He had indeed proved what his sister-in-law told him, that Ethel was as perfect as a human being can be. He became by degrees very fond of her ; his affection for her did not bear the colouring of passion, but it was such as enabled the high-principled Lord Fitzarlington to deem it not unworthy of Miss Delamere's acceptance. He knew that it was in his power to make her happiness; he would fulfil his loved one's dying request, he would marry Ethel Delamere.

When he proposed to her, she paused in

her answer-not from


doubt that her own felicity would be secured, but from a fear that he had come to this resolution in obedience to the wish of the departed, and that she should never be able to requite the sacrifice he was putting upon his inclinations. She expressed this; he denied it warmly - so warmly, that Miss Delamere could not longer doubt, that if she had not been the first object of his passionate love, she was now the only one of his steadfast affections.

Happiness, therefore, was hers; though she could not help thinking with a sigh, of what a different nature it would have been had it come to her in the mutual freshness of their hearts: but then, again, she felt this to be a murmur unworthy of her. We are not to be cloudlessly blessed; we should then forget that earth is not heaven.

When Mr. Delamere heard of his sister's marriage, he thought, with a glow of unmitigated joy, “ Well, poor Ethel, at least, is rewarded ;" and he came back to England to behold her happiness.

But Albert Delamere's short day of troubled glory was closed. At five-and-thirty he was an old man-older in mind than many blessed aged persons are at twice that age ; for how young, and fresh, and pure, and full of power, , old age.

is sometimes seen to be! And a pleasant sight it is to those in the middle of life only, and who have yet to enter upon the last stage, to see how beautiful it may be made. But this was not the case with poor Albert Delamere: his affections, the finest quality of his nature, had been trampled on; and his other ruling passion, ambition, scantily, if at all satisfied. Nothing remained of his aspirations but the broken tendrils, which were loth to attach themselves again to any object.

It was a harrowing sight to Lady Fitzarlington, to see how entirely the power of happiness was gone from her brother: above all, to see him so devoid of peace. Sometimes he would court his long-neglected love of poesy, and he forgot for a brief space the remembrances which embittered his existence. But then the thought, “Who cares for my poetry ?” came across him; and though thousands and tens of thousands had done homage to his extraordinary genius, to do Mr. Delamere justice, he had sought fame chiefly as

a means of making himself beloved ; and the insufficiency of general praise to confer happiness, was keenly felt by him ; then he would cast the page aside on which he wrote, and all the bitterness of his unrequited devotion returned.

The remainder of his life was spent in wandering. Ssmetimes he visited his home, and unlocked the door of the room where his mother had died, of which he always kept the key, and, morning and night, passed some lonely moments there, of which no being could know the mournful pleasure but himself.

One of the few objects which seemed to give him satisfaction were his sister's children. He would silently watch their gambols for a length of time, and gradually the gloom dispersed from his countenance, and they found a smile ready to welcome them when they came racing with their fairy steps towards home, tired even of play. Who would suppose it were possible to tire of that! and yet the child and the grown-up person alike grow weary of diversion in their several ways, only with this difference: the man from disgust or satiety, but the child stops from its gambols, not from disgust at the pleasure, only from bodily fatigue, -- from that peculiar feeling of childhood, the sudden weariness and longing for sleep, which overcomes them in the midst of their romps.

“ One more race, uncle Albert," the eldest would say, “before we get home;" and off they ran as fast as they could go; and the tiny sister would try to follow her brothers a few steps — a very few — and the little one stopped for want of breath, and looked on wonderingly at the far-off figures of her companions ; and with slackened pace they all continued their walk till within sight of home. Then, who would not run to home, that had such a happy one as those innocents had? And who does not love that endearing name, home, of whatever sort it may be? If we are joyful, where is such joy to be found as at home? If we are sorrowful, home is the best place; there we may sit down, with our griefs, and be at rest: and perhaps the humblest home is the most valued, the most cherished ; - the rich and the prosperous return to a luxurious chamber, but the poor and the despised return to their humble abode as to a friend.

And now, reader, that you have become

« НазадПродовжити »