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A JOURNAL OF ENTERTAINMENT AND INSTRUCTION
"DEAR Me! what can it possibly mean? how I wish I could guess it!" said the youngest Miss Simper. "Do you know what it is, Mr. Oaklands?" asked the second Miss Simper.
"I'm sure he does, he looks so delightfully wicked," added the eldest Miss Simper, shaking her ringlets in a fascinating manner, to evince her faith in the durability of their curl.
The eldest Miss Simper had been out four seasons, and spent the last winter at Nice, on the strength of which she talked to young men of themselves in the third person, to show her knowledge of the world, and embodied in her behaviour generally a complete system of "Matrimony-made-easy, or the whole Art of getting a good Establishment," proceeding from early lessons in converting acquaintances into flirts, up to the important final clause-how to lead young men of property to propose.
Really," replied Oaklands, “my face must be far more expressive and less honest than I was aware of, for I can assure you they have studiously kept me in the dark as to the meaning."
"But you have made out some idea for yourself; it is impossible that it should be otherwise," observed the second Miss Simper, who had rubbed off some of her shyness upon a certain young Hebrew Professor at the last Cambridge Installation, and become rather blue from the contact.
"Have you?" said the youngest Miss Simper, who, being as nearly a fool as it is possible to allow that a pretty girl of seventeen can be, rested her pretensions upon a plaintive voice and a pensive smile, which went just far enough to reveal an irreproachable set of teeth, and then faded away into an expression of gentle sorrow, the source of which, like that of the Niger, had as yet remained undiscovered.
“Oh, he has!" exclaimed the eldest Miss Simper; "that exquisitely sarcastic yet tantalizing curl of the upper lip tells me that it is so."
like teeth, seemed to hint that some mysterious increase of her secret sorrow might be expected in the event of Oaklands refusing to communicate the results of his penetration.
"As I make it out," said Harry, "the first scene was Inn, the second Constancy, and the third Inconstancy."
"Ah! that wretch John, he was the Inconstancy," observed the eldest Miss Simper, "marrying for money! the creature!-such baseness! but how delightfully that dear, clever Mr. Lawless acted; he made love with such naïve simplicity too, he is quite irresistible." "I shall take care to let him know your flattering opinion," returned Oaklands, with a faint attempt at a smile, while the gloom on his brow grew deeper, and the Misses Simper were in their turn deserted; the eldest gaining this slight addition to her worldly knowledge, viz. that it is not always prudent to praise one friend to another, unless you happen to be a little more behind the scenes than she had been in the present instance.
Umph! Frank Fairlegh, where are you? come here, boy," said Mr. Frampton, seizing one of my buttons, and towing me thereby into a corner. "Pretty girl, your sister Fanny-nice girl too-Umph!"
"I am very glad she pleases you, sir," replied I; as you become better acquainted with her, you will find that she is as good as she looks,-if you like her now, you will soon grow very fond of her,—everybody becomes fond of Fanny."
Umph! I can see one who is at all events. Pray, sir, do you mean to let your sister marry that goodnatured, well-disposed, harum-scarum young fool, Lawless?"
"That is a matter I leave entirely to themselves, if Lawless wishes to marry Fanny, and she likes him well enough to accept him, and his parents approve of the arrangement, I shall make no objection: it would be a very good match for her."
"Umph! yes-she would make a very nice addition to his stud," returned Mr. Frampton, in a more sarcastic tone than I had ever heard him use before. "What do you suppose are the girl's own wishes?
Since you press me,” replied Oaklands, "Iconfess, is she willing to be Empress of the Stable?" i believe I have guessed it."
"I knew it, it could not have been otherwise," exclaimed the blue belle enthusiastically.
The youngest Miss Simper spoke not, but her appealing glance, and a slight exhibition of the pearl(1) Continued from Vol. IV. p. 404.
VOL. V. No. 105.-Nov. 1st, 1847.
Really, sir, you ask me a question which I am quite unable to answer-young ladies are usually reserved upon such subjects, and Fanny is especially so, but from my own observations I am inclined to think that she likes him.”
"Umph! dare say she does-women are always
fools in these cases-mep too, for that matter-or eise | unnecessarily: what proof was there that Lawless really they would take pattern by me, and continue in a state cared for Fanny? His attentions-oh! there was of single blessedness," then came an aside, Single nothing in that-Lawless was shy and awkward in wretchedness more likely, nobody to care about one- female society, and Fanny had been kind to him, and nothing to love-die in a ditch like a beggar's dog, had taken the trouble to draw him out, therefore he without a pocket-handkerchief wetted for one,—there's liked her, and preferred talking and laughing with her, single blessedness for you! ride in a hearse, and have rather than with any other girl, with whom he did not some fat fool chuckling in the sleeve of his black coat feel at his ease. However, even if there should be any over one's hard-earned money-nobody shall do that thing more in it, it had not gone so far but that a though with mine, for I'll leave it all to build Union little judicious snubbing would easily put an end to Workhouses and encourage the Slave Trade, by way it.-I determined, therefore, to talk to my mother of revenging myself on society at large. Wonder why about it after breakfast: she had now seen enough of I said that, when I don't think it-just like me— Lawless to form her own opinion of him, and if she Umph!" agreed with Oaklands and Mr. Frampton that his was I am not at all sure but that this may prove a not a style of character calculated to secure Fanny's mere vision of our own too lively imaginations, afterall," happiness, we must let her go and stay with the replied I, or that Lawless looks upon Fanny in any Colemans, or find some other means of separating other light than as the sister of his old friend, and an them. I had just arrived at this conclusion, when, on agreeable girl to talk and laugh with; but if it should passing round the stem of an old tree which stood in turn out otherwise, I shall be sorry to think that it is the path, I encountered some person who was ada match which will not meet with your approval, sir." vancing rapidly in an opposite direction, meeting “Oh! I shall approve-I always approve of every-him so abruptly that we ran against each other with thing-I dare say he'll make a capital husband-he's very kind to his dogs and horses. Umph! silly boy, silly girl-when she could easily do better too-Umph! just like me, bothering myself about other people when I might leave it alone-silly girl though, very!" So saying, Mr. Frampton walked away, grunting like a whole drove of pigs, as was his wont when annoyed.
The next morning I was aroused from an uneasy sleep by the sun shining brightly through my shutters, and, springing out of bed and throwing open the window, I perceived that it was one of those lovely winter days which appear sent to assure us that fogs, frost, and snow will not last for ever, but that Nature has brighter things in store for us, if we will bide her time patiently. To think of lying in bed on such a morning was out of the question, so, dressing hastily, I threw on a shooting jacket, and sallied forth for a stroll. As I wandered listlessly through the Park, admiring the hoar-frost which glittered like diamonds in the early sunshine, clothing the brave old limbs of the time-honoured fathers of the forest with a fabric of silver tissue, the conversation I had held with Mr. Frampton about Fanny and Lawless recurred to my mind. Strange that Harry Oaklands and Mr. Frampton, men so different, yet alike in generous feeling and honourable principle,-should both evidently disapprove of such a union; was I myself so blinded by ideas of the worldly advantages it held forth that I was unable to perceive its unfitness? Would Lawless really prize her, as Tennyson has since so well expressed it in his finest poem, as "something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse;" and was I about to sacrifice my sister's happiness for rank and fortune, those world-idols, which, stripped of the supposititious attributes bestowed upon them by the bigotry of their worshippers, appear, in their true worthlessness, empty breath and perishable dross? But most probably there was no cause for uneasiness, after all; I was very likely worrying myself most
no small degree of violence.
"Hold hard there! you're on your wrong side, young fellow, and if you've done me the slightest damage, even scratched my varnish, I'll pul you up.' "I wish you had pulled up a little quicker, yourself, Lawless," replied I, for, as the reader has doubtless discovered from the style of his address, it was none other than the subject of my late reverie with whom I had come in collision. "I don't know whether I have scratched your varnish, as you call it, but I have knocked the skin off my own knuckles against the tree in the scrimmage."
"Never mind, man," returned Lawless, “there are worse misfortunes happen at sea; a little stickingplaister will set all to rights again. But look here, Fairlegh," he continued, taking my arm, “I'm glad I happened to meet you, I want to have five minutes serious conversation with you.”
"Won't it do after breakfast?" interposed I, for my fears construed this appeal into "confirmation strong as holy writ" of my previous suspicions, and I wished to be fortified by my mother's opinion before I in any degree committed myself. All my precautions were, however, in vain.
"Eh! I won't keep you five minutes, but you see this sort of thing will never do at any price; I'm all wrong altogether-sometimes I feel as if fire or water would not stop me, or cart-ropes hold me—then again I grow as nervous as an old cat with the palsy, and sit moping in a corner like an owl in fits. Last hunting day I was just as if I was mad—pressed upon the pack when they were getting away-rode over two or three of the tail hounds, laid 'em sprawling on their backs, like spread eagles, till the huntsman swore at me loud enough to split a three-inch oak plank,—went slap at everything that came in my way, took rails, fences, and timber, all flying, rough and smooth as Nature made 'em,-in short, showed the whole field the way across country, at a pace which rather astonished them, I fancy-well, at last there was a check, and before
the hounds got on the scent again, something seemed to come over me, so that I could not ride a bit, and kept craning at mole-hills and shirking gutters, till I wound up by getting a tremendous purl from checking my horse at a wretched little fence that he could have stepped over, and actually I felt so faint-hearted that I gave it up as a bad job, and walked home ready to eat my hat with vexation. But I know what it is, I'm in love-that confounded Charade put me up to that dodge, I fancied at first that I'd got an ague, one of those off-and-on affairs that always come when you don't want them, and was going to ask Ellis to give me a ball, but I found it out just in time, and precious glad I was too, for I never could bear taking physic since I was the height of sixpennyworth of halfpence."
"Really, Lawless, I must be getting home."
"Eh! wait a minute; you haven't an idea what a desperate state I'm in; I had a letter returned to me yesterday, with a line from the Post-office clerk saying no such person could be found, and when I came to look at the address I wasn't surprised to hear it. I had written to give some orders about a dog-cart that is building for me, and directed my letter to Messrs. Lovely Fanny, Coachmakers, Long Acre.' Things can't go on in this way, you know-I must do something-come to the point, eh?-What do you say?" "Upon my word," replied I, "this is a case in which I am the last person to advise you.”
used to the ways of women, exactly. Now with horses I know every action, and can guess what they'd be up to in a minute; for instance, if they prick up their ears one may expect a shy, when they lay them back you may look out for a bite or a kick, but, unluckily, women have not got movable ears."
"No," replied I, laughing at this singular regret, "but they contrive to make their eyes answer nearly the same purpose, though.-Well, Lawless, my answer is this,-I cannot pretend to judge whether you and my sister are so constituted as to increase each other's happiness by becoming man and wife: that is a point I must leave to her to decide; she is no longer a child, and her destiny shall be placed in her own hands; but I think I may venture to say that if your parents are willing to receive her, and she is pleased to accept you, you need not fear any opposition on the part of my mother or myself."
"That's the time of day," exclaimed Lawless, rubbing his hands with glee, "this is something like doing business; oh! it's jolly fun to be in love after all. Then every thing depends upon Fanny now, but how am I to find out whether she will have me or not? eh? that's another sell."
"Ask her," replied I, and turning down a different path, I left him to deliberate upon this knotty point in solitude.
As I walked towards home my meditations assumed a somewhat gloomy colouring. The matter was no "Eh! no, it is not that-I'm far beyond the reach longer doubtful, Lawless was Fanny's declared suitor; of advice, but what I mean is, your Governor being this, as he had himself observed, was something dead—don't you see-I consider you to stand in pro-like doing business. Instead of planning with my pria quæ maribus, as we used to say at old Mild-mother how we could prevent the affair from going man's." any farther, I must now inform her of his offer, "In loco parentis is what you are aiming at, I and find out whether she could give me any clue imagine," returned I.
"Eh! Psha, it's all the same," continued Lawless impatiently; "but what do you say about it? Will you give your consent, and back me up a bit in the business, for I'm precious nervous, I can tell you!"
"Am I to understand, then," said I, seeing an explanation was inevitable," that it is my sister who bas inspired you with this very alarming attachment?"
"Eh! yes, of course it is," was the reply; "haven't I been talking about her for the last ten minutes? You are growing stupid all at once; did you think it was your mother I meant?"
Not exactly," replied I, smiling; "but have you ever considered what Lord Cashingtown would say to your marrying a poor clergyman's daughter?"
"What! my Governor? oh! he'd be so delighted to get me married at any price, that he would not care who it was to, so that she was a lady. He knows how I shirk female society in general, and he is afraid I shall break my neck some of these fine days, and leave him the honour of being the last Lord Cashingtown as well as the first."
"And may I ask whether you imagine your suit likely to be favourably received by the young lady herself?"
as to the state of Fanny's affections. And now that Lawless's intentions were certain, and that it appeared by no means improbable he might succeed in obtaining Fanny's hand, a feeling of repugnance came over me, and I began to think Mr. Frampton was right, and that my sister was formed for better things than to be the companion for life of such a man as Lawless. From a reverie which thoughts like these had engendered I was aroused by Harry Oaklands's favourite Scotch terrier, which attracted my attention by jumping and fawning upon me, and on raising my eyes I perceived the figure of his master leaning with folded arms against the trunk of an old tree. As we exchanged salutations I was struck by an unusual air of dejection both in his manner and appearance. “You are looking ill and miserable this morning, Harry; is your side painful?" inquired I, anxiously.
"No," was the reply, "I believe it is doing well enough, Ellis says so," he paused, and then resumed in a low, hurried voice, "Frank, I am going abroad."
"Going abroad!" repeated I in astonishment, "where are you going to? when are you going? this is a very sudden resolution, surely."
"I know it is, but I cannot stay here," he continued, "I must get away,-I am wretched, perfectly
"Eh! why, you see it's not so easy to tell; I'm not miserable."
"My dear Harry," replied I," what is the matter? come tell me ; as boys we had no concealments from each other, and this reserve which appears lately to have sprung up between us is not well: what has occurred to render you unhappy?"
A deep sigh was for some minutes his only answer, then, gazing steadily in my face, he said, " And have you really no idea?-But why should I be surprised at the blindness of others, when I myself have only become aware of the true nature of my own feelings when my peace of mind is destroyed, and all chance of happiness for me in this life has fled for ever?' "What do you mean, my dear Harry?" replied I, "what can you refer to?"
"Have you not thought me very much altered of late?" he continued.
"Since you ask me, I have fancied that illness was beginning to sour your temper," I replied.
"Then my fate will soon be decided," returned Oaklands. "Now listen to me, Frank; let this matter take its course exactly as if this conversation had never passed between us. Should Fanny be doubtful, and consult you, do your duty as Lawless's friend and her brother-place the advantages and disadvantages fairly before her, and then let her decide for herself without in the slightest degree attempting to bias her, will you promise to do this, Frank?" "Must it indeed be so? can nothing be done? no scheme hit upon?" returned I, sorrowfully.
"Nothing of the kind must be attempted," replied Oaklands sternly: "could I obtain your sister's hand to-morrow by merely raising my finger, I would not do so while there remained a possibility of her preferring Lawless. Do you imagine that I could be content to be accepted out of compassion? No," he added more calmly, "the die will soon be cast, "Illness of mind, not body," he resumed; "for till then I will remain, and if, as I fear is only too now, when life has lost all charm for me, I am regain- certain, Lawless's suit is favourably received, I shall ing health and strength apace.-You must have leave this place instantly-put it on the score of health observed with what a jaundiced eye I have regarded-make Ellis order me abroad-the German Baths, every thing that Lawless has done; what was the Madeira, Italy, I care not, all places will be alike to feeling, think you, which has led me to do so? me then." Jealousy!"
Jealousy?" exclaimed I, as for the first time the true state of the case flashed across me-" Oh! Harry, why did you not speak of this sooner?"
Why, indeed; because in my blindness I fancied the affection I entertained for your sister was merely a brother's love, and did not know, till the chance of losing her for ever opened my eyes effectually, that she had become so essential to my happiness that life without her would be a void.-If you but knew the agony of mind I endured while they were acting that hateful Charade last night! I quite shudder when I think how I felt towards Lawless; I could have slain him where he stood without a shadow of compunction.-No, I must leave this place without delay; I would not go through what I suffered yesterday again for anything-I could not bear it."
"Oh! if we had but known this sooner," exclaimed I, so much might have been done,-I only parted from Lawless five minutes before I met you, telling him that if Fanny approved of his suit neither my mother nor I would offer the slightest opposition. But is it really too late to do any thing? shall I speak to Fanny?"
"Not for worlds!" exclaimed Oaklands impetuously; "do not attempt to influence her in the slightest degree. If, as my fears suggest, she really love Lawless, she must never learn that my affection for her has exceeded that of a brother,-never know that from henceforth her image will stand between me and happiness, and cast its shadow over the whole future of my life."
He stood for a moment, his hands pressed upon his brow as if to shut out some object too painful to behold, and then continued abruptly, "Lawless has proposed, then?"
"He has asked my consent, and his next step will of course be to do so," replied I.
"And how miserable Sir John will be at this sudden determination," returned I, "and he is so happy now in seeing your health restored!"
"Ah! this world is truly termed a vale of tears," replied Harry, mournfully, "and the trial hardest to bear is the sight of the unhappiness we cause those we love. Strange that my acts seem always fated to bring sorrow upon my father's grey head, when I would willingly lay down my life to shield him from suffering. But do not imagine that I will selfishly give way to grief,-no; as soon as your-as soon as Lawless is married, I shall return to England and devote myself to my father; my duty to him and your friendship will be the only interests that bind me to life."
He paused, and then added, "Frank, you know me too well to fancy that I am exaggerating my feelings or even deceiving myself as to the strength of them; this is no sudden passion, my love for Fanny has been the growth of years, and the gentle kindness with which she attended on me during my illness, the affectionate tact (for I believe she loves me as a brother, though I have almost doubted even that of late) with which she forestalled my every wish, proved to me how indispensable she has become to my happiness.-But," he continued, seeing, I imagine by the painful expression of my face, the effect his words were producing on me, "in my selfishness I am rendering you unhappy. We will speak no more of this matter till my fate is certain; should it be that which I expect, let us forget that this conversation ever passed; if, on the contrary, Lawless should meet with a refusal—but that is an alternative I dare not contemplate.-And now, farewell."
So saying he wrung my hand with a pressure that vouched for his returning strength, and left me. In spite of my walk, I had not much appetite for my breakfast that morning.