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R A VE N S D A L E.
“ The boy had grown to manhood.”
It was a heavy hour which preceded the arrival of Lord Mowbray at Ravensdale, even though his anticipated presence was hailed with joyous sensations by each of its expectant inmates; yet, like every worldly pleasure, it bore the stamp of earth, and came not unalloyed.
Twelve years had already elapsed since the halls of Ravensdale echoed to thoughtless mirth, which the bright companionship of the present Earl of Mowbray was ever wont to impart to each of his youthful relatives ;—but then was the season of boyhood—then he was unacquainted with griefthen, how unforeseen were those multiplied calamities which marked the eventful interval !
Twelve years—a brief lapse, when viewed in the retrospect ; but, behold it through the beclouded perspective of futurity-range parent, relative, friend, in dim array along the impenetrable vista; then compare it with that short and mystic span
allotted to man's mortal sojourn; and where is the stoic who could suppress a shudder as he contemplates the train of ills which fate may already hold embryoed, to shade his onward
With Lord Mowbray, time, with its relentless scythe, was busy, heedlessly riving in sunder, one by one, every tender and endearing tie which bound him to existence ; still it glided coldly on, with all its seeming unsympathizing indifference ; and its last stroke, as it bereaved him of his sole surviving parent, also deprived Lord Ravensdale of an only and beloved sister. The blow fell heavily on his heart ! and this was the thought which cast a cloud over his brow, as in mute solicitude he watched with alternate hope and anxiety the arrival of that youthful scion, whose anticipated presence served but to arouse the weight of regret still rankling in his bosom. Nor were his feelings unshared by Lady Ravensdale ; for though no tie of kindred affinity bound her to the late Countess of Mowbray, yet was she the companion of her early years, and had ever continued the friend and sister of her bosom.
With the juniors of the house it was different. To the bosom of Charles Courtenay sympathy for his friend was the alone admissible sensation, whose prevailing ascendancy would now arise to dull the ardour of expectancy—then sink in joyous anticipation.
Louisa, too, in a minor degree, partook of these sentiments; but in Emily, the gay, the lively, the thoughtless, no admixture of pain mingled with the feelings of impatience and curiosity with which she longed once more to behold a beloved relative, so long, so ardently expected.
“Charles," she said, addressing her brother, who, seated at the farthest end of the apartment, was silently occupied in poring over sundry musty folios, and so intently engaged in research, that for the last half hour he had been altogether regardless of her presence—“I have just been considering what sort of person our cousin is; do, pray, inform me in what colours your imagination may have painted his lordship; for verily my ideas have been so long and so intently engaged on the important point, that I am utterly lost and bewildered in the maze of conjecture.”
But her brother leant his brow upon his hand, with that determined sort of wrapt air, so forcibly indicating dislike to further interruption. “Don't tease me now, Emily," was his abstracted reply, again turning over the leaves of a ponderous volume.
“ Monster of stupidity !” exclaimed his sister, in playful ire; “ why do I ever solicit from you any information, save on the discovery of the longitude ? my more imaginative Louisa, however, will, I doubt not, tell me of all her fancy painted him ;' for by no effort can I transform a puerile boy into Lord Mowbray in the prime of manhood."
“ Nay,” smiled her sister ; “ I also must plead the inertia of my fancy, which I confess has not, on this subject, even commenced operations ; nor can I at this moment so
“Et tu brute !" interrupted Emily. “ Then am I doomed to torturing suspense for at least two hours longer, at the expiration of which awful period, however, I shall myself behold Lord Mowbray in person. And now, most grave signor," turning to her brother with mimic theatrical air, “I shall e’en say addio, and retire to perform the arduous duties of the toilet, and array myself in a host of charms sufficient to beleaguer the fortress of my doomed cousin's heart.”
An expressive shake of the head, and a smile of mingled reproof and admiration, was her brother's only reply; for despite all her failings, few could know Emily Courtenay without admiring her.
Endowed with a sensitive and affectionate heart, extraordinary quickness of feeling, and a disposition open, generous, and disinterested; those defects more peculiarly indigenous to her nature were, alas ! unconsciously cultured by the fond, but erring hand of her too indulgent parents, who, in fact, from earliest youth, bad ever been accustomed to yield to her in the gratification of every childish fancy.
“ That excursion to the Continent," exclaimed she, addressing her sister, who had entered her