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THE COMMONER'S DAUGHTER.
By the Author of " A Few out of Thousands."
I anticipated a severe lecture at breakfast, I think,” lowering her voice, “it is some one for but to my relief, for I longed to forget the money.” Mrs. Martin was not ignorant of whole affair, Mr. Castlebrook took not the some of our household secrets. “You had best slightest notice of the events of last night. come I think, Miss." Probably he was absorbed in his own vexations. “But I have to dress, Mrs. Martin." His overcast countenance and frequent reference "Just throw my lady's opera-shawl over you, to a small red book, in which I knew bets were Miss Castlebrook. They will think you are registered, bespoke considerable uneasiness. I dressed to go out, and will go the sooner. One It was a late, or rather early hour that morning, seems quite like a gentleman; but I know they when he returned home; but he was down as are some of master's creditors by this card." usual to a ten o'clock breakfast. He told me She displayed it as she spoke: “Messrs. Gray as he rose from the table, that I might inform and Rugget, jewellers,” being inscribed thereon. Lady Laura he should be home by four o'clock, “I wish,” I said, “ Messrs. Gray and Rugget to drive her down to Richmond, a party having had timed their visit better. It is very late to been made up a week previously to dine there. come on business. Shall I not have time to
I sat still some minutes after his departure, take off this finery, Mrs. Martin?” wondering if I should dare enter Lady Laura's “They seem in a terrible hurry, Miss. Do presence. Then I pursued my own avocations come !" Thus urged, I did as Mrs. Martin till her hour for rising, when I went to her advised, and, throwing one of Lady Laura's room, and, knocking at the door, heard in cashmeres on my shoulders, I descended to my answer a sulky “come in."
unwelcome visitors. Lady Laura gave nothing but black looks and “They are at present in the housekeeper's short answers. I delivered my father's message, room, Miss," said Martin, as I went downstairs. and at four o'clock they started on their pleasure “Show them into the library," I said; for I jaunt.
was not ambitious to enter the servants' terWhen they were gone, as luncheon served for ritories in my splendid costume. “I will wait my dinner when there was no party, I had the here till I hear them go in, Mrs. Martin." evening before me to reflect if I pleased, and to The housekeeper bustled away, and when I form resolutions for the future; but just as I heard the door close I went down, and, entering commenced my task of self-examination, Mrs. the library, found myself in the presence of Martin, putting her head in at the door, told Messrs. Gray and Rugget. They were cerme that Madame Friponne's forewoman had tainly remarkable-looking men. One was tall, arrived with my court drees, to be tried on. broadly made, with a countenance whose every This was somewhat of an event, and might ward lineament spoke of coarse sensuality and blusoff painful thoughts; so up-stairs I went. tering tyranny. I shuddered as I looked. If
The dress fitted admirably, and as I gazed in my father were really in this man's power! I Lady Laura's cheval-glass I scarcely knew the had entered with little noise, and was not at gay vision I saw reflected there. I was just first observed. As I rapidly surveyed them, taking off the pink train, and helping the girl to the other person (for I knew not which was Mr. fold it, when Mrs. Martin re-appeared. I was Gray or which Mr. Rugget) turned round from standing, robed in the rich white satin petti a picture which he had been examining, and I. coat and bodice, which of itself formed a suf. mentally exclaimed, “This must be Mrs. Marficiently becoming dress.
tin's “gentleman." "Oh, Miss Castlebrook, how beautiful you do Externally, he was certainly quite what is vullook! But I must trouble you. Two persons garly understood by the word “gentleman." want Mr. Castlebrook, and when I said he was Had I not known him to be a trader I should not at home, they insisted on seeing you. I have decided him to be a man of high rank.
There was the commanding manner, bespeaking form in which I knew how to put my father's habitual superiority, an affable dignity, perfectly invariable “Tell them to wait, or call again." self-conscious, yet the reverse of full-blown im- “Do you remember, Rugget, the expression portance; and, spite of a tendency to be ex- | of Guido's Beatrice Cenci ?" said Mr. Gray, tremely corpulent, a person still remarkable for who during my speech had done me the fa. attractions, though decidedly middle-aged: in vour to fix his eyes intently on my face. short, he was what Mrs. Martin would have “ Yes, I do, yourcalled a “fine man.” To counterbalance these “Has not Miss Castlebrook exactly,” hastily favourable appearances, his face boreunmistake- interrupted my father's creditor, “the same look able evidences of inveterate self-indulgence, and of angelic innocence as the Guido?” the mouth particularly indicated a degree of sel! I did not feel disposed to submit to such fishness, which must be, I thougbt, of the coolly impertinent criticism. hardest cruellest kind. These impressions were "Pardon me, gentlemen. My likeness to a of course instantaneous, though they take long picture is not the subject now under discussion. to describe. Grave and ceremonious bows from I am anxious to know what I am to say to Mr. both these persons, recalled me from my com- Castlebrook.” mentaries.
“Say?” chimed in Mr. Rugget, “say that They seemed as much embarrassed as I was. Mr. Gray and myself will wait no longer than I waited for them to explain the object of their this day week; and if our claim is not then satisvisit, and my face must have expressed in- fied, why patience; for, one looking at the other, the "Nay, nay, nay, Rugget; I shall permit no “gentleman” said “Rugget, will you explain?" such harshness. Say, beautiful Miss Castle
Being thus made competent to distinguish brook, that though Mr. Rugget be peremptory, them I addressed the speaker as “ Mr. Gray I | Mr. Gray is willing to listen to the intercession presume?" and, receiving an assenting bow, I of so lovely and graceful a pleader." went on : “Mr. Castlebrook is from home, and He had, during this speech, brought his chair your urgent message induced me to attend on in such close contact with mine that I rose and you; but I am busy-and-in abort, will you pushed my seat back, with no small degree of be so good as to say how I can further your scorn at such familiarity. To my utter amaze. business?"
ment, my hand was seized and fervently pressed. Mr. Rugget prepared to do this in a very loud, I snatched it haughtily away, coarse voice.
"You will please to excuse me, gentlemen. I “ The fact is, Miss Castlebrook-I suppose have I believe heard all there is to say." you are Miss Castlebrook ?"
I rang the bell so vehemently that the servant A bow.
whose duty it was to answer almost rushed into “Mr. Castlebrook's own daughter?"
the room breathless with baste. “His only daughter also, sir."
“Show these [I hesitated at the word] gentle"Very well—then as we (hem!) cannot see men out." your papa, perhaps you will deliver a message. “I have still something more to say,” from Just say, if you please, that, having heavy ac, Mr. Gray. counts to make up, Messrs. Gray and Rugget “May I request you will say it to Mr. Castlemust insist on some part, if not the whole, of brook himself on another occasion." their account being paid, and
Mr. Rugget was about to interpose, when Mr, "Gently, gently, Rugget" (from his partner), Gray (after all, however strangely importunate, “Miss Castlebrook turns pale. My good fellow, and with all his offensive flattery, his manners you are so noisy. Madam, Rugget is an excel. were decidedly those of a man of high breeding) lent man of business-with men that is-he cer- / laid his hand on his coadjutor's arm, and, saying tainly would alarm any young lady. The truth in a voice of conimand, “Enough-silence," is, madam, we want money : yes, that is decided that person instantly restrained bis speech. truth, is it not? I may positively assert that, Then Mr. Gray, with a reverential and elaborate eh, Rugget?"
but elegant bow, made his exit like a courtier “Decidedly. Your--that is, Mr. Gray, money leaving the presence of a queen ; Mr. Rugget, is terribly scarce just now.”
following his example in a more uncouth fashion. "I can never recollect its being plentiful," As they went through the ball I quitted the answered his partner, who had gradually edged library, and possessing a most acute sense of his chair to within a few inches of mine. hearing, I heard Mr. Gray say to his partner :
“But we are delaying this young lady," he “By Heavens, lovelier than all report! She'll said. “You are going out doubtless; yet, by. I do, Mac! I must- " the-bye, I thought you were not as yet in so “ Hush-and if ciety"-an extraordinary remark for a creditor. I lost the rest; but what they meant, and the I rose up.
strange conduct of Mr. Gray caused me much “May I ask you to give rae your message to meditation for some hours. Mr. Castlebrook ? and at the same time I must tell you that I fear he will have to intreat in, dulgence for some little time.”
CHAP, XXII, This was a lesson I knew quite well by heart At breakfast next morning I told my father now, Stereotyped on my brain, it was the only of the visit and demands of Messrs. Gray and Rugget, omitting only those details which had stood earnestly regarding her, ,' Et tu, Brute!"! personally offended myself. His surprise and she quitted the room. anger were unbounded."
1 There was an awkward silence for some Hang the fellows !” he said. "Why two ininutes. Vincent sat down, and running his months ago I paid them a hundred and fifty hand through his hair--a masculine fashion in pounds, and gave them a bill for the rest of the which, when annoyed, I had observed he fremoney at six months. How dare they come quently indulged-he said, partly to himself, " I here!"
am but a monster, truly, after all. Pshaw! so "They were very importunate--at least Mr. fine a woman as Laura may well love adulation, Rugget was; Mr. Gray was more polite." | and to wield the power derived from beauty
"I shall call and ask what it means : I can but no, I will not credit the slander. Detracguess, though," muttering to himself-"they are tion as surely follows in the train of a pretty just now hand and glove with the — yes, that's woman as do lovers. Miss Castlebrook, I have it. In that case I shall take no notice of the longed to see you, and alone. Am I forgiven fellows."
for having the other night been the luckless He began to whistle as he concluded this side cause of words so insulting to you? For myself, soliloquy-always a sure sign that Mr. Castle. I know my sister loves me, and I am too well brook was in a rage. For my own part, having accustomed to her temper to care for its viotaken up the newspaper which my father had lence; only I--that is" (he hesitated), “the put down, I became so interested in a piece of truth is, I am ashamed of the whole family who news therein, which I found among the names now quarter their arms with yours! We were inscribed for promotion, that the memory of Mr. left, three of us, Miss Castlebrook - Charles, Gray and of his bullying partner faded quite out Laura, and mysell—without a mother, just when of my mind. The line which attracted me con- we wanted her most. A wet nurse may supply sisted of but few words. It occurred among the place of one, perhaps, as long as we are in the promotions : “ Vincent Tarragon, Captain in our swaddling clothes ; but, after that interest. his Majesty's Life. Guards, Colonel vice Arthur ing period, there is no substitute for a mother's Debenham deceased."
guiding hand !" He paused an instant, and And whence, I wondered, the Autter and went on; "I wonder there is anything resem. tremble which that name excited! It was not bling a heart in the whole family! Fancy astonishing that Captain Tarragon had received flowering plants, intended by Nature to grow. his promotion : he had confidently expected it. up strong, and full of blossoms, and, for want of And now I supposed he would shortly join his the gardener's care in training, watering, and regiment.
weeding, those flowers grow up rank, scentless In the course of the morning Colonel Tarra. weeds: it was much the same with us. Left to gon made his appearance in his sister's drawing the care of servants, my sister especially, our room, Lady Laura, who was lounging with a father, a spendthrist in his prime, beggared, novel, started up, and with as much genuine af- stern and miserly in old age, took little heed of fection as she was capable of, Aung her arms us in childhood; and now is incensed against us round Vincent's deck, and kissed him, calling because we are not great and powerful! Laura him "Mon Colonel! now be grateful; for, was not so much to blame for running away, if after all, there was hard work to get the promo you knew what a cheerless, wretched home she tion. You owe it entirely to my importu- must have returned to. Even her schooling nities."
and dress were paid for by her godmother, who His face flushed, and was averted from hers. unluckily died without a will just after my sis"I should think my services," he said, “me. ter's marriage. And yet we are reproached with rited that much at least, without the aid of not being at the top of the ladder! To be sure court chicanery!"
some of us see the way to get there : but we “Now, Vin, don't be rude. If you will mark won't climb-no, I hope we won't cliinb. At yourself as the preux chevalier of wandering present, Miss Castlebrook, we may class ourprincesses errant, in all the club-houses and selves as Vixen, Coxcomb, and Fool! Nay, drawing-rooms in London, you must expect don't smile; I speak in sober earnest." your ridiculous Quixotism will interfere with “I should not patiently hear others speak promotion or notice in a certain quarter-nay, thus of you all," I said; "although I certainly I assure you gothing but the fact of being my do wish Lady Laura would treat me a little brother could have overcome the difficulty made inore kindly, and try to like me a little." about your advancement !"
"Did you ever know a woman of fasbion like “Then" (with something so nearly resem- anything but herself? My dear Miss Castlebling an oath that I looked up reproachfully). brook, I abhor women's quarrels, and for the “I wish my advancement had been buried in world would not meddle with them ; but, while the Red Sea, or any other out-of-the-way place. you look as you do, Laura never will like you Can you, Laura, assure me I have no cause to any better; but at any rate she might rememblush rather than exult over it ?”
ber that, by birth, at least, she is a lady-for her She looked at him: was the glance one of manners, the least said soonest mended : she is truth or falsehood? She slowly rose from her my sister, and I have said enougb." couch, and saying to Colonel Tarragon, who "Quite," I answered ; " and indeed, Colonel Tarragon, I did not require you to say so much. / and, striving to collect myself, I raised my eyes, I do not wish to complain : and now let me which fell on a very plain, aged woman, decked congratulate you on your promotion; may you profusely in precious stones, which served only to be a general one day.”
make her age and ugliness still more conspicuous “And you a duchess !"
a young lady, frank-faced, and plump in perI bit my lip: “ Sir, believe me I could see son, about my own age, who stood at the rank and wealth go by me, content if only I Queen's left hand, and a portly gentleman who could secure a heart true to itself and me!" occupied the position at her Majesty's right
“A fine sentiment, only that you who give it hand, and in whom, as I glanced up, while utterance''
again performing the customary ceremony, I He paused.
recognized, unmistakably recognized, Mr. Gray “ Pray go on.”
the jeweller! I stifled the exclamation which “No I will not; for, in iny day-dreams of a rose to my lips, and a slight pressure of the perfect entire chrysolite,' you, Isabella Castle- fingers betokened the Regent's relief that I did brook, have shone with a light I would fain not yield to my impulse. Then I was mar, think not a borrowed one, and."
shalled away, and moving on in a circle, we reI became irritated: “ Colonel Tarragon, gained our carriage, in which I leaned back, my among what class of women can your life have head aching, my vision swimming, as I strove been spent, that you believe hypocrisy and want to recal my wandering thoughts. of candour a part of every feminine character?" | For a rarity, we had only a family party on
"Ob, Isabella! if you wish me to define the this day: Lord Tarragon, his brother, Lady Laura, women of society, of our own rank in life in Mr. Castlebrook, and myself. In the evening we short, I dare not tell you what I think of them; / were to attend the opera, and on such an occaand-and, so, belle niece, adieu."
sion my step-mother could not, with all her “Good-bye; I am very glad you have grace malice, exclude me. It is true she had endeaenough to decline the answer.”
voured to dissuade my father from it, but vainly. “To-morrow I shall see you at the Drawing. When Mr. Castlebrook came home, which he room. I shall go to the Levee to-day; I must did, very late, he brought with him Lord Dorgo now and dress, and by the Regent's reception nington, who, however, was now so frequently I shall judge how deeply I have offended--I a visitor, that I scarcely regarded him as a fancy almost past forgiveness."
stranger. This good-natured, prosy old nobleHe shook hands as he went out. I believed | man generally sought me out, and detailed in that Colonel Tarragon, however he deprecated my ear his collection of gossip and complithe possession of a heart, really had one, for it ments, to which I listened as patiently as I always seemed in his hand. You would have could, in consideration for his age and respectatrusted your life with the man, whose manner bility. To day he was in himself an entire of giving our common English salutation ex- Court Calendar-a kind of chronique scandaleuse pressed so much warmth of feeling.
-certainly diverting, though pitiable enough for Certainly I was in some trepidation when, a man of sixty. He asked me who I saw at the next day, 'I attired myself for the long-talked drawing-room, and if I had answered faithfully, of ceremony. Martin dressed Lady Laura, the intelligence might have made a strange page and as the hairdresser was to attend on in that diary, which he said he kept to note us both, I was suffered to be in peace. | down curious events. “The Princess of Wales Although I was not dissatisfied with my own did not go to the drawing-room, and Princess appearance, Lady Laura was a blaze of beauty Charlotte did she was compelled. And, above and magnificence. “She need little fear me or all, what did I think of the Regent?” anyone else," was my mental observation; and “Mr Gray," I said, absently. certainly she looked queen-like in her full, ra “My dear young lady, I am speaking of the diant charos. Our progress was very slow Prince, the cynosure of every female eye. Did through the streets, for the carriages thronged you not admire him? A perfect model of a the roads and the parks so greatly, that the horses gentleman. Who then is Mr. Gray ?" could do little inore than walk. We were ac “Oh, a nobody. Sir," to my father—" do you companied by Lady Laura's brothers, and even not think the person who called here the other with their aid were terribly crushed and incon- day (I mean Mr. Gray) was very like his Royal venienced in our way to the presence-chamber. Highness?" The carriage of the Princess Charlotte had pre. The allusion annoyed Mr.Castlebrook, who was ceded ours but a few moments, and the mob to disputing with his brother-in-law, the Viscount, view and cheer her had been so dense, that we about the merits of a certain horse (Lord Tarwere detained a long time before we could get ragon's property), and he answered me waspup. I trembled as I followed close after Lady ishly: “You must be mad or very blind. Gray Laura, whose commanding figure and magnifi. is a little, short, thin man. The Prince is large, cent dress created a murmur of admiration and, though not tall, decidedly not a little around. We were hurried on till, in conside man.” rable disorder, we reached the scene of the cere. So then I was satisfied ihat I was not mis. monial; and, scarce knowing where I was, or taken. what I was doing, I became at last conscious of The dinner was tediously long-long, even pressing my lips to a lean and withered hand; I though Vincent Tarragon jested, and told mi. raculous histories of all the celebrities whom, which hitherto I would not believe to be love, owing to what Lady Laura, with much scorn, now burst all boundaries, declaring unmistermed my mauvaise honte, I did not see. takeably its true nature. There, amidst splen
“I protest Mr. Castlebrook,” she said ; "your dour unparalleled, amidst wealth, fashion, daughter made me perfectly ashamed. When beauty-hearing music I loved interpreted by His Royal Highnese held his hand to be kissed, the ablest musicians and vocalists of the dayMiss Castlebrook stared at the Regent, as if she seeing for the first time celebrated personages of had met with some newly-imported monster!” whom all Europe spoke, and pronounced sa
“I subscribe to the monster !” said Colonel | mous—I say, amidst all this glare and glitter, Tarragon; “but methinks he were better ex- so confusing to the secluded novice, so bewilported !"
dering in its very brilliancy, a voice within kept “ Vincent, for shame! after the condescension repeating again and again the one fact which, and positive friendliness with which you were amidst others, I had discovered, came nowy upon received at the Levee.”
my soul with an overwhelming conviction I “Nay, my dear Laura, you told me plainly could neither deny nor control - I loved, for enough it was not for my own merits, but-" the first time, with that deep, absorbing passion,
“There, none of your sarcasm : there is which would lay life at the feet of its object and enough of that amiable quality in this house" | think the sacrifice a tritle! Nor was I so very with a glance in my direction.
much appalled at my discovery, though I do “I am sure,” pursued her elder-brother, not think, even then, my reason fully approved “ you, Laura, have no cause to complain-the the choice of my heart; but there was the igfinest woman among a perfect show of fine nominy of loving, before I knew if I were be. women, the one most admired by the Regent !” loved in return or not; yet love at seventeen is
"Most true.” cbimed in Lord Dornington, who hopeful, and I could not help knowing I was was absorbed in an entrée. “His Royal High: not unattractive. What girl is ignorant of her ness was heard to remark that the two styles own beauty? She may miscalculate its force, of beauty, entirely differing, yet most perfectly or exaggerate its degree, but ignore it altogether to his taste, were Lady Laura and Miss Castle- | she cannot: and why should she ? Rather let brook !”
women be deeply grateful for so good a gift as “ His Royal Highness's opinion is no doubt | beauty, if they use it for good influences only. most flattering to the ladies," sneered Colonel | And I knew one thing distinctly, amidst the Tarragon.
confusion of my feelings--that, though un" Most delightful to my feelings !” said the wonted sights and sounds were going on around, old peer. "I know not a better judge of femi- though old Lord Dornington kept on gently nine beauty than the Regent, and now Miss babbling at my side, though Lady Laura Castlebrook's loveliness will henceforth bear the watched me with jealous suspicion, yet I knew he stamp of Royal approbation !"
was there, behind my chair, and I was tremblingly “ Miss Castlebrook " coloured, and looked alive to those minute, unobtrusive attentions, considerably astonished at Lord Dornington's precious alike to giver and receiver, offered speech; and as I pondered over his lordship's by him whose lightest word my ear distinwords, and marvelled why the Regent's praise guished amid the delicious music, the din of should particularly delight him, I encountered voices, hushed, 'tis true, but buzzing around in Vincent's keen gaze, and its irony, I confess observation or remark. Oh, exquisitely happy, irritated me in no slight degree. A new light but painful night, where, now, are all the actors seemed breaking in on me, and I began to feel in that scene of brilliant pageantry ? Dresses, a strange disgust towards my before inoffensive jewels, wearers, all alike dust, ashes-food for old cavalier. “But no, it is not possible," I worms! said. mentally : "unkind as my father is, he One event nearly marred the splendour and could not doom ine to life-long misery !”
etiquette of the vast assemblage. Though the But I observed, with uneasiness, that when Princess of Wales was excluded from the the carriage was announced to take us to the Drawing-rooin, she could not well be bapisbed opera Lord Dornington stepped between my- from her box at the opera. She came, and only self and Colonel Tarragon, who was about to the good taste of private individuals prevented offer bis arm, and appropriated me with an air an indecorous display of national and party of ownership. I was about to decline his lord. feeling before our Allies, who were already, ship's escort, had not Vincent, with a significant report said, shrugging their shoulders at the shrug and a bow, given place at once to his el- domestic scandals of the British Court. I derly rival.
watched with interest the young Princess, as her Even the splendid sight afforded by the as- royal mother entered a box opposite that of the semblage of the royalty and aristocracy, not Regent. She gave a bound forward, and not only of England, but of many European na. even the thunder-cloud which came over the tions, could scarcely subdue my painfulthoughts. Regent's brow, could prevent the Princess CharAs a stream glides on silently, none suspecting í lotte from openly recognizing her mother's preits strength, till, meeting with rocks and stony sence, by kissing her hand. There was a slight ways, it is forced by these obstacles into a rush- attempt to applaud this manifestation, so frank ing torrent; so the calm current of feelings and generous, but good sense quelled it, and