« PreviousContinue »
A gigantic genius, fit to grapple with whole libraries.
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF Johnson.
The appointed day arrived, when the Colonel and Miss Mannering were expected at Woodbourne. The hour was fast approaching, and the little circle within doors had each their separate subjects of anxiety. Mac-Morlan naturally desired to attach to himself the patronage and countenance of a person of Mannering's wealth and consequence. He was aware, from his knowledge of mankind, that Mannering, though generous and benevolent, had the foible of expecting and exacting a minute compliance with his directions. He was therefore racking his recollection to discover if everything had been arranged to meet the Colonel's wishes and instructions, and, under this uncertainty of mind, he traversed the house more than once from the garret to the stables. Mrs. Mac-Morlan revolved in a lesser orbit, comprehending the dining parlour, housekeeper's room, and kitchen. She was only afraid that the dinner might be spoiled, to the discredit of her housewifely accomplishments. Even the usual passiveness of the Dominie was so far disturbed, that he twice went to the window, which looked out upon the avenue, and twice exclaimed, “ Why tarry the wheels of their chariot ?” Lucy, the most quiet of the expectants, had her own melancholy thoughts. She was now about to be consigned to the charge, almost to the benevolence, of strangers, with whose character, though hitherto very amiably displayed, she was but imperfectly acquainted. The moments, therefore, of suspense, passed anxiously and heavily.
At length the trampling of horses and the sound of wheels were heard. The servants, who had already arrived, drew up in the hall to receive their master and mistress, with an importance and empressement, which, to Lucy, who
had never been accustomed to society, or witnessed what is called the manners of the great, had something alarming. Mac-Morlan went to the door to receive the master and mistress of the family, and in a few moments they were in the drawing-room.
Mannering, who had travelled, as usual, on horseback, entered with his daughter hanging upon his arm. She was of the middle size, or rather less, but formed with much elegance; piercing dark eyes, and jet black hair of great length, corresponded with the vivacity and intelligence of features, in which were blended a little haughtiness and a little bashfulness, a great deal of shrewdness, and some power of humorous sarcasm. “I shall not like her," was the result of Lucy Bertram's first glance; " and yet I rather think I shall,” was the thought excited by the second.
Miss Mannering was furred and mantled up to the throat against the severity of the weather; the Colonel in his military great-coat. He bowed to Mrs. Mac-Morlan, whom his daughter also acknowledged with a fashionable courtesy, not dropped so low as at all to incommode her per
The Colonel then led his daughter up to Miss Bertram, and, taking the hand of the latter, with an air of great kindness, and almost paternal affection, he said,
Julia, this is the young lady whom I hope our good friends have prevailed on to honour our house with a long visit. I shall be much gratified indeed if you can render Woodbourne as pleasant to Miss Bertram, as Ellangowan was to me when I first came a wanderer into this country.”
The young lady courtesied acquiescence, and took her new friend's hand. Mannering now turned his eye upon the Dominie, who had made bows since his entrance into the room, sprawling out his leg, and bending his back like an automaton, which continues to repeat the same movement, until the motion is stopt by the artist. “My good friend, Mr. Sampson,” — said Mannering, introducing him to his daughter, and darting at the same time a reproving glance at the damsel, notwithstanding he had himself some disposition to join her too obvious inclination to risibility.
-“This gentleman, Julia, is to put my books in order when they arrive, and I expect to derive great advantage from his extensive learning
“I am sure we are obliged to the gentleman, papa — and, to borrow a ministerial mode of giving thanks, I shall never forget the extraordinary countenance he has been pleased to show us. But, Miss Bertran," continued she hastily, for her father's brows began to darken, “we have travelled a good way, — will you
permit me to retire before dinner?"
This intimation dispersed all the company, save the Dominie, who, having no idea of dressing but when he was to rise, or of undressing but when he meant to go to bed, remained by himself, chewing the cud of a mathematical demonstration, until the company again assembled in the drawing-room, and from thence adjourned to the diningparlour.
When the day was concluded, Mannering took an opportunity to hold a minute's conversation with his daughter in private.
“How do you like your guests, Julia ?”
“O, Miss Bertram of all things. — But this is a most original parson – why, dear sir, no human being will be able to look at him without laughing."
“ While he is under my roof, Julia, every one must lear! to do so.'
“Lord, papa, the very footmen could not keep their gravity!'
" Then let them strip off my livery,” said the Colonel, “and laugh at their leisure. Mr. Sampson is a man whom I esteem for his simplicity and benevolence of character."
*O, I am convinced of his generosity too,” said this lively lady; "he cannot lift a spoonful of soup to his mouth without bestowing a share on everything round.”
“ Julia, you are incorrigible; — but remember, I expect your mirth on this subject to be under such restraint, that it shall neither offend this worthy man's feelings nor those of Miss Bertram, who may be more apt to feel upon count than he on his own. And so, good night, my dear ; and recollect that, though Mr. Sampson has certainly not