Page images

the contents of his packet, his mind naturally reverted to the extraordinary seizure of the usually calm Giulietta, when he talked of leaving her uncle's house.

Charles Annesly was the least vain man in the world; besides which, his mind had been too much occupied with the review of past circumstances and events, to allow of his thinking much about Giulietta Bingham.

He could not help suspecting that he was the cause of the emotion she had betrayed, and it soothed his feelings, after their stormy excitement, to think he had gained the affections of one so pure and guileless.

There was something so heavenly in Giulietta's character, and which shone out in her mild countenance, that he looked upon her love as a sacred and holy feeling, and his fertile imagination began to picture fifty perfections hitherto unnoticed in this young girl.

He was not in love with her, but he felt that to be the husband of her choice would be no small happiness.

Giulietta was not handsome; yet if grace, expression, and sweetness of manner are to be preferred before mere cold regularity of feature, she was more than beautiful.

As Charles Annesly reflected on his unexe pected discovery, he walked unconsciously into the same wood where poor Giulietta had sought refuge, and where she still knelt in the same position, save that her head was raised, and she now was praying to the Holy Virgin for resignation to her sad lot.

She was so much absorbed, that she heard not the approach of Annesly, and he stood unnoticed at the entrance of the arbour, and saw, with deep emotion, the figure before him supplicating heaven in the very abandonment of grief. Her words were low and broken, yet there was no mistaking their import; and as he heard his name repeated in the tones of extreme despondency, he had never before felt so strangely moved. He stole gently into the arbour, and kneeling beside Giulietta, took her clasped hands in his. She turned her head

with a faint scream of terror, but when she saw who the intruder was, her countenance assumed a cold severity of expression, and rising with calm dignity, she asked him whether he had overheard her confession.

Charles, with the most soothing tenderness, the utmost delicacy, and that earnest sincerity so peculiar to himself, told her how his suspicions had been excited at breakfast, and the gratified feelings those suspicions had caused in his heart.

As he talked, he gently seated her beside him, and spoke such comforting words of gratitude, and even love, to her willing ear, that she, at last, let her head rest on his shoulder and wept for joy. Charles then told her candidly all his past feelings respecting Eulalic, assuring her that he now viewed that artful girl with contemptuous indifference.

But when he asked Giulietta to permit him to consider her as the destined partner of his future life, she told him, that much as she loved him, it was impossible for her to conceal from herself, that compassion might strongly influence his mind, and she would not think of binding him down by any engagement until his parents should arrive, and even then she would insist on his passing the winter with them in whatever place they decided on remaining, that he might have an opportunity of comparing her with others, and ascertaining the real state of his heart.

It was in vain that Annesly attempted to argue Giulietta out of this resolution ; she was firm, · The old priest, when informed of the situation of affairs, was delighted at the prospects opening before his beloved niece, and every day Charles saw something new to love in this sweet girl.

At length his parents arrived, and after overwhelming the priest with gratitude, and his niece with compliments, they carried off Charles to Como.

Poor Giulietta ! she saw the carriage drive from the gate, through hot, blinding tears; her heart died within her, as she felt as though

happiness were not destined for her. She could not persuade herself that she was beloved, and the spirit of despondency, which so often accompanies real affection, crept into her bosom.

Tbe dejection which had su long weighed upon Sir Herbert Sedley's spirits, gradually faded away, and he began to feel, as he was wont, ere care and he became so closely linked together; that keen relish for beautiful nature, that disposition to be pleased with the merest trifles, and that evenness of spirits which proclaims a tranquil heart. All these returned, and he was more like the Herbert of seventeen than the Herbert of twenty-seven. Oh! what sorrow may be compressed into ten years ! What oceans of tears may have coursed down the checks; what unnumbered painful sighs may have heaved: the sorely charged heart; what blows, and stings, and stabs that poor heart may have borne! And yet, after all this, gleams of the original nature, bursts of irresistible buoyancy, will sometimes come, bearing down all before them, and sweeping


« PreviousContinue »