« PreviousContinue »
her hands from Mrs. Alexander's, she flew up stairs, and shortly returned with the miniature of her grandmother, and the lines written on it by her own mother. Without speaking, she placed them in Mrs. Alexander's hands, who after looking at them for some moments, exclaimed,
“ These are, indeed, the features of Mrs. Arbuthnot, and this the handwriting of my lamented friend."
So saying, she held out her arms to Teresa, who threw herself into them, and the cousins remained for some time locked in a silent embrace. Mrs. Bolton and Catherine both wept at this scene, for they loved Teresa sincerely; and at length Mrs. Alexander withdrew her arms from Teresa's neck and placed her on a sopha beside her, still retaining her hand. She then turned to her friends and said,
“ I cannot express to you my delight at meeting with this dear girl. As I before said, her mother and I were first cousins, and tenderly attached to each other; but I married very early in life, and left England with my husband. For some time I corresponded regularly with Geraldine, but at length I heard that she was married to an Italian named Cellini, and, by that connection had seriously displeased her parents. From that time she ceased to write to me, and I lost all trace of her, till I saw her death announced in an English paper. I grieved sincerely for her, but was not at all aware that she had left a child. Teresa is not like her mother in features or complexion, but her smile and tone of voice reminded me forcibly of my poor Geraldine, and induced my inquiries.”
All parties were delighted at this change in Teresa's destiny, and she was soon established in Mrs. Alexander's fine house, in Grosvenor Square, as her adopted daughter. Catherine Brand was invited to spend some weeks with her friend, and, surrounded by affectionate kindness, Teresa felt almost happy.
After some days had elapsed, Mrs. Alexander requested Teresa to detail minutely all that had happened to her during her short life. Teresa
complied with her request, but forbore to name Sedley in her narrative, as she could not bring herself to talk of her secret sorrow.
Mrs. Alexander shed many tears during the recital, and bestowed many expressions of indignation and abhorrence on St. John's heartless conduct. When her cousin had quite finished, she said, “ But now, dearest Teresa, you must
your cares, and look to a long life of happiness. The death of Sir Edward St. John frees you from all shackles or scruples, and the instant you appear in society, there will be many willing to devote their lives to your service.”
At the words "now that Sir Edward St. John is dead,” Teresa started, and turned of a deadly paleness, then, sinking back in her chair, she sobbed hysterically.
Her cousin was greatly alarmed, not knowing how to account for this sudden seizure; but Teresa soon recovered, and, grasping Mrs. Alexander's hands, whilst she looked up eagerly into her face, she said, in a low, hoarse voice,
" Is it, indeed, true that Sir Edward St. John is dead ?"
“ Is it possible that you were not aware of it, my poor child ?” replied her cousin, soothingly. “I am shocked that I should have been the means of your hearing it so abruptly, and grieved to perceive that your affections still cling to his memory-He died more than a year ago."
Teresa made no reply, and requested that she might be allowed to retire for a time. Mrs. Alexander embraced her affectionately, and sent her to her own room.
It would be difficult to paint the tumult of her feelings when she found herself alone. The only real obstacle which separated her from Sedley was now removed-had been long removed—yet had she raised one still more insurmountable by her cruel rejection of him. What must he have thought of her strange conduct? To what must he have attributed it? Great was the anguish of her heart as she felt that she had destroyed her own happiness, and carved for herself a dreary destiny. For many days she shunned all society, and remained principally in her own room; but at length she resolved to exert herself on her cousin's account, as she felt that she was making but an ungrateful return for that newly-found relation's kindness and affection.
She resolutely banished her sorrows from her countenance, and, with forced smiles and affected cheerfulness, mingled in Mrs. Alexander's circle of acquaintances.
Catherine Brand exerted all her energies to amuse Teresa, and make her forget her grief; she, too, thought that her friend sorrowed for the unworthy St. John.
One day Catherine accompanied her sister, Mrs. Bolton, to a dinner-party, in some easterly part of the town. The party was given by Mr. Bolton's agent, and his wife, who was a distant connection of the Brand family had prevailed on the sisters to honour her house by their presence.
Catherine returned from the party, and slept at Mr. Bolton's, but the next morning she came