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STANDARD 
NOVELS. 

N XV. 



SELF-CONTROL. 

BY MARY BRUNTON 

COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME. 



LONDON: 
HENRY COLBURN AND RICHARD BENTLEY, 

NEW BURLINGTON STREET; 

BELL AND BRADFUTE, , EDINBURGH ; 
AND CUMMING, DUBLIN. 

1832. 



LONDON : 

Printed by A. & R. Spottiswoode, 
New.Street-Square. 




London. 



MART 



T(Q)M, 




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,ETT, 

C I! M M l ' 



SELF-CONTROL 



A NOVEL. 



His warfare is within. There unfatigued 
His fervent spirit labours. There he fights, 
And there obtains fresh triumphs o'er himself, 
And never-withering wreaths, compared with which 
The laurels that a Caesar reaps are weeds. 

COWPER. 



BY MARY BRUNTON. 



LONDON: 
HENRY COLBURN AND RICHARD BENTLEY, 

NEW BURLINGTON STREET : 

BELL AND BRADFUTE, EDINBURGH ; 

AND GUMMING, DUBLIN. 

1832. 



MISS JOANNA BAILLIE, 

IN TESTIMONY OF 



HIGH RESPECT 

AND 

UNFEIGNED ADMIRATION, 

THESE VOLUMES 
ARE AGAIN INSCRIBED 

BY 

THE AUTHOR. 



* # * The Publishers of the " STANDARD NOVELS" beg 
to state that the next volume of that Series will contain the 
whole of the remaining works of Mrs. Brunton, namely, 
" Discipline/' and the posthumous tale entitled " Emme- 
line," together with a Memoir of the Author's Life and 
Writings, and extracts from her Correspondence. 

New Burlington Street, 
May 1st, 1832. 



ADVERTISEMENT 



PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION. 



IN presenting to the public another Edition of Self-Control, 
the Author gratefully acknowledges the indulgence which 
her first literary attempt has received. The approbation 
with which it has been honoured, flatters her with the hope 
that her little work may not entirely fail in the purposes of 
usefulness which were her chief aim in its publication. 

The commendations bestowed on Self-Control have been 
by no means unqualified. Strictures have been made upon 
various parts of the narrative, and objections stated against 
the probability of some of the incidents. Had these cen- 
sures been pointed at the lessons which the tale was in- 
tended to convey, the Author would have felt it her duty, 
as well as her earnest desire, to remove them. Had the 
characters described in Self-Control been the portraits of 
living originals, she might have been bound to avail herself 
of any hint for rendering the likeness more complete. But 
where no higher interest is at stake than the credit of her 
own powers of invention, she feels herself at greater li- 
berty; and sometimes where she might have bowed to 
superior taste and experience, she has been unable to re- 
concile contradictory authorities. She is not even sure of 
her right to make any material alteration upon a work of 



VI ADVERTISEMENT. 

fiction. Perhaps they who have before honoured it with 
their notice, are entitled on a second perusal to find,, along 
with the same qualities which conciliated their favour, the 
same faults which amused their critical sagacity. 

The language has been changed in various instances, 
either where the expression was faulty, or where it has 
been said to bear a meaning which it was not intended to 
convey. A few sentences have been omitted at the sug- 
gestion of a Lady, to whose powerful genius and cultivated 
taste the Author would willingly have shown still greater 
deference ; and for many of the verbal alterations she is 
obliged to the kindness of a friend. Since the publication, 
she has observed that part of Hargrave's miserable scale 
of duties (page 48.) is borrowed from a work of great 
and deserved celebrity.* The Author hopes and believes 
that she is not otherwise directly indebted for a line which 
is not marked as a quotation. 

Edinburgh, April, 1811. 

* Coelebs, vol. ii. p. 100. 10th edit. 



SELF-CONTROL. 



CHAPTER I. 

IT was on a still evening in June, that Laura Montreville 
left her father's cottage,, in the little village of Glenalbert, to 
begin a solitary ramble, Her countenance was mournful, 
and her step languid; for her health had suffered from 
confinement, and her spirits were exhausted by long at- 
tendance on the death-bed of her mother. That labour of 
duty had been lessened by no extrinsic circumstance ; for 
Lady Harriet Montreville was a peevish and refractory pa- 
tient ; her disorder had been tedious as well as hopeless ; 
and the humble establishment of a half-pay officer furnished 
no one who could lighten to Laura the burden of constant 
attendance. But Laura had in herself that which softens 
all difficulty, and beguiles all fatigue an active mind, a 
strong sense of duty, and the habit of meeting and over- 
coming adverse circumstances. 

Captain Montreville was of a family ancient and respect- 
able^ but so far from affluent, that, at the death of his 
father, he found his wealth, as a younger son, to consist 
only of 500/., besides the emoluments arising from a lieu- 
tenancy in a regiment of foot. Nature had given him a 
fine person and a pleasing address ; and to the national 
opinions of a Scottish mother, he was indebted for an edu- 
cation, of which the liberality suited better with his birth 
than with his fortunes. He was in London negotiating 
for the purchase of a company, when he accidentally met 
with Lady Harriet Bircham. Her person was showy, and 
her manners had the glare, even more than the polish, of 



2 SELF-CONTROL. 

high life. She had a lively imagination, and some wit ; 
had read a little, and knew how to show that little to ad- 
vantage. The fine person of Montreville soon awakened 
the only sensibility of which Lady Harriet was possessed ; 
and her preference was sufficiently visible in every step of 
its progress. To be distinguished by a lady of such rank 
and attractions, raised in Montreville all the vanity of three- 
and-twenty ; and, seen through that medium, Lady Har- 
riet's charms were magnified to perfections. Montreville 
soon was, or fancied himself, desperately in love. He sued, 
and was accepted with a frankness, to which some stiff ad- 
vocates for female decorum might give the harsh name of 
forwardness. Montreville was in love, and he was pleased 
to call it the candour of a noble mind. 

As his regiment was at this time under orders for the 
West Indies, Lady Harriet prevailed on him to exchange 
to half-pay ; and her fortune being only 5000/., economy, 
no less than the fondness for solitude natural to young men 
in love, induced him to retire to the country with his bride, 
who had reasons of her own for wishing to quit London. 
He had been educated in Scotland, and he remembered its 
wild scenery with the enthusiasm of a man of taste, and a 
painter. He settled, therefore, in the village of Glenalbert, 
near Perth ; and, to relieve his conscience from the load of 
utter idleness at twenty-three, began the superintendence of 
a little farm. Here the ease and vivacity of Lady Harriet 
made her for a while the delight of her new acquaintance. 
She understood all the arts of courtesy; and, happy herself, 
was for a while content to practise them. The store of 
anecdote, which she had accumulated in her intercourse 
with the great, passed with her country neighbours for 
knowledge of the world. To Scottish ears, the accent of 
the higher ranks of English conveys an idea of smartness, 
as well as of gentility ; and Lady Harriet became an uni- 
versal favourite. 

Those who succeed best in amusing strangers, are not, it 
has been remarked, the most pleasing in domestic life : 
they are not even always the most entertaining. Lady Har- 
riet's spirits had ebbs, which commonly took place during 
her tete-a-tetes with Captain Montreville. Outward at- 



SELF-CONTROL. 3 

tractions, real or imaginary, are the natural food of passion; 
but sound principles must win confidence, and kindness 
of heart engage affection. Poor Montreville soon gave a 
mournful assent to these truths ; for Lady Harriet had no 
principles, and her heart was a mere f( pulsation on the 
left side." Her passion for her husband soon declined ; 
and her more permanent appetite for admiration finding 
but scanty food in a solitary village, her days passed in 
secret discontent or open murmurings. The narrowness 
of her finances made her feel the necessity of economy, 
though it could not immediately instruct her in the art of 
it ; and Montreville, driven from domestic habits by the 
turmoil of a household, bustling without usefulness, and 
parsimonious without frugality, was on the point of return- 
ing to his profession, or of seeking relief in such dissipa- 
tion as he had the means of obtaining, when the birth of a 
daughter gave a new turn to all his hopes and wishes. 

t( I should not wish the girl to be a beauty," said he to 
his friend, the village pastor. " A pretty face is of no use, 
but to blind a lover;" and he sighed, as he recollected 
his own blindness. Yet he was delighted to see that Laura 
grew every day more lovely. " Wit only makes women 
troublesome," said he ; but before Laura was old enough 
to show the uncommon acuteness of her understanding, he 
had quite forgotten that he ever applied the remark to her. 
To amuse her infancy became his chosen recreation; to 
instruct her youth was afterwards his favourite employment. 
Lady Harriet, too, early began to seek food for her vanity 
in the superior endowments of her child, and she forthwith 
determined that Laura should be a paragon. To perfect 
her on nature's plan, never entered the head of this judi- 
cious matron ; she preferred a plan of her own, and scorned 
to be indebted to the assistance of nature, for any part of 
the perfect structure which she resolved to rear. The 
temper of Laura, uniformly calm and placid, was by nature 
slightly inclined to obstinacy. Lady Harriet had predeter- 
mined that her daughter should be a model of yielding 
softness. Laura's spirits were inexhaustible ; Lady Har- 
riet thought nothing so interesting as a pensive beauty. 
Laura was both a reasonable and a reasoning creature : her 
B 2 



4 SELF-CONTROL. 

mother chose that she should use the latter faculty in every 
instance, except where maternal authority or opinion was 
concerned. Innumerable difficulties, therefore, opposed 
Lady Harriet's system ; and, as violent measures ever occur 
first to those who are destitute of other resources, she had 
recourse to so many blows, disgraces, and deprivations, as 
must have effectually ruined the temper and dispositions of 
her pupil, if Laura had not soon learnt to look upon the 
ungoverned anger of her mother as a disease, to which she 
owed pity and concealment. This lesson was taught her 
partly by the example of her father, partly by the admoni- 
tions of Mrs. Douglas, wife to the clergyman of the parish. 

This lady was in every respect Lady Harriet's opposite. 
Of sound sense rather than of brilliant abilities ; reserved 
in her manners, gentle in her temper, pious, humble, and 
upright, she spent her life in the diligent and unostentatious 
discharge of Christian and feminine duty ; beloved without 
effort to engage the love, respected without care to secure 
the praise of man. She had always treated the little Laura 
with more than common tenderness ; and the child, unused 
to the fascinations of feminine kindness, repaid her atten- 
tion with the utmost enthusiasm of love and veneration. 
With her she passed every moment allowed her for recre- 
ation ; to her she applied in every little difficulty j from 
her she solicited every childish indulgence. The influence 
of this excellent woman increased with Laura's age, till her 
approbation became essential to the peace of her young 
friend, who instinctively sought to read, in the expressive 
countenance of Mrs. Douglas, an opinion of all her words 
and actions. Mrs. Douglas, ever watchful for the good of 
all who approached her, used every effort to render this 
attachment as useful as it was delightful. She gradually 
laid the foundation of the most valuable qualities in the 
mind of Laura ; by degrees teaching her to know and to 
love the Author of her being, to adore him as the bestower 
of all her innocent pleasures, to seek his favour, or to 
tremble at his disapprobation in every hour of her life. 
Lady Harriet had been educated among those who despised 
or neglected the peculiar tenets of the Christian faith ; she 
never thought of them, therefore, except as giving scope to 



SELF-CONTROL. 5 

lively argument. On Mrs. Douglas's own mind they had 
their proper effect ; and she convinced Laura that they 
were not subjects for cavil, but for humble and thankful 
acceptation. 

In as far as the religious character can be traced to 
causes merely natural, it may be formed by those who ob- 
tain over a mind of sensibility and reflection the influence 
which affection bestows, provided that they be themselves 
duly impressed with the importance, the harmony, the 
excellence of what they teach. Laura early saw the Chris- 
tian doctrines, precepts, and promises, warm the heart, and 
guide the conduct, and animate the hopes of her whom she 
loved best. Sympathy and imitation, the strongest tend- 
encies of infancy, first formed the disposition which reason 
afterwards strengthened into principle ; and Laura grew up 
a pious Christian. 

It is the fashion of the age to account for every striking 
feature of a character from education or external circum- 
stance. Those who are fond of such speculations may 
trace, if they can, the self-denying habits of Laura, to the 
eagerness with which her enthusiastic mind imbibed the 
stories of self-devoting patriots and martyrs, and may find, 
in one lesson of her preceptress, the tint which coloured her 
future days. The child had been reading a narrative of 
the triumphant death of one of the first reformers j and, 
full of the emulation which the tale of heroic virtue inspires, 
exclaimed, her eyes flashing through their tears, her little 
form erect with noble daring, " Let them persecute me, 
and I will be a martyr." " You may be so now^ to-day, 
every day," returned Mrs. Douglas. (t It was not at the 
stake that these holy men began their self-denial. They 
had before taken up their cross daily ; and whenever, from 
a regard to duty, you resign any thing that is pleasing or 
valuable to you, you are for the time a little martyr." 

In a solitary village, remote from her equals in age and 
rank, Laura necessarily lived much alone ; and in solitude 
she acquired a grave and contemplative turn of mind. Far 
from the scenes of dissipation and frivolity, conversant with 
the grand and the sublime in nature, her sentiments assumed 
a corresponding elevation. She had heard that there was 
B 3 



O SELIT-CONTROL. 

vice in the world ; she knew that there was virtue in it ; 
and, little acquainted with other minds, deeply studious of 
her own,, she concluded that all mankind were, like herself, 
engaged in a constant endeavour after excellence; that 
success in this struggle was at once virtue and happiness, 
while failure included misery as well as guilt. The habit 
of self-examination, early formed, and steadily maintained, 
made even venial trespass appear the worst of evils ; 
while, in the labours of duty and the pleasures of devotion, 
she found joys which sometimes rose to rapture. 

The capricious unkindness of her mother gave constant 
exercise to her fortitude and forbearance ; while the principle 
of charity, no less than the feelings of benevolence, led to 
frequent efforts of self-denial. The latter virtue became 
daily more necessary, for mismanagement had now brought 
her mother's fortune almost to a close ; and Captain Mon- 
treville, while he felt that he was injuring his child, could 
not prevail on himself to withhold from Lady Harriet the 
control of what he considered as her own, especially as her 
health was such as to afford a plea for indulgence. 

Laura had reached her sixteenth year, when Mr. Douglas 
was induced, by a larger benefice, to remove to a parish 
almost twenty miles distant from Glenalbert ; and parting 
with her early friend was the severest sorrow that Laura 
had ever yet known. Captain Montreville promised that 
his daughter should often visit the new parsonage ; but 
Lady Harriet's increasing illness long prevented the per- 
formance of his promise. After a confinement of many 
months, she died, and was lamented by her husband with 
that sort of sorrow which it usually costs a man to part 
with an object which he is accustomed to see, when he 
knows that he shall see it no more. 

For the first time since her mother's funeral, Captain 
Montreville prevailed on his daughter to take a solitary 
walk. Slowly she ascended the hill that overlooked the 
village, and, stopping near its brow, looked back towards 
the churchyard, to observe a brown hillock that marked 
the spot where her mother slept. Tears filled her eyes, as, 
passing over long intervals of unkindness, she recollected 
some casual proof of maternal love ; and they fell fast as 



SELF-CONTROL. 7 

she remembered, that for that love she could now make no 
return. She turned to proceed; and the moist eye 
sparkled with pleasure, the faded cheek glowed with more 
than the flush of health, when she beheld springing towards 
her the elegant, the accomplished, Colonel Hargrave. For- 
gotten was languor ; forgotten -was sorrow ; for Laura was 
just seventeen, and Colonel Hargrave was the most ardent, 
the most favoured of lovers. His person was symmetry 
itself; his manners had all the fascination that vivacity 
and intelligence, joined to the highest polish, can bestow. 
His love for Laura suited with the impetuosity of his cha- 
racter ; and for more than a year he had laboured with 
assiduity and success to inspire a passion corresponding to 
his own. Yet it was not Hargrave whom Laura loved ; 
for the being on whom she doated had no resemblance to 
him, except in externals. It was a creature of her ima- 
gination, pure as her own heart, yet impassioned as the 
wildest dreams of fiction, intensely susceptible of plea- 
sure, and keenly alive to pain, yet ever ready to sacrifice 
the one and to despise the other. This ideal being, clothed 
with the fine form, and adorned with the insinuating man- 
ners, and animated with the infectious love of Hargrave, 
what heart of woman could resist ? Laura's was com- 
pletely captivated. 

Hargrave, charmed with her consummate loveliness, 
pleased with her cheerful good sense, and fascinated with 
her matchless simplicity, at first sought her society without 
thought but of present gratification, till he was no longer 
master of himself. He possessed an ample fortune, besides 
the near prospect of a title ; and nothing was farther from 
his thoughts, than to make the poor unknown Laura a 
sharer in these advantages. But Hargrave was not yet a 
villain, and he shuddered at the thought of seduction. 
" I will see her only once more," said he, " and then tear 
myself from her for ever." " Only this once," said he, 
while day after day he continued to visit her, to watch 
with delight, and to cherish with eager solicitude, the ten- 
derness which, amidst her daily increasing reserve, his 
practised eye could distinguish. The passion which we do 
not conquer, will in time reconcile us to any means that 
B 4 



8 



SELF-COI*TROL. 



can aid its gratification. " To leave her now would be 
dishonourable it would be barbarous/' was his answer to 
his remonstrating conscience, as he marked the glow of her 
complexion at his approach, the tremor of her hand at his 
pressure. " I cannot, indeed, make her my wife. The 
woman whom I marry, must assist in supporting the rank 
which she is to fill. But Laura is not made for high fife. 
Short commerce with the world would destroy half her 
witchery. Love will compensate to us for every privation. 
I will hide her and myself from a censorious world : she 
loves solitude ; and, with her, solitude will be delightful." 
He forgot that solitude is delightful to the innocent 
alone. 

Meantime the artless Laura saw, in his highly coloured 
pictures of happy love, only scenes of domestic peace and 
literary leisure ; and, judging of his feelings by her own, 
dreamed not of aught that would have disgraced the loves 
of angels. Tedious weeks of absence had intervened since 
their last meeting ; and Hargrave's resolution was taken. 
To live without her was impossible ; and he was determined 
to try whether he had over-rated the strength of her affec- 
tion, when he ventured to hope that to it she would sa- 
crifice her all. To meet her thus unexpectedly filled him 
with joy; and the heart of Lau-ra throbbed quick as he ex- 
pressed his rapture. Never had his professions been so 
ardent ; and, softened by sorrow and by absence, never had 
Laura felt such seducing tenderness as now stole upon her. 
Unable to speak, and unconscious of her path, she listened 
with silent rapture to the glowing language of her lover, till 
his entreaties wrung from her a reluctant confession of her 
preference. Unmindful of the feeling of humiliation that 
makes the moment of such a confession, of all others, the 
least favourable to a lover's boldness, Hargrave poured 
forth the most vehement expressions of passion ; while, 
shrinking into herself, Laura now first observed, that the 
shades of evening were closing fast, while their lonely path 
led through a wood that climbed the rocky hill. 

She stopped. " I must return/' said she; " my father 
will be anxious for me at this hour." 

"Talk not now of returning," cried Hargrave impe- 



SELF-CONTROL. 9 

tuously ; ' { trust yourself to a heart that adores you. Re. 
ward all my lingering pains, and let this happy hour begin 
a life of love and rapture." 

Laura,, wholly unconscious of his meaning, looked up in 
his face with an innocent smile. " 1 have often taxed you 
with raving," said she; " now, I am sure, you must admit 
the charge." 

" Do not sport with me, loveliest,"* cried Hargrave, 
{C nor waste these precious moments in cold delay. Leave 
forms to the frozen hearts that wait them, and be from this 
hour mine, wholly and for ever." 

Laura threw a tearful glance at her mourning habit. 
f< Is this like bridal attire ? " said she : " Would you 
bring your nuptial festivities into the house of death, and 
mingle the sound of your marriage vow with my mother's 
dying groans ? " 

" Can this simplicity be affected ? " thought Hargrave. 
" Is it that she will not understand me ? " He examined 
her countenance. All there was candour and unsuspecting 
love. Her arm rested on his with confiding pressure ; and 
for a moment Hargrave faltered in his purpose. The next, 
he imagined that he had gone too far to recede ; and, 
clasping her to his breast with all the vehemence of passion, 
he urged his suit in language yet more unequivocal. No 
words can express her feelings, when, the veil thus rudely 
torn from her eyes, she saw her pure, her magnanimous 
Hargrave the god of her idolatry, degraded to a sen- 
sualist a seducer. Casting on him a look of mingled 
horror, dismay, and anguish, she exclaimed, " Are you so 
base ? " and, freeing herself, with convulsive struggle, from 
his grasp, sunk without sense or motion to the ground. 

As he gazed on the death-pale face of Laura, and raised 
her lifeless form from the earth, compassion, which so 
often survives principle, overpowered all Hargrave's im- 
petuous feelings ; and they were succeeded by the chill of 
horror, as the dreadful idea occurred to him, that she was 
gone for ever. In vain he chafed her cold hands, tried to 
warm her to life in his bosom, bared her's to the evening 
breeze, and distractedly called for help; while, with agony, 
which every moment increased, he remembered that no 



10 SELF-CONTROL. 

human help was near. No sign of returning life ap- 
peared. At last he recollected that, in their walks, they 
had at some distance crossed a little stream, and, starting 
up with renovated hope, he ran to it with the speed 
of lightning : but the way, which was so short, as he 
passed it before, now seemed lengthened without end. At 
last he reached it ; and, filling his hat with water, returned 
with his utmost speed. He darted forward till he found 
himself at the verge of the wood, and then first perceived 
that he had mistaken the path. As he retraced his steps, a 
thousand times he cursed his precipitancy, in not having 
with more caution ascertained the sentiments of his mistress, 
ere he permitted his licentious purpose to be seen. After a 
search, prolonged by his own frantic impatience, he arrived 
at the spot where he left her ; but no Laura was there. 
He called wildly on her name he was answered by the 
mountain echo alone. After seeking her long, a hope arose 
that she had been able to reach the village ; and thither he 
determined to return, that, should his hope prove ground- 
less, he might at least procure assistance in his search. 

As he approached the little garden that surrounded 
Captain Montreville's cottage, he with joy perceived a light 
in the window of Laura's apartment; and never, in the 
most cheerful scenes, had he beheld her with such delight 
as he did now, when every gesture seemed the expression 
of unutterable anguish. He drew nearer, and saw despair 
painted on her every feature ; and he felt how tender was 
the love that could thus mourn his degeneracy, and its own 
blighted hopes. If she could thus feel for his guilt, the 
thought irresistibly pressed on his mind, with what bitter- 
ness would she feel her own ! Seduction, he perceived, 
would with her be a work of time and difficulty ; while, 
could he determine to make her his wife, he was secure of 
her utmost gratitude and tenderness. The known honour, 
too, of Captain Montreville made the seduction of his 
daughter rather a dangerous exploit ; and Colonel Hargrave 
knew, that, in spite of the licence of the times, should he 
destroy the daughter's honour, and the father's life, he 
would no longer be received, even in the most fashionable 
circles, with the cordiality which he could at present com- 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 1 

mand. The dignified beauty of Laura would grace a coro- 
net, and more than excuse the weakness which raised her 
to that distinction : his wife would he admired and fol- 
lowed, while all her affections would be his alone. In fancy 
he presented her glittering with splendour, or majestic in 
unborrowed loveliness, to his companions ; saw the gaze of 
admiration follow wherever she turned ; and that thought 
determined him. He would go next morning, and in 
form commence honourable lover, by laying his pretensions 
before Captain Montreville. Should Laura have acquainted 
her father with the adventures of the evening, he might feel 
some little awkwardness in his first visit ; but she might 
perhaps have kept his secret ; and, at all events, his generous 
intentions would repair his offence. Satisfied with himself, 
he retired to rest, and enjoyed a repose that visited not the 
pillow of the innocent Laura. 



CHAPTER II. 

SCARCELY had Hargrave quitted Laura, when her senses 
began to return, and with them an indefinite feeling of 
danger and alarm. The blood gushing from her mouth 
and nostrils, she quickly revived to a full sense of her situ- 
ation, and instinctively endeavoured to quit a spot now so 
dark and lonely. Terror gave her strength to proceed. 
Every path in her native woods was familiar to her : she 
darted through them with what speed she could command ; 
and, reckless of all danger but that from which she fled, 
she leapt from the projecting rocks, or gradually descended 
from the more fearful declivities, by clinging to the trees 
which burst from the fissures ; till, exhausted with fatigue, 
she reached the valley, and entered the garden that sur- 
rounded her home. Here, supported no longer by the 
sense of danger, her spirits utterly failed her ; and she threw 
herself on the ground, without a wish but to die. 

From this state she was roused by the voice of her father, 
who, on the outside of the fence, was enquiring of one of 



1 2 SELF-CONTROL. 

the villagers, whether she had been seen. Wishing, she 
scarcely knew why, to escape all human eyes, she rose, 
and, without meeting Captain Montreville, gained her own 
apartment. As she closed her door, and felt for a moment 
the sense of security, which every one experiences in the 
chamber which he calls his own, " Oh," cried she, "that 
I could thus shut out the base world for ever ! " 

There was in Laura's chamber one spot, which had, in 
her eyes, something of holy, for it was hallowed by the 
regular devotions of her life. On it she had breathed her 
first infant prayer. There shone on her the eastern sun, 
as she offered her morning tribute of praise. There first 
fell the shades of evening that invited her to implore the 
protection of her God. On that spot she had so often 
sought consolation, so often found her chief delight, that it 
was associated in her mind with images of hope and com- 
fort ; and, springing towards it, she now almost uncon- 
sciously dropped upon her knees. While she poured forth 
her soul in prayer, her anguish softened into resignation ; 
and with the bitter tears of disappointment, those of gra- 
titude mingled, while she thanked Him who, though He 
had visited her with affliction, had preserved her from 
guilt. 

She rose, composed though wretched, resigned though 
hopeless; and, when summoned to supper, had sufficient 
recollection to command her voice, while she excused herself 
on the plea of a violent headach. Left to herself, she 
passed the sleepless night, now in framing excuses for her 
lover, now in tormenting reflections on her mistaken esti- 
mate of his character; and in bitter regrets that what 
seemed so excellent should be marred with so foul a stain. 
But Laura's thoughts were so habitually the prelude to 
action, that, even in the severest conflict of her powers, she 
was not likely to remain long in a state of ineffective me- 
ditation. " What ought I now to do ? " was a question 
which, from childhood, Laura had every hour habitually 
asked herself; and the irresistible force of the habit of 
many years, brought the same question to her mind when 
she rose with the dawn. 

With a heavy heart, she was obliged to confess, that 



SELF-CONTROL. 13 

delicacy, no less than prudence, must forbid all future in- 
tercourse with Hargrave. But he had for some time been 
a constant visiter at the cottage, till excluded by the in- 
creasing illness of Lady Harriet. He might now renew 
his visits, and how was it possible to prevent this ? Should 
she refuse to see him, her father must be made acquainted 
with the cause of such a refusal ; and she could not doubt 
that the consequences would be such as she shuddered to 
think of. She groaned aloud as the horrid possibility oc- 
curred to her, that her father might avenge her wrongs at 
the expense of his virtue and his life become for her 
sake a murderer, or fall by a murderer's hand. She in- 
stantly resolved to conceal for ever the insult she had re- 
ceived ; and to this resolution she determined that all other 
circumstances should bend. Yet, should she receive Colonel 
Hargrave as formerly, what might he not have the audacity 
to infer ? How could she make him fully sensible of her 
indignant feelings, yet act such a part as might deceive the 
penetration of her father ? Act a part ! deceive her 
father ! Laura's thoughts were usually clear and distinct ; 
and there was something in this distinct idea of evasion and 
deceit, that sickened her very soul. This was the first 
system of concealment which had ever darkened her fair and 
candid mind ; and she wept bitterly when she convinced 
herself, that from such conduct there was no escape. 

She sat lost in these distressing reflections, till the clock 
struck the hour of breakfast; then, recollecting that she 
must not suffer her appearance to betray her, she ran to 
her glass, and, with more interest than she had perhaps 
ever before felt in the employment, proceeded to dress her 
countenance to advantage. She bathed her swollen eyes, 
shaded them with the natural ringlets of her dark hair, 
rubbed her wan cheeks till their colour returned, and then 
entered the parlour with an overacted gaiety which sur- 
prised Captain Montreville. " I scarcely expected," said 
he, " to see you so very animated, after being so ill as to 
go to rest last night, for the first time in your life, without 
your father's blessing." 

Laura, instantly sensible of her mistake, colouring, 
stammered something of the cheering influence of the 



14 SELF-CONTROL. 

morning air ; and then, meditating on a proper medium in 
her demeanour, sunk into so long a silence, that Captain 
Montreville could not have failed to remark it, had not his 
attention been diverted by the arrival of the newspaper, 
which he continued to study till breakfast was ended, when 
Laura gladly retired to her room. 

Though the understanding of Laura was above her 
years, she had not escaped a mistake common to the youth 
of both sexes, when smarting under a recent disappoint- 
ment in love the mistake of supposing, that all the in- 
terest of life is, with respect to them, at an end, and that 
their days must thenceforth bring only a dull routine of 
duties without incitement, and of toils without hope. But 
the leading principle of Laura's life was capable of giving 
usefulness even to her errors ; and the gloom of the wil- 
derness, through which her path seemed to lie, only bright- 
ened, by contrast, the splendour that lay beyond. " The 
world," thought she, " has now nothing to offer that I 
covet, and little to threaten that I fear. What then re- 
mains but to do my duty, unawed by its threatenings, un- 
bribed by its joys? Ere this cloud darkened all my earthly 
prospects, I was not untaught, though I had too much 
forgotten the lesson, that it was not for pastime I was sent 
hither. I am here as a soldier, who strives in an enemy's 
land ; as one who must run must wrestle must strain 
every neive exert every power, nor once shrink from the 
struggle till the prize is my own. Nor do I live for myself 
alone. I have a friend to gratify the poor to relieve 
the sorrowful to console a father's age to comfort a 
God to serve. And shall selfish feeling disincline me to 
such duties as these ? No, with more than seeming cheer- 
fulness, I will perform them all. I will thank Heaven for 
exempting me from the far heavier task of honouring and 
obeying a profligate." 

A profligate ! Must she apply such a name to Har- 
grave ! The enthusiasm of the moment expired at the 
word, and the glow of virtuous resolution faded to the 
paleness of despondence and pain. 

From a long and melancholy reverie, Laura was awakened 
by the sound of the garden gate ; and she perceived that it 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 5 

was entered by Colonel Hargrave. Instinctively she was 
retreating from the window,, when she saw him joined by 
her father ; and, trembling lest candour was about to con- 
fess, or inadvertence to betray, what she so much wished 
to conceal, she continued with breathless anxiety to watch 
their conference. 

Though Colonel Hargrave was certainly one of the best 
bred men in the kingdom, and, of consequence, entirely 
free from the awkwardness of mauvaise honte, it must be 
confessed, that he entered the presence of the father of 
Laura with rather less than his accustomed ease ; but the 
cordial salutation of Captain Montreville banishing all fear 
that the lady had been too communicative, our lover pro- 
ceeded, without any remaining embarrassment, to unfold 
the purpose of his visit. Nor could any one have con- 
jectured, from the courtly condescension of the great man, 
that he conceived he was bestowing a benefit ; nor from 
the manly frankness of the other, that he considered him- 
self as receiving a favour. Not but that the Colonel was 
in full possession of the pleasures of conscious generosity 
and condescension. So complete, indeed, was his self-ap- 
probation, that he doubted not but his present magnanimous 
resolve would efface from the mind of Laura all resentment 
for his offence. Her displeasure he thought would be very 
short-lived, if he were able to convince her that his fault 
was not premeditated. This he conceived to be an ample 
excuse, because he chose to consider the insult he had 
offered, apart from the base propensities, the unbridled self- 
ishness which it indicated. As Laura had so well con- 
cealed his indiscretion, he was too good a politician himself 
to expose it : and he proceeded to make such offers in regard 
to settlements as suited the liberality of his character. 

Captain Montreville listened with undisguised satisfac- 
tion to proposals apparently so advantageous to his beloved 
child ; but, while he expressed his entire approbation of the 
Colonel's suit, regard to feminine decorum made him add, 
<c that he was determined to put no constraint on the in- 
clinations of his daughter." The Colonel felt a strong 
conviction that no constraint would be necessary : never- 
theless, turning a neat period, importing his willingness to 



16 SELF-CONTROL. 

resign his love, rather than interfere with the happiness of 
Miss Moutreville, he closed the conference, by entreating 
that the Captain would give him an immediate opportunity 
of learning his fate from the lips of the fair Laura herself. 

Laura had continued to follow them with her eyes, till 
they entered the house together ; and the next minute 
Captain Montreville knocked at her door. 

(f If your headach is not quite gone," said he, with a 
significant smile, " I will venture to recommend a physician. 
Colonel Hargrave is waiting to prescribe for you ; and you 
may repay him in kind, for he tells me he has a case for 
your consideration." 

Laura was on the point of protesting against any com- 
munication with Colonel Hargrave ; but instantly recol- 
lecting the explanation which would be necessary, <c I will 
go to him this instant," she exclaimed, with an, eagerness 
that astonished her father. 

" Surely you will first smooth these reddish locks of 
yours," said he, fondly stroking her dark auburn hair. te I 
fear so much haste may make the Colonel vain." 

Laura coloured violently ; for, amidst all her fears of a 
discovery, she found place for a strong feeling of resent- 
ment, at the easy security of forgiveness, that seemed in- 
timated by a visit so immediately succeeding the offence. 
Having employed the few moments she passed at her toilette 
in collecting her thoughts, she descended to the parlour, 
fully resolved to give no countenance to the hopes her lover 
might have built on her supposed weakness. 

The Colonel was alone ; and, as she opened the door, 
eagerly advanced towards her. <f My adored Laura," cried 

he, " this condescension " Had he stayed to read the 

pale but resolute countenance of his " adored" Laura, he 
would have spared his thanks for her condescension. 

She interrupted him. " Colonel Hargrave," said she, 
with imposing seriousness, " I have a request to make to 
you. Perhaps the peace of my life depends upon your 
compliance." 

" Ah, Laura ! what request can I refuse, where I have 
so much to ask ? " 

" Promise me, that you will never make known to my 



SELF-CONTROL, 17 

father that you will take every means to conceal from 
him the ," she hesitated, "the our meeting last night," 
she added, rejoiced to have found a palliative expression 
for her meaning. 

" Oh! dearest Laura! forget it; think of it no more." 

" Promise promise solemnly. If, indeed," added she 

shuddering, while an expression of sudden anguish crossed 

her features, " if, indeed, promises can weigh with such a 

one as you." 

" For pity's sake, speak not such cutting words as those." 
" Colonel Hargrave, will you give me your promise ? " 
" I do promise solemnly promise. Say but that you 
forgive me." 

" I thank you, sir, for so far ensuring the safety of my 
dear father, since he might have risked his life to avenge 
the wrongs of his child. You cannot be surprised, if I 
now wish to close our acquaintance, as speedily as may 
be consistent with the concealment so unfortunately ne- 
cessary/' 

Impatient to conclude an interview which tasked her 
fortitude to the utmost, Laura was about to retire. Har- 
grave seized her hand. " Surely, Laura, you will not leave 
me thus. You cannot refuse forgiveness to a fault caused 
by intemperate passion alone. The only atonement in my 
power, I now come to offer: my hand my fortune my 
future rank." 

The native spirit and wounded delicacy of Laura flashed 
from her eyes, while she replied : " I fear, sir, I shall not 
be suitably grateful for your generosity, while I recollect the 
alternative you would have preferred." 

This was the first time that Laura had ever appeared to 
her lover, other than the tender, the timid girl. From this 
character she seemed to have started at once iuto the high- 
spirited, the dignified woman ; and, with a truly masculine 
passion for variety, Hargrave thought he had never seen 
her half so fascinating. " My angelic Laura," cried he, as 
he knelt before her, " lovelier in your cruelty, suffer me to 
prove to you my repentance my reverence my ador- 
ation ; suffer me to prove them to the world, by uniting 
our fates for ever." 



18 SELF-CONTROL. 

({ It is fit the guilty should kneel/' said Laura, turning 
away, te but not to their fellow-mortals. Rise, sir, this 
homage to me is but mockery/' 

" Say, then, that you forgive me ; say, that you will 
accept the tenderness, the duty of my future life." 

" What ! rather than control your passions, will you 
now stoop to receive as your wife, her whom so lately you 
thought vile enough for the lowest degradation? Impossible? 
yours I can never be. Our views, our principles, are op- 
posite as light and darkness. How shall I call Heaven to 
witness the prostitution of its own ordinances ? How shall 
I ask the blessing of my Maker, on my union with a being 
at enmity with him ? " 

" Good heavens, Laura, will you sacrifice to a punctilio 
to a fit of Calvinistic enthusiasm, the peace of my life, the 
peace your own ? You have owned that you love me I 
have seen it delighted seen it a thousand times and 
will you now desert me for ever ? " 

" I do not act upon punctilio," returned Laura calmly; 
" I believe I am no enthusiast. What have been my 
sentiments, is now of no importance ; to unite myself with 
vice would be deliberate wickedness to hope for happiness 
from such an union would be desperate folly." 

" Dearest Laura, bound by your charms, allured by 
your example, my reformation would be certain, my virtue 
secure." 

" Oh, hope it not ! Familiar with my form, my only 
hold on your regard, you would neglect, forsake, despise rne; 
and who should say that my punishment was not just." 

"And will you then," cried Hargrave, in an agony; 
(f will you then cast me off for ever ? Will you drive me 
for ever from your heart ? " 

" I have now no choice leave me forget me seek 
some woman less fastidious ; or rather endeavour, by your 
virtues, to deserve one superior far. Then honoured, be- 
loved, as a husband, as a father " The fortitude of 

Laura failed before the picture of her fancy, and she was 
unable to proceed. Determined to conceal her weakness 
from Hargrave, she broke from him, and hurried towards 
the door ; but, melting into tenderness at the thought 



SELF-CONTROL. 19 

that this interview was perhaps the last, she turned. " Oh, 
Hargrave," she cried, clasping her hands as in supplication, 
<c have pity on yourself have pity on me forsake the 
fatal path on which you have entered, that, though for ever 
torn from you here, I may yet meet you in a better world." 
She then darted from the room, leaving her lover in 
dumb amazement, at the conclusion of an interview so 
different from his expectations. For the resentment of 
Laura he had been prepared ; but upon her determined re- 
fusal, he had never calculated, and scarcely could he now 
admit its reality. Could he give her credit for the pro- 
fessed motive of her rejection ? Colonel Hargrave had 
nothing in himself which made it natural for him to sup- 
pose passion sacrificed to reason and principle. Had he 
then deceived himself, had she never really loved him ? 
the suggestion was too mortifying to be admitted. Had 
resentment given rise to her determination? She had spoken 
from the first with calmness, at last with tenderness. 
Was all this but a scene of coquetry, designed to enhance 
her favours? The simple, the noble,j the candid Laura 
guilty of coquetry ? impossible ! 

While these thoughts darted with confused rapidity 
through his mind, one idea alone was distinct and perma- 
nent Laura had rejected him. This thought was tor- 
ture. Strong resentment mingled with his anguish ; and 
to inflict, on the innocent cause of it, pangs answering 
to those he felt, would have afforded to Hargrave the 
highest gratification. Though his passion for Laura was 
the most ardent of which he was capable, its effects, for the 
present, more resembled those of the bitterest hatred. That 
she loved him, he would not allow himself to doubt ; and, 
therefore, he concluded that neglect would inflict the surest, 
as well as the most painful wound. Swearing that he 
would make her feel it at her heart's core, he left the 
cottage, strode to the village inn, surlily ordered his horses, 
and, in a humour compounded of revenge, impatient pas- 
sion, and wounded pride, returned to his quarters at . 

His scheme of revenge hail all the success that such schemes 

usually have or deserve ; and while, for one whole week, he 

c 2 



20 SELF-CONTROL. 

deigned not,, by visit or letter, to notice his mistress, the 
real suffering which he inflicted, did not exactly fall on her 
for whom he intended the pain. 



CHAPTER III. 

To an interview which he presumed would be as delightful 
as interesting, Captain Montreville chose to give no inter- 
ruption ; and therefore he had walked out to superintend 
his hay-making : but, after staying abroad for two hours, 
which he judged to be a reasonable length for a tete-a-tete, 
he returned, and was a little surprised to find that the 
Colonel was gone. Though he entertained not a doubt of 
the issue of the conference, he had some curiosity to know 
the particulars, and summoned Laura to communicate 
them. 

" Well, my love," said he, as the conscious Laura shut 
the parlour door, " is Colonel Hargrave gone ? " 

" Long ago, sir." 

f( I thought he would have waited my return." Laura 
made no answer. 

" When are we to see him again ? " 

Laura did not know. 

"Well, well," said Captain Montreville, a little im- 
patiently, " since the Colonel is gone without talking to 
me, I must just hear from you what it is you have both 
determined on." 

Laura trembled in every limb. " I knew," said she, 
without venturing to lift her eye, " that you would never 
sacrifice your child to rank or fortune ; and therefore I had 
no hesitation in refusing Colonel Hargrave." 

Captain Montreville started back with astonishment. 
" Refused Colonel Hargrave ! " cried he, " impossible ! 
you cannot be in earnest." 

Laura, with much truth, assured him that she never in 
her life had been more serious. 



SELF-CONTROL. 21 

Captain Montreville was thunderstruck. Surprise for a 
few moments kept him silent. At last recovering himself, 

" Why, Laura," said he, "what objection could you pos- 
sibly make to Hargrave? he is young, handsome, accom- 
plished, and has shown such generosity in his choice of 
you " 

" Generosity ! sir," repeated Laura. 

" Yes ; it was generous in Colonel Hargrave, who might 
pretend to the first women in the kingdom, to think of 
offering to share his fortune and his rank with you, who 
have neither." 

Laura's sentiments on this subject did not exactly coin- 
cide with her father's, but she remained silent while he 
continued : " I think I have a right to hear your objections, 
for I am entirely at a loss to guess them. I don't indeed 
know a fault Hargrave has, except perhaps a few gallan- 
tries ; which most girls of your age think a very pardonable 
error." 

A sickness, as of death, seized Laura ; but she answered 
steadily. " Indeed, sir, the Colonel's views are so different 
from mine his dispositions so very unlike so opposite, 
that nothing but unhappiness could possibly result from 
such an union. But," added she, forcing a languid smile, 
(( we shall, if you please, discuss all this to-morrow ; for, 
indeed, to-day, I am unable to defend my own cause with 
you. I have been indisposed all day." 

Captain Montreville looked at Laura, and, in the alarm 
which her unusual paleness excited, lost all sense of the 
disappointment she had just caused him. He threw his arm 
tenderly round her supported her to her own apartment 

begged she would try to rest, ran to seek a cordial 
for his darling ; and then, fearing that the dread of his 
displeasure should add to her disorder, hastened back to 
assure her that, though her happiness was his dearest con- 
cern, he never meant to interfere with her judgment of 
the means by which it was to be promoted. 

Tears of affectionate gratitude burst from the eyes of 
Laura. ee My dear kind father," she cried, " let me love 

let me please you and I ask no other earthly hap- 
piness." 

c 3 



SELF-CONTROL. 

Captain Montreville then left her to rest ; and, quite 
exhausted with illness, fatigue, and sorrow, she slept 
soundly for many hours. 

The Captain spent most of the evening in ruminating 
on the occurrence of the day ; nor did his meditations at 
all diminish his surprise at his daughter's unaccountable 
rejection of his favourite. He recollected many instances 
in which he thought he had perceived her partiality to the 
Colonel ; he perplexed himself in vain to reconcile them 
with her present behaviour. He was compelled at last to 
defer his conclusions till Laura herself should solve the 
difficulty. The subject was, indeed, so vexatious to him, 
that he longed to have his curiosity satisfied, in order finally 
to dismiss the affair from his mind. 

Laura had long been accustomed, when assailed by any 
adverse circumstance, whether more trivial or more im- 
portant, to seize the first opportunity of calmly considering 
how far she had herself contributed to the disaster; and, as 
nothing is more hostile to good humour than an ill- defined 
feeling of self-reproach, the habit was no less useful to the 
regulation of our heroine's temper, than to her improvement 
in the rarer virtues of prudence and candour. Her first 
waking hour, except that which was uniformly dedicated to 
a more sacred purpose, she now employed in strict and im- 
partial self-examination. She endeavoured to call to mind 
every part of her behaviour to Colonel Hargrave, lest her 
own conduct might have seemed to countenance his pre- 
sumption. But in vain. . She could not recollect a word, 
a look, even a thought, which might have encouraged his 
profligacy. " Yet why should I wonder," she exclaimed, 
<( if he expected that temptation might seduce, or weakness 
betray me, since he knew me fallible, and of the Power by 
which I am upheld he thought not." 

Satisfied of the purity of her conduct, she next proceeded 
to examine its prudence ; but here she found little reason 
for self-gratulation. Her conscience, indeed, completely 
acquitted her of levity or forwardness, but its charges of 
imprudence she could not so easily parry. Why had she 
admitted a preference for a man whose moral character was 
so little known to her ? Where slept her discretion, while 



SELF-CONTROL. 23 

she suffered that preference to strengthen into passion? 
Why had she indulged in dreams of ideal perfection ? 
Why had she looked for consistent virtue in a breast where 
she had not ascertained that piety resided? Had she allowed 
herself time for consideration, would she have forgotten that 
religion was the only foundation strong enough to support 
the self-denying, the purifying virtues ? These prudent 
reflections came, in part, too late ; for to love, Laura was 
persuaded, she must henceforth be a stranger. But to her 
friendships, she conceived, that they might be applicable ; 
and she determined to make them useful in her future inter- 
course with her own sex ; to whom, perhaps, they may be 
applied even with more justice than to the other. 

The mind of Laura had been early stored with' just and 
rational sentiments. These were the bullion but it was 
necessary that experience should give the stamp that was to 
make them current in the ordinary business of life. Had 
she called prudence to her aid, in the first stage of her ac- 
quaintance with the insinuating Hargrave, what anguish 
would she not have spared herself. But if the higher wis- 
dom be to foresee and prevent misfortune, the next degree 
is to make the best of it when unavoidable j and Laura 
resolved that this praise at least should be hers. Fortified 
by this resolution, she quitted her apartment, busied herself 
in her domestic affairs, met her father almost with cheer- 
fulness ; and, when he renewed the subject of their last 
conversation, repeated, with such composure, her conviction 
of the dissimilarity of Hargrave's dispositions to her own, 
that Captain Montreville began to think he had been mis- 
taken in his opinion of her preference. Still, however, he 
could not account for her rejection of an offer so unobjec- 
tionable; and he hinted a suspicion, that some of Hargrave's 
gallantries had been repeated to her, and perhaps with ex- 
aggeration. With trembling lips, Laura assured him she 
had never heard the slightest insinuation against Colonel 
Hargrave. Though Laura had little of romance in her 
composition, her father now began to imagine, that she 
allowed herself to cherish the romantic dream, that sym- 
pathy of souls, and exactly concordant tastes and propen- 
sities., were necessary to the happiness of wedded life. But 
c 4 



SELF-CONTROL. 

Laura calmly declared,, that her tastes were not inflexible ; 
and that, had she intended to marry, she should have found 
it an easy duty to conform them to those of her husband : 
but that the thought of marriage was shocking to her, and 
that she trusted no man would ever again think of her as a 
wife. Montreville, who for once suspected his daughter of 
a little affectation, made no effort to combat this unnatural 
antipathy, but trusted to time and nature for its cure. 

As soon as her father left her, Laura, determined not to 
be brave by halves, began the painful task of destroying 
eyery relic of Hargrave's presence. She banished from her 
portfolio the designs he had made for her drawings, de- 
stroyed the music from which he had accompanied her, and 
effaced from her books the marks of his pencil. She had 
amused her solitary hours by drawing, in chalks, a portrait 
of features indelibly engraven on her recollection, and her 
fortitude failed her when about to consign it to the flames. 
" No/' she exclaimed ; (< I can never part with this. This, 
at least, I may love unreproved," and she pressed it in agony 
to her heart inwardly vowing that no human being should 
fill its place. But such thoughts as these could not linger 
in the reasonable mind of Laura. The next moment she 
blushed for her weakness ; and, casting away its last trea- 
sure, averted her eyes till the flames had consumed it to 
ashes. (C Now all is over," she cried, as she threw herself 
upon a chair and burst into tears. But, quickly wiping 
them away, she resolved that she would not wilfully bind 
herself to the rack of recollection, and hastened to exert 
herself in some of her ordinary employments. 

Laura was aware that the cottage, where every walk, every 
shrub, every flower spoke of Hargrave, was a scene unlikely 
to aid her purpose of forgetting him; and, therefore, she that 
evening proposed to her father that they should pay their 
long-promised visit to Mrs. Douglas. He readily consented. 
Their journey was fixed for the following week, and Laura 
occupied herself in preparing for their departure, though 
with feelings far different from the delight, with which, a 
few days before, she would have anticipated a meeting with 
her early friend. 



SELF-CONTROL. 25 



CHAPTER IV. 

MRS. DOUGLAS observed, with satisfaction, the improved 
stature and increasing gracefulness of her young favourite ; 
but she remarked, with painful interest, that the hectic of 
pleasure which tinged the cheek of Laura at their meet- 
ing, faded fast to the hue of almost sickly delicacy. She 
soon noticed that an expression, as of sudden torture, would 
sometimes contract, for a moment, the polished forehead of 
Laura; that it was now succeeded by the smothered sigh, 
the compressed lip, the hasty motion which spoke strong 
mental effort, now subsided into the languor of deep un- 
conquered melancholy. Such depression Mrs. Douglas 
could not attribute to the loss of a mother, whose treatment 
furnished more occasions of patience than of gratitude; 
and she anxiously longed to discover its real cause. 

But it was soon evident that this was a secret which 
Laura had no intention to disclose. A glance from the 
enquiring eye of Mrs. Douglas at once recalled her to con- 
strained cheerfulness ; and the presence of Captain Mon- 
treville seemed always to put her entirely upon her guard. 
While he was in the room, she talked, read aloud, or 
played with the children, as if determined to be amused ; 
but as soon as he retired, she relapsed, like one wearied 
with effort, into languor and melancholy, till recalled to 
herself by the scrutinising looks of Mrs. Douglas. 

Even in their most private conversations, the name of 
Hargrave never passed her lips. Months, indeed, had 
elapsed since Laura could have pronounced that name with* 
out painful emotion to utter it now was become almost 
impossible. She felt that she had no right to publish, while 
she rejected, his addresses ; and she felt an invincible re- 
pugnance to expose even his failings, but much more his 
vices, to the censure of the respectable Mrs. Douglas. Soon 
after she first saw Hargrave, she had written to her friend 
a warm eulogium of his fine person, captivating manners, 
and elegant accomplishments. Mrs. Douglas, in reply, had 



26 SELF-CONTROL. 

desired to hear more of this phoenix ; but before Laura 
again found leisure to write, she was no longer inclined to 
make Hargrave her subject, and her friend had desisted 
from fruitless enquiries. 

Mrs. Douglas had lately had an opportunity of judging 
for herself of the Colonel's attractions ; and, so great did 
they appear to her, that it was with extreme astonishment 
she heard of his late disappointment from Captain Montre- 
ville, who did not feel his daughter's delicacy on the 
subject. This communication served only to increase her 
perplexity as to the cause of Laura's depression ; yet she 
felt herself relieved from the apprehension, that hopeless 
love for Hargrave was wasting the health and peace of her 
dear Laura. Still, however, she continued to watch that 
expressive countenance, to weigh every word which might 
tend to unfold the enigma. In vain ! Laura studiously 
avoided all approach to an explanation. Mrs. Douglas's 
anxiety now increased to a painful extreme. She felt how 
necessary to female inexperience is the advice of a female, 
how indispensable to feminine sorrows are the conso- 
lations of feminine sympathy ; and she resolved that no 
false delicacy should withhold her from offering such relief 
as she might have power to bestow. 

One morning after the gentlemen had left them alone 
together, Mrs. Douglas, meditating on the best means of 
introducing the subject she had so much at heart, had 
fallen into a long silence ; when, looking up, she perceived 
that Laura had let fall her work, and was sitting with her 
eyes fixed, and her arms dropped, in the attitude of one 
whose thoughts had no connection with present objects. At 
the heavy sigh with which Mrs. Douglas surveyed her, 
she started, and was rousing her attention to some indif- 
ferent subject, when Mrs. Douglas, kindly taking her hand, 
said, " My dear child, whatever may be necessary with 
others, I beseech you to be under no constraint with me. 
I am far from wishing to intrude into your confidence, 
but do not add the pain of constraint to anguish which 
already seems so oppressive." 

Large tears stole from under Laura's downcast eyelids ; 
but she spoke not. Mrs. Douglas continued " If my 



SELF-CONTROL. 27 

best advice, my most affectionate sympathy, can be of use 
to you, I need not say you may command them." 

Laura threw herself into the arms of her friend, and for 
some moments sobbed with uncontrolled emotion; but 
soon composing herself, she replied te If advice could 
have profited, if consolation couixl have reached me, where 
should I have sought them unless from you, respected 
friend of my youth ; but the warning voice of wisdom 
comes now too late, and even your sympathy would be be- 
stowed in vain." 

" Heaven forbid that my dearest Laura should be be- 
yond the reach of comfort. That is the lot of guilt alone." 

et I am grateful to Heaven," said Laura, " that I have 
been less guilty than imprudent. But, my best friend, let 
us quit this subject. This wretchedness cannot, shall not 
last. Only let me implore you not to notice it to my 
father. You know not what horrors might be the conse- 
quence." 

Mrs. Douglas shook her head. " Ah ! Laura," said she, 
ee that path is not the path of safety in which you would 
elude a father's eye." Laura's glance met that of her 
friend ; and she read suspicion there. The thought was so 
painful to her, that she was on the point of disclosing all ; 
but she remembered that the reasons which had at first 
determined her to silence, were not altered by any one's 
suspicions, and she restrained herself. Colonel Hargrave 
had cruelly wronged and insulted her, she ought, there- 
fore, to be doubly cautious how she injured him. Sym- 
pathy, in her case, she felt, would be a dangerous indul- 
gence j and, above all, she shrunk with horror from ex- 
posing her lover, or his actions, to detestation or contempt. 
" Perhaps the time may come," said she, pursuing her 
reflections aloud, " when you will be convinced that I am 
incapable of any clandestine purpose. At present your 
compassion might be a treacherous balm to me, when my 
best wisdom must be to forget that I have need of pity." 

Mrs. Douglas looked on the open candid countenance of 
Laura, and her suspicions vanished in a moment ; but they 
returned when her young friend reiterated her entreaties 
that she would not hint the subject to her father. Laura 



< SELF-CONTROL. 

was, however, fortified in her resolutions of concealment, 
by an opinion she had often heard Mrs. Douglas express, 
that the feelings of disappointed love should by women be 
kept inviolably secret. She was decisively giving a new 
turn to the conversation, when it was interrupted by the 
entrance of the gentlemen ; and Mrs. Douglas, a little hurt 
at the steadiness of her young friend, more than half-de- 
termined to renew the subject no mere. 

A letter lay on the table, which the post had brought 
for Captain Montreville; he read it with visible uneasiness, 
and immediately left the room. Laura perceived his emo- 
tion ; and, ever alive to the painful subject nearest her 
heart, instantly concluded that the letter brought a con- 
fession from Hargrave. She heard her father's disordered 
steps pacing the apartment above, and earnestly longed, yet 
feared, to join him. Anxiety at length prevailed; and she 
timidly approached the door of Captain Montreville's cham- 
ber. She laid her hand upon the lock; paused again, with 
failing courage, and was about to retire, when her father 
opened the door. " Come in, my love," said he, <e I wish 
to speak with you." Laura, trembling, followed him into 
the room. ec 1 find," said he, " we must shorten our visit 
to our kind friends here, and travel homewards. I must 
prepare," continued he, and he sighed heavily, " I must 
prepare for a much longer journey." 

" Laura's imagination took the alarm ; and, forgetting 
how unlikely it was that Captain Montreville should disclose 
such a resolution to her, she thought only of his intending 
to prepare for a journey whence there is no return, before 
he should stake his life against that of Hargrave. She had 
not power to speak ; but, laying her hand on her father's 
arm, she cast on him a look of imploring agony. " Do not 
be alarmed my love," said he, " I shall, in a few days, 
carry your commands to London ; but I do not mean to be 
long absent." 

Laura's heart leaped light. " To London, sir ? " said she, 
in a tone of cheerful enquiry. 

ff Yes, my dear child; I must go, and leave you alone at 
home while yet I have a home to shelter you. Had you 
resembled any other girl of your age, I should have said no 



SELF-CONTROL. 29 

more of this but I will have no concealments from you. 
Read this letter." 

It was from Captain Montreville's agent, and briefly 
stated, that the merchant in whose hands he had lately 
vested his all, in an annuity on his daughter's life, was 
dead ; and that, owing to some informality in the deed, the 
heirs refused to make any payment. Having read the let- 
ter, Laura continued for some moments to muse on its con- 
tents, with her eyes vacantly fixed on the civil expression 
of concern with which it concluded. " How merciful 
it is," she exclaimed, <( that this blow fell not till my mo- 
ther was insensible of the stroke." 

" For myself," said Captain Montreville, " I think 
I could have borne it well ; but this was the little indepen- 
dence I thought I had secured for you, dear darling of my 

heart ; and now " The father's lip quivered, and his 

eyes filled; but he turned aside, for he could be tender 
but would not seem so. 

" Dearest father," said Laura, " think not of me. Could 
you have given me millions, I should still have been 
dependent on the care of Providence, even for my daily 
bread. My dependence will now only be a little more per- 
ceptible. But perhaps," added she, cheerfully, ee something 
may be done to repair this disaster. Warren's heirs will 
undoubtedly rectify this mistake, when they find it has 
been merely accidental. At all events, a journey to Lon- 
don will amuse you ; and I shall manage your harvest so 
actively in your absence ! " 

Captain Montreville had, from Laura's infancy, been ac- 
customed to witness instances of her fortitude, to see her 
firm under unmerited chastisement, and patient under 
bodily suffering but her composure on this occasion so 
far surpassed his expectations, that he was inclined to 
attribute it less to fortitude than to inconsideration. " How 
light-hearted is youth," thought he as .he quitted her. 
ff This poor child has never seen the harsh features of 
poverty, but when distance softened their deformity, and 
she now beholds his approach without alarm." He was 
mistaken. Laura had often taken a near survey of poverty. 
She had entered the cabins of the very poor seen infancy 



SO SELF-CONTROL. 

squalid, arid youth spiritless manhood exhausted by toil, 
and age pining without comfort. In fancy she had sub- 
stituted herself in the place of these victims of want ; felt 
by sympathy their varieties of wretchedness; and she justly 
considered poverty among the heaviest of human calamities. 
But she was sensible that her firmness might support her 
father's spirits, or her weakness serve to aggravate his dis- 
tress ; and she wisely pushed aside the more formidable 
mischief, which she could not surmount, to attend to the 
more immediate evil, which she felt it in her power to 
alleviate. 

The moment she was alone, Laura fell on her knees : 
" Oh ! Heavenly Providence," she cried, " save, if it be 
thy will, my dear father's age from poverty, though, like 
my great Master, I should not have where to lay my head." 
She continued to pray long and fervently, for spirits to 
cheer her father under his misfortune ; and for fortitude to 
endure her own peculiar sorrow, in her estimation so much 
more bitter. 

Having implored the blessing of Heaven on her exertions, 
she next began to practise them. She wandered out to 
court the exhilarating influence of the mountain air ; and 
studiously turning her attention to all that was gay, sought 
to rouse her spirits for the task which she had assigned 
them. She was so successful, that ^she was that evening 
the life of the little friendly circle. She talked, sung, and 
recited she exerted all the wit and vivacity of which she 
was mistress she employed powers of humour which she 
herself had scarcely been conscious of possessing. Her 
gaiety soon became contagious. Scarcely a trace appeared 
of the anxious fears of Mrs. Douglas, or the parental un- 
easiness of Captain Montreville, and fewer still of the 
death-stroke which disappointed confidence had carried to 
the peace of poor Laura. But when she retired to the so- 
litude of her chamber, her exhausted spirits found relief in 
tears. She felt, that long to continue her exertion would 
be impossible ; and, in spite of reason, which told of the 
danger of solitude, anticipated, with pleasure, the moment 
when total seclusion should leave her free to undisguised 
wretchedness. 



SELF-CONTBOL. 31 

Laura was not yet, however, destined to the hopeless 
task of combating misplaced affection in entire seclusion. 
On the following morning she found a stranger at the 
breakfast table. He seemed a man of information and 
accomplishments. An enthusiast in landscape, he was 
come to prosecute his favourite study amidst the picturesque 
magnificence of Highland scenery : and the appearance 
and manners of a gentleman, furnished him with a sufficient 
introduction to Highland hospitality. Relieved, by his 
presence, from the task of entertaining, Laura scarcely 
listened to the conversation, till the stranger, having risen 
from table, began to examine a picture which occupied a 
distinguished place in Mrs. Douglas's parlour. It was the 
work of Laura, who was no mean proficient. She had 
early discovered what is called a genius for painting ; that 
is to say, she had exercised much of her native invention 
and habitual industry on the art. Captain Montreville 
added to his personal instructions every facility which it 
.was in his power to bestow. Even when her performances 
had little in them of wonderful but their number, her 
acquaintance pronounced them wonderful ; and they ob- 
tained the more useful approbation of a neighbouring noble- 
man, who invited her to copy from any part of his excel- 
lent collection. Her progress was now, indeed, marvellous 
to those who were new to the effects of unremitting in- 
dustry, guided by models of exquisite skill. Having long 
and sedulously copied from pieces of acknowledged merit, 
she next attempted an original; and having with great 
care composed and with incredible labour finished her 
design, she dedicated to Mrs. Douglas the first fruits of her 
improved talents, in the picture which the stranger was 
now contemplating. Willing that her young friend should 
reap advantage from the criticisms of a judicious artist, 
Mrs. Douglas encouraged him to speak freely of the 
beauties and defects of the piece. After remarking that 
there was some skill in the composition, much interest in 
the principal figure, and considerable freedom in the touch, 
he added, " If this be, as I suppose, the work of a young 
artist, I shall not be surprised that he one day rise both to 
fame aikl fortune." 



32 SELF-CONTROL. 

Mrs. Douglas was about to direct his praise to its right- 
ful owner, but Laura silenced her by a look. The stranger's 
last expression had excited an interest which no other 
earthly subject cpuld have awakened. Her labours might,, 
it appeared, relieve the wants or increase the comforts of 
her father's age ; and, with a face which glowed with en- 
thusiasm, and eyes which sparkled with renovated hope, 
she eagerly advanced to question the critic as to the value 
of her work. In reply, he named a price so far exceeding 
her expectations, that her resolution was formed in a 
moment. She would accompany her father to London, and 
there try what pecuniary advantage was to be derived from 
her talent. 

On a scheme which was to repair all her father's losses, 
prudence had not time to pause ; and, feeling company a 
restraint en her pleasure, Laura ran to her apartment, 
rather to enjoy than to reconsider her plan. Having spent 
some time in delightful anticipation of the pleasure which 
her father would take in the new team and threshing-mill 
with which she would adorn his farm, and the comfort he 
would enjoy in the new books and easy sofa with which 
her labours would furnish his library, she recollected a 
hundred questions which she wished t(^ask the stranger, 
concerning the best means of disposing of her future pro- 
ductions, and she ran down stairs to renew the conversation. 
But the parlour was empty, the stranger was gone. No 
matter. No trifle could at this moment have discomposed 
Laura ; and, with steps as light as a heart from which, for 
a time, all selfish griefs were banished, she crossed the little 
lawn in search of her father. 

The moment she overtook him, locking her arm in his, 
and looking smilingly up in his face, she began so urgent 
an entreaty to be admitted as the companion of his journey, 
that Captain Montreville, with some curiosity, enquired 
what had excited in her this sudden inclination to travel ? 
Laura blushed and hesitated ; for though her plan had, in 
in her own opinion, all the charms which we usually at- 
tribute to the new-born children of our fancy, she felt that 
an air of more prudence and forethought might be necessary 
to render it equally attractive in the eyes of Captain Mon- 



SELF-CONTROL. 33 

treville. She exerted, however, all the rhetoric she could at 
that moment command, to give her scheme a plausible ap- 
pearance. With respect to herself, she was entirely suc- 
cessful ; v and she ventured to cast a look of triumphant 
appeal on her father. Captain Mon treville,, unwilling to 
refuse the request of his darling, remained silent ; but at 
the detail of her plan, he snook his head. Now, to a pro- 
jector of eighteen, a shake of the head is, of all gestures, 
the most offensive ; and the smile which usually accom- 
panies it, miserably perverts the office of a smile. Tears, 
half of sorrow, half of vexation, forced their way to the 
eyes of Laura ; and she walked silently on, without 
courage to renew the attack, till they were joined by Mrs. 
Douglas. 

Disconcerted by her ill success with her father, Laura 
felt little inclination to subject her scheme to the animad- 
versions of her friend; but Captain Montreville, expecting 
an auxiliary, by whose aid he might conquer the weakness 
of yielding without conviction, called upon Mrs. Douglas, 
In a manner which showed him secure of her reply, to give 
her opinion of Laura's proposal. Mrs. Douglas, who had 
heard, with a degree of horror, of the intention to consign 
Laura to solitude in her present state of suppressed de- 
jection, and who considered new scenes and new interests as 
indispensable to her restoration, interpreting the asking 
looks of the fair petitioner, surprised Captain Montreville 
by a decided verdict in her favour. Rapturously thanking 
her advocate, Laura now renewed her entreaties with such 
warmth, that her father, not possessed of that facility in re- 
fusing which results from practice, gave a half-reluctant ac- 
quiescence. The delight which his consent conveyed to 
Laura, which sparkled in her expressive features, and 
animated her artless gestures, converted his half-extorted 
assent into cordial concurrence ; for to the defects of any 
scheme which gave her pleasure, he was habitually blind. 

In the course of the evening, Captain Montreville an- 
nounced that, in order to give his daughter time to prepare 
for her journey, it would be necessary for them to return to 
Glenalbert on the following morning. 

While Mrs. Douglas was assisting Laura to pack up her 

D 



34s SELF-CONTROL. 

little wardrobe, she attempted to break her guarded silence 
on the subject of Hargrave, by saying., " I doubt this, 
same journey of yours will prevent Colonel Hargrave from 
trying the effects of perseverance, which I used to think 
the most infallible resort in love, as well as in more serious 
undertakings." 

Laura began a most diligent search for something upon 
the carpet. 

" Poor Hargrave," Mrs. Douglas resumed, " he is a 
great favourite of mine. I wish he had been more suc- 
cessful." 

Laura continued industriously cramming a band-box. 

' ' All these gowns and petticoats will crush your new 
bonnet to pieces, my dear." 

Laura suddenly desisted from her employment, rose, and 
turning full towards Mrs. Douglas, said " It is unkind, 
it is cruel, thus to urge me, when you know that duty more 
than inclination keeps me silent." 

(( Pardon me, my dear Laura," said Mrs. Douglas, " I 
have no wish to persecute you ; but you know I was igno- 
rant that Colonel Plargrave was our interdicted subject." 

She then entered on another topic ; and Laura, vexed at 
the partial disclosure she had inadvertently made, uneasy at 
being the object of constant scrutiny, and hurt at being 
obliged to thwart the habitual openness of her temper, felt 
less sorry than lelieved as she sprung into the carriage which 
was to convey her to Glenalbert. So true is it, that con- 
cealment is the bane of friendship. 

Other interests, too, quickened her desire to return home. 
She longed, with a feeling which could not be called hope, 
though it far exceeded curiosity, to know whether Hargrave 
had called or written during her absence; and the moment 
the chaise stopped, she flew to the table where the letters 
were deposited to wait their return. There were none for 
her. She interrupted Nanny's expression of joy at the 
sight of her mistress, by asking who had called while they 
were from home. " Nobody but Miss Willis." Laura's 
eyes filled with tears of bitterness. " I am easily relin- 
quished," thought she; "but it is better that it should be 
so ; " and she dashed away the drops as they rose. 



SELF-CONTROL. 35 

She would fain have vented her feelings in the solitude 
of her chamber ; but this was her father's first return to a 
widowed home, and she would not leave him to its lone- 
liness. She entered the parlour. Captain Montreville was 
already there ; and, cheerfully welcoming him home, she 
shook up the cushion of an elbow-chair by the fire-side, 
and invited him to sit. " No, love," said he, gently com- 
pelling her, " do you take that seat ; it was your mother's." 
Laura saw his lip quiver, and, suppressing the sob that 
swelled her bosom, she tenderly withdrew him from the 
room, led him to the garden, invited his attention to her 
new-blown carnations, and gradually diverted his regard to 
such cheerful objects, that, had Captain Montreville ex- 
amined what was passing in his own mind, he must have 
confessed that he felt the loss of Lady Harriet less as a 
companion than an antagonist. She was more a customary 
something which it was unpleasant to miss from its place, 
than a real want which no substitute could supply. Laura's 
conversation, on the contrary, amusing without effort, in- 
genious without constraint, and rational without stiffness, 
furnished to her father a real and constant source of enjoy- 
ment : because, wholly exempt from all desire to shine, she 
had leisure to direct to the more practicable art of pleasing, 
those efforts by which so many others vainly attempt to 
dazzle. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE taree following days Laura employed in making ar- 
rangements for her journey. Desirous to enliven the 
solitude in which she was about to leave her only attendant, 
she consigned the care of the cottage, during her absence, 
to the girl's mother, who was likewise her own nurse ; and 
cautious of leaving to the temptations of idleness, one for 
whose conduct she felt herself in some sort accountable, 
-she allotted to Nanny the task of making winter clothing 
D 2 



36 



SELF-CONTROL. 



for some of the poorest inhabitants of Glenalbert ; a task 
which her journey prevented her from executing herself. 
Nor were the materials of this little charity subtracted from 
her father's scanty income,, but deducted from comforts ex- 
clusively her own. 

Though, in the bustle of preparation, scarcely a moment 
remained unoccupied, Laura could not always forbear from 
starting at the sound of the knocker, or following with her 
eyes the form of a horseman winding through the trees. 
In vain she looked in vain she listened. The expected 
stranger came not the expected voice was unheard. She 
tried to rejoice at the desertion : ec I am glad of it," she 
would say to herself, while bitter tears were bursting from 
her eyes. She often reproached herself with the severity 
of her language at her last interview with Hargrave. She 
asked herself what right she had to embitter disappointment 
by unkindness, or to avenge insult by disdain. Her be- 
haviour appeared to her, in the retrospect, ungentle, un- 
feminine, unchristian. Yet she did not for a moment 
repent her rejection, nor waver for a moment in her 
resolution to adhere to it. Her soul sickened at the thought, 
that she had been the object of licentious passion merely ; 
and she loathed to look upon her own lovely form, while 
she thought that it had seduced the senses, but failed to 
touch the soul of Hargrave. 

Amidst these employments and feelings the week had 
closed ; and the Sabbath evening was the last which Laura 
was to spend at Glenalbert. That evening had long been 
her chosen season of meditation; the village churchyard 
the scene where she loved to " go forth to meditate." The 
way which led to it, and to it alone, was a shady green lane, 
gay with veronica and hare-bell, undefaced by wheels, but 
marked in the middle with one distinct track, and impressed 
towards the sides with several straggling half- formed foot- 
paths. The church itself stood detached from the village, 
on a little knoll, on the west side of which the burial- 
ground sloped towards the woody bank that bounded a 
brawling mountain-stream. Thither Laura stole, when the 
sun, which had been hid by the rugged hill, again rolling 
forth from behind it, poured through the long dale his rays 



SELF-CONTROL, 37 

upon this rustic cemetery ; the only spot in the valley suf- 
ficiently elevated to catch his parting beam. 

" How long, how deep is the shadow how glorious in 
brightness the reverse/' said she, as she seated herself un- 
der the shade of the newly raised grave-stone which marked 
the place of her mother's rest ; and turning her mind's eye 
from what seemed a world of darkness, she raised it to 
scenes of everlasting light. Her fancy, as it soared to 
regions of bliss without alloy, looked back with something 
like disgust on the labours which were to prepare her for 
their enjoyment, and a feeling almost of disappointment 
and impatience accompanied her recollection, that the pil- 
grimage was to all appearance only beginning. But she 
checked the feeling as it rose, and, in penitence and resig- 
nation., raised her eyes to heaven. They rested as they fell, 
upon a stone marked with the name and years of one who 
died in early youth. Laura remembered her well she 
was the beauty of Glenalbert ; but her lover left her for a 
richer bride, and her proud spirit sunk beneath the stroke. 
The village artist had depicted her want of resignation in a 
rude sculpture of the prophet's lamentation over his 
withered gourd. cc My .gourd, too, is withered," said Laura, 
^ Do I well to be angry even unto death ? Will the Giver 
of all good leave me even here without comfort ? Shall I 
refuse to find pleasure in any duties but such as are of my 
own selection ? Because the gratification of one passion 
one misplaced passion is refused, has this world no more 
to offer ? This fair world, which its great Creator has 
stamped with his power, and stored by his bounty, and en- 
nobled by making it the temple of his worshippers, the 
avenue to heaven ! Shall I find no balm in the consolations 
of friendship, the endearments of parental love no joy in 
the sweets of benevolence, the stores of knowledge, the 
miracles of grace ! Oh ! may I ever fearlessly confide in 
the fatherly care, that snatched me from the precipice when 
my rash confidence was about to plunge me to my ruin 
that opened my eyes on my danger ere retreat was im- 
possible." 

The reflections of Laura were disturbed by the noise of 
some one springing over the fence ; and the next moment 
D 3 



38 



^ELF-CONTROL. 



Hargrave was at her side. Laura uttered neither shriek 
nor exclamation but she turned; and,, with steps as pre- 
cipitate its would bear the name of walking, proceeded to- 
wards the gate. Hargrave followed her. 

"Am I indeed so happy as to find you alone?" said he. 
Laura replied not by word or look. tf Suffer me to detain 
you for a few moments." Laura rather quickened her 
pace. " Will you not speak to me, Miss Montreville ? " 
said Hargrave, in a tone of tender reproach. Laura con- 
tinued to advance. " Stay but one moment," said he, in a 
voice of supplication. Laura laid her hand upon the gate. 
Hargrave's patience was exhausted. " By heaven you shall 
hear me ! " he cried, and, throwing his arm round her, com- 
pelled her to be seated on the stone bench at the gate. 

Laura coldly withdrew herself. " By what right, sir/" 
said she, " do you presume to detain me ? " 

" By the right of wretchedness of misery not to be 
endured. Since I last saw you, I have never known rest 
or peace. Surely, Laura, you are now sufficiently avenged 
surely your stubborn pride may now condescend to hear 
me." 

" Well, sir," said Laura, without attempting to depart ; 
if what are your commands ?" 

ef Oh, Laura, I cannot bear your displeasure it makes 
me supremely miserable. If you have any pity, grant me 
your forgiveness." 

(f If my forgiveness be of any value to you, I give it you, 
I trust, like a Christian from the Heart. Now, then, 
suffer me to go." 

"What! think you it is the frozen forgiveness of 
duty that will content me ? Torn, as I am, by every pas- 
sion that can drive man to frenzy, think you that I will 
accept that I will endure this heartless, scornful pardon? 
Laura, you loved me once. I have doated on you pined 
for you and passion passion only will I accept, or 
bear from you." 

Laura shrunk trembling from his violence. " Colonel 
Hargrave," said she, "if you do not restrain this vehe- 
mence, I mu-st, I will be gone. I would fain spare you 



SELF-CONTROL. - 3y 

unnecessary pain ; but while you thus agitate yourself, 
ray stay is useless to you, and to me most distressing." 

" Say, then, that you accept my vows that, hopeless of 
happiness but with me, you bind yourself to me alone, and 
for ever. Speak, heavenly creature, and bless me beyond 
tiie fairest dreams of hope." 

' ' Colonel Hargrave," said Laura, " you have my for- 
giveness. My what shall I say my esteem you have 
cast from you my best wishes for your happiness shall 
ever be yours more I cannot give. In pity to yourself, 
then in pity to me renounce one who can never be 
yours." 

Hargrave's eyes flashed fire, \vhile his countenance faded 
to ghastly paleness. " Yes," he exclaimed, " cold, pitiless, 
insensible woman yes, I renounce you. In the haunts of 
riot, in the roar of intemperance, will I forget that form, 
that voice and, when I am lost to fame, to health, to use- 
fulness my ruin be on your soul/' 

" Oh ! Hargrave," cried the trembling Laura, " talk not 
so wildly : Heaven will hear my prayers for you. Amidst 
the pursuits of wisdom amidst the attractions of others, 
you will forget me/' 

" Forget you ! Never. While I have life, I will follow 
you supplicate persecute you. Mine you shall be, 
though infamy and death ensue. Dare not," said he, 
grasping her arm, "dare not to seek the protection of 
another. Dare but to give him one smile, and his life shall 
be the forfeit." 

e( Alas ! alas!" cried Laura, wringing her hands in 
anguish, " this is real frenzy. Compose yourself, I implore 
you there is no other there never can be." 

Her tears recalled Hargrave to something like composure. 
" Dearest Laura," said he, " I wish to soften I only 
terrify you. Fear not, beloved of my soul speak to me 
without alarm. I will hear you, if it be possible, with 
calmness but say not, oh ! say not, that you reject me !" 

Laura averted her face. " Why prolong this distressing 
interview ? " said she. tc You have heard my determination. 
I know that it is right, and I cannot relinquish it." 

The triumph of self- con quest gave firmness to her 



4(7 SELF-CONTROL. 

voice ; and Hargrave, driven again from composure by her 
self-command, sprung from her side. fl It is well, madam," 
he cried: " triumph in the destruction of my peace; but 
think not I will so tamely resign you. No ; by Heaven. 
I will go this moment to your father I will tell him my 
offence ; and ask if he thinks it deserves such punishment. 
Let him take my life I abhor it." 

"Is your promise, then, of such small avail ? " said 
Laura, sternly, 

" Shall a promise bind me to a life of wretchedness ? 
Shall I regard the feelings of one who takes an inhuman 
pleasure in my sufferings ?'" 

At this moment Laura's eyes fell on her father, who 
was entering the little avenue. Hargrave's glance followed 
hers, and he prepared to join Captain Montreville. In an 
agony of terror, Laura grasped his arm. " Spare me, 
spare me," she said, " and do with me what you will !'* 
Captain Montreville saw that the walk was occupied ; he 
turned from it, and Laura had again time to breathe. 
" Say, then," said Hargrave, softened by her emotion, 
te say that, when years of penitence have expiated my 
offence, you will yet be mine." 

Laura covered her face with her hands. " Let me not 
hear you let me not look upon you," said "she ; " leave 
me to think, if it be possible," and she poured a silent 
prayer to Heaven for help in this her sorest trial. The 
effort composed her, and the majesty of virtue gave dignity 
to her form, and firmness to her voice, while she said, 
tf My father's life is in the hands of Providence it will 
still be so, when I have repeated to you, that I dare not 
trust to principles such as yours the guardianship of this 
the infancy of my being. I dare not incur certain guilt to 
escape contingent evil. I cannot make you the companion 
of this uncertain life, while your conduct is such as to make 
our eternal separation the object of my dreadful hope." 

Hargrave had trusted that the tenderness of Laura would 
seduce, or his ardour overpower her firmness ; but he read 
the expression of her pale determined countenance, and 
felt assured that she was lost to hir for r- ver. Convinced 
that all appeal to her feelings 'vould be hopeless, he would 



SELF-CONTROL. 4? 

deign to make none ; but, in a voice made almost inarticu- 
late by the struggle of pride and anguish,, he said, " Miss 
Montreville, your father's life is safe from me I will 
not lift my hand against it. That he should take mine is 
of small importance, either to you or myself. A violent 
death/' continued he, his pale lip quivering with a smile of 
bitterness, " may perhaps procure me your tardy pity." 

From the storm of passion, Laura had shrunk with 
terror and dismay ; but the voice of suppressed anguish 
struck her to the soul. " Oh ! Hargrave," she cried, with 
tears no longer to be restrained, " you have my tenderest 
pity would to Heaven that the purity of your future life 
would restore me to the happiness of esteeming you ! " 

Laura's tenderness revived, in a moment, the -hopes of 
Hargrave. " Angel of sweetness," he exclaimed, <f mould 
me to your will say that, when purified by years of re- 
pentance, you will again bless me with your love ; and no 
exertion will be too severe no virtue too arduous." 

" No, this I dare not promise ; let a higher motive in- 
fluence you ; for it is not merely the conduct it is the 
heart that must have changed, ere I durst expose my feeble 
virtue to the trial of your example your authority ; ere 
I durst make it my duty to shut my eyes against your 
faults, or to see them with the indulgence of love." 

" Dearest Laura, one word from you will lure me back 
to the path of virtue will you wilfully destroy even the 
wish to return ? If for a year for two years my 
conduct should bear the strictest scrutiny will you not 
accept this as a proof that my heart is changed changed 
in every thing but its love for you ? Will you not then 
receive me ? " 

Laura had resisted entreaty had withstood alarm 
had conquered strong affection ; but the hope of rousing 
Hargrave to the views, the pursuits, the habits of a Chris- 
tian, betrayed her caution, and gladdened her heart to rap- 
ture. " If for two years," said she, her youthful counte- 
nance brightening with delight, ' : your conduct be such as 
you describe if it will bear the inspection of the wise, 
of the sober-minded, of the pious, as my father's friend, 
as my own friend, will I welcome you." 



42 SELF-CONTROL. 

Thus suddenly raised from despair, Hargrave seemed at 
the summit of felicity. Once admitted as her " father's 
friend, as her own/' he was secure of the accomplishment 
of his wishes. The time that must first elapse, appeared 
to him but a moment ; and the labours of duty required of 
him seemed a smiling dream. Love and joy animated 
every feature of his fine countenance ; he threw himself 
at the feet of Laura, and rapturously blessed her for her 
condescension. His ecstacies first made her sensible of the 
extent of her concession ; and she feared that she had gone 
too far. But with her, a promise, however inadvertent, 
was a sacred thing, which she would neither qualify nor 
retract. She contented herself, therefore, with merely re- 
peating the terms of it, emphatically guarding the con- 
ditions. Desirous now to have leisure for reflection, she 
reminded him that the lateness of the hour made it fit that 
he should depart ; and, inwardly persuaded that she would 
not long obdurately refuse him another interview, he obeyed 
without much opposition. 



CHAPTER VI. 

THE lovers were no sooner separated, than Hargrave began 
to repent that he had not more distinctly ascertained the 
kind and manner of the intercourse which he was to hold 
with his mistress during the term of his probation ; and 
though he had little fear that she would be very rigid, he 
considered this as a point of such importance, that he 
resolved not to quit Glenalbert without having the matter 
settled to his satisfaction. For this reason he condescended 
to accept the accommodations of the little straw-roofed 
cottage, by courtesy called the Inn, where he had already 
left his horses. Thither he retired accordingly, not with- 
out some national misgivings of mind on the subject of 
Scottish nastiness and its consequences. His apartment, 
however,, though small, was decent, his bed was clean, his 



SELF-CONTROL. 

sleep refreshing, and his dreams pleasant ; nor was it till a 
late hour the following morning,, that he rose to the homely 
comfort, and clumsy abundance of a Highland breakfast. 

As soon as he had finished his repast, he walked towards 
Montreville's cottage, ostensibly to pay his respects to the 
Captain, but, in reality, with the s hope of obtaining a pri- 
vate interview with Laura. He entered the garden, where 
he expected to find Captain Montreville. It was empty. 
He approached the house. The shutters were barred. He 
knocked at the door, which was opened by the old woman; 
and, on enquiring for Captain Montreville, he was answered, 
" Wow, sir,, him an' Miss Laura's awa' at six o'clock this 
morning-." " Away ! " repeated the Colonel ; " where are 
they gone?" " To London, sir; and I'm sure a lanely 
time we'll hae till they come hame' again." " What stay 
do they intend making?" " Heth, sir, I dare say that's 
what they dinna ken themsels." " What is their address ? " 
enquired the Colonel. " Wliat's your will, sir ?" "Where 
are they to be found ? " " Am'n I tellan you they're in 
London, sir. I'm sure ye ken whar that is?" " But how 
are you to send their letters ?" " Wow ! they never got 
mony letters but frae England ; and now 'at they're in 
London, ye ken the folk may gie them into their ain hand." 
" But suppose you should have occasion to write to them 
yourself ? " said Hargrave,, whose small stock of patience 
wore fast to a close. " Hech, sir, sorrow a scrape can I 
write. They learn a' thae newfangled things now ; but,, 
trouth, i' my young days, we were na' sae upsettan." 
Hargrave was in no humour to canvass the merits of the 
different modes of education ; and muttering an ejaculation, 
in which the word devil was distinctly audible, he turned 
away. 

Vexed and disappointed, he wandered down the church- 
yard-lane, and reached the spot where he had last seen 
Laura. He threw himself on the seat which had supported 
her graceful form called to mind her consummate loveli- 
ness her ill-repressed tenderness and most cordially 
consigned himself to Satan for neglecting to wring from 
her some further concessions. She was now removed from 
the solitude where he had reigned without a rival. Hers 



SELF-CONTROL. 

would be the gaze of every eye hers the command of 
every heart. " She may soon choose among numbers," 
cried he: " she will meet with people of her own humour, 
and some canting hypocritical scoundrel will drive me com- 
pletely from her mind." 

By the time he had uttered this prediction, and bit his 
lip half through he was some steps on his way to order 
his horses, that he might pursue his fair fugitive, in the 
hope of extorting from her some less equivocal kind of pro- 
mise. Fortunately for his reputation for sanity, however, 
he recollected, before he began his pursuit, that, ere he could 
overtake her, Laura must have reached Edinburgh, where, 
without direction, it might be difficult to discover her abode. 
In this dilemma, he was again obliged to have recourse to 
the old woman at the cottage ; but she could give him no 
information. She neither knew how long Captain Montre- 
ville purposed remaining in Edinburgh, nor in what part of 
the town he intended to reside. 

Thus baffled in his enquiries, Hargrave was convinced 
that his pursuit must be ineffectual ; and, in no very placid 
frame of mind, he changed his destination from Edinburgh 
to his quarters. He arrived there in time for a late dinner, 
bnt his wine was insipid, his companions tiresome ; and he 
retired early, that, early next morning, he might set out on 
a visit to Mrs. Douglas, from whom he purposed to learn 
Captain Montreville's address. 

On comparing the suppressed melancholy of Laura, her em- 
barrassment at the mention of Hargrave, and her inadvertent 
disclosure, with her father's detail of her rejection of the insi- 
nuating young soldier, a suspicion not very remote from truth, 
had entered the mind of Mrs. Douglas. She imagined that 
Captain Montreville had in some way been deceived as 
to the kind of proposals made to his daughter ; and that 
Laura had rejected no offers but such as it would have been 
infamy to accept. Under this conviction, it is not surprising 
that her reception of the Colonel was far from being cordial; 
nor that, guessing his correspondence to be rather intended 
for the young lady than for the old gentleman, she chose 
to afford no facility to an intercourse which she considered as 
both dangerous and degrading. To Hargrave's questions, 



SELF-CONTROL. 45 

therefore, she answered, that until she should hear from 
London, she was ignorant of Captain Montreville's address; 
and that the time of his return was utterly unknown to her. 
When the Colonel,, with the same intention, soon after re- 
peated his visit, she quietly, but steadily, evaded all his 
enquiries, equally unmoved by his entreaties, and by the 
paroxysms of impatience with which he endured his dis- 
appointment. 

Hargrave was the only child of a widow an easy, indo- 
lent, good sort of a woman, who would gladly have seen 
him become every thing that man ought to be, provided 
she could have accomplished this laudable desire without 
recourse to such harsh instruments as contradiction and 
restraint. But of these she disliked the use, as much as her 
son did the endurance ; and thus the young gentleman was 
educated, or rather grew up, without the slightest acquaint- 
ance with either. Of consequence, his naturally warm 
temper became violent, and his constitutionally strong 
passions ungovernable. 

Hargrave was the undoubted heir of a title, and of a fine 
estate. Of money he had never felt the want, and did not 
know the value ; he was, therefore, so far as money was 
concerned, generous even to profusion. His abilities were 
naturally of the highest order. To force him to the im- 
provement of them, was an effort above the power of Mrs. 
Hargrave; but, fortunately for him, ere his habits of mental 
inaction were irremediable, a tedious illness confined him to 
recreations in which mind had some share, however small. 
During the interdiction of bats and balls, he, by accident, 
stumbled on a volume of Peregrine Pickle, which he de- 
voured with great eagerness; and his mother, delighted with 
what she was pleased to call a turn for reading, took care 
that his new appetite should not, any more than the old 
ones, pine for want of gratification. To direct it to food 
wholesome and invigorating, would have required unre- 
mitting, though gentle labour ; and to labour of all kinds 
Mrs. Hargrave had a practical antipathy. But it was very 
easy to supply the young man with romances, poetry, and 
plays ; and it was pleasing to mistake their intoxicating 
effect for the bursts of mental vigour. A taste for works of 



46 



SELF-CONTROI^. 



fiction, once firmly established, never afterwards yielded to 
the attractions of sober truth : and, though his knowledge 
of history was neither accurate nor extensive, Hargrave 
could boast an intimate acquaintance with all the plays, with 
almost all the poetry, and, as far as it is attainable by human 
diligence, with all the myriads of romances in his mother 
tongue. He had chosen of his own free will to study the 
art of playing on the flute the violin requiring more pa- 
tience than he had to bestow; and emulation, which failed to 
incitehim to more useful pursuits, induced him to try Avh ether 
he could not draw as well as his play-fellow, De Courcy. 

At the age of seventeen he had entered the army. As 
he was of good family, of an elegant figure, and furnished 
by nature with one of the finest countenances she ever 
formed, his company was courted in the highest circles, 
and to the ladies he was particularly acceptable. Among 
such associates, his manners acquired a high polish; and he 
improved in what is called knowledge of the world ; that is, 
a facility of discovering, and dexterity in managing, the 
-weaknesses of others. One year one tedious year his 
regiment had been quartered in the neighbourhood of the 
retirement where the aforesaid De Courcy was improving 
his " few paternal acres;" and, partly by his persuasion and 
example, partly from having little else to do,, partly because 
it was the fashionable science of the day, Hargrave had 
prosecuted the study of chemistry. 

Thus have we detailed, and in some measure accounted 
for, the whole of Colonel Hargrave's accomplishments,, ex- 
cepting only, perhaps., the one in which he most excelled 
he danced inimitably. For the rest, he had what is called 
a good heart ; that is, he disliked to witness or inflict pain, 
except from some incitement stronger than advantage to the 
4sufferer. His fine eyes had been seen to fill with tears at a 
tale of elegant distress ; he could even compassionate the 
more vulgar sorrows of cold and hunger to the extent of 
relieving them, provided always that the relief cost nothing 
but money. Some casual instances of his feeling, and of 
fris charity, had fallen under the observation of Laura ; and 
upon these, upon the fascination of his manners, and the 
expression of his countenance, her fervid imagination had 



SELF-CONTROL. 47 

.grafted every virtue which can exalt or adorn humanity. 
Gentle reader., excuse the delusion. Laura was only seven- 
teen Hargrave was the first handsome man of fashion she 
had ever known, the first who had ever poured into her ear 
the soothing voice of love. 

Unprepared to find,, in an obscure village in Scotland, 
the most perfect model of dignified loveliness, Hargrave 
became the sudden captive of her charms; and her manner, 
so void of all design, the energy, the sometimes wild 
poetic grace of her language, the shrewdness with which 
she detected, and the simplicity with which she unveiled, 
the latent motives of action, whether in herself or in others, 
struck him with all the force of contrast, as he compared 
them with the moulded artificial standard of the day. His 
interest in her was the strongest he had ever felt, even 
before it was heightened by a reserve that came too late to 
repress or conceal the tenderness with which she repaid his 
passion. 

Yet Hargrave was not less insensible to the real charms 
of Laura's mind, than she was unconscious of the defects 
in his. 

Her benevolence pleased him ; for bright eyes look brighter 
through tears of sympathy, and no smile is so lovely as that 
which shines on the joys of others. Pier modesty charmed 
him ; for every voluptuary can tell what allurements blushes 
add to beauty. But of her self-denial and humility he 
made no account. Her piety, never obtruded on his notice, 
had at first escaped his observation altogether ; and, now 
that it thwarted his favourite pursuit, he considered it 
merely as a troublesome prejudice. Of all her valuable 
qualities, her unfailing sweetness of temper was, perhaps, 
the only one which he valued for its own sake. But her 
person he idolised. To obtain her no exertion would have 
appeared too formidable ; and, remembering the conditions 
of their future reconciliation, he began, for the first time 
in his life, to consider his conduct with a view to its moral 
fitness. 

This he found a subject of inextricable difficulty. He 
was ignorant of the standard by which Laura would judge 
him. He was willing to believe that, if she were left to 



48 SELF-CONTROL. 

herself, it would not be severe ; but the words of her pro- 
mise seemed to imply, that his conduct was to be subjected 
to the scrutiny of less partial censors, and he felt some 
anxiety to know who were to be his " wise/' " sober- 
minded/' " pious" inspectors. He did not game,, his ex- 
penses did not much exceed his income, therefore he could 
imagine no change in his deportment necessary to con- 
ciliate the <e wise." Though, under the name of sociality, 
he indulged freely in wine, he seldom exceeded to intoxi- 
cation. Here, again, reform seemed needless. But, that 
he might give no offence to the ee sober-minded," he in- 
tended to conduct his gallantries with great discretion ; and 
magnanimously resolved to abstain from the molestation of 
innocent country-girls and decent maid-servants. Finally, 
to secure the favour of the " pious," he forthwith made a 
purchase of Blair's Sermons, and resolved to be seen in 
church once at least every Sunday. 

It might be supposed, that when the scale of duty which 
we trace is low, we should be the more likely to reach the 
little eminence at which we aspire ; but experience shows 
us, that they who poorly circumscribe the Christian race, 
stop as much short of their humble design, as does he of 
his nobler purpose, whose glorious goal is perfection. The 
sequel will show the attainments of Colonel Hargrave in 
the ways of virtue. In the mean time his magnet of at- 
traction to Perthshire was gone : he soon began to grow 
weary of the feeling of restraint, occasioned by supposing 
himself the subject of a system of espionage; and to kill 
the time, and relieve himself from his imaginary shackles, 
he sought the assistance of the Edinburgh races ; deter- 
mined, that if Laura prolonged her stay in London, he 
would obtain leave of absence, and seek her there. 



SELF-CONTROL. 49 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE grey lights of morning shone mild on Glenalbert, as 
the carriage,, which was conveying Laura to scenes un- 
known, wound slowly up the hill. With watery eyes she 
looked back on the quiet beauties of her native valley. She 
listened to the dashing of its streams, till the murmur died 
on her ear. Her lowly home soon glided behind the woods ; 
but its early smoke rose peaceful from amidst its sheltering 
oaks, till it blended with the mists of the morning j and 
Laura gazed on it as on the parting steps of a friend. ' ' Oh, 
vales ! " she exclaimed, ' e where my childhood sported, 
mountains that have echoed to my songs of praise, amidst 
your shades may my age find shelter ; may your wild 
flowers bloom on my grave!" Captain Montreville pressed 
the fair enthusiast to his breast, and smiled. It was a 
smile of pity for Montreville's days of enthusiasm were 
past. It was a smile of pleasure for we love to look 
upon the transcript of our early feelings. But whatever it 
expressed, it was discord with the tone of Laura's mind. 
It struck cold on her glowing heart ; and she carefully 
avoided uttering a word that might call forth such another, 
till, bright gleaming in the setting sun, she first beheld 
romantic Edinburgh. " Is it not glorious!" she cried, 
tears of wonder and delight glittering in her eyes ; and she 
longed for its re-appearance, when the descent of the little 
eminence which had favoured their view, excluded the city 
from their sight. 

As the travellers approached the town, Laura, whose 
attention was riveted by the Castle and its rocks, now frown- 
ing majestic in the shades of twilight, and by the antique 
piles that seemed the work of giants, scarcely bestowed a 
glance on the splendid line of modern buildings along which 
she was passing; and she was sorry when the carriage 
turned from the objects of her admiration towards the hotel 
where Captain Montreville intended to lodge. 

Next morning, Laura, eager to renew the pleasure of 
E 



50 SELF-CONTROL. 

the evening, proposed a walk ; not without some dread of 
encountering the crowd which she expected to find in such 
a city. At the season of the year, however, when Laura 
reached Edinburgh, she had little cause for apprehension. 
The noble street through which she passed had the ap- 
pearance of being depopulated by pestilence. The houses 
were uninhabited, the window shutters were closed, and 
the grass grew from the crevices of the pavement. The 
few well-dressed people whom she saw, stared upon her 
with such oppressive curiosity, as gave the uninitiated Laura 
a serious uneasiness. At first she thought that some pe- 
culiarity in her dress occasioned this embarrassing scrutiny. 
But her dress was simple mourning, and its form the least 
conspicuous possible. She next imagined, that to her rather 
unusual stature she owed this unenviable notice ; and, with 
a little displeasure, she remarked to her father, that it 
argued a strange want of delicacy to appear to notice the 
peculiarities of any one's figure ; and that, in this respect, 
the upper ranks seemed more destitute of politeness than 
their inferiors. Captain Montreville answered, with a smile, 
that he did not think it was her height which drew such 
attention. " Well," said she, with great simplicity, " I 
must endeavour to find food for my vanity in this notice, 
though it is rather against my doing so, that the women 
stare more tremendously than the gentlemen/' 

As they passed the magnificent shops, the windows, gay 
with every variety of colour, constantly attracted Laura's 
inexperienced eye ; and she asked Montreville to accompany 
her into one where she wished to purchase some necessary 
trifle. The shopman observing her attention fixed on a 
box of artificial flowers, spread them before her; and tried 
to invite her to purchase, by extolling the cheapness and 
beauty of his goods. " Here is a charming sprig of myrtle, 
ma'am; and here is a geranium-wreath, the most becoming 
thing for the hair only seven shillings each, ma'am." 
Laura owned the flowers were beautiful. " But I fear," 
said she, looking compassionately at the man, " you will 
never be able to sell them all. There are so few people 
who would give seven shillings for what is of no use what- 
ever." " I am really sorry for that poor young man/' 



SELF-CONTROL. 51 

said she to her father, when they left the shop. " Tall, 
robust, in the very flower of his age, how he must feel 
humbled by being obliged to attend to such trumpery ? " 
" Why is your pity confined to him ? " said Montreville. 
te There were several others in the same situation." " Oh! 
but they were children, and may do something better by 
and by. But the tall one, I suppose, is the son of some 
weak mother, who fears to trust him to fight his country's 
battles. It is hard that she should have power to compel 
him to such degradation ; I really felt for him when he 
twirled those flowers between his finger and thumb, and 
looked so much in earnest about nothing." 

The next thing which drew Laura's attention, was a stay- 
maker's sign. ' ' Do the gentlemen here wear corsets ? " 
said she to Montreville. " Not many of them, I believe," 
said Montreville. ." What makes you enquire?" ff Be- 
cause there is a man opposite who makes corsets. It cannot 
surely be for women." 

Captain Montreville had only one female acquaintance 
in Edinburgh, a lady of some fashion, and hearing that 
she was come to town to remain till after the races, he that 
forenoon carried Laura to wait upon her. The lady re- 
ceived them most graciously, enquired how long they intend- 
ed to be in Edinburgh ; and on being answered that they 
were to leave it in twp days, overwhelmed them with re- 
grets, that the shortness of their stay precluded her from 
the pleasure of their company for a longer visit. Laura 
regretted it too ; but utterly ignorant of the time which 
must elapse between a fashionable invitation and the conse- 
quent visit, she could not help wondering whether the lady 
was really engaged for each of the four daily meals of two 
succeeding days. 

These days Captain Montreville and his daughter passed 
in examining this picturesque city its public libraries, its 
antique castle, its forsaken palace, and its splendid scenery. 
But nothing in its singular environs more charmed the eye 
of Laura than one deserted walk, where, though the noise 
of multitudes stole softened on the ear, scarcely a trace of 
human existence was visible, except the ruin of a little 
chapel which peeped fancifully from the ledge of a rock, 
E 2 



52 SELF-CONTROL, 

and reminded her of the antic gambols of the red-deer on 
her native hills, when, from the brink of the precipice, they 
looked fearlessly into the dell below. 

From this walk, Captain Montreville conducted his 
daughter to the top of the fantastic mountain which adorns 
the immediate neighbourhood of Edinburgh, and trium- 
phantly demanded whether she had ever seen.such a pros- 
pect ? But Laura was by no means disposed to let Perth- 
shire yield the palm to Lowland scenery. Here indeed, the 
prospect was varied and extensive, but the objects were too 
various, too distant, too gay they glared on the eye 
the interest was lost. The serpentine corn-ridges, offensive 
to agricultural skill ; the school, with its well frequented 
Gean-tree ; the bright green clover fields, seen at intervals 
through the oak coppice ; the church, half hid by its vene- 
rable ash trees ; the feathery birch, trembling in the breath 
of evening ; the smoking hamlet, its soft colours blending 
with those of the rocks that sheltered it ; the rill, dashing 
with fairy anger in the channel which its winter fury had 
furrowed these were the simple objects which had charms 
for Laura, not to be rivalled by neat enclosures and 
whitened villas. Yet the scenes before her were delightful, 
and had not Captain Montreville's appeal recalled the com- 
parison, she would, in the pleasure which they excited, 
have forgotten the less splendid beauties of Glenalbert. 

Montreville pointed out the road which led to England. 
Laura sent a longing look towards it, as it wound amid 
woods and villages and gentle swells, and was lost to the 
eye in a country which smiled rich and inviting from afar. 
She turned her eyes where the Forth is lost in the bound- 
less ocean, and sighed as she thought of the perils and 
hardships of them who " go down to the sea in ships." 
Montreville, unwilling to subject her to the inconveniences 
of a voyage, had proposed to continue his journey by land, 
nnd Laura herself could not think without reluctance of 
tempting the faithless deep. The scenery, too, which a 
journey promised to present, glowed in her fervid ima- 
gination with more than nature's beauty. Yet feeling the 
necessity of rigid economy, and determined not to permit 
her too indulgent parent to consult her accommodation at 



SELF-CONTROL. 53 

the expense of his prudence, it was she who persuaded 
Montreville to prefer a passage by sea, as the mode of con- 
veyance best suited to his finances. 

The next day our travellers embarked for London. The 
weather was fine, and Laura remained all day upon deck, 
amused with the novelty of her situation. Till she left 
her native solitude, she had never even seen the sea, except, 
when, from a mountain top, it seemed far off to mingle 
with the sky; and to her, the majestic Forth, as it widened 
into an estuary, seemed itself a " world of waters." But 
when on one side the land receded from the view, when the 
great deep lay before her, Laura looked upon it for a mo- 
ment, and shuddering, turned away. " It is too mournful," 
said she to her father. " Were there but one spot, however 
small, however dimly descried, which fancy might people with 
beings like ourselves, I could look with pleasure on the gulf 
between but here there is no resting-place. Thus dismal, 
thus overpowering, methinks eternity would have appeared, 
had not a haven of rest been made known to us." Com- 
pared with the boundless expanse of waters the little bark 
in which she was floating seemed " diminished to a point ;' ? 
and Laura raising her eyes to the stars, that were begin- 
. ning to glimmer through the twilight, thought that such a 
speck was the wide world itself, amid the immeasurable 
space in which it rolled. This was Laura's hour of prayer, 
and far less inviting circumstances can recall us to the acts 
of a settled habit. 

Five days they glided smoothly along the coast. On the 
morning of the sixth, they entered the river, and the same 
evening reached London. Laura listened with something 
like dismay, to the mingled discord which now burst upon 
her ear. The thundering of loaded carriages, the wild 
cries of the sailors, the strange dialect, the ferocious oaths 
of the populace, seemed but parts of the deafening tumult. 
When they were seated in the coach which was to convey 
them from the quay, Laura begged her father to prevail on 
the driver to wait till the unusual concourse of carts and 
sledges should pass, and heard with astonishment that the 
delay would be vain. At last they arrived at the inn where 
Captain Montreville intended to remain till he could find 

E S 



54> SELF-CONTROL. 

lodgings ; and, to Laura's great surprise, they completed 
their journey without being jostled by any carriages, or 
overturned by any wagoner for aught she knew, with- 
out running over any children. 

Being shown into a front parlour, Laura seated herself 
at a window, to contemplate the busy multitudes that 
thronged the streets; and she could not help contrasting 
their number and appearance with those of the inhabitants 
of Edinburgh. There the loitering step, the gay attire, 
the vacant look, or the inquisitive glance, told that mere 
amusement was the object of their walk, if indeed it had 
an object. Here, every face was full of business none 
stared, none sauntered, or had indeed the power to saunter, 
the double tide carrying them resistlessly along in one di- 
rection or the other. Among all the varieties of feature 
that passed before her, Laura saw not one familiar coun- 
tenance ; and she involuntarily pressed closer to her father, 
while she thought, that among these myriads she should, 
but for him, be alone. 

Captain Montreville easily found an abode suited to his 
humble circumstances ; and, the day after his arrival, he 
removed with his daughter to the second floor above a shop 
in Holborn. The landlady was a widow, a decent orderly- 
looking person ; the apartments, though far from elegant, 
were clean and commodious. They consisted of a parlour, 
two bedchambers, and a small room, or rather closet, which 
Laura immediately appropriated as her painting-room, 
Here she found amusement in arranging the materials of 
her art, while Captain Montreville walked to the west end 
of the town, to confer with his agent on the unfortunate 
cause of his visit to London. He was absent for some 
hours ; and Laura, utterly ignorant of the length of his 
walk, and of its difficulties to one who had not seen the 
metropolis for twenty years, began to be uneasy at his 
stay. Jle returned at last, fatigued and dispirited, without 
having seen Mr. Baynard, who was indisposed, and could 
not admit him. After a silent dinner, he threw himself 
upon a sofa, and dismissed his daughter, saying that he felt 
inclined to sleep. 

Laura took this opportunity to write to Mrs. Douglas a 



SELF-CONTROL. 55 

particular account of her travels. She mentioned with 
affectionate interest some of her few acquaintances at Glen- 
albert, and enquired for all the individuals of Mrs. Douglas's 
family ; but the name of Hargrave did not once occur in 
her letter, though nothing could exceed her curiosity to 
know how the Colonel had borne her departure, of which, 
afraid of his vehemence, she had, at their last interview, 
purposely avoided to inform him. 

Having finished her letter, Laura, that she might not 
appear to repress civility, availed herself of her landlady's 
invitation to " come now and then," as she expressed it, 
1 ' to have a chat ; " and descended to the parlour below. 
On perceiving that Mrs. Dawkins was busily arranging the 
tea-equipage, with an air that showed she expected com- 
pany, Laura would have retreated, but her hostess would 
not suffer her to go. " No, no, miss," said she, " I expect 
nobody but my daughter Kate, as is married to Mr. Jones 
the haberdasher ; and you mustn't go, for she can tell you 
all about Scotland ; and it is but natural to think that you'd 
like to hear about your own country, now when you're in a 
foreign land, as a body may say." 

The good woman had judged well in the bribe she of- 
fered to her guest, who immediately consented to join her 
party ; and who, perceiving that Mrs. Dawkins was indus- 
triously spreading innumerable slices of bread and butter, 
courteously offered to share her toils. Mrs. Dawkins thanked 
her, and accepted her services, adding, " indeed it's very 
hard as I should have all them there things to do myself, 
when I have a grown up daughter in the house. But, 
poor thing, it an't her fault after all, for she never was 
larnt to do nothing of use." 

" That was very unfortunate/' said Laura. 

" Yes, hut it mightn't have been so misfortunate neither, 
only, you see, I'll tell you how it was. My sister, Mrs. 
Smith, had a matter of 10,0007. left her by her husband, 
and so she took a fancy when July was born as she'd have 
her called a grand name ; and I'm sure an unlucky name 
it was for her ; for many a fine freak it has put into her 
head. Well, and so as I was saying, she took July home 
to herself, and had her larnt to paint, and to make filagree, 
E 4 



5O SELF-CONTROL. 

and play on the piano, and what not ; and to be sure we 
thought she would never do no less than provide for her. 
But what do you think, why, two years ago, she ran away 
with a young ensign, as had nothing in the varsal world 
but his pay ; and so July came home just as she went ; 
and what was worst of all, she couldn't do no more in the 
shop nor the day she was born." 

" That was hard, indeed," said Laura. 

( ' Wasn't it now r ? but one comfort was, I had Kate 
brought up in another guess-way ; for I larnt her plain 
work and writing, and how to cast accounts ; and never 
let her touch a book, except the Prayer-book a-Sundays ; 
and see what's the upshot on't. Why, though July's all 
to nothing the prettiest, no body has never made an offer for 
she, and Kate's got married to a warm man as any in his 
line hereabouts and a man as has a house not ten doors off; 
and besides, as snug a box in the country as ever you seed,, 
so convenient you've no idear. Why, I dare say, there's 
a matter of ten stage-coaches pass by the door every day." 

To ah 1 this family history, Laura listened with great pa- 
tience, wondering, however, what could induce the narrator 
to take so much trouble for the information of a stranger. 

The conversation, if it deserves the name, was now inter- 
rupted by the entrance of a young woman, whom Mrs. Daw- 
kins introduced as her daughter July. Her figure was short, 
inclining to embonpoint, her face, though rather pretty, 
round and rosy, and her whole appearance seemed the 
antipodes of sentiment. She had, however, a book in her 
hand, on which, after exchanging compliments with Laura, 
she cast a languishing look, and said, " I have been paying 
a watery tribute to the sorrows of my fair namesake." 
Then pointing out the title-page to Laura, she added, 
(e You, I suppose, have often done so." 

It was the tragedy of THE MINISTER, and Laura, read- 
ing the name aloud, said, she was not acquainted with it. 

ee Oh," cried Mrs. Dawkins, " that's the young woman 
as swears so horribly. No, I dares to say, Miss Montre- 
ville never read no such thing. If it an't a shame to be 
seen in a Christian woman hands, it is. And if she would 
read it by herself, it would be nothing ; but there she goes 



SELF-CONTROL. 57 

ranting about the house like an actress, cursing all aloud, 
worser nor the drunken applewoman at the corner of the 
street." 

f( Pray, mamma, forbear," said Miss Julia Dawkins, in 
a plaintive tone ; " it wounds my feelings to hear you. I 
am sure, if Miss Montreville would read this play, she 
would own that the expressions which you austerely deno- 
minate curses, give irresistible energy to the language." 

" This kind of energy," said Laura, with a smile, " has 
at least the merit of being very generally attainable." 
This remark was not in Miss Julia's line. She had, there- 
fore, recourse to her book, and with great variety of 
grimace, read aloud one of Casimir's impassioned, or, as 
Laura thought, frantic speeches. The curious contrast of 
the reader's manner with her appearance, of the affected 
sentimentality of her air with the robust vulgarity of her 
figure, struck Laura as so irresistibly ludicrous, that 
though, of all young ladies, she was the least addicted to 
tittering, her politeness would have been fairly defeated in 
the struggle, had it not been reinforced by the entrance of 
Mr. and Mrs. Jones. The former was a little man, in a 
snuff-coloured coat, and a brown wig, who seemed to be 
about fifty, the latter was a good-humoured common- 
place looking woman, of about half that age. Laura was 
pleased with the cordiality with which Mr. Jones shook his 
mother-in-law by the hand, saying, <e Well, mother, I's 
brought you Kate pure and hearty again, and the little 
fellow is fine and well, tho'f he be too young to come 
a- wishing." 

As soon as the commotion occasioned by the entrance 
was over, and Laura formally made acquainted with the 
lady, Mrs. Dawkins began, " I hopes, Kate, you ha'nt for- 
got how to tell about your jaunt to Scotland ; for this here 
young lady stayed tea just o' purpose to hear it." 

" Oh, that I ha'nt," said Mrs. Jones ; te I'm sure I shall 
remember it the longest day I have to live. Pray Miss," 
added she, turning to Laura, " was you ever in Glasgow?" 

" Never," said Laura : " I have heard that it is a fine 
city." 

" Ay, but I've been there first and last eleven days ; 



58 SELF-GONTROL. 

and I can say for it, it is really a handsome town, and a 
mort of good white stone houses in it. For you see, when 
Mr. Jones married me, he had not been altogether satis- 
fied with his rider, and he thoft as he'd go down to Glas- 
gow himself and do business j and that he'd make it do 
for his wedding jaunt, and that would be killing two dogs 
with one stone." 

{l That was certainly an excellent plan," said Laura. 

" Well," continued Mrs. Jones, ce when we'd been about 
a week in Glasgow, we were had to dine one day with Mr 
Mactavish, as supplies Mr. Jones with ginghams ; and he 
talked about some grand house of one of your Scotch dukes, 
and said as how we mustn't go home without seeing it. So 
we thought since we had come so far, we might as well 
see what was to be seen." 

" Certainly," said Laura, at the pause which was made 
to take breath, and receive approbation. 

" Well, we went down along the river, which, to say 
truth, is very pretty, thof it be not turfed, nor kept neat 
round the hedges, to a place they call Dunbarton ; where 
there is a rock, for all the world like an ill-made sugar-loaf, 
with a slice out o' the middle on't ; and they told us there 
was a castle on it, but such a castle !" 

" Pray, sister," said Miss Julia, " have you an accurate 
idea of what constitutes a castle ? of the keeps, the turrets, 
the winding staircases, and the portcullis?" 

" Bless you, my dear," returned the traveller, (i ha'n't 
I seen Windsor Castle, and t'other's no more like it no 
more than nothing at all. Howsoever, we slept that night 
at a very decent sort of an inn ; and Mr. Jones thought as 
we were so comfortable, we had best come back to sleep. So 
as the duke's house was but thirty miles off, we thought if 
we set off soon in the morning, we might get back at night. 
So off we set, and went two stages to breakfast, at a place 
with one of their outlandish names ; and to be sartin, when 
we got there, we were as hungry as hounds. Well, we 
called for hot rolls ; and, do but think, there wasn't no 
such thing to be had for love or money." 

Mrs. Jones paused to give Laura time for the expression 
of her pity ; but she remained silent, and Mrs. Jones re- 



SELF-CONTROL. 59 

sumed : ' c Well, they brought us a loaf as old as St. Paul's, 
and some good enough butter ; so thinks I, I'll make us 
some good warm toast ; for I loves to make the best of a 
bad bargain. So I bid the waiter bring us the toast- stool ; 
but if you had seen how he stared, why, the poor fellor 
had never heard of no such thing in his life. Then they 
showed us a huge mountain, as black as a soot-bag, just 
opposite the window, and said as we must go up there ; 
but, thinks I, catch us at that ; for if we be so bad off 
here for breakfast, what shall we be there for dinner. So 
my husband and I were of a mind upon it, to get back to 
Glasgow as fast as we could j for, though to be sure it cost 
us a power of money coming down, yet, thinks we, the first 
loss is the best." 

" What would I have given," cried Miss Julia, turning 
up the whites of her eyes, " to have been permitted to 
mingle my sighs with the mountain-breezes ! " Mrs. Jones 
was accustomed to her sister's nonsense, and she only 
shrugged her shoulders. But Mrs. Dawkins, provoked that 
her daughter should be so much more than usually ridiculous 
before a stranger, said, " Why, child, how can you be so 
silly, what in the world should you do sighing o' top of a 
Scotch hill ? I dares to say, if you were there you might 
sigh long enough before you'd find such a comfortable cup 
of tea, as what you have in your hand." Miss Julia dis- 
dained reply : but turning to our heroine, she addressed her 
in a tone so amusingly sentimental, that Laura feared to 
listen to the purport of her speech, lest the manner and {he 
matter united should prove too much for her gravity ; and 
rising, she apologised for retiring, by saying, that she heard 
her father stir, and that she must attend him. 

When two people of very different ages meet tete-a-tete 
in a room, where they are not thoroughly domesticated, 
where there are no books, no musical instruments, nor even 
that great bond of sociality, a fire, it requires no common 
invention and vivacity to pass an evening with tolerable 
cheerfulness. The little appearances of discomfort, how- 
ever, which imperceptibly lower the spirits of others, had 
generally an opposite effect upon those of Laura. Attentive 
to the comfort of every human being who approached her, 



60 



SELF-CONTROL. 



she was always the first to discover the existence and cause 
of the " petty miseries of life ; " but, accustomed to con- 
sider them merely as calls to exertion, they made not the 
slightest impression on her spirits or temper. The moment 
she cast her eyes upon her father, leaning on a table, where 
stood a pair of candles that but half-lighted the room ; and 
on the chimney, where faded fennel occupied the place of a 
fire, she perceived that all her efforts would be necessary to 
produce any thing like comfort. She began her operations, 
by enticing her father out of the large vacant room, into the 
small one, where she intended to work. Here she prepared 
his coffee, gave him an account of the party below stairs, 
read to him her letter to Mrs. Douglas, and did and said 
every thing she could imagine to amuse him. 

When the efforts to entertain are entirely on one side, it 
is scarcely in human nature to continue them ; and Laura 
was beginning to feel very blank, when it luckily occurred 
to her, that she had brought her little chess-board from 
Glenalbert. Away she flew, and in triumph produced this 
infallible resort. The match was pretty equal. Captain 
Montreville had more skill, Laura more resource; and 
she defended herself long and keenly. At last she was 
within a move of being check-mated. But the move was 
hers : and the Captain, in the heat of victory, overlooked a 
step by which the fortune of the game would have been re- 
versed. Laura saw it, arid eagerly extended her hand to the 
piece ; but recollecting that there is something in the pride 
of man's nature which abhors to be beaten at chess by a 
lady, she suddenly desisted; and, sweeping her lily arm 
across the board, c< Nay, now," she cried, with a look of in- 
effable good nature, " if you were to complete my defeat 
after all my hair-breadth 'scapes, you could not be so un- 
reasonable as to expect that I should keep my temper." 
" And how dare you," said Captain Montreville, in great 
good humour with his supposed victory, " deprive me at 
once of the pleasures of novelty and of triumph ? " By the help 
of this auxiliary, the evening passed pleasantly away ; and, 
before another came, Laura had provided for it the cheap 
luxury of some books from a circulating library. 



SELF-CONTROL. 6l 



CHAPTER VIII. 

FOR the first fortnight after Captain Montreville's arrival 
in London, almost every forenoon was spent in unavailing 
attempts to see Mr. Baynard, whose illness, at the end of 
that time, had increased to such a degree, as left no hope 
that he could soon be in a condition for attending to busi- 
ness. Harassed by suspense, and weary of waiting for an 
interview, which seemed every day more distant, Captain 
Montreville resolved to stay no longer for his agent's intro- 
duction to Mr. Warren, but to visit the young heir, and 
himself explain his errand. Having procured Mr. Warren's 
address from Mr. Baynard's servants, he proceeded to 
Portland Street, and knocking at the door of a handsome 
house, was there informed that Mr. Warren was gone to 
Brighton, and was not expected to return for three weeks. 

Captain Montreville had now no resource but to unfold 
his demands to Mr. Warren in writing. He did so, stat- 
ing his claims with all the simple energy of truth ; but no 
answer was returned. He fatigued himself and Laura in 
vain, with conjecturing the cause of this silence. He 
feared that, though dictated by scrupulous politeness, his 
letter might have given offence. He imagined that it 
might have miscarried, or that Mr. Warren might have left 
Brighton before it reached him. All these conjectures 
were, however, wide of the truth. The letter had given 
no offence, for it had never been read. It safely reached 
the person to whom it was addressed, just as he was adding 
the finishing touch to the graces of a huge silk handker- 
chief, in which he had enveloped his chin, preparatory to 
the exhibition of his person, and of an elegant new curricle 
upon the Steine. A single glance had convinced him that 
the letter was unworthy to encroach on this momentous 
concern he had thrown it aside, intending to read it 
when he had nothing else to do, and had seen it no more, 
till, on his return to London, he unrolled from it his bottle 
of esprit de rose, which his valet had wrapped in its 
folds. 



02 SELF- CONTROL. 

The three wearisome weeks came to an end at last, as 
well as a fourth, which the attractions of Brighton pre- 
vailed on Mr. Warren to add to his stay ; and Captain 
Montreville, making another, almost hopeless, enquiry in 
Portland Street, was, to his great joy, admitted to the 
long-desired conference. He found the young man in his 
night-gown, reclining on a sofa, intently studious of the 
Sportsman's Magazine, while he ever and anon refreshed 
himself for this, his literary toil, by sipping a cup of choco- 
late. Being courteously invited to partake, the Captain 
began by apologising for his intrusion, but pleaded that 
his business was of such a nature as to require a personal 
interview. At the mention of business the smile forsook 
its prescriptive station on the smooth face of Mr. Warren. 
" Oh, pray pardon me, sir," said he, " my agent manages 
all my matters I never meddle with business I have 
really no head for it. Here, Du Moulin, give this gentle- 
man Mr. Williams's address." 

tc Excuse me, sir," said Captain Montreville, " on this 
occasion I must entreat that you will so far depart from 
your rule as to permit me to state my business to you in 
person." 

" I assure you, sir/' said the beau, rising from his lux- 
urious posture, ' ' I know nothing about business the 
very name of it is to me the greatest bore in life ; it 
always reminds me of my old dead uncle. The poor man 
could never talk of any thing but of bank-stock, the price 
of the best Archangel tar, and the scarcity of hemp. Often 
did I wish the hemp had been cheap enough to make him 
apply a little of it to his own use but the old cock took 
wing at last without a halter, he, he, he." 

" I shall endeavour to avoid these offensive subjects," 
said Captain Montreville, smiling. " The affair in which 
I wish to interest you, is less a case of law than of equity, 
and therefore I must beg permission to state it to your 
personal attention, as your agent might not think himself 
at liberty to do me the justice which I may expect from 
you." 

Mr. Warren at this moment recollected an indispensable 
engagement, and begged that Captain Montreville would do 



SELF-CONTROL. Od 

him the favour to call another time secretly resolving 
not to admit him. " I shall not detain you two minutes," 
said the Captain : c< I shall in a few words state my re- 
quest, and leave you to decide upon it when you are more 
at leisure." 

" Well, sir," replied Mr. Warren, with something be- 
tween a sigh and an ill- suppressed yawn, "if it must 
be so." 

" About eighteen months ago," resumed the Captain, 
" my agent, Mr. Baynard, paid 1500/. to your late 
uncle, as the price of an annuity on my daughter's life. 
The deed is now found to be informal, and Mr. Williams 
has refused to make any payment. Mr. Baynard's indis- 
position has prevented me from seeing him since my arrival 
in London ; but I have no doubt that he can produce a 
discharge for the price of the annuity ; in which case, I 
presume you will allow the mistake in the deed to be 
rectified." 

" Certainly, certainly," said Mr. Warren, who had 
transferred his thoughts from the subject of conversation 
to the comparative merits of nankeen pantaloons and 
leather-breeches. 

" But even if Mr. Baynard should have no document to 
produce," continued Captain Montreville, "may I not 
hope that you will instruct Mr. Williams to examine, 
whether there are not in Mr. Warren's books, traces of 
the agreement for an annuity of WOL in the name of 
Laura Montreville ?" " Sir ?" said Warren, whose ear 
caught the tone of interrogation, though the meaning of 
the speaker had entirely escaped him. The Captain re- 
peated his request. " Oh, certainly I will," said the young 
man, who would have promised any thing to get rid of the 
subject. " I hope the matter will be found to stand as 
you wish. At all events, such a trifling sum can be of no 
sort of consequence." 

" Pardon me, sir," said Captain Montreville, warmly, 
" to me it is of the greatest : should this trifle, as yoii 
are pleased to call it, be lost to me, my child must, at my 
death, be left to all the horrors, all the temptations of 



64- SELF-CONTROL. 

want temptations aggravated a thousand fold, by beauty 
and inexperience." 

His last words awakened something like interest in the 
drowsy soul of his hearer, who said, with the returning 
smile of self-complacency, " Beauty, sir, did you say ? 
beauty is what I may call my passion a pretty girl is 
always sure of my sympathy and good offices. I shall call 
for Mr. Williams this very day." 

Captain Montreville bit his lip. " Laura Montreville, 
thought he, an object of sympathy to such a thing as 
thou ! " .He bowed, however, and said, ' ' I hope, sir, you 
will find, upon examination, that Miss Montreville's claims 
rest upon your justice." Then laying his address upon 
the table, he took his leave, with an air perhaps a little too 
stately for one who had come to ask a favour. 

He returned home, however, much pleased with having 
at last met with Warren, and with having, as he imagined, 
put in train the business on account of which he had 
performed so long a journey, and suffered so much uneasi- 
ness. He found Laura, too, in high spirits. She had 
just given the finishing touches to a picture on which she 
had been most busily employed ever since her arrival in 
London. She had studied the composition, till her head 
ached with intensity of thought. She had laboured the 
finishing with care unspeakable ; and she now only waited 
till her work could with safety be moved, to try the success 
of her project for the attainment of wealth. Of this suc- 
cess she scarcely entertained a doubt. She was sensible, 
indeed, that the picture had many faults, but not so many 
as that on which Mrs. Douglas's visiter had fixed so high 
a price. Since painting the latter she had improved in 
skill ; and never had she bestowed such pains as on her 
present work. The stranger had said that the Scipio in 
Mrs. Douglas's picture was interesting. The Leonidas in 
this was much more so she could not doubt it, for he 
resembled Hargrave. She had hoped the resemblance would 
be apparent to no eye but her own. Her father, however, 
had noticed it, and Laura had tried to alter the head, but 
the Captain declared she had spoiled it. Laura thought so 



SELF-CONTROL. 



65 



herself; and, after sketching a hundred regularly hand- 
some countenances, could be satisfied with none which 
bore not some affinity to her only standard of manly 
beauty. 

To add to the pleasure with which Laura surveyed the 
completion of her labours, she had that day received a 
letter from Mrs. Douglas, in which mention was made of 
Hargrave. 

In her first letters to Laura, Mrs. Douglas had entirely 
avoided this subject. Almost a month Laura had waited, 
with sickening impatience, for some hint from which she 
might gather intelligence of Hargrave's motions in vain. 
Her friend had been provokingly determined to believe 
that the subject was disagreeable to her correspondent. 
Laura at last ventured to add, to one of her letters, a post- 
script, in which, without naming the Colonel, she enquired 

whether the regiment was still at Perth. She 

blushed as she glanced over this postscript. She thought 
it had an air of contrivance and design. She was half 
tempted to destroy the letter ; but she could not prevail on 
herself to make a more direct enquiry; and to forbear 
making any was almost impossible. An answer had this 
day arrived ; and Laura read no part of it with such 
interest, as that which, with seeming carelessness, informed 
her that the Colonel had been several times at the par- 
sonage; and that Mrs. Douglas understood from report, 
that he was soon to visit London. 

Again and again did Laura read this passage, and 
ponder every word of it with care. I am playing the 
fool, said she to herself, and laid the letter aside ; took it 
up again to ascertain some particular expression, again 
read the paragraph which spoke of Hargrave, and again 
paused upon his name. She was so employed when her 
father entered, and she made an instinctive motion to con- 
ceal the paper; but the next moment she held it out to 
him, saying, " This is from Mrs. Douglas." " Well, my 
love," said the Captain, " if there are no secrets in it, read 
it to me. I delight in Mrs. Douglas's simple affectionate 
style." Laura did as she was desired ; but when she 
reached the sentence which began with the name of Har- 

F 



00 SELF-CONTROL. 

grave, she blushed, hesitated for a moment, and then, 
passing it over, began the next paragraph. 

Without both caution and self-command, the most 
upright woman will be guilty of subterfuges, where love is 
in question. Men can talk of the object of their affec- 
tions they find pleasure in confiding, in describing, in 
dwelling upon their passion but the love of women seeks 
concealment. If she can talk of it, or even of any thing 
that leads to it, the fever is imaginary, or it is past. " It 
is very strange," said the Captain, when Laura had con- 
cluded, " that Mrs. Douglas never mentions Hargrave, 
when she knows what an interest I take in him." Laura 
coloured crimson, but remained silent. " What do you 
think can be her reason ?" asked the Captain. This was a 
question for which Laura could find no evasion short of 
actual deceit ; and, with an effort far more painful than 
that from which her little artifice had saved her, her lovely 
face and neck glowing with confusion, she said, " She does 
mention only I I. Please to read it yourself;" and 
she pointed it out to her father, who, prepared by her 
hesitation to expect something very particular, was sur- 
prised to find the passage so entirely unimportant. 
" Why, Laura," said he, " what was there to prevent 
you from reading this ?" To this question Laura could 
make no reply ; and the Captain, after gazing on her for 
some moments in vain hope of an explanation, dismissed 
the subject, saying, with a shrug of his shoulders, (t Well, 
well women are creatures I don't pretend to understand." 

Laura had often and deeply reflected upon the propriety 
of confiding to her father her engagement with Hargrave. 
Vague as it was, she thought her parent had an indisput- 
able right to be informed of it. Her promise too had been 
conditional, and what judge so proper as her father to 
watch over the fulfilment of its conditions ? What judge 
so proper as her father to examine the character, and to 
inspect the conduct, of the man who might one day 
become her husband ? But, amidst all the train of de- 
lightful visions which this thought conjured up, Laura 
felt that Hargrave's conduct had been such as she could 
not endure that her father should remember against his 



SELF-CONTROL. 6? 

future son. Captain Montreville was now at a distance 
from Hargrave. Before they could possibly meet, her 
arguments, or her entreaties, might have so far prevailed 
over the subsiding passions of her father, as to dissuade 
him from a fashionable vindication of her honour. But 
what was to restore her lover to his present rank in the 
Captain's regard ? What would blot from his recollection 
the insult offered to his child ? Without mention of that 
insult, her tale must be almost unintelligible ; and she 
was conscious that, if she entered on the subject at all, her 
father's tenderness, or his authority, might unlock every 
secret of her breast. The time when her engagement 
could produce any consequence was distant. Ere it arrived, 
something unforeseen might possibly remove her difficul- 
ties; or, at the worst, she hoped that, before she permitted 
her father to weigh the fault of Hargrave, she should be 
able to balance against it the exemplary propriety of his 
after conduct. 

She was not just satisfied with this reasoning; but 
weaker considerations can dissuade us from what we are 
strongly disinclined to do ; and to unveiling her own par- 
tiality, or the unworthiness of its object, Laura's disin- 
clination was extreme. She determined therefore to put off 
the evil hour ; and withdrew her father's attention from 
the subject of the letter, by enquiring whether he had seen 
Warren, and whether he had settled his business satisfac- 
torily ? The Captain replied, that though it was not 
absolutely settled, he hoped it was now in a fair way of 
being so; and informed her of Warren's promise. " Yet," 
added he, (f any one of a thousand trifles may make such 
an animal forget or neglect the most important concern." 
" What sort of man did he seem ?" enquired Laura. 
" Man ! " repeated the Captain contemptuously. " Why, 
child, he is a creature entirely new to you. He talks like 
a parrot, looks like a woman, dresses like a monkey, and 
smells like a civet-cat. You might have lived at Glenal- 
bert for half a century, without seeing such a creature." 
" I hope he will visit us," said Laura, " that we may not 
return home without seeing at least one of the curiosities 
of London." 

F 2 



68 



SELF-CONTROL. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE next day, as Captain Montreville sat reading aloud to 
his daughter, who was busy with her needle, Mr. Warren 
was announced. 

Laura, who concluded that he had business with her 
father, rose to retire ; but her visiter intercepting her, took 
both her hands, saying, " Pray, ma'am, don't let me 
frighten you away." With a constitutional dislike to 
familiarity, Laura coolly disengaged herself, and left the 
room without uttering a syllable ; but not before Warren 
had seen enough of her to determine, that, if possible, he 
should see her again. He was struck with her extra- 
ordinary beauty, which was heightened by the little hectic 
his forwardness had called to her cheek ; and he prolonged 
his visit to an unfashionable length, in the hope of her 
return. He went over all the topics which he judged 
proper for the ear of a stranger of his own sex ; talked 
of the weather, the news, the emptiness of the town, of 
horses, ladies, cock-fights, and boxing-matches. He in- 
formed the Captain, that he had given directions to his 
agent to examine into the state of the annuity : enquired 
how long Miss Montreville was to grace London with her 
presence ; and was told that she was to leave it the mo- 
ment her father could settle the business, on account of 
which alone he had left Scotland. When it was absolutely 
necessary to conclude his visit, Mr. Warren begged per- 
mission to repeat it, that he might acquaint Captain 
Montreville with the success of his agent ; secretly hoping, 
that Laura would another time be less inaccessible. 

Laura meanwhile thought his visit would never have an 
end. Having wandered into every room to which she had 
access, and found rest in none of them, she concluded, 
rather rashly, that she should find more comfort in the 
one from which his presence excluded her. That disease 
of the mind in which, by eager anticipation of the future, 
many are unfitted for present enjoyment, was new to the 



SELF-CONTROL. 69 

active spirit of Laura. The happiness of her life, (and 
spite of the caprices of her mother, it had, upon the whole, 
been a happy one,) had chiefly arisen from a constant 
succession of regular, but varied pursuits. The methodical 
sequence of domestic usefulness, and improving study, and 
healthful exercise, afforded calm yet immediate enjoyment; 
and the future pleasure which they promised was of that 
indefinite and progressive kind which provokes no eager 
desires, no impatient expectation. Laura, therefore, had 
scarcely ever known what it was to long for the morrow ; 
but on this day, the morrow was anticipated with wishful 
solicitude, a solicitude which banished from her mind 
even the thoughts of Hargrave. Never did youthful 
bridegroom look forward to his nuptial hour with more 
ardour than did Laura to that which was to begin the 
realisation of her prospects of wealth and independence. 
The next day was to be devoted to the sale of her picture. 
Her father was on that day to visit Mr. Baynard at Rich- 
mond, whither he had been removed for the benefit of a 
purer air ; and she hoped on his return, to surprise her 
beloved parent with an unlooked-for treasure. She ima- 
gined the satisfaction with which she should spread before 
him her newly acquired riches, the pleasure with which 
she would listen to the praises of her diligence ; above 
all, her fancy dwelt on the delight which she should feel 
in relieving her father from the pecuniary embarrassment, 
in which she knew him to be involved by a residence in 
London so much longer than he had been prepared to 
expect. 

That she might add to her intended gift the pleasure of 
surprise, she was resolved not to mention her plan for 
to-morrow ; and with such objects in contemplation, how 
could she rest, of what other subject could she speak ? 
She tried to banish it from her mind, that she might not 
be wholly unentertaining to her father, who, on her 
account, usually spent his evenings at home. But the task 
of amusing was so laborious, that she was glad to receive 
in it even the humble assistance of Miss Julia Dawkins. 

This young lady had thought it incumbent on her to 
assault our heroine with a most violent friendship ; a sen- 
p 3 



70 SELF-CONTROL. 

timent which often made her sufficiently impertinent, 
though it was a little kept in check hy the calm good sense 
and natural reserve of Laura. The preposterous affecta- 
tion of Julia sometimes provoked the smiles, but more 
frequently the pity of Laura ; for her real good nature 
eould find no pleasure in seeing human beings make them- 
selves ridiculous, and she applied to the cure of Miss 
Dawkins's foibles, the ingenuity which many would have 
employed to extract amusement from them. She soon 
found, however, that she was combating a sort of Hydra, 
from which, if she succeeded in lopping off one excres- 
cence, another was instantly ready to sprout. Having no 
character of her own, Julia was always, as nearly as she 
was able, the heroine whom the last-read novel inclined her 
to personate. But as those who forsake the guidance of 
nature are in imminent danger of absurdity, her copies 
were always caricatures. After reading Evelina, she sat 
with her mouth extended in a perpetual smile, and was so 
very timid, that she would not for the world have looked 
at a stranger. When Camilla was the model for the 
day, she became insufferably rattling, infantine, and 
thoughtless. After perusing the Gossip's Story, she, in 
imitation of the rational Louisa, suddenly waxed very wise 
spoke in sentences despised romance sewed shifts 
and read sermons. But, in the midst of this fit, she, in an 
evil hour, opened a volume of the Nouvelle Eloise, which 
had before disturbed many wiser heads. The shifts were 
left unfinished, the sermons thrown aside, and Miss Julia 
returned with renewed impetus to the sentimental. This 
afternoon her studies had changed their direction, as Laura 
instantly guessed by the lively air with which she entered 
the room, saying that she had brought her netting, and 
would sit with her for an hour. " But do, my dear," 
added she, " first show me the picture you have been so 
busy with ; mamma says it is beautiful, for she peeped in 
at it the other day." 

It must be confessed, that Laura had no high opinion of 
Miss Dawkins's skill in painting; but she remembered 
Moliere's old woman, and went with great good-will to 
bring her performance. ( ' Oh, charming ! " exclaimed Miss 



SELF-CONTROL. 71 

Julia, when it was placed before her ; <e the figure of the 
man is quite delightful ; it is the very image of that be- 
witching creature Tom Jones." 

" Tom Jones !" cried Laura, starting back aghast. 

"Yes, my dear/' continued Julia; "just such must 
have been the graceful turn of his limbs just such his 
hair, his eyes, those lips, that when they touched her hand, 
put poor Sophia into such a flutter." 

The astonishment of Laura now gave way to laughter, 
while she said, " Really, Miss Dawkins, you must have a 
strange idea of Tom Jones, or I a very extraordinary one 
of Leonidas." 

" Leonce, you mean, in Delphine," said Julia ; " Oh, 
he is a delightful creature too." 

" Delphine ! " repeated Laura, to whom the name was 
as new as that of the Spartan was to her companion. 
" No, I mean this for the Greek general taking his last 
leave of his wife." 

" And I think," said Captain Montreville, approaching 
the picture, " the suppressed anguish of the matron is ad- 
mirably expressed, and contrasts well with the scarcely 
relenting ardour of the hero." 

Miss Julia again declared that the picture was charming, 
and that Leontine, as she was pleased to call him, was 
divinely handsome ; but having newly replenished her 
otherwise empty head with Fielding's novel, she could 
talk of nothing else ; and turning to Laura, said, " But 
why were you so offended, that I compared your Leontine 
to Tom Jones ? Is he not a favourite of yours ? " 

" Not particularly so," said Laura. 

" Oh, why not ? I am sure he is a delightful fellow 
so generous so ardent. Come, confess should you 
not like of all things to have such a lover ? " 

<c No, indeed," said Laura, with most unusual energy; 
for her thoughts almost unconsciously turned to one whose 
character she found no pleasure in associating with that of 
Fielding's hero. 

" And why not ? " asked Miss Julia. 

ff Because," answered Laura, " I could not admire in a 
lover qualities which would be odious in a husband." 
F 4 



72 SELF-CONTROL. 

' ' Oh, goodness ! " cried Miss Julia, " do you think Tom 
Jones would make an odious husband ? " 

" The term is a little strong/' replied Laura ; " but he 
certainly would not make a pleasant yoke-fellow. What 
is your opinion, sir ? " turning to her father. 

(e I confess," said the Captain, (( I should rather have 
wished him to marry Squire Western's daughter than 
mine. But still the character is fitted to be popular." 

" I think," said Laura, " he is indebted for much of 
the toleration which he receives, to a comparison with the 
despicable Blifil." 

" Certainly," said Montreville ; " and it is unfortunate 
for the morality of the book, that the reader is inclined to 
excuse the want of religion in the hero, by seeing its lan- 
guage made ridiculous in Thwackum, and villanous in 
Blifil. Even the excellent Mr. Alworthy excites but feeble 
interest ; and it is not by the character which we respect, 
but by that in which we are interested, that the moral 
effect on our minds is produced." 

" Oh," said Miss Julia, who very imperfectly compre- 
hended the Captain's observation, "he might make a 
charming husband without being religious ; and then he is 
so warm-hearted so generous." 

" I shall not dispute that point. with you just now," re- 
plied Laura, " though my opinion differs materially from 
yours ; but Tom Jones's warmth of heart and generosity 
do not appear to me of that kind which qualify a man for 
adorning domestic life. His seems a constitutional warmth, 
which in his case, and, I believe, in most others, is the 
concomitant of a warm temper, a temper as little favour- 
able to gentleness in those who command, as to submission 
in those who obey. If by generosity you mean the cheer- 
fully relinquishing of something which we really value, it 
is an abuse of the term to apply it to the profusion with 
which your favourite squanders his money." 

f( If it is not generous to part with one's money," said 
Miss Julia, " I am sure I don't know what is." 

ff The quiet domestic generosity, which is of daily use," 
replied Laura, et is happily not confined to those who have 









SELF-CONTROL. 73 

money to bestow ; but may appear in any of a thousand 
little acts of self-denial." 

Julia, whose ideas of generosity, culled from her fa- 
vourite romances, were on that gigantic kind of scale which 
makes it unfit for common occasions, and therefore in dan- 
ger of total extinction, was silent for some moments, and 
then said, tf I am sure you must allow that it was very 
noble in Jones to resolve to bury in his own miserable 
bosom his passion for Sophia, after he knew that she felt a 
mutual flame." 

" If I recollect right," said Laura, smiling at the oddity 
of Julia's phrases, " he broke that resolution ; and I fancy 
the merely resolving to do right, is a degree of virtue, to 
which even the most profligate attain many times in their 
lives." 

Miss Dawkins by this time more than half-suspected her 
companion of being a Methodist. " You have such strict 
notions," said she, " that I see Tom Jones would never 
have done for you." 

" No," said Captain Montreville, " Sir Charles Grandi- 
son would have suited Laura infinitely better." 

" Oh no, papa," said Laura, laughing ; " if two such 
formal personages as Sir Charles and I had met, I am 
afraid we should never have had the honour of each other's 
acquaintance." 

" Then, of all the gentlemen who are mentioned in 
novels," said Miss Julia, " tell me who is your favourite ? 
Is it Lord Orville, or Delville, or Valancourt, or Edward, 

or Mortimer, or Peregine Pickle, or " and she ran on 

till she was quite out of breath, repeating what sounded 
like a page of the catalogue of a circulating library. 

" Really," said Laura, when a pause permitted her to 
speak, " my acquaintance with these accomplished persons 
is so limited that I can scarcely venture to decide ; but, I 
believe, I prefer the hero of Miss Porter's new publication 
Thaddeus of Warsaw. Truly generous, and inflexibly 
upright, his very tenderness has in it something manly 
and respectable ; and the whole combination has an air of 
nature which interests one as for a real friend." Miss 
Dawkins had never read the book, and Laura applied to 



74 SELF-CONTROL. 

her father for a confirmation of her opinion. " Yes, my 
dear/' said the Captain, " your favourite has the same re- 
semblance to a human character which the Belvidere Apollo 
has to a human form. It is so like man that one cannot 
absolutely call it divine, yet so perfect, that it is difficult to 
believe it human." 

At this moment Miss Julia was seized with an uncon- 
trollable desire to read the book, which, she declared, she 
should not sleep till she had done ; and she went to de- 
spatch a servant in quest of it. 

Laura followed her down stairs, to ask from Mrs. 
Dawkins the address of some picture- dealer, to whom she 
might dispose of her performance. Mrs. Dawkins said she 
knew of no such person ; but directed Laura to a print- 
shop, the master of which was her acquaintance, where she 
might get the intelligence she wanted. 

On the following morning, as soon as Captain Montre- 
ville had set out for Richmond, his daughter, sending for 
a hackney-coach, departed on the most interesting business 
she had ever undertaken. Her heart fluttered with ex- 
pectation her step was buoyant with hope, and she sprung 
into the carriage with the lightness of a sylph. Stopping 
at the shop, which her landlady recommended, she was 
there directed to several of the professional people, for 
whom she was enquiring, and she proceeded to the habit- 
ation of the nearest. As she entered the house, Laura 
changed colour, and her breath came quick. She stopped 
a moment to recover herself, and then followed her con- 
ductor into the presence of the connoisseur. Struck with 
the sight of so elegant a woman, he rose, bowed very low, 
and supposing that she came to make some addition to her 
cabinet, threw open the door of his picture-room, and 
obsequiously hoped that she might find something there 
worthy of her notice. Laura modestly undeceived him, 
saying, that she had brought in the carriage which waited 
for her, a picture which she wished to dispose of. This 
statement instantly put to flight the servility of her hearer ; 
who, with completely recovered consequence, enquired the 
name of the artist ; and being answered, that the picture 
was not the work of a professional man, wrinkled his nose 



SELF-CONTROL. 75 

into an expression of ineffable contempt, and said ee I 
make it a rule never to buy any of these things they are 
generally such vile daubs. However,, to oblige so pretty a 
lady," added he (softening his contumelious aspect into a 
leer), " I may look at the thing, and if it be at all toler- 
able " " There is no occasion to give you that trouble," 
said Laura, turning away with an air which again half 
convinced the man that she must be a person of conse- 
quence. He muttered something of " thinking it no 
trouble;" to which she gave no attention, but hastened to 
her carriage, and ordered the coachman to drive to the 
show-room of an Italian. 

Laura did not give him time to fall into the mistake 
of the other, but instantly opened her business; and 
Mr. Sonini was obligingly running himself to lift the 
picture from the carriage, when it was brought in by Mrs. 
Dawkins's maid, whom Laura had requested to attend her. 
Having placed the picture, the Italian retreated a few paces 
to examine the effect, and then said ' ' Ah ! I do see 
dis is leetle after de manner of Correggio very pretty 
very pretty, indeed." The hopes of Laura rose high at 
these encouraging words ; but suffered instantaneous de- 
pression, when he continued, with a shake of his head, 
ff but 'tis too new quite moderne painted in dis contri. 
Painter no name de picture may be all so good as it vil 
it never vil sell. Me sorry," added he, reading Laura's 
look of disappointment, te me sorry displease such bell 
angela ; but cannot buy." fe I am sorry for it," said Laura, 
and, sighing heavily, she courtesied and withdrew. 

Her next attempt was upon a little pert-looking man, in 
a foreign dress, and spectacles. " Hum," said he, " a 
picture to sell well, let us see't. There, that's the light. 
Hum a poor thing enough no keeping no costume. 
Well, ma'am, what do you please to ask for this?" <c I 
should be glad, sir, that you would fix a price on it." 
" Hum well let me think I suppose five guineas 
will be very fair." At this proposal the blood mounted to 
the cheeks of Laura ; and she raised her eyes to examine 
whether the proposer really had the confidence to look her 
in the face. But finding his eyes steadily fixed on her, 



76 SELF-CONTROL. 

she transported her suspicions from the honesty of the 
bidder to the merits of her piece, and mildly answering, 
" I shall not, I believe, be disposed to part with it at that 
price," she motioned to the servant to carry it back to the 
coach. 

One trial still remained, and Laura ordered her carriage 
to an obscure street in the city. She was very politely 
received by Mr. Collins, a young man who had himself 
been an artist ; but whom bad health had obliged to re- 
linquish a profession which he loved. tf This piece has 
certainly great merit," said he, after examining it, " and 
most gladly would I have made the purchase ; but my 
little room is at present overstocked, and, to own the truth 
to you, the picture is worth more than my wife and four 
little ones can afford to venture upon speculation, and such 
is the purchase of the work, however meritorious, of an 
unknown artist. But if you were to place it in the Ex- 
hibition, I have no doubt that it would speedily find a 
purchaser." The prospect which the Exhibition held forth, 
was far too distant to meet the present exigency ; for 
Laura well knew that her father would find almost imme- 
diate occasion for the price of her labours; and with a 
heavy sigh she returned to her carriage. 

What now remained but to return home with the sub- 
ject of so much fruitless toil ? Still, however, she deter- 
mined to make one effort more, and returned to enquire 
of the printseller, whether he knew of any other person to 
whom she could apply ? He had before given his whole 
list, and could make no addition to it. But observing the 
expression of blank disappointment which overcast her face, 
he offered, if she would trust him with the picture, to 
place it where it would be seen by his customers, and ex- 
pressed a belief that some of them might purchase it. 
Laura thankfully accepted the offer, and after depositing 
with him her treasure, which had lost much of its value 
in her eyes, and naming the price she expected, she re- 
turned home ; making in her way as many sombrous re- 
flections on the vanity and uncertainty of all sublunary 
pursuits, as ever were made by any young lady in her 
eighteenth year. 



SELF-CONTROL. 77 

She sat down in her now solitary parlour suffered 
dinner to be placed before her and removed, without know- 
ing of what it consisted ; and when the servant who 
brought it disappeared, began, like a true heroine, to vent 
her disappointment in tears. But soon recollecting that 
though she had no joyful surprise awaiting her father's re- 
turn, she might yet gladden it with a smiling welcome, she 
started up from her melancholy posture bathed her eyes 
placed the tea-equipage ordered the first fire of the 
season to displace the faded fennel in the chimney ar- 
ranged the apartment in the nicest order and had just 
given to every thing the greatest possible appearance of 
comfort, when her father arrived. 

She had need, however, of all her firmness, and of all 
the elation of conscious self-control, to resist the contagious 
depression of countenance and manner with which Captain 
Montreville accosted her. He had good reason for his me- 
lancholy. ,Mr. Baynard, his early acquaintance, almost 
the only person known to him in this vast city, had that 
morning breathed his last. All access to his papers was of 
course at present impossible ; and until a person should be 
chosen to arrange his affairs, it would be impracticable for 
Captain Montreville to ascertain whether there existed any 
voucher for the payment of the price of the annuity. 
Harassed by his repeated disappointments, and unendowed 
by nature with the unbending spirit which rises in disaster, 
he now declared to Laura his resolution to remain in Lon- 
don only till a person was fixed upon for the management 
of Mr. Baynard's affairs to lay before him the circum- 
stances of his case and then to return to Scotland, and 
trust to a correspondence for concluding the business. 

At this moment nothing could have been further from 
Laura's wish than to quit London. She was unwilling to 
forfeit her remaining hope that her picture might find a 
purchaser, and a still stronger interest bound her to the 
place which was so soon to be the residence of Hargrave. 
But she saw the prudence of her father's determination 
she felt the necessity of relinquishing a mode of life so un- 
suitable to his scanty income, and she cheerfully acquiesced 
in his proposal of returning home. Still some time must 



78 SELF-CONTROL. 

elapse before their departure; and she indulged a hope, 
that ere that time expired, the produce of her labours 
might lighten their pecuniary difficulties. 

Captain Montreville retired early ; and Laura, wearied 
out with the toils and the disappointments of the day, 
gladly resigned herself to the peaceful sleep of innocence. 

Laura was indebted partly to nature, but more to her 
own exertions, for that happy elasticity of spirit which 
easily casts off lighter evil, while it readily seizes, and fully 
enjoys, pleasure of moderate intensity, and of frequent at- 
tainment. Few of the lesser sorrows of youth can resist 
the cheering influence of early morn ; and the petty mise- 
ries which, in the shades of evening, assume portentous 
size and colouring, diminish wonderfully in the light of 
the new-risen sun. With recovered spirits, and reviving 
hopes, Laura awoke to joys which the worldly know not, 
the joys of pious gratitude of devout contemplation of 
useful employment ; and so far was her persevering spirit 
from failing under the disappointments of the preceding 
day, that she determined to begin a new picture the mo- 
ment she was settled at Glenalbert, to compose it with 
more care, and finish it with greater accuracy, than the 
former ; and to try its fate at the Exhibition. She did 
not think the season of her father's depression a fit one for 
relating her mortifying adventures, and she found means to 
amuse him with other topics till he left her, with an in- 
tention to call in Portland Street. 

He had not been long gone, when Mr. Warren's curricle 
stopped at the door, and the young gentleman, on being 
informed that the Captain was abroad, enquired for Miss 
Montreville. After paying his compliments like one secure 
of a good reception, he began (< How could you be so 
cruel as to refuse me the pleasure of seeing you the other 
day do you know I waited here a devilish long time 
just on purpose, though I had promised to take the Coun- 
tess of Bellamer out an airing, and she was off with Jack 
Villars before I came." 

" I am sorry," said Laura, <e that I deprived her Lady- 
ship of the pleasure of your company." 

" I should not have minded it much, if you had but 



SELF-CONTROL. 79 

come at last,, though the Countess is the prettiest creature 
in London curse me if she isn't the present company 
always excepted." 

" Do you mean the exception for me, or for yourself ? " 
said Laura. 

" Oh, now, how can you ask such a question ? I am 
sure you know that you are confoundedly handsome." 

Laura gravely surveyed her own face in an opposite 
looking-glass, and then, with the nonchalance of one who 
talks of the most indifferent thing in nature, replied, 
" Yes, I think my features are uncommonly regular." 

Warren was ,a little embarrassed by so unusual an an- 
swer to what he intended for a compliment. " The girl," 
thought he, " must be quite a fool to own that she thinks 
herself so handsome." However, after some consideration, 
he said, (( It is not so much the features, as a certain je 
ne s$ai quoi a certain charm one does not know well 
what to call it that makes you look so divine." 

" I should suppose," said Laura, " from the subject you 
have chosen to amuse me, that the charm, whatever it is, 
has no great connection with intellect." 

Warren hesitated ; for he began to have some suspicions 
that she was laughing at him, in spite of the immovable 
gravity of her countenance. " It it isn't demme, it 
isn't so much to amuse you ; but when I see a pretty 
woman, I never can help telling her of it curse me if I 
can." 

" And do you often find that your intelligence has the 
advantage of novelty ? " said Laura ; an arch smile begin- 
ning to dimple her cheek. 

ff No, 'pon honour," replied the beau, fc the women are 
getting so insufferably Conceited, they leave one nothing 
new to tell them." 

" But some gentlemen," said Laura, " have the happy 
talent of saying old things so well, that the want of novelty 
is not felt." The moment the words had passed her lips, 
she perceived, by the gracious smile which they produced, 
that Mr. Warren had applied them to himself; and the 
thought of being guilty of such egregious flattery, brought 
the colour to her face. Any explanation, however, would 



80 SELF-CONTROL. 

have been actual rudeness ; and while the consciousness of 
her involuntary duplicity kept her silent, her companion 
enjoyed her confusion ; which, together with the compli- 
ment, he interpreted in a way most satisfactory to his 
vanity, and thankfully repaid with a torrent of praises in 
his very best style. 

So little value did Laura affix to his commendations, 
that she was beginning to find extreme difficulty in sup- 
pressing a yawn, when it occurred to her that it might save 
her father a journey to Portland Street, if she could detain 
Mr. Warren till he arrived. Having made an observation 
which has been more frequently made than profited by, 
that most people prefer talking to listening, she engaged 
her companion in a description of some of the fashionable 
places of public resort, none of which she had seen ; in 
which he acquitted himself so much to his own satisfaction, 
that, before they separated, he was convinced that Laura 
was one of the most penetrating, judicious women of his 
acquaintance ; and having before remarked, that, with the 
help of a little rouge, and a fashionable riding-habit, she 
would look better in a curricle than any woman in London, 
he resolved, that if it depended on him, her residence in 
town should not be a short one. In this laudable resolu- 
tion, he was confirmed by a consideration of the insolence 
and extravagance of a certain female, to whose place in his 
establishment he had some vague idea of advancing Miss 
Montreville, though there was a stateliness about both her and 
her father, which he suspected might somewhat interfere 
with his designs in her favour. Soon after the Captain 
arrived, he took his leave, having no new intelligence to 
communicate, nor indeed any other purpose in his visit, 
except that which had been served by his interview with 
Laura. 

As soon as he was gone, Laura went down stairs to beg 
that Miss Dawkins would accompany her after dinner to 
the print-shop, to enquire what had been the fate of her 
picture. More than one person, she was told, had admired 
it, and expressed a desire to become the owner ; but the 
price had been a formidable obstacle, and it remained un- 
sold. She strove to hope that another day would bring 



SELF-CONTROL. 81 

better fortune ; but another and another came only to renew 
her disappointment. Almost every evening did Laura, 
with Mrs. Dawkins or her daughter for an escort, direct 
her steps to the print-shop, and return from her fruitless 
walk with fainter and fainter hopes. 



CHAPTER X. 

MONTAGUE DE COURCY had dined tete-a-tete with an old 
uncle from whom he had no expectations, and was re- 
turning home to sup quietly with his mother and sister, 
when his progress was arrested by a group occupying the,, 
whole breadth of the pavement, and he heard a female 
voice, which, though unusually musical, had in it less of 
entreaty than of command, saying, " Pray, sir, allow us to 
pass." " Not till I have seen the face that belongs to such 
a figure," answered one of a party of young men who were 
rudely obstructing the passage of the lady who had spoken. 
With this condition, however, she seemed not to intend 
compliance : for she had doubled her veil, and pertina- 
ciously resisted the attempts of her persecutor to raise it. 

De Courcy had a rooted antipathy to all manner of vio- 
lence and oppression, especially when exercised against the 
more defenceless part of the creation; and he no sooner 
ascertained these circumstances, than, with one thrust of 
his muscular arm, (which, to say the truth, was more than 
a match for half a dozen of the puny fry of sloth and in- 
temperance,) he opened a passage for the lady and her 
companion ; steadily detained her tormentors till she made 
good her retreat ; and then, leaving the gentlemen to an- 
swer, as they best could, to their own interrogatories of 
' ' What do you mean ? " and " Who the d 1 are you ? " 
he followed the rescued damsel, at whose appearance, con- 
sidering the place and the hour, he was extremely sur- 
prised. 

Her height, which certainly rose above the beautiful, 

G 



82 SELF-CONTROL. 

perhaps even exceeded the majestic ; her figure, though 
slender, was admirably proportioned, and had all the ap- 
propriate roundness of the feminine form ; her dress, though 
simple, and of matronly decency, was not unfashionable; 
while the dignity of her gait, and the composure of her 
motion, suited well with the majesty of her stature and 
mien. 

While De Courcy was making these observations, he 
had offered the lady his arm, which she accepted, and his 
escort home, which she declined, saying, that she would 
take refuge in a shop, till a coach could be procured. Nor 
was he less attentive to her companion, although the latter 
was a little, elderly, vulgar-looking woman, imperfections 
which would have utterly disqualified her for the civility of 
many a polite gentleman. 

This person had no sooner recovered the breath of which 
her supposed danger, and the speed of her escape from it, 
had deprived her, than she began, with extreme volubility, 
to comment upon her adventure. t: Well," cried she, " if 
that was not the most forwardest thing ever 1 seed. I am 
sure I have corned home afore now of an evening a matter 
of five hunder times, and never met with no such thing in 
my life. But it's all along of my being so saving of your 
money ; for I might have took a coach as you'd have had 
me : but it's no longer ago nor last week, as I corned from 
my tea, at that very Mr. Wilkins's, later nor this, and no- 
body so much as spoke to me : but catch me pennywise 
again. Howsoever, it's partlins your own doings ; for if 
you hadn't stayed so long a-locking at the pictures in the 
shop, we shouldn't have met with them there men. How- 
soever, Miss Montreville, you did right enough not to let 
that there jackanapes see your face, otherwise we mightn't 
have got off from them fellors to-night." 

The curiosity of De Courcy thus directed, overcame his 
habitual dislike to staring, and riveted his eyes on a face, 
which, once seen, was destined never to be forgotten. Her 
luxuriant hair (which De Courcy at first thought black, 
though he afterwards corrected this opinion,) was carelessly 
divided on a forehead, whose spotless whiteness was varied 
only by the blue of a vein which shone through the trans- 



SELF-CONTROL. 83 

parent skin. As she raised her mild religious dark-grey 
eyes, their silken lashes rested on the well defined but 
delicate eye-brow ; or, when her glance fell before the gaze 
of admiration, threw a long shade on a cheek of unequalled 
beauty, both for form and colour. The contour of her 
features, inclining to the Roman, might perhaps have been 
called masculine, had it not been softened to the sweetest 
model of maiden loveliness, by the delicacy of its size and 
colouring. The glowing scarlet of the lips formed a con- 
trast with a complexion constitutionally pale, but varying 
every moment ; while round her easily but firmly closing 
mouth lurked not a trace of the sensual or the vain, but 
all was calm benevolence, and saintly purity. 

In the contemplation of a countenance, the perfect sym- 
metry of which was its meanest charm, De Courcy, who 
was a physiognomist, suffered the stream of time, as well 
as that of Mrs. Dawkins's eloquence, to flow on without 
notice, and first became sensible that he had profited by 
neither, when the shop-boy announced that the coach was 
at the door. While handing the ladies into the carriage, 
De Courcy again offered his attendance, which Laura, grace- 
fully thanking him for his attentions, again declined ; and 
they drove off just as he was about to enquire where they 
chose to be set down. 

Now, whether it was that Laura was offended at De 
Courcy ' inspection of her face, or whether she saw any 
thing disagreeable in his ; whether it was that her pride 
disdained lodgings in Holborn, or that she desired not to 
be recognised by one who had met with her in such a situ- 
ation, certain it is, that she chose the moment when that 
gentleman was placing her voluble companion in the coach, 
to give the coachman her directions, in sounds which 
escaped the ears of De Courcy. As he had no means of 
remedying this misfortune, he walked home, and philoso- 
phically endeavoured to forget it in a game at chess with 
his mother. The fidelity of a historian, however, obliges 
us to confess, that he this evening played in a manner 
which would have disgraced a school-boy. After mistaking 
his antagonist's men for his own, playing into check, throw- 
ing away his pieces, and making false moves, he answered 

G 



84? SELF-CONTROL. 

his mother's question of " Montague, what are you doing ? " 
by pushing back his chair, and exclaiming, " Mother, you 
never beheld such a woman ! " 

ff Woman ! " repeated Mrs. de Courcy, settling her 
spectacles, and looking him full in the face. " Woman !" 
said his sister, laying down Bruyere, " who is she ? " 

" I know not," answered De Courcy, " but had Lavater 
seen her, he could scarcely have believed her human." 

'" What is her name ? " 

" The woman who attended her called her Montreville." 

cc Where did you meet her ? " 

" In the street." 

" In the street ! " cried Harriet, laughing, " Oh, Mon- 
tague, this is not half sentimental enough for you. You 
should have found her all in a shady bower, playing on a 
harp which came there nobody knows how ; or, all elegant 
in India muslin, dandling a beggar's brat in a dirty cottage. 
But let us hear the whole adventure." 

" I have already told you all I know," answered De 
Courcy. " Now, madam, will you give me my revenge?" 

" No, no," said Mrs. de Courcy, " I will play no more ; 
I should have no glory in conquering such a defenceless 
enemy." 

" Well, then," said Montague, good-humouredly, ee give 
me leave to read to you, for 1 would rather amuse you and 
Harriet in any other way than by sitting quietly to be 
laughed at." 

After the ladies had retired for the night, De Courcy 
meditated for full five minutes on the descent from Laura 
Montreville's forehead to her nose, and bestowed a propor- 
tionable degree of consideration upon other important lines 
of her physiognomy ; but it must be confessed, that by the 
time he arrived at the dimple in her left cheek, he had for- 
gotten both Lavater and his opinions, and that his recol- 
lection of her mouth was somewhat confused by that of 
her parting smile, which he more than once declared aloud 
to himself was " heavenly." We are credibly informed, 
that he repeated the same expression three times in his 
sleep ; and whether it was that his dreams reminded him 
of Mrs. Dawkins's eloquence, or whether his memory was 



SELF-CONTROL. 



85 



refreshed by his slumbers, he had not been long awake be- 
fore he recollected, that he had heard that lady mention a 
Mr. Wilkins, and hint that he kept a print-shop. By a 
proper application to the London Directory, he easily dis- 
covered the print-seller's abode, and thither he that very 
day repaired. 

Mr. Wilkins was not in the shop when De Courcy en- 
tered it, but the shop-boy said his master would be tfrere 
in a minute. This minute appearing to De Courcy of un- 
usual length, he, to while it away, began to examine the 
prints which hung round. His eye was presently attracted 
by the only oil-picture in the shop ; and his attention was 
fixed by observing, that it presented a striking resemblance 
of his old school-fellow Hargrave. He turned to make 
some enquiry of the shop-boy, when Mr. Wilkins came in, 
and his interest reverted to a different object. The ques- 
tion, however, which he had come to ask, and which to ask 
would have three minutes before appeared the simplest 
thing in the world, now faltered on his tongue ; and it was 
not without something like hesitation, that he enquired 
whether Mr. Wilkins knew a Miss Montreville. Desirous 
to oblige a person of De Courcy's appearance, Wilkins im- 
mediately related all that he knew of Laura, either from 
his own observation, or from the report of her loquacious 
landlady ; and perceiving that he was listened to with 
attention, he proceeded further to detail his conjectures. 
" This picture is painted by her," said he, " and I rather 
think the old Captain can't be very rich, she seemed so 
anxious to have it sold." 

De Courcy again turned to the picture, which he had 
before examined, and on this second inspection was so for- 
tunate as to discover that it bore the stamp of great genius, 
an opinion in which, we believe, he would have been 
joined by any man of four-and-twenty who had seen the 
artist. " So," thought he, " this lovely creature's genius, 
is equal to her beauty, and her worth perhaps surpasses 
both ; for she has the courage to rise superior to the silly 
customs of the world, and can dare to be useful to herself 
and others. I knew by the noble arching of her forehead, 
that she was above all vulgar prejudice ; " and he admired 
o 3 



86 SELF-CONTROL. 

Laura the more for being a favourable instance of his own 
penetration, a feeling so natural, that it lessens even our 
enmity to the wicked, when we ourselves have predicted 
their vices. It must be owned, that De Courcy was a little 
hasty in his judgment of Laura's worth ; but the sight of 
such a face as hers gives great speed to a young man's 
decision upon female character. He instantly purchased 
the picture, and recollecting that it is highly proper to pa- 
tronise genius and industry, he desired Mr. Wilkins to beg 
that a companion to it might be painted. He then returned 
home, leaving orders that his purchase should follow him 
immediately. 

Though nature, a private education, and studious habits, 
made De Courcy rather reserved to strangers, he was, in 
his domestic circle, one of the most communicative persons 
in the world; and the moment he saw his mother, he began 
to inform her of the discoveries he had made that morning. 
t( Montreville ? " said Mrs. de Courcy, when he had ended, 

ec can that be William Montreville who was in the 

regiment when your father was the major of it ?" 

" Most likely it is," said Montague, eagerly. 

" Many a time did he hold you upon his horse, and many 
a paper-kite did he make for you." 

" It must be the same," said Montague ; " the name is 
not a common one ; it certainly must be the same." 

" I can hardly believe it," said Mrs. de^Courcy ; " Wil- 
liam Montrsville married that strange, imprudent woman, 
Lady Harriet Bircham. Poor Montreville ! he deserved 
a better wife." 

" It cannot be he," said De Courcy, sorrowfully ; f( no 
such woman could be the mother of Miss Montreville." 

" He settled in Scotland immediately after his marriage," 
continued Mrs. de Courcy, " and since that time I have 
never heard of him." 

" It is the same then," said Montague, his countenance 
lightening with pleasure, " for Miss Montreville is a Scotch 
woman. I remember his kindness. I think I almost re- 
collect his face. He used to set me on his knee and sing 
to me ; and when he sung the Babes in the Wood, I pre- 
tended to go to sleep in his bosom, for I thought it not 



SELF-CONTROL. 8? 

manly to cry; but when I looked up, I saw the tears 
standing in his own eyes. I will go and see my old friend 
this very hour." 

" You have forgotten," said Mrs. de Courcy, " that you 
promised to escort Harriet to the Park, and she will be 
disappointed if you engage yourself elsewhere." 

De Courcy, who would have postponed any personal 
gratification rather than disappoint the meanest servant in 
his household, instantly agreed to defer his visit ; and as it 
had never occurred to him that the claims of relationship 
were incompatible with those of politeness, he did not once 
during their walk insinuate to his sister that he would have 
preferred another engagement. 

Never had he, either as a physiognomist, or as a man, 
admired any woman so much as he did Laura ; yet her 
charms were no longer his only, or even his chief, magnet 
of attraction towards the Montrevilles. Never before had 
any assemblage of features possessed such power over him, 
but De Courcy's was not a heart on which mere beauty 
could make any very permanent impression ; and, to the 
eternal disgrace of his gallantry, it must be confessed, that 
he scarcely longed more for a second interview with Laura, 
than he did for an opportunity of paying some grateful 
civilities to the man who, twenty years before, had good- 
naturedly forgone the society of his equals in age, to sing 
ballads and make paper-kites for little Montague. What- 
ever member of the family occupied most of his thoughts, 
certain it is, that he spoke much more that evening of Cap- 
tain Montreville than of his daughter, until the arrival f 
the painting afforded him occasion to enlarge on her genius, 
industry, and freedom from vulgar prejudice. On these he 
continued to descant, till Mrs. de Courcy smiled, and Har- 
riet laughed outright ; a liberty at which Montague testified 
his displeasure, by carefully avoiding the subject for the 
rest of the evening. 

Meanwhile the ungrateful Laura had never, from the 
hour in which they met, bestowed one thought upon her 
champion. The blackness of his eyes, and the whiteness 
of his teeth, had entirely escaped her observation ; and, 
even if she had been asked whether he was tall or short, 
o 4 



88 SELF-CONTROL. 

she could scarcely have given a satisfactory reply. For 
this extraordinary stupidity., the only excuse is,, that her 
heart was already occupied, the reader knows how, and 
that her thoughts were engrossed by an intention which her 
father had mentioned,, of borrowing money upon his half- 
pay. 

Though Laura had never known affluence,, she was 
equally a stranger to all the shames, the distresses, and 
embarrassments of a debtor ; and the thoughts of borrowing 
what she could not hope by any economy to repay, gave to 
her upright mind the most cutting uneasiness. But no 
resource remained ; for, even if Captain Montreville could 
have quitted London within the hour, he had not the means 
of defraying the expense of the journey. Warren's pro- 
mises had hitherto produced nothing but hope, and there 
was no immediate prospect that the payment of the annuity 
would relieve the difficulty. 

Laura turned a despairing wish towards her picture, 
lamenting that she had ever formed her presumptuous 
scheme ; and hating herself for having, by her presence, 
increased the perplexities of her father. She prevailed on 
him, however, to defer borrowing the money till the fol- 
lowing day ; and once more, accompanied by Julia, bent 
her almost hopeless steps towards the print-shop. 

Silent and melancholy she passed on, equally regardless 
of the admiration which she occasionally extorted, and of 
the animadversions, called forth by the appearance of so 
elegant a woman on foot, in the streets of the city. As 
she entered the shop, she cast a half-despairing look to- 
wards the place where her picture had hung, and her heart 
leaped when she perceived that it was gone. " Well, 
ma'am," said Wilkins, approaching her, " it is sold at 
last, and here is the money;" and he put into her hands 
by far the largest sum they had ever contained. " You 
may have as much more whenever you please," continued 
he, " for the gentleman who bought it wants a companion 
painted." 

Laura spoke not, she had not, indeed, the power to 
speak ; but she raised her eyes with a look ihat intelli- 
gibly said, " Blessed Father ! thy tender mercies are over 



SELF-CONTROL. 89 

all thy works." Recollecting herself, she thanked Wilkins, 
liberally rewarded him for his trouble, and then taking her 
companion by the arm, she hastened homewards. 

The sight of Laura's wealth powerfully affected the mind 
of Miss Dawkins, and she formed an immediate resolution 
to grow rich by similar means. One little objection to this 
scheme occurred to her, namely, that she had learnt to draw 
only flowers, and that even this humble branch of the art 
she had discontinued since she left school. But she thought 
that a little practice would repair what she had lost, and 
that though perhaps flowers might not be quite so pro- 
ductive as historical pieces, she might better her fortune 
by her works ; at the least, they would furnish her with 
clothes and pocket-money. Upon this judicious plan, she 
harangued with great volubility to Laura, who, buried in 
her own reflections, walked silently on, unconscious even 
of the presence of her loquacious companion. 

As she approached her home, she began to frame a little 
speech, with which she meant to present her treasure to 
her father ; and, on entering the house, she flew with a 
beating heart to find him. She laid her wealth upon his 
knee. ee My dearest father," she began, " the picture 

" and she fell upon his neck and burst into tears. 

Sympathetic tears stood in the eyes of Montreville. He 
had been surprised at the stoicism with which his daughter 
appeared to him to support her disappointment, and he 
was not prepared to expect from her so much sensibility to 
success. But though Laura had learned, from frequent 
experience, how to check the feelings of disappointment, to 
pleasure such as she now felt she was new, and she could 
not control its emotions. So far was she, however, from 
thinking that sensibility was bestowed merely for an orna- 
ment (an opinion which many fair ladies appear to enter- 
tain), that the expression of it was always with her an 
occasion of shame. Unable at this moment to contain her- 
self, she burst from her father's embrace, and, hiding her- 
self in her chamber, poured forth a fervent thanksgiving 
to Him who ff feedeth the ravens when they cry to him." 

" This money is yours, my love," said Captain Mon- 
treville to her when she returned to the parlour. " I can- 



90 SELF-CONTROL. 

not bear to rob you of it. Take it, and you can supply 
me when I am in want of it." The face and neck of Laura 
flushed crimson. Her whole soul revolted at the thought 
of her father's feeling himself a pensioner on her bounty. 
" No, indeed, sir," she replied with energy, " it is yours 
it always was intended for you. But for you, I could 
never have acquired it." (< I will not disappoint your 
generosity, my dearest," said Montreville ; " part I will 
receive from you, but the rest you must keep. I know 
you must have many little wants." " No, papa," said 
Laura, " so liberal has your kindness been to me, that I 
cannot at this moment name a single want." " Wishes, 
then, you surely have," said the Captain, still pressing the 
money upon her ; " and let the first-fruits of your industry 
supply them." tc I have no wishes," said Laura ; " none 
at least which money can gratify j and when I have," 
added she, with an affectionate smile, " let their gratifi- 
cation come from you, that its pleasure may be doubled 
to me." 

No creature could less value money for its own sake than 
did -Laura. All her wealth, the fruit of so much labour and 
anxiety, would not have purchased the attire of a fashion- 
able lady for one evening. She, who had been accus- 
tomed to wander in happy freedom among her native hills, 
was imprisoned amidst the smoke and dust of a city. 
Without a companion, almost without an acquaintance to 
invigorate her spirits for the task, it was her province to 
revive the fainting hopes, and beguile the tedium of her 
father, who was depressed by disappointment in his pur- 
suits, and disconcerted by the absence of his accustomed 
employments. She was at a distance from the object, not 
only of a tender affection, but of a romantic passion, a 
passion, ardent in proportion as its object was indebted to 
her imagination for his power. Scarce three months had 
elapsed since the depravity of this idolised being had burst 
on her in "thunder ; the thought of it was still daggers to 
her heart, and it was very doubtful whether he ever could 
give such proofs of reformation as might make it safe for 
her to restore him to his place in her regard. Yet be it 
known to all who, from similar circumstances, feel entitled 



SELF-CONTROL. 91 

to fancy themselves miserable, and thus (if they live with 
heings of common humanity) make others really so, that 
no woman ever passed an evening in more heartfelt content, 
than Laura did that which our history is now recording. 
She did, indeed, possess that which, next to the overflow- 
ings of a pious heart, confers the purest happiness on this 
side Heaven. She felt that she was USEFUL. Nay, in 
one respect the consciousness of a successful discharge of 
duty has the advantage over the fervours of devotion ; for 
Providence, wise in its bounty, has decreed, that while 
these foretastes of heavenly rapture are transient, lest their 
delights should detach us from the business of life, we are 
invited to a religious practice by the permanence of its joys. 



CHAPTER XI. 

CAPTAIN MONTREVILLE and his daughter were engaged in 
a friendly contest on the subject of a companion for the 
picture, when De Courcy made his visit. Though, as he 
entered the room, something unfashionably like a blush 
visited his face, his manner was free from rustic embar- 
rassment. " I believe," said he, advancing towards Cap- 
tain Montreville, " I must apologise for the intrusion of a 
stranger. My person must have outgrown your recollection. 
My name, I hope, has been more fortunate. It is De 
Courcy." 

" The son, I presume, of Major de Courcy," said Mon- 
treville, cordially extending his hand to him. 

" Yes," replied Montague, heartily taking the offered 
hand ; <e the same whose childhood was indebted to you 
for so many of its pleasures." 

" My old friend Montague !" cried the Captain, " though 
your present form is new to me, I remember my lovely 
little noble-spirited playfellow with an interest which I 
have never felt in any other child except this girl." 

," And who knows," said De Courcy, turning to Laura 



92 SELF-CONTROL. 

with a smile, e( who knows what cause I may find to rue 
that Miss Montreville is past the age when I might have 
repaid her father's kindness by assiduities to her doll ? " 

ff That return," said Laura, colouring, as she recollected 
her late champion, " would not have been quite so arduous 
as the one you have already made. I hope you have had 
no further trouble with those rude people 1 ." 

" No, madam," answered De Courcy, " nor did I ex- 
pect it ; the spirits which are so insolent where they dare, 
are submissive enough where they must." Laura now ex- 
plained to her father her obligation to De Courcy ; and the 
Captain having thanked him for his interference, the con- 
versation took a general turn. 

Elated as he was with the successful industry and genius 
of his child, and pleased with the attentions of the son of 
his friend., the spirits of Montreville rose higher than they 
had ever done since his arrival in London. Won by the 
happy mixture of familiarity and respect, of spirit and 
gentleness, which distinguished the manners of De Courcy, 
the Captain became cheerful, and Laura almost talkative : 
the conversation rose from easy to animated, from animated 
to gay ; and two hours had passed before any of the party 
was aware that one fourth of that time was gone. Laura's 
general reserve with strangers seemed to have forsaken her 
while she conversed with De Courcy. 

But De Courcy was not a stranger. By character she 
knew him well. Hargrave had mentioned to her his inti- 
macy with De Courcy. Nay, De Courcy had, at the hazard 
of his life, saved the life of Hargrave. Laura had heard her 
lover dwell with the eloquence of gratitude upon the cou- 
rage, the presence of mind, with which (while others, con- 
founded by his danger, or fearing for their own safety, left 
him to perish without aid,) De Courcy had seized a fisher's 
net, and, binding one end of it to a tree, the other to his 
body, had plunged into the water, and intercepted Hargrave, 
just as the stream was hurrying him to the brink of a tre- 
mendous fall. " All struggle was in vain," had Hargrave 
said to the breathless Laura ; " but for that noble fellow, 
that minute would have been my last, and I should have 
died without awakening this interest so dear to my heart," 



SELF-CONTROL. 

" I wish I could see this De Courcy," had Laura fervently 
exclaimed. " Heaven forbid ! " had been the hasty reply ; 
" for your habits, your pursuits, your sentiments are so 
similar, that he would gain without labour, perhaps without 
a wish, the heart that has cost me such anxious toil." A 
recollection of this dialogue stole into the mind of Laura, 
as De Courcy was expressing an opinion which, though not 
a common one, coincided exactly with her own. For a 
moment she was absent and thoughtful ; but De Courcy 
continued the conversation, and she resumed her gaiety. 

When unwillingly at last he rose to take his leave, Cap- 
tain Montreville detained him while he made some friendly 
enquiries into the history of the family for the last twenty 
years. As the questions of the Captain, however, were not 
impertinently minute, nor the answers of De Courcy very 
copious, it may not be improper to supply what was wanting 
in the narrative. 

Major de Courcy was the representative of a family who 
could trace their descent from the time of the Conqueror, 
an advantage which they valued above the hereditary pos- 
sessions of their fathers j and if an advantage ought to be 
estimated by its durability, they were in the right ; for the 
former, of necessity, was improved by time ; the latter 
seemed tending towards decline. Frederick de Courcy was 
suffered to follow his inclinations in entering the army; 
because that was the profession the most suitable to the dig- 
nity of an ancient house. That it was of all professions the 
least likely to improve his fortune, was a consideration 
equally despised by his father and by himself. When he at- 
tained his seventeenth year, a commission was purchased 
for him. Stored with counsels, sufficient, if he followed 
them, to conduct him to wisdom and happiness, and with 
money sufficient to make these counsels of no avail, he set 
out from his paternal house to join his regiment. Thus 
was De Courcy, in his dangerous passage from youth to 
manhood, committed to the guidance of example, and the 
discretion belonging to his years ; fortified, indeed, by the 
injunctions of his parents, and his own resolutions, never to 
disgrace his descent. But this bulwark, he soon found, was 
too weak to resist the number and variety of the wea- 



Q4> SELF-CONTROL. 

pons which attacked him. The shafts of ridicule assailed 
him ; his own passions took up arms ; his pride itself turned 
against him. Unable to resist with vigour., he ceased to re- 
sist at all ; and was hurried into every folly in which his 
companions wished for the assistance of his purse, or for the 
countenance of his example. 

His father's liberal allowance was soon insufficient to 
supply his extravagance. He contracted debts. After se- 
vere but well merited reproof, his father paid them ; and 
De Courcy promised amendment. A whole week of strict 
sobriety ensued ; and the young soldier was convinced that 
his resolution was immutable. And so he would probably 
have found it, if now, for the first time since man was 
made, temptation had become weaker by victory, or virtue 
stronger by defeat. But though he had tasted the glittering 
bait of folly, and though he at times confessed its insipidity, 
the same lure again prevailed, and De Courcy was again 
entangled in pecuniary embarrassments. What was to be 
done? His father had declared his irrevocable determi- 
nation no further to injure the interests of his younger 
children by supplying the prodigality of the eldest. By the 
advice of a veteran in profusion, De Courcy had recourse to 
Jews. As it was in his father's power to disinherit him, it 
was necessary to conceal these transactions ; and the high 
spirit of Frederick was compelled to submit to all the eva- 
sions, embarrassments, and wretchedness which attend a 
clandestine course of action. 

Often did he illustrate the trite observation that no life is 
more remote from happiness than a life of pleasure. The 
reward of all his labour was satiety ; the wages of all his 
self-reproach were the applauses of the thoughtless for his 
spirit the lamentations of the wise, that an honourable 
mind should be so perverted. In his twenty-second year, 
his father's death left him at liberty to pay his old debts, 
and to contract new. That which has preserved the virtue 
of many young men, prevented the total ruin of De Courcy. 
He became attached to a virtuous woman ; and influenced 
much by inclination, more by the wishes of her friends, she 
married him. 

Mrs. de Courcy brought no dower except the beauty 



SELF-CONTROL. 9^ 

which had captivated her husband, the sweetness which 
prolonged her power, and the good sense which made that 
power useful. She therefore did not think herself entitled 
to remonstrate very warmly on the negligence that appeared 
in the conduct of her husband's affairs ; and it was not till 
after she became a mother that she judged it proper to in- 
terfere. Her gentle remonstrances, however, procured little 
effect beyond promises and vague resolutions, that at some 
ff convenient season " the Major would examine into the real 
state of his fortune. 

Accident at last befriended her endeavours. Soon after 
the birth of her second child (a daughter), a demand was 
made on De Courcy for a debt which he had not the means 
of discharging. He could not apply to the Jew ; for he had 
solemnly pledged his word to Mrs. de Courcy, that he 
would never more have recourse to that ruinous expedient. 
He was discussing with his wife the possibility of procuring 
the money by a new mortgage, while Montague, then a 
child of four years old, was playing in the room. Struck by 
the melancholy tone of his mother's voice, the child forsook 
his play, and taking hold of her gown, looked anxiously 
from one mournful face to the other. " I am as averse to it 
as you can be, my dear," said the Major, "but there is no 
other way of raising the money." " Wait till I am a man, 
papa," said the child, " and then "Betty says, I shall have 
a good two thousand pounds a-year, and I will give it all to 
you. And here," added he, searching his little pocket, 
" here is my pretty shilling that Captain Montreville gave 
me ; take it, and don't look sorry any more." Mrs. de 
Courcy passionately loved this child. Overcome by the 
feeling of the moment, she clasped him in her arms. " My 
poor wronged child ! " she exclaimed, and burst into tears. 

These were the first words of bitterness which Major de 
Courcy had ever heard from her lips ; and overcome by 
them, and by her tears, he gave her a hasty promise, that 
he would, that very hour, begin the examination of his 
affairs. Sensible of her advantage, she permitted not his 
purpose to slumber, but persuaded him to a full enquiry into 
the extent of his debts ; and in order to remove him from 



yO SELF-CONTROL. 

future temptations, she prevailed on him to sell his com- 
mission, and reside at his paternal Norwood. 

After selling so much of his estate as to clear the re- 
mainder from all encumbrance, he found his income di- 
minished to little more than a third of its original extent. 
His family pride reviving at the sight of the halls of his 
fathers, and a better affection awakening in his intercourse 
with the descendants of those whom his ancestors had pro- 
tected, he determined to guard against the possibility of 
Norwood and its tenants being transferred to strangers, and 
entailed the remains of his property on Montague de 
Courcy, in the strictest forms of English law. For Mrs. 
de Courcy he made but a slender provision. For his 
daughter he made none : but he determined to save from 
his income a sum sufficient to supply this deficiency. He 
was still a young man, and never thought of doubting whe- 
ther he might live long enough to accomplish his design, or 
whether the man who had found an income of 20001. 
a-year too small for his necessities, might be able to make 
savings from one of 800/. In spite of the soberness of the 
establishment, which, during the novelty of his reform, he 
allowed Mrs. de Courcy to arrange, he continued to find 
uses for all the money he could command. His fields 
wanted enclosing ; his house needed repairs ; his son's edu- 
cation was an increasing expense ; and he died while Mon- 
tague was yet a boy, without having realised any part of his 
plans in favour of his daughter. 

He left the highest testimony to the understanding and 
worth of Mrs. de Courcy, by making her the sole guardian 
of his children ; and the steady rectitude and propriety of 
her conduct justified his confidence. Aware of the radical 
defect of every mode of education which neglects or severs 
the domestic tie, yet convinced that the house where/he was 
master, and the dependents whom he could comman^, were 
dangerous scenes and companions for a youth of Mon- 
tague's spirit, she committed him to the care of a clergy- 
man whose residence was a few miles distant from Norwood, 
and who also took charge of four other boys of about the 
same age. 

This gentleman was admirably fitted for his trust ; for 



SELF-CONTROL. 97 

he had a cultivated understanding, an affectionate heart, 
sound piety, and a calm but inflexible temper. Add to 
which, he had travelled, and, in his youth, associated much 
with men of rank, and more with men of talents ; though, 
since he had become a pastor, the range of his moral ob- 
servation had been narrowed to the hearts of a few simple 
villagers, which were open to him as to their father and 
their friend. The boys studied and played together ; but 
they had each a separate apartment ; for Mr. Wentworth 
had himself been educated at a public school, and never 
recollected, without shuddering, the hour when his youthful 
modesty first had shrunk from sharing his bed with a 
stranger, and when the prayer for his parents, which he 
was mingling with his tears, had been disturbed by the 
jokes of a little rabble. 

Every Saturday did Montague bend his joyful course 
homewards, regardless of summer's heat or winter storms. 
Every Sunday did his mother spend in mixing the lessons 
of piety with the endearments of love ; in striving to con- 
nect the idea of a superintending God with all that is 
beautiful all that is majestic in nature. As her chil- 
dren grew up, she unfolded to them the peculiar doctrines 
of Christianity, so sublime, so consolatory, so suitable to 
the wants of man. Aware how much occasion favours the 
strength of impressions, she chose the hour of strong re- 
morse on account of a youthful fault, while the culprit yet 
trembled before the offended Majesty of Heaven, to explain 
to her son the impossibility that repentance should of itself 
cancel errors past, or that the great Lawgiver should accept 
a few ineffectual tears, or a tardy and imperfect obedience, 
as a compensation for the breach of a law which is perfect. 
When she saw that the intended impression was made, she 
spoke of the great atonement which once was offered, not 
to make repentance unnecessary, but to make it effectual ; 
and, from that time, using this as one of the great land- 
marks of faith, she contributed to render it in the mind 
of De Courcy a practical and abiding principle. The pe- 
culiar precepts of Christianity she taught him to apply to 
his actions, by applying them herself ; and the praise which 
is so often lavished upon boldness, dexterity, and spirit, she 



98 SELF-CONTROL. 

conscientiously reserved for acts of candour,, humility, and 
self-denial. 

Her cares were amply rewarded, and Montague became 
all that she wished him to be. He was a Christian from 
the heart, without being either forward to claim, or ashamed 
to own, the distinction. He was industrious in his pur- 
suits, and simple in his pleasures. But the distinctive feature 
of his character, was the total absence of selfishness. His 
own pleasure or his own amusement he never hesitated to 
sacrifice to the wishes of others ; or, to speak more correctly, 
he found his pleasure and amusement in theirs. Upon the 
whole, we do not say that Montague de Courcy had no 
faults, but we are sure he had none which he did not strive 
to conquer. Like other human beings, he sometimes acted 
wrong ; but we believe he would not deliberately have neg- 
lected a known duty to escape any worldly misfortune ; we 
are sure he would not deliberately have committed a crime 
to attain any earthly advantage. 

Desirous that her darling should enjoy the benefits of the 
most liberal education, yet afraid to trust him to the tempt- 
ations of an English university, Mrs. de Courcy went for 
some years to reside in Edinburgh during the winter in 
summer she returned with her family to Norwood. To his 
private studies, and his paternal home, Montague returned 
with ever new delight ; for his tastes and his habits were 
all domestic. He had no ambitious wishes to lure him from 
his retreat, for his wants were even more moderate than his 
fortune. Except in so far as he could make it useful to 
others, he had no value for money, nor for any thing that 
money could buy, exclusive of the necessaries of life, books, 
and implements of chemistry. The profession which he had 
chosen, was that of improving and embellishing his estate ; 
and, in the tranquil pleasures of a country gentleman, a man 
of taste, a classical scholar, and a chemist, he found means 
to occupy himself without injury to his health, his morals, 
or his fortune. His favourite amusements were drawing 
and physiognomy ; and, like other favourites, these w r ere 
sometimes in danger of making encroachments, and ad- 
vancing into the rank of higher concerns. But this he 



SELF-CONTROL, 99 

prevented by an exact distribution of his time, to which 
he resolutely adhered. 

With his mother and his sister he lived in the most per- 
fect harmony, though the young lady had the reputation of 
wit, and was certainly a little addicted to sarcasm. But 
she was in other respects amiable, and incapable of doing 
any tiling to offend her brother, whose indignation indeed 
never rose unless against cruelty, meanness, or deceit. 

De Courcy had just entered his twenty-fifth year, when 
a rheumatic fever deprived his mother of the use of her 
limbs ; and, forsaking all his employments, he had quitted 
his beloved Norwood to attend her in London, whither she 
had come for the benefit of medical advice. He had been 
but a few days in town when he met with Miss Montreville, 
and the impression which her beauty made, the second 
interview tended to confirm. 

Montague had never, even in imagination, been in love. 
The regulation of his passions, the improvement of his 
mind, and the care of his property, had hitherto left him 
no leisure for the tender folly. He had scarcely ever 
thought of a young woman's face, except with a reference 
to Lavater's opinion, or of her manners, except to wonder 
how she could be so obtrusive. But, in contemplating 
Laura's face, he forgot the rules of the physiognomist ; 
.and, in the interesting reserve of her manners, he found 
continually something to desire. If, at the close of his visit, 
he was not in love, he was at least in a fair way for being 
so. He was assailed at once by beauty, grace, good sense, 
and sweetness ; and to these Laura added the singular 
charm of being wholly insensible to their effects upon the 
beholder. No side-glance was sent in search of admiration ; 
no care was taken to compose her drapery ; no look of 
triumph accompanied her judicious remarks ; no parade of 
sensibility disgraced her tenderness. Every charm was 
heightened by a matchless absence of all design ; and 
against this formidable battery had poor De Courcy to 
make his stand, just at the inauspicious hour when, for the 
first time in his life, .he had nothing else to do. 



H 2 



100 SELF-CONTROL. 



CHAPTER XII. 

As soon as De Courcy was gone, Captain Montreville 
launched out warmly in his praise. Laura joined in the 
eulogium ; and, the next moment, forgot that there was such 
a person in existence, when she read a letter from Mrs. 
Douglas, of which the following is a part : 

" Before this reaches you, Colonel Hargrave will be far 
on his way to London. It is possible that you may have 
no interest in this journey ; but, lest you should, I wish to 
prevent your being taken by surprise. Since your departure 
he has repeatedly visited us ; and endeavoured, both di- 
rectly and indirectly, to discover your address. Perhaps 
you will think my caution ill-timed ; but I acted according 
to my best judgment, in avoiding to comply with his de- 
sire. I think, however, that he has elsewhere procured 
the information he wanted; for his features wore an air of 
triumph, as he asked my commands for you. 

" Dear child of my affections, richly endowed as you are 
with the dangerous gift of beauty, you have hitherto es- 
caped, as if by miracle, from the snares of folly and frivolity. 
My heart's prayer for you is, that you may be as safe from 
the dangers which await you/ in the passions of others, and 
in the tenderness of your own heart. But, alas ! my be- 
loved Laura, distant as I am from you, ignorant as I am of 
the peculiarities of your situation, I can only pray for you. 
I fear to express my conjectures, lest I should seem to 
extort your confidence. I fear to caution, lest I should 
shock or offend you. Yet let me remind you, that it is 
easier, by one bold effort, to reject temptation, than to re- 
sist its continued allurements. Effectually to bar .the access 
of the tempter may cost a painful effort to parley with 
him is destruction. But I must stop. Tears of anxious 
affection blot out what I have written. 

" E. DOUGLAS." 



SELF-CONTROL. 101 

The joyful expectation of seeing Hargrave filled for a. 
time the heart of Laura, and left 110 room for other 
thoughts. The first that found entrance was of a less pleasing 
cast. She perceived that Mrs. Douglas suspected Hargrave 
of the baseness of deliberate seduction : and, with a feel- 
ing of indignation, she collected her writing materials, and 
sat down to exculpate him. But, as she again read her 
friend's expressions of affection, and considered how little 
the suspicion was remote from the truth, she accused her- 
self of ingratitude and injustice in giving way to any thing 
like resentment. She thanked Mrs. Douglas for her cau- 
tions : but assured her that the proposals of Hargrave were 
honourable, unequivocal, and sanctioned by her father ; that 
they had been rejected by herself; and, therefore, that no 
motive, except that of vindicating him from an unfounded 
suspicion, should have tempted her to betray, even to her 
most confidential friend, a secret which she thought a 
woman bound, both in delicacy and in honour, to keep in-, 
violable. She did not once hint at the cause of her re- 
jecting an offer so splendid, nor, except hy the warmth with 
which she defended her lover, did she show a trace of the 
inclination which she had so nobly sacrificed to virtue. For, 
though she felt that her story would have raised her in her 
friend's esteem, she scorned to purchase that advantage at 
the expense of another, and retained all her aversion to ex- 
posing the faults of Hargrave. , 

Having finished her letter, she returned to the more 
agreeable subject of contemplation, and began to calculate 
upon the time when she might expect to see the Colonel. 
Her conclusion was, that he would probably visit her on the, 
following day, and her heart throbbed with delight at the 
prospect. 

But from the dream of joy, Laura soon returned to the 
more habitual consideration of the line of conduct which it 
was fit that she should pursue. She saw the folly of com- 
mitting her happiness to the guardianship of one whose : 
passions were his masters ; and, while it was her daily 
prayer that she might not be led into temptation, her con-, 
science revolted from trusting her conduct to the guidance,, 
her virtue to the example,, of a man whose principles were 
H 3 



1 02 SELF-CONTROL. 

doubtful. For Laura's virtue was not of that saint-errant 
kind which sallies forth in quest of opportunities to signalise 
itself, and inflames its pride by meditation on the wonders it 
would achieve,, if placed in perilous situations. Distrustful 
of herself watchful to avoid occasions of falling she had 
no ambition for the dangerous glory of reforming a rake 
into a good husband. She therefore adhered to her deter- 
mination, that she would not consent to a union with her 
lover, till, by a course of virtuous conduct, he had given 
proof that his offence had been the sudden fault of a mo- 
ment, not the deliberate purpose of a corrupted heart. 

Yet even in this mitigated view, the recollection was 
poison to the soul of Laura. The painful thought was far 
from new to her, that the passion of Hargrave was a tribute 
to her personal charms alone. With such a passion, even 
were its continuance possible, Laura felt that she could not 
be satisfied. To be the object of it degraded her in her own 
eyes. " No, no," she exclaimed, covering her face with her 
hands, " let me not even legally occupy only the place which 
the vilest might fill. If I cannot be the friend, the com- 
panion, as well as the mistress, better, far better were it, 
that we should part for ever." 

No labour is sufficient to acquaint us fully with our own 
hearts. It never occurred to Laura, that she was, as much 
as Hargrave, the captive of mere externals ; and that his 
character would never have deceived her penetration, had it 
been exhibited in the person of a little red-haired man, with 
bandy legs, who spoke broad Scotch, and smoked tobacco. 
Till the hour when he had himself dispelled the illusion, 
the character of Hargrave, such as she chose to imagine it, 
had been to her a theme of the most delightful contem- 
plation; and to its fascinations she had willingly and entirely 
resigned herself. The disguise, which was rather the ex- 
cuse than the cause of her passion, had been dropped in part; 
yet the passion was as strong as ever. It was, indeed, no 
longer pleasing, no longer blind, no longer paramount ; for 
her reason, which had before been silent, was now permitted 
to speak, and though it was unable to conquer, it could con- 
trol. She anticipated the vehemence with which Hargrave 
would urge her to shorten the term of his probation, and 



SELF-CONTROL. 103 

she feared that she should find it difficult,, perhaps impos- 
sible, to resist his entreaties. She would not, therefore, 
expose her prudence to too severe a trial. " Yes," said she, 
" I will bar the access of the tempter. I will see Hargrave 
only once, and that shall be to bid him farewell, till the 
stipulated two years are finished. If he really loves me, 
his affection will survive absence. If it fail in the trial, I 
may, though lost to happiness, find in my solitude a peace 
which never can visit a neglected wife." 

This philosophic conclusion was the fruit of her medi- 
tations during a restless night ; and having worked herself, 
as she thought, into a temper decorously relentless, she pro- 
ceeded, with all the consistency of her sex, to adorn her 
person with a care she had never before bestowed upon it. 
She arranged every curl for effect; chose a dress which 
showed to advantage the graceful slope of her shoulders ; 
and heightened the whiteness of her neck and arms, by 
contrasting it with fillets of jet. Though she was but in- 
differently pleased with her success, it proved sufficient for 
her occasions. The day passed away, and Hargrave did 
not appear. Laura was disappointed, but not surprised; 
for it was barely possible that he could have reached London 
on that day. On the succeeding one she thought it likely 
that he might come; but the succeeding one was equally 
barren of event. 

On the third she was certain that he would arrive ; 
and, when breakfast was over, she seated herself in expect- 
ation at the window of the front parlour, started if a carriage 
stopped, and listened to every voice that sounded from be- 
low stairs. Half-desirous to escape her father's observation, 
half- wishing that her interview with Hargrave should be 
without witnesses, she persuaded Captain Montreville to go 
and pay his respects to Mrs. de Courcy. Anxiously she 
waited, conjectured, doubted, reconsulted Mrs. Douglas's 
letter. The Captain returned ; the hours of visiting passed 
away ; and still no Hargrave came. 

Unwilling to own, even to herself, the extent of her anxiety 

and disappointment, Laura talked to her father of his visit, 

with which he had been highly pleased. He had been 

amused with Harriet ; charmed with Mrs. de Courcy; and 

H 4 



104 SELF-CONTROL. 

doubly charmed with Montague, whom he praised as a 
scholar and a man of sense, as an affectionate brother and a 
respectful son ; and to crown all these commendations, he 
declared, that De Courcy was more than a match for himself 
at chess. 

When they retired for the night, Laura returned to her 
conjectures on the cause of Hargrave's delay. She consi- 
dered that he might have been detained on the road, or might 
have found it necessary to make a visit on his way. She 
had little doubt, that to see her was the object of his journey 
to London, at this unfashionable season. She had none, 
that he would hurry to her the first moment that it was 
possible. By degrees, she persuaded herself into an absolute 
certainty that she should see him on the following day; and 
on that day, she again took her anxious station in the parlour. 

She was ashamed to lean over the window, and could not 
otherwise see who entered the house ; but she left the room 
door a-jar, that she might have warning of his approach, 
held her breath to distinguish the voices from below, and 
listened eagerly to every footstep. At last, she imagined 
that she heard the wished-for enquiry. She was sure some 
one pronounced her name. A man's step ascended the stair; 
Laura trembled and her breath came short. She feared to 
look up, and leaned her face on her hand to conceal her 
emotion. 

The voice of her visitor made her start, and turn her 
head. It was Warren ! . 

Expectation had been wound up to its highest pitch, and 
Laura could not instantly recover herself. She paid her com- 
pliments with a confusion and trepidation, which Warren 
interpreted in a way most flattering to his vanity. He ap- 
proached her with a look, in which ill-suppressed triumph 
contended with laboured condescension ; and spoke to her 
in a voice that seemed to say, " Pray, endeavour to re-assure 
yourself." But Laura was in no humour to endure his 
impertinence, and she seized the first opportunity to leave 
the room. 

Captain Montreville soon entered on the business in 
which he took such painful interest, by enquiring whether 
any traces had been discovered of the sale of his daughter's. 



SELF-CONTROL. 105 

annuity. Warren, with abundance of regret and condolence, 
informed him, that Williams had as yet been able to dis- 
cover no mention of the transaction in the books. 

This assertion was so far true, that Williams had as yet 
seen no record of the business in question ; for which Mr. 
Warren could, if he had chosen, have given a very satis- 
factory reason. From the moment this gentleman had first 
seen Laura, he had been determined not wilfully to expedite 
her departure from London ; and therefore he had casually 
dropped a hint to his solicitor, that, as he was already over- 
whelmed with a multitude of affairs, it was unnecessary to 
hasten a concern of such trivial importance ; and that he 
might defer enquiring into the sale of the annuity till he was 
at perfect leisure. Had he insinuated to Williams, that 
this delay was detaining from his home a man who could 
ill afford the consequent expense, or that it was alarming a 
father for the future subsistence of his only child, the attor- 
ney would have found leisure to investigate the matter, even 
if he had subtracted the necessary time from his hours of 
rest. But the upright Mr. Warren had given no such inti- 
mation ; and in this honourable transaction, he was, for the 
present, secure from detection, for he knew that business 
had called his agent to a distance from London. 

Captain Montreville knew not what to think. He could 
not doubt the integrity of Mr. Baynard, nor could he ima- 
gine to what purpose Warren should deny the transaction; 
since, if it had really taken place, the vouchers of it must 
be found among his deceased friend's papers. He was per- 
suaded that to examine the books according to the date of 
the sale, could be the work of only a few hours ; and again 
he enquired whether the necessary examination had been 
made. Mr. Warren answered, that he could not take it upon 
him to say that every possible search had yet been made ; 
but his agent, he said, had examined all the most probable 
records of the concern, and would, on his return to town, 
make a still more particular scrutiny. 

With this unsatisfactory answer, Captain Montreville 
was obliged to content himself. He had only one alter- 
native either to wait in London the appointment of the 
person who was to arrange Mr. Baynard's papers, or to re- 



106 



SELF-CONTROL. 



turn to Scotland, and resign all hopes of the annuity. He 
feared, too, to offend Warren by urging him too strongly, 
since, even should a voucher of the payment of his 1500/. 
be found, the informality in the deed would still leave room 
for litigation. No merely personal interest would have 
induced the high spirit of Montreville to conciliate a man 
whom he despised as a fool and a coxcomb. For nothing 
that concerned himself alone would he have submitted to 
the trouble and anxiety which he had lately undergone. Ill 
calculated by nature to struggle with difficulties, he had long 
been accustomed to let the lesser disasters glide by without 
notice, and to sink, without effort, under the greater. Dis- 
appointed in the woman of his choice, and deprived, by her 
folly or perverseness, of the domestic pleasures which he 
loved, his mind had taken a cast of melancholy. Early 
secluded from society, and tormented by the temper of his 
wife, he had concentrated all the affections which solitude 
confined, and caprice rejected, upon one object, and Laura 
became the passion of his soul. The thought of leaving 
her destitute, of leaving her sensibility to the scorns, her 
beauty to the temptations of poverty, was more than he 
could bear, and it sometimes almost overpowered him. He 
was naturally inclined to indolence, and as, like all indolent 
people he was the creature of habit, his spirits had suffered 
much from the loss of the woman, who, though too heart- 
less for a friend, and too bitter for a companion, had for 
twenty years served him as a sort of stimulus. The same 
force of habit, joined to her improving graces and confirm- 
ing worth, made Laura daily more dear to him, and he 
would willingly have given his life to secure her independ- 
ence and happiness. 

Brooding on the obscurity in which she must remain, 
whom he judged worthy to adorn the highest station on 
the poverty which awaited her during his life on the want 
to which his death must consign her removed from his 
habitual occupations, and deprived of the wholesome air 
and exhilarating exercises to which he had been so long 
accustomed, he allowed his spirits to grow daily more 
depressed. Along with the idea of the misfortunes which 
his death would bring upon his darling, the fear of death 



SELF-CONTROL. 107 

settled on his mind. The little ailments to which the se- 
dentary are liable, he magnified into the symptoms of 
mortal disease; and momentary pain seemed to his fancy 
to foretell sudden dissolution. Montreville was fast sinking 
into a melancholy hypochondriac. 

His daughter's spirits, too, failed under continued ex- 
pectation, and continued disappointment ; for day after day 
passed on, and still Hargrave came not. Her father's de- 
jection increased her own, and her ill-disguised depression 
had a similar effect upon him. While, however, Captain 
Montreville gave way without effort to his feelings, the 
more vigorous mind of Laura struggled to suppress the sor- 
row which she saw was contagious. She sometimes pre- 
vailed upon her father to seek amusement abroad, sometimes 
endeavoured to amuse him at home. She read to him, sung 
to him, exerted all her conversationla talent to entertain 
him; and, often, when all was in vain, when he would 
answer her by forced smiles, languid gestures, or heavy 
sighs, she would turn aside to wipe the tears from her eyes, 
then smile and attempt her task again. 

In these labours she had now, it is true, the assistance 
of an intelligent companion. De Courcy came often ; and 
the Captain seemed to receive a pleasure from his visits, 
which even Laura's efforts could not bestow. The tender- 
ness of his child, indeed, appeared sometimes to overpower 
him : for, when she was exerting herself to divert his me- 
lancholy, he would gaze upon her for a while in an agony 
of fondness, then suddenly desire to be left alone, and dis- 
miss her from his presence. But De Courcy 's attentions 
seemed always welcome. He soothed the irritated mind 
with respectful assiduities he felt for its sickly sensibility 
and, though ignorant of the cause of Montreville's de- 
jection, found in alleviating it a pleasure, which was 
more than doubled by the undisguised approbation and 
gratitude of Laura. 

His sister, too, came to visit Miss Montreville, and, 
apologising for her mother, who was unable to accompany 
her, brought an invitation for the Captain and his daughter 
to dine in Audley Street. Laura, in hopes of amusing her 
father, prevailed on him to accept the invitation ; and an 



108 SELF-CONTROL. 

early day was fixed for the visit. She was pleased with the 
frankness and gaiety of Harriet's manner, and her curiosity 
was roused by Captain Montreville's praises of Mrs. de 
Courcy. 

The day arrived, and Laura prepared to accompany her 
father, not without trepidation at the thought of entering, 
for the first time in her life, a room which she expected to 
find full of strangers. When she had finished dressing, he 
examined her with triumph, and thought that nothing in 
nature was so perfect. The thought was legible in his 
countenance, and Laura, with great simplicity, answered to 
it as if had been spoken. " Except to please you," said 
she, " I wish I had been neither tall nor pretty, for then I 
should have been allowed to move about without notice." 
t( Then, too," thought she with a heavy sigh, " I should 
have been loved for myself, and not have been perhaps for- 
gotten." 

Laura was not ignorant of her own beauty, but no hu- 
man being could less value the distinction. She was aware 
of the regularity of her features ; but as she never used a 
looking-glass, unless for the obvious purpose of arranging 
her dress, she was insensible of the celestial charm which 
expression added to her face. The seriousness and dignity 
of her manners made it difficult to address her with com- 
mon-place compliment ; and she had accordingly never ex- 
perienced any effect of her beauty, but one which was 
altogether disagreeable to her, that of attracting notice. To 
being the subject of observation, Laura retained that Cale- 
donian dislike which once distinguished her country- 
women, before they were polished into that glitter which 
attracts the vulgar, and paid for the acquisition by losing 
the timidity which, like the aerugo of ancient coin, adds 
value in the eye of taste to intrinsic worth, while it shields 
even baser merit from contempt. 

Laura's courage failed her when, throwing open the door 
of a large room, Mrs. de Courcy 's servant announced Cap- 
tain and Miss Montreville. But she revived when she 
perceived that the company consisted only of the mistress 
of the house, her son and daughter. Mrs. de Courcy 's 
appearance seemed to Laura very prepossessing. She still 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 

wore the dress of a widow ; and her countenance bore the 
traces of what is called a green old age ; for though the 
hair that shaded her commanding forehead was silver white, 
her dark eyes retained their brightness; and though her 
complexion was pale, it glowed at times with the roses of 
youth. The expression of her face, which was serious even 
to solemnity, brightened with a smile of inexpressible be- 
nevolence, as she received her guests; and, even in the 
difficulty with which she appeared to move, Laura found 
somewhat interesting. Her air and manners, without 
a tincture of fashion, spoke the gentlewoman. Her dress, 
her person, her demeanour, every thing about her seemed 
consistently respectable. 

The dinner was plain, but excellent. The few indis- 
pensable pieces of plate were antique and massive ; and the 
only attendant who appeared, seemed to have grown grey 
in the service of the family. Laura had pleasure in 
observing, that the reverence with which this old man 
addressed his lady, softened into affectionate solicitude to 
please when he attended De Courcy, who, in his turn, 
seemed to treat him with the most considerate gentle- 
ness. 

Mrs. de Courcy behaved to Laura with distinguished 
politeness ; addressed her often ; endeavoured to draw forth 
her latent powers; and soon made her sensible that the 
impression she had given, was no less favourable than that 
which she had received. Montague's conversation had its 
accustomed effect on Montreville, and the lively Harriet 
gave spirit to the whole. The evening passed most agree- 
ably ; and Laura was sorry when the hour of separation 
arrived. Mrs. de Courcy courteously thanked her for her 
visit, and begged her to repeat it ; but Harriet sportively 
objected : " No, no," said she, " if you come back, you 
will not leave a heart among all the household even old 
John's seems in danger." 

"Well, mamma," continued she, when Laura was gone, 
{f what do you think of my brother's beauty ? " ' ' I think," 
said Mrs. de Courcy, " that Montague's praises did her no 
more than justice. She is the most lovely, the most ele- 
gant woman I ever saw." " She is no doubt beautiful and 



110 SELF-CONTROL. 

interesting/' returned Harriet ; ' ' but I must still think she 
has too much of the buckram of the old school to be ele- 
gant." Montague bit his lip, and tried, before he spoke, 
to ascertain that he was not angry. " You are too severe, 
Harriet," said Mrs. de Courcy. " Miss Montreville's re- 
serve is not stiffness it is not ' buckram ;' it is rather the 
graceful drapery, embellishing what it veils." " Mother," 
cried Montague, grasping her hand, " you have more can- 
dour, sense, and taste, than all the misses in England." 
" Oh ! pray, except Miss Montreville and the present com- 
pany," said Harriet, laughing. ce She, you know, is all 
perfection : and / have really candour, sense, and taste 
enough to admire her more than ever I did any woman, ex- 
cept my little self." De Courcy threw his arm round her 
" I see by that good-natured smile," said he, " that my 
clear Harriet has at least candour enough to pardon the 
folly of a wayward brother." And, for the rest of the 
evening, he treated her with even more than his usual at- 
tentive kindness. 

From this day Miss de Courcy frequently 'accompanied 
her brother on his visits to the Montrevilles, and Laura was 
a welcome guest in Audley Street. By degrees Mrs. de 
Courcy and she discovered the real worth of each other's 
character, and their mutual reserve entirely disappeared. 
Between Laura and De Courcy, almost from the first hour 
of their acquaintance, there seemed (to use the language 
of romance) a sympathy of souls; an expression which, 
if it has any meaning, must mean the facility with which 
simple, upright, undesigning mirds become intelligible to 
each other. Even the sarcastic Harriet found, in the chaste 
propriety of Laura's character, something to command re- 
spect ; and in her gentleness and warmth of heart, some- 
thing to engage affection ; while, in her ideas, which soli- 
tude had slightly tinged with romance, though strong sense 
had preserved them from absurdity, and in her language, 
which sometimes rose to the very verge of poetry, she 
found constantly somewhat to interest and amuse. 

Meanwhile Montreville's dejection seemed to increase ; 
and Laura's health and spirits, in spite of her efforts to sup- 
port them, daily declined. Hargrave did not appear, and 



SELF-CONTROL. Ill 

vainly did she endeavour to account for his absence. She 
at first conjectured that he had found it impossible to leave 
Scotland at the time he proposed ; but a second letter from 
Mrs. Douglas had mentioned his departure, and repeated 
the assurance that, however obtained, he had information 
of Laura's address, since he had undertaken to be the 
bearer of a letter from a neighbouring gentleman to Captain 
Montreville. 

She next supposed that he had stopped on the road, or 
quitted it on some errand of business or pleasure but a 
newspaper account of a fete champetre, at Lady Bellamer's 
elegant villa at Richmond, was graced, among other 
fashionable names, with that of the handsome Colonel 
Hargrave, nephew and heir of Lord Lincourt. No sup- 
position remained to be made, except the mortifying one, 
that three months of absence had erased her image from 
the fickle heart of Hargrave. She, who had herself con- 
signed her lover to a banishment of two years, could not 
bear that he should voluntarily undergo one of a few weeks. 
Nay, she had once herself resigned him; but to be herself 
resigned without effort, was more than she could endure. 
Her appetite, her sleep forsook her ; her ordinary employ- 
ments became irksome ; and even the picture, the price of 
which was so soon to be necessary, she had not spirits to 
finish. 

But one who was accustomed every night to examine 
the thoughts and actions of the day, was not likely to re- 
main long a prey to inactive melancholy. Not satisfied 
with languid efforts in the discharge of duty, she reproached 
herself for every failure. She upbraided herself as a wicked 
and slothful servant, who, when the means of usefulness 
were put within her power, suffered them to remain un- 
improved ; as a rebel who had deserted the service of her 
rightful master, to bow to the worse than Egyptian bondage 
of her passions. She accused herself of having given up 
her love, her wishes, her hopes and fears, almost her 
worship, to an idol ; and no sooner did this thought occur 
to the pious mind of Laura, than she became resigned to 
her loss. She even felt grateful with such gratitude as 



112 SELF-CONTROL. 

the wretch feels under the knife which amputates the 
morbid limb. 

Unused to let her self-reproaches pass without improve- 
ment, she resolved, by vigorous efforts, to become herself 
again. She even called in the aid of a decent pride. 
" Shall I," she cried, " who have vowed to overcome the 
world, I who have called myself by that glorious name, 
a Christian, sink from these honours into a love-sick girl ? 
Shall all my happiness, all my duties, the comfort of my 
father, the very means of his support, be sacrificed to a 
selfish passion ? Or is a love whose transient duration 
has proved its degenerate nature of such value to me, that 
I must repay it with my whole heart and soul ? " 

These reflections were not made at once, nor were they 
at once effectual : but, when made, they were called in as 
oft as the image of Hargrave intruded unbidden ; and 
constant and regular occupation was again employed to 
second their operation. The picture was again resorted 
to ; but, as it afforded rather an unsocial employment, and 
as Laura's company was more than every necessary to her 
father, it proceeded slowly. 

De Courcy was now a daily visiter. Sometimes he 
brought books, and would spend hours in reading aloud. 
Sometimes he would amuse the Captain and his daughter 
by experiments in his favourite science. With a gentle- 
ness peculiar to himself, he tried to prevent the little an- 
noyances to which hypochondriacs are subject. He invented 
a hundred little indulgences for the invalid ; and no day 
passed in which Montreville was not indebted for some 
comfort, or some amusement, to the considerate kindness 
of De Courcy. At times he would gently rally the Captain 
on his imaginary ailments, and sometimes prevailed on him 
to take an airing in Mrs. de Courcy 's carriage : though to 
such a height had fancy worked upon the invalid, that 
Montague found it impossible to persuade him that he was 
able to endure the fatigue of walking. 

To Laura, De Courcy 's behaviour, uniformly respectful 
and attentive, was sometimes even tender. But, accus- 
tomed to see love only in the impassioned looks of Har- 
grave, to hear its accents only in his words of fire, she did 



SELF-CONTROL. 113 

not recognise it in a new form ; and to consider De Courcy 
as a lover, never once entered her imagination. Captain 
Montreville was more clear-sighted ; and hence arose 
much of the pleasure which he took in De Courcy 's visits. 
Not that he was more knowing in the mysteries of love 
than his daughter ; but he took it for granted that no mor- 
tal could withstand her attractions ; and he was persuaded 
that Laura would not withhold her heart, where she so 
freely expressed approbation. This opinion was a proof 
of the justice of the Captain's former confession, " that 
women were creatures he did not understand." Laura had 
never praised Hargrave. She never shrunk from De 
Courcy's eye, she never felt embarrassed by his presence, 
she treated him with the frankness of a sister; and 
though she reserved her commendations for his absence, 
she waited only for that to bestow them with all the warmth 
which his own merit and his attention to her father could 
demand. 

Meanwhile Montreville did not, by a premature dis- 
closure of his hopes, endanger their completion ; and De 
Courcy continued unconsciously to foster in his bosom a 
passion ^which was destined to destroy his peace. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE picture at last was finished, and Laura herself accom- 
panied it to the print-shop. Wilkins immediately delivered 
to her the price, which, he said, had been for some time 
in his hands. It now occurred to Laura to ask who had 
been the purchaser of her work ? <c Why, ma'am," said 
Wilkins, " the gentleman desired me not to mention his 
name." "Indeed!" said Laura, surprised. "These 
were his orders, ma'am, but I shouldn't think there could 
be any great harm in telling it just to you, ma'am." te I 
have no wish to hear it," said Laura, with a look which 
compelled the confidant to unwilling discretion ; and again 
thanking him for the trouble he had taken, she returned 
i 



SELF-CONTROI/. 

home. The truth was,, that De Courcy had foreseen the 
probability of Laura's question ; and averse to he known 
to her under a character which savoured of patronage and 
protection, had forbidden the shopkeeper to mention who 
had purchased the pictures. 

Again did Laura, delighted, present to her father the 
produce of her labours, her warm heart glowing with the 
joys of usefulness. But not as formerly did he with plea- 
sure receive the gift. With the fretfulness of disease, he 
refused to share in her satisfaction. Through the gloom 
of melancholy, every object appeared distorted ; and Cap- 
tain Montreville saw in his daughter's well-earned treasure 
only the wages of degrading toil. 

" It is hard, very hard," said he, with a deep sigh, 
" that you, my lovely child, the descendant of such a 
family, should be dependent on your daily labour for your 
support." 

" Oh call it not hard, my dear father," cried Laura. 
", Thanks, a thousand thanks to your kind foresight, which, 
in teaching me this blessed art, secured to me the only 
real independence, by making me independent of all but 
my own exertions." 

" Child," said Montreville, fretfully, " there is an en- 
thusiasm about you which will draw you into ten thousand 
errors you are quite mistaken in fancying yourself in- 
dependent. Your boasted art depends upon the taste, the 
very caprice of the public for its reward; and you, of 
course, upon the same caprice for your very existence." 

" It is true," answered Laura, mildly, " that my success 
depends upon taste, and that the public taste is capricious ; 
but some, I should hope, will never be wanting, who can 
value and reward the labours of industry you observe,'* 
added she with a smile, " that I rest nothing upon genius." 

" Be that as it may," returned Captain Montreville, 
with increasing querulousness, " I cannot endure to see 
you degraded into an artist, and therefore I desire there 
may be no more of this traffic." 

This was the first time that Montreville had ever re- 
sorted to the method well known and approved by those 
persons of both sexes, who, being more accustomed to the 



SELF-CONTROL. 115 

exercise of authority than of argument,, choose to wield the 
weapon in the use of which practice has made them the 
most expert. Laura looked at him with affectionate con- 
cern. " Alas ! " thought she,, ' ( if bodily disease be piti- 
able, how far more deplorable are its ravages on the mind." 
But even if her father had been in perfect health, she 
would not have chosen the moment of irritation for reply. 
Deeply mortified at this unexpected prohibition, she yet 
endeavoured to consider it as only one of the transient ca- 
prices of illness, and to find pleasure in the thought, that 
the hour was come when De Courcy's daily visit would 
restore her father to some degree of cheerfulness. 

But De Courcy's visit made no one cheerful. He was 
himself melancholy and absent. He said he had only a 
few minutes to spare, yet lingered above an hour ; often 
rose to go, yet irresolutely resumed his seat. At last, start- 
ing up, he said, " the longer I remain here, the more 
unwilling I am to go ; and yet I must go, without even 
knowing when I may return." " Are you going to leave 
us ? " said Montreville, in a tone of despondency, " then 
we shall be solitary indeed." " I fear," said Laura, look- 
ing with kind solicitude in De Courcy's face, " that some- 
thing distressing calls you away." <( Distressing indeed," 
said De Courcy. " My excellent old friend Mr. Went- 
worth has lost his only son, and I must bear the news to 
the parents." " Is there no one but you to do this pain- 
ful office?" asked Montreville. "None," answered De 
Courcy, " on whom it could with such propriety fall. 
Wentworth was one of my earliest friends, he was my 
father's early friend. I owe him a thousand obligations ; 
and I would fain, if it be possible, soften this heavy blow. 
Besides," added he, endeavouring to speak more cheerfully, 
ff I have a selfish purpose to serve I want to see how a 
Christian bears misfortune." t( And can you fix no time 
for your return ? " asked the Captain, mournfully. De 
Courcy shook his head. " You will not return while your 
presence is necessary to Mr. Wentworth," said Laura, less 
anxious to regain De Courcy's society, than that he should 
support the character of benevolence with which her ima- 
gination had justly vested him. Grieved by the prospect 
i 2 



116 SELF-CONTROL. 

of losing his companion, fretted by an indefinite idea that 
he was wrong in his ungracious rejection of his daughter's 
efforts to serve him, ashamed of his distempered selfishness, 
yet unable to conquer it, Captain Montreville naturally 
became more peevish ; for the consciousness of having acted 
wrong, without the resolution to repair the fault, is what 
no temper can stand. te Your charity is mighty excursive, 
Laura," said he. " If Mr. de Courcy delay his return 
long, I shall probably not live to profit by it." Laura, 
whose sweetness no captious expressions could ruffle, 
would have spoken to turn her father's views to brighter 
prospects ; but the rising sob choked her voice, and cour- 
tesying hastily to De Courcy, she left the room. De 
Courcy now no longer found it difficult to depart. He 
soon bade the Captain farewell, promising to return as 
soon as it was possible, though he had no great faith in 
Montreville's dismal prediction, uttered in the true spirit 
of hypochondriasis, that he would come but to lay his head 
in the grave. 

As he was descending the stairs, Laura, who never 
forgot in selfish feeling to provide for the comforts of 
others, followed him, to beg that when he had leisure he 
would write to her father. Laura blushed and hesitated 
as she made this request, not because she had in making 
it any selfish motive whatever, but purely because she was 
unused to ask favours. Flattered by the request, but much 
more by her confusion, the countenance of De Courcy 
glowed with pleasure. " Certainly I shall write," said he, 
with great animation, " if you I mean if Captain Mon- 
treville wish it." These words, and the tone in which they 
were uttered, made Laura direct a look of enquiry to the 
speaker's face, where his thoughts were distinctly legible ; 
and she no sooner read them, than, stately and displeased, 
she drew back. " I believe it will give my father pleasure 
to hear from you, sir," said she, and coldly turned away. 
" Is there no man," thought she, " exempt from this des- 
picable vanity from the insignificant Warren to the 
respectable De Courcy?" Poor Montague would fain 
have besought her forgiveness for his presumption in sup- 
posing it possible that she could have any pleasure in hear- 



SELF-CONTROL. 117 

ing of him ; but the look with which she turned from him, 
left him no courage to speak to her again, and he mourn- 
fully pursued his way to Audley Street. 

He was scarcely gone when Warren called, and Laura, 
very little disposed for his company, took shelter in her 
own room. Her father, however, suffered no inconvenience 
from being left alone to the task of entertaining his visiter, 
for Warren found means to make the conversation suffi- 
ciently interesting. 

He began by lamenting the Captain's long detention from 
his home, and condoled with him upon the effects which 
London air had produced upon his health. He regretted 
that Mr. Williams's absence from town had retarded the 
final settlement of Montreville's business ; informed him 
that Mr. Baynard's executors had appointed an agent to 
inspect his papers ; and, finally, surprised him by an un- 
conditional offer to sign a new bond for the annuity. He 
could not bear, he said, to think of the Captain's being 
detained in London to the prejudice of his health, espe- 
cially as it was evident that Miss Montreville's suffered 
from the same cause. He begged that a regular bond might 
be drawn up, which he would sign at a moment's notice^ 
and which he would trust to the Captain's honour to de- 
stroy, if it should be found that the 1500/., mentioned as 
the price of the annuity, had never been paid. 

At this generous proposal, surprise and joy almost de- 
prived Montreville of the power of utterance ; gratefully 
clasping Warren's hand, " Oh, sir," he exclaimed, " you 
have, I hope, secured an independence for my child. I 
thank you with what fervour, you can never know till 
you are yourself a father." Seemingly anxious to escape 
from his thanks, Warren again promised that he would 
be ready to sign the bond on the following day, or as soon 
as it was ready for signature. Captain Montreville again 
began to make acknowledgments ; but Warren, who ap- 
peared rather distressed than gratified by them, took his 
leave, and left the Captain to the joyful task of commu- 
nicating the news to Laura. 

She listened with grateful pleasure. " How much have 
I been to blame/' said she, " for allowing myself to be- 
i 3 



118 SELF-CONTROL. 

lieve that a little vanity necessarily excluded every kind 
and generous feeling. What a pity it is that this man 
should condescend to such an effeminate attention to trifles ! " 
Lost to the expectation, almost to the desire of seeing Har- 
grave, she now had no tie to London, hut one which was 
soon to be broken, for Mrs. and Miss de Courcy were 
about to return to Norwood. With almost unmixed satis- 
faction, therefore, she heard her father declare, that in less 
than a week he should be on his way to Scotland. With 
pleasure she looked forward to revisiting her dear Glenal- 
bert, and anticipated the effects of its quiet shades and 
healthful air upon her father. Already she beheld her 
home, peaceful and inviting, as when, from the hill that 
sheltered it, she last looked back upon its simple beauties. 
She heard the ripple of its waters ; she trod the well-known 
path ; met the kind familiar face, and listened to the cor- 
dial welcome, with such joy as they feel who return from 
the land of strangers. 

Nor was Montreville less pleased with the prospect of 
returning to his accustomed comforts and employments 
of feeling himself once more among objects which he could 
call his own. His own ! there was magic in the word, 
that transformed the cottage at Glenalbert into a fairy 
palace the garden and the farm into a little world. To 
leave London interfered indeed with his hopes of De 
Courcy as a lover for his daughter ; but he doubted not 
that the impression was already made, and that Montague 
would follow Laura to Scotland. 

His mind, suddenly relieved from anxiety, his spirits 
rose, all his constitutional good nature returned, and he 
caressed his daughter with a fondness that seemed intended 
to atone for the captious behaviour of the morning. At 
dinner he called for wine, a luxury in which he rarely in- 
dulged, drank to their safe arrival at Glenalbert, and 
obliged Laura to pledge him to the health of Warren. To 
witness her father's cheerfulness was a pleasure which 
Laura had of late tasted so sparingly, that it had the most 
exhilarating effect upon her spirits ; and neither De Courcy 
nor Hargrave would have been much gratified, could they 



SELF-CONTROL. 11Q 

have seen the gaiety with which she supported the absence 
of the one, and the neglect of the other. 

She was beginning to enjoy one of those cheerful domes- 
tic evenings which had always been her delight, when Miss 
Dawkins came to propose that she should accompany her 
and her mother on a visit to Mrs. Jones. Laura would 
have excused herself, by saying, that she could not leave 
her father alone ; but the Captain insisted upon her 
going, and declared that he would himself be of the party. 
She had, therefore, no apology, and, deprived of the 
amusement which she would have preferred, contentedly 
betook herself to that which was within her reach. She 
did not sit in silent contemplation of her own superiority, 
or of the vulgarity of her companions ; nor did she intro- 
duce topics of conversation calculated to illustrate either; 
but having observed that even the most ignorant have some 
subject on which they can talk with ease and pleasure, and 
even be heard with advantage, she suffered others to lead 
the discourse, rightly conjecturing that they would guide 
it to the channel which they judged most favourable to 
their own powers. She was soon engaged with Mrs. Daw- 
kins in a dissertation on various branches of household 
economy, and to the eternal degradation of her character 
as a heroine, actually listened with interest to the means 
of improving the cleanliness, beauty, and comfort of her 
dwelling. 

Mrs. Jones was highly flattered by the Captain's visit, 
and exerted herself to entertain him, her husband being 
inclined to taciturnity by a reason which Bishop Butler has 
pronounced to be a good one. Perceiving that Montreville 
was an Englishman, she concluded that nothing but dire 
necessity could have exiled him to Scotland. She enquired 
what town he lived in ; and being answered that his resi- 
dence was many miles distant from any town, she held 
up her hands in pity and amazement. But when she heard 
that Montreville had been obliged to learn the language of 
the Highlands, and that it was Laura's vernacular tongue, 
she burst into an exclamation of wonder. " Mercy upon 
me ! " cried she, " can you make that outlandish splutter- 
ing so as them savages can know what you says ? Well, 
i 4 



120 SELF-CONTROL. 

if I had been among them a thousand years, I should 
never have made out a word of their gibberish." 

" The sound of it is very uncouth to a stranger/' said 
Captain Montreville, C( but now I have learnt to like it." 

" And do them there wild men make you wear them 
little red and green petticoats ? " asked Mrs. Jones, in a 
tone of compassionate enquiry. 

" Oh no/' said Captain Montreville, " they never inter- 
fered with my dress. But you seem quite acquainted with 
the Highlands. May I ask if you have been there ? " 

" Ay, that I have, to my sorrow," said Mrs. Jones ; 
and forthwith proceeded to recount her adventures, pretty 
nearly in the same terms as she had formerly done to 
Laura. 

" And what was the name of this unfortunate place?" 
enquired the Captain, when, having narrated the deficiency 
of hot rolls, Mrs. Jones made the pause in which her 
auditors were accustomed to express their astonishment 
and horror. 

" That was what I asked the waiter often and often," 
replied she, <c but I never could make head or tail of what 
he said. Sometimes it sounded like A rookery; sometimes 
like one thing, sometimes like another. So I takes the 
road-book, and looks it out, and it looked something like 
A rasher, only not right spelt. So, thinks I, they'll call it 
A rasher, because there is good bacon here ; and I asked 
the man if they were famous for pigs ; and he said, No, 
they got all their pigs from the manufactory in Glasgow, 
and that they weren't famous for any thing but fresh her- 
rings, as are catched in that black Loch-Lomond, where 
they wanted me to go." 

tf Kate," said Mr. Jones, setting down his tea-cup, and 
settling his hands upon his knees, <f you know I think 
you're wrong about them herrings." 

" Mr. Jones," returned the lady, with a look which 
showed that the herrings had been the subject of former 
altercation, " for certain the waiter told me that they came 
out of the loch, and to what purpose should he tell lies 
about it ? " 



SELF-CONTROL. 121 

" I tells you, Kate, that herrings come out of the sea," 
said Mr. Jones. 

" Well, that loch is a great fresh-water sea," said Mrs. 
Jones. 

" Out of the salt sea," insisted Mr. Jones. 

" Ay," said Mrs. Jones, ' ' them salt herrings as we gets 
here ; but it stands to reason, Mr. Jones, that the fresh 
herrings should come out of fresh water." 

" I say, cod is fresh, and doesn't it come out of the sea? 
answer me that, Mrs. Jones." 

" It is no wonder the cod is fresh," returned the lady, 
' ' when the fishmongers keep fresh water running on it day 
and night." 

" Kate, it's of no use argufying, I say herrings come 
out of the sea. What say you, sir ? " turning to Captain 
Montreville. 

The Captain softened his verdict in the gentleman's 
favour, hy saying, that Mrs. Jones was right in her account 
of the waiter's report, though the man, in speaking of (( the 
loch," meant not Loch- Lomond, but an arm of the sea. 

" I know'd it," said Mr. Jones, triumphantly ; " for 
haven't I read it in the newspaper as Government offers a 
reward to any body that'll put most salt upon them Scotch 
herrings, and isn't that what makes the salt so dear ?" So 
having settled this knotty point to his own satisfaction, Mr. 
Jones again applied himself to his tea. 

" Did you return to Glasgow by the way of Loch-Lo- 
mond ? " enquired Captain Montreville. 

te Ay," cried Mrs. Jones, " that was what the people of 
the inn wanted us to do ; but then I looked out, and seed 
a matter of forty of them there savages, with the little pet- 
ticoats and red and white stockings, loitering and lolling 
about the inn-door, doing nothing in the varsal world, ex- 
cept wait till it was dark to rob and murder us all, bless 
us ! So, thinks I, let me once get out from among you, 
in a whole skin, and catch me in the Highlands again : so 
as soon as the chaise could be got, we just went the way 
we came." 

" Did you find good accommodation at Glasgow ? " said 
the Captain. 



122 SELF-CONTROL. 

" Yes/' replied Mrs. Jones ; " but, after all, Captain 
there's no country like our own ; do you know, I never 
got so much as a buttered muffin all the while I was in 
Scotland ! " 

The conversation was here interrupted by an exclamation 
from Mrs. Dawkins, who, knowing that she had nothing 
new to expect in her daughter's memoirs of her Scottish 
excursion, had continued to talk with Laura apart. " Good- 
ness me ! " she cried, ( ' why Kate, as sure as eggs, here's 
Miss never seed a play in all her life ! " " Never saw a 
play! Never saw a play!" exclaimed the landlord and 
landlady at once. " Well, that's so odd; but to be sure, 
poor soul, how should she, among them there hills ? " 
" Suppose," said Mrs. Jones, " we should make a party, 
and go to-night. We shall be just in time." Laura was 
desirous to go : her father made no objection ; and Mr. 
Jones, with that -feeling of good-natured self-complacency 
which most people have experienced, arising from the dis- 
covery that another is new to a pleasure with which they 
themselves are familiar, offered, as he expressed it, te to do 
the genteel thing, and treat her himself." 

The party was speedily arranged, and Laura soon found 
herself seated in the pit of the theatre. The scene was 
quite new to her ; for her ignorance of public places was 
even greater than her companions had discovered it to be. 
She was dazzled with the glare of the lights, and the bril- 
liance of the company, and confused with the murmur of 
innumerable voices ; but the curtain rose, and her attention 
was soon confined to the stage. The play was The 
Gamester, the most domestic of our tragedies ; and, in the 
inimitable representation of Mrs. Beverly, Laura found an 
illusion strong enough to absorb for the time every faculty 
of her soul. Of the actress she thought not ; but she loved 
and pitied Mrs. Beverly with a fervour that made her in- 
sensible to the amusement which she afforded to her com- 
panions. Meanwhile her countenance, as beautiful, almost 
as expressive, followed every change in that of Mrs. Sid- 
dons. She wept with her; listened, started, rejoiced with her ; 
and when Mrs. Beverly repulsed the villain Stukely, Laura's 
eyes too flashed with " heaven's own lightnings." By the 



SELF-CONTROL. 123 

time the representation was ended, she was so much ex- 
hausted by the strength and rapidity of her emotions, that 
she was scarcely ahle to answer to the questions of " How 
have you been amused ? " and e( How did you like it ? " 
with which her companions all at once assailed her. 
ff Well/' said Miss Julia, when they were arrived at home, 
" I think nothing is so delightful as a play. I should 
like to go every night shouldn't you ? " *' f No," an- 
swered Laura. " Once or twice in a year would be quite 
sufficient for me. It occupies my thoughts too much for 
a mere amusement." 

In the course of the two following days, Laura had 
sketched more than twenty heads of Mrs. Siddons, besides 
completing the preparations for her journey to Scotland. 
On the third, the Captain, who could now smile at his own 
imaginary debility, proposed to carry the bond to receive 
Mr. Warren's signature. The fourth was to be spent with 
Mrs. de Courcy ; and on the morning of the fifth, the 
travellers intended to depart. 

On the appointed morning, Captain Montreville set out 
on an early visit to Portland Street, gaily telling his 
daughter at parting that he would return in an hour or 
two, with her dowry in his pocket. When he knocked at 
Mr. Warren's door, the servant informed him that his 
master had gone out, but that expecting the Captain to call, 
he had left a message to beg that Montreville would wait 
till he returned, which would be very soon. 

The Captain was then shown into a back parlour, where 
he endeavoured to amuse himself with some books that were 
scattered round" the room. They consisted of amatory poems 
and loose novels, and one by one he threw them aside in 
disgust, lamenting that one who was capable of a kind and 
generous action should seek pleasure in such debasing studies. 
The room was hung with prints and pictures, but they par- 
took of the same licentious character; and Montreville shud- 
dered, as the momentary thought darted across his mind, 
that it was strange that the charms of Laura had made no 
impression on one whose libertinism in regard to her sex 
was so apparent. .It was but momentary. "No !" thought 
he, " her purity would awe the most licentious ; and I am 



124 SELF-CONTROL. 

uncandid, ungrateful,, to harbour, even for a moment,, such 
an idea of the man who has acted towards her and me with 
the most disinterested benevolence." 

He waited long, but Warren did not appear ; and he 
began to blame himself for having neglected to fix the 
exact time of his visit. To remedy this omission, he rung 
for writing materials, and telling the servant that he could 
stay no longer, left a note to inform Mr. Warren that he 
would wait upon him at twelve o'clock next day. The 
servant, who was Mr. Warren's own valet, seemed unwilling 
to allow the Captain to depart, and assured him that he 
expected his master every minute ; but Montreville, who 
knew that there was no depending upon the motions of a 
mere man of pleasure, would be detained no longer. 

He returned home, and finding the parlour empty, was 
leaving it to seek Laura in her painting-room, when he ob- 
served a letter lying on the table addressed to himself. The 
hand- writing was new to him. He opened it the sig- 
nature was equally so. The contents were as follow : 

" Sir, 

<{ The writer of this letter is even by name a stranger to 
you. If that circumstance should induce you to discredit 
my information, I offer no proof of my veracity, but this 
simple one, that obviously no selfish end can be served by 
my present interference. Of the force of my motive you 
cannot judge, unless you have yourself lured to destruc- 
tion the heart which trusted you, seen it refuse all 
comfort, reject all reparation, and sink at last in 
untimely decay. 

ff From a fate like this, though riot softened like this 
by anxious tenderness, nor mourned like this by remorse- 
ful pity, but aggravated by being endured for one incapable 
of any tender or generous feeling, it is my purpose, sir, to 
save your daughter. I was last night one of a party where 
her name was mentioned ; where she was described as 
lovely, innocent, and respectable ; yet the person who so 
described her, scrupled not to boast of a plan for her de- 
struction. In the hope (why should I pretend a better 
motive ?) of softening the pangs of late but bitter self- 



SELF-CONTROL. 125 

reproach, by saving one fellow-creature from perhaps re- 
luctant ruin, one family from domestic shame, I drew from 
him your address, and learnt that, to ingratiate himself 
with you, and with his intended victim, he has pretended 
to offer as a gift, what he knew that he could not long 
withhold. He means to take the earliest opportunity of 
inveigling her from your care, secure, as he boasts, of her 
pardon in her attachment. Ill, indeed, does her character, 
even as described by him, accord with such a boast ; yet 
even indifference might prove no guard against fraud, which, 
thus warned, you may defy. 

" A fear that my attention should be frustrated by the 
merited contempt attached to anonymous information, in- 
clines me to add my name, though aware that it can claim 
no authority with a stranger. 

" I am, Sir, 

" Your obedient Servant, 

" PHILIP WILMOT." 

Captain Montreville read this letter more than once. It 
bore marks of such sincerity that he knew not how to doubt 
of the intelligence it gave ; and he perceived with dismay 
that the business which he had considered as closed, was as 
far as ever from a conclusion ; for how could he accept a 
favour which he had been warned to consider as the wages 
of dishonour. For Laura he had indeed no fear. She 
was no less safe in her own virtue and discretion, than in 
the contemptuous pity with which she regarded Warren. 
This letter would put her upon her guard against leaving 
the house with him, which Captain Montreville now recol- 
lected that he had often solicited her to do, upon pretence 
of taking the air in his curricle. 

But must he still linger in London ; still be cheated 
with vain hopes ; still fear for the future subsistence of his 
child j still approach the very verge of poverty ; perhaps 
be obliged to defend his rights by a tedious law-suit ? His 
heart sunk at the prospect, and he threw himself on a seat, 
disconsolate and cheerless. 

He had long been in the habit of seeking relief from 
every painful feeling in the tenderness of Laura, of 



126 SELF-CONTROL. 

finding in her enduring spirit a support to the weakness of 
his own ; and he now sought her in the conviction that she 
would either discover some advantage to be drawn from 
this disappointment, or lighten it to him hy her affectionate 
sympathy. He knocked at her door. She did not answer. 
He called her. All was silent. He rung the bell, and 
enquired whether she was below, and was answered that 
she had gone out with Mr. Warren in his curricle two 
hours before. The unfortunate father heard no more. 
Wildly striking his hand upon his breast, " she is lost," 
he cried, and sunk to the ground. The blood burst violently 
from his mouth and nostrils,, and he became insensible. 

The family were soon assembled round him ; and a sur- 
geon being procured, he declared that Montreville had burst 
a blood-vessel, and that nothing but the utmost care and 
quiet could save his life. Mrs. Dawkins, with great hu- 
manity, attended him herself, venting in whispers to the 
surgeon her compassion for Montreville, and her indigna- 
tion against the unnatural desertion of Laura, whom she 
abused as a methodistical hypocrite, against whom her 
wrath was the stronger because she could never have sus- 
pected her. 

Montreville no sooner returned to recollection, than he 
declared his resolution instantly to set off in search of his 
child. In vain did the surgeon expostulate, and assure 
him that his life would be the forfeit : his only answer was, 
" Why should I live ? she is lost." In pursuance of his 
design, he tried to rise from the bed on which he had been 
laid ; but exhausted nature refused to second him, and he 
again sunk back insensible. 

When Montreville called in Portland Street, the servant 
had deceived him in saying that Warren was not at home. 
He was not only in the house, but expecting the Captain's 
visit, and prepared to take advantage of it, for the accom- 
plishment of the honourable scheme of which he had boasted 
to his associates. As soon, therefore, as the servant had 
disposed of Montreville, Warren mounted his curricle, 
which was in waiting at a little distance, and driving to 
Mrs. Dawkins's, informed Laura that he had been sent 
to her by her father, who proposed carrying her to see 



SELF-CONTROL. 127 

the British Museum, and for that purpose was waiting 
her arrival in "Portland Street. Entirely unsuspicious of 
any design, Laura accompanied him without hesitation; 
and though Portland Street appeared to her greatly more 
distant than she had imagined, it was not till having taken 
innumerable turns, she found herself in an open road, that 
she began to suspect her conductor of having deceived her. 
" Whither have you taken me, Mr. Warren ? " she en- 
quired : " this road does not lead to Portland Street." " Oh 
yes, it does," answered Warren, " only the way is a little 
circuitous." " Let us immediately return to the straight 
one then," said Laura. " My father will be alarmed, and 
conclude that some accident has happened to us." " Surely, 
my charming Miss Montreville," said Warren, still con- 
tinuing to drive on, ie you do not fear to trust yourself with 
me." " Fear you ! " repeated Laura, with involuntary dis- 
dain. " No, but I am at loss to guess what has encouraged 
you to make me the companion of so silly a frolic. I sup- 
pose you mean this for an ingenious joke upon my father.'* 

" No, 'pon my soul," said the beau, a little alarmed by the 
sternness of her manner, " I mean nothing but to have an 
opportunity of telling you that I am quite in love with you,, 

dying for you, faith I am." " You should first have 
ascertained," answered Laura, with ineffable scorn, " whe- 
ther I was likely to think the secret worth a hearing. I 
desire you will instantly return." 

The perfect composure of Laura's look and manner (for 
feeling no alarm she showed none) made Warren conclude 
that she was not averse to being detained ; and he thought 
it only necessary that he should continue to make love, to 
induce her quietly to submit to go on for another half mile, 
which would bring them to a place where he thought she 
would be secure. He began, therefore, to act the lover 
with all the energy he could muster ; but Laura interrupted 
him. " It is a pity," said she, with a smile of calm con- 
tempt, " to put a stop to such well-timed gallantry, which 
is indeed just such as I should have expected from Mr. 
Warren's sense and delicacy. But I would not for the 
sake of Mr. Warren's raptures, nor all else that he has to 
offer, give my father the most momentary pain, and there- 



128 SELF-CONTROL. 

fore if you do not suffer me to alight this instant, I shall be 
obliged to claim the assistance of passengers on an occasion 
very little worthy of their notice." Her contumelious 
manner entirely undeceived her companion in regard to her 
sentiments ; but it had no other effect upon him, except 
that of adding revenge to the number of his incitements ; 
and perceiving that they were now at a short distance from 
the house whither he intended to convey her, he continued 
to pursue his way. 

Laura now rose from her seat, and seizing the reins with 
a force which made the horses rear, she cjolly chose that 
moment to spring from the curricle ; and walked back to- 
wards the town, leaving her inamorato in the utmost as- 
tonishment at her self-possession, as well as rage at her 
disdainful treatment. 

She proceeded till she came to a decent-looking shop, 
where she entered; and, begging permission to sit down, 
despatched one of the shop-boys in search of a hackney- 
coach. A carriage was soon procured, and Laura, con- 
cluding that her father, tired of waiting for her, must have 
left Portland Street, desired to be driven directly home. 

As she entered the house, she was met by Mrs. Dawkins. 
ff So, Miss," cried she, " you have made a fine spot of work 
on't. You have murdered your father." <( Good hea- 
vens ! " cried Laura, turning as pale as death, " what is it 
you mean ? where is my father ? " ' ' Your father is on 
his death-bed, Miss, and you may thank your morning rides 
for it. Thinking you were off, he burst a blood-vessel in 
the fright, and the doctor says, the least stir in the world 
will finish him." . 

Laura turned sick to death. Cold drops stood upon her 
forehead: and she shook in every limb. She made an 
instinctive attempt to ascend the stair; but her strength 
failed her, and she sunk upon the steps. The sight of her 
agony changed in a moment Mrs. Dawkins's indignation 
into pity. " Don't take on so, Miss," said she, " to be 
sure you didn't mean it. If he is kept quiet, he may mend 
still, and now that you're come back too. By the by, I 
may as well run up and tell him." " Oh stop!" cried 
Laura, reviving at once in the sudden dread that such in- 



SELF-CONTROL. 129 

cautious news would destroy her father. (c Stay/' said she, 
pressing with one hand her bursting forehead, while with 
the other she detained Mrs. Dawkins. " Let me think, 
that we may not agitate him. Oh no ! I cannot think;" 
and leaning her head on Mrs. Dawkins's shoulder, she burst 
into an agony of tears. 

These salutary tears restored her recollection, and she en- 
quired whether the surgeon, of whom Mrs. Dawkins had 
spoken, was still in the house. Being answered that he was 
in Montreville's apartment, she sent to beg that he would 
speak with her. He came, and she entreated him to inform 
her father, with the caution which his situation required, 
that she was returned and safe. She followed him to the 
door of Montreville's apartment, and stood listening in 
trembling expectation to every thing which stirred within. 
At last she received the wished-for summons. She entered ; 
she sprung towards the bed. " My child ! " cried Montre- 
ville, and he clasped her to his bosom, and sobbed aloud. 
When he was able to speak, ' ' Oh Laura, " said he, " tell 
me again that you are safe, and say by what miracle, by 
what unheard-of mercy, you have escaped." " Compose 
yourself, my dearest father, for Heaven's sake," cried 
Laura. " I am indeed safe, and never have been in 
danger. When Warren found that I refused to join in 
his frolic, he did not attempt to prevent me from returning 
home." 

She then briefly related the affair as it had appeared to 
her, suppressing Warren's rhapsodies, from the fear of irri- 
tating her father ; and he, perceiving that she considered the 
whole as a frolic, frivolous in its intention, though dreadful 
in its effects, suffered her to remain in that persuasion. She 
passed the night by his bed-side, devoting every moment of 
his disturbed repose to fervent prayers for his recovery. 



130 SELF-CONTROL. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

FROM feverish and interrupted sleep, Montreville awoke 
unrefreshed ; and the surgeon,, when he repeated his visit, 
again alarmed Laura with representations of her father's 
danger, and assurances that nothing but the most vigilant 
attention to his quiet could preserve his life. The anguish 
with which Laura listened to this sentence she suppressed, 
lest it should injure her father. She never approached him 
but to bring comfort ; she spoke to him cheerfully, while 
the tears forced themselves to her eyes; and smiled upon him 
while her heart was breaking. She felt what he must 
suffer, should the thought occur to him that he was about to 
leave her to the world, unfriended and alone ; and she never 
mentioned his illness to him unless with the voice of hope. 
But of the danger which she strove to disguise, Montreville 
was fully sensible ; and though he forbore to shock her by 
avowing it explicitly, he could not, like her, suppress his 
fears. He would sometimes fervently wish that he could 
see his child safe in the protection of Mrs. Douglas ; and 
sometimes, when Laura was bending over him in the ten- 
derest sympathy, he would clasp her neck, and cry, with an 
agony that shook his whole frame, tf What oh what will 
become of thee ! " 

He seemed anxious to know how long Mrs. de Courcy 
was to remain in town, and enquired every hour whether 
Montague was not returned. Full well did Laura guess the 
mournful meaning of these questions. Full well did they 
remind her that when the De Courcy family left London, 
she with her dying father would amidst this populous wil- 
derness be alone. She anticipated the last scene of this sad 
tragedy ; when, amidst busy thousands, a senseless corpse 
would be her sole companion. She looked forward to its 
close, when even this sad society would be withdrawn. 
Human fortitude could not support the prospect ; and she 
would rush from her father's presence, to give vent to ago- 
nies of sorrow. 



SELF-CONTROL. 131 

But the piety of Laura could half invest misfortune with 
the character of blessing ; as the mists which rise to darken 
the evening sun are themselves tinged with his glory. She 
called to mind the gracious assurance which marks the 
afflicted who suffer not by their own guilt or folly as the fa- 
voured of Heaven ; and the more her earthly connections 
seemed dissolving, the more did she strive to acquaint her- 
self with Him,, from whose care no accident can sever. To 
this care she fervently committed her father ; praying that 
no selfish indulgence of her grief might embitter his 
departure ; and resolving by her fortitude to convince him 
that she was able to struggle with the storm from which he 
was no longer to shelter her. 

The day succeeding that on which Montreville was taken 
ill, had been set apart for a farewell visit to Mrs. de 
Courcy ; and Laura's note of mournful apology, was an- 
swered by a kind visit from Harriet. Unconscious of the 
chief cause of her father's impatience for Montague's return, 
Laura, wishing to be the bearer of intelligence which she 
knew would cheer him, enquired anxiously when Miss de 
Courcy expected her brother. But De Courcy's motions 
depended upon the spirits of his venerable friend, and 
Harriet knew not when he might be, able to leave Mr. 
Wentworth. It was even uncertain whether for the present 
he would return to town at all, as in another week Mrs. de 
Courcy meant to set out for Norwood. Laura softened this 
un pleasing news to her father : she did not name the parti- 
cular time of Mrs. de Courcy's departure, and she suffered 
him still confidently to expect the return of his favourite. 

The next day brought a letter from De Courcy himself, 
full of affectionate solicitude for the Captain's health and 
spirits; but evidently written in ignorance of the fatal 
change which had taken place since his departure. In this 
letter the name of Laura was not mentioned, not even in a 
common compliment, and Montreville remarked to her this 
omission. <( He has forgotten it, " answered Laura ; " his 
warm heart is full of his friend's distress and yours, and 
has not room for mere ceremony." " I hope," said Mon- 
treville, emphatically, " that is not the reason." "What 
is then the reason ? " enquired Laura ; but Montreville did 
K 2 



132 SELF-CONTROL. 

not speak, and she thought no more of De Courcy's little 
omission. 

Her father, indeed, for the present, occupied almost all 
her earthly thoughts, and even her prayers rose more fre- 
quently for him than for herself. Except during the visits 
of the surgeon, she was Montreville's sole attendant ; and, 
regardless of fatigue, she passed every night by his hed-side, 
every day in ministering to his comfort. If worn out 
with watching, she dropped asleep, she started again at his 
slightest motion, and obstinately refused to seek in her own 
chamber a less interrupted repose. " No," thought she, 
" let my strength serve me while I have duties to perform, 
while yet my father lives to need my efforts ; then may I 
be permitted to sink to early rest, and the weary labourer, 
while yet it is but morning, be called to receive his hire." 

The desertion of Hargrave, whom she had loved with all 
the ardour of a warm heart and a fervid imagination, the 
death of her father so fast approaching, her separation from 
every living being with whom she could claim friendship or 
kindred, seemed signals for her to withdraw her affections 
from a world where she would soon have nothing left to 
love and to cherish. " And be it so," thought she; " let 
me no longer grovel here in search of objects which earth 
has not to offer objects fitted for unbounded and un- 
changeable regard. Nor let me peevishly reject what this 
world really has to give, the opportunity to prepare for a 
better. This it bestows even on me ; and a few childish 
baubles are all else that it reserves for those who worship it 
with all their soul, and strength, and mind." 

No mortal can exist without forming some wish or hope. 
Laura hoped that she should live while she could be useful 
to her father ; and she wished that she might not survive 
him. One only other wish she had, and that was for De 
Courcy's return ; for Montreville, whose spirits more than 
shared his bodily languor, now seldom spoke, but to express 
his longing for the presence of his favourite. Laura conti- 
nued to cheer him with a hope which she herself no longer 
felt; for now three days only remained ere Mrs.de Courcy was 
to quit London. The departure of their friends Laura re- 
solved to conceal from her father, that, believing them to 



SELF-CONTROL. 133 

be near, he might feel himself the less forlorn ; and this she 
thought might be practicable, as he had never since his ill- 
ness expressed any wish to quit his bed., or to see Miss de 
Courcy when she came. 

In Montreville's darkened apartment, without occupation 
but in her cares for him, almost without rest, had Laura 
passed a week, when she was one morning summoned from 
her melancholy charge, to attend a visiter. She entered the 
parlour. " Mr. de Courcy ! " she exclaimed, springing 
joyfully to meet him, " thank Heaven you are come ! " 
But not with equal warmth did De Courcy accost her. The 
repulsive look she had given him at parting was still fresh 
in his recollection ; and, with a respectful distant bow, he 
expressed his sorrow for Captain Montreville's illness. " Oh 
he is ill, indeed ! " said Laura, the faint hectic of pleasure 
fading suddenly from her cheek. " Earnestly has he 
longed for your return ; and we feared," said she, with a 
violent effort suppressing her tears, " we feared that you 
might not have come till till all was over." " Surely 
Miss Montreville," said De Courcy, extremely shocked, 
(e surely you are causelessly alarmed." " Oh no," cried 
Laura, " he cannot live ! " and no longer able to contain 
her emotion, she burst into a passion of tears. Forced en- 
tirely from his guard by her grief, Montague threw himself 
on the seat by her. " Dearest of human beings," he ex- 
claimed, " oh that I could shield thee from every sorrow !" 
But, absorbed in her distress, Laura heeded him not ; and 
the next moment, sensible of his imprudence, he started 
from her side, and retreated to a distant part of the room. 

As soon as she was again able to command herself, she 
went to inform her father of De Courcy's arrival. Though 
told with the gentlest caution, Montreville heard the news 
with extreme emotion. He grasped Laura's hand ; and, 
with tears of joy streaming down his pale cheeks, said, 
" Heaven be praised ! I shall not leave thee quite deso- 
late." Laura herself felt less desolate ; and she rejoiced 
even for herself, when she once more saw De Courcy seated 
beside her father. 

It was only the morning before, that a letter from Harriet 
had informed her brother of Montreville's illness and of 
K 3 



134 SELF-CONTROL. 

Laura's distress. To hear of that distress, and to remain 
at a distance was impossible ; and Montague had left Mr. 
Wentworth's within the hour. He had travelled all night; 
and, without even seeing his mother and sister, had come 
direct to Captain Montreville's lodgings. He was shocked 
at the death-like looks of Montreville, and still more so 
at those of Laura. Her eyes were sunk, her lips colour- 
less, and her whole appearance indicated that she was worn 
out with fatigue and wretchedness. Yet De Courcy felt, 
that never in the bloom of health and beauty, had she been 
so dear to him, and scarcely could he forbear from address- 
ing her in the accents of compassion and of love. Mon- 
treville wishing to speak with him alone, begged of Laura 
to leave him for a while to De Courcy 's care, and endeavour 
to take some rest. She objected that Montague had himself 
need of rest, having travelled all night ; but when he as- 
sured her, that even if she drove him away he would not 
attempt to sleep, she consented to retire, and seek the re- 
pose of which she was so much in want. 

When they were alone, Montreville showed De Courcy 
the warning letter ; and related to him the baseness of 
Warren, and the escape of Laura. Montague listened to 
him with intense interest. He often changed colour, and 
his lips quivered with emotion ; and, when her father 
described the manner in which she had accomplished her 
escape, he exclaimed with enthusiasm, " Yes, she is superior 
to every weakness, as she is alive to every gentle feeling." 
Montreville then dwelt upon her unremitting care of him 
on the fortitude with which she suppressed her sorrow, 
even while its violence was perceptibly injuring her health. 
" And is it to be wondered at," said he, " that I look for- 
ward with horror to leaving this lovely, excellent creature 
in such a world, alone and friendless ?" " She shall never 
be friendless," cried De Courcy. " My mother, my sister, 
shall be her friends, and I will " He stopped ab- 
ruptly, and a heavy sigh burst from him. 

Recovering himself, he resumed, " You must not talk so 
despondingly. You will long live, I trust, to enjoy the 
blessing of such a child." Montreville shook his head, 
and remained silent. He was persuaded that De Courcy 



SELF-CONTROL. 135 

loved his daughter, and would fain have heard an explicit 
avowal that he did so. To have secured to her the protection 
of Montague would have destroyed the bitterness of death. 
Had Laura been the heiress of millions,, he would have 
rejoiced to bestow her and them upon De Courcy. But he 
scorned to force him to a declaration, and respected her too 
much to make an approach towards offering her to any 
man's acceptance. 

He was at a loss to imagine what reason withheld De 
Courcy from avowing an attachment which he was con- 
vinced that he felt. When he considered his favourite's 
grave reflecting character, he was rather inclined to believe 
that he was cautiously ascertaining the temper and habits 
of the woman with whom he meant to spend his life. But 
the warmth of approbation with which he mentioned Laura, 
seemed to indicate that his opinion of her was already fixed. 
It was possible, too, that De Courcy wished to secure an 
interest in her regard before he ventured formally to petition 
for it. Whatever was the cause of Montague's silence, the 
Captain anticipated the happiest consequences from his 
renewed intercourse with Laura ; and he resolved that he 
would not, by any indelicate interference, compel him to 
precipitate his declaration. He therefore changed the con- 
versation, by enquiring when Mrs. de Courcy was to leave 
town. Montague answered, that as he had not seen his 
mother since his return, he did not exactly know what 
time was fixed for her departure ; " but," said he, " when- 
ever she goes, I shall only attend her to Norwood, and 
return on the instant; nor will I quit you again, till you 
are much, much better, or till you will no longer suffer me 
to stay." Montreville received this promise with gratitude 
and joy ; and De Courcy persuaded himself, that in making 
it, he was actuated chiefly by motives of friendship and 
humanity. He remained with Montreville till the day was 
far advanced, and then went to take a late dinner in Audley 
Street. 

Next morning, and for several succeeding days, he 

returned, and spent the greatest part of his time in attending, 

comforting, and amusing the invalid. He prevailed on his 

mother to delay her departure, that he might not be obliged 

K 4 



1 36 SELF-CONTROL. 

immediately to leave his charge. He soothed the little im- 
patiences of disease ; contrived means to mitigate the op- 
pressiveness of debility ; knew how to exhilarate the hour 
of ease: and watched the moment,, well known to the 
sickly, when amusement becomes fatigue. 

Laura repaid these attentions to her father with gratitude 
unutterable. Often did she wish to thank De Courcy as 
he deserved ; but she felt that her acknowledgments must 
fall far short of her feelings and of his deserts, if they were 
not made with a warmth, which to a man, and to a young 
man, she revolted from expressing. She imagined, too, that 
to one who sought for friendship, mere gratitude might be 
mortifying ; and that it might wound the generous nature 
of Montague to be thanked as a benefactor, where he wished 
to be loved as an equal. She therefore did not speak of, 
or but slightly mentioned, her own and her father's obli- 
gations to him ; but she strove to repay them in the way 
which would have been most acceptable to himself, by every 
mark of confidence and good will. Here no timidity re- 
strained her ; for no feeling which could excite timidity at 
all mingled with her regard for De Courcy. But, confined 
to her own breast, her gratitude became the stronger ; and 
if she had now had a heart to give, to Montague it would 
have been freely given. 

Meanwhile the spirits of Montreville, lightened of a 
heavy load, by the assurance that, even in case of his death, 
his daughter would have a friend to comfort and protect 
her, his health began to improve. He was able to rise ; 
and one day, with the assistance of Montague's arm, sur- 
prised Laura with a visit in the parlour. The heart of 
Laura swelled with transport when she saw him once more 
occupy'his accustomed seat in the family-room, and received 
him as one returned from the grave. She sat by him, 
holding his hand between her own, but did not try to speak. 
"If it would not make you jealous, Laura," said Mon- 
treville, " I should tell you that Mr. de Courcy is a better 
nurse than you are. I have recruited wonderfully since he 
undertook the care of me. More, indeed, than I thought I 
should ever have done." Laura answered only by glancing 
upon De Courcy a look of heartfelt benevolence and plea- 



SELF-CONTROL. 137 

sure. <c And yet/' said Montague, " it is alleged, that no 
attentions from our own sex are so effectual as those which 
we receive from the other. How cheaply would bodily 

suffering purchase the sympathy, the endearments of " 

the name of Laura rose to his lips, hut he suppressed it, 
and changed the expression to "an amiable woman." 
. " Is it indeed so ? " cried Laura, raising her eyes full 
of grateful tears to his face. " Oh, then, if sickness or sor- 
row ever be your portion, may your kindness here be repaid 
by some spirit of peace in woman's form some gentleness 
yet more feminine than De Courcy's ! " 

The enthusiasm of gratitude had hurried Laura into a 
warmth which the next moment covered her with con- 
fusion ; and she withdrew her eyes from De Courcy's face 
before she had time to remark the effects of these, the first 
words of emotion that ever she had addressed to him. The 
transport excited by the ardour of her expressions, and the 
cordial approbation which they implied, instantly gave way 
to extreme mortification. "She wishes," thought he, 
" that some woman may repay me. She would then, not 
only with indifference, but with pleasure, see me united to 
another ; resign me without a pang to some mere common- 
place insipid piece of sweetness ; and give her noble self to 
one who could better feel her value." 

De Courcy had never declared his preference for Laura; 
he was even determined not to declare it. Yet to find that 
she had not a wish to secure it for herself, gave him such 
acute vexation, that he was unable to remain in her pre- 
sence. He abruptly rose and took his leave. He soon 
however reproached himself with the unreasonableness of 
his feelings j and returned to his oft-repeated resolution to 
cultivate the friendship without aspiring to the love of 
Laura. He even persuaded himself that he rejoiced in her 
freedom from a passion which could not be gratified with- 
out a sacrifice of the most important duties. He had a 
sister for whom no provision had been made ; a mother, 
worthy of his warmest affection, whose increasing infirmities 
required increased indulgence. Mrs. de Courcy's jointure 
was a very small one : and though she consented for the 
present to share the comforts of his establishment, Mon- 



138 



SELF-CONTROL. 



tague knew her too well to imagine that she would accept 
of any addition to her income, deducted from the necessary 
expenses of his wife and family. His generous nature re- 
volted from suffering his sister to feel herself a mere pen- 
sioner on his bounty, or to seek dear-bought independence 
in a marriage of convenience, a sort of bargain upon which 
he looked with double aversion, since he had himself felt 
the power of an exclusive attachment. 

Here even his sense of justice was concerned ; for he 
knew that, if his father had lived, it was his intention to 
have saved from his income a provision for Harriet. From 
the time that the estate devolved to Montague, he had 
begun to execute his father's intention ; and he had re- 
solved, that no selfish purpose should interfere with its 
fulfilment. The destined sum, however, was as yet little 
more than half collected, and it was now likely to accu- 
mulate still more slowly ; for, as Mrs. de Courcy had 
almost entirely lost the use of her limbs, a carriage was to 
her an absolute necessary of life. 

Most joyfully would Montague have relinquished every 
luxury^ undergone every privation, to secure the possession 
of Laura ; but he would not sacrifice his mother's health 
nor his sister's independence, to any selfish gratification ; 
nor would he subject the woman of his choice to the end- 
less embarrassments of a revenue too small for its purposes. 

These reasons had determined him against addressing 
Laura. At their first interview he had been struck with 
her as the most lovely woman he had ever beheld : but he 
was in no fear that his affections should be entangled. 
They had escaped from a hundred lovely women, who had 
done their utmost to ensnare them, while she was evidently 
void of any such design. Besides, Montreville was his 
old friend, and it was quite necessary that he should visit 
him. Laura's manners had charmed De Courcy as much 
as her person. Still, might not a man be pleased and en- 
tertained, without being in love ? Further acquaintance 
gradually laid open to him the great and amiable qualities 
of her mind, and was it not natural and proper to love 
virtue ? but this was not being in love. 

Symptoms at last grew so strong upon poor De Courcy, 



SELF-CONTROL. 13Q 

that he could no longer disguise them from himself; but 
it was pleasing to love excellence. He would never reveal 
his passion. It should be the secret joy of his heart ; and 
why cast away a treasure which he might enjoy without 
injury to any ? Laura's love, indeed, he could not seek ; 
but her friendship he might cherish ; and who would ex- 
change the friendship of such a woman for the silly fond- 
ness of a thousand vulgar minds ? 

In this pursuit he had all the success which he could 
desire ; for Laura treated him with undisguised regard ; 
and with that regard he assured himself that he should be 
satisfied. At last this " secret joy," this ' c treasure of his 
heart/' began to mingle pain with its pleasure ; and, when 
called away on his mournful errand to Mr. Wentworth, De 
Courcy confessed, that it was wise to wean himself a little 
from one whose presence was becoming necessary to his 
happiness, and to put some restraint upon a passion which, 
from his toy, was become his master. Short absence, how- 
ever, had only increased his malady; and Laura in sorrow, 
Laura grateful, confiding, at times almost tender, seized 
at once upon every avenue to the heart of De Courcy: he 
revered her as the best, he admired her as the loveliest, he 
loved her as the most amiable of human beings. Still he 
resolved that, whatever it might cost him, he would refrain 
from all attempt to gain her love ; and he began to draw 
nice distinctions between the very tender friendship with 
which he hoped to inspire her, and the tormenting passion 
which he must silently endure. Happily for the success 
of De Courcy's self-deceit, there was no rival at hand, with 
whose progress in Laura's regard he could measure his 
own ; and he never thought of asking himself what would 
be his sensations if her very tender friendship for him 
should not exclude love for another. 

A doubt would sometimes occur to him, as to the pru- 
dence of exposing himself to the unremitting influence of 
her charms, but it was quickly banished as an unwelcome 
intruder, or silenced with the plea, that, to withdraw him- 
self from Montreville on a sick bed, would outrage friend- 
ship and humanity. He had, too, somewhat inadvertently, 
given his friend a promise that he would not leave him 



1 40 SELF-CONTROL. 

till his health was a little re-established ; and this promise 
now served as the excuse for an indulgence which he had 
not resolution to forego. After escorting Mrs. de Courcy 
to Norwood, he pleaded this promise to himself when he 
returned to London without an hour's delay; and it ex- 
cused him in his own eyes for going every morning to the 
abode of Montreville, from whence he had seldom resolu- 
tion enough to depart, till the return of night drove him 
away. 

Meanwhile, with the health of her father, the spirits of 
Laura revived ; and considering it as an act of the highest 
self-denial in a domestic man to quit his home a literary 
man to suspend his studies a young man to become 
stationary in the apartment of an invalid, she exerted her- 
self to the utmost to cheer De Courcy's voluntary task. 
She sometimes relieved him in reading aloud, an accom- 
plishment in which she excelled. Her pronunciation was 
correct, her voice varied, powerful and melodious, her 
conception rapid and accurate, while the expression of her 
countenance was an animated comment upon the author. 

De Courcy delighted to hear her sing the wild airs of 
her native mountains, which she did with inimitable pathos, 
though without skill. Her conversation, sometimes literary, 
sometimes gay, was always simply intended to please. 
Yet, though void of all design to dazzle, it happened, she 
knew not how, that in De Courcy's company she was 
always more lively, more acute, than at other times. His 
remarks seemed to unlock new stores in her mind ; and the 
train of thought which he introduced, she could always 
follow with peculiar ease and pleasure. Safe in her pre- 
ference for another, she treated him with the most cordial 
frankness. Utterly unconscious of the sentiment she in- 
spired, she yet had an animating confidence in De Courcy's 
good will ; and sometimes pleased herself with thinking, 
that, next to his mother and sister, she stood highest of 
women in his regard. No arts of the most refined coquetry 
could have riveted more closely the chains of the ill-fated 
De Courcy ; and the gratitude of the unconscious Laura, 
pointed the shaft which gave the death-wound to his 
peace. 



SELF-CONTROL. 141 

How was it possible for her to imagine, that the same 
sentiment could produce a demeanour so opposite as De 
Courcy's was from that of Hargrave. Hargrave had been 
accustomed to speak of her personal charms with rapture. 
De Courcy had never made them the subject of direct 
compliment ; he had even of late wholly discontinued those 
little gallantries which every pretty woman is accustomed 
to receive. Hargrave omitted no opportunity to plead his 
passion ; and though the presence of a third person of ne- 
cessity precluded this topic, it restrained him not from 
gazing upon Laura with an eagerness from which she 
shrunk abashed. De Courcy had never mentioned love ; 
and Laura observed that, when his glance met hers, he 
would sometimes withdraw his eye with (as she thought) 
almost womanly modesty. In her private interviews with 
Hargrave, he had ever approached her with as much ve- 
hemence and freedom of speech and manner as her calm 
dignity would permit. Privacy made no change in De 
Courcy's manner, except to render him a little more silent 
a little more distant ; and to personal familiarity, he 
seemed to be, if possible, more adverse than herself; for if 
she accidentally touched him, he coloured and drew back. 

Some of these circumstances Montreville had remarked, 
and had drawn from them inferences very different from 
those of his daughter. He was convinced that the/ prefer- 
ence of De Courcy for Laura had risen into a passion, 
which, for some unknown reason, he wished to conceal; 
and he perceived, by the ease of her behaviour, that 
Montague's secret was unsuspected by her. Most anxiously 
did he wish to know the cause of his favourite's silence, 
and to discover whether it was likely to operate long. In 
Laura's absence, he sometimes led the conversation towards 
the subject ; but De Courcy never improved the offered 
opportunity. Partly in the hope of inviting equal frank- 
ness, Montreville talked of his own situation, and mentioned 
the motive of his journey to London. Montague enquired 
into every particular of the business, and rested not till he 
had found Mr. Baynard's executor, and received from 
him an acknowledgment, that he had in his possession a 



1 42 SELF-CONTROL. 

voucher for the payment of Montreville's fifteen hundred 
pounds to Warren. 

He next, without mentioning the matter to Montreville, 
called upon Warren, with an intention finally to conclude 
the business ; thinking it impossible that, since the payment 
of the money was ascertained, he could refuse either to 
pay the annuity or refund the price of it. But the disdain 
of Laura yet rankled in the mind of Warren, and he 
positively refused to bring the affair to any conclusion, de- 
claring., that he would litigate it to the last sixpence he 
was worth : to which declaration he added an excellent 
joke concerning the union of Scotch pride with Scotch 
poverty. At this effrontery the honest blood of De Courcy 
boiled with indignation, and he was on the point of vowing, 
that he too would beggar himself, rather than permit such 
infamous oppression ; but his mother, his sister, and Laura 
herself, rose to his mind, and he contented himself with 
threatening to expose Warren to the disgrace which he 
merited. 

Warren now began to suspect that De Courcy was the 
cause of Laura's contemptuous reception of his addresses,, 
and, enraged at his interference, yet overawed by his manly 
appearance and decided manner, became sullen, and refused 
to answer Montague's expostulations. Nothing remained 
to be done, and De Courcy was obliged to communicate to 
Montreville the ill success of his negotiations. 

Bereft of all hopes of obtaining justice, which he had 
not the means to enforce, Montreville became more anxi- 
ously desirous to regain such a degree of health as might 
enable him to return home. In his present state, the jour- 
ney was impracticable ; and he was convinced, that while 
he remained pent up in the polluted air of the city, his re- 
covery could advance but slowly. Some weeks must at all 
events elapse before he could be in a condition to travel ; 
and to accommodate his funds to this prolonged demand 
upon them, he saw that he must have recourse to some 
scheme of economy yet more humble than that which he 
had adopted. 

He hoped, if he could recover strength sufficient for the 
search, to find in the suburbs some abode of purer air, and 



SELF-CONTROL. 143 

still more moderate expense than his present habitation. 
The former only of these motives he mentioned to De 
Courey ; for though Montreville did not affect to be rich, 
he never spoke of his poverty. Various circumstances, 
however, had led De Courey to guess at his friend's pecu- 
niary embarrassments ; and he too had a motive which he 
did not avow, in the offer which he made to seek a more 
healthful residence for Montreville. 

Unwilling to describe the humble accommodation with 
which he meant to content himself, or the limited price 
which he could afford to offer for it, Montreville at first 
refused De Courcy's services ; but they were pressed upon 
him with such warmth, that he was obliged to submit, and 
Montague lost no time in fulfilling his commission. 

He soon discovered a situation which promised comfort. 
It was in the outskirts of the town, a small flower-garden 
belonged to the house, the apartments were airy and com- 
modious, the furniture was handsome, and the whole most 
finically neat. The rent, however, exceeded that of 
Montreville's present lodgings ; and De Courey knew that 
this objection would be insurmountable. That Laura 
should submit to the inelegancies of a mean habitation, was 
what he could not bear to think of; and he determined, by 
a friendly little artifice, to reconcile Montreville's comfort 
with his economy. The surgeon had named two or three 
weeks as the time likely to elapse before Montreville could 
commence his journey. De Courey paid in advance above 
half the rent of the apartments for a month, charging the 
landlady to keep the real rent a secret from her lodgers. 

As far as the author of these memoirs has been able to 
learn, this was the only artifice which ever Montague de 
Courey practised in his life j and it led, as artifices are 
wont to do, to consequences which the contriver neither 
wished nor foresaw. 

Much to his satisfaction, Montreville was soon settled 
in his new abode, where De Courey continued to be his 
daily visiter. A certain delicacy prevented Laura from 
endeavouring to procure a reversal of her father's decree, 
issued in a moment of peevishness, that she should paint 
no more with a view to pecuniary reward. She felt that 



144 SELF-CONTROL. 

that he had been wrong, and she shrunk from reminding 
him of it, till her labours should again become necessary. 
But, desirous of conveying to Mrs. de Courcy some token 
of her remembrance and gratitude, she employed some of 
the hours which Montague spent with her father, in la- 
bouring a picture which she intended to send to Norwood. 
The subject was the choice of Hercules ; and to make her 
gift the more acceptable, she presented in the hero a picture 
of De Courcy, while the form and countenance of Virtue 
were copied from the simple majesty of her o,wn. The 
figure of Pleasure was a fancied one, and it cost the fair 
artist unspeakable labour. She could not portray what 
she would have shrunk from beholding a female vo- 
luptuary. Her draperies were always designed with the 
most chastened decency ; and, after all her toil, even the 
form of Pleasure came sober and matronly from the hand 
of Laura. 

Designing a little surprise for her friends,, she had 
never mentioned this picture to De Courcy ; and as she 
daily stole some of the hours of his visit to bestow upon it, 
it advanced rapidly. Montague bore these absences with 
impatience ; but Montreville, who knew how Laura was 
employed, took no notice of them, and De Courcy durst 
not complain. 

Three weeks had glided away since Montreville's re- 
moval to his new lodgings, and he remained as much as 
ever anxious, and as much as ever unable to guess De 
Courcy 's reason for concealing a passion which evidently 
increased every day. He recollected that Montague had of 
late never met Laura but in his presence, and he thought it 
natural that the lover should wish to make his first appli- 
cation to his mistress herself. He had an idea, that the 
picture might be made to assist the denouement which he 
so ardently desired ; and with this view he privately gave 
orders that when next Mr. de Courcy came he should be 
ushered into the painting-room, which he knew would be 
empty, as Laura never quitted him till De Courcy arrived to 
take her place. 

Next morning accordingly Montague was shown into the 
room which he had himself destined for Laura, and, for that 



SELF-CONTROL. 145 

reason, supplied with many little luxuries which helonged 
not to its original furniture. He looked round with de- 
light on the marks of her recent presence. There lay her 
book open as she had quitted it, and the pencil with which 
she had marked the margin. It was one which he himself 
had recommended, and he thought it should ever be dear to 
him. On a table lay her portfolio and drawing materials ; 
in a corner stood her easel with the picture, over which was 
thrown a shawl which he had seen her wear. 

Not conceiving that she could have any desire to conceal 
her work, he approached it, and raising the covering, stood 
for a moment motionless with surprise. The next, a 
thousand sensations, vague but delightful, darted through 
his mind ; but before he could give shape or distinctness to 
any one of them, the step approached which ever roused 
De Courcy to eager expectation, and letting the shawl 
drop, he flew towards the door to receive Laura. 

With rapture in his eyes, but confusion on his tongue, 
De Courcy paid his compliments, and again turned towards 
the picture. Laura sprung forward to prevent him from 
raising the covering. " Is this forbidden, then ? " said 
he. " Oh yes; indeed," said Laura, blushing, " you must 
not look at it." " Can you be so mischievous," cried De 
Courcy, a delighted smile playing on his countenance, " as 
to refuse me such a pleasure ? " " I am sure," said Laura, 
blushing again, and still more deeply, " it could give you 
no pleasure in its present state/' " And I am sure," said 
De Courcy, ardently, " it would give me more than I have 
language to express." 

De Courcy's eagerness, and the consciousness of her own 
confusion, made Laura now more unwilling that Montague 
should discover the cause of both to be his own portrait, 
and actually trembling with emotion, she said, putting her 
hand on the shawl to prevent him from raising it, " In- 
deed, I cannot show you this. There is my portfolio 
look at any thing but this" " And what inference may I 
draw as to the subject of a picture which Miss Montreville 
will not show to the most partial the most devoted of 
her friends ? " " Any inference," replied Laura, still 
holding the shawl, " which friendship or charity will per- 



146 SELF- CONTROL. 

mit." " And must I not remove this perverse little 
hand ? " said De Courcy, laying his upon it ; for all pru- 
dence was forgotten in his present emotion. Laura, a 
little offended at his perseverance, gravely withdrew her 
hand, and turned away, saying, " Since my wishes have 
no power, I shall make no other trial of strength." " No 
power ! " cried De Courcy, following her, " they have 
more force than a thousand arms." " Well," said Laura, 
a little surprised by his manner, but turning upon him a 
imile of gracious reconciliation, " your forbearance may 
hereafter be rewarded by a sight of this important picture ; 
but lest you should forfeit your recompense, had we not 
better remove from temptation ?" 

She then led the way to the parlour, and De Courcy fol- 
lowed her in a state of agitation which could not be con- 
cealed. He was absent and restless. He often changed 
colour, seemed scarcely sensible of what was addressed to 
him, or began to reply, and the unfinished sentence died 
upon his lips. At last, starting up, he pleaded sudden in- 
disposition, and was hurrying away. ff Do not go away 
ill, arid alone," said Laura, kindly detaining him. " Walk 
round the garden the fresh air will relieve you." " No 
air will relieve me !" said De Courcy, in a voice of wretch- 
edness. " What then can we do for you ?" said Laura, 
with affectionate earnestness. " What can you do for 
me ! " cried De Courcy, (( oh, nothing, nothing, but 
suffer me to go, while yet I have the power." He then 
wrung Montreville's hand, and uttering something which 
his emotion made inarticulate, without venturing a glance 
towards Laura, he quitted the house, and returned home 
in a state bordering on distraction. 

He shut himself up in his chamber to consider of his 
situation, if that can be called consideration, which was 
but a conflict of tumultuous feeling. That Laura should 
have painted his portrait in a group where it held such a 
relation to her own ; that she should keep it concealed in 
an apartment exclusively appropriated to herself; her 
alarm lest he should examine it ; her confusion, which had 
at last risen to the most distressing height, from the idea 
of what De Courcy might infer, should he discover that 



SELF-CONTROL. 147 

his own portrait was the cause of so many blushes ; the 
confiding affectionate manner in which she treated him; 
all conspired to mislead De Courcy. He felt a conviction 
that he was beloved, and, in spite of himself, the thought 
was rapture. 

Bat what availed this discovery ? Could he forget the 
justice of his sister's claims, sacrifice to his selfish wishes 
the comfort of his mother, or wed his half-worshipped 
Laura to the distresses of an embarrassed fortune ? " Oh, 
no," he cried, " let not my passions involve in disaster all 
whom I love." 

Or, could he lay open to Laura his feelings and his situa- 
tion, and sue for her love, even while their union must be 
delayed? Her attachment, he thought, was yet in its 
infancy, born of gratitude, fostered by separation from 
other society, and, for the present, pleasing in its sens- 
ations, and transient in its nature. But he thought her 
capable of a love as fervent as deep-rooted as that which 
she inspired ; and should he wilfully awaken in her peace- 
ful breast the cravings of such a passion as tortured his 
own ; see her spirits, her vigour of mind, her usefulness, 
perhaps her health, give way to the sickness of " hope 
deferred ! " No, rather let her return to the indifference 
in which he found her. Or, should he shackle her with a 
promise, of which honour might extort a reluctant fulfil- 
ment, after the affection which prompted it was perhaps 
withdrawn from him ? Or, should he linger on from day 
to day in vain endeavours to conceal his affection, dis- 
honourably sporting with the tenderness of the woman he 
loved, his ill-suppressed feelings every hour offering a 
hope which must every hour be disappointed ? No ! the 
generous heart of De Courcy would sooner have suffered a 
thousand deaths. 

But could he return could he see again this creature, 
now more than ever dear to him, and stifle the fondness 
the anguish which would rend his bosom at parting ? Im- 
possible ! He would see her no more. He would tear at 
once from his heart every hope every joy and dare at 
once all the wretchedness which awaited him. In an 
agony of desperation, he rung for his servant, ordered his 
L 2 



148 SELF-CONTROL. 

horses, and in an hour was on his way to Norwood, with 
feelings which the criminal on the rack need not have 
envied. 



CHAPTER XV. 

THE next morning, while Montreville and his daughter 
were expecting with some anxiety the arrival of their daily 
visiter, a note was brought which De Courcy had left in 
Audley Street, to be delivered after his departure. Though 
nearly illegible from the agitation in which it was written, 
it contained nothing but the simple information, that he had 
been suddenly obliged to leave London. It assigned no 
reason for his journey it fixed no period for his absence; 
and Montreville endeavoured to hope that his return would 
not be distant. But day after day passed heavily on, and 
De Courcy came not. Montreville again began to feel 
himself a solitary deserted being ; again became dejected ; 
again became the victim of real debility and fancied dis- 
ease. 

All Laura's endeavours failed to animate him to cheer- 
fulness, or rouse him to employment. If he permitted 
her to remain by him, he seemed rather to endure than to 
enjoy her presence, repressed with a languid monosyllable 
her attempts at conversation, or passed whole hours in 
listless silence. Laura, who foreboded the worst conse- 
quences from the indulgence of this depression, en- 
deavoured to persuade him that he might now safely 
attempt a voyage to Scotland, and predicted beneficial 
effects from the sea air. But Montreville answered her 
with displeasure, that such an exertion would certainly 
destroy him, and that those who were themselves in high 
health and spirits, could not judge of the feelings, nor 
sympathise with the weakness of disease. The reproach 
had no more justice than is usual with the upbraidings of 
the sickly ; for Laura's spirits shared every turn of her 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 4Q 

father's, though her stronger mind could support with 
grace the burden that weighed his to the earth. She 
"desisted, however, from a subject which she saw that, for 
the present, he would not bear, and confined her endea- 
vours to persuading him to undertake some light occupa- 
tion, or to walk in the little garden which belonged to the 
house. But even in these attempts she was commonly 
defeated ; for Montreville would make no exertion, and the 
winter wind, now keen and biting, pierced through his 
wasted form. 

None but they who have made the melancholy experi- 
ment, can tell how cheerless is the labour of supporting the 
spirit that will make no effort to sustain itself, of soliciting 
the languid smile, offering the rejected amusement, or 
striving, with vain ingenuity, to enliven the oft-repulsed 
conversation. They only know who have tried it, what it 
is to resist contagious depression to struggle against the 
effects of the complaining voice, the languid motion, the 
hopeless aspect; what it is to suppress the sympathetic 
sigh, and restrain the little sally of impatience, so natural 
to those whose labours are incessant, yet unavailing. Such 
were the tasks which Laura voluntarily prescribed to her- 
self. Incited by affection, and by strong sense of duty, 
she soothed the fretful humour, prompted the reluctant 
exertion, fanned the expiring hope, and seized the favour- 
able moment to soften by feminine tenderness, or exhilarate 
by youthful gaiety. 

Many motives may lead to one great effort of virtue. 
The hope of reward, the desire of approbation, a sense of 
right, the natural benevolence which still affords a faint 
trait of the image in which man was made all, or any 
of these, may produce single, or even oft-repeated acts 
deserving of praise ; but one principle alone can lead to 
virtuous exertions, persevering and unremitting though 
without success. That principle was Laura's ; and even 
while her endeavours seemed unavailing, she was content 
to employ all her powers in the task selected for her by 
the bestower of them. 

Montreville often reproached himself for the untimely 
burden which he was laying on the young heart of his 
L 3 



1 50 SELF-CONTllOL. 

daughter ; but he could make no effort to lighten it, and 
self-reproach served only to embitter the spirit which it 
failed of stimulating to exertion. Fretful and impatient, 
yet conscious of his injustice, and unwilling that Laura 
should observe it, he would often dismiss her from her 
attendance, and spend whole hours in solitary gloom. 
These hours Laura devoted to her picture, stealing be- 
tween whiles, on tiptoe, to the door of her father's apart- 
ment, to listen whether he was stirring ; and sometimes 
venturing to knock gently for admittance. 

The picture, which was far advanced when De Courcy 
left town, soon received the finishing touches ; and Laura 
lost no time in transmitting it to Norwood. She wrote an 
affectionate letter to Harriet ; in which, after thanking her 
for all her kindness, she offered her gift, and added, that to 
give her work a value which it would not otherwise have 
possessed, she had introduced the portrait of De Courcy ; 
and that, glad of an opportunity of associating the re- 
membrance of herself with an object of interest, she had 
admitted her own resemblance into the group. She 
apologised for the appearance of conceit which might 
attend her exhibiting her own form under the character of 
Virtue, by relating, with characteristic simplicity, that she 
had determined on her subject, chosen and half-finished 
her Hercules, before she designed the figures of his com- 
panions ; that she had afterwards thought that her me- 
morial would be more effectual if it contained the portrait 
of the giver. <c And you know," added she, " it would 
have been impossible to mould my solemn countenance 
into the lineaments of Pleasure." 

In the singleness of her heart, it never occurred to 
Laura, that any thing in the mutual relation of the figures 
of her piece stood in need of explanation. Had Hargrave 
furnished the model for her hero, she would probably have 
been a. little more quick-sighted. As it was, she felt 
impatient to show the De Courcy family, not excepting 
Montague himself, that she was not forgetful of their 
kindness ; and she chose a day, when the influence of 
bright sunshine a little revived the spirits of Montreville, 
to leave him for an hour, and accompany the picture to 



SELF-CONTROL. 151 

the shop of the obliging print-seller, that it might be 
packed more skilfully than by herself. 

After seeing it safely put up, she gave the address to 
Wilkins, who immediately exclaimed, " So, ma'am, you 
have found out the secret which you would not let me tell 
you?" "What secret?" enquired Laura. lf The name 
of the gentleman, ma'am, who bought your pictures." 
" Was it De Courcy, then ? " " Yes, ma'am ; though to 
be sure it mightn't be the same. But I suppose you'll 
know him, ma'am. A tall, pleasant-looking gentleman, 
ma'am. The pictures were sent home to Audley Street." 
Laura's countenance brightened with satisfaction, and 
she suffered her informer to proceed. " I am sure," con- 
tinued he, " I managed that business to the very best of 
my power, and, as one may say, very dexterously." " Was 
there any occasion for management?" enquired Laura. 
" Oh yes, ma'am ; for when he seemed very much taken 
with the first one, then I told him all about you just as I 
had it all from Mrs. Dawkins, and how you were so anxious 
to have it sold ; and then he said he'd have it, and paid 
the money into my hands ; and then I told him how you 
looked the first day you brought it here, and that you 
were just ready to cry about it; and then he said he must 
have a companion to it." 

The flush both of pride and vexation for once stained 
the transparent skin of Laura. Yet it was only for a mo- 
ment ; and her next feeling was pleasure at the confirm- 
ation of the benevolent character with which her imagin- 
ation had invested De Courcy. He had purchased her 
work when she was quite unknown to him, only, as she 
thought, from a wish to reward industry ; and because he 
had been led to believe that the price was an object to the 
artist. Had another been the purchaser, she might have al- 
lowed something for the merit of the piece ; but Laura was 
not yet cured of first imagining characters, and then bend- 
ing facts to suit her theory. Sooner than bate one iota from 
De Courcy's benevolence, she would have assigned to her 
picture the rank of a sign-post. 

She now remembered, that in her visits to Audley Street 
she had never seen her works ; and in her approbation of 
L 4 



152 



SELF-CONTROL. 



the delicacy which prompted De Courcy to conceal that 
she was known to him as an artist, she forgot the little 
prejudice which this concealment implied. De Courcy, 
indeed, was himself unconscious that he entertained any 
such prejudice. He applauded Laura's exertions ; he ap- 
proved of the spirit which led a young woman of family 
to dare, in spite of custom, to be useful. Yet he could not 
help acting as if she had shared the opinion of the world, 
and been herself ashamed of her labours. But this was a 
shame which Laura knew not. She wished not indeed to 
intrude on the world's notice. Her choice was peaceful 
obscurity. But, if she must be known, she would have 
far preferred the distinction earned by ingenious industry, 
to the notoriety which wealth and luxury can purchase. 

On her return home, she found her father reading a let- 
ter which he had just received from De Courcy. It seemed 
written in an hour of melancholy. The writer made no 
mention of returning to town; on the contrary, he ex- 
pressed a hope that Montreville might now be able to un- 
dertake a journey to Scotland. He besought the Captain 
to remember him, to speak of him often, and to write to 
him sometimes ; and ended with these words " Farewell, 
my friend ; the dearest of my earthly hopes is, that we 
may one day meet again, though years, long years, must 
first intervene." 

(f So ends my last hope," said Montreville, letting his 
his head sink mournfully on his breast ; " De Courcy 
comes not, and thou must be left alone and unprotected." 

" The protection of so young a man," said Laura, avoid- 
ing to answer to a foreboding which she considered merely 
as a symptom of her father's disease, " might not perhaps 
have appeared advantageous to me in the eyes of those who 
are unacquainted with Mr. de Courcy." 

<{ It would have given comfort to my dying hour," said 
Montreville, " to consign thee to such a guardian such a 
husband." 

. "A husband!" cried Laura, starting and turning pale. 
" Heaven be praised, that Mr. de Courcy never harboured 
such a thought \" 

Montreville looked up in extreme surprise, and enquired 
the reason of her thankfulness. " Oh, sir," she replied, 



SELF-CONTROL. 153 

" we owe so much to Mr. de Courcy's friendship,, that I 
should have hated myself for being unable to return his 
affection ; and pity would it have been that the love of 
so amiable a being should have been bestowed in vain." 

Montreville fixed his eyes upon her, as if to seek for 
farther explanation, and continued to gaze on her face, 
when his thonghts had wandered from the examination of 
it. After some minutes of silence, he said " Laura, you 
once rejected an alliance, splendid beyond my hopes, almost 
beyond my wishes, and that with a man formed to be the 
darling of your sex ; and now you speak as if even Mon- 
tague de Courcy would have failed to gain you. Tell me, 
then, have you any secret attachment ? Speak candidly, 
Laura ; you will not always have a father to confide in." 

Deep crimson dyed the cheeks of Laura ; but, with the 
hesitation of a moment, she replied "No, sir, I have no 
wish to marry. I pretend not to lay open my whole heart to 
you ; but I may with truth assure you, that there is not at 
this moment a man in being with whom I would unite myself. 
I know you would not be gratified by extorted confidence." 

" No, Laura," said Montreville, " I ask no more than 
you willingly avow. I confide, as I have always done, in 
your prudence and integrity. Soon, alas ! you will have 
no other guides. But it was my heart's wish to see you 
united to a man who could value and protect your worth - 
of late, more especially, when I feel that I so soon must 
leave you." 

" My dearest father," said Laura, throwing her arm af- 
fectionately round his neck, " do not give way to such 
gloomy forebodings. Your spirits are oppressed by con- 
finement let us but see Glenalbert again, and all will be 
well." 

"I shall never see Glenalbert," said Montreville; 
" and left alone in such a place as this, without money, 
without friends, without a home; where shall my child 
find safety or shelter?" 

" Indeed, sir," said Laura, though a cold shuddering 
seized her, " your fears have no foundation. Only yester- 
day Dr. Flint told me that your complaints were without 
danger, and that a little exercise would make you quite 
strong again." 



154 SELF-CONTROL. 

Montreville shook his head. " Dr. Flint deceives you, 
Laura/' said he ; " you deceive yourself." 

" No, indeed," said Laura, though she trembled ; " you 
look much better, you are much better. It is only these 
melancholy thoughts which retard your recovery. Trust 
yourself trust me to the Providence that has hitherto 
watched over us." 

" I could die without alarm," said Montreville ; " but 
to leave thee alone and in want oh ! I cannot bear it." 

" Should the worst befall," said Laura, turning pale as 
alabaster, " think that I shall not be alone, I shall not want, 
for " her voice failed, but she raised her eyes with an 
expression which filled up the ennobling sentiment. 

" I believe it, my love," said Montreville, " but you 
feel these consolations more strongly than I do. Leave me 
for the present; I am fatigued with speaking, and wish to 
be alone." 

Laura retired to her own room, and endeavoured herself 
to practise the trust which she recommended to her father. 
Her meditations were interrupted by the entrance of her 
landlady, Mrs. Stubbs, who with many courtesies and apo- 
logies, said that she was come to present her account. 
Laura who always had pleasure in cancelling a debt the 
moment it was incurred, and who conceived no apology to 
be necessary from those who came to demand only their 
own, received her landlady very graciously, and begged her 
to be seated, while she went to bring her father's purse. 
Mrs. Stubbs spread her bills upon the table ; and Laura, 
after examining them, was obliged to ask an explanation. 

" Why ma'am," returned the landlady, " there are four- 
teen guineas for lodgings for six weeks, and 101. 1 5s. for 
victuals and other articles which I have furnished. I am 
sure I have kept an exact account." 

" I understood," said Laura, " that we were to have the 
lodgings for a guinea and a half a-week, and " 

"A guinea and a half!" cried the landlady, colouring 
with wrath at this disparagement of her property. " Sure, 
Miss, you did not think to have lodgings such as these for 
a guinea and a half a-week. No, no these lodgings have 
never been let for less than four guineas, and never shall as 
long as my name is Bridget." 



SELF-CONTROL. 155 

Laura mildly pleaded her ignorance of those matters, 
and urged De Courcy's information as an excuse for her 
mistake. " To be sure, ma'am," said the now pacified 
Mrs. Stubbs, " nobody that know'd any thing of the mat- 
ter, would expect to have such rooms for less than four 
guineas ; and that was what the gentleman said when he 
took them ; so he paid me two guineas and a half advance 
for four weeks, and charged me not to let you know of it ; 
but I can't abide them secret doings ; and, besides, if I 
take only a guinea and a half from you, where was I to 
look for the rest of my rent for the last fortnight for the 
young gentleman seems to have taken himself off? " 

Laura suffered her loquacious hostess to proceed without 
interruption, for her thoughts were fully occupied. She 
had incurred a debt greater, by five guineas, than she had 
been prepared to expect ; and this sum was, in her present 
circumstances, of great importance. Yet her predominant 
feeling was grateful approbation of De Courcy's bene- 
volence ; nor did her heart at all upbraid him with the 
consequences of his well-meant deception. " Kind, con- 
siderate De Courcy," thought she : " he had hoped that, ere 
now, we should have ceased to need his generosity, and even 
have been removed from the possibility of discovering it." 

Recollecting herself, she paid the landlady her full de- 
mand ; and, dismissing her, sat down to examine what 
remained of her finances. All that she possessed she 
found amounted to no more than one guinea and a few shil- 
lings ; and, dropping the money into her lap, she sat gazing 
on it in blank dismay. 

The poverty, whose approach she had so long contem- 
plated with a fearful eye, had now suddenly overtaken her. 
Husbanded with whatever care, the sum before her could 
minister only to the wants of a few hours. In her present 
habitation, it would scarcely purchase shelter for another 
night from the storm which a keen winter wind was begin- 
ning to drive against her window. An immediate supply 
then was necessary ; but where could that supply be found ? 
It was too late to resort to the earnings of her own genius. 
Painting was a work of time and labour. No hasty pro- 
duction was likely to find favour amidst the competition 
of studied excellence. Even the highest effort of her art 



156 



SELF-CONTROL. 



might long wait a purchaser ; and tears fell from the eyes 
of Laura while she reflected that, even if she could again pro- 
duce a Leonidas, she might never again find a De Courcy. 

To borrow money on her father's half-pay was an ex- 
pedient which Laura had always rejected, as calculated to 
load their scanty income with a burden which it could 
neither shake off nor bear. But even to this expedient she 
could now no longer have recourse ; for Montreville had 
assured her, that, in his presnt state of health, it would be 
impossible to mortgage his annuity for a single guinea. 

She might raise a small supply by stripping her beloved 
Glenalbert of some of its little luxuries and comforts ; but, 
long before this revolting business could be transacted, she 
must be absolutely penniless. Nor did she dare, without 
consulting her father, to give orders for dismantling his 
home. And how should she inform him of the necessity 
for such a sacrifice ? Weakened both in body and in mind, 
how would he endure the privations that attend on real 
penury ? His naturally feeble spirits already crushed to 
the earth, his kindly temper already, by anxiety and dis- 
appointment, turned to gall, his anxieties for his child 
alarmed even to anguish, how could he bear to learn that 
real want had reached him had reached that dear child, 
the dread of leaving whom to poverty was poisoning the 
springs of life within him ! " He thinks he is about to 
leave me," cried she, " and shall I tell him that I must 
owe to charity even the sod that covers him from me ? 
No; I will perish first;" and, starting from her seat, she 
paced the room in distressful meditation on the means of 
concealing from her father the extent of their calamity. 

She determined to take upon herself the care of their 
little fund, under pretence that the trouble was too great 
for Montreville. He had of late shown such listless in- 
difference to all domestic concerns, that she hoped he might 
never enquire into the extent of his landlady's demand, or 
that his enquiries might be eluded. It seemed a light 
thing in Laura's eyes to suffer alone ; or rather she thought 
not of her own sufferings, could she but spare to her father 
the anguish of knowing himself and his child utterly des- 
titute. She judged of his feelings by her own ; felt, by 
sympathy, all the pangs with which he would witness 



SELF-CONTROL. 157 

wants which he could not supply ; and she inwardly vowed 
to conceal from him every privation that she might endure, 
every labour that she might undergo. 

But, void of every resource, far from every friend, des- 
titute amid boundless wealth, alone amid countless mul- 
titudes, whither should she turn for^aid, or even for counsel ? 
" Whither," cried she, dropping on her knees, " except to 
Him who hath supplied me in yet more urgent want, who 
hath counselled me in yet more fearful difficulty, who hath 
fed my soul with angels' food, and guided it with light from 
heaven." Laura rose from her devotions, more confiding in 
the care of Providence, more able to consider calmly of im- 
proving the means which still remained within her own power. 

Before she could finish and dispose of a picture, weeks 
must elapse for which she could make no provision. To 
painting, therefore, she could not have immediate recourse. 
But sketches in chalk could be finished with expedition ; 
the print-seller might undertake the sale of them ; and the 
lowness of the price might invite purchasers. Could she 
but hope to obtain a subsistence for her father, she would 
labour night and day, deprive herself of recreation, of rest, 
even of daily food, rather than wound his heart, by an ac- 
quaintance with poverty. " And since his pride is hurt 
by the labours of his child," said she, "even his pride 
shall be sacred. He shall never know my labours." And, 
so frail are even the best ! an emotion of pride swelled 
the bosom of Laura at the thought that the merit of her 
toils was enhanced by their secrecy. 

The resolutions of Laura were ever the immediate pre- 
lude to action ; and here was no time for delay. She again 
looked mournfully upon her little treasure, hopelessly re- 
examined the purse that contained it ; again, with dismay, 
remembered that it was her all; then, hastily putting it 
into her pocket, she drew her portfolio towards her, and 
began to prepare for her work with the hurry of one to 
whom every moment seems precious. Invention was at 
present impossible; but she tried to recollect one of her 
former designs, and busied herself in sketching it till the 
hour of dinner arrived. She then went to summon her 
father from his chamber to the eating-room. " This day," 



158 SELF-CONTROL. 

thought she, <( I must share his precarious sustenance, 
hereafter I shall be more provident. And is this, then, 
perhaps, our last social meal ? " and she turned for a mo- 
ment from the door, to suppress the emotion which would 
have choked her utterance. " Come in, my dear," cried 
Montreville, who had heard her footstep ; and Laura en- 
tered with a smile. She offered her arm to assist him in 
descending to the parlour. " Why will you always urge 
me to go down stairs, Laura ? " said he ; " you see I am 
unequal to the fatigue." "I shall not urge you to- 
morrow," answered Laura ; and Montreville thought the 
tears which stood in her eyes were the consequence of the 
impatient tone in which he had spoken. 

During the evening, Laura avoided all mention of re- 
storing the purse to her father, and he appeared to have 
forgotten its existence. But, by no effort could she beguile 
those cheerless hours. Her utmost exertions were necessary 
to maintain the appearance of composure ; and DeCourcy's 
letter seemed to have consummated Montreville's feelings 
of solitude and desolation. Wilfully, and without effort, 
he suffered his spirits to expire. His whole train of think- 
ing had become habitually gloomy. He was wretched, even 
without reference to his situation; and the original cause of 
his melancholy was rather the excuse than the reason of 
his depression. But this only rendered more hopeless all 
attempts to cheer him ; for the woes of the imagination 
have this dire pre-eminence over such as spring from real 
evils, that, while these can warm at times in benevolent 
joy, or even brighten for a moment to the flash of innocent 
gaiety, the selfishness of the former, checkered by no kindly 
feeling, reflects not the sunny smile ; as the dark and noi- 
some fog drinks in vain the beam of Heaven. 

Montreville, when in health, had been always and justly 
thought a kind-hearted, good-natured man. He had been 
a most indulgent husband, an easy master, and a fond 
father. He was honourable, generous, and friendly. Those 
who had witnessed his patient endurance of Lady Harriet's 
caprice had given his philosophy a credit which was better 
due to his indolence : for the grand defect of Montreville's 
character was a total want of fortitude and self-command ; 



SELF-CONTROL. 159 

and of these failings he was now paying the penalty. His 
health was injured by his voluntary inaction ; his fancy 
aggravated his real disorder, and multiplied to infinity his 
imaginary ailments. He had habituated his mind to images 
of disaster, till it had become incapable of receiving any 
but comfortless and doleful impressions. 

After spending a few silent hours without effort towards 
employment or recreation, he retired for the night; and 
Laura experienced a sensation of relief, as, shutting herself 
into her apartment, she prepared to resume her labours. 
After every other member of the family had retired to rest, 
she continued to work till her candle expired in the socket ; 
and then threw herself on her bed to rise again with the 
first blush of dawn. 

Montreville had been accustomed to breakfast in his own 
room ; Laura, therefore, found no difficulty in beginning 
her system of abstemiousness. Hastily swallowing a few 
mouth sful of dry bread, she continued her drawing, till her 
father -rung for his chocolate. She was fully resolved to 
adhere to this plan, to labour with unceasing industry, and 
to deny herself whatever was not essential to her existence. 

But neither hard fare, nor labour, nor confinement, could 
occasion to Laura such pain as she suffered from another 
of the necessities of her situation. Amidst her mournful 
reflections, it had occurred to her, that unless she would 
incur a debt which she could not hope to discharge, it would 
be necessary to dismiss the surgeon who attended her father. 
All her ideas of honour and integrity revolted from suf- 
fering a man to expend his time and trouble, in expectation 
of a return which she was unable to make. She was, be- 
sides, convinced that in Montreville's case medicine could 
be of no avail. But she feared to hint the subject to her 
father, lest it should lead to a discovery of their present 
circumstances ; and such was her conviction of the feeble- 
ness of his spirits, and such her dread of the consequences 
of their increased depression, that all earthly evils seemed 
light compared with that of adding to his distress. Laura 
perhaps judged wrong ; for one real evil sometimes ame- . 
liorates the condition, by putting to flight a host of ima- 
ginary calamities, and by compelling that exertion which 
makes any situation tolerable. But she trembled for the 



160 



SELF-CONTROL. 



effects of the slightest additional suffering upon the life or 
the reason of her father ; and she would have thought it 
little less than parricide to add a new bruise to the wounded 
spirit. On the other hand, she dreaded that Montreville, 
if kept in ignorance of its real cause, might consider the 
desertion of his medical attendant as an intimation that his 
case was hopeless, and, perhaps, become the victim of his 
imaginary danger. 

She knew not on what to resolve. Her distress and 
perplexity were extreme ; and if any thing could have 
vanquished the stubborn integrity of Laura, the present 
temptation would have prevailed. But no wilful fraud 
could be the issue of her deliberations, who was steadily 
convinced that inflexible justice looks on to blast with a 
curse even the successful schemes of villany, and to shed a 
blessing on the sorrows of the upright. She would not 
even for her father incur a debt which she could never 
hope to pay ; and nothing remained but to consider of the 
best means of executing her painful determination. 

Here a new difficulty occurred, for she could not decline 
the surgeon's further attendance without offering to dis- 
charge what she already owed. In the present state of her 
funds, this was utterly impossible ; for though, at her in- 
stigation, his bill had been lately paid, she was sure that 
the new one must already amount to more than all she 
possessed. How to procure the necessary supply she knew 
not ; for even if she could have secured the immediate sale 
of her drawings, the price of her daily and nightly toil 
would scarcely suffice to pay for the expensive habitation 
which she durst not propose to leave, and to bribe the 
fastidious appetite of Montreville with dainties of which he 
could neither bear the want nor feel the enjoyment. 

Once only, and it was but for a moment, she thought of 
appealing to the humanity of Dr. Flint, of unfolding to him 
her situation, and begging his attendance upon the chance 
of future remuneration. But Laura was destined once more 
to pay the penalty of her hasty judgments of character. 
On Montreville's first illness, Dr. Flint had informed Laura, 
with (as she thought) great want of feeling, of her father's 
danger. He was a gaunt, atrabilious, stern-looking man, 
with a rough voice, and cold repulsive manners. He had, 



SELF-CONTROL. 



161 



moreover, an uninviting name ; and though Laura was 
ashamed to confess to herself that such trifles could influ- 
ence her judgment, these disadvantages were the real cause 
why she always met Dr. Flint with a sensation resembling 
that with which one encounters a cold, damp, north-east 
wind. To make any claim upon the benevolence of a 
stranger and such a stranger ! It was not to be thought 
of. Yet Laura's opinion, or rather her feelings, wronged 
Dr. Flint. His exterior, it is true, was far from prepos- 
sessing. It is also true, that, considering Montreville's 
first illness as the effect of a very unpardonable levity on 
the part of Laura, he had spoken to her on that occasion 
with even more than his usual frigidity. Nor did he either 
possess or lay claim to any great share of sensibility ; but 
he was not destitute of humanity ; and had Laura explained 
to him her situation, he would willingly have attended her 
father without prospect of recompense. But Laura did not 
put his benevolence to the test. She suffered him to make 
his morning visit and depart, while she was considering of 
a plan which appeared little less revolting. 

Laura knew that one of the most elegant houses in 
Grosvenor Street was inhabited by a Lady Pelham, the 
daughter of Lady Harriet Montreville's mother by a former 
marriage. She knew that, for many years, little intercourse 
had subsisted between the sisters ; and that her father was 
even wholly unknown to Lady Pelham. But she was ig- 
norant, that the imprudence of her mother's marriage served 
as the excuse for a coldness, which had really existed before 
it had any such pretext. 

With all her Scottish prejudice in favour of the claims 
of kindred (and Laura in this and many other respects was 
entirely a Scotchwoman), she could not, without the ut- 
most repugnance, think of applying to her relation. To 
introduce herself to a stranger whom she had never seen, 
to appear not only as an inferior, but as a supplicant 
a beggar ! Laura had long and successfully combated the 
innate pride of human nature ; but her humility almost 
failed under this trial. Her illustrious ancestry, the dig- 
nity of a gentlewoman, the independence of one who can 
bear to labour and endure to want, all rose successively to 



162 SELF-CONTROL. 

her mind ; for pride can wear many specious forms. But 
she had nearer claims than the honour of her ancestry, 
dearer concerns than her personal importance ; and when 
she thought of her father, she felt that she was no longer 
independent. 

Severe was her struggle, and bitter were the tears which 
she shed over the conviction that it was right for her to be- 
come a petitioner for the bounty of a stranger. In vain did 
she repeat to herself, that she was a debtor to the care of 
Providence for her daily bread, and was not entitled to 
choose the means by which it was supplied. She could not 
conquer her reluctance. But she could act right in defiance 
of it. She could sacrifice her own feelings to the comfort of 
her father to a sense of duty. Nay, upon reflection, she 
could rejoice that circumstances compelled her to quell that 
proud spirit with which, as a Christian, she maintained a 
constant and vigorous combat. 

While these thoughts were passing in her mind, she had 
finished her drawing ; and, impatient to know how far this 
sort of labour was likely to be profitable, she furnished her 
father with a book to amuse him in her absence ; and, for 
the first time since they had occupied their present lodgings, 
expressed a wish to take a walk for amusement. Had Mon- 
treville observed the blushes that accompanied this little 
subterfuge, he would certainly have suspected that the 
amusement which this walk promised was of no common 
kind ; but he was in one of his reveries, hanging over the 
mantle-piece, with his forehead resting on his arm, and 
did not even look up while he desired her not to be long 
absent. 

She resolved to go first to Lady Pelham, that coming 
early she might find her disengaged, and afterwards to pro- 
ceed to the print-shop. 

The wind blew keen across the snow as Laura began her 
reluctant pilgrimage. Her summer attire, to \vhich her 
finances could afford no addition, ill defended her from the 
blast. Through the streets of London she was to explore 
her way unattended. Accustomed to find both safety and 
pleasure in the solitude of her walks, she was to mix in the 
throngs of a rude rabble, without protection from insult. 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 63 

But no outward circumstances could add to the feelings of 
comfortless dismay with which she looked forward to the 
moment, when, ushered through stately apartments into the 
presence of self-important greatness, she should announce 
herself a beggar. Her courage failed she paused, and 
made one step back towards her home. But she recalled her 
former thoughts. ft I have need to be humbled," said she : 
and again proceeded on her way. 

As she left the little garden which surrounded her lodg- 
ing, she perceived an old man who had taken shelter by 
one of the pillars of the gate. 

He shivered in the cold, which found easy entrance 
through the rags that covered him, and famine glared from 
his hollow eye. His grey hair streamed on the wind, as he 
held out the tattered remains of a hat, and said, (( Please to 
help me, lady I am very poor." He spoke in the dialect 
of her native land, and the accents went to Laura's heart ; 
for Laura was in the land of strangers. She had never 
been deaf to the petitions of the poor ; for all the poor of 
Glenalbert were known to her ; and she knew that what 
she spared from her own comforts, was not made the 
minister of vice. Her purse was already in her hand, ere 
she remembered that to give was become a crime. 

As the thought crossed her, she started like one who had 
escaped from sudden danger. " No, I must not give you 
money," said she, and returned the purse into her pocket, 
with a pang which taught her the true bitterness of poverty. 
(( 1 am cold and hungry," said the man, still pleading, 
and taking encouragement from Laura's relenting eye. 
(e Hungry !" repeated Laura, (C then come with me, and 
I will give you bread;" and she returned to the house to 
bestow on the old man the humble fare which she had be- 
fore destined to supply her own wants for the day, glad 
to purchase by a longer fast the right to feed the hungry. 

" In what respect am I better than this poor creature," 
said she to herself, as she returned with the beggar to the 
gate, " that I should offer to him with ease, and even with 
pleasure, what I myself cannot ask wi thout pain ? Surely 
I do not rightly believe that we are of the same dust ! the 
same frail, sinful, perishable dust ?" 
M 2 



1 64 SELF- CONTROL. 

But it was in vain that Laura continued to argue with 
herself. In this instance she could only do her duty ; she 
could not love it. Her heart filled., and the tears rose to 
her eyes. She dashed them away but they rose again. 

When she found herself in Grosvenor Street, she paused 
for a moment. " What if Lady Pelham should deny my 
request ? dismiss me as a bold intruder ? Why, then," 
said Laura, raising her head, and again advancing with a 
firmer step, " I shall owe no obligation to a stranger." 

She approached the house she ascended the steps. 
Almost breathless she laid her hand upon the knocker. 
At that moment she imagined her- entrance through files of 
insolent domestics, into a room filled with gay company. 
She anticipated the inquisitive glances shrunk in fancy 
from the supercilious examination ; and she again drew 
back her hand. " I shall never have courage to face all 
this/' thought she. While we hesitate, a trifle turns the 
scale. Laura perceived that she had drawn the attention of 
a young man on the pavement, who stood gazing on her 
with familiar curiosity ; and she knocked, almost before she 
was sensible that she intended it. 

The time appeared immeasurable till the door was 
opened by a maid-servant. " Is Lady Pelham at home ?" 
enquired Laura, taking encouragement from the sight of 
one of her own sex. " No, ma'am," answered the maid, 

" my Lady is gone to keep Christmas in shire, and 

will not return for a fortnight." Laura drew a long deep 
breath, as if a weight had been lifted from her breast ; 
and, suppressing an ejaculation of " thank Heaven," 
sprung in the lightness of her heart at one skip from the 
door to the pavement. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

LAURA'S exultation was of short continuance. She had 
gone but a few steps ere she reflected that the wants which 
she had undertaken so painful a visit to supply were as 



SELF-CONTROL. 



165 



pressing as ever, and now further than ever from a chance 
of relief. Mournfully she pursued her way towards the 
print-shop, hopelessly comparing her urgent and probably 
prolonged necessities with her confined resources. 

The utmost price which she could hope to receive for 
the drawing she carried,, would be far from sufficient to 
discharge her debt to the surgeon ; and there seemed now 
no alternative but to confess her inability to pay, and to 
throw herself upon his mercy. To this measure, however, 
she was too averse to adopt it without considering every 
other possible expedient. She thought of appealing to the 
friendship of Mrs. Douglas, and of suffering Dr. Flint to 
continue his visits till an answer from her friend should 
enable her to close the connection. But Mrs. Douglas's 
scanty income was taxed to the uttermost by the main- 
tenance and education of a numerous family, by the liberal 
charities of its owners, and by the hospitable spirit, which, 
banished by ostentation from more splendid abodes, still 
lingers by the fireside of a Scottish clergyman. Laura was 
sure that Mrs. Douglas would supply her wants at what- 
ever inconvenience to herself ; and this very consideration 
withheld her from making application to her friend. 

Laura had heard and read that ladies in distress had 
found subsistence by the sale of their ornaments. But by 
their example she could not profit : for her ornaments 
were few in number and of no value. - She wore indeed a 
locket, which she had received from her mother, with an 
injunction neither to lose it nor to give it away ; but Laura, 
in her profound ignorance of the value of trinkets, at- 
tached no estimation to this one, except as the only unne- 
cessary gift which she had ever received from her mother. 
" It contains almost as much gold as a guinea," said she, 
putting her hand to it, ' ' and a guinea will soon be a great 
treasure to me." Still she determined that nothing short 
of extremity should induce her to part with it ; but de- 
sirous to ascertain the extent of this last resource, she en- 
tered the shop of a jeweller, and presenting the locket, 
begged to know its value. 

After examining it, the jeweller replied that he believed it 
might be worth about five guineas ; (e for though," said he, 

31 3 



166 



SELF-CONTROL. 



" the setting is antiquated, these emeralds are worth some- 
thing." 

At the mention of this sum, all Laura's difficulties 
seemed to vanish. Besides enabling her to pay the sur- 
geon, it would make an addition to her little fund. With 
rigorous abstinence on her part, this little fund, together 
with the price of her incessant labour,, might pay for her 
lodgings, and support her father in happy ignorance of his 
poverty, till he was able to remove to Glenalbert. Then, 
when he was quite well and quite able to bear it, she would 
tell him how she had toiled for him, and he would see 
that he had not lavished his fondness on a thankless 
child. 

These thoughts occupied far less time than the recital ; 
and yet, ere they were passed, Laura had untied the locket 
from her neck, and put it into the hands of the jeweller. 
It was not till she saw it in the hands of another, that she 
felt all the pain of parting with it. She asked to see it 
once more ; as she gazed on it for the last time, tears 
trickled from her eyes : but speedily wiping them away, 
and averting her head, she restored the locket to its new 
owner, and taking up the inoney, departed. 

She soon arrived at the print-shop, and finding Wilkins 
disengaged, produced her drawing, and asked him to pur- 
chase it. Wilkins looked at it, and enquired what price she 
put upon it. " I am quite unacquainted with its real value," 
answered she, ec but the rapid sale of my work is at present 
such an object to me, that I shall willingly make it as 
cheap as possible, or allow you to fix your own price." 
ff Have you any more to dispose of, ma'am?" asked 
Wilkins. "I have none finished," answered Laura, 
tf but I think I could promise you six more in a week if 
you are inclined to take them." " 1 think," said Wilkins, 
after some consideration, " I might venture to take them 
if you could afford them for half-a-guinea each." fc You 
shall have them," said Laura, with a sigh ; " but I think 
half-a-guinea rather a low a high, I believe, I mean " 

Laura did not at this moment exactly know what she 
meant : for her eyes had just rested on a gentleman, who, 
with his back towards her, was busied in examining a book 



SELF-CONTROL. 1 6? 

of caricatures. She thought she could not be mistaken in 
the person. Only one form upon earth was endowed with 
such symmetry and grace ; and that form was Hargrave's. 
He slightly turned his head, and Laura was certain. 

Though Laura neither screamed nor fainted, this recog- 
nition was not made without extreme emotion. She trembled 
violently, and a mist spread before her eyes ; but she re- 
membered the apparently wilful desertion of her lover; and, 
determined neither to claim his compassion nor gratify his 
vanity by any of the airs of a forsaken damsel, she quietly 
turned away from him, and leant against the counter to re- 
cover strength and composure. 

She was resolved to quit the shop the instant that she 
was able ; and yet, perhaps, she would have become sooner 
sensible of her recovered powers of motion, had it not been 
for a latent hope that the caricatures would not long continue 
so very interesting. No one, however, accosted her ; and 
next came the idea that Hargrave had already observed her, 
without wishing to claim her acquaintance. Before the 
mortifying thought could take a distinct form, Laura was 
already on her way towards the door. 

" You have left your half-guinea, ma'am," said Wilkins, 
calling after her ; and Laura, half-angry at being detained, 
turned back to fetch it. At this moment Hargrave's eye 
fell upon her half-averted face. Surprise and joy illumin- 
ating his fine countenance, " Laura ! " he exclaimed, " is it 
possible ! have I at last found you ? " and springing for- 
ward, he clasped her to his breast, regardless of the inqui- 
sitive looks and significant smiles of the spectators of his 
transports. But to the scrutiny of strangers, to the caresses 
of Hargrave, even to the indecorum of her situation, poor 
Laura was insensible. Weakened by the fatigue and emo- 
tion of the two preceding days, overcome by the sudden 
conviction that she had not been wilfully neglected, her 
head sunk upon the shoulder of Hargrave, and she lost all 
consciousness. 

When Laura recovered, she found herself in a little 
parlour adjoining to the shop, with no attendant but Har- 
grave, who still supported her in his arms. Her first 
thought was vexation at her own ill-timed sensibility ; her 
js 4 



168 



SELF-CONTROL. 



next, a resolution to make no further forfeiture of her re- 
spectability, but rather, by the most stoical composure, to 
regain what she had lost. For this purpose, she soon dis- 
engaged herself from her perilous support, and unwilling to 
speak till secure of maintaining her firmness, she averted 
her head, and returned all Hargrave's raptures of love and 
joy with provoking silence. 

As soon as she had completely recovered her self-pos- 
session, she rose, and apologising for the trouble she had 
occasioned him, said she would return home. Hargrave 
eagerly begged permission to accompany her, saying that 
his carriage was in waiting, and would convey them. Laura, 
with cold politeness, declined his offer. Though a little 
piqued by her manner, Hargrave triumphed in the idea 
that he retained all his former influence. " My bewitching 
Laura," said he, taking her hand, " I beseech you to lay 
aside this ill-timed coquetry. After so sweet, so interesting 
a proof that you still allow me some power over your feel- 
ings, must I accuse you of an affectation of coldness ? " 
" No, sir," said Laura indignantly, ' ' rather of a momentary 
weakness, for which I despise myself." 

The lover could not indeed have chosen a more unfa- 
vourable moment to express his exultation; for Laura's 
feelings of humiliation and self-reproach were just then 
raised to their height, by her perceiving the faces of two of 
the shop-boys peeping through the glass door with an aspect 
of roguish curiosity. Conscious of her inability to walk 
home, and feeling her situation quite intolerable, she called 
to one of the little spies, and begged that he would instantly 
procure her a hackney coach. 

Hargrave vehemently remonstrated against this order. 
" Why this unkind haste ? " said he. " Surely after so 
tedious, so tormenting an absence, you need not grudge me 
a few short moments." Laura thought he was probably 
himself to blame for the absence of which he complained, 
and coldly answering, '.' I have already been detained too 
long," was about to quit the room, when Hargrave, impa- 
tiently seizing her hand, exclaimed, " Unfeeling Laura ! 
does that relentless pride nerer slumber ? Have 1 followed 



SELF-CONTROL. 



169 



you from Scotland, and sought you for three anxious months, 
to be met without one kind word,, one pitying look ! " 

" Followed me ! " repeated Laura with surprise. 

" Yes., upon my life, my journey hither had no other 
object. After you so cruelly left me, without warning or 
farewell, how could I endure to exist in the place which 
you once made delightful to me. Indeed I could not bear 
it. I resolved to pursue you wherever you went, to breathe 
at least the same air with you, sometimes to feast my fond 
eyes with that form, beyond imagination lovely perhaps 
to win that beguiling smile which no heart can withstand. 
The barbarous caution of Mrs. Douglas in refusing me 
your address, has caused the disappointment of all my 
hopes." 

Hargrave had egregiously mistaken the road to Laura's 
favour when he threw a reflection updn her friend. " Mrs. 
Douglas certainly acted right," said she : " I have equal 
confidence in her prudence and in her friendship." 

ee Probably, then," said Hargrave, reddening with vex- 
ation, " this system of torture originated with you. It was 
at your desire that your friend withstood all my entreaties." 

" No," answered Laura, (f I cannot claim the merit of 
so much foresight. I certainly did not expect the honour 
which you are pleased to say you have done me, especially 
when you were doubtful both of my abode and of your own 
reception." 

" Insulting girl ! " cried Hargrave, ' ' you know too well, 
that, however received, still I must follow you. And, but 
for a series of the most tormenting accidents, I should have 
defeated the caution of your cold-hearted favourite. At the 
Perth post-office, I discovered that your letters were ad- 
dressed to the care of Mr. Baynard; and the very hour that 
I reached London, I flew to make enquiries after you. 1 
found that Mr. Baynard's house was shut up, and that he 
was gone in bad health to Richmond. I followed him, and 
was told that he was too ill to be spoken with, that none of 
the servants knew your abode, as the footman who used to 
carry messages to you had been dismissed, and that your 
letters were now left at Mr. Baynard's chambers in town. 
Thither I went, and learnt that, ever since Mr. Baynard's 



1?0 SELF-CONTROL. 

removal to Richmond, you had yourself sent for your letters, 
and that, of course, the clerks were entirely ignorant of 
your residence. Imagine my disappointment ! The people, 
however, promised to make enquiries of your messenger, 
and to let me know where you might be found ; and day 
after day did I haunt them, the sport of vain hope and 
bitter disappointment. No other letter ever came from you, 
nor did you ever enquire for any." 

" After Mr. Baynard's .removal to Richmond," said 
Laura, " I directed Mrs. Douglas to address her letters to 
our lodgings." 

" Ah Laura, think what anxieties, what wretchedness I 
have suffered in my fruitless search ! Yet you meet me only 
to drive me coldly from your presence. Once you said that 
you pardoned the folly the madness which offended you ; 
but too well I see that you deceived yourself or me that 
no attachment, no devotion can purchase your forgiveness." 

" Indeed," said Laura, melted by the proof which she 
had received of her lover's affection, yet fearful of forfeiting 
her caution, " I am incapable of harbouring enmity against 
the worst of human beings, and " 

(e Enmity!" interrupted Hargrave: ec Heavens, what a 
word ! " 

" I mean," said Laura, faltering, " that I am not insen- 
sible to the regard " 

" Madam, the coach is at the door," said the shop-boy, 
again peeping slily into the room j and Laura, hastily bidding 
Hargrave good morning, walked towards the carriage. Hav- 
ing herself given the coachman his directions, she suffered 
Hargrave to hand her in, giving him a slight bow in token 
of dismissal. He continued, however, to stand for some 
moments with his foot upon the step, waiting for a look of 
permission to accompany her; but receiving none, he sprung 
into the seat by her side, and called to the man to drive on. 
Laura offended at his boldness, gave him a very ungracious 
look, and drew back in silence. " I see you think me pre- 
sumptuous," said he, (< but, just found, how can I consent 
to leave you ? Oh, Laura, if you knew what I have suffered 
from an absence which seemed endless ! Not for worlds 
would I endure such another." 



SELF-CON TBOL. 1 

" The stipulated two years are still far from a close," 
said Laura coldly ; " and, till they are ended, our intercourse 
cannot be too slight." 

ee Surely," cried Hargrave, " when you fixed this linger- 
ing probation, you did not mean to banish me from your 
presence for two years !" Laura Could not with truth aver 
that such a banishment had been her intention. " I believe," 
said she, suppressing a sigh, (C that would have been my 
wisest meaning." l( I would sooner die," cried Hargrave, 
vehemently : " oh, had I sooner found you," added he, a 
dark expression which Laura could not define clouding his 
countenance, Cf what wretchedness would have been spared ! 
But now that we have at last met," continued he, his eyes 
again sparkling with love and hope, tf I will haunt you, cling 
to you, supplicate you, till I melt you to a passion as fervent 
as my own." While he spoke he dropped upon his knee by 
her side, and threw his arm passionately round her. Time 
had been when Laura would have withdrawn from the em- 
brace, womanly shame alone rejecting caresses which yet 
she never imagined to be less holy than a mother's kiss. 
But Hargrave had himself torn the veil from her eyes; and 
shrinking from him as if a serpent had crossed her path, she 
cast on him a look which struck like an ice-bolt on the 
glowing heart of Hargrave. ( ' Just Heaven ! " he cried, 
starting up with a convulsive shudder, " this is abhorrence ! 
Why, why have you deceived me with a false show of sen- 
sibility ? Speak it at once," said he, wildly grasping her 
arm ; " say that you detest me, and tell me too who has 
dared to supplant me in a heart once wholly mine." 

" Be calm, I implore you," said Laura, terrified at his 
violence, " no one has supplanted you. I am, I ever shall 
be, whatever you deserve to find me/' 

Laura's soothing voice, her insinuating look, retained all 
their wonted power to calm the fierce passions of her lover. 
" Oh I shall never deserve you," said he in a tone of 
wretchedness, while his face was again crossed by an ex- 
pression of anguish, which the unsuspecting Laura attributed 
to remorse for his former treatment of herself. 

The carriage at this moment stopped, and anxious to 
calm his spirits at parting, Laura smiled kindly upon him, 



1 72 SELF-CONTROL. 

and said, (e Be ever thus humble in your opinion of your 
own merits, ever thus partial in your estimate of mine, and 
then," added she, the tears trembling in her lovely eyes, 
fe we may meet again in happier circumstances." , 

" You must not, shall not leave me thus," cried Har- 
grave, impatiently, " I will not quit this spot, till you have 
consented to see me again." 

" Do not ask it," replied Laura. (C A long, long time 
must elapse, much virtuous exertion must be undergone, 
ere I dare receive you with other than this coldness, which 
appears to be so painful to you. Why then sport with your 
own feelings and with mine ? " 

" Ah, Laura," said Hargrave, in a voice of supplication, 
<s use. me as you will, only suffer me to see you." 

Moved with the imploring tone of her lover, Laura 
turned towards him that she might soften by her manner 
the meditated refusal ; but, in an evil hour for her resolu- 
tion, she met the fine eyes of Hargrave suffused with tears, 
and, wholly unable to utter what she intended, she re- 
mained silent. Hargvave was instantly sensible of his 
advantage, and willing to assist her acquiescence by putting 
his request into a less exceptionable form, he said, " I ask 
not even for your notice, suffer me but to visit your father." 

" My father has been very ill," returned Laura, who, 
unknown to herself, rejoiced to find an excuse for her con- 
cession, " and it may give him pleasure to see you ; but / 
can claim no share in the honour of your visits." 

Hargrave, delighted with his success, rapturously thanked 
her for her condescension ; and, springing from the carriage, 
led her, but half- satisfied with her own conduct, into the 
house. She ushered him into the parlour, and before he 
had time to detain her, glided away to acquaint her father 
with his visit. She found the Captain wrapt in the same 
listless melancholy in which she had left him ; the book 
which she had meant to entertain him, used only as a rest 
for his arm. Laura was now beset with her old difficulty. 
She had not yet learnt to speak of Hargrave without sen- 
sible confusion ; and to utter his name while any eye was 
fixed upon her face, required an effort which no common cir- 
cumstances could have tempted her to make. She therefore 



SELF-CONTROL. 

took refuge behind her father's chair, before she began her 
partial relation of her morning's adventure. 

" And is he now in the house ? " cried Montreville, with 
an animation which he had long laid aside. " I rejoice to 
hear it. Return to him immediately, my love. I will see 
him in a few minutes." " As soon as you choose to re- 
ceive him," said Laura, " 1 shall carry your commands. 
I shall remain in the dressing-room." " For shame, 
Laura ! " returned Montreville. " I thought you had been 
above these silly airs of conquest. Colonel Hargrave's re- 
jected passion gives you no right to refuse him the polite- 
ness due to all your father's guests." " Certainly not, 
sir, but " she stopped, hesitating " however," added 
she, ff since you wish it, I will go." 

It was not without embarrassment that Laura returned 
to her lover; to offer him another tete-a-tete seemed so 
like soliciting a renewal of his ardours. In this idea she 
was stopping at the parlour door, collecting her courage, 
and meditating a speech decorously repulsive, when Har- 
grave, who had been listening for her approach, impatiently 
stepped out to look for her, and in a moment spoiled all 
her concerted oratory, by taking her hand and leading her 
into the room. 

Though Hargrave could at any time take Laura's feel- 
ings by surprise, an instant was sufficient to restore her 
self-possession ; and withdrawing her hand, she said, " In 
a few minutes, sir, my father will be glad to see you, and 
at his desire I attend you till he can have that honour." 
" Bless him for the delay !" cried Hargrave : " I have a 
thousand things to say to you." " And I, sir," said Laura, 
solemnly, (c have one thing to say to you, of more import- 
ance to me, probably, than all the thousand." 

Hargrave bit his lip ; and Laura proceeded, her colour, 
as painful recollection rose, fading from the crimson which 
had newly flushed it, to the paleness of anguish. " Six 
months ago," said she, speaking with an effort that rendered 
her words scarcely articulate " six months ago you made 
me a promise. Judge of my anxiety that you should keep 
it, when to secure its fulfilment I can call up a subject so 
revolting so dreadful." She paused a cold shudder 



174 SELF-CONTROL. 

running through her limbs : but Hargrave, abashed and 
disconcerted, gave her no interruption, and ventured not 
even to raise his eyes from the ground. " My father," 
she continued, ec is no longer able to avenge his child ; 
the bare mention of her wrongs would destroy him. If 
then you value my peace if you dread my detestation 
let no circumstance seduce, no accident surprise, from you 
this hateful 'secret." 

While she spoke, the blushes which had deserted her 
cheek were transferred to that of Hargrave ; for though, to 
his own conscience, he had palliated his former outrage till 
it appeared a very venial trespass, he was not proof against 
the unaffected horror with which it had inspired the vir- 
tuous Laura. Throwing himself at her feet, and hiding 
his face in her gown, he bitterly, and for the moment sin- 
cerely, bewailed his offence, and vowed to devote his life to 
its expiation. Then starting up, he struck his hand wildly 
upon his forehead, and exclaimed, " Madman that I have 
been ! Oh, Laura, thy heavenly purity makes me the veriest 
wretch. No thou canst never pardon me ! " 

The innocent Laura, who little suspected all his causes 
of self-reproach, wept tears of joy over his repentance, and, 
in a voice full of tenderness, said, " Indeed I have myself 
too many faults to be unrelenting. Contrition and amend- 
ment are all that Heaven requires why should I ask 
more ! " Hargrave saw that she attributed all his agitation 
to remorse for his conduct towards herself; but the effects 
of her mistake were too delightful to suffer him to unde- 
ceive her ; and perceiving at once that he had found the 
master-spring of all her tenderness, he overpowered her 
with such vows, protestations, and entreaties, that, before 
their conference was interrupted, he had, amidst tremors, 
blushes, and hesitation, which spoke a thousand times more 
than her words, wrung from her a confession that she felt 
a more than friendly interest in the issue of his probation. 

Indeed Montreville was in no haste to break in upon 
their dialogue. That any woman should have refused the 
hand of the handsome the insinuating the gallant Co- 
lonel Hargrave, had always appeared to him little less than 
miraculous. He had been told that ladies sometimes re- 



SELF-CONTROL. 1?5 

jected what they did not mean to relinquish ; and though 
he could scarcely believe his daughter capable of such 
childish coquetry, he was not without faith in a maxim, 
which,, it must be confessed, receives sanction from expe- 
rience, namely, that in all cases of feminine obduracy, per- 
severance is an infallible recipe. This recipe, he had no 
doubt, was now to be tried upon Laura ; and he fervently 
wished that it might be with success. Though he was 
too affectionate a father to form on this subject a wish at 
variance with his daughter's happiness, he had never been 
insensible to the desire of seeing her brow graced by a co- 
ronet. But now more important considerations made him 
truly anxious to consign her to the guardianship of a man 
of honour. 

The unfortunate transaction of the annuity would, in the 
event of his death, leave her utterly destitute. That event, 
he imagined, was fast approaching ; and with many a bitter 
pang he remembered that he had neither friend nor relative 
to whom he could intrust his orphan child. His parents 
had long been dead ; his only surviving brother, a fox- 
hunting squire of smaU fortune, shared his table and bed 
with a person who had stooped to these degrading honours 
from the more reputable situation of an innocent dairy- 
maid. With Lady Harriet's relations (for friends she had 
none) Montreville had never maintained any intercourse. 
They had affected to resent his intrusion into the family, 
and he had not been industrious to conciliate their favour. 
Except himself, therefore, Laura had no natural protector ; 
and this circumstance made him tenfold more anxious that 
she should recall her decision in regard to Hargrave. 

He had no doubt that the present visit was intended for 
Laura ; and he suffered as long a time to elapse before he 
claimed any share in it, as common politeness would allow. 
He had meant to receive the Colonel in his own apartment, 
but an inclination to observe the conduct of the lovers, in- 
duced him to make an effort to join them in the parlour, 
where he with pleasure discovered, by the countenances of 
both, that their conversation had been mutually interesting. 
Hargrave instantly recovered himself, and paid his compli- 
ments with his accustomed grace ; but Laura, by no means 



1?6 SELF-CONTROL. 

prepared to stand inspection, disappeared the moment her 
father entered the room. 

This was the first time that the gentlemen had met, 
since the day when Montreville had granted his fruitless 
sanction to the Colonel's suit. Delicacy prevented the father 
from touching upon the subject, and it was equally avoided 
by Hargrave, who had not yet determined in what light to 
represent his repulse. However, as it completely occupied 
the minds of both, the conversation, which turned on topics 
merely indifferent, was carried on with little spirit on either 
side, and was soon closed by Hargrave's taking leave, after 
begging permission to repeat his visit. 

Colonel Hargrave had promised to spend that evening 
with the most beautiful woman in London ; but the unex- 
pected rencounter of the morning, left him in no humour 
to fulfil his engagement. He had found his Laura, his 
lovely, his innocent Laura, the object of his only serious 
passion, the only woman whose empire reached beyond 
his senses. He had found her cautious, reserved, severe ; 
yet feeling, constant, and tender. He remembered the 
overwhelming joy which made her sink fainting on his 
bosom ; called to mind her ill-suppressed tears her smo- 
thered sighs her unbidden blushes ; and a thousand 
times assured himself that he was passionately beloved. 
He triumphed the more in the proofs of her affection, be- 
cause they were not only involuntary but reluctant ; and, 
seen through the flattering medium of gratified pride, her 
charms appeared more than ever enchanting. On these 
charms he had formerly suffered his imagination to dwell, 
till to appropriate them seemed to him almost the chief end 
of existence ; and, though in absence his frenzy had a little 
intermitted, his interview with Laura roused it again to 
double violence. 

No passion of Hargrave's soul (and ah 1 his passions were 
of intense force) had ever known restraint, or control, or 
even delay of gratification, excepting only this, the strongest 
that had ever governed him. And must he now pine for 
eighteen lingering months, ere he attained the object of 
such ardent wishes ? Must he submit, for a time that 
seemed endless, to the tyranny of this intolerable passion, 



SELF-CONTROL. 177 

see the woman on whom he doated receive his protestations 
with distrust, and, spite of her affection, shrink from his 
caresses with horror ? No ! he vowed that if there were 
persuasion in man, or frailty in woman, he would shorten 
the period of his trial, that he would employ for this 
purpose all the power which he possessed over Laura's heart, 
and if that failed, that he would even have recourse to 
the authority of her father. 

But he had yet a stronger motive than the impetuosity 
of his passions for striving to obtain immediate possession 
of his treasure. He was conscious that there was a tale to 
tell, which, once known (and it could not long be con- 
cealed), would shake his hopes to the foundation. But on 
this subject he could not now dwell without disgust, and 
he turned from it to the more inviting contemplation of 
Laura's beauty and Laura's love ; and with his head and 
his heart, every nerve, every pulse full of Laura, he retired 
to pursue, in his dreams, the fair visions which had occupied 
his waking thoughts. 

While he was thus wilfully surrendering himself to the 
dominion of his frenzy, Laura, the self-denied Laura, was 
endeavouring, though it must be owned without distin- 
guished success, to silence the pleadings of a heart as warm, 
though better regulated, by attending to the humble duties 
of the hour. 

When she quitted Hargrave, she had retired to offer up 
her fervent thanks to Heaven, that he was become sensible 
of the enormity of his former conduct. Earnestly did she 
pray, that, though earth should never witness their union, 
they might be permitted together to join a nobler society 
animated by yet purer loves bound by yet holier ties. 
She next reconsidered her own behaviour towards Har- 
grave ; and, though vexed at the momentary desertion of 
her self-command, saw, upon the whole, little cause to re- 
proach herself, since her weakness had been merely that of 
the body, to which the will gave no consent. She resolved 
to be guardedly cautious in her future demeanour towards 
him ; and since the issue of his probation was doubtful, 
since its close was at ah 1 events distant, to forfeit the enjoy- 
ment of her lover's society, rather than, by remaining in 



178 SELF-CONTROL. 

the room during his visits, appear to consider them as 
meant for herself. 

As soon as Hargrave was gone, Montreville returned to 
his chamber ; and there Laura ordered his small hut deli- 
cate repast to be served, excusing herself from partaking of 
it, by saying that she could dine more conveniently in the 
parlour. Having in the morning bestowed on the beggar 
the meagre fare that should have supplied her own wants, 
she employed the time of her father's meal in the labour 
which was to purchase him another ; pondering meanwhile 
on the probability that he would again enter on the dis- 
cussion of Hargrave's pretensions. To this subject she felt 
unconquerable repugnance ; and though she knew that it 
must at last be canvassed, and that she must at last assign 
a reason for her conduct, she would fain have put off the 
evil hour. 

She delayed her evening visit to her father, till he grew 
impatient for it, and sent for her to his apartment. The mo- 
ment she entered the room, he began, as she had anticipated, 
to enquire into the particulars of her interview with Hargrave. 
The language cf Laura's reply was not very perspicuous 1 ; 
the manner of it was more intelligible; and Montreville 
instantly comprehended the nature of her conference with 
the Colonel. " He has then given you an opportunity of 
repairing your former rashness," said Montreville, witli 
eagerness, " and your answer? " (f Colonel Hargrave had 
his answer long ago, sir," replied Laura, trembling at this 
exordium. Montreville sighed heavily, and fixing his eyes 
mournfully upon her, remained silent. At last, affection- 
ately taking her hand, he said, " My dear child, the time 
has been, when even your caprices on this subject were 
sacred with your father. While I had a shelter, however 
humble an independence, however small, to offer you, 
your bare inclination determined mine. But now your 
situation is changed fatally changed ; and no trivial 
reasons would excuse me for permitting your rejection of 
an alliance so unexceptionable, so splendid. Tell me, then, 
explicitly, what are your objections to Colonel Hargrave?" 

Laura remained silent, for she knew not how to frame 
her reply. " Is it possible that he can be personally dis- 



SELF-CONTROL. 179 

agreeable to you?" continued Montreville. " Disagree- 
able !" exclaimed Laura, thrown off her guard by astonish- 
ment. ' ' Colonel Hargrave is one whom any woman might 
whom no woman could know without " " With- 
out what ?" said Montreville, with a delighted smile. But 
Laura, shocked at the extent of her own admission, covered 
her face with her hands, and, almost in tears, made no 
reply. 

" Well, my love," said Montreville, more cheerfully 
than he had spoken for many a day, " I can interpret all 
this, and will not persecute you. But you must still suffer 
me to ask what strange reasons could induce you to reject 
wealth and title, offered by a man not absolutely disagree- 
able?" 

Laura strove to collect herself, and deep crimson dying 
her beautiful face and neck, she said, without venturing to 
lift her eyes, " You yourself have told me, sir, that Colonel 
Hargrave is a man of gallantry, and, believe me, with such 
a man I should be most miserable." 

(t Come, come, Laura," said Montreville, putting his arm 
round her, " confess, that some little fit of jealousy made 
you answer Hargrave unkindly at first, and that now a 
little female pride, or the obstinacy of which we used to ac- 
cuse you fifteen years ago, makes you unwilling to retract." 

e( No, indeed," returned Laura, with emotion, " Colonel 
Hargrave has never given me cause to be jealous of his 
affection. But jealousy 'Would feebly express the anguish 
with which his wife would behold his vices, degrading him 
in the eyes of men, and making him vile in the sight of 
Heaven." 

" My love," said Montreville, " your simplicity and ig- 
norance of the world make you attach far too great im- 
portance to Hargrave's little irregularities. I am persuaded 
that a wife whom he loved would have no cause to com- 
plain of them." 

" She would at least have no right to complain," re- 
turned Laura, " if, knowing them, she chose to make the 
hazardous experiment." 

" But I am certain," said Montreville, t{ that a passion 
such as he evidently feels for you, would ensure his perfect 
N 2 



180 SELF-CONTROL. 

reformation; and that a heart so warm as Hargrave's, 
would readily acknowledge all the claims upon a husband's 
and a father's love." 

Laura held down her head, and, for a moment, surren- 
dered her fancy to prospects, rainbow-like, bright, but un- 
real. Spite of the dictates of sober sense, the vision was 
cheering ; and a smile dimpled her cheek while she said, 
te But since this reformation is so easy and so certain, 
would it be a grievous delay to wait for its appearance?" 

"Ah! Laura !" Montreville began, "this is no time 

for " "Nay, now," interrupted Laura, sportively 

laying her hand upon his mouth, " positively I will be no 
more lectured to-night. Besides I have got a new book 
for you from the library, and the people insisted upon 
having it returned to-morrow." "You are a spoiled girl," 
said Montreville, fondly caressing her; and he dropped the 
subject with the less reluctance, because he believed that his 
wishes, aided, as he perceived they were, by an advocate 
in Laura's own breast, were in a fair train for accomplish- 
ment. He little knew how feeble was the influence of in- 
clination over the decisions of her self-controlling spirit. . 

To 'prevent him from returning to the topic which he 
had quitted, she read aloud to him till his hour of rest ; 
and then retired to her chamber to labour as formerly, till 
the morning was far advanced. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

LAURA had it now in her power to discharge her debt 
to the surgeon, and she was resolved that it should imme- 
diately be paid. When, therefore, he called in the morn- 
ing to make his daily visit, she met him before he entered 
Montreville's chamber, and requested to speak with him in 
the parlour. 

She began by saying, she feared that medicine could be 
of little use to her father, to which Dr. Flint readily as- 
sented, declaring, in his dry way, that ^generous food and 



SELF-CONTROL. 181 

open air would benefit him more than all the drugs in 
London. Laura begged him to say explicitly so to the 
Captain, and to give that as a reason for declining to make 
him any more professional visits. She then presented him 
with a paper containing four guineas, which she thought 
might be the amount of his claim. He took the paper, 
and deliberately unfolding it, returned one half of its con- 
tents ; saying, that his account having been settled so lately, 
the new one could not amount to more than the sum he 
retained. Laura, who having now no favour to beg, no 
debt which she was unable to pay, was no longer ashamed 
of her poverty, easily opened to Dr. Flint so much of her 
situation as was necessary to instruct him in the part 
which he had to act with Montreville. He made no offer 
to continue his visits, even as an acquaintance, but readily 
undertook all that Laura required of him, adding, " In- 
deed, Miss Montreville, I should have told your father 
long ago that physic was useless to him ; but whimsical 
people must have something to amuse them, and if he had 
not paid for my pills, he would for some other man's." He 
then went to Montreville, and finding him in better spirits 
than he had lately enjoyed, actually succeeded in persuading 
him, for that day at least, that no new prescription was 
necessary, and that he might continue to use the old one 
without the inspection of a surgeon. 

Laura's mind was much relieved by her having settled 
this affair to her wish ; and when the Doctor was gone, 
she sat down cheerfully to her drawing. Her meeting with 
Hargrave had lightened her heart of a load which had 
long weighed upon it more heavily than she was willing 
to allow ; and, in spite of poverty, she was cheerful. 

" I have now only hunger and toil to endure," thought 
she, smiling as gaily as if hunger and toil had been trifles ; 
" but light will be my labours, for by them 1 can in part 
pay back my debt of life to my dear kind father. I am 
no more forlorn and deserted, for he is come who is sun- 
shine to Laura's soul. The cloud which darkened him has 
passed away, and he will brighten all my after life. Oh 
fondly beloved ! with thee I would have been content to 
tread the humblest path ; but, if we must climb the steeps, 



182 SELF- CONTROL. 

together we will court the breeze,, together meet the storm. 
No time shall change the love I bear thee. Thy step, 
when feeble with age, shall still be music to Laura's ear. 
When the lustre of the melting eyes is quenched, when the 
auburn ringlet fades to silver, dearer shalt thou be to me 
than in all the pride of manly beauty. And when at last 
the dust shall cover us, one tree shall shelter our narrow 
beds, and the wind which fans the flowers upon thy grave, 
shall scatter their fallen leaves upon mine." 

Casting these thoughts into the wild extempore measures 
which are familiar to the labourers of her native moun- 
tains *, Laura was singing them to one of the affecting 
melodies of her country, her sweet voice made more sweet 
by the magic of real tenderness, when the door opened, 
and Hargrave himself entered. 

He came, resolved to exert all his influence, to urge 
every plea which the affection of Laura would allow him, 
in order to extort her consent to their immediate union ; 
and he was too well convinced of his power to be very 
diffident of success. Laura ceased her song in as much 
confusion as if her visiter had understood the language in 
which it was composed, or could have known himself to be 
the subject of ik, He had been listening to its close, and 
now urged her to continue it, but was unable to prevail. 
He knew that she was particularly sensible to the charms 
of music. He had often witnessed the effect of her own 
pathetic voice upon her feelings; and he judged that no 
introduction could be more proper to a conference in which 
he intended to work upon her sensibility. He, therefore, 
begged her to sing a little plaintive air with which she had 
often drawn tears from his eyes. But Laura knew that, 
^s her father was still in bed, she could not, without rude- 
ness, avoid a long tete-a-tete with Hargrave, and there- 
fore she did not choose to put her composure to any 
unnecessary test. She excused herself from complying 
with his request ; but, glad to find any indifferent way of 
passing the time, she offered to sing, if he would allow her 
to choose her own song, and began a lively air, which she 
executed with all the vivacity that she could command. 
* See Jamieson's Popular Ballads, vol. ii. p. 558. 



SELF-CONTROL. 



183 



The style of it was quite at variance with Margrave's pre- 
sent humour arid design. He heard it with impatience ; 
and scarcely thanking her, said, " Your spirits are high 
this morning, Miss Montreville." 

" They are, indeed/' replied Laura, gaily ; " I hope you 
have no intention to make them otherwise." 

" Certainly not ; though they are little in unison with 
my own. The meditations of a restless, miserable night, 
have brought me to you." 

" Is it the usual effect of a restless night to bring you 
abroad so early the next morning ? " said Laura, anxious 
to avoid a trial of strength in a sentimental conference. 

" I will be heard seriously," said Hargrave, colouring 
with anger, " and seriously too I must be answered." 

" Nay," said Laura, " if you look so tremendous, I 
shall retreat without hearing you at all." 

Hargrave, who instantly saw that he had not chosen the 
right road to victory, checked his rising choler : " Laura," 
said he, fe you have yourself made me the victim of a 
passion ungovernable irresistible; and it is cruel it is 
ungenerous, in you to sport with my uneasiness." 

" Do not give the poor passion such hard names," said 
Laura, smiling. " Perhaps you have never tried to resist 
or govern it." 

f( As soon might I govern the wind," cried Hargrave 
vehemently, " as soon resist the fires of Heaven. And 
why attempt to govern it ?" 

' ' Because," answered Laura, " it is weak, it is sinful to 
submit unresisting to the bondage of an imperious passion." 

" Would that you too would submit unresisting to its 
bondage ! " said Hargrave, delighted to have made her 
once more serious. " But if this passion is sinful/' conti- 
nued he, " my reformation rests with you alone. Put a 
period to my lingering trial. Consent to be mine, and 
hush all these tumults to rest." 

" Take care how you furnish me with arguments 
against yourself," returned Laura, laughing. " Would it 
be my interest, think you, to lull all these transports to 
such profound repose ? " 

" Be serious, Lauia, I implore you. Well do you know 
N 4 



184} SELF- CONTROL. 

that my love can end only with my existence ; but I 
should no longer be distracted with these tumultuous hopes 
and fears if " 

" Oh, 1 ' cried Laura, interrupting him, " hope is too 
pleasing a companion for you to wish to part with that; 
and," added she, a smile and a blush contending upon her 
cheek, " I begin to believe that your fears are not very 
troublesome." 

" Ah Laura/' said Hargrave sorrowfully, ' ' you know not 
what you say. There are moments when I feel as if you 
were already lost to me and the bare thought is dis- 
traction. Oh if you have pity for real suffering," continued 
he, dropping on his knees, "save me from the dread of 
losing you; forget the hour of madness in which I of- 
fended you. Restore to me the time when you owned 
that I was dear to you. Be yet more generous, and give 
me immediate, unalienable right to your love." 

" You forget, Colonel Hargrave," said Laura, again 
taking sanctuary in an appearance of coldness ; " you for- 
get that six months ago I fixed two years of rectitude as 
the test of your repentance, and that you were then satis- 
fied with my decision." 

" 1 would then have blessed you for any sentence which 
left me a hope, however distant ; but now the time when 
I may claim your promise seems at such a hopeless dis- 
tance. Oh, Laura, let me but prevail with you ; and I will 
bind myself by the most solemn oaths to a life of unsullied 
purity." 

" No oaths," replied Laura, with solemnity, tf can 
strengthen the ties which already bind you to a life of pu- 
rity. That you are of noble rank calls you to be an example 
to others ; and the yet higher distinction of an immortal 
spirit bids you strive after virtues which may never meet 
the eye of man. Only convince me that such are the objects 
of your ambition, and 1 shall no longer fear to trust with 
you my improvement and my happiness." 

As she spoke, unusual animation sparkled in her eyes, 
and tinged her delicate cheek with brighter colouring. 
<( Lovely, lovely creature ! " cried Hargrave, in transport, 
f ' give but thyself to those fond arms, and may Heaven for- 



SELF-CONTROL. 



185 



sake me if I strive not to make thee blest beyond the 
sweetest dreams of youthful fancy." 

" Alas ! " said Laura, l< even your affection would fail to 
bless a heart conscious of acting wrong." 

" Where is the wrong," said Hargrave, gathering hope 
from the relenting tenderness of her voice, <l Where is the 
wrong of yielding to the strongest impulse of nature or, 
to speak in language more like your own, where is the 
guilt of submitting to an ordinance of Heaven's own ap- 
pointment ?" 

" Why," replied Laura, " will you force me to say what 
seems unkind ? Why compel me to remind you that mar- 
riage was never meant to sanction the unholy connection of 
those whose principles are discordant?" 

" Beloved of my heart," said Hargrave, passionately 
kissing her hand, " take me to thyself, and mould- me as 
thou wilt. I swear to thee that not even thy own life shall 
be more pure, more innocent than mine. Blest in thy love, 
what meaner pleasure could allure me. Oh yield, then, and 
bind me for ever to virtue and to thee." 

Laura shook her head. " Ah, Hargrave," said she, with a 
heavy sigh, " before you can love and practise the purity 
which reaches the heart, far other loves must warm, far 
other motives inspire you." 

" No other love can ever have such power over me," 
said Hargrave with energy. " Be but thou and thy match- 
less beauty the prize, and every difficulty is light, every sa- 
crifice trivial." 

" In little more than a year," said Laura, " I shall 
perhaps ask some proofs of the influence you ascribe to me ; 
but till then " 

" Long, long before that time," cried Hargrave, striking 
his forehead in agony, " you will be lost to me for ever," 
and he paced the room in seeming despair. 

Laura looked at him with a pity not unmixed with sur- 
prise. " Hear me for a moment," said she, with the soothing 
voice and gentle aspect, which had always the mastery of 
Hargrave's feelings, and he was instantly at her side, listen- 
ing with eagerness to every tone which she uttered, intent 
on every variation of her countenance. 



186 



SELF-CONTROL. 



" There are circumstances/' she continued, her transpa- 
rent cheek glowing with brighter beauty, tears in her down- 
cast eyes trembling through the silken lashes, " There are 
circumstances which may change me, but time and absence 
are not of the number. Be but true to yourself, and you 
have nothing to fear. After this assurance, I trust it will 
give you little .pain to hear that, till the stipulated two 
years are ended, if we are to meet, it must not be without 
witnesses." 

" Good Heavens ! Laura, why this new, this intolerable 
restriction: what can induce you thus wilfully to torment 
me ? " 

"Because," answered the blushing Laura, with all her 
natural simplicity, " because I might not always be able to 
listen to reason and duty rather than to you." 

" Oh, that I could fill thee with a love that should for 
ever silence the cold voice of reason ! " cried Hargrave, 
transported by her confession ; and no longer master of 
himself, he would have clasped her in his arms. But Laura, 
to whose mind his caresses ever recalled a dark page in her 
story, recoiled as from pollution, the glow of ingenuous mo- 
desty giving place to the paleness of horror. 

No words envenomed with the bitterest malice could 
have stung Hargrave to such frenzy as the look and the 
shudder with which Laura drew back from his embrace. 
His eyes flashing fire, his pale lips quivering with passion, 
he reproached her with perfidy and deceit ; accused her of 
veiling her real aversion under the mask of prudence and 
principle ; and execrated his own folly in submitting so 
long to be the sport of a cold-hearted, tyrannical, obdurate 
woman. Laura stood for some minutes gazing on him with 
calm compassion. But, displeased at his groundless accusa- 
tions, she disdained to soothe his rage. At last, weary of 
language which, for the present, expressed much more of 
hatred than of love, she quietly moved towards the door. 
" I see you can be very calm, madam," said Hargrave, 
stopping her, " and I can be as calm as yourself," added 
he, with a smile like a moon-beam on a thunder-cloud, 
making the gloom more fearful. 

" I hope you soon will be so," replied Laura, coldly. _ " I 



SELF-CONTROL. 187 

am so now/' said Hargrave, his voice half-choked with the 
effort to suppress his passion. " I will but stay to take leave 
of your father,, and then free you for ever from one so odious 
to you." 

"That must he as you please, sir," said Laura, with 
spirit; " but, for the present, I must be excused from at- 
tending you." She then retired to her own chamber, 
which immediately adjoined to the painting-room ; and 
with tears reflected on the faint prospect of happiness 
which remained for the wife of a man whose passions were 
so ungovernable. Even the ardour of his love, for which 
vanity would have found ready excuse in many a female 
breast, was to Laura subject of unfeigned regret, as ex- 
cluding him from the dominion of better motives, and from 
the pursuit of nobler ends. 

Hargrave was no sooner left to himself than his fury be- 
gan to evaporate. In a few minutes he was perfectly col- 
lected, and the first act of his returning reason was to up- 
braid him with his treatment of Laura. " Is it to be 
wondered that she shrinks from me," said he, the tears of 
self-reproach rising to his eyes, " when I make her the 
sport of all my frantic passions ? But she shall never again 
have cause to complain of me. Let but her love this once 
excuse me, and henceforth I will treat her with gentleness 
like her own." 

There is no time in the life of man so tedious as that 
which passes between the resolution to repair a wrong, and 
the opportunity to make the reparation. Hargrave won- 
dered whether Laura would return to conduct him to her 
father; feared that she would not hoped that she would 
thought he heard her footstep listened sighed 
and tried to beguile the time by turning over her drawings. 

Almost the first that met his eye, was a sketch of features 
well known to him. He started and turned pale. He sought 
for a name upon the reverse : there was none, and he again 
breathed more freely. ic This must be accident," said he ; 
tf De Courcy is far from London yet it is very like ; " 
and he longed more than ever for Laura's appearance. He 
sought refuge from his impatience in a book which lay upon 
the table. It was the Pleasures of Hope, and marked in 



188 SELF-CONTROL. 

many parts of the margin with a pencil. One of the pas- 
sages so marked was that which begins, 

" Thy pencil traces on the lover's thought 
Some cottage home, from towns and toil remote, 
Where love and lore may claim alternate hours," &c. 

. And Hargrave surrendered himself to the pleasing dream 
that Laura had thought of him, while she approved the 
lines. "Her name, written by her own snowy fingers may 
be here," said he, and he turned to the title-page, that he 
might press it, with a lover's folly, to his lips. The 
title-page was inscribed with the name of Montague De 
Courcy. 

The glance of the basilisk could not have been more 
powerful. Motionless he gazed on the words, till all the 
fiends of jealousy taking possession of his soul, he furiously 
dashed the book upon the ground. " False, false siren," 
he cried, " is this the cause of all your coldness your 
loathing?" And without any wish but to exclude her for 
ver from his sight, he rushed like a madman out of the 
house. 

He darted forward, regardless of the snow which was 
falling on his uncovered head, till it suddenly occurred to 
him that he would not suffer her to triumph in the belief 
of having deceived him. " No," said he, " I will once 
more see that deceitful face ; reproach her with her 
treachery ; enjoy her confusion, and then spurn her from 
me for ever." 

He returned precipitately to the house ; and, flying up 
stairs, saw Laura, the traces of melancholy reflection on her 
countenance, waiting for admission at her father's door. 
" Madam," said he, in a voice scarcely articulate, " I must 
speak with you for a few minutes." " Not for a moment, 
sir," said Laura, laying her hand upon the lock. " Yes, 
by Heaven, you shall hear me ! " cried Hargrave : and 
rudely seizing her, he forced her into the painting-room, 
and bolted the door. 

" Answer me," said he fiercely, " how came that book 
into your possession ? " pointing to it as it still lay upon 
the floor. " Whence have you this infernal likeness ? 
Speak ! " 



SELF-CONTROL. 189 

Laura looked at the drawing, then at the book, and at 
once understood the cause of her lover's frenzy. Sincere 
compassion filled her heart ; yet she felt how unjust was 
the treatment which she received ; and, with calm dignity 
said, " I will answer all your questions; and then you will 
judge whether you have deserved that I should do so." 

(: Whom would not that face deceive?" said Hargrave, 
gnashing his teeth in agony. " Speak, sorceress tell 
me, if you dare, that this is not the portrait of De Courcy 
that he is not the lover for whom I am loathed and 
spurned." 

" That is the portrait of De Courcy," replied Laura, 
with the simple majesty of truth. " It is the sketch from 
which I finished a picture for his sister. That book, too, is 
his," and she stooped to lift it from the ground. 

" Touch not the vile thing !" cried Hargrave, in a voice 
of thunder. With quiet self-possession, Laura continued, 
" Mr. de Courcy 's father was, as you know, the friend of 
mine. Mr. de Courcy himself was, when an infant, known 
to my father ; and they met, providentially met, when we 
had great need of a considerate friend. That friend Mr. 
de Courcy was to us, and no selfish motive sullied his be- 
nevolence ; for he is not, nor ever was, nor, I trust, ever 
will be, known to me as a lover ! " 

The voice of sober truth had its effect upon Hargrave, 
and he said more composedly, "Will you then give me 
your word, that De Courcy is not, nor ever will be, dear to 
you ? " 

" No ! " answered Laura. " I will not say so, for he 
must be loved wherever his virtues are known ; but I have 
no regard for him which should disquiet you. It is not 
such," continued , she, struggling with the rising tears 
" it is not such as would pardon outrage, and withstand 
neglect, and humble itself before unjust aspersion." 

" Oh, Laura," said Hargrave, at once convinced and 
softened, <e I must believe you, or my heart will burst." 

" I have a right to be believed," returned Laura, en- 
deavouring to rally her spirits. fc Now, then, release me, 
after convincing me that the passion of which you boast so 
much is consistent with the most insolent disrespect, the 



190 SELF-CONTROL. 

most unfounded suspicion." But Hargrave was again at 
her feet, exhausting every term of endearment, and breath- 
ing forth the most fervent petitions for forgiveness. 

Tears, which she could no longer repress, now streamed 
down Laura's cheeks, while she said, " How could you sus- 
pect me of the baseness of pretending a regard which I 
did not feel, of confirming engagements from which my 
affections revolted ! " Hargrave, half wild with the sight 
of her tears, bitterly reproached himself for his injustice; 
vowed that he believed her all perfection ; that, with all a 
woman's tenderness, she possessed the truth and purity of 
angels, and that, could she this once pardon his extrava- 
gance, he would never more offend. But Laura, vexed and 
ashamed of her weakness, insisted on her release in a tone 
that would be obeyed, and Hargrave, too much humbled to 
be daring, unwillingly suffered her to retire. 

In the faint hope of seeing her again, he waited till 
Montreville was ready to admit him ; but Laura was not 
with her father, nor did she appear during the remainder 
of his visit. Desirous to know in what light she had re- 
presented their affairs, in order that his statement might 
tally with hers, he again avoided the subject, resolving that 
next day he should be better prepared to enter upon it. 
With this view, he returned to Montreville's lodgings early 
in the next forenoon, hoping for an opportunity to consult 
with Laura before seeing her father. He was shown into 
the parlour, which was vacant. He waited long, but Laura 
came not. He sent a message to beg that she would admit 
him, and was answered that she was sorry it was not in 
her power. He desired the messenger to say that his busi- 
ness was important, but was told that Miss Montreville was 
particularly engaged. However impatient, he was obliged 
to submit. He again saw Montreville without entering upon 
the subject so near his heart ; and left the house without 
obtaining even a glimpse of Laura. 

The following day he was equally unsuccessful. He 
indeed saw Laura, but it was only in the presence of her 
father, and she gave him no opportunity of addressing her 
particularly. Finding that she adhered to the resolution 
she had expressed, of seeing him no more without wit- 



SELF-CONTROL. 1QI 

nesses, he wrote to her,, warmly remonstrating against the 
barbarity of her determination, and beseeching her to depart 
from it, if only in a single instance. The billet received no 
answer, and Laura continued to act as before. 

Fretted almost to fever, Hargrave filled whole pages with 
the description of his uneasiness, and complaints of the 
cruelty which caused it. In conclusion, he assured Laura 
that he could no longer refrain from confiding his situation 
to her father ; and entreated to see her, were it only to learn 
in what terms she would permit him to mention their en- 
gagement. This letter was rather more successful than the 
former ; for, though Laura made no reply to the first part, 
she answered the close by a few cautious lines, leaving 
Hargrave, excepting in one point, at full liberty as to his 
communications with her father. 

Thus authorised, he seized the first opportunity of con- 
versing with Montreville. He informed him that he had 
reason to believe himself not indifferent to Laura ; but that, 
some of his little irregularities coming to her knowledge, 
she had sentenced him to a probation which was yet to con- 
tinue for above a year. Though Hargrave guarded his 
words so as to avoid direct falsehood, the conscious crimson 
rose to his face as he uttered this subterfuge. But he took 
instant refuge in the idea that he had no choice left ; and 
that, if there was any blame, it in fact belonged to Laura, 
for forcing him to use concealment. He did yet more. 
He erected his head, and planted his foot more firmly, as 
he thought, that what he dared to do he dared to justify, 
were he not proud to yield to the commands of love, and 
humanely inclined to spare the feelings of a sick man. He 
proceeded to assure Montreville, that though he must plead 
guilty to a few youthful indiscretions, Laura might rely 
upon his constancy and fidelity. Finally, addressing him- 
self to what he conceived to be the predominant failing 
of age, he offered to leave the grand affair of settlements 
to Montreville's own decision ; demanding only in return, 
that the father would use his interest, or even his authority, 
if necessary, to obtain his daughter's consent to an imme- 
diate union. 

Montreville answered, that he had long desisted from the 



192 SELF-CONTROL. 

use of authority with Laura, but that his influence was at 
the Colonel's service ; and he added, with a smile, that he 
believed neither would be very necessary. 

In consequence of this promise, Montreville sought an 
opportunity of conversing on this subject with his daughter : 
but she showed such extreme reluctance to enter upon it, 
and avoided it with such sedulous care, that he could not 
immediately execute his design. He observed, too, that 
she locked ill, that she was pale and languid. Though she 
did not confess any ailment, he could not help fearing that 
all was not right ; and he waited the appearance of recovered 
strength, ere he should enter on a topic which was never 
heard by her without strong emotion. But Laura looked 
daily more wretched. Her complexion became wan, her 
eyes sunk, and her lips colourless. 

Hargrave observed the change, and, half persuaded that 
it was the effect of his own capricious behaviour at their 
last interview, he became more anxious for a private con- 
ference, in which his tenderness might soothe her to for- 
getfulness of his errors. When she was quitting the room, 
he often followed her to the door, and entreated to be heard 
for a single minute. But the utmost he could obtain was a 
determined " I cannot," or a hasty " 1 dare not," and in an 
instant she had vanished. 

Indeed watching and abstinence, though the chief, were 
not the only causes of Laura's sickly aspect. Hargrave's 
violence had furnished her with new and painful subjects 
of meditation. While yet she thought him all perfection, 
he had often confessed to her the warmth of his temper, 
with a candour which convinced her (anxious as she was to 
be so convinced) that he was conscious of his natural ten- 
dency, and vigilantly guarded it from excess ; consequently 
that to the energy of the passionate he united the justice of 
the cool. She had never witnessed any instance of his vio- 
lance ; for since their first acquaintance, she had herself, at 
least while she was present, been his only passion. All 
things unconnected with it were trivial in his estimation ; 
and till the hour which had roused her caution, she had un- 
consciously soothed this tyrant of his soul with perpetual 
incense, by proofs of her tenderness, which, though unob- 



SELF-CONTROL. 1Q3 

served by others, were not lost upon the vanity of Har- 
grave. Successful love shedding a placid gentleness upon his 
really polished manners, he had, without intention to deceive, 
completely misled Laura's judgment of his character. Now 
he had turned her eyes from the vision, and compelled her 
to look upon the reality ; and with many a bitter tear she 
lamented that ever she suffered her peace to depend upon 
an union which, even if accomplished, promised to com- 
pensate transient rapture with abiding disquiet. 

But still fondly attached, Laura took pleasure in per- 
suading herself that a mere defect of temper was not such 
a fault as entitled her to withdraw her promise ; and hav- 
ing made this concession, she soon proceeded to convince 
herself, that Hargrave's love would make ample amends 
for occasional suffering, however severe. Still she assured 
herself that if, at the stipulated time, he produced not proofs 
of real improvement, much more if that period were stained 
with actual vice, she would, whatever it might cost her, see 
him no more. She determined to let nothing move her to 
shorten his probation, nor to be satisfied without the strictest 
scrutiny into the manner in which it had been spent. 

Aware of the difficulty of withstanding the imploring 
voice, the pleading eyes of Hargrave, she would not venture 
into temptation for the mere chance of escape ', and ad- 
hered to her resolution of affording him no opportunity to 
practise on her sensibility. Nor was this a slight exercise 
of self-denial, for no earthly pleasure could bring such joy 
to Laura's heart, as the assurance, however oft repeated, 
that she was beloved. Yet, day after day, she withstood 
his wishes and her own ; and generally spent the time of 
his visits in drawing. 

Meanwhile, her delicate face and slender form gave daily 
greater indications of malady. Montreville, extremely 
alarmed, insisted upon sending for medical advice ; but 
Laura, with a vehemence most unusual to her, opposed thin 
design, telling him, that if he persisted in it, vexation 
would cause the reality of the illness which at present was 
merely imaginary. 

The Captain was, however, the only member of the 
family who did not conjecture the true cause of Laura's 
o 



SELF-CONTROL. 

decay. The servant who attended her, reported to her 
mistress, that the slender repast was always presented, un- 
touched by Laura, to her father ; that her drink was only 
water, her fare coarse and scanty ; and that often a few 
morsels of dry bread were the only sustenance of the day. 
Mrs. Stubbs, who entertained a suitable contempt for po- 
verty, was no sooner informed of these circumstances, than 
she recollected with indignation the awe with which Laura 
had involuntarily inspired her, and determined to withdraw 
part of her misplaced respect. But Laura had an air of 
command, a quiet majesty of demeanour, that seemed des- 
tined to distance vulgar impertinence ; and Mrs. Stubbs was 
compelled to continue her unwilling reverence. Determined, 
however, that though her pride might suffer, her interest 
should not, she dropped such hints as induced Laura to 
offer the payment of the lodgings a week in advance, an 
offer which was immediately accepted. 

In spite of Laura's utmost diligence, this arrangement 
left her almost penniless. She was obliged, in that in- 
clement season, to give up even the comfort of a fire ; and 
more than once passed the whole night in labouring to sup- 
ply the wants of the following day. 

In the mean time, Hargrave continued to pay his daily 
visits, and Laura to frustrate all his attempts to speak with 
her apart. His patience was entirely exhausted. He 
urged Montreville to the performance of his promise, and 
Montreville often approached the subject with his daughter, 
but she either evaded it, or begged with such pathetic 
earnestness to be spared a contest which she was unable to 
bear, that, when he looked on the sickly delicacy of her 
frame, he had not courage to persecute her farther. Con- 
vinced, however, that Laura's affections were completely 
engaged, he became daily more anxious that she should not 
sacrifice them to what he considered as mistaken prudence; 
especially since Hargrave had dropped a hint, which, though 
not so intended, had appeared to Montreville to import, that 
his addresses, if rejected in the present instance, would not 
be renewed at the distant date to which Laura chose to post- 
pone them. 

The father's constant anxiety for the health and happi- 



SELF-CONTROL. 195 

ness of his child powerfully affected both his strength and 
spirits; and he was soon more languid and feeble than 
ever. His imagination, too, betrayed increased symptoms 
of its former disease, and he became more persuaded that 
he was dying. The selfishness of a feeble mind attended 
his ailments, and he grew less tender of his daughter's feel- 
ings, less fearful to wound her sensibility. To hints of his 
apprehensions for his own life, succeeded direct intimations 
of his conviction that his end was approaching ; and Laura 
listened with every gradation of terror, to prophetic fore- 
bodings of the solitude, want, and temptation, to which she 
must soon be abandoned. 

Pressed by Hargrave's importunities, and weary of wait- 
ing for a voluntary change in Laura's conduct towards her 
lover, Montreville at last resolved that he would force the 
subject which she was so anxious to shun. For this pur- 
pose, detaining her one morning in his apartment, he 
entered on a melancholy description of the perils which 
await unprotected youth and beauty ; and explicitly declared 
his conviction, that to these perils he must soon leave his 
child. Laura endeavoured, as she was wont, to brighten 
his dark imagination, and to revive his fainting hope. But 
Montreville would now neither suffer her to enliven his pros- 
pects, nor to divert him from the contemplation of them. 
He persisted in giving way to his dismal anticipations, till, 
spite of her efforts, Laura's spirits failed her, and she could 
scarcely refrain from shedding tears. 

Montreville saw that she was affected ; and fondly put- 
ting his arm round her, continued, ' ' Yet still, my sweet 
Laura, you, who have been the pride of my life, you can 
soften to me the bitterness of death. Let me but commit 
you to the affection of the man whom I know that you pre- 
fer, and my fears and wishes shall linger no more in this 
nether world." 

" Oh, sir," said Laura, " I beseech, I implore you to 
spare me on this subject." " No ! " answered Montreville, 
f< I have been silent too long. I have too long endangered 
your happiness, in the dread of giving you transient pain. 
I must recur to " 

" My dear father," interrupted Laura, " I have already 
o2 



SELF-CONTROL 

spoken to you on this subject spoken to you with a free- 
dom which I know not where I found courage to assume. 
I can only repeat the same sentiments ; and indeed, in- 
deed, unless you were yourself in my situation, you cannot 
imagine with what pain I repeat them." 

" I would willingly respect your delicacy," said Mon- 
treville, " but this is no time for frivolous scruples. I 
must soon leave thee, child of my affections. My eyes 
must watch over thee no more ! my ear must be closed to 
the voice of thy complaining. Oh then, give me the com- 
fort to know that other love will console, other arms protect 
thee." 

" Long, long," cried Laura, clasping his neck, " be your 
affection my joy long be your arms my shelter. But, 
alas ! what love could console me under the sense of acting 
wrong what could protect me from an avenging con- 
science ? " 

<( Laura, you carry your scruples too far. When I look 
on these wan cheeks and lustreless eyes, you cannot con. 
ceal from me that you are sacrificing to these scruples your 
own peace, as well as that of others." 

" Ah, sir," said Laura, who from mere despair of escape 
gathered courage to pursue the subject, " what peace can 
I hope to find in a connection which reason and religion 
alike condemn ? " 

f{ That these have from childhood been your guides, has 
ever been my joy and my pride," returned Montreville. 
t( But in this instance you forge shackles for yourself, and 
then call them the restraints of reason and religion. It 
were absurd to argue on the reasonableness of preferring 
wealth and title, with the man of your choice, to a solitary 
struggle with poverty, or a humbling dependence upon 
trangers. And how, my dear girl, can any precept of re- 
ligion be tortured into a restriction on the freedom of your 
choice ? " 

" Pardon me, sir, the law which I endeavour to make my 
guide is here full and explicit. In express terms it leaves 
me free to marry whom I will, but with this grand re- 
servation, that I marry ' only in the Lord/ ' that I marry 
no one who is not in heart and life a Christian,' for it 



SELF-CONTROL. 197 

cannot be thought that this limitation refers only to a care- 
less assent to the truth of the Gospel, shedding no purifying 
influence on the heart and life. And can I hope for hap- 
piness in a wilful defiance of this restriction ?" 

" If I could doubt/' said Montreville, avoiding a reply 
to what was unanswerable "if I could doiibtHhat a union 
with Colonel Hargrave would conduce to your happiness, 
never should I thus urge you. But I have no reason to 
believe that his religious principles are unsound, though the 
follies incident to his sex, and the frailty of human nature, 
may have prevailed against him." 

" My dear sir," cried Laura, impatiently, " how can you 
employ such qualifying language to express what my soul 
sickens at? How can my father urge his child to join to 
pollution this temple (and she laid her hand emphatically 
on her breast), which my great Master has offered to hallow 
as his own abode ? No ! the express command of Heaven 
forbids the sacrilege ; for I cannot suppose that when man 
was forbidden to degrade himself by a union with vileness, 
the precept was meant to exclude the sex whose feebler 
passions afford less plea for yielding to their power." 

" Whither does this enthusiasm hurry you ? '' said Mon- 
treville, in displeasure. " Surely you will not call your 
marriage with Colonel Hargrave a union with vileness." 

" Yes," returned Laura, all the glow of virtuous anima- 
tion fading to the paleness of anguish, " if his vices make 
him vile, 1 must call it so." 

" Your language is as much too free, Laura, as your 
notions are too rigid. Is it dutiful, think you, to use such 
expressions in regard to a connection which your father 
approves ? Will you call it virtue to sport with your own 
happiness, with the peace of a heart which doats upon you 
with the comfort of your dying parent?" 

" Oh ! my father," cried Laura, sinking on her knees, 
" my spirit is already bowed to the earth do not crush it 
with your displeasure. Rather support my feeble reso- 
lution, lest, knowing the right, I should not have power to 
choose it." 

" My heart's treasure," said Montreville, kissing the 
tears from her eyes, " short is ever my displeasure with 
o 3 



3 98 SELF-CONTROL. 

thee ; for I know that though inexperience may mislead 
thy judgment,, no pleasure can bribe,, no fear betray thy 
inflexible rectitude. Go on then convince me,, if thou 
canst, that thou art in the right to choose thy portion 
amidst self-denial,, and obscurity, and dependence." 

" Would that I were able to convince you/' returned 
Laura, " and then you would no longer add to the diffi- 
culties of this fearful struggle. Tell me, then, were Colonel 
Hargrave your son, and were I what I cannot name, could 
any passion excuse, any circumstances induce you to sanc- 
tion the connection for which you now plead ? " 

" My dear love," said Montreville, " the cases are widely 
different. The world's opinion affixes just disgrace to the 
vices in your sex, which in ours it views with more indul- 
gent eyes." 

" But I," returned Laura, " when I took upon me the 
honoured name of Christian, by that very act became bound 
that the opinion of the world should not regulate my prin- 
ciples, nor its customs guide my practice. Perhaps even 
the worst of my sex might plead that the voice of a tempter 
lured them to perdition ; but what tongue can speak the 
vileness of that tempter ? Could I promise to obey him 
who wilfully leads others to their ruin ? Could I honour 
him who deceives the heart that trusteth in him ? Could 
I love him who can look upon a fellow-creature once the 
image of the Highest, now humbled below the brutes that 
perish upon the heir of immortality, immortal only to 
misery, and who can, unmoved, unpitying, seek in the 
fallen wretch a minister of pleasure ? Love ! " continued 
Laura, forgetting in the deformity of the hideous image 
that it was capable of individual application, " words can- 
not express the energy of my abhorrence ! " 

" Were Hargrave such or to continue such " 

said Montreville. 

" Hargrave!" continued Laura, almost with a shriek, 

" oh, God forbid ! And yet " She covered her face 

with her hands, and cold drops stood on her forehead, as 
she remembered how just cause she had to dread that the 
portrait might be his. 

" Hargrave," continued Montreville, (t is not an aban- 



SELF-CONTROL. 199 

doned proflgate, though he may not have escaped the follies 
usual to men of his rank ; and he has promised, if you will 
be favourable to him, to live henceforward in irreproachable 
purity. Heaven forgives the sins which are forsaken, and 
will you be less lenient ? " 

. " Joyfully will I forgive," replied Laura, cc when I am 
assured that they are indeed abhorred and forsaken." 

" They are already forsaken," said Montreville : " it 
rests with you to confirm Hargrave in the right,, by con- 
senting to his wishes." 

ff I ask but the conviction which time alone can bring," 
said Laura, " and then " 

ic And how will you bear it, Laura, if weary of your 
perverse delays, Hargrave should relinquish his suit ? How 
would you bear to see the affections you have trifled with 
transferred to another ? " 

(f Better, far better," answered Laura, " than to watch 
the deepening of those shades of iniquity, which close at 
last into f outer darkness :' better than to see each guilty 
day advance and seal our eternal separation. To lose his 
affection," continued she with a sickly smile, " I would 
bear as I strive to bear my other burdens ; and should 
they at last prove too heavy for me, they can but weigh me 
to the earth, where they and I must soon rest together." 

" Talk not so, beloved child," said Montreville, e< a 
long life is before you. All the joys that ambition, ah 1 the 
joys that love can offer, are within your power. A father 
invites, implores, I will not say commands, you to accept 
them. The man of your choice, to whom the proudest 
might aspire, whom the coldest of your sex might love, en- 
treats you to confirm him in the ways of virtue. Consent 
then to this union, on which my heart is set, while yet it 
can be hallowed by the blessing of your dying father." 

' ( Oh take pity on me," Laura would have said, ' e and 
league not with my weak heart to betray me," but con- 
vulsive sobs were all that she could utter. 

11 You consent then," said Montreville, choosing so to 
interpret her silence ' c you have yielded to my entrea- 
ties, and made me the happiest of fathers." 

" No ! no ! " cried Laura, tossing her arms distractedly, 
o 4 



200 SELF-CONTROL. 

** I will do right, though my heart should break. No, my 
father, my dear honoured father, for whom I would lay 
down my life, not even your entreaties shall prevail." 

" Ungrateful child," said Montreville ; " what could you 
have pleaded for, that your father would have refused 
your father, whom anxiety for your welfare has brought to 
the gates of the grave, whose last feeling shall be love to 
you, whose last words shall bless you." 

" Oh most merciful, most gracious," cried Laura, 
clasping her hands, and raising her eyes in resigned an- 
guish, " wilt thou suffer me to be tempted above what I 
am able to bear ? Oh my dear father, if you have pity for 
misery unutterable, misery that cannot know relief, spare 
me now, and suffer me to think, if to think be yet pos- 
sible." 

" Hear me but for one moment more," said Montre v ille, 
who from the violence of her emotion gathered hopes of 
success. 

" Oh no ! no ! " cried Laura, " I must leave you while 
yet I have the power to do right." And, darting from his 
presence, she shut herself into her chamber. There, falling 
on her knees, she mingled bitter expressions of anguish 
with fervent prayers for support, and piteous appeals for 
mercy. 

Becoming by degrees more composed, she endeavoured 
to fortify her resolution by every argument of reason and 
religion, which had formerly guided her determination. 
She turned to the passages of Scripture which forbid the 
unequal yoke with the unbeliever; convinced that the pro* 
hibition applies no less to those whose lives are unchristian, 
than to those whose faith is unsound. She asked herself 
whether she was able to support those trials (the severest of 
all earthly ones), which the wife of a libertine must un- 
dergo ; and whether, in temptations which she voluntarily 
sought, and sorrows which she of choice encountered, she 
should be entitled to expect the Divine support. " Holy 
Father," she cried, " what peace can enter where thy bless- 
ing is withheld ? and shall I dare to meek thee with a 
petition for that blessing on an union which thou hast for- 
bidden ? May I not rather fear that this deliberate pre- 



SELF-CONTROL. 



201 



meditated guilt may be the first step in a race of iniquity? 
May I not dread to share in the awful sentence of those 
who are ' joined to their idols/ and be e let alone to wander 
in the way which leadeth to destruction ? ' 

Yet, as oft as her father's entreaties rose to her recol- 
lection, joined with the image of Hargrave of Hargrave 
beseeching, of Hargrave impassioned, Laura's resolution 
faltered ; and half-desirous to deceive herself, she almost 
doubted of the virtue of that firmness which could with- 
stand a parent's wish. But Laura was habitually suspicious 
of every opinion which favoured her inclinations, habitually 
aware of the deceitfulness of her own heart ; and she did 
not, unquestioned, harbour for a moment the insidious 
thought that flattered her strongest wishes. <e And had 
my father commanded me to marry where I was averse," 
said she, "would I then have hesitated? Would my fa- 
ther's command have prevailed on me then to undertake du- 
ties which I was unlikely to perform ? No : there I would 
have resisted. There, authority greater than a father's 
would have empowered me to resist ; I know that I should 
have resisted even unto death. And shall mere inclination 
give more firmness than a sense of duty ? Yet, oh dear 
father, think me not unmindful of all your love, or forget- 
ful of a debt which began with my being. For your sake, 
cold and hunger shall be light to me ; for you, poverty and 
toil shall be pleasing. But what solitary sorrow could equal 
the pang with which I should blush before my children for 
the vices of their father ? What is the wasting of famine 
to the mortal anguish of watching the declining love, 
the transferred desires, the growing depravity of m^ 
husband ? " 

In thoughts and struggles like these Laura passed the 
day alone. Montreville, though disappointed at his ill 
success with his daughter, was not without hope that a 
lover's prayers might prevail where a father's were ineffec* 
tual ; and believing that the season of Laura's emotion was 
a favourable one for the attempt, he was anxious for the 
daily visit of Hargrave. 

But, for the first time since his meeting with Laura, 
Hargrave did not appear. In her present frame, Laura 



202 SELF-CONTROL. 

felt his absence almost a relief; but Montreville was uneasy 
and half-alarmed. It was late in the evening when a vio- 
lent knocking at the house-door startled Montreville,, who 
was alone in his apartment ; and the next minute, without 
being announced, Hargrave burst into the room. His hair 
was dishevelled, his dress neglected, and his eyes had a 
wildness which Montreville had never before seen in him. 
Abruptly grasping Montreville's hand, he said, in the voice 
of one struggling for composure, "Have you performed 
your promise, have you spoken with Laura?" 

ft I have," answered Montreville ; " and have urged 
her, till, had you seen her, you would yourself have owned 
that I went too far. But you look . 

"Has she consented?" interrupted Hargrave ; "will 
she give herself to me ? " 

Montreville shook his head. (f Her affections are wholly 
yours," said he ; " you may yourself be more successful ; 
I fervently wish that you may. But why this strange 
emotion ? What has happened ? " 

" Nothing, nothing," said Hargrave; " ask me no 
questions ; but let me speak instantly with Laura." 

" You shall see her/' returned Montreville, opening the 
door, and calling Laura ; " only I beseech you to com- 
mand yourself, for my poor child is already half-dis- 
tracted." 

" She is the fitter to converse with me," said Hargrave, 
with a ghastly smile, e( for I am upon the very verge of 
madness." 

Laura came at her father's summons ; but when she 
saw Hargrave, the colour faded from her face, an universal 
tremour seized her, she stopped and leaned on the door for 
support " Colonel Hargrave wishes to speak with you 
alone," said Montreville ; " go with him to the parlour." 

" I cannot," answered Laura, in words scarcely audible : 
" this night I cannot." 

" I command you to go," said the father in a tone 
which he had seldom employed, and Laura instantly pre. 
pared to go. " Surely, surely," said she, " Heaven will 
not leave me to my own weakness, whilst I act in obe- 
dience to you." 



SELF-CONTROL. 203 

Perceiving that she trembled violently,, Hargrave offered 
her the support of his circling arm ; but Laura instantly 
disengaged herself. " Will you not lean on me, dearest 
Laura ? " said he ; f< perhaps it is for the last time." 

" I hope/' answered Laura,, endeavouring to exert her 
spirit, " it will be the last time that you will avail yourself 
of my father's authority to constrain me." 

" Spare your reproaches, Laura," said Hargrave, " for 
I am desperate. All that I desire on earth my life 
itself depends upon this hour." 

They entered the parlour, and Laura, sinking into a 
seat, covered her eyes with her hand, and strove to prepare 
for answering this new call upon her firmness. 

Hargrave stood silent for some moments. Fain would 
he have framed a resistless petition ; for the events of that 
day had hastened the unravelling of a tale which, once 
known to Laura, would, he knew, make all his petitions 
vain. But his impatient spirit could not wait to con- 
ciliate; and, seizing her hand, he said, with breathless 
eagerness, " Laura, you once said that you loved me, and 
I believed you. Now to the proof and if that fail ; 
but I will not distract myself with the thought. You 
have allowed me a distant hope. Recall your sentence of 
delay. Circumstances which you cannot must not know, 
leave you but one alternative. Be mine now, or you are 
for ever lost to me." 

Astonished at his words, alarmed by the ill-suppressed 
vehemence of his manner, Laura tried to read his altered 
countenance, and feared she knew not what. " Tell me 
what you mean ? " said she. ' ( What mean these strange 
words these wild looks ? Why have you come at this 
late hour ? " 

" Ask me nothing," cried Hargrave ; " but decide. 
Speak. Will you be mine now to-morrow within 
a few hours ? Soon, very soon, it will be no longer pos- 
sible for you to choose." 

A hectic of resentment kindled in Laura's cheek at the 
threat of desertion which she imagined to lurk beneath 
the words of Hargrave. " You have," said she, " I know 
not how, extended my conditional promise to receive you 



204 SELF-CONTROL. 

as a friend far beyond what the terms of it could warrant. 
In making even such an engagement perhaps I con- 
descended too far. But, admitting it in your own sense, 
what right have you to suppose that I am to be weakly 
terrified into renouncing a resolution formed on the best 
grounds ? " 

tc I have no right to expect it/' said Hargrave, in a 
voice of misery. " I came to you in desperation. I 
cannot will not survive the loss of you ; and if I pre- 
vail not now,, you must be lost to me." 

" What means this strange, this presuming haste?" 
said Laura. " Why do you seem thus wretched ? " 

" I am, indeed, most wretched. Oh, Laura, thus on 
my knees I conjure you to have pity on me ; or, if it 
will cost you a pang to lose me, have pity on yourself. 
And if thy love be too feeble to bend thy stubborn will, 
let a father's wishes, a father's prayers, come to its aid." 

" Oh, Hargrave," cried Laura, bursting into tears, " how 
have I deserved that you should lay on me this heavy 
load that you should force me to resist the entreaties of 
my father ? " 

" Do not oh do not resist them. Let a father's 
prayers let the pleadings of a wretch whose reason, 
whose life depends upon you, prevail to move you." 

" Nothing shall move me," said Laura, with the firm- 
ness of despair ; " for I am used to misery, and will 
bear it." 

f( And will you bear it too if driven from virtuous love 
from domestic joy, I turn to the bought smile of har- 
lots, forget you in the haunts of riot, or in the grave of a 
suicide ? " 

" Oh for mercy," cried the terrified Laura, " talk not 
so dreadfully. Be patient I implore you. Fear not 
to lose me. Be but virtuous, and no power of man shall 
wrest me from you. In poverty in sickness in dis- 
grace itself, I will cleave to you." 

" Oh, I believe it," said Hargrave, moved even to 
woman's weakness, " for thou art an angel. But wilt thou 
cleave to me in " 

" In what ? " said Laura. 



SELF-CONTROL. 205 

" Ask me nothing but yield to my earnest entreaty. 
Save me from the horrors of losing you ; and may Heaven 
forsake me if ever again I give you cause to repent of 
your pity !" 

Softened by his imploring looks and gestures, over- 
powered by his vehemence, harassed beyond her strength, 
Laura seemed almost expiring. But the upright spirit 
shared not the weakness of its frail abode. ie Cease to 
importune me," said she; " everlasting were my cause 
of repentance, should I wilfully do wrong. Yo.u may 
break my heart it is already broken but my resolution 
is immovable." 

Fire flashed from the eyes of Hargrave, as, starting 
from her feet, he cried, in a voice of frenzy, " Ungrateful 
woman, you have never loved me ! you love nothing but 
the fancied virtue to which I am sacrificed. But tremble, 
obdurate, lest I dash from me this hated life, and my per- 
dition be on your soul ! " 

" Oh no," cried Laura, in an agony of terror, " I will 
pray for you pity you, what shall I say? love you 
as never man was loved. Would that it were possible to 
do more !" 

" Speak then your final rejection," said Hargrave, grasp- 
ing her hand with convulsive energy, " and abide by the 
consequence." 

" I must not fear consequences," said Laura, trembling 
in every limb. " They are in the hands of Heaven." 

" Then be this first fond parting kiss our last ! " cried 
Hargrave, and franticly straining her to his breast, he 
rushed out of the room. 

Surprise, confusion, a thousand various feelings kept 
Laura for a while motionless ; till, Hargrave's parting 
words ringing in her ear, a dreadful apprehension took 
possession of her mind. Starting from her seat, and fol- 
lowing him with her arms as if she could still have de- 
tained him, " Oh Hargrave, what mean you ? " she cried. 
But Hargrave was already beyond the reach of her voice ; 
and, sinking to the ground, the wretched Laura found 
refuge from her misery in long and deep insensibility. 

In the attitude in which she had fallen, her lily arms 



206 SELF-CONTROL. 

extended on the ground, her death-like cheek resting upon 
one of them, she was found by a servant who accidentally 
entered the room,, and whose cries soon assembled the 
family. Montreville alarmed, hastened down stairs, and 
came in just as the maid with the assistance of the land- 
lady was raising Laura, to all appearance dead. 

" Merciful Heaven!" he exclaimed, " what is this?" 
The unfeeling landlady immediately expressed her opinion 
that Miss Montreville had died of famine, declaring that 
she had long feared as much. The horror-struck father 
had scarcely power to ask her meaning. (f Oh, sir," said 
the maid, sobbing aloud, " I fear it is but too true for 
she cared not for herself, so you were but well for she 
was the sweetest lady that ever was born and many a 
long night has she 'sat up toiling when the poorest creature 
was asleep for she never cared for herself." 

The whole truth flashed at once upon Montreville, and 
all the storm, from which his dutiful child so well had 
sheltered him, burst upon him in a moment. " Oh, 
Laura," he cried, clasping her lifeless form, " my only 
comfort my good my gentle my blameless child, 
hast thou nourished thy father with thy life ! Oh why 
didst thou not let me die ! " Then laying his cheek to 
hers, "Oh she is cold cold as clay," he cried, and the 
father wrung his hands, and sobbed like an infant. 

Suddenly he ceased his lamentation ; and pressing his 
hands on his breast, uttered a deep groan, and sunk down 
by the side of his senseless child. His alarm and agi- 
tation burst again the blood-vessel, which before had been 
slightly healed, and he was conveyed to bed without hopes 
of life. A surgeon was immediately found, but he ad- 
ministered his prescription without expecting its success ; 
and, departing, left the dying Montreville to the care of 
the landlady. 

The tender-hearted Fanny remained with Laura, and 
at last succeeded in restoring her to animation. She then 
persuaded her to swallow a little wine, and endeavoured 
to prevail upon her to retire to bed. But Laura refused. 
" No,, my kind, good girl," said she, laying her arm grate- 
fully on Fanny's shoulder, " I must see my father before 



SELF-CONTROL. 207 

I sleep. I have thwarted his will to-day, and will not 
sleep without his blessing." Fanny then besought her so 
earnestly not to go to the Captain's chamber., that Laura, 
filled as every thought was with Hargrave, took alarm,, 
and would not be detained. The girl, dreading the con- 
sequences of the shock that awaited her, threw her arms 
round her to prevent her departure. " Let me go," cried 
Laura, struggling with her, ec he is ill : I am sure he is ill, 
or he would have come to watch and comfort his wretched 
child." 

Fanny then, with all the gentleness in her power, in- 
formed Laura that Montreville, alarmed by the sight of 
her fainting, had been suddenly taken ill. Laura, in 
terror which effaced the remembrance of all her former 
anguish, scarcely suffered her attendant to finish her rela- 
tion ; but broke from her, and hurried, as fast as her 
tottering limbs would bear her, to her father's chamber. 

Softly, on tiptoe, she stole to his bed-side. His eyes 
were closed, and death seemed already stamped on every 
feature. Laura shuddered convulsively, and shrunk back 
in horror. But the dread of scaring the spirit from its 
frail tenement suppressed the cry that was rising to her 
lips. Trembling she laid her hand upon his. He looked 
up, and a gleam of joy brightened in his dying eyes as 
they rested on his daughter. " Laura, my beloved," said 
he, drawing her gently towards him, " thou hast been the 
joy of my life. I thank God that thou art spared to 
comfort me in death." 

Laura tried to speak the words of hope ; but the sounds 
died upon her lips. 

After a pause of dread silence, Montreville said, " This 
is the hour when thy father was wont to bless thee. Come, 
and I will bless thee still." 

The weeping Laura sunk upon her knees, and Montre- 
ville laid one hand upon her head, while she still held the 
other, as if wishing to detain him. " My best my last 
blessing be upon thee, child of my heart," said he. " The 
everlasting arms be around thee, when mine can embrace 
thee no more. The Father of the fatherless be a parent to 
thee ; support thee in sorrow ; crown thy youth with joy 



208 SELF-CONTROL. 

thy grey hairs with honour ; and, when thou art sum- 
moned to thy kindred angels, may thy heart throb its last 
on some breast kind and noble as thine own ! " 

Exhausted by the effort which he had made, Montreville 
sunk back on his pillow ; and Laura, in agony of suppli- ' 
cation, besought Heaven to spare him to her. " Father 
of mercies!" she inwardly ejaculated, "if it be possible, 
save me, oh save me from this fearful stroke, or take 
me in pity from this desolate wilderness to the rest of thy 
chosen." 

The dead of night came on, and all but the wretched 
Laura was still. Montreville breathed softly. Laura 
thought he slept, and stifled even her sighs, lest they 
should awake him. In the stillness of the dead, but in 
agony of suspense which baffles description, she continued 
to kneel by his bed-side, and to return his relaxing grasp, 
till she felt a gentle pressure of her hand, and looked up 
to interpret the gesture. It was the last expression of 
a father's love. Montreville was gone ! 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

COLONEL HABGRAVE had been the spoiled child of a weak 
mother, and he continued to retain one characteristic of 
spoiled children ; some powerful stimulant was with him a 
necessary of life. He despised all pleasures of regular re- 
currence and moderate degree ; and even looked down upon 
those who could be satisfied with such enjoyments, as on 
beings confined to a meaner mode of existence. For more 
than a year Laura had furnished the animating principle 
which kept life from stagnation. When she was present, 
her beauty, her reserve, her ill- concealed affection, kept 
his passions in constant play. In her absence, the inter- 
pretation of looks and gestures of which she had been un- 
conscious, and the anticipation of concessions which she 
thought not of making, furnished occupation for the many 



SELF-CONTROL. 209 

hours which, for want of literary habits, Colonel Hargrave 
was obliged to pass in solitude and leisure, when deprived 
of fashionable company, public amusements, and tolerable 
romances. In a little country town, these latter resources 
were soon exhausted, and Hargrave had no associates to 
supply the blank among his brother officers ; some of them 
being low both in birth arid education, and others, from 
various reasons, rather repelling, than courting his intimacy. 
One had a pretty wife, another an unmarried daughter ; 
and the phlegmatic temperament and reserved manners of 
a third tallied not with Hargrave's constitutional warmth. 
The departure of Laura, therefore, deprived him at once of 
the only society that amused, and the only object that 
interested him. He was prevented by the caution of 
Mrs, Douglas from attempting a correspondence with his 
mistress ; and his muse was exhausted with composing 
amatory sonnets, and straining half-imaginary torments 
into reluctant rhymes. 

He was soon tired of making sentimental visits to the 
now deserted Glenalbert, and grew weary of inspecting his 
treasures of pilfered gloves and stray shoe-bows. His new 
system of reform, too, sat rather heavily upon him. He 
was not exactly satisfied with its extent, though he did not 
see in what respect it was susceptible of improvement. 
He had some suspicion that it was not entitled to the full 
approbation of the (S wise, the pious, the sober-minded" 
observers, whom he imagined that Laura had charged with 
the inspection of his conduct; and he reflected, with a 
mixture of fear and impatience, that by them every action 
would be reported to Laura, with all the aggravation of 
illiberal comment. For though he did not distinctly 
define the idea to himself, he cherished a latent opinion, 
that the " wise" would be narrow-minded, the " pious" 
bigoted, and the " sober-minded" cynical. The feeling of 
being watched is completely destructive of comfort, even 
to those who have least to conceal ; and Colonel Hargrave 
sought relief at once from restraint and ennui, in exhibiting, 
at the Edinburgh races, four horses which were the envy 
of all the gentlemen, and a person which was the admir- 
ation of all the ladies. His thoughts dissipated, and his 
p 



210 SELF-CONTROL. 

vanity gratified, his passion had never, since its first exist- 
ence, been so little troublesome as during his stay in 
Edinburgh ; and once or twice, as he caught a languishing 
glance from a gay young heiress, he thought he had been 
a little precipitate in changing his first designs in regard to 
Laura. But, alas ! the races endure only for one short 
week ; Edinburgh was deserted by its glittering birds of 
passage; and Hargrave returned to his quarters, to solitude, 
and to the conviction that, however obtained, the posses- 
sion of Laura was necessary to his peace. 

Finding that her return was as uncertain as ever, he 
resolved to follow her to London; and the caution of 
Mrs. Douglas baffling his attempts to procure her address 
from any other quarter, he contrived to obtain it by bribing 
one of the under attendants of the Post-office to transcribe 
for him the superscription of a letter to. Miss Montreville. 
Delighted with his success, he could not refuse himself the 
triumph of making it known to Mrs. Douglas ; and, by 
calling to ask her commands for her young friend, occa- 
sioned the letter of caution from her to Laura, which has 
been formerly mentioned. 

The moment he reached London, he hastened to make 
enquiries after the abode of Captain Montreville ; but his 
search was disappointed by the accidents which he after- 
wards related to Laura. Day after day, he hoped that 
Laura, by sending to Mr. Baynard's chambers, would afford 
him the means of discovering her residence. But every 
day ended in disappointment ; and Hargrave, who, intend- 
ing to devote all his time to her, had given no intimation 
to his friends of his arrival in town, found himself as 
solitary, listless, and uncomfortable as before he quitted 
Scotland. 

One evening, when, to kill the time, he had sauntered 
into the theatre, he renewed his acquaintance wiih the 
beautiful Lady Bellamer. Two years before, Hargrave 
had been the chief favourite of Lady Bellamer, then Miss 
Walpole. Of all the danglers whom beauty, coquetry, 
and fifty thousand pounds, attracted to her train, none was 
admitted to such easy freedom as Hargrave. She laughed 
more heartily at his wit, whispered more familiarly in his 



SELF-CONTROL. 211 

ear, and slapped him more frequently on the check than 
any of his rivals. With no other man was she so un- 
reasonable, troublesome, and ridiculous. In short, she ran 
through the whole routine of flirtation, till her heart was 
entangled, so far at least as the heart of a coquette is sus- 
ceptible of that misfortune. But whatever flames were 
kindled in the lady's breast, the gentleman, as is usual on 
such occasions, escaped with a very light singe. While 
Miss Walpole was present, his vanity was soothed by her 
blandishments, and his senses touched by her charms ; 
but, in her absence, he consoled himself with half a dozen 
other affairs of the same kind. 

Meanwhile Lord Bellamer entered the lists, and soon 
distinguished himself from his competitors, by a question, 
which, with all her admirers, Miss Walpole had not often 
answered. The lady hesitated; for she could not help 
contrasting the insignificant starveling figure of her suitor 
with the manly beauty of Hargrave's person. But Lord 
Bellamer had a title in possession ; Hargrave's was only 
reversionary. His Lordship's estate, too, was larger than 
the Colonel's expectations. Besides, she began to have 
doubts whether her favourite ever intended to propose the 
important question ; for though, to awaken his jealousy, 
she had herself informed him of Lord Bellamer's preten- 
sions, and though she had played off the whole artillery of 
coquetry to quicken his operations, the young man main- 
tained a resolute and successful resistance. So, after some 
fifty sighs given to the well-turned leg and sparkling eyes 
of Hargrave, Miss Walpole became Lady Bellamer; and 
this was the only change which marriage effected in her; 
for no familiarity could increase her indifference to Lord 
Bellamer, and no sacredness of connection can warm the 
heart of a coquette. She continued equally assiduous in 
courting admiration, equally daring in defying censure ; 
and was content to purchase the adulation of fools, at the 
expense of being obliged to the charity of those who were 
good-natured enough to say, " To be sure Lady Bellamer is 
a little giddy, but I dare say she means no harm." 

Her husband's departure with his regiment for the Con- 
tinent made no change in her way of life, except to save 
p 2 



A 1 2 SELF-CONTROL. 

her the trouble of defending conduct which she would not 
reform. She continued in London, or at her villa on Rich- 
mond Hill, to enter into every folly which others proposed, 
or herself to project new ones. 

Meanwhile Hargrave's duty called him to Scotland, 
where Lady Bellamer and all her rivals in his attention were 
entirely forgotten amidst the superior attractions of Laura; 
attractions which acted with all the force of novelty upon a 
heart accustomed to parry only premeditated attacks, and 
to resist charms which were merely corporeal. From an 
early date in his acquaintance with Miss Montreville, he had 
scarcely recollected the existence of Lady Bellamer, till he 
found himself in the next box to her at the theatre. The 
pleasure that sparkled in the brightest blue eyes in the 
world, the flush that tinged her face, wherever the rouge 
permitted its natural tints to appear, convinced Hargrave in 
a moment that her Ladyship's memory had been more te- 
nacious ; and he readily answered to her familiar nod of 
invitation, by taking his place by her side. 

They entered into conversation with all the frankness of 
their former intimacy. Lady Bellamer enquired how the 
Colonel had contrived to exist during eighteen months of 
rustication ; and gave him in return memoirs of some of 
their mutual acquaintance. She had some wit, and an ex- 
uberance of animal spirits ; and she seasoned her nonsense 
with such lively sallies, sly scandal, and adroit flatterv, that 
Hargrave had scarcely ever passed an evening more gaily. 
Once or twice, the composed grace, the artless majesty of 
Laura, rose to his recollection, and he looked absent and 
thoughtful. But his companion rallied him with so much 
spirit, that he quickly recovered himself, and fully repaid 
the amusement which he received. He accepted Lady 
Bellamer's invitation to sup with her after the play, and 
left her at a late hour, with a promise to visit her again the 
next day. From that time, the freedom of their former in- 
tercourse was renewed ; with this difference only, that 
Hargrave was released from some restraint, by his escape 
from the danger of entanglement which necessarily attends 
particular assiduities towards an unmarried woman. 

Let the fair enchantress tremble who approaches even in 



SELF-CONTROL. 213 

thought the utmost verge of discretion. If she advance 
but one jot beyond that magic circle,, the evil spirit is 
ready to seize her, which, before, feared even to rise in her 
presence. Lady Bellamer became the victim of unpardon- 
able imprudence on her own part, and mere constitutional 
tendency on that of her paramour. To a most blamable 
levity she sacrificed whatever remained to be sacrificed, of 
her reputation, her virtue, and her marriage- vow ; while 
the crime of Hargrave was not palliated by one sentiment 
of genuine affection ; for she by whom he fell was no more 
like the object of his real tenderness, than those wandering 
lights which arise from corruption, and glimmer only to 
betray, are to the steady sunbeam which enlightens, and 
guides, and purifies where it shines. 

Their intercourse continued, with growing passion on 
the side of the lady, and expiring inclination on that of the 
gentleman, till Lady Bellamer informed him that the con- 
sequences of their guilt could not long be concealed. Her 
Lord was about to return to his disgraced home ; and she 
called upon Hargrave to concert with her the means of ex- 
changing shackles which she would no longer endure, for 
bonds which she could bear with pleasure, and himself to 
stand forth the legal protector of his unborn child. Har- 
grave heard her with a disgust which he scarcely strove to 
conceal ; for at that moment Laura stood before him, be- 
witching in chastened love respectable in saintly purity. 
He remembered that the bare proposal of a degradation, 
which Lady Bellamer had almost courted, had once nearly 
banished the spotless soul from a tenement no less pure than 
itself. In fancy he again saw through her casement the 
wringing of those snowy hands, those eyes raised in agony, 
and the convulsive heavings of that bosom which mourned 
his unlooked-for baseness ; and he turned from Lady Bel- 
lamer, inwardly cursing the hour when his vows to Laura 
were sacrificed to a wanton. 

The very day after this interview was that in which he 
accidentally encountered Laura ; and from that moment 
his whole desire was to make her his own, before public 
report should acquaint her with his guilt. He durst not 
trust to the strength of her affection for the pardon of so 
p 3 



214 



SELF-CONTROL. 



foul an offence. He could not hope that she would again 
place confidence in vows of reformation which had been 
so grossly violated. When the proper self-distrust of 
Laura refused him the opportunity of making a personal 
appeal to her sensibilities, he hoped that her father might 
successfully plead his cause; and that, before his guilt 
was known to her, he might have made it at once her in- 
terest and her duty to forget it. But the storm was about 
to burst even more speedily than he apprehended. Lady 
Bellamer little suspected that her conduct was watched 
with all the malice of jealousy, and all the eagerness of 
interest. She little suspected that her confidential servant 
was the spy of her injured husband, bound to fidelity in 
this task by ties as disgraceful as they were strong, and 
that this woman waited only for legal proof of her mis- 
tress's guilt, to lay the particulars before her lord. That 
proof was now obtained ; and Lord Bellamer hastened to 
avail himself of it. He arrived in London on the morning 
of the last day of Montreviile's life: and, charging his 
guilty wife with her perfidy, expelled her from his house. 
She flew to Hargrave's lodgings, and found him pre- 
paring for his daily visit to Laura. Though provoked at 
being delayed, he was obliged to stay and listen to her, 
while she hastily related the events of the morning. She 
was about to speak of her conviction, that, by making her 
his wife, he would shield her from the world's scorn, and 
that he would not, by any legal defence, retard her eman- 
cipation. But Hargrave suffered her not to proceed. He 
perceived that his adventure must now be public. It must 
immediately find its way into the public prints ; and in a 
few hours it might be in the hands of Laura. He bitterly 
upbraided Lady Bellamer with her want of caution in the 
concealment of their amour ; cursed her folly as the ruin 
of all his dearest hopes ; and, in the frenzy of his rage, 
scrupled not to reveal the cutting secret, that while another 
was the true object of his affections, Lady Bellamer had 
sacrificed her all to an inclination as transient as it was 
vile. The wretched creature, terrified at his rage, weak- 
ened by her situation, overcome by the events of the 
morning, and stung by a reception so opposite to her ex- 



SELF-CON TROL. 215 

peetations, sunk at his feet in violent hysterics. But 
Hargrave could at that moment feel for no miseries but 
his own ; and consigning her to the care of the women of 
the house, he was again about to hasten to Montreville's, 
when he was told that a gentleman wished to speak with 
him upon particular business. 

This person was the bearer of a note from Lord Bel- 
lamer, importing that he desired to meet Colonel Hargrave 
on that or the following day, at any hour and place which 
the Colonel might appoint. After the injuries given and 
received, their meeting, he said, could have but one object. 
Hargrave, in no humour to delay, instantly replied, that 
in three hours he should be found in a solitary field, 
which he named, at a few miles' distance from town, and 
that he should bring with him a friend and a brace of 
pistols. He then went in search of this friend, and finding 
him at home, speedily settled the business. 

Nothing, in the slight consideration of death which 
Hargrave suffered to enter his mind, gave him so much 
disturbance as the thought that he might, if he fell, leave 
Laura to the possession of another. He willingly per- 
suaded himself that she had an attachment to him too. 
romantic to be transferable. But she was poor : she might 
in time make a marriage of esteem and convenience ; and 
Laura, the virtuous Laura, would certainly love her hus- 
band, and the father of her children. The bare idea stung 
like a scorpion, and Hargrave hastened to his attorney, 
where he spent the time which yet remained before the 
hour of his appointment, in dictating a bequest of five 
thousand pounds to Laura Montreville ; but true to his 
purpose, he added a clause, by which, in case of her mar- 
riage, she forfeited the whole. 

He then prepared to meet Lord Bellamer ; and the 
ground being taken, Hargrave's first ball penetrated Lord 
Bellamer's left shoulder, who then fired without effect, and 
instantly fell. Hargrave, whose humanity had returned 
with his temper, accompanied his wounded antagonist to a 
neighbouring cottage to which he was conveyed, anxiously 
procured for him every possible comfort, and heard, with 
real joy, that if he could be kept from fever, his wound 
p 4 



216 



SELF-CONTROL. 



was not likely to be mortal. The gentleman who had 
been Hargrave's second offered to remain near Lord Bel- 
lamer, in order to give warning to his friend should any 
danger occur ; and it was late in the evening, before 
Hargrave, alone and comfortless, returned to town. 

Never had his own thoughts been such vexatious com- 
panions. To his own seared conscience his crimes might 
have seemed trivial ; but when he placed them before him 
in the light in which he knew that they would be viewed 
by Laura, their nature seemed changed. He knew that 
she would find no plea in the custom of the times, for 
endangering the life of a fellow-creature, and that her 
moral vocabulary contained no qualifying epithet to palliate 
the foulness of adultery. The next day would give pub- 
licity to his duel and its cause ; and should the report 
reach Laura's ear, what could he hope from her favour ? 
The bribes of love and ambition he had found too poor to 
purchase her sanction to the bare intention of a crime. 
Even the intention seemed forgiven only in the hope of 
luring him to the paths of virtue : and when she shculd 
know the failure of that hope, would not her forgiveness 
be withdrawn ? 

But Laura, thus on the point of being lost, was more 
dear to him than ever ; and often did he wish that he had 
fallen by Lord Bellamer's hand, rather than that he should 
live to see himself the object of her indifference, perhaps 
aversion. Time still remained, however, by one desperate 
effort to hurry or terrify her into immediate compliance 
with his wishes ; and, half distracted with the emotions of 
remorse, and love, and hope, and fear, he ordered his 
carriage to Montreville's house. Here passed the scene 
which has been already described. Hargrave was too much 
agitated to attend to the best methods of persuasion, and 
he quitted Laura in the full conviction that she would 
never be his wife. He threw himself into his carriage, 
and was driven home, now franticly bewailing his loss, 
now vowing, that rather than endure it, he would incur the 
penalties of every law, divine and human. All night he 
paced his apartment, uttering imprecations on his own 
folly, and forming plans for regaining by fraud, force, or 



SELF-CONTROL. 217 

persuasion, his lost rights over Laura. At last his vehe- 
mence having somewhat spent itself, he threw himself on a 
couch, and sunk into feverish and interrupted sleep. 

It was not till next morning that he thought of enquiring 
after the unfortunate partner of his iniquity ; and was told 
that, too ill to be removed, she had been carried to bed in 
the house,, where she still remained. 

Intending to renew the attempt of the preceding night, 
he again repaired early to Laura's abode ; but his intention 
was frustrated by the death of Montreville. On receiving 
the information, he was at first a good deal shocked at the 
sudden decease of a man, whom, a few hours before, he 
had left in no apparent danger. But that feeling was 
effaced when once he began to consider the event as fa- 
vourable to his designs upon Laura. Left to solitude, to 
poverty, perhaps to actual want, what resource had she so 
eligible as the acceptance of offers splendid and disinter- 
ested like his. And he would urge her acceptance of them 
with all the ardour of passion. He would alarm her with 
the prospects of desolateness and dependence ; he would 
appeal to the wishes of her dead father. Such pleadings 
must, he thought, have weight with her ; and again the 
hopes of victory revived in his mind. Should the prin- 
ciple, to which she so firmly adhered, outweigh all these 
considerations, he thought she would forfeit by her ob- 
stinacy all claims to his forbearance, and his heart fluttered 
at the idea that she had now no protector from his power. 
He resolved to haunt, to watch her, to lose no opportunity 
of pressing his suit. Wherever she went he was deter- 
mined to follow ; " and surely," thought he, (( she must 
have some moments of weakness, she cannot be always on 
her guard." 

For some days he continued to make regular visits at 
her lodgings, though he had no hope of seeing her till after 
Montreville was consigned to the dust ; and he rejoiced 
that the customary seclusion was likely to retard her know- 
ledge of his misconduct. To make enquiries after the 
health and spirits of Laura, was the ostensible, but not the 
only motive of his visits. He wished to discover all that 
was known to the people of the house of her present situ- 



218 SELF-CONTROL. 

ation and future plans. On the latter subject they could 
not afford him even the slightest information, for Laura 
had never dropped a hint of her intentions. But he re- 
ceived such accounts of her pecuniary distresses, and of 
the manner in which she supported them, as at once in- 
creased his reverence for her character, and his hopes that 
she would take refuge from her wants in the affluence 
which he offered her. 

From Fanny, who officiated as porter, and who almost 
ado>ed Laura, he received most of his intelligence; and 
while he listened to instances of the fortitude, the piety, 
the tenderness, the resignation of his beloved, a love of 
virtue, sincere though transient, would cross his soul ; he 
would look back with abhorrence on a crime which had 
hazarded the loss of such a treasure ; and vow, that, were 
he once possessed of Laura, his life should be a copy of 
her worth. But Hargrave's vows deceived him ; for he 
loved the virtues only which were associated with objects 
of pleasure, he abhorred the vices only which threatened 
him with pain. 

On the day succeeding the funeral, he ventured on an 
attempt to see Laura, and sent her a message, begging 
permission to wait upon her ; but was answered that she 
received no visiters. He then wrote to her a letter full of 
the sentiments which she inspired. He expressed his 
sympathy with her misfortunes, and fervently besought 
her to accept of a protector who would outdo in tenderness 
the one whom she had lost). He implored her to add the 
strongest incentive to the course of virtue, in which, if she 
would listen to his request, he solemnly promised to per- 
severe. He again insinuated that she must speedily decide ; 
that, if her decision were unfavourable, he might be driven 
to seek forgetfulness amidst ruinous dissipation ; and he 
adjured her by the wishes of her dead father, a claim which 
he- thought would, with her, be irresistible, to consent to 
dispense with his further probation. He said he would 
visit her late in the following forenoon, in the hope of re- 
ceiving his answer from her own lips ; and concluded by 
telling her, that, lest the late unfortunate event had oc- 
casioned her any temporary difficulties, he begged to be 



SELF-CONTROL. 219 

considered as her banker, and enclosed a bill for a hundred 
pounds. 

He gave this letter to Fanny, with injunctions to deliver 
it immediately, and then went to enquire for Lord Bellamer, 
whom it gave him real pleasure to find pronounced out of 
danger. Lady Bellamer, too, had ceased to reproach and 
molest him. She had recovered from her indisposition, 
and removed to the house of a relation, who humanely 
offered to receive her. His hopes were strong of the effect 
of his letter ; and he passed the evening in greater com- 
fort than had lately fallen to his share. Often did he 
repeat to himself that Laura must accede to his proposals. 
What other course could she pursue ? Would her spirit 
allow her to become a burden on the scanty income of her 
friend Mrs. Douglas would she venture to pursue, as a 
profession, the art in which she so greatly excelled 
would she return to live alone at Glenalbert ? This last 
appeared the most probable to Hargrave, because the 
most desirable. Alone, without any companion whose 
frozen counsel could counteract the softness of her heart, in 
a romantic solitude, watched as he would watch, impor- 
tuned as he would importune her, strange if no advantage 
could be wrested from her affection or her prudence, her 
interest or her fears ! To obtain Laura was the first wish 
of his soul ; and he was not very fastidious as to the means 
of its gratification : for even the love of a libertine is 
selfish. He was perfectly sincere in his honourable pro- 
posals to Laura. He might have been less so had any 
others possessed a chance of success. 

He rose early the next morning, and impatiently looked 
for the hour which he had appointed for his visit. He 
wished that he had fixed on an earlier one, took up a book 
to beguile the minutes, threw it down again, looked a 
hundred times at his watch, ordered his carriage to the 
door two hours before it was wanted, feared to go too 
soon, lest Laura should refuse to see him, and yet was at 
her lodgings long before his appointment. He enquired 
for her, and was answered that she had discharged her 
lodgings, and was gone. (t Gone ! whither?" Fanny 
did not know; Miss Montreville had been busy all the 



220 SELF-CONTROL. 

evening before in preparing for her removal,, and had left 
the house early that morning. <( And did she leave no 
address where she might be found ? " "I heard her tell 
the coachman/' said Fanny, " to stop at the end of Gros- 
venor Street, and she would direct him where she chose 
to be set down. But I believe she has left a letter for you, 
sir." "Fool!" cried Hargrave, "why did you not tell 
me so sooner ? give it me instantly."' 

He impatiently followed the girl to the parlour which 
had been Montreville's. The letter lay on the table. He 
snatched it, and hastily tore it open. It contained only 
his bill, returned with Miss Montreville's compliments arid 
thanks. He twisted the card into atoms, and cursed with 
all his soul the ingratitude and cold prudence of the writer. 
He swore that if she were on earth, he would find her ; 
and vowed that he would make her repent of the vexation 
which he said she had always taken a savage delight in 
heaping upon him. 

Restless, and yet unwilling to be gone, he next wandered 
into Laura's painting room, as if hoping in her once- 
favourite haunt to find traces of her flight. He had never 
entered it since the day when the discovery of De Courcy's 
portrait had roused his sudden frenzy. Association brought 
back the same train of thought. He imagined that Laura, 
while she concealed herself from Mm, had taken refuge 
with the De Courcys ; and all his jealousy returned. 
After, according to custom, acting the madman for a while, 
he began as usual to recover his senses. He knew he 
could easily discover whether Miss Montreville was at 
Norwood, by writing to a friend who lived in the neigh- 
bourhood ; and he was going home to execute this design, 
when, passing through the lobby, he was met by the land- 
lady. He stopped to renew his enquiries whether any 
thing was known, or guessed, of Laura's retreat. But 
Mrs. Stubbs could give him no more information on the 
subject than her maid, and she was infinitely more sur- 
prised at his question than Fanny had been : for having 
made certain observations which convinced her that Har- 
grave's visits were in the character of a lover, she had 



SELF-CONTROL. 221 

charitably concluded, and actually asserted, that Laura had 
accepted of his protection. 

Hargrave next enquired whether Laura had any visiters 
but himself ? ' ' No living creature/' was the reply. c ' Could 
Mrs. Stubbs form no conjecture whither she was gone ?" 
" None in the world/' answered Mrs. Stubbs ; " only this 
I know, it can't be very far off , for to my certain know- 
ledge, she had only seven shillings in her pocket, and that 
could not carry her far, as I told the gentleman who was 
here this morning." "What gentleman?" cried Har- 
grave. "One Mr. de Courcy, sir, that used to call for 
her ; but he has not been here these six weeks before ; and 
he seemed quite astounded as well as yourself, sir." Har- 
grave then questioned her so closely concerning De Courcy's 
words and looks, as to convince himself that his rival was 
entirely ignorant of the motions of the fugitive. In this 
belief he returned home, uncertain what measures he should 
pursue, but determined not to rest till he had found Laura. 

When De Courcy quitted Laura, he had no intention 
of seeing her again till circumstances should enable him to 
offer her his hand. No sacrifice could have cost him more 
pain ; but justice and filial duty did not permit him to 
hesitate. Neither did he think himself entitled to sadden 
with a face of care his domestic circle, nor to make his 
mother and sister pay dearly for their comforts, by showing 
that they were purchased at the expense of his peace. Nor 
did he languidly resign to idle love-dreams the hours which 
an immortal spirit claimed for its improvement, and which 
the social tie bound him to enliven and cheer. But to 
appear what he was not, to introduce constraint and dis- 
simulation into the sacred privacies of home, never occurred 
to De Courcy. He therefore strove not to seem cheerful 
but to be so. He returned to his former studies, and even 
prosecuted them with alacrity, for he knew that Laura 
respected a cultivated mind. His faults he was, if pos- 
sible, more than ever studious to correct, for Laura loved 
virtue. And when occasion for a kind, considerate, or self- 
denying action presented itself, he eagerly seized it, saying 
in his heart, " This is like Laura." 

Sometimes the fear that he might be forgotten forced 



222 SELF-CONTROL,. 

from him the bitterest sigh which he had ever breathed ; 
but he endeavoured to comfort himself with the belief that 
she would soon be screened from the gaze of admiration, 
and that her regard for him, though yet in its infancy, 
would be sufficient to secure her from other impressions. 
Of the reality of this regard he did not allow himself to 
doubt, or if he hesitated for a moment, he called to mind 
the picture, Laura's concealment of it, her confusion at his 
attempt to examine it, and he no longer doubted. 

The arrival of the picture itself might have explained all 
that related to it, had De Courcy chosen to have it so 
explained. But he turned his eye from the unpleasing 
light, and sheltered his hopes by a hundred treasured 
instances of love, which had scarcely any existence but in 
his fancy. 

His efforts to be cheerful were however less successful, 
after Laura, in a few melancholy lines, informed Miss de 
Courcy that Montreville's increased illness made their 
return to Scotland more uncertain than ever. He ima- 
gined his dear Laura the solitary attendant of a sick bed ; 
no kind voice to comfort, no friendly face to cheer her; 
perhaps in poverty, that poverty increased too by the arti- 
fice which he had used to lessen it. He grew anxious, 
comfortless, and at length really miserable. Every day 
the arrival of the letters was looked for with extreme soli- 
citude in hope of more cheering news ; but every day 
brought disappointment, for Laura wrote no more. His 
mother shared in his anxiety, and increased it by express- 
ing her own. She feared that Miss Montreville was ill, 
and unable to write ; and the image of Laura among 
strangers, sick and in poverty, obliterated Montague's pru- 
dent resolutions of trusting himself no more in the presence 
of his beloved. He set out for London, and arrived at 
the door of Laura's lodgings about an hour after she had 
quitted them. 

Mrs. Stubbs, of whom he made personal enquiries, 
was abundantly communicative. She gave him, as far as 
it was known to her, a full history of Laura's adventures 
since he had seen her; and, where she was deficient in 
facts, supplied the blank by conjecture. With emotion 



SELF-CONTROL. 223 

indescribable he listened to a coarse account of Miss Mon- 
treville's wants and labours. " How could you suffer all 
this ? " cried he indignantly, when he was able to speak. 
" Times are hard, sir/' returned Mrs. Stubbs, the jolly 
purple deepening in her cheeks. " Besides, Miss Montre- 
ville had always such an air with her, that I could not for 
my very heart have asked her to take pot-luck with us." 

The colour faded from De Courcy's face as Mrs. 
Stubbs proceeded to relate the constant visits of Hargrave. 
(( I'll warrant," said she, growing familiar as she perceived 
that she excited interest, ft I'll warrant he did not come 
here so often for nothing. People must have ears and use 
them too ; and I heard him myself swearing to her one 
day, that he loved her better than his life, or something to 
that purpose; and that, if she would live with him, he 
would make her dreams pleasant, or some such stuff as 
that ; and now, as sure as can be, she has taken him at his 
word, and gone to him." 

" Peace, woman ! " cried De Courcy, in a tone which he 
had never used to any of the sex, " how dare you " 

Mrs. Stubbs, who had all that want of nerve which 
characterises vulgar arrogance, instantly shrunk into her 
shell. " No offence, sir," said she : " it's all mere guess- 
work with me ; only she does not know a creature in Lon- 
don, and she had nothing to carry her out of it ; for she 
had just seven shillings in her pocket. I gave her seven- 
teen and sixpence of change this morning, and she gave 
half-a-guinea of that to the kitchen-maid. Now, it stands 
to reason, she would not have been so ready parting with 
her money, if she had not known where more was to be 
had." 

De Courcy, shocked and disgusted, turned from her in 
displeasure ; and finding that nothing was to be learnt 
from her of the place of Laura's retreat, betook himself to 
the print-shop, where he remembered that he had first 
procured Miss Montreville's address. Mr. Wilkins de- 
clared his ignorance on the subject of Montague's enqui- 
ries; but, seeing the look of disappointment with which De 
Courcy was leaving the shop, good-naturedly said, (e I 
dare say, sir, if you wish to find out where Miss Montre- 



224 SELF-CONTROL. 

ville lives, I could let you know by asking Colonel Har- 
grave. He comes here sometimes to look at the caricatures. 
And," added Mr. Wilkins, winking significantly, " I am 
mistaken if they are not very well acquainted." 

De Courcy's heart rose to his mouth. " It may be so," 
said he, scarcely conscious of what he said. 

'" There was a famous scene between them here about 
three weeks ago," proceeded the print-seller, anxious to 
justify his own sagacity. " I suppose they had not met for 
a while, and there was such a kissing and embracing " 

" 'Tis false ! " cried De Courcy, lightning flashing 
from his eyes : " Miss Montreville would have brooked 
such indignities from no man on earth." 

" Nay," said Wilkins, shrugging up his shoulders, 
(f the shop-lads saw it as well as I she fainted away in 
his arms, and he carried her into the back room there, and 
would not suffer one of us to come near her; and Mr. 
Finch there saw him down on his knees to her." 

t( Cease your vile slanders," cried De Courcy, half-dis- 
tracted with grief and indignation, " I abhor I despise 
them. But at your peril dare to breathe them into any other 
ear." So saying, he darted from the shop, and returned to 
his hotel, infinitely more wretched than ever he had been. 

The happy dream was dispelled which painted him the 
master of Laura's affections. Another possessed her love; 
and how visible, how indelicately glaring, must ,be the pre- 
ference which was apparent to every vulgar eye ! But, 
bitter as was his disappointment, and cruel the pangs of 
jealousy, they were ease compared to the torture with 
which he admitted a thought derogatory to Laura's worth. 
A thousand times he reproached himself for suffering the 
hints and conjectures of a low-bred woman to affect his 
mind ; a thousand times assured himself that no poverty, 
no difficulties, would overpower the integrity of Laura. 
" Yet Hargrave is a libertine," said he, " and if she can 
Jove a libertine, how have I been deceived in her ! No ! 
it cannot be ! She is all truth all purity. It is she 
that is deceived. He has imposed upon her by a false 
show of virtue, and misery awaits her detection of his 
deceit. She gone to him ! I will never believe it. Liber- 



SELF-CONTROL. 225 

tine as he is, he dare not even to think of it. Extremity 
of want lingering famine would not degrade her to 
this/' and tears filled De Courcy's manly eyes at the 
thought that Laura was indeed in want. 

He had no direct means of supplying her necessities ; 
but he hoped that she might enquire at her former abode 
for any letters which might chance to be left for her, and 
that she might thus receive any packet which he addressed 
to her. C( She shall never be humbled," said he with a 
heavy sigh, " by knowing that she owes this trifle to an 
indifferent, forgotten stranger ;" and enclosing fifty pounds 
in a blank cover, he put both into an envelope to Mrs. 
Stubbs, in which he informed her, that, if she could find 
no means of conveying the packet to Miss Montreville, the 
anonymous writer would claim it again at some future 
time, on describing its contents. 

Before despatching the letter, however, he resolved on 
making an attempt to discover whether Hargrave was 
acquainted with Laura's retreat. He shrunk from meeting 
his rival. His blood ran cold as he pictured to his fancy 
the exulting voice, the triumphant glance, which would 
announce the master of Laura's fate. But any thing was 
preferable to his present suspense ; and the hope that he 
might yet be useful to Laura, formed an incitement still 
more powerful. " Let me but find her," said he, " and I 
will yet wrest her from destruction. If she is deceived, I 
will warn ; if she is oppressed, I will protect her." 

He imagined that he should probably find Hargrave at 
the house of his uncle, Lord Lincourt, and hastened thither 
to seek him ; but found the house occupied only by ser- 
vants, who were ignorant of the Colonel's address. De 
Courcy knew none of Hargrave's places of resort. The 
habits and acquaintance of each lay in a different line. No 
means therefore of discovering him occurred to Montague, 
except that of enquiring at the house of Mrs. Stubbs, 
where he thought it probable that the place of Hargrave's 
residence might be known. Thither, then, he next bent 
his course. 

The door was opened to him by Fanny ; who replied to 
his question, that none of the family knew where Colonel 
Q. 



226 



SELF-CONTROL. 



Hargrave lived, and lamented that De Courcy had not 
come a little earlier, saying, that the Colonel had heen 
gone not above a quarter of an hour. De Courcy was turn- 
ing disappointed away ; when Fanny, stopping him, said, 
with a courtesy and half-whisper, " Sir, a'nt please you, 
my mistress was all wrong about Miss Montreville, for the 
Colonel knows no more about her than I do." ' ' Indeed ! " 

said De Courcy, all attention " Yes indeed, sir 

when I told him she was away he was quite amazed, and 
in such a passion ! So then I thought I would give him 
the letter." " What letter ?" cried De Courcy, the glow 
of animation fading in his face. " A letter that Miss 
Montreville left for him, sir, but when he got it he was ten 
times angrier than before, and swore at her for not letting 
him know where she was going. So I thought, sir, I 
would make bold to tell you, sir, as mistress had been 
speaking her mind, sir ; for it's a sad thing to have one's 
character taken away ; and Miss Montreville, I am sure, 
wouldn't do hurt to nobody." 

" You are a good girl, a very good girl," said De Courcy, 
giving her, with a guinea, a very hearty squeeze of the 
hand. He made her repeat the particulars of Hargrave's 
violent behaviour ; and satisfied from them that his rival 
had no share in Laura's disappearance, he returned to his 
hotel, his heart lightened of half the heaviest load that ever 
it had borne. 

Still, however, enough remained to exclude for a time all 
quiet from his breast. He could not doubt that Laura's 
affections were Hargrave's. She had given proof of it pal- 
pable to the most common observer ; and resentment 
mingled with his grief while he thought, that, to his fer- 
vent, respectful love, she preferred the undistinguishing 
passion of a libertine. " All women are alike," said he, 
" the slaves of mere outward show :" an observation for 
which the world was probably first indebted to circumstances 
somewhat like De Courcy's. 

Restless and uncomfortable, without any hope of finding 
Laura, he would now have left London without an hour's 
delay. But, though he forgot his own fatigues, he was 
not unmindful of those of the grey-haired domestic who 



SELF-CONTROL. 227 

attended him. He therefore deferred his journey to the 
following morning ; and then set out on his return to Nor- 
wood, more depressed and wretched than he had quitted it. 






CHAPTER XIX. ' 

ALL was yet dark and still, when Laura, like some un- 
earthly being, stood hy the bed where Fanny slept. The 
light which she bore in her wasted hand, showed faintly the 
majestic form darkened by its mourning garments ; and 
shed a dreary gleam upon tearless eyes, and a face whence 
all the hues of life were fled. She made a sign for Fanny 
to rise ; and, awe-struck by the calm of unutterable grief, 
Fanny arose, and in silence followed her. They entered 
the chamber of death. With noiseless steps Laura ap- 
proached the body, and softly drew back the covering. She 
beckoned Fanny towards her. The girl comprehended that 
her aid was wanted in performing the last duties to Mon- 
treville ; and, shrinking with superstitious fear, said, in a 
low tremulous whisper, " I dare not touch the dead." 
Laura answered not ; but raising her eyes to Heaven, as if 
there to seek assistance in her mournful task, she gently 
pressed her hand upon the half-closed eyes which had so 
often beamed fondness on her. 

Unaided, and in silence, she did the last offices of love. 
She shed no tears. She uttered no lamentation. The 
dread stillness was broken only by the groans that burst at 
times from her heavy heart, and the more continued sobs 
of her attendant, who vented in tears her fear, her pity, 
and her admiration. 

When the sad work was finished, Laura, still speechless, 
motioned to the servant to retire. In horror at the thought 
of leaving Laura alone with the dead, yet fearing to raise 
her voice, the girl respectfully grasped her mistress's gown, 
and in a low but earnest whisper, besought her to leave this 
dismal place, and to go to her own chamber. Scarcely 
Q 2 



228 SELF-CONTROL. 

sensible'of her meaning, Laura suffered her to draw her 
away ; but when the door closed upon all that remained of 
her father, she shuddered convulsively, and struggled to 
return. Fanny, however, gathered courage to lead her to 
her own apartment. There she threw herself prostrate on 
the ground ; a flood of tears came to relieve her oppressed 
heart, and her recovered utterance broke forth in an act of 
resignation. She continued for some hours to give vent to 
her sorrow a sorrow unallayed by any less painful feel- 
ings, save those of devotion. She had lost the affectionate 
guide of her youth, the fond parent, whose love for her 
had brought him untimely to the grave ; and, in the an- 
guish of the thought that she should watch his smile and 
hear his voice no more, she scarcely remembered that he 
had left her to want and loneliness. 

The morning was far advanced, when her sorrows were 
broken in upon by her landlady, who came to ask her di- 
rections in regard to the funeral. Laura had been unable 
to bend her thoughts to the consideration of this subject ; 
and she answered only by her tears. In vain did Mrs. 
Stubbs repeat that " it was a folly to take on so;" " that 
we must all die;" " and that as every thing has two 
handles, Laura might comfort herself that she would now 
have but one mouth to feed." Laura seemed obstinate in 
her grief; and at last Mrs. Stubbs declared, that whether 
she would hear reason or not, something must without 
delay be settled about the funeral ; as for her part, she 
could not order things without knowing how they were to 
be paid for. Laura, putting her hand to her forehead, 
complained that her head felt confused, and, mildly begging 
her persecutor to have a little patience with her, promised, 
if she might be left alone for the present, to return to the 
conversation in half an hour. 

Accordingly, soon after the time appointed, the landlady 
was surprised to see Laura enter the parlour, her cheeks 
indeed colourless, and her eyes swelled with weeping, but 
her manner perfectly calm and collected. " Here are my 
father's watch and seals," said she, presenting them. " They 
may be disposed of. That cannot wound him now," and 
she turned away her head and drew her hand across her 



SELF-CONTROL. 229 

eyes. cc Have the goodness," continued she, fc to order 
what is necessary, for I am a stranger, without any friend." 
Mrs. Stubbs, examining the watch, declared her opinion 
that the sale of it would produce very little. " Let every 
thing be plain, but decent," said Laura, (( and when I am 
able I will work day and night till all be paid." " I doubt, 
Miss," answered Mrs. Stubbs, Ci - it will be long before your 
work will pay for much ; besides you will be in my debt 
for a week's lodgings we always charge a week extra 
when there is a death in the house." " Tell me what you 
would have me to do, and I will do it," said the unfor- 
tunate Laura, wholly unable to contend with her hard- 
hearted companion. " Why, Miss," said Mrs. Stubbs, 
fe there is your beautiful rose-wood work-table and the 
foot-stools, and your fine ivory work-box that Mr. de 
Courcy sent here before you came ; if you choose to dispose 
of them, I will take them off your hands." " Take them," 
said Laura, " I knew not that they were mine." Mrs. 
Stubbs then conscientiously offered to give a fourth part of 
the sum which these toys had cost De Courcy three months 
before, an offer which Laura instantly accepted ; and the 
landlady having settled this business much to her own sa- 
tisfaction, cheerfully undertook to arrange the obsequies of 
poor Montreville. 

Though the tragical scenes of the night had left Laura 
no leisure to dwell upon her fears for Hargrave, it was not 
without thankfulness that she heard of his safety and re- 
stored composure. Her mind was at first too much oc- 
cupied by her recent loss, to attempt accounting for his 
extravagant behaviour; and, after the first paroxysms of 
her sorrow were past, she retained but an imperfect recol- 
lection of his late conversation with her. She merely 
remembered his seeming distraction and threatened suicide ; 
and only bewildered herself by her endeavours to unravel 
his mysterious conduct. Sometimes a suspicion not very 
remote from the truth would dart into her mind ; but she 
quickly banished it, as an instance of the causeless fears 
which are apt to infest the hearts of the unfortunate. 

An innate delicacy which, in some degree, supplied to 
Laura the want of experience, made her feel an impropriety 
Q 3 



230 SELF-CONTROL. 

in the daily visits which she was informed that Hargrave 
made at her lodgings. She was aware that they might be 
liable to misrepresentation, even though she should persist 
in her refusal to see him ; and this consideration appeared 
to add to the necessity, already so urgent, for resolving on 
some immediate plan for her future course of life. But 
the future offered to Laura no attractive prospect. Where- 
ever she turned, all seemed dark and unpromising. She 
feared not to labour for her subsistence ; no narrow pride 
forbade her the use of any honourable means of independence. 
But her personal charms were such as no degree of humility 
could screen from the knowledge of their possessor, and she 
was sensible how much this dangerous distinction increased 
the disqualifications of her sex and age for the character of 
an artist. As an artist, she must be exposed to the intru- 
sion of strangers ; to public observation, if successful ; to 
unpitied neglect, if she failed in her attempt. Besides, it 
was impossible to think of living alone and unprotected, in 
the human chaos that surrounded her. All her father's 
dismal forebodings rose to her remembrance ; and she al- 
most regarded herself as one who would be noticed only as 
a mark for destruction, beguiled by frauds which no vigi- 
lance could detect, overwhelmed by power which she could 
neither resist nor escape. 

Should she seek in solitude a refuge from the destroyer, 
and return to mourn at her deserted Glenalbert the stroke 
which had left it like her lonely and forlorn, want lurked 
amidst its shades ; for with her father had died not only 
the duties and the joys of life, but even the means of its 
support. Her temporary right to the few acres which 
Montreville had farmed, was in less than a year to expire ; 
and she knew that, after discharging the claim of the land- 
lord, together with some debts which the long illness of 
Lady Harriet and the ill-fated journey had obliged Mon- 
treville to contract, little would remain from the sale of her 
effects at Glenalbert. 

Laura was sure, that the benevolent friend of her youth, 
the excellent Mrs. Douglas, would receive her with open 
arms guide her inexperience with a mother's counsel 
comfort her sorrows with a mother's love. But her spirit 



SELF-CONTROL. 231 

revolted from a life of indolent dependence, and her sense 
of justice from casting a useless burden upon an income 
too confined to answer claims stronger and more natural 
than hers. Mrs. Douglas was herself the preceptress of her 
children, and both by nature and education amply qualified 
for the momentous task. In domestic management, her 
skill and activity were unrivalled. Laura, therefore, saw 
no possibility of repaying by her usefulness, in any depart- 
ment of the family, the protection which she might receive; 
and she determined that nothing but the last necessity 
should induce her to tax the generosity of her friend, or 
to forego the honourable independence of those who, though 
" silver or gold they have none/' can barter for the com- 
forts they enjoy their mental treasures or their bodily toil. 

To undertake the tuition of youth occurred to her as the 
most eligible means of procuring necessary subsistence, and 
protection more necessary still. It appeared to her that, as 
a member of any reputable family, she would be sheltered 
from the dangers which her father had most taught her to 
dread. She reviewed her accomplishments, and impartially 
examined her ability to communicate them with temper and 
perseverance. Though for the most part attained with 
great accuracy, they were few in number, and unobtrusive 
in kind. She read aloud with uncommon harmony and 
grace. She spoke and wrote with fluency and precision. 
She was grammatically acquainted with the French and 
Latin languages, and an adept in the common rules of 
arithmetic. Her proficiency in painting has been already 
noticed ; and she sung with inimitable sweetness and ex- 
pression. 

But though expert in every description of plain needle- 
work, she was an utter novice in the manufacture of all 
those elegant nothings, which are so serviceable to fine 
ladies in their warfare against time. Though she moved 
with unstudied dignity and peerless grace, we are obliged 
to confess, that the seclusion of her native village had 
doomed her to ignorance of the art of dancing ; that she 
had never entered a ball-room less capacious than the ho- 
rizon, nor performed with a partner more illustrious than 
the schoolmaster's daughter. Her knowledge of music, 
Q 4 



232 SELF-CONTROL. 

too, was extremely limited. Lady Harriet had indeed tried 
to teach her to play on the piano-forte ; but the attempt, 
after costing Laura many a full heart,, and many a watery 
eye, was relinquished as vain. Though the child learnt with 
unusual facility whatever was taught her by her father or 
Mrs. Douglas., and though she was already remarkable for 
the sweetness with which she warbled her wood-notes wild, 
she no sooner approached the piano-forte, than an invincible 
stupidity seemed to seize on all her faculties. This was 
the more mortifying, as it was the only one of her Lady- 
ship's accomplishments which she ever personally attempted 
to communicate to her daughter. Lady Harriet was asto- 
nished at her failure. It could proceed, she thought, from 
nothing but obstinacy. But the appropriate remedy for 
obstinacy only aggravated the symptoms ; and, after all, 
Laura was indebted to Colonel Hargrave's tuition for so 
much skill as enabled her to accompany her own singing. 

Laura had more than once felt her deficiency in these 
fashionable arts, on seeing them exhibited by young ladies, 
'who, to use- their own expression, had returned from finish- 
ing themselves at a boarding-school, and she feared that this 
blank in her education might prove a fatal bar to her being 
employed as a governess. But another and a greater ob- 
stacle lay before her she was utterly unknown. The 
only patrons whose recommendation she could command, 
were distant and obscure ; and what mother would trust 
the minds and the manners of her children to the formation 
of a stranger ? She knew not the ostrich-like daring of 
fashionable mothers. This latter objection seemed equally 
hostile to her being received in quality of companion by 
those who might be inclined to exchange subsistence and 
protection for relief from solitude ; and Laura, almost de- 
spairing, knew not whither to turn her eye. 

One path indeed invited her steps, a path bright with 
visions of rapture, warm with the sunshine of love and 
pleasure; but the flaming sword of Heaven guarded the 
entrance ; and as often as her thoughts reverted that way, 
the struggle was renewed which forces the choice from the 
pleasing to the right. No frequency of return rendered this 
struggle less painful. Laura's prudence had slept, when a 



SELF-CONTROL. 



233 



little vigilance might have saved her many an after pang ; 
and she had long paid, was still long to pay, the forfeit of 
neglecting that wisdom which would guard " with all dili- 
gence " the first beginnings of even the most innocent pas- 
sions. Had she curbed the infant strength of an attachment 
which, though it failed to warp her integrity, had so deeply 
wounded her peace, how would she have lessened the force 
of that temptation, which lured her from the rugged ascent, 
where want and difficulty were to be her companions ; 
which enticed her to the flowery bowers of pleasure with 
the voice and with the smile of Hargrave ! 

Yet Laura had resisted a bribe more powerful than any 
consideration merely selfish could supply ; and she blushed 
to harbour a thought of yielding to her own inclination 
what she had refused to a parent's wants, to a parent's 
prayer. Her heart filled as she called to mind how warmly 
Montreville had seconded the wishes of her lover, how reso- 
lutely she had withstood his will ; and it swelled even to 
bursting at the thought that the vow was now fatally made 
void, which promised, by every endearment of filial love, to 
atone for this first act of disobedience. " Dearest, kindest 
of friends," she cried, " I was inflexible to thy request 
thy last request ! and shall I now recede ? now, when, per- 
haps, thou art permitted to behold and to approve my 
motive ; perhaps permitted to watch me still permitted 
with higher power to guard, with less erring wisdom to 
direct me ! And Thou, who, in matchless condescension, 
refusest not to be called the Father of the fatherless Thou, 
who in every difficulty canst guide, from every danger canst 
protect thy children, let, if Thou see it good, the Heavens, 
which are thy throne, be all my covering, the earth, which 
is thy footstool, be all my bed ; but suffer me not to wander 
from Thee, the only source of peace and joy, to seek them 
in fountains unhallowed and forbidden." 

Religious habits and sentiments were permanent inmates 
of Laura's breast. They had been invited and cherished., 
till, like familiar friends, they came unsolicited ; and, like 
friends, too, their visits were most frequent in adversity. 
But the more ardent emotions of piety, are, alas ! transient 
guests with us all; and, sinking from the flight which 



234 SELF-CONTROL. 

raised her for a time above the sorrows and the wants of 
earth; Laura was again forced to shrink from the gaunt as- 
pect of poverty, again to turn a wistful eye towards a haven 
of rest on this side the grave. 

Young as she was, however, she had long been a vigilant 
observer of her own actions, and of their consequences ; and 
the result was an immutable conviction, that no heartfelt com- 
fort could, in any circumstances, harbour with wilful trans- 
gression. As wilful transgression, she considered her mar- 
riage with a man whose principles she had fatal reason to 
distrust. As a rash defiance of unknown danger ; as a des- 
perate daring of temptations whose force was yet untried, as 
a desertion of those arms by which alone she could hope for 
victory in her Christian combat, Laura considered the ha- 
zardous enterprize, which, trusting to the reformation of a 
libertine, would expose her to his example and his authority, 
his provocations and his associates. Again she solemnly 
renewed her resolution never, by wilfully braving tempta- 
tion, to forego the protection of Him who can dash the ful- 
ness of worldly prosperity with secret bitterness, or gladden 
with joys unspeakable the dwelling visited by no friend but 
Him, cheered by no comfort but the light of His counte- 
nance. 

Hargrave's letter served rather to fortify the resolution 
which it was intended to shake ; for Laura was not in- 
sensible to the indelicacy which did not scorn to owe to her 
necessities a consent which he had in vain tried to extort 
from her affection. Though pleased with his liberality, she 
was hurt by his supposing that she could have so far for- 
gotten the mortal offence which he had offered her, as to 
become his debtor for any pecuniary favour ; and, as nothing 
could be further from her intention than to owe any obli- 
gation to Colonel Hargrave, she did not hesitate a moment 
to return the money. When she had sealed the card in 
which she enclosed it, she resumed the contemplation of her 
dreary prospects ; and half-hopelessly examined the possi- 
bilities of subsistence. To offer instruction to the young, or 
amusement to the old, in exchange for an asylum from want 
and danger, still appeared to her the most eligible plan of 



SELF-CONTROL. 



235 



life ; and again she weighed the difficulty of procuring the 
necessary recommendations. 

Lady Pelham occurred to her. Some claim she thought 
she might have had to the patronage of so near a relation. 
But who should identify her? who should satisfy Lady 
Pelham that the claim of relationship did indeed belong to 
Laura ? Had she been previously known to her aunt, her 
difficulties would have been at an end ; now she would pro- 
bably be rejected as an impostor ; and she gave a sigh to 
the want of foresight which had suffered her to rejoice in 
escaping an interview with Lady Pelham. 

After much consideration,, she determined to solicit the 
recommendations of Mrs. Douglas and the De Courcy fa- 
mily ; ami, until she could avail herself of these, to subsist, 
in some obscure lodging, by the labour of her hands. In the 
mean time, it was necessary to remove immediately from 
her present abode. The day following was the last when she 
could claim any right to remain there ; and she proceeded 
to make preparations for her departure. 

With a bleeding heart she began to arrange whatever had 
belonged to Montreville ; and paused, with floods of tears, 
upon every relic now become so sacred. She entered his 
closet. His was the last foot that had pressed the threshold. 
His chair stood as he had risen from it. On the ground lay 
the cushion yet impressed with his knees his Bible was 
open as he had left it. One passage was blistered with his 
tears ; and there Laura read with emotions unutterable 
<e Leave to me thy fatherless children, and I will preserve 
them alive." Her recent wounds thus torn open with agony 
which could not be restrained, she threw herself upon the 
ground ; and, with cries of anguish, besought her father to 
return but for one short hour to comfort his desolate child. 
" Oh I shall never, never see him more," said she, " all 
my cries are vain," and she wept the more because they 
were in vain. Soon, however, she reproached herself with 
her immoderate sorrow, soon mingled its accents with those 
of humble resignation ; and the vigorous mind recovering in 
devotion all its virtuous energy, she returned, with restored 
composure, to her melancholy labours. 

In her father's writing-desk she found an unfinished 



236 



SELF-CONTROL. 



letter. It began " My dear De Courcy," and Laura 
was going to read it with the awe of one who listens to the 
last words of a father, when she remembered having sur- 
prised her father while writing it, and his having hastily 
concealed it from her sight. She instantly folded it without 
further acquaintance with its contents, except that her own 
name caught her eye. Continuing to arrange the papers, 
she observed a letter addressed to herself in a hand which 
she did not remember to have seen. It was Lady Pelham's 
answer to that in which Laura had announced her mother's 
death. She perceived that it might furnish an introduction 
to her aunt; and with a sensation of gratitude she re- 
membered that she had been accidentally prevented from 
destroying it. 

Lady Pelham was elder by several years than her sister, 
Lady Harriet. Her father, a saving, pains-taking attorney, 
died a few months after she was born. His widow, who, 
from an idea of their necessity, had concurred in all his 
economical plans, discovered with equal surprise and delight, 
that his death had left her the entire management of five- 
and-forty thousand pounds. This fortune, which she was 
to enjoy during her life, was secured, in the event of her de- 
mise, to little Miss Bridget ; and this arrangement was one 
of the earliest pieces of information which little Miss 
Bridget received. For seven years the little heiress was, in 
her mother's undisguised opinion, and consequently in her 
own, the most important personage upon the face of the ter- 
restrial globe. But worldly glories are fleeting. Lord Win- 
terfield's taste in stewed carp had been improved by half a 
century's assiduous cultivation. Now the widow Price un- 
derstood the stewing of carp better than any woman in 
England, so his Lordship secured to himself the benefit of 
her talent by making her Lady Winterfield. In ten months 
after this marriage, another young lady appeared, as much 
more important than Miss Bridget, as an earl is than an 
attorney. 

Fortune, however, dispensed her gifts with tolerable 
equality. Beauty and rank, indeed, were all on the side of 
Lady Harriet, but the wealth lay in the scale of Miss 
Price ; for Lord Winterfield, leaving the bulk of his 



SELF-CONTROL. 237 

property to the children of his first marriage,, bequeathed to 
his youngest daughter only five thousand pounds. These 
circumstances procured to Miss Price another advantage, for 
she married a baronet with a considerable estate, while 
Lady Harriet's fate stooped to a lieutenant in a marching 
regiment. After ten years, which Lady Pelham declared 
were spent in uninterrupted harmony, Sir Edward Pelham 
died. The exclusive property of his wife's patrimony had 
been strictly secured to her j and, either thinking such a 
provision sufficient for a female, or moved by a reason 
which we shall not at present disclose, Sir Edward bestowed 
on the nephew who inherited his title, his whole estate, bur- 
dened only with a jointure of five hundred pounds a-year, 
settled upon Lady Pelham by her marriage-contract. Of his 
daughter and only child no mention was made in his testa- 
ment j but Sir Edward, during the last years of his life, had 
acquired the character of an oddity, and nobody wondered 
at his eccentricities. 

At the commencement of her widowhood, Lady Pelham 

purchased a villa in shire, where she spent the summer, 

returning in the winter to Grosvenor Street ; and this last 
was almost the only part of her history which was known to 
Laura. Even before Lady Harriet's marriage, little cor- 
diality had subsisted between the sisters. From the date of 
that event, their intercourse had been almost entirely broken 
off; and the only attention which Laura had ever received 
from her aunt, was contained in the letter which she was 
now thankfully contemplating. Her possession of this 
letter, together with her acquaintance with the facts to 
which it related, she imagined would form sufficient proof 
of her identity ; and her national ideas of the claims of re- 
lationship awakened a hope of obtaining her aunt's assist- 
ance in procuring some respectable situation. 

Determined to avail herself of her fortunate discovery, 
she quitted her father's apartments ; and carrying with her 
her credential, lost no time in repairing to Grosvenor Street. 
Nor did she experience the reluctance which she had for- 
merly felt towards an interview with Lady Pelham ; for 
she was fully sensible of the difference between a petitioner 
for charity and a candidate for honourable employment. 



238 SELF-CONTROL. 

Besides, there is no teacher of humility like misfortune ; 
and Laura's spirits were too completely subdued to anticipate 
or to notice diminutive attacks upon her self-consequence. 
She still, however, with constitutional reserve, shrunk from 
intruding upon a stranger ; and she passed and repassed the 
door, examining the exterior of the house, as if she could 
thence have inferred the character of its owner, before she 
took courage to give one gentle knock. 

A footman opened the door, and Laura, faltering, en- 
quired if Lady Pelham was within. From Laura's single 
knock, her humble voice, and her yet more humble habit, 
which, in ten months' use, had somewhat faded from the 
sober magnificence of black, the man had formed no very 
lofty idea of the visiter's rank. He answered, that he be- 
lieved his Lady was not at home; but half-afraid of dismissing 
some person with whom she might have business, he spoke 
in a tone which made Laura a little doubt the truth of his 
information. She enquired at what time she might be likely 
to gain access to Lady Pelham ; and as she spoke threw 
back her crape veil, unconscious how successfully she was 
pleading her own cause. Struck with a countenance whose 
candour, sweetness, and beauty won a way to every heart, 
the man gazed at her for a moment with vulgar admir- 
ation, and then throwing open the door of a little parlour, 
begged her to walk in, while he enquired whether his Lady 
were visible. He soon returned, telling Laura that Lady 
Pelham would receive her in a few minutes. 

During these few minutes, Laura had formed a hundred 
conjectures concerning her aunt's person, voice, and manner. 
She wondered whether she resembled Lady Harriet; whether 
her own form would recall to Lady Pelham the remembrance 
of her sister. At every noise her heart fluttered at every 
step she expected the entrance* of this relation, on whom 
perhaps so much of her future fate might depend ; and she 
held her breath that she might distinguish her approach. A 
servant at last came to conduct her to his mistress ; and she 
followed him, not without a feeling of awe, into the presence 
of her mother's sister. 

That sentiment, however, by no means gathered strength 
when she took courage to raise her eyes to the plain little 



SELF-CONTROL. 239 

elderly person to whom she was introduced, arid heard her- 
self addressed in the accents of cheerful familiarity. Laura, 
with modest dignity, made known her name and situation. 
She spoke of her mother's death, and the tears trickled from 
her eyes of her father's, and in venting the natural 
eloquence of grief, she forgot that she came to interest a 
stranger. Lady Pelham seemed affected; she held her 
handkerchief to her eyes, and remained in that attitude for 
some time after Laura had recovered self-possession. Then, 
throwing her arms round her lovely niece, she affection- 
ately acknowledged the relationship, adding, " Your resem- 
blance to my poor sister cannot be overlooked, and yet in 
saying so, I am far from paying you a compliment." 

After showing Lady Pelham her own letter, and men- 
tioning such circumstances as tended to confirm her identity, 
Laura proceeded to detail her plans, to which her Ladyship 
listened with apparent interest. She enquired into Laura's 
accomplishments, and seemed pondering the probability of 
employing them with advantage to the possessor. After a 
few moments' silence, she said, tc That short as their ac- 
quaintance had been, she thought she could perceive that 
Laura had too much sensibility for a dependent situation. 
But we shall talk of that hereafter," continued she. " At 
present your spirits are too weak for the society of strangers; 
and mine," added her Ladyship, with a sigh, Cl are not 
much more buoyant than your own." Laura looked up with 
the kindly interest which, whether she herself were joyful 
or in sadness, sorrow could always command with her ; and 
her aunt answered her glance of enquiry, by relating, that 
her only daughter and heiress had eloped from her a few 
days before, with an artful young fellow without family or 
fortune. <e She deceived me by a train of the basest arti- 
fices," said Lady Pelham, " though she might have known 
that her happiness was my chief concern; that my only 
possible motive for withholding my consent was to save her 
from the poverty to which she has doomed herself. But she 
has unfeelingly preferred her own indulgence to the society 
and the peace of a kind mother. Her disobedience I might 
have forgiven her selfishness, her deceit, I never can ; or, 
if as a Christian I forgive, I never, never can forget it." 



240 SELF-CONTROL. 

Lady Pelham had talked herself out of breath ; and 
Laura,, not quite understanding this kind of Christian for- 
giveness,, was silent, because she did not well know what to 
say. She felt, however, compassion for a parent deserted 
by her only child ; and the feeling was legible in a counte- 
nance peculiarly fitted for every tender expression. 

There are some degrees of sorrow which increase in acute- 
ness, at least which augment in vehemence of expression, by 
the perception of having excited sympathy. Weak fires 
gather strength from radiation. After a glance at Laura 
Lady Pelham melted into tears, and continued, " I know 
not how I had deserved such treatment from her; for never 
had she reason to complain of me. I have always treated 
her with what I must call unmerited kindness, except, in- 
deed, when natural abhorrence of vice hurried me into 
reproof, which, alas ! I always found unavailing." 

Laura now ventured a few conciliating words. " She will 
feel her error, madam, she will strive by her after-life to 

atone " Lady Pelham immediately dried her eyes. " No, 

no, my dear," interrupted she, " you don't know her you 
have no idea of the hardness of her unfeeling heart. !Re- 
joice, sweet girl, that you have no idea of it. For my part, 
though sensibility is at best but a painful blessing, I would 
not exchange it for the most peaceful apathy that can feel 
for nothing but itself. I must have something to love and 
cherish. You shall be that something. You shall live 
with me, and we shall console each other." 

On another occasion, Laura might have been disposed to 
canvass the nature of that sensibility which could thus 
enlarge to a stranger on the defects of an only child. In- 
deed, she was little conversant even with the name of this 
quality. Her own sensibility she had been taught to con- 
sider as a weakness to be subdued, not as an ornament to 
be gloried in ; and the expansion of soul which opens to 
all the sorrows and to all the joys of others, she had learned 
to call by a holier name, to regulate by a nobler prin- 
ciple. But she was little disposed to examine the merits 
of a feeling to which she owed the offer of an unsolicited 
asylum. Her heart swelling with gratitude, she clasped 
Lady Pelham's hand between her own, and while tears 



SELF-CONTROL. 21 

streamed down her face, " Kind, considerate friend/' she 
cried,, " why, why were you not known to us while my 
father could have been sensible to your kindness ? " 

After Lady Pelham had repeated her proposal more in 
detail, and Laura had thankfully acceded to it, they re- 
mained in conversation for some time longer. Lady Pel- 
ham showed that she had much wit, much vivacity, and 
some information ; and, after settling that Laura should 
next day become an inmate in Grosvenor Street, they se- 
parated, mutually delighted with each other. Lady Pel- 
ham applauded herself for a generous action ; and, to the 
interest which Laura awakened in every breast, was added 
in Lady Pelham' s all the benevolence of self-complacency. 
Laura, on the other hand, did not once dream that any 
fault could harbour in the unsuspicious liberal heart which 
had believed the tale, and removed the difficulties of a 
stranger. She did not once dream that she owed her new 
asylum to any motive less noble than disinterested goodness. 

No wonder that her Ladyship's motive escaped the pe- 
netration of Laura, when it even evaded her own. And 
yet no principle could be more simple in its nature, or 
more constant in its operation, than that which influenced 
Lady Pelham ; but the Proteus put on so many various 
forms, that he ever avoided detection from the subject of 
his sway. In the mean time, the desire of performing a 
generous action, of securing the gratitude of a feeling 
heart, of patronising a poor relation, were the only mo- 
tives which her Ladyship acknowledged to herself, when 
she offered protection to Laura. An idea had, indeed, 
darted across her right honourable mind, that she might 
now secure a humble companion at a rate lower than the 
usual price of such conveniences : a momentary notion, too, 
she formed of exciting the jealousy of her daughter, by 
replacing her with so formidable a competitor for favour ; 
but these, she thought, were mere collateral advantages, 
and by no means the circumstances which fixed her deter- 
mination. The resolution upon which she acted was taken, 
as her resolutions generally were, without caution ; and she 
expressed it, as her custom was, the moment it was formed. 
Laura was scarcely gone, however, when her aunt began 

R 



242 SELF-CONTROL. 

to repent of her precipitancy; and to wish, as she had often 
occasion to do, that she had taken a little more time for 
consideration. But she comforted herself, that she could 
at any time get rid of her charge, by recommending Laura 
to one of the situations which she had mentioned as her 
choice. She knew it would not be difficult to find one more 
lucrative than that upon which her niece was entering; for 
how could she possibly offer wages to so near a relation, or 
insult with the gift of a trifling sum a person of Laura's 
dignity of deportment ? These reasons Lady Pelham al- 
leged to herself, as sufficient grounds for a resolution never 
to affront her niece by a tender of pecuniary favours. 

While these thoughts were revolving in Lady Pelham's 
mind, Laura had reached her home ; and, on her knees, 
was thanking Providence for having raised up for her a 
protector and a friend, and praying that she might be 
enabled to repay, in affectionate and respectful duty, a part 
of the debt of gratitude which she owed to her benefac- 
tress. The rest of the evening she spent in preparing for 
her removal, in ruminating on her interview with her 
aunt, and in endeavouring to compose, from the scanty 
materials which she possessed, a character of this new 
arbitress of her destiny. From Lady Pelham's prompt 
decision in favour of a stranger, from her unreserved ex- 
pression of her feelings, from her lively manner and ani- 
mated countenance, Laura concluded that she was probably 
of a temper warm, susceptible, and easily wounded by 
unkindness or neglect, but frank, candid, and forgiving. 
Laura wished that she had better studied her aunt's phy- 
siognomy. What she recollected of it was quite unintel- 
ligible to her. She laboured in vain to reconcile the femi- 
nine curvatures of the nose and forehead with the inflexible 
closing of the mouth, and the hard outline of the chin, 
where lurked no soft relenting line. 

But however the countenance might puzzle conjecture, 
of the mind she harboured not a doubt ; Lady Pelham's, 
she was persuaded, was one of those open, generous souls, 
which the young and unwary are always prepared to ex- 
pect and to love, souls having no disguise, and needing 
none. Now this was precisely the character which Lady 



SELF-CONTROL. 243 

Pelham often and sincerely drew of herself ; and who ought 
to have been so intimately acquainted with her Ladyship's 
dispositions ? 



CHAPTER XX. 

IT was not without hesitation that Laura formed her re- 
solution to conceal from Hargrave her place of abode. She 
felt for the uneasiness which this concealment would cause 
him. She feared that her desertion might remove one 
incitement to a virtuous course. But she considered, that 
while their future connection was doubtful, it was impru- 
dent to strengthen by habitual intercourse their need of 
each other's society ; and she reflected, that she could best 
estimate his character from actions performed beyond the 
sphere of her influence. Her watchful self-distrust made 
her fear to expose her resolution to his importunities ; and 
she felt the impropriety of introducing into her aunt's 
family, a person who stood on terms with her which she 
did not choose to explain. These reasons induced her to 
withhold from Hargrave the knowledge of her new situ- 
ation ; and, certain that if it were known to Mrs. Stubbs or 
her servants, he would soon be master of the secret, she 
left no clue by which to trace her retreat. Perhaps, though 
she did not confess it to herself, she was assisted in this 
act of self-command by a latent hope, that as she was now 
to be introduced to a society on his own level, Hargrave 
might not find the mystery quite inscrutable. 

She was kindly welcomed by Lady Pelham, and took 
possession of a small but commodious apartment, where she 
arranged her drawing materials, together with the few books 
she possessed, intending to make that her retreat as often 
as her aunt found amusement or occupation independent 
of her. She resolved to devc/te her chief attention to 
making herself useful and entertaining to her patroness. 
In the first, she derived hopes of success from Lady Pel- 
ham's declared incapacity for all employments that are 
B 2 



244 SEL-C(MN T TROI>. 

strictly feminine. The second, she thought, would he at 
once easy and pleasant, for Lady Pelham was acute, lively, 
and communicative. This latter quality she possessed in 
an unusual degree, and yet Laura found it difficult to un- 
ravel her character. In general, she saw that her aunt's 
understanding was bright ; she was persuaded that in 
general her heart was warm and generous;, but the descent 
to particulars baffled Laura's penetration. Lady Pelham 
could amuse could delight ; she said many wise, and 
many brilliant things ; but her wisdom was not always 
well-timed, and her brilliant things were soap-bubbles in 
the sun, sparkling and highly coloured, but vanishing at 
the touch of him who would examine their structure. Lady 
Pelham could dispute with singular acuteness. By the use 
of ambiguous terms, by ingenious sophistry, by dexterously 
shifting from the ground of controversy, she could baffle, 
and perplex, and confound her opponents : but she could 
not argue; she never convinced. Her opinions seemed 
fluctuating, and Laura was sometimes ready to imagine that 
she defended them, not because they were just, nor even 
because they were her own, but merely because she had 
called them so ; for with a new antagonist she could change 
sides, and maintain the opposite ground with equal address. 

In spite of all the warmth of heart for which she gave 
her aunt credit, Laura soon began to imagine that Lady 
Pelham had no friends. Among all the acquaintances 
whom she attracted and amused, no one seemed to exchange 
regard with her. The gaiety of pleasure never softened in 
her presence into the tenderness of affection. Laura could 
Hot discover that there existed one being from whose fail- 
ings Lady Pelham respectfully averted her own sight, while 
reverently veiling them from the eyes of others. A few, 
a very few, seemed to be the objects of Lady Pelham's es- 
teem; those of her love Laura could not discover. Towards 
her, however, her aunt expressed a strong affection ; and 
Laura continued to persuade herself, that if Lady Pelham 
had no friends, it was because she was surrounded by those 
who were not worthy of her friendship. 

As she appeared to invite and to desire unreserved con- 
fidence, Laura had soon made her acquainted with the 



SELF-CONTROL. 245 

narrative of her short life, excepting in so far as it related 
to Hargrave. At the detail of the unworthy advantage 
which Warren had taken of Montreville's inability to en- 
force his claim for the annuity, Lady Pelham hroke out 
into sincere and vehement expressions of indignation and 
contempt ; for no one more cordially abhorred oppression, 
or despised meanness in others. She immediately gave 
directions to her solicitor to attempt bringing the affair to 
a conclusion, and even to threaten Warren with a prose- 
cution in case of his refusal. Virtuous resistance of in- 
justice was motive sufficient for this action. Pity that 
Lady Pelham should have sought another in the economy 
and ease with which it promised to provide for an indigent 
relative ! Mr. Warren was no sooner informed that the 
poor, obscure, unfriended Laura was the niece of Lady 
Pelham, and the inmate of her house, than he contrived to 
arrive at a marvellous certainty that the price of the an- 
nuity had been paid, and that the mistake in the papers 
relating to it originated in mere accident. In less than a 
fortnight the informality was rectified, and the arrears of 
the annuity paid into Laura's hands ; the lawyer having 
first, at Lady Pelham's desire, deducted the price of his 
services. 

With tears in her eyes, Laura surveyed her wealth, now 
of diminished value in her estimation. " Only a few weeks 
ago," said she, " how precious had this been to me ! But 

now ! Yet it is precious still," said she, as she wiped 

the tears away, " for it can minister occasions of obedience 
and of usefulness." That very day she despatched little 
presents for each of Mrs. Douglas's children, in which use 
was more considered than show ; and in the letter which 
announced her gifts, she enclosed half of the remaining 
sum to be distributed among her own poor at Glenalbert. 
That her appearance might not discredit her hostess, she 
next proceeded to renew her wardrobe ; and though she 
carefully avoided unnecessary expense, she consulted not 
only decency but elegance in her attire. In this, and all 
other matters of mere indifference, Laura was chiefly 
guided by her aunt ; for she had early observed that this 
lady, upon all occasions, small as well as great, loved to 
B 3 



246 



SELF-CONTROL. 



exercise the office of dictatrix. No person could have been 
better fitted than Laura to conciliate such a temper ; for 
on all the lesser occasions of submission she was as gentle 
and complying as she was inflexible upon points of real 
importance. In their conversations,, too,, though Laura 
defended her own opinions with great firmness,, she so 
carefully avoided direct contradiction or sarcastic retort, 
impatience in defeat, or triumph in victory, that even Lady 
Pelham could scarcely find subject of irritation in so mild 
an antagonist. 

In some respects their tempers semed to tally admirably. 
Lady Pelham had great aptitude in detecting errors,, Laura 
a genius for remedying them. Difficulty always roused 
her Ladyship's impatience, but she found an infallible re- 
source in the perseverance of Laura. In short, Laura con- 
trived so many opportunities,, or seized with such happy 
art those which presented themselves, of ministering to the 
comfort or convenience of her aunt, that she became both 
respectable and necessary to her ; and this was,, generally 
speaking, the utmost extent of Lady Pelham's attach- 
ments. 

Lady Pelham sometimes spoke of her daughter, and 
Laura never missed the opportunity of urging a reconcili- 
ation. She insisted that the rights of natural affection 
were unalienable j that as they did not rest upon the merits, 
so neither could they be destroyed by the uhworthiness 
either of parents or of children. The mother answered, 
with great impatience, that Laura's argument was entirely 
founded on prejudice ; that it was true that for the help- 
lessness of infancy, a peculiar feeling was provided ; but 
that in all animals this peculiar feeling ceased as soon as it 
was no longer essential to the existence of the individual. 
" From thenceforth," added she, <e the regard must be 
founded on the qualities of the head and heart ; and if my 
child is destitute of these, I can see no reason why I should 
prefer her to the child of any other woman." " Ah!" 
said Laura, tears of grateful recollection rushing down her 
cheek, " some parents have loved their child with a fervour 
which no worth of hers could merit." 

The gush of natural sensibility for this time averted the 



SELF-CONTROL. 247 

rising storm ; but the next time that Laura renewed her 
conciliatory efforts, Lady Pelham, growing more vehement 
as she became herself more convinced that she was in the 
wrong, burst into a paroxysm of rage ; and, execrating all 
rebellious children, and their defenders, commanded Laura 
in future to confine her attention to what might concern 
herself. The humbling spectacle of a female face distorted 
with passion was not quite new to Laura. Undismayed, 
she viewed it with calm commiseration ; and mildly ex- 
pressing her sorrow for having given offence, took up her 
work, and left the ferment to subside at leisure. Her 
Ladyship's passion soon cooled ; and making advances with 
a sort of surly condescension, she entered on a new topic. 
Laura answered exactly as if nothing disagreeable had 
happened ; and Lady Pelham could not divine whether 
her niece commanded her countenance or her temper. 
Upon one principle of judging the lady had grounds for 
her doubt ; she herself had sometimes commanded her 
countenance her temper never. 

Laura not only habitually avoided giving or taking 
offence, but made it a rule to extinguish its last traces by 
some act of cordiality and good-will. This evening, there- 
fore, she [proposed, with a grace which seemed rather to 
petition a favour than to offer a service, to attempt a por- 
trait of her aunt. The offer was accepted with pleasure, 
and the portrait was begun on the following day. It proved 
a likeness, and a favourable one. Lady Pelham was kinder 
than ever. Laura avoided the prohibited subject, and all 
was quiet and serene. Lady Pelham at last herself reverted 
to it ; for indeed she could not long forbear to speak upon 
any topic which roused her passions. No dread of per- 
sonal inconvenience could deter Laura from an act of justice 
or mercy, and she again steadily pronounced her opinion. 
But aware that one who would persuade must be careful 
not to irritate, she expressed her sentiments with still more 
cautious gentleness than formerly ; and perceiving that her 
aunt was far more governed by passion than by reason, she 
quitted argument for entreaty. By these means she avoided 
provoking hostility, though she failed to win compliance. 
Lady Pelham seemed to be utterly impenetrable to entreaty, 
R 4 



248 SELF-CONTROL. 

or rather to take pride in resisting it, and Laura had only 
to hope that time would favour her suit. 

Lady Pelham mentioned an intention of removing early 
to the country,, and Laura rejoiced in the prospect of once 
more beholding the open face of Heaven of listening to 
nature's own music of breathing the light air of spring. 
She longed to turn her ear from the discords of the city to 
the sweet sounds of peace her eye from countenances wan 
with care, flushed with intemperance,, or ghastly with 
famine, to cheeks brown with wholesome exercise, or ruddy 
with health and contentment to exchange the sight of 
dusky brick-walls, and walks overlooked by thousands, 
for the sunny slope or the sheltered solitary lane. Lady 
Pelham took pleasure in describing the beauties of Wai- 
bourne, and Laura listened to her with interest, anticipating 
eagerly the time when she should inhabit so lovely, so 
peaceful a scene. But that interest and eagerness rose 
to the highest, when she accidentally discovered that the 
De Courcy family were Lady Pelham's nearest neighbours 
in the country. 

The want of something to love and cherish, which was 
with her Ladyship a mere form of speech, was with Laura 
a real necessity of nature ; and, though it was one which 
almost every situation could supply, since every creature 
that approached her was the object of her benevolence, yet 
much of the happiness of so domestic a being depended on 
the exercise of the dearer charities, and no one was more 
capable of a distinguishing preference than Laura. She 
had a hearty regard for the De Courcy family. She revered 
Mrs. de Courcy ; she liked Harriet ; and bestowed on Mon- 
tague her cordial esteem and gratitude. This gratitude had 
now acquired a sacred tenderness ; for it was associated in 
her mind with the remembrance of a parent. De Courcy's 
self-denial had cheered her father's sick-bed, his benevolence 
gladdened her father's heart, and his self-denial appeared 
more venerable, his benevolence more endearing. 

Having written to inform Harriet of the change in her 
situation, she discovered from her answer a new proof of 
De Courcy's friendship, in the fruitless journey which he 
had made to relieve her, and she regretted that her caution 



SELF-CONTROL. 249 

had deprived her of an opportunity of seeing and thanking 
him for all his kindness. " Yet, if we had met/' said she,, 
" I should probably have acted as I have done a hundred 
times before ; left him to believe me an insensible,, ungrate- 
ful creature, for want of courage to tell him that I was not 
so." She longed, however, to see De Courcy ; for with him 
she thought she could talk of her father to him lament 
her irreparable loss, dwell with him on the circumstances 
which aggravated her sorrow on the prospects which 
mingled that sorrow with hope. This was a subject on 
which she never entered with Lady Pelham any farther 
than necessity required real sorrow has its holy ground, 
on which no vulgar foot must tread. The self-command 
of Laura would have forbidden her, in any situation, to 
darken with a settled gloom the sunshine of domestic cheer- 
fulness; but Lady Pelham had in her somewhat which 
repels the confidence of grief. Against all the arrows of 
misfortune, blunted at least as they rebound from the breasts 
of others, she seemed to " wear a charmed life." She often 
indeed talked of sensibility, and reprobated the want of it 
as the worst of faults ; but the only kind of it in which she 
indulged rather inclined to the acrimonious than the bene- 
volent ; and Laura began to perceive, that however her aunt 
might distinguish them in others, irascible passions and keen 
feelings were in herself synonymous. 

After the effort of giving and receiving the entertainment 
which Lady Pelham constantly offered, and as constantly 
exacted in return, Laura experienced a sensation of reco- 
vered freedom when the arrival of a visiter permitted her 
to escape to her own apartment. She saw nobody but her 
aunt, and never went abroad except to church. Thus, dur- 
ing a fortnight which she had passed in Grosvenor Street, 
she had heard nothing of Hargrave. She was anxious to 
know whether he visited Lady Pelham ; for, with rustic ig- 
norance, she imagined that all people of condition who re- 
sided in the same town must be known to each other ; but 
she had not courage to ask, and searched in vain for his 
name among the cards which crowded the table in the 
lobby. Though she was conscious of some curiosity to 
know how he employed the hours which her absence had 



250 SELF-CONTROL. 

left vacant,, she did not own to herself that he was at all con- 
cerned in a resolution -which she took,, to enquire in person 
whether any letters had heen left for her with Mrs. Stuhbs. 
She did not choose to commit the enquiry to a servant, be- 
cause she would not condescend to enjoin her messenger to 
secrecy as to the place of her abode ; and she continued 
resolved to give her lover no clue to discover it. 

Accordingly, she early one morning set out in a hackney- 
coach, which she took the precaution to leave at some dis- 
tance from her old lodgings,, ordering it to wait her return. 
Fanny was delighted to see her, and charmed with the im- 
provement of her dress, and the returning healthfulness of 
her appearance ; but the landlady eyed her askance, and 
surlily answered to her enquiry for her letters, that she 
would bring the only one she had got ; muttering as she 
went to fetch it, something of which the words <( secret 
doings," were all that reached Laura's ear. " There, miss," 
said the ungracious Mrs. Stubbs, (C there's your letter, and 
there's the queer scrawl it came wrapped up in."-^- ff Mr. de 
Courcy's hand," cried Laura, surprised, but thinking, from 
its size, that some time would be required to read it, she 
deferred breaking the seal till she should return to her car- 
riage. " I suppose you're mistaken, miss," said Mrs. Stubbs; 
ff Mr. de Courcy was here twice the day it came, and he 
never said a word of it." 

Laura now tremulously enquired w r hether she might be 
permitted to revisit her father's room ; but being roughly 
answered that it was occupied, she quietly prepared to go. 
As Fanny followed her through the garden to open the 
gate for her, Laura a conscious blush rising to her face 
enquired whether any other person had enquired for her 
since her departure. Fanny, who was ready to burst with 
the news of Hargrave's visit, and who was just meditating 
how she might venture to introduce it, improved this oc- 
casion of entering on a full detail of his behaviour. With 
the true waiting-maid-like fondness for romance, she en- 
larged upon all his extravagances, peeping sidelong now 
and then under Laura's bonnet, to catch encouragement 
from the complacent simper with which such tales are often 
heard. But no smile repaid her eloquence. With im- 



SELF-CONTROL. 



251 



movable seriousness did Laura listen to her, gravely re- 
volving the strange nature of that love which could so 
readily amalgamate with rage and jealousy, and every dis- 
cordant passion. She was hurt at the indecorum which 
exposed these weaknesses to the observation of a servant ; 
and with a sigh reflected, that, to constitute the happiness 
of a woman of sense and spirit, a husband must be pos- 
sessed of qualities respectable as well as amiable. 

Fanny next tried, whether what concerned De Courcy 
might not awaken more apparent interest ; and here she 
had at least a better opportunity to judge of the effect of 
her narrative, for Laura stopped and turned full towards 
her. But Fanny had now no transports to relate, except 
De Courcy's indignation at Mrs. Stubbs's calumny ; and it 
was not without hesitating, and qualifying, and apologising, 
that the girl ventured to hint at the insinuation which her 
mistress had thrown out. She had at last succeeded in 
raising emotion, for indignant crimson dyed Laura's cheeks, 
and fire flashed from her eyes. But Laura seldom spoke 
while she was angry ; and again she silently pursued her 
way. " Pray, madam," said the girl, as she was opening 
the gate, " do be so good as to tell me where you live now, 
that nobody may speak ill of you before me?" "I thank 
you, my good girl," returned Laura, a placid smile again 
playing on her countenance ; " but my character is in no 
danger. You were kind to us, Fanny, when you knew 
that we could not reward you ; accept of this from me j " 
and she put five guineas into her hand. " No, indeed, 
ma'am," cried Fanny, drawing back her hand and colour- 
ing ; " I was civil for pure good-will, and " Laura, 

whose sympathy with her inferiors was not confined to 
their bodily wants, fully understood the feeling which 
revolts from bartering for gold alone the services of the 
heart. {f I know it, my dear," answered she, in an af- 
fectionate tone ; " and believe me, I only mean to acknow- 
ledge, not to repay your kindness." Fanny persisted in her 
refusal, but took the opportunity to request Laura's recom- 
mendation to some service more comfortable than her pre- 
sent one. " Or if you need a servant yourself, madam," 
added she, f( I am sure I had as lief serve you as my own 



252 SELF-CONTROL. 

mother." Laura, with all the pleasure which a good heart 
receives from the expression of honest affection, promised 
that she would take the first occasion of endeavouring to 
procure Fanny's admission into the family with whom she 
herself resided. She obliged her humble friend to leave 
her at the gate,^where, with tears in her eyes, the girl stood 
gazing after her till she was out of sight. " I'm sure," 
said she, turning towards the house as Laura disappeared, 
" I'm sure she was made to be a queen, for the more one 
likes her, the more she frightens one." 

As soon as Laura was seated in her carriage, she opened 
her packet, and with momentary disappointment examined 
its contents. " Not one line !" she cried in a tone of mor- 
tification ; and then turned to the envelope addressed to 
Mrs. Stubbs. Upon comparing this with the circumstances 
which she had lately heard, she at once comprehended De 
Courcy's intention of serving her by stealth, foregoing the 
credit due to his generosity. She wondered, indeed, that 
he had neglected to disguise his hand- writing in the super- 
scription. f( Did he think," said she, " that I could have 
forgotten the writing which has so often brought comfort 
to my father ? " She little guessed how distant from his 
mind was the repose which can attend to minute con- 
trivance. 

Delighted to discover a trait of character which tallied 
so well with her preconceived opinion, she no sooner saw 
Lady Pelham than she related it to her aunt, and began a 
warm eulogium on De Courcy's temper and dispositions. 
Lady Pelham coldly cut her short, by saying, (C 1 believe 
Mr. de Courcy is a very good young man, but I am not 
very fond of prodigies. ' One can't both wonder and like at 
a time ; your men with two heads are always either sup- 
posititious or disgusting." This speech was one of the 
dampers which the warm heart abhors ; real injury could 
not more successfully chill affection or repress confidence. 
It had just malice and just truth enough to be provoking ; 
and for the second time that day Laura had to strive with 
the risings of anger. She was upon the point of saying, 
" So, aware of the impossibility of being at once wonderful 



SELF-CONTROL. 253 

and pleasing, your Ladyship, I suppose, aims at only one of 
these objects ; " but ere the sarcasm found utterance,, she 
checked herself, and hastened out of the room, with the 
sensation of having escaped from danger. She retired to 
write to De Courcy a letter of grateful acknowledgment ; in 
which, after having received Lady Pelham's approbation, 
she enclosed his gift, explaining the circumstances which 
now rendered it unnecessary. 

Lady Pelham was not more favourable to the rest of the 
De Courcy family than she had been to Montague. She 
owned, indeed, that Mrs. de Courcy was the best woman 
in the world, but a virtue, she said, so cased in armour, 
necessarily precluded all grace or attraction. Harriet she 
characterised as a little sarcastic coquette. Laura, weary of 
being exposed to the double peril of weakly defending, or 
angrily supporting her attacked friends, ceased to mention 
the De Courcys at all ; though, with a pardonable spirit of 
contradiction, she loved them the better for the unprovoked 
hostility of Lady Pelham. The less she talked of them, 
the more she longed for the time when she might, un- 
restrained, exchange with them testimonies of regard. 
The trees in the Park, as they burst into leaf, stimulated 
Laura's desire for the country ; and while she felt the 
genial air of spring, or listened to the early song of some 
luckless bird caged in a neighbouring window, or saw the 
yellow glories of the crocus peeping from its unnatural 
sanctuary, she counted the days till her eyes should be 
gladdened with the joyous face of nature. Only a fortnight 
had now to pass before her wish was to be gratified, for 
Lady Pelham intended at the end of that time to remove to 
Walbourne. 

Laura was just giving the finishing touches to her aunt's 
portrait when a visiter was announced ; and, very un- 
willing to break off at this interesting crisis, Lady Pelham 
having first scolded the servant for letting in her friend, 
desired him to show the lady into the room where Laura 
was at work. The usual speeches being made, the lady 
began " Who does your Ladyship think bowed to me en 
passant just as I was getting out of the carriage ? Why, 
Lady Bellamer ! Can you conceive such effrontery ? " 



254 SELF-CONTROL. 

<e Indeed, I think,, in common modesty, she should have 
waited for your notice !" 

ff Do you know, I am told on good authority, that Har- 
grave is determined not to marry her." 

Laura's breath came short. 

. " He is very right," returned Lady Pelham. " A man 
must be a great fool to marry where he has had such 
damning proofs of frailty." 

Laura's heart seemed to pause for a moment, and then 
to redouble its beating. " What Hargrave can this be ? " 
thought she ; but she durst not enquire. 

" I hear," resumed the lady, " that his uncle is enraged 
t him, and more for the duel than the crim. con." 

The pencils dropped from Laura's hand. Fain would 
she have enquired, what she yet so much dreaded to know ; 
but her tongue refused its office. 

" I see no cause for that," returned Lady Pelham ; 
fc Hargrave could not possibly refuse to fight after such an 
affair." 

" Oh, certainly not," replied the lady ; tf but Lord Lin- 
court thinks, that in such a case, Hargrave ought to have 
insisted upon giving Lord Bellamer the first fire, and then 
have fired his own pistol in the air. But, bless me, what 
ails Miss Montreville ? " cried the visiter, looking at Laura, 
who, dreadfully convinced, was stealing out of the room. 
" Nothing," answered Laura ; and fainted. 

Lady Pelham called loudly for help ; and, while the 
servants were administering it, stood by conjecturing what 
could be the cause of Laura's illness ; wondering whether 
it could have any possible connection with Colonel Har- 
grave ; or whether it were the effect of mere constitutional 
habit. 

The moment Laura showed signs of recollection, Lady 
Pelham began her interrogations. (e What has been the 
matter, my dear ? What made you ill ? Did any thing 
affect you? Are you subject to faintings?" Laura re- 
mained silent, and closing her eyes, seemed deaf to all her 
aunt's questions. After a pause, Lady Pelham renewed the 
attack : ' ' Have you any concern with Colonel Hargrave, 
Laura ? " et None," answered Laura, with a smile of 



SELF-CONTROL. 255 

ineffable bitterness'; and again closing her eyes,, maintained 
an obstinate silence. Weary of ineffectual enquiries, Lady 
Pelham quitted her, giving orders that she should be as- 
sisted into bed, and recommending to her to take some rest. 

Vain advice ! Laura could not rest ! From the stupor 
which had overpowered her faculties, she awoke to the full 
conviction, that all her earthly prospects were for ever 
darkened. Just entering on life, she seemed already for- 
saken of all its hopes, and all its joys. The affections 
which had delighted her youth were torn from the bleeding 
soul ; no sacred connection remained to bless her maturity; 
no endearment awaited her decline. In all her long and 
dreary journey to the grave, she saw no kindly resting- 
place. Still Laura's hopes and wishes had never been 
bounded to this narrow sphere ; and when she found here 
no rest for the sole of her foot, she had, in the promises of 
religion, an ark whither she could turn for shelter. But 
how should she forget that these promises extended not to 
Hargrave. How shut her ear to the dread voice which, in 
threatening the adulterer and the murderer, denounced ven- 
geance against Hargrave ! With horror unspeakable she 
considered his incorrigible depravity ; with agony revolved 
its fearful consequences. 

Yet, while the guilt was hateful in her eyes, her heart 
was full of love and compassion for the offender. The 
feeling with which she remembered his unfaithfulness to 
her had no resemblance to jealousy. " He has been mis- 
led," she cried ; " vilely betrayed by a wretch, who has 
taken advantage of his weakness. Oh how could she look 
on that form, that countenance, and see in them only the 
objects of a passion, vile as the heart that cherished it ? " 
Then she would repent of her want of candour: "I am 
unjust, I am cruel," she said, " thus to load with all the 
burden of his foul offence, her who had perhaps the least 
share in it. No! He must have been the tempter; it is 
not in woman to be so lost." 

But in the midst of sorrow, whose violence seemed at 
times almost to confuse her reason, she never hesitated for 
a moment on the final dissolution of her connection with 
Hargrave. She formed no resolution on a subject where 



256 SELF-GONTROL. 

no alternative seemed to remain, but assumed, as the foun- 
dation of all her plans of joyless duty, her eternal separation 
from Hargrave ; a separation final as death. 

By degrees she became more able to collect her thoughts ; 
and the close of a sleepless night found her exercising the 
valuable habit of seeking in herself the cause of her mis- 
fortunes. The issue of her self-examination was the con- 
viction, that she had bestowed on a frail, fallible creature, a 
love disproportion ed to the merits of any created thing; 
that she had obstinately clung to her idol after she had seen 
its baseness ; and that now the broken reed whereon she had 
leaned was taken away, that she might restore her trust and 
her love where alone they were due. 

That time infallibly brings comfort even to the sorest 
sorrows that if we make not shipwreck of faith and of a 
good conscience, we save from the storms of life the ma- 
terials of peace at least that lesser joys become valuable 
when we are deprived of those of keener relish are lessons 
which even experience teaches but slowly : and Laura had 
them yet in a great measure to learn. She was persuaded 
that she should go mourning to the grave. What yet re- 
mained of her path of life seemed to lie through a desert 
waste, never more to be warmed with the sunshine of 
affection ; never more to be brightened with any ray of 
hope, save that which beamed from beyond the tomb. She 
imagined that lonely and desolate she should pass through 
life, and joyfully hail the messenger that called her away; 
like some wretch, who, cast alone on a desert rock, watches 
for the sail which is to waft him to his native land. 

But the despair of strong minds is not listless or inactive. 
The more Laura was convinced that life was lost as to all 
its pleasing purposes, the more was she determined that it 
should be subservient to useful ends. Earthly felicity, she 
was convinced, had fled for ever from her grasp ; and the 
only resolution she could form, was never more to pursue 
it ; but, in the persevering discharge of the duties which 
yet remained to her, to seek a preparation for joys which 
earth has not to bestow. 

That she might not devote to fruitless lamentation the 
time which was claimed by duty, she, as soon as it was day, 



SELF-CONTROL. 



257 



attempted to rise, intending to spend the morning in acts 
of resignation for herself, and prayers that pardon and re- 
pentance might be granted to him whose guilt had de- 
stroyed her peace. But her head was so giddy, that, 
unable to stand, she was obliged to return to her bed. It 
was long ere she was again able to quit it A slow fever 
seized her, and brought her to the brink of the grave. Her 
senses, however., remained uninjured, and she had full 
power and leisure to make those reflections which force 
themselves upon all who are sensible of approaching dis- 
solution. 

Happy were it, if all who smart under disappointment, 
would anticipate the hour which will assuredly arrive, when 
the burden which they impatiently bear shall appear to be 
lighter than vanity ! The hand which is soon to be cold, 
resigns without a struggle the baubles of the world. Its 
cheats delude not the eye that is for ever closing. A death- 
bed is that holy ground where the charms of the enchanter 
are dissolved ; where the forms which he had clothed with 
unreal beauty, or aggravated to gigantic horror, are seen in 
their true form and colouring. 

In its true form and colouring did Laura behold her dis- 
appointment, when, with characteristic firmness, she had 
wrung from her attendants a confession of her danger. 
With amazement she looked back on the infatuation which 
could waste on any concern less than eternal, the hopes, the 
fears, and the wishes once squandered by her on a passion 
which now seemed trivial as the vapour scattered by the 
wind. 

At last, aided by the rigid temperance of her former life, 
and her exemplary patience in suffering, the strength of her 
constitution began to triumph over her disorder. As she 
measured back her steps to earth again, the concerns which 
had seemed to her reverting eye diminished into nothing, 
again swelled into importance : but Laura could not soon 
forget the time when she had seen them as they were ; and 
this remembrance powerfully aided her mind in its struggle 
to cast off its now disgraceful shackles. Yet bitter was the 
struggle j for what is so painful as to tear at once from the 
breast what has twined itself with every fibre, linked itself 



258 



SELF-CONTROL. 



with every hope, stimulated every desire, and long fur- 
nished objects of intense, of unceasing interest ? The heart 
which death leaves desolate, slowly and gently resigns the 
affection to which it has fondly clung. It is permitted to 
seek indulgence in virtuous sorrow, to rejoice in religious 
hope ; and even memory brings pleasures dear to the 
widowed mind. But she who mourned the depravity of 
her lover, felt that she was degraded by her sorrow ; hope 
was, as far as he was concerned, utterly extinguished ; and 
memory presented only a mortifying train of weaknesses 
and self-deceptions. 

But love is not that irremediable calamity which ro- 
mance has delighted to paint, and the vulgar to believe it* 
Time, vanity, absence, or any of a hundred other easy 
remedies, serves to cure the disease in the mild form in 
which it affects feeble minds, while more Herculean spirits 
tear off the poisoned garment, though it be with mortal 
anguish. In a few weeks, the passion which had so long 
disturbed the peace of Laura was hushed to lasting repose; 
but it was the repose of the land where the whirlwind has 
passed ; dreary and desolate. Her spirits had received a 
shock from which it was long, very long, ere she could 
rouse them. And he who had ceased to be an object of 
passion, still excited an interest which no other human 
being could awaken. Many a wish did she breathe for his 
happiness; many a fervent prayer for his reformation. In 
spite of herself, she lamented the extinguished love, as well 
as the lost lover j and never remembered, without a heavy 
sigh, that the season of enthusiastic attachment was, with 
her, passed never to return. 

But she cordially wished that she might never again 
behold the cause of so much anguish and humiliation. She 
longed to be distant from all chance of such a meeting, 
and was anxious to recover strength sufficient for her jour- 
ney to Walbourne. Lady Pelham only waited for her niece's 
recovery ; and, as soon as she could bear the motion of a 
carriage, they left London. 



SELF-CONTROL. 25Q 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THEY travelled slowly, and Laura's health seemed improved 
by the journey. The reviving breeze of early spring, the 
grass field exchanging its winter olive for a brighter green, 
the ploughman's cheerful labour, the sower whistling to his 
measured step, the larch trees putting forth the first and 
freshest verdure of the woods, the birds springing busy 
from the thorn, were objects whose cheering influence would 
have been lost on many a querulous child of disappoint- 
ment. But they were industriously improved to their proper 
use by Laura, who acknowledged in them the kindness of 
a father, mingling with some cordial drop even the bitterest 
cup of sorrow. 

The grief which had fastened on her heart she never 
obtruded upon her companion. She behaved always with 
composure, sometimes with cheerfulness. She never ob- 
liquely reflected upon Providence, by insinuating the hard- 
ness of her fate, nor indulged in splenetic dissertations on 
the inconstancy and treachery of man. Indeed she never, 
by the most distant hint, approached the ground of her own 
peculiar sorrow. She could not, without the deepest hu- 
miliation, reflect that she had bestowed her love on an 
object so unworthy. She burnt with shame at the thought 
of having been so blinded, so infatuated, by qualities merely 
external. While she remembered, with extreme vexation, 
that she had suffered Hargrave to triumph in the confession 
of her regard, she rejoiced that no other witness existed of 
her folly, that she had never breathed the mortifying 
secret into any other ear. 

In this frame of mind, she repelled with calm dignity 
every attempt which Lady Pelham made to penetrate her 
sentiments; and behaved in such a manner that her aunt 
could not discover whether her spirits were affected by 
languor of body or by distress of mind. Laura, indeed, 
had singular skill in the useful art of repulsing without 
offence; and Lady Pelham, spite of her curiosity, found it 
s 2 



260 



SELF-CONTROL. 



impossible to question her niece with freedom. Notwith- 
standing her youth,, and her almost dependent situation, 
Laura inspired Lady Pelham with involuntary awe. Her 
dignified manners, her vigorous understanding, the inflex- 
ible integrity which descended even to the regulation of her 
forms of speech, extorted some degree of respectful caution 
from one not usually over careful of giving offence. Lady 
Pelham was herself at times conscious of this restraint; 
and her pride was wounded by it. In Laura's absence she 
sometimes thought of it with impatience*, and resolved to 
cast it off at their next interview ; but whenever they met, 
the unoffending majesty of Laura effaced her resolution, or 
awed her from putting it in practice. She could not al- 
ways, however, refrain from using that sort of innuendo 
which is vulgarly called talking at one's companions ; a 
sort of rhetoric in great request with those who have more 
spleen than courage, and which differs from common scold- 
ing only in being a little more cowardly and a little more 
provoking. All her Ladyship's dexterity and perseverance 
in this warfare were entirely thrown away. Whatever 
might be meant, Laura answered to nothing but what met 
the ear, and, with perverse simplicity, avoided the particular 
application of general propositions. 

Lady Pelham next tried to coax herself into Laura's 
confidence. She redoubled her caresses and professions of 
affection. She hinted, not obscurely, that if Laura would 
explain her wishes, they would meet with indulgence, and 
even assistance, from zealous friendship. Her professions 
were received with gratitude, her caresses returned with 
sensibility ; but Laura remained impenetrable. Lady Pel- 
ham's temper could never brook resistance ; and she would 
turn from Laura in a pet ; the pitiful garb of anger 
which cannot disguise, and dares not show itself. Laura 
never appeared to bestow the slightest notice on her caprice, 
and received her returning smiles with unmoved compla- 
cency. She would fain have loved her aunt ; but in spite 
of herself, her affection took feeble root amidst these alter- 
nations of frost and sunshine. She was weary of hints and 
insinuations ; and felt not a little pleased that Lady Pel- 
ham's fondness for gardening seemed likely to release her, 



SELF-CONTROL. 



261 



during most of the hours of daylight, from this sort of 
sharpshooting warfare. 

It was several days after their arrival at Walbourne 
before they were visited by any of the De Courcy family. 
Undeceived in his hopes of Laura's regard, Montague was 
almost reluctant to see her again. Yet from the hour when 
he observed Lady Pelham's carriage drive up the avenue, 
he had constantly chosen to study at a window which looked 
towards Walbourne. Laura, too, often looked towards 
Norwood, excusing to herself the apparent neglect of her 
friends, by supposing that they had not been informed of 
her arrival. Lady Pelham was abroad superintending her 
gardeners, and Laura employed in her own apartment, 
when she was called to receive De Courcy. For the first 
time since the wreck of all her hopes, joy flushed the wan 
cheek of Laura, and fired her eye with transient lustre. 
" I shall hear the voice of friendship once more," said she, 
and she hastened down stairs with more speed than suited 
her but half-recovered strength. " Dear Mr. de Courcy," 
cried she, joyfully advancing towards him ! De Courcy 
scarcely ventured to raise his eyes. Laura held out her 
hand to him. ' ' She loves a libertine ! " thought he, and, 
scarcely touching it, he drew back. With grief and sur- 
prise, Laura read the cold and melancholy expression of his 
face. Her feeble spirits failed under so chilling a reception ; 
and while, in a low tremulous voice, she enquired for Mrs. 
and Miss de Courcy, unbidden tears wandered down her 
cheeks. 

In replying, Montague again turned his eyes towards 
her ; and, shocked at the paleness and .dejection of her 
altered countenance, remembered only Laura ill and in 
sorrow. ' ( Good Heavens ! " he exclaimed, with a voice 
and manner of the tenderest interest, " Laura Miss Mon- 
treville, you are ill, you are unhappy." Laura, vexed 
that her weakness should thus extort compassion, hastily 
dried her tears. " I have been ill," said she, " and am 
still so weak that any trifle can discompose me." Mon- 
tague's colour rose. <e It is, then, a mere trifle in her eyes," 
thought he, " that I should meet her with coldness." 
" And yet," continued Laura, reading mortification in his 
8 3 



262 SELF-CONTROL. 

face, " it is no trifle to fear that I have given offence where 
I owe so much gratitude." " Talk not of gratitude, I 
beseech you," said De Courcy, " I have no claim, no wish, 
to excite it." " Ah, Mr. de Courcy!" cried Laura, burst- 
ing into tears of sad remembrance, " has all your consi- 
derate friendship, all your soothing kindness to him who is 
gone, no claim to the gratitude of his child ? " Montague 
felt that he stood at this moment upon dangerous ground, 
and he gladly availed himself of this opportunity to quit it. 
He led Laura to talk of her father, and of the circumstances 
of his death ; and was not ashamed to mingle sympathetic 
tears with those which the narrative wrung from her. 

In her detail, she barely hinted at the labour by which 
she had supported her father ; and avoided all allusion to 
the wants which she had endured. If any thing could have 
exalted her in the opinion of De Courcy, it would have 
been the humility which sought no praise to recompense 
exertion, no admiration to reward self-denial. " The 
praise of man is with her as nothing," thought he, gazing 
on her wasted form and faded features with fonder ado- 
ration than ever he had looked on her full blaze of beauty. 
" She has higher hopes and nobler aims. And can such a 
creature love a sensualist ? Now, too, when his infamy 
cannot be unknown to her ! Yet it must be so, she has 
never named him, e'.en while describing scenes wheie he 
was daily present ; and why this silence, if he were indif- 
ferent to her ? If I durst mention him ! but I cannot 
give her pain." 

From this reverie De Courcy was roused by the entrance 
of Lady Pelham, whose presence brought to his recollection 
the compliments and ceremonial which Laura had driven 
from his mind. He apologised for having delayed his 
visit ; and excused himself for having made it alone, by 
saying that his sister was absent on a visit to a friend, and 
that his mother could not yet venture abroad ; but he 
warmly entreated that the ladies would wave etiquette, and 
see Mrs. de Courcy at Norwood. Lady Pelham, excusing 
herself for the present on the plea of her niece's indispo- 
sition, urged De Courcy to direct his walks often towards 
Walbourne, in charity, she said, to Laura, who being 



SELF-CONTROL. 



263 



unable to take exercise, spent her forenoons alone, sighing, 
she supposed, for some Scotch Strephon. Laura blushed ; 
and Montague took his leave, pondering whether the blush 
was deepened by any feeling of consciousness. 

" She has a witchcraft in her that no language can ex- 
press no heart withstand " said De Courcy, sud- 
denly breaking a long silence, as he and his mother were 
sitting tete-a-tete after dinner. 

" Marriage is an excellent talisman against witchcraft," 
said Mrs. de Courcy, gravely ; " but Miss Montreville has 
charms which will delight the more the better they are 
known. There is such noble simplicity, such considerate 
benevolence, such total absence of vanity and selfishness in 
her character, that no woman was ever better fitted to em- 
bellish and endear domestic life." 

" Perhaps in time," pursued De Courcy, ee I might have 
become not unworthy of such a companion. But now it 
matters not," and, suppressing a very bitter sigh, he 
took up a book which he had of late been reading to his 
mother. 

" You know, Montague," said Mrs. de Courcy, " I 
think differently from you upon this subject. I am widely 
mistaken in Miss Montreville, if she could bestow her pre- 
ference on a libertine, knowing him to be such." 

Montague took involuntary pleasure in hearing this 
opinion repeated ; yet he had less faith in it than he usually 
had in the opinions of his mother. " After the emotion 
which his presence excited," returned he, " an emotion 
which even these low people I cannot think of it with 
patience," cried he, tossing away the book, and walking 
hastily up and down the room. " To betray her weakness, 
her only weakness, to such observers to the wretch him- 
self." 

" My dear Montague, do you make no allowance for the 
exaggeration, the rage for the romantic, so common to 
uneducated minds ? " 

" Wilkins could have no motive for inventing such a 
tale," replied De Courcy ; " and if it had any foundation, 
there is no room for doubt." 

" Admitting the truth of all you have heard," resumed 
s 4 



264 SELF-CONTROL. 

Mrs. de Courcy, <{ I see no reason for despairing of success, 
If I know any thing of character, Miss Montreville's at- 
tachments will ever follow excellence, real or imaginary. 
Your worth is real, Montague; and, as such, it will in 
time approve itself to her." 

" Ah, madam, had her affection been founded even on 
imaginary excellence, must it not now have heen com- 
pletely withdrawn now, when she cannot be unacquainted 
with his depravity. Yet she loves him still. I am sure 
she loves him. Why else this guarded silence in regard 
to him ? Why not mention that she permitted his daily 
visits saw him even on the night when her father died?" 

" Supposing," returned Mrs. de Courcy, " that her 
affection had been founded upon imaginary excellence, 
might not traces of the ruins remain perceptible, even after 
the foundation had been taken away ? Come, come, Mon- 
tague, you are only four-and-twenty, you can afford a few 
years' patience. If you act prudently, I am convinced 
that your perseverance will succeed ; but if it should not, 
I know how you can bear disappointment. I am certain 
that your happiness depends not on the smile of any face, 
however fair." 

" I am ashamed," said De Courcy, " to confess how 
much my peace depends upon Laura. You know I have 
no ambition all my joys must be domestic. It is as a 
husband and a father that all my wishes must be fulfilled 
and all that I have ever fancied of venerable and endearing, 
so meet in her, that no other woman can ever fill her 
place." 

" That you have no ambition," replied Mrs. de Courcy, 
" is one of the reasons why I join in your wishes. If 
your happiness had any connection with splendour, I should 
have regretted your choice of a woman without fortune. 
But all that is necessary for your comfort you will find in 
the warmth of heart with which Laura will return your 
affection the soundness of principle with which she will 
assist you in your duties. Still, perhaps, you might find 
these qualities in others, though not united in an equal 
degree ; but I confess to you, Montague, I despair of your 
again meeting with a woman whose dispositions and pur- 



SELF-CONTROL. 265 

suits are so congenial to your own ; a woman, whose cul- 
tivated mind and vigorous understanding may make her 
the companion of your studies as well as of your lighter 
hours." 

" My dear mother," cried De Courcy, affectionately 
grasping her hand, " it is no wonder that I persecute you 
with this subject so near my heart ; for you always, and 
you alone, support my hopes. Yet should I even at last 
obtain this treasure, I must ever regret that I cannot 
awaken the enthusiasm which belongs only to a first at- 
tachment." 

" Montague," said Mrs. de Courcy, smiling, " from 
what romance have you learnt that sentiment ? However, 
I shall not attempt the labour of combating it, for I pro- 
phesy that, before the change can be necessary, you will 
learn to be satisfied with being loved with reason." 

" Many a weary day must pass before I can even hope 
for this cold preference. Indeed, if her choice is to be 
decided by mere rational approbation, why should I hope 
that it will fall upon me? Yet, if it be possible, her 
friendship I will gain and I would not exchange it for 
the love of all her sex." 

" She already esteems you highly esteems you," said 
Mrs. de Courcy ; " and I repeat that I think you need not 
despair of animating esteem into a warmer sentiment. But 
will you profit by my knowledge of my sex, Montague ? 
You know, the less use we make of our own wisdom, the 
fonder we grow of bestowing it on others in the form of 
advice ! Keep your secret carefully. Much of your hope 
depends on your caution. Pretensions to a pre-engaged 
heart are very generally repaid with dislike." 

Montague promised attention to his mother's advice; but 
added, that he feared he should not long be able to follow 
it. " I am a bad dissembler," said he, " and on this sub- 
ject, it is alleged, that ladies are eagle-eyed." 

tf Miss Montreville, of all women living, has the least 
vanity," returned Mrs. de Courcy ; cc and you may always 
reinforce your caution, by recollecting that the prepossesions 
which will certainly be against you as a lover, may be se- 
cured in your favour as a friend." 



266 



SELF-CONTROL. 



The next day found De Courcy again at Walbourne ; 
and again he enjoyed a long and private interview with 
Laura. Though their conversation turned only on in- 
different subjects, De Courcy observed the settled melan- 
choly which had taken possession of her mind. It was no 
querulous, complaining sorrow, but a calm sadness, banish- 
ing all the cheerful illusions of a life which was still valued 
as the preparation for a better. To that better world all 
her hopes and wishes seemed already fled ; and the saint 
herself seemed waiting,, with resigned desire, for permission 
to depart. De Courcy's fears assigned to her melancholy 
its true cause. He would have given worlds to know the 
real state of her sentiments, and to ascertain how far her 
attachment had survived the criminality of Hargrave. But 
he had not courage to probe the painful wound. He could 
not bear to inflict upon Laura even momentary anguish; 
perhaps he even feared to know the full extent of those 
regrets which she lavished on his rival. With scrupulous 
delicacy he avoided approaching any subject which could at 
all lead her thoughts towards the cause of her sorrow, and 
never even seemed to notice the dejection which wounded 
him to the soul. 

<f The spring of her mind is for ever destroyed," said he 
to Mrs. de Courcy, " and yet she retains all her angelic 
benevolence. She strives to make pleasing to others, the 
objects which will never more give pleasure to her." Mrs. 
de Courcy expressed affectionate concern, but added, " I 
never knew of a sorrow incurable at nineteen. We must 
bring Laura to Norwood, and find employments for her 
suited to her kindly nature. Meanwhile do you exert your- 
self to rouse her; and, till she is well enough to leave 
home, I shall freely resign to her all rny claims upon your 
time." 

De Courcy faithfully profited by his mother's permission, 
and found almost every day an excuse for visiting Wai- 
bourne. Sometimes he brought a book which he read aloud 
to the ladies j sometimes he borrowed one, which he chose 
to return in person ; now he wished to show Laura a 
medal, and now he had some particularly fine flower-seeds 
for Lady Pelham. Chemical experiments were an excellent 



SELF-CONTROL. 26'7 

pretext ; for they were seldom completed at a visit, and the 
examination of one created a desire for another. Laura 
was not insensible to his attentions. She believed that he at- 
tributed whatever was visible of her depression to regrets 
for her father ; and she was by turns ashamed of permitting 
her weakness to wear the mask of filial piety, and thankful 
that she escaped the degradation of being pitied as a love- 
sick girl. 

But love had now no share in Laura's melancholy. Com- 
passion, strong indeed to a painful excess, was the only 
gentle feeling that mingled with the pain of remembering 
Hargrave. Who that, in early youth, gives way to the 
chilling conviction that nothing on earth will ever again 
kindle a wish or a hope, can look without sadness on the 
long pilgrimage which spreads before him ? Laura looked 
upon hers with resigned sadness, and a thousand times re- 
peated to herself that it was but a point, compared with 
what lay beyond. Hopeless of happiness, she yet forced 
herself to seek short pleasure in the charms of nature, and 
the comforts of affluence ; calling them the flowers which 
a bountiful hand had scattered in the desert which it was 
needful that she should tread alone. It was with some sur- 
prise that she found De Courcy's visits produce pleasure 
without requiring an effort to be pleased ; and with thank- 
fulness she acknowledged that the enjoyments of the under- 
standing were still open to her, though those of the heart 
were for ever withdrawn. 

In the mean time her health improved rapidly, and she 
was able to join in Lady Pelham's rambles in the shrubbery. 
To avoid particularity, De Courcy had often quitted Laura 
to attend on these excursions ; and he rejoiced when her 
recovered strength allowed him to gratify, without impru- 
dence, the inclination which brought him to Walbourne. It 
often, however, required all his influence to persuade her to 
accompany him in his walks with Lady Pelham. Her 
Ladyship's curiosity had by no means subsided. On the 
contrary, it was rather exasperated by her conviction that 
her niece's dejection had not been the consequence of ill 
health, since it continued after that plea was removed; 
and Laura was constantly tormented with oblique attempts 



268 



SELF-CONTROL. 



to discover what she was determined should never be 
known. 

Lady Pelham's attacks were now become the more pro- 
voking, because she could address her hints to a third person, 
who,, not aware of their tendency, might strengthen them 
by assent, or unconsciously point them as they were in- 
tended. She contrived to make even her very looks tor- 
menting, by directing, upon suitable occasions, sly glances 
of discovery to Laura's face; where, if they found out 
nothing, they at least insinuated that there was something 
to find out. She was inimitably dexterous and indefatigable 
in improving every occasion of innuendo. Any subject, 
however irrelevant, furnished her with the weapons of her 
warfare. " Does this flower never open any further ? " 
asked Laura, showing one to De Courcy. " No," said Lady 
Pelham, pushing in between them ; (( that close thing, 
wrapped up in itself, never expands in the genial warmth ; 
it never shows its heart." " This should be a precious 
book with so many envelopes," said Laura, untying a parcel. 
" More likely," said Lady Pelham, with a sneer, " that 
what is folded in so many doublings won't be worth looking 
into." f: This day is cold for the season," said De Courcy, 
one day warming himself after his ride. " Spring colds 
are the most chilling of any," said Lady Pelham ; " they 
are like a repulsive character in youth ; one is not pre- 
pared for them. The frosts of winter are natural." 

Lady Pelham was not satisfied with using the occasions 
that presented themselves ; she invented others. When 
the weather confined her at home, and she had nothing else 
to occupy her, she redoubled her industry. c< Bless me, 
what a sentiment ! " she exclaimed, affecting surprise and 
consternation, though she had read the book which contained 
it above twenty times before, " ' Always live with a friend 
as if he might one day become an enemy ! ' I can conceive 
nothing more detestable. A cold-hearted, suspicious wretch ! 
Now to a friend I could not help being all open and inge- 
nuous; but a creature capable of such a thought could never 
have a friend." Lady Pelham ran on for a while, contrast- 
ing her open ingenuous self, with the odious character 
which her significant looks appropriated to her niece, till 



SELF-CONTROL. 26*9 

even the mild Laura was provoked to reply. Fixing her 
eyes upon her aunt with calm severity, " If Rochefoucault 
meant," said she, " that a friend should be treated with 
suspicious confidence, as if he might one day betray, I 
agree with your Ladyship in thinking such a sentiment 
incompatible with friendship ; but we are indebted to him 
for a useful lesson, if he merely intended to remind us that 
it is easy to alienate affection without proceeding to real 
injury, and very possible to forfeit esteem without incurring 
serious guilt." The blood mounted to Lady Pelham's 
face, but the calm austerity of Laura's eye imposed silence; 
and she continued to turn over the pages of her book, while 
her niece rose and left the room. She then tossed it away, 
and walked angrily up and down, fretting between balked 
curiosity and irritated pride. 

Finding every other mode of attack unsuccessful, she once 
more resolved to have recourse to direct interrogation. This 
intention had been frequently formed, and as often defeated 
by the dignified reserve of Laura; but now that Lady Pelham 
felt her pride concerned, she grew angry enough to be daring. 
It was so provoking to be kept in awe by a mere girl ! a 
dependent ! Lady Pelham could at any time meditate her- 
self into a passion; she did so on the present occasion; and 
accordingly resolved and executed in the same breath. She 
followed Laura to her apartment, determined to insist upon 
knowing what affected her spirits. Laura received her with a 
smile so gracious, that, spite of herself, her wrath began to 
evaporate. Conceiving it proper, however, to maintain an air 
of importance, she began with an aspect which announced 
hostility, and a voice in which anger increased intended 
gravity into surliness. " Miss Montreville, if you are at 
leisure, I wish to speak with you." 

" Quite at leisure, madam," said Laura, in a tone of the 
most conciliating good humour, and motioning her aunt to a 
seat by the fire. 

" It is extremely unpleasant," said Lady Pelham, tossing 
her head to escape the steady look of enquiry which Laura 
directed towards her ; " it is extremely unpleasant (at least 
if one has any degree of sensibility) to live with persons 
who always seem unhappy, and are always striving to con- 



270 SELF-CONTROL. 

ceal it, especially when one can see no cause for their 
unhappiness." 

"It must indeed be very distressing/' returned Laura, 
mentally preparing for her defence. 

" Then I wonder/' said Lady Pelham, with increased 
acrimony of countenance, " why you choose to subject me 
to so disagreeable a situation. It is very evident that there 
is something in your mind which you are either afraid or 
ashamed to tell." 

" I am sorry/' said Laura, with unmoved self-possession, 
" to be the cause of any uneasiness to your Ladyship. I do 
not pretend that my spirits are high, but I should not have 
thought their depression unaccountable. The loss of my 
only parent, and such a parent, is reason for lasting sorrow; 
and my own so recent escape from the jaws of the grave, 
might impose seriousness upon levity itself." 

" I have a strong notion, however, that none of these is 
the true cause of your penseroso humours. Modern misses 
don't break their hearts for the loss of their parents. I 
remember you fainted away just when Mrs. Harrington 
was talking to me of Colonel Hargrave's affair ; and I know 
he was quartered for a whole year in your neighbourhood." 

Lady Pelham stopped to reconnoitre her niece's face, but 
without success; for Laura had let fall her scissors, and 
was busily seeking them on the carpet. 

<( Did you know him ?" enquired Lady Pelham. 

<( I have seen him," answered Laura, painfully recollect- 
ing how little she had really known him. 

<c Did he visit at Glenalbert?" resumed her Ladyship, 
recovering her temper, as she thought she had discovered 
a clue to Laura's sentiments. 

(l Yes, madam, often," replied Laura; who having, 
with a strong effort, resumed her self-possession, again 
submitted her countenance to inspection. 

1 c And he was received there as a lover, I presume ? " 
said Lady Pelham, in a tone of interrogation. 

Laura fixed on her aunt one of her cool commanding 
glances. " Your Ladyship/' returned she, " seems so 
much in earnest, that if the question were a little less ex- 
traordinary, I should almost have thought you expected a 
serious answer." 



SELF-CONTROL. 271 

Lady Pelham's eyes were not comfortably placed, and 
she removed them by turns to every piece of furniture in 
the apartment. Speedily recovering herself, she returned 
to the charge; " I think,, after the friendship I have shown, 
I have some right to be treated with confidence." 

" My dear madam/' said Laura, gratefully pressing 
Lady Pelham's hand between her .own, " believe me, I am 
not forgetful of the kindness which has afforded me shelter 
and protection : but there are some subjects of which no 
degree of intimacy will permit the discussion. It is evi- 
dent, that whatever proposals have hitherto been made to 
me, have received such an answer as imposes discretion 
upon me. No addresses which I accept shall ever be a 
secret from your Ladyship those which I reject I am not 
equally entitled to reveal." 

" By which I understand you to say, that you have re- 
jected Colonel Hargrave ?" said Lady Pelham. 

" By no means/' answered Laura, with spirit, " I was 
far from saying so. I merely intended to express my per- 
suasion, that you are too generous to urge me on a sort of 
subject where I ought not to be communicative." 

( ' Very well, Miss Montreville," cried Lady Pelham, 
rising in a pet, " I comprehend the terms on which you 
choose that we should live. I may have the honour of 
being your companion, but I must not aspire to the rank 
of a friend." 

tc Indeed, my dear aunt," said Laura, in a voice irre- 
sistibly soothing, " I have no earthly wish so strong as 
to find a real friend in you : but," added she, with an in- 
sinuating smile, " I shall never earn the treasure with tales 
of luckless love." 

" Well, madam," said Lady Pelham, turning to quit the 
room, " I shall take care for the future not to press myself 
into your confidence ; and as it is not the most delightful 
thing in the world to live in the midst of ambuscades, I 
shall intrude as little as possible on your more agreeable 
engagements." 

" Pray don't go," said Laura, with perfect good humour, 
and holding upon her delicate fingers a cap which she had 
been making, " I have finished your cap. Pray have the 
goodness to let me try it on." 



272 SELF-CONTROL. 

Female vanity is at least a sexagenaire. Lady Pelham 
sent a side-glance towards the cap. " Pray do/' said 
Laura, taking her hand, and coaxingly pulling her back. 
" Make haste, then/' said Lady Pelham, sullenly, " for I 
have no time to spare." " How becoming ! " cried Laura, 
as she fixed on the cap : " I never saw you look so well in 
any thing. Look at it;" and she held a looking-glass to 
her aunt. The ill humour which had resisted the graces 
of the loveliest face in the world, could not stand a favour- 
able view of her own ; and Lady Pelham quitted Laura 
with a gracious compliment to her genius for millinery, 
and a declaration, that the cap should be worn the next 
day, in honour of a visit from Mr. de Courcy and Harriet. 

The next day the expected guests dined at Walbourne. 
As Harriet had just returned from her excursion, this was 
the first time that she had seen Laura, and the meeting 
gave them mutual pleasure. Harriet seemed in even more 
than usual spirits ; and Laura, roused by the presence of 
persons whom she loved and respected, showed a cheerful- 
ness more unconstrained than she had felt since her father's 
death. Montague, who watched her assiduously, was en- 
chanted to perceive that she could once more smile without 
effort ; and, in the joy of his heart, resumed a gaiety which 
had of late been foreign to him. But the life of the party 
was Lady Pelham ; for who could be so delightful, so ex- 
travagantly entertaining, as Lady Pelham could be when 
she pleased? And she did please this afternoon; for a 
train of fortunate circumstances had put her into high good 
humour. She not only wore the becoming cap ; but had 
hit, without difficulty, the most becoming mode of putting 
it on. The cook had done her office in a manner altogether 
faultless ; and the gardener had brought in such a salad ! 
its like had never been seen in the county. 

Miss de Courcy was extremely anxious that Laura 
should pass a few days at Norwood. But Laura, remem- 
bering the coolness which had of late subsisted between 
herself and Lady Pelham, and unwilling to postpone her 
endeavours to efface every trace of it, objected that she 
could not quit her aunt for such a length of time. Harriet 
immediately proposed to invite Lady Pelham. " I'll set 



SELF-CONTROL. 273 

about it this moment, while she's in the vein/' said she. 
" This sunshine is too bright to last." Laura looked very 
grave, and Harriet hastened to execute her purpose. 

There is no weakness in their neighbours which mankind 
so instinctively convert to their own use as vanity. Except 
to secure Laura's company., Harriet had not the slightest 
desire for Lady Pelham's. Yet she did not even name her 
friend while she pressed Lady Pelham so earnestly to visit 
Norwood, that she succeeded to her wish, and obtained a 
promise that the ladies should accompany her and her 
brother home on the following day. 

When, at the close of an agreeable evening, Laura at- 
tended her friend to her chamber, Harriet, with more sin- 
cerity than politeness, regretted that Lady Pelham was to 
join their party to Norwood, " I wish the old lady would 
have allowed you to go without her," said she : " she'll 
interrupt a thousand things I had to say to you. How- 
ever, my mother can keep her in conversation. She'll be 
so delighted to see you, that she'll pay the penalty without 
a grudge." " I shall feel the more indebted to your 
mother's welcome," said Laura, with extreme gravity, 
" because she will extend it to a person to whom I owe 
obligations that cannot be repaid." Harriet, blushing, 
apologised for her freedom ; and Laura accepting the 
apology with smiles of courtesy and affection, the friends 
separated for the night. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

NORWOOD had appeared to Laura to be little more than a 
mile distant from Walbourne. The swellings of the 
ground had deceived her. It was more than twice that 
distance. As the carriage approached Norwood, Laura : 
perceived traces of a noble park, changed from its former 
purpose to one more useful, though less magnificent. The 1 
corn fields were intersected by venerable avenues, and 
T 



274 SELF-CONTROL. 

studded with gigantic elm and oak. Through one of these 
avenues, straight as a dart, and darkened by the woods 
which closed over it, the party drove up to a massive gate. 
In the door of a turreted lodge, overgrown with hornbeam, 
stood the grey-haired porter, waiting their arrival. He 
threw open the gate with one hand, and respectfully stood 
with his hat in the other, while De Courcy checked his 
horse to enquire for the old man's family. 

The avenue now quitted its formality, to wind along the 
bank of a rapid stream, till the woods suddenly opening to 
the right, discovered the lawn, green as an emerald, and 
kept with a neatness truly English. Flowering shrubs 
were scattered over it, and here and there a lofty forest- 
tree threw its quivering shadow ; while tall spruce-firs, 
their branches descending to the ground, formed a contrast 
to its verdure. At the extremity of this lawn stood Nor- 
wood, a large castellated building; and, while Laura 
looked at it, she imagined the interior dull with baronial 
magnificence. 

The carriage drove up to the door, and Laura could not 
help smiling at the cordial welcome which seemed to await 
De Courcy. The great Newfoundland dog that lay upon 
the steps leaped upon him, and expressed his joy by a hun- 
dred clumsy gambols ; while John, the old servant, whom, 
she had seen in Audley Street, busied himself about his 
master, with an officiousness which evidently came from 
the heart, leaving Lady Pelham's attendants to wait upon 
their mistress and her companions. De Courcy, giving his 
hand to Lady Pelham, conducted her, followed by Harriet 
and Laura, into the room where Mrs. de Courcy was 
sitting; and the next moment his heart throbbed with 
pleasure, while he saw the beloved of his soul locked in his 
mothers arms. 

When the first joy of the meeting was over, Laura had 
leisure to observe the interior of the mansion, which dif- 
fered not less from her expectations than from any thing 
she had before seen. Though it was equally remote from 
the humble simplicity of her cottage at Glenalbert, and the 
gaudiness of Lady Pelham's more modern abode, she saw 
nothing of the gloomy splendour which she had fancied ; 



SELF-CONTROL. 275 

every thing breathed comfort and repose. The furniture 
though not without magnificence, was unadorned and sub- 
stantial, grandeur holding the second place to usefulness. 
The marble hall through which she had entered was 
almost covered with matting. In the spacious room in 
which she was sitting, the little Turkey carpet of our fore- 
fathers had given place to one of homelier grain but of 
far larger dimensions. The apartment was liberally stored 
with couches, footstools, and elbow-chairs. A harp occu- 
pied one window, a piano-forte stood near it ; many books 
were scattered about, in bindings which showed they were 
not meant for ornament : and in the chimney blazed a fire 
which would have done credit to the days of Elizabeth. 

The dinner hour was four ; and punctual to a moment 
the dinner appeared, plain, neat, and substantial. It was 
served without tumult, partaken of with appetite, and enli^ 
vened by general hilarity, and good will. 

When the ladies rose from table, Harriet offered to 
conduct Laura through the other apartments, which exactly 
corresponded with those she had seen. The library was 
spacious ; and besides an excellent collection of books, con- 
tained globes, astronomical instruments, and cabinets of 
minerals and coins. A smaller room which opened from 
it, used as De Courcy's laboratory, was filled with chemical 
and mechanical apparatus. Comfort, neatness, and peace 
reigned every where, and Norwood seemed a fit retreat 
for literary leisure and easy hospitality. 

Between music, work, and conversation, the evening 
passed cheerfully away ; nor did Laura mark its flight till 
the great house-clock struck nine. The conversation sud- 
denly paused; Harriet laid aside her work; Mrs. de 
Courcy's countenance assumed a pleasing seriousness ; and 
Montague, quitting his place by Laura's side, seated him- 
self in a patriarchal-looking chair, at the upper end of the 
room. Presently John entered, followed by all the domes- 
tics of the family. He placed before his master a reading- 
desk and a large Bible, and then sat down at a distance 
with his feUow-servants. 

With a manner serious and earnest, as one impressed 
with a just sense of their importance, Montague read a 
T 2 



276' SELF-GONTROL. 

portion of the Holy Scriptures. He closed the volume ; 
and all present sunk upon their knees. In plain but 
solemn language, he offered a petition in the name of all, 
that all might be endowed with the graces of the Christian 
spirit. In the name of all he confessed that they were un- 
worthy of the blessings they implored. In the name of 
all, he gave thanks for the means of improvement, and for 
the hopes of glory. He next, more particularly, besought 
a blessing on the circumstances of their several conditions. 
Among the joyous faces of this happy household, Laura had 
observed one alone clouded with sorrow. It was that of a 
young modest-looking girl in deep mourning, whose audible 
sobs attested that she was the subject of a prayer which 
commended an orphan to the Father of the fatherless. The 
worship was closed ; the servants withdrew. A silence of 
a few moments ensued ; and Laura could not help gazing 
with delight, not unmingled with awe, on the traces of 
serene benevolence and manly piety, whieh lingered on the 
countenance of De Courcy. 

" Happy Harriet," said she, when she was alone with 
her friend ; " would that I had been your sister ! " Har- 
riet laughed. " You need not laugh, my dear," continued 
Laura, with most unembarrassed simplicity, " I did not 
mean your brother's wife, but his sister, and Mrs. de 
Courcy's daughter." 

Though Miss de Courcy was much less in Montague's 
confidence than her mother, she was not ignorant of his 
preference for Laura ; but Mrs. de Courcy had so strongly 
cautioned her against even hinting this preference to the 
object of it, that though she but half-guessed the reasons of 
her mother's injunctions, she was afraid to disobey. That 
Laura was even acquainted with Hargrave was unknown 
to Harriet ; for De Courcy was almost as tenacious of 
Laura's secret as she herself was, and would as soon have 
thought of giving up his own heart to the frolics of a 
kitten, as of exposing that of Laura to the badinage of his 
sister. This kind precaution left Laura perfectly at her 
ease with Harriet, an ease which would quickly have va- 
nished had she known her to be acquainted with her 
humiliating story. 



SELF-CONTROL. 277 

The young ladies had rambled over half the grounds of 
Norwood before the family had assembled at a cheerful 
breakfast ; and as soon as it was ended, Harriet proposed 
that Laura should assist her with her advice in composing 
a water-colour drawing from one of her own pictures. 
" We'll leave Lady Pelham and my mother in possession 
of the drawing-room/' said she, " for the pictures all 
hang in the library. I wanted them put up in the sitting- 
room,, but Montague would have them where they are 
and so he carried his point, for mamma humours him in 
every thing." " Perhaps," returned Laura, " Mrs. de 
Courcy thinks he has some right to dictate in his own 
house." " Well, that's true," cried Harriet. " I protest 
I had forgotten that this house was not my mother's." 

The picture which Miss de Courcy had fixed upon, was 
that of Leonidas, and Laura would far rather have been 
excused from interference ; yet, as she could not with pro- 
priety escape, nothing remained but to summon her com- 
posure, and to study anew this resemblance of her unwor- 
thy lover. She took her work, and began quietly to 
superintend Harriet's progress. Their employments did 
not interrupt conversation ; and though Laura's was at first 
a little embarrassed, she soon recovered her ease. (( Do 
touch the outline of the mouth for me," said Harriet ; tf I 
can't hit the resemblance at all." Laura excused herself, 
saying, that since her fever, her hand had been unsteady. 
" Oh, here's Montague ; he'll do it. Come hither Mon- 
tague, and sketch a much prettier mouth than your own." 
De Courcy, who had approached his sister before he under- 
stood her request, shrunk back. She could scarcely have 
proposed an employment less agreeable to him ; and he 
was hastily going to refuse it, when, happening to meet 
the eye of Laura, in the dread that she should detect his 
consciousness, he snatched the pencil and began. 

Harriet having thus transferred her work, quickly found 
out other occupation. " O, by the by, my dear," said she 
to Laura, " your Leonidas is the greatest likeness in the 
world of my old beau, Colonel Hargrave. Bless me, how 
she blushes ! Ah ! I see Hargrave has not been so long in 
Scotland for nothing ! " 

T 3 



278 SELF-GONTROL. 

" Take away that thing,, Harriet/' cried De Courcy, 
quite thrown off his guard, and pushing the drawing from 
him. " I see no reason why Miss Montreville and I should 
both do for you what you ought to be doing for yourself." 

ee Heyday! what ails the man?" cried Harriet,, looking 
after her brother to the window, whither he had retreated. 
ee You need not be angry with me for making Laura blush. 
I dare say she likes it ; it becomes her so well." 

" If you are accustomed to say such strange things to 
your friends, my dear Harriet," said Laura, " the blushes 
you raise will not always have that advantage. The 
colourings of anger are not generally becoming." 

" So, with that meek face of yours, you would have me 
believe that it is downright rage which has made you all 
scarlet. No, no, my dear there is rage, and there is the 
colour of it too (pointing to Montague's face) ; and if 
you'll put your two heads together before the glass, you 
will see whether the colours are a bit alike ! " 

Montague, recovering his temper, tried to laugh and 
succeeded very ill. " I don't wonder you laugh," said 
Laura, not venturing to look round to him, ce at hearing 
Harriet, on such slender grounds, exalt such a matter-of- 
fact person as myself into the heroine of a romance. But, 
to spare your imagination, Harriet, I will tell you, that 
your old beau, as you call him, being the handsomest man 
I had seen, I saw no harm in making use of his beauty in 
my picture." 

" Well, I protest," cried Harriet, " it was quite by 
accident I thought of mentioning it, for I had not the least 
idea that ever you had seen Hargrave." 

" And, now that you have made that mighty discovery," 
said De Courcy, endeavouring to appear unconcerned, tf I 
suppose you'll poison Miss Montreville ; for you know you 
were so in love with Hargrave, that I was obliged to put a 
rail round the fish-pond to prevent felo de se." 

e( In love," said Harriet, yawning,- " ay, so I was in- 
deed, for three whole days once when I had nothing else to 
do. But only think of the sly girl never even to name him 
to me ! Well ! well ! I shall worm it all out of her when 
we are by ourselves, though she won't blab before you/' 



SELF-CONTROL. 279 

cf I will give you an opportunity this moment," said De 
Courcy, who, quite unable to bear the subject any longer, 
determined to make his mother interrupt it, and immedi- 
ately went in search of her. In a few minutes Mrs. de 
Courcy appeared, and dismissed her unwilling daughter to 
escort Lady Pelham to the flower-garden, while Laura 
preferred remaining at home. 

At the next opportunity, Harriet executed her threat, 
in so far as depended upon her. She did what she could 
to rally Laura out of her secret, but she totally failed of 
success. Laura, now upon her guard, not only evaded 
making any discovery, but, by the easy indifference of her 
answers, convinced Harriet that there was nothing to dis- 
cover. Indeed, her suspicion was merely a transient 
thought, arising from Laura's confusion at her sudden at- 
tack, and scarcely outlived the moment that gave it birth ; 
though the emotion which Montague had shown, confirmed 
his sister in the belief of his attachment to Laura. 

The subject thus entirely dropped which Laura could 
never approach without pain, the time of her visit to Nor- 
wood glided away in peace and comfort, every day lessen- 
ing the dejection which she had believed, nay almost wished, 
would follow her to the grave. Still,, however, the traces 
of it were sufficiently visible to the observant eye of love ; 
and Montague found in it an interest not to be awakened by 
the brightest flashes of gaiety. (f There is a charm inex- 
pressible in her sadness," said he to Mrs. de Courcy " I 
think," replied Mrs. de Courcy, (( I can observe that that 
charm is decaying. Indeed, if it should entirely disappear 
before your fates are more closely united, you need not 
lament its departure. These cypresses look graceful bend- 
ing over the urn there in the vista, but I should not like 
them "to darken the sitting-room." 

The only habit, common to love-lorn damsels, in which 
Laura indulged, was that of preferring solitary rambles ; 
a habit, however, which had been imbibed long before she 
had any title to that character. Delighted with the en- 
virons of Norwood, she sometimes wandered beyond the 
dressed ground into the park, where art still embellished 
without restraining nature. The park might, indeed, have 
T 4 



280 SELF-CONTROL. 

better deserved the name of an ornamented farm ; for the 
lawns were here and there diversified by corn fields, and 
enlivened by the habitations of the labourers necessary to 
the agriculturist. These cottages, banished by fashion far 
from every lordly residence, were contrived so as to unite 
beauty with usefulness ; they gave added interest to the 
landscape even to the eye of a stranger, but far more to 
that of De Courcy, for he knew that every one of them 
contained useful hands or grateful hearts : youth for whom 
he provided employment, or age whose past services he re- 
paid. Here the blue smoke curled from amidst the thicket ; 
there the white wall enlivened the meadow ; here the case- 
ment flashed bright with the setting sun ; there the wood- 
bine and the creeping rose softened the colouring which 
would have glared on the eye. 

Laura had followed the windings of a little green lane, 
till the woods which darkened it suddenly opened into a 
small field, sheltered by them on every side, which seemed 
to form the territory of a cottage of singular neatness and 
beauty. In a porch covered with honeysuckle, which led 
through a flower-garden to the house, a lovely little boy 
about three years old was playing with De Courcy's great 
Newfoundland dog. The child was stretching on tiptoe to 
hug with one arm the neck of his rough companion ; while 
with the other hand he was playfully offering the animal 
a bit of bread, and then snatching it in sport away. Nep- 
tune, not used to be so tantalised, made a catch at his 
prey ; but the child succeeded in preserving his prize, and 
laughing, hid it behind him. The next moment Laura 
saw the dog throw him down, and heard a piercing cry. 
Fearless of personal danger, she ran to his assistance. The 
child was lying motionless on its face ; while, with one 
huge paw laid on his back, Neptune was standing over 
him, wagging his tail in triumph. Convinced that the 
child was unhurt, and that the scream had been caused 
merely by fear, Laura spoke to the dog, who immediately 
quitted his posture to fawn upon her. She lifted the child 
from the ground and carried him towards the cottage. The 
poor little fellow, pale with terror, clung round her neck ; 
but he no sooner saw himself in safety, than, recovering 



SELF-CONTROL. 281 

his suspended faculties, he began to roar with all his might. 
His cries reached the people in the house, who hastened to 
enquire into their cause ; and Laura was met in the door 
of the cottage by De Courcy's grey-haired servant, John, 
who seemed its owner, and a decent old woman,, who was 
his wife. 

Laura prefaced her account of the accident by an as- 
surance that the child was not hurt, and the old woman, 
taking him in her arms, tried to soothe him, while John 
invited Miss Montreville to enter. She followed him into 
a room, which, unacquainted as she was with the clean- 
liness of English cottages, appeared to her quite Arcadian. 
While Margaret was busy with her little charge, Laura 
praised the neatness and comfort of John's abode. " It is 
as snug a place as heart can desire, please you, ma'am," 
answered John, visibly gratified ; " and we have every 
thing here as convenient as in the king's palace, or as my 
master himself has, for the matter of that." " I thought, 
John, you had lived in Mr. de Courcy's house/' said 
Laura. (e Yes, please you, ma'am, and so I did, since I 
was a little fellow no higher than my knee, taken in to run 
messages, till my young master came of age, and then he 
built this house for me, that I might just have it to go 
to when I pleased, without being turned away like ; for he 
knew old folks liked to have a home of their own. So now, 
of a fine evening, I come home after prayers, and I stay 
all night ; and when it's bad weather, I have the same bed 
as I have had these forty years ; not a penny worse than 
my master's own." " And if you are employed all day at 
Norwood," said Laura, " how do you contrive to keep your 
garden in such nice order ? " " Oh ! for the matter of that, 
ma'am, my master would not grudge me a day's work of 
the under gardener any time j no, nor to pay a man to 
work the little patch for me; but only as he says, the 
sweetest flowers are of one's own planting, so, of a fine day, 
he often sends me home for an hour or two in the cool, 
just to put the little place in order." " Mr. de Courcy 
seems attentive to the comfort of every body who comes 
near him," said Laura. " That he is, madam ; one would 
think he had an affection like for every mortal creature, 



282 SELF-CONTROL. 

and particularly when they grow old and useless, like me 
and Margaret. I know who offered him twenty pounds 
a-year for this house and the bit of field ; but he said, old 
folks did not like moving, and he would not put us out of 
this, even though he could give us one twice as good." 
" And your rent is lower than twenty pounds, I suppose ? " 
said Laura. " Why, sure, ma'am, we never pay a penny 
for it. My master," said John, drawing up his head, and 
advancing his chest, ff my master has the proper true spirit 
of a gentleman, and he had it since ever he was born ; for 
its bred in the bone with him, as the saying is. Why, 
ma'am, he had it from a child. I have seen him, when 
he was less than that boy there, give away his dinner, 
when he was as hungry as a hound, just because a beggar 
asked it. Ay, I remember, one day, just two-and-twenty 
years ago come July, that he was sitting at the door on 
my knee, eating his breakfast, and he had asked it half a 
dozen times from Mrs. Martin, for he was very hungry ; and 
she did not always attend to him very well. So, up came 
a woman leading a little ragged creature ; and it looked at 
Master Montague's bread and milk, and said, ' I wish I 
had some too.' So says my master, ' Here take you some, 
and I'll take what you leave.' Well, ma'am, the brat 
snapped it all up in a trice, and I waited to see what little 
master would do. Well, he just laughed as good naturedly ! 
Then I was going to have got him another breakfast, but 
my lady would not allow me. ( No, no, John P said my 
lady, ' we must teach Montague the connection between 
generosity and self-denial.' These were my lady's very 
words." 

By this time Margaret had succeeded in quieting the 
child ; and a double allowance of bread and butter restored 
all his gaiety. " Come, Nep," said he, squatting himself 
down on the ground, where Neptune was lying at Laura's 
feet ; " come, Nep, I'll make friends ; and there's half for 
you, Henry's own dear Nep." -" Will you sit upon my 
knee?" said Laura, who was extremely fond of children. 
The boy looked steadily in her face for a few , moments, 
and then holding out his arms to her, said, " Yes, I will." 
" Whose charming child is this ? " enquired Laura, 



SELF-CONTROL. 283 

twisting his golden ringlets round her fingers. The colour 
rose to old Margaret's furrowed cheek as she answered, 
" He is an orphan, ma'am." " He is our grandson/' 
said John, and drew his hand across his eyes. Laura saw 
that the subject was painful, and she enquired no further. 
She remained for a while playing with little Henry, and 
listening to John's praises of his master ; and then returned 
homewards. 

She was met by De Courcy and Harriet, who were 
coming in search of her. She related her little adventure, 
and praised the extraordinary beauty of the child. " Oh, 
that's Montague's protege!" cried Harriet. "By the by 
he has not been to visit us since you came ; I believe he 
was never so long absent before. I have a great notion 
my brother did not want to produce him to you." ' ' To 
me !" exclaimed Laura in surprise! "Why not?" But 
receiving no answer from flarriet, who had been effectually 
silenced by a look from De Courcy, she turned for ex- 
planation to Montague ; who made an awkward attempt 
to laugh off his sister's attack, and then as awkwardly 
changed the subject. 

For some minutes Laura gravely and silently endeavoured 
to account .for his behaviour. ." His generosity supports 
this child," thought she, <e and he is superior to blazoning 
his charity." So having, as greater philosophers have 
done, explained the facts to agree with her theory, she 
was perfectly satisfied, and examined them no more. As- 
sociation carrying her thoughts to the contemplation of the 
happiness which De Courcy seemed to diffuse through 
every circle where he moved, she regretted that she was so 
soon to exchange the enjoyment of equable, unobtrusive 
kindness, for starts of officious fondness mingling with 
intervals of cold neglect or peevish importunity. 

" Norwood is the Eden of the earth," said she to Har- 
riet, as they drew their chairs towards the fire, to enjoy a 
tete-d-tete after the family were retired for the night ; 
" and it is peopled with spirits fit for paradise. Happy 
you, who need never think of leaving it ! " 

" Bless you ! my dear," cried Harriet, (f there is nothing 
I think of half so* much. You would not have me an 



284 SELF-CONTROL. 

old maid to comb lap-dogs and fatten cats, when I might 
be scolding my own maids, and whipping my own chil- 
dren." 

(e Really," said Laura, t( I think you would purchase 
even these delightful recreations too dearly by the loss of 
your present society. Sure it were a mad venture to change 
such a blessing for any uncertainty ! " 

" And yet, Mrs. Graveairs, I have a notion that a cer- 
tain gallant soldier could inspire you with the needful 
daring. Now, look me in the face, and deny it if you 
can." 

Laura did as she was desired ; and, with cheeks flushed 
to crimson, but a voice of " sweet austere composure," re- 
plied, " Indeed, Miss de Courcy, I am hurt that you 
should so often have taxed me, even in sport, with so dis- 
creditable a partiality. You cannot be serious in supposing 

that I would marry an " adulterer, Laura would 

have said ; but to apply such an epithet to Hargrave was 
too much for human firmness, and she stopped. 

" I declare she is angry," cried Harriet. " Well, my 
dear, since it displeases you, I shan't tease you any more ; 
at least not till I find a new subject. But, pray now, do 
you intend to practise as you preach ? Have you made a 
vow never to marry ? " 

" I do not say so," answered Laura ; " it is silly to 
assert resolutions which nobody credits. Besides my situ- 
ation sadly differs from yours. Like the moon, which is 
rising yonder, I must pursue my course alone. Thousands 
around me might perhaps warm and enlighten me ; but far 
distant, their influence is lost ere it reaches me. You are 
in the midst of a happy family, endeared to you by all 
that is lovely in virtue ; all that is sacred in kindred. I 
know not what would tempt me to resign your situation." 

" What would tempt you ? " cried Harriet. " Why, a 
pretty fellow would. But I verily believe you have been 
taking your cue from Montague : these are precisely his 
ideas. I think he has set his heart upon making me lead 
apes." 

" What makes you think so ? "* enquired Laura. 

" Because he finds out a hundred faults to every man 



SELF-CONTROL. 285 

who talks nonsense to me. One is poor ; and he thinks 
it folly to marry a beggar. Another is old, though he's 
rich ; and that would be downrightly selling myself. One's 
a fool, and t'other 's cross ; and in short there's no end to 
his freaks. Only the other day he made me dismiss a 
creature whom I believe I should have liked well enough 
in time. I have not half forgiven him for it yet. Poor 
Wilmot ! and I should have had a nice barouche too ! " 
" What could possibly weigh with your brother against 
the barouche ? " said Laura, smiling. 

" Why, my dear, the saucy wretch told me, as .plainly 
as he civilly could, that Wilmot and I had not a grain of 
prudence between us ; ergo, that we should be ridiculous 
and miserable. Besides, poor Wilmot once persuaded a 
pretty girl to play the fool ; and though he afterwards did 
every thing he could to prevail on her to be made an honest 
woman, the silly thing chose rather to break her heart and 
die ; and, ever since, poor Wilmot has been subject to fits 
of low spirits." 

" Is it possible, Harriet, that you can talk so lightly of 
a crime so black in its nature, so dreadful in its conse- 
quences ? Can it seem a trifle to you to destroy the peace, 
the innocence of a fellow- creature ? Can you smile at re- 
morse which pursued its victim even to the grave ? " 

Tears filled the eyes of Harriet. " Oh no, my dearest," 
she cried, throwing her arms round Laura's neck ; " do not 
think so hardly of me. I am a rattle, it is true, but I 
am not unprincipled." 

" Pardon my injustice, dearest Harriet," said Laura, 
" in believing, even for a moment, that you were capable 
of such perversion; and join with me in rejoicing that 
your brother's influence has saved you from witnessing, 
from sharing, the pangs of unavailing repentance." 

" Indeed," said Harriet, " Montague's influence can do 
any thing with me ; and no wonder. I should be the 
most ungrateful wretch on earth if I could oppose his 
wishes. I cannot tell you the thousandth part of the af- 
fection he has shown me. Did you ever hear, my dear, 
that my father had it not in his power to make any pro- 
vision for me ? " 



286 , SELF-CONTROL. 

Laura answered that she had never heard the circum- 
stances of the family at all mentioned. 

<( Do you know/' continued Harriet, " I am certain that 
Montague is averse to my marrying, because he is afraid 
that ' my poverty, and not my will, consents.' But he 
has himself set that matter to rest ; for the very morning 
after I gave Wilmot his conge, Montague presented me 
with hills for two thousand pounds. The generous fellow 
told me that he did not offer his gift while Wilmot's suit 
was pending, lest I' should think he bought a right to in- 
fluence my decision." 

" This is just what I should have expected from Mr. 
de Courcy," said Laura, the purest satisfaction beaming 
in .her countenance. " He is ever considerate, ever ge- 
nerous." 

" To tell you that he gives me money," cried Harriet 
rapturously, <f is nothing; he gives me his time, his la- 
bour, his affection. Do love him, dear Laura ! He is 
the best of all creatures ! " 

" Indeed I believe it," said Laura> " and I have the 
most cordial regard for him." 

" Ah, but you must " Harriet's gratitude to her 

brother had very nearly been too strong for his secret, and 
she was on the point of petitioning Laura to return a sen- 
timent warmer than cordial regard, when, recollecting her 
mother's commands, she desisted ; and to fly from the 
temptation, wished Laura good night, and retired. 

It was with sincere regret that Laura, the next day, 
took leave of her kind hosts. As De Courcy handed her 
into the carriage, the tears were rising to her eyes : but 
they were checked by a glance from Lady Pelham, in which 
Laura thought she could read mingled scorn and anger. 
Lady Pelham had remarked the improved spirits of her 
niece ; but, instead of rejoicing that any medicine should 
have " ministered to a mind diseased," she was offended at 
the success of a remedy applied ,by any other than herself. 
She was nettled at perceiving that the unobtrusive serious- 
ness of Mrs. de Courcy, and the rattling gaiety of Harriet, 
had effected what all her brilliant powers had not achieved. 
Her powers, indeed, had been sometimes directed to en- 



SELF-CONTROL. 287 

tertain, but never to console ; they had been exerted to 
purchase admiration, not to win confidence ; yet, with a 
common perverseness, she was angry at their ill success, 
not sorry for their wrong direction. She did not consider, 
that real benevolence, or an excellent counterfeit, is the 
only road to an unadulterated heart. It appeared to her a 
proof of an ungrateful temper in her niece, that she should 
yield in so short a time to strangers to whom she owed 
nothing, what she refused to a relation to whom she owed 
so much. 

She had not been able to forbear from venting her spleen 
in little spiteful remarks, and sly stings, sometimes so 
adroitly given, that they were unobserved, except by the 
person who was by degrees becoming accustomed to expect 
them. The presence of the De Courcy family, howeve^ 
restrained the expression of Lady Pelham's ill humour ; 
and, as she detested restraint (a detestation which she al- 
ways ascribed to a noble ingenuousness of mind), she 
nestled, with peculiar complacency, into the corner of the 
carriage "which was to convey her to what she called free- 
dom, namely, the liberty to infringe with impunity the 
rights of others. Laura felt that her reluctance to quit 
Norwood was a bad compliment to her aunt, and she 
called a smile to her face as she kissed her hand to her 
kind friends ; yet the contrast between their affectionate 
looks, and the " lurking devil " in Lady Pelham's eye, did 
not lessen her regret at the exchange she was making. 

Lady Pelham saw the tone of Laura's mind, and she 
immediately struck up a discord. " Heaven be praised," 
she cried, "we have at last escaped out of that stupid 
place ! I think it must be something extraordinary that 
tempts me to spend four days there again." Laura re- 
mained silent ; for she disliked direct contradiction, and 
never spoke what she did not think. Lady Pelham con- 
tinued her harangue, declaring, " that your good sort of 
people were always intolerably tiresome ; that clock-work 
regularity was the dullest thing in nature ; that Norwood 
was another cave of Trophonius ; Mrs. de Courcy inspired 
with the soul of a starched old maid ; Harriet animated 
by the joint spirit of a magpie and a monkey; and Mon. 



288 SELF-CONTROL. 

tague by that of a methodist parson." Finally, she again 
congratulated herself on her escape from such society, and 
wondered how anybody could submit to it without hanging 
himself. Laura was accustomed to support Lady Pelham's 
attacks upon herself with perfect equanimity ; but her 
temper was not proof against this unjust, this unexpected 
philippic against her friends ; and she reddened with anger 
and disdain, though she had still so much self-command 
as to reply only, " Your Ladyship is fortunate in being able 
to lose, without regret, what others find it difficult to re- 
place." 

Lady Pelham fully understood the emphasis which was 
laid on the word others, but the mortification to her vanity 
was compensated by the triumph of discovering the vul- 
nerable side of her niece's temper. This was the first time 
that she had been conscious of power over it, and severely 
did Laura pay for the momentary negligence which had 
betrayed the secret. Some persons never feel pleasure 
without endeavouring to communicate it. Lady Pelham 
acted upon the converse of this amiable principle ; and, as 
an ill-regulated mind furnished constant sources of pain, a 
new channel of participation was a precious discovery. As 
often, therefore, as spleen, jealousy, or malice prompted 
her to annoyance, she had recourse henceforth to this new 
found weapon ; and she varied her warfare through all the 
changes of hints, insinuations, and that mode of attack the 
most provoking of all, which, aiming at no particular point, 
becomes the more difficult to parry. During several 
months, she made it the occasional instrument of her ven- 
geance for the jealousy which she entertained of Laura's 
increasing intimacy with the De Courcys; an intimacy 
which she chose to embitter, though she could not break it 
off, without depriving herself of acquaintances who were 
visited by the first people in the county. 

Her industry in teasing was not confined to Laura. She 
inflicted a double stroke, by the petulance or coldness with 
which she sometimes treated the De Courcys. But though 
Laura was keenly sensible to these petty wrongs done her 
friends, the injured passed them over without much notice. 
Harriet repaid them with laughter or sarcasm; while 



SELF-CONTROL. 289 

Montague seemed to consider them as wholly unworthy of 
attention. He continued his visits to Walbourne, and 
accident at last furnished an excuse for their frequency. 

In the course of Lady Pelham's improvements, a dif- 
ficulty chanced to occur, which a slight knowledge of the 
elements of mathematics would have enabled her to solve. 
To supply the want of this knowledge, she had recourse to 
Mr. de Courcy, who removed her perplexity with the ease 
of one conversant with his subject, and the accuracy of one 
who speaks to a reasoning creature. Lady Pelbam was 
charmed ! She was convinced that " of all studies that of 
mathematics must be the most delightful. She imagined 
it might not be quite impracticable even for a lady, sup- 
posing she were so fortunate as to meet with a friend who 
could assist her." De Courcy, laughing, offered his services, 
not, it must be owned, with any idea that they would be 
accepted. Her Ladyship, however, eagerly embraced the 
offer; for she was little accustomed to forecast the dif- 
ficulties of any scheme which entered her brain. In the 
triumphant expectation that all difficulty would yield to 
her acuteness, and her brighter abilities gain in a com- 
parison with the plain good sense of her niece, she obliged 
Laura to join in her new pursuit. 

Upon the study of this science, so little in favour with a 
sex who reserve cultivation for faculties where it is least 
wanting, Laura entered with a pleasure which surprised 
herself, and she persevered in it with an industry which 
astonished her teacher. Lady Pelham was, for a little 
while, the companion of her labours ; but, at the first dif- 
ficulty, she took offence at the unaccommodating thing, 
which showed no more indulgence to female than to royal 
indolence. Forthwith she was fired with strong aversion 
to philosophers in bibs, and a horror at s&e-pedants, a term 
of reproach which a dexterous side-glance could appropriate 
to her niece, though the author of these memoirs challenges 
any mortal to say that ever Laura Montreville was heard 
to mention ellipse or parabola, or to insinuate her acquaint- 
ance with the properties of circle or polygon. Nothing 
moved by Lady Pelham's sneers, Laura continued her 
studies, impelled partly by the duty of improving the most 



290 SELF-CONTROL. 

valuable faculty of an immortal mind, partly by the plea- 
sure which she derived from the study itself. It is true, 
that her Ladyship's indiscreet use of the secret, made 
Laura's labours the cause of much merriment to titterers 
of both sexes j but we have never discovered that De 
Courcy esteemed her the less for her persevering industry, 
or loved her the less for this new subject of mutual interest. 
He watched with delight the restoration of her mind to its 
full vigour ; and as he had never known her in the blaze 
of youthful gaiety, he was scarcely sensible of the shade 
which blended the radiance of her mid- day of life with the 
sober tints of evening. 

The impression of her early disappointment was indeed 
indelible, but it was no longer overwhelming. She had 
given the reins to her imagination, it had fatally misled 
her ; but its power had sustained an irrecoverable shock, 
and the sway was transferred to reason. She had dreamed 
of an earthly heaven, and seen that it was but a dream. 
All her earthly joys had vanished yet misery had been 
almost as transient as delight, and she learned the practical 
use of a truth which all acknowledge in theory. In the 
course of four months' residence at Walbourne, she re- 
covered a placid cheerfulness, which afterwards continued 
to be the habitual tenor of her mind. If she looked 
forward to the future events of her life, it was to resolve 
that they should be subservient to the great end of her 
being. If she glanced backward, it was less to lament the 
disappointment, than to blame the error which had led to 
it j and she never allowed her thoughts to dwell upon her 
unworthy lover, except when praying that he might be 
awakened to a sense of his guilt. 

She was chiefly concerned to improve and to enjoy the 
present; and in this she was successful in spite of the 
peevish humours of Lady Pelham, mixed occasionally with 
ebullitions of rage. Those who are furious where they 
dare, or when the provocation is sufficient to rouse their 
courage, sometimes chide with impotent perseverance where 
they are awed from the full expression of their fury ; as 
the sea, which the lightest breeze dashes in billows over 
the sandbank, frets in puny ripples against the rock that 



SELF-CONTROL. 291 

frowns over it. If Lady Pelham's temper had any re- 
semblance to this stormy element, it was not wholly void 
of likeness to another for it " changed as it listed," 
without any discoverable reason. It would have lost half 
its power to provoke, and Laura half the merit of her 
patient endurance, if it had been permanently diabolical. 
The current, not only serene but sparkling, would reflect 
with added beauty every surrounding object, then would 
suddenly burst into foam, or settle into a stagnant marsh. 
Laura threw oil upon the torrent, and suffered the marsh 
to clear itself. She enjoyed Lady Pelham's wit and vivacity 
in her hours of good humour, and patiently submitted to 
her seasons of low spirits, as she eomplaisantly called them. 

Laura at last, undesignedly, opened a new direction to 
her aunt's spleen. From her first introduction to Lady 
Pelham, she had laboured assiduously to promote a recon- 
ciliation between her aunt and her daughter, Mrs. Her- 
bert. Her zeal appeared surprising to Lady Pelham, who 
could not estimate the force of her motive for thus labour- 
ing, to the manifest detriment of her own interest, she 
being (after Mrs. Herbert) the natural heiress of her 
aunt's fortune. She had seized the moment of compla- 
cency ; watched the relentings of nature ; by turns tried 
to soothe and to convince ; and, in the proper spirit of a 
peace-maker, adhered to her purpose with meek per- 
severance. According to the humour of the hour, Lady 
Pelham was alternately flattered by solicitations that con- 
fessed her power, or rendered peevish by entreaties which 
she was determined to reject, or fired to rage by the re- 
collection of her wrongs. If the more placid frame 
prevailed, she could ring eternal changes on the same 
oft-refuted arguments, or adroitly shift the subject by 
some lively sally of wit, or some neat compliment to her 
niece. In her more stormy tempers, she would profess 
a total inability to pardon ; nay, a determination never to 
attempt it ; and took credit for scorning to pretend a 
forgiveness which she could not practise. 

Still Laura was not discouraged; for she had often 
observed that what Lady Pelham declared on one day 
to be wholly impossible, on the next became, without 
u 2 



2.92 SELF-CONTROL. 

any assignable reason, the easiest thing in nature ,- and 
that what to-day no human force should wrest from her, 
was yielded to-morrow to no force at all. She therefore 
persisted in her work of conciliation ; and her efforts at 
last prevailed so far,, that, though Lady Pelham still 
protested implacability, she acknowledged that, as there 
was no necessity for her family feuds being known to the 
world, she was willing to appear upon decent terms with 
the Herberts ; and, for that purpose, would receive them 
for a few weeks at Walbourne. 

Of this opening, unpromising as it .ras, Laura instantly 
availed herself ; and wrote to convey the frozen invitation 
to her cousin, in the kindest language which she was per- 
mitted to use. It was instantly accepted ; and Mrs. Her- 
bert and her husband became the inmates of Walbourne. 

Mrs. Herbert had no resemblance to her mother. Her 
countenance was grave and thoughtful ; her manners 
uniformly cold and repulsive. Laura traced in her un- 
bending reserve, the apathy of one whose genial feelings 
had been blunted by early unkindness. Frank, high- 
spirited, and imprudent, Herbert was his wife's opposite ; 
and Laura had not been half an hour in his company, 
before she began to tremble for the effect of these qualities 
on the irascible temper of her aunt. But her alarm 
seemed causeless ; for the easy resoluteness with which he 
maintained his opinions, appeared to extort from Lady 
Pelham a sort of respect ; and, though she privately com- 
plained to Laura of what she called his assurance, she 
exempted him, while present, from her attacks, seeming 
afraid to exert upon him her skill in provoking. Laura 
began to perceive, that a termagant is not so untameable 
an animal as she had once imagined, since one glimpse of 
the master-spirit is of sovereign power to lay the lesser 
imps of spleen. 

But though Lady Pelham seemed afraid to measure her 
strength with spirits of kindred irascibility, she was under 
no restraint with Mrs. Herbert, upon whom she vented a 
degree of querulousness which appeared less like the ebulli- 
tions of ill temper, than the overflowings of settled malice. 
Every motion, every look, furnished matter of censure or 



SELF-CONTROL. 293 

of sarcasm. The placing of a book, the pronunciation of 
a word, the snuffing of a candle, called forth reprehension ; 
and Laura knew not whether to be most astonished at the 
ingenious malice which contrived to convert " trifles, light 
as air," into certain proofs of degeneracy, or at the apathy 
on which the venomed shaft fell harmless. Mrs. Herbert 
received all her mother's reprimands in silence, without 
moving a muscle, without announcing, by the slightest 
change of colour, that the sarcasm had reached further than 
her ear. If, as not unfrequently happened, the reproof 
extended into a harangue, Mrs. Herbert, unmoved, with- 
drew no part of her attention from her netting, and 
politely suppressed a yawn. 

These discourteous scenes were exhibited only in Mr. 
Herbert's absence ; his presence instantly suspended Lady 
Pelham's warfare; and Laura inferred that his wife never 
made him acquainted with her mother's behaviour. That 
behaviour formed an exception to the general unsteadiness 
of Lady Pelham ; for to Mrs. Herbert she was consistently 
cruel and insulting. Nothing could be more tormenting 
to the benevolent mind of Laura, than to witness this 
system of aggression ; and she repented having been 
instrumental in renewing an intercourse which could lead 
to no pleasing issue. 

But the issue was nearer than she expected. One day, 
in Herbert's absence, Lady Pelham began to discuss with 
his wife, or rather to her, the never- failing subject of her 
duplicity and disobedience. She was not interrupted by 
any expression of regret or repentance from the culprit, 
who maintained a stoical silence, labouring the while to 
convey mathematical precision to the crimping of a baby's 
cap, an employment upon which Lady Pelham seemed to 
look with peculiar abhorrence. From the turpitude of her 
daughter's conduct, she proceeded to its consequences. 
She knew no right, she said, that people had to encumber 
their relations with hosts of beggarly brats. She vowed 
that none such should ever receive her countenance or 
protection. Her rage kindled as she spoke. She inveighed 
against Mrs. Herbert's insensibility ; and at last talked 
herself into such a pitch of fury, as even to abuse her for 
u 3 



294 SELF-CONTROL. 

submitting to the company of one who could not conceal 
detestation of her ; a want of spirit which she directly 
attributed to the most interested views; views which, 
however, she absolutely swore that she would defeat. 

In the energy of her declamation, she did not perceive 
that Herbert had entered the room, and stood listening to 
her concluding sentences, with a face of angry astonish- 
ment. Advancing towards his wife, he indignantly en- 
quired into the meaning of the tumult. " Nothing," 
answered she, calmly surveying her handy- work ; <c only 
my mother is a little angry, but I have not spoken a word." 
He then turned for explanation to Lady Pelham, whom 
the flashing of his eye reduced to instantaneous quiet ; 
and, not finding, in her stammering abstract of the conver- 
sation, any apology for the insult which he had heard, he 
took his wife by the arm, and instantly left the house, 
giving orders that his baggage should follow him to a 
little inn in the neighbouring village. 

Thus did the insolence of one person, and the hasty 
spirit of another, undo what Laura had for months been 
labouring to effect. ' The Herberts never made any at- 
tempt at reconciliation, and Lady Pelham would never 
afterwards hear them mentioned, without breaking out 
into torrents of abuse, and even imprecation, which made 
Laura's blood run cold. Yet, with her usual inconsistency, 
Lady Pelham was vexed at the suspension of her inter- 
course with the Herberts ; because she thus lost even the 
shadow of power over her daughter. Not that she ac- 
knowledged this cause of regret. No ! she eloquently 
bewailed her hard fate, in being exposed to the censure of 
the world as at variance with her nearest relatives. She 
complained that, with a heart " warm as melting charity," 
she had no one to love or to cherish. Yet Laura could not 
always forbear smiling at the perverse direction of her 
aunt's regrets. Lady Pelham was angry, not that her 
own unkindness had driven her children from her, but that 
Laura's officious benevolence had brought them to her 
house ; a measure from which she was pleased to say that 
no person of common sense could have expected a different 
issue. 



SELF-CONTROL. 295 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



IF Lady Pelham repined at the desertion of the Herberts, 
it was not because their departure consigned her to soli- 
tude. Never had Walbourne attracted so many visiters. 
Lady Pelham's beautiful niece drew thither all the gentle- 
men of the neighbourhood. The ladies followed them of 
course. The beauty and modesty of Laura charmed the 
men,, while the women were half inclined to think it an 
unfounded slander that such a good-natured, obliging, 
neat-handed creature studied mathematics, and read Taci- 
tus in the original. 

Among the society to which she was introduced by 
Lady Pelham, and still more among that in which she 
mingled at Norwood, Laura met with persons of distin- 
guished ability, rank, and politeness. In such company 
she rapidly acquired that ease of address which alone was 
wanting to make her manners as fascinating as they were 
correct. She grew accustomed to find herself the object 
of attention, and though no habit could reconcile her to 
the gaze of numbers, she gradually learnt to carry into 
these lesser occasions, the self-command which distin- 
guished her in more important concerns. In real modesty 
and humility she improved every day ; for it was the 
study of her life to improve in them. She retained all 
the timidity which is the fruit of genuine sensibility and 
quick perception of impropriety, while she lost that bash- 
fulness which owes its growth to solitude and inexperience. 
Her personal charms, too, increased as they approached 
maturity. The symmetry of her form and features was 
indeed scarcely susceptible of improvement; but added 
gracefulness gave new attractions to her figure ; while the 
soul lent its improving strength and brightness to animate 
her face with charms which mere symmetry knows not. 
u 4 



296 SELF-CONTROL. 

With such qualifications Laura could not fail to excite 
admiration ; yet never perhaps did beauty so seldom listen 
to its own praises. It was labour lost to compliment one 
who never rewarded the flatterer with one smile of grati- 
fied vanity, or repaid him with one complaisant departure 
from the simple truth. To the every-day nothings of the 
common herd she listened with a weariness which polite- 
ness could sometimes scarcely repress. " Oh, would/' 
thought she, " that civil things, as they are called, re- 
quired no answer, or that one obliging gentleman would 
undertake the labour of replying to the rest !" If addressed 
in the language of common-place compliment by one whom 
she respected, her look of mortification intelligibly said, 
" Has then your penetration searched me deeper than I 
know myself, and detected in me the more than childish 
weakness of valuing myself on such distinctions as those 
you are praising ? " 

Laura had no personal vanity ; and therefore it required 
no effort to withstand such praise. She had more merit 
in the more strenuous but less successful exertions which 
she made to resist the silent flattery of the respectful 
glance that awaited her decision, besought her approbation, 
or reflected her sentiments. Sometimes she thought Mon- 
tague de Courcy an adept in this sort of flattery. But 
more frequently when it was administered by him, she 
forgot to call it by that name ; and she was the less upon 
her guard against his homage, because it was never offered 
in any more palpable form. 

Fortified by the advice of his mother, who had con- 
vinced him that a premature disclosure of his sentiments 
would be fatal to his hopes, and aware, that were he even 
successful with Laura, some further provision must be 
made for his sister, ere he could with justice increase the 
expense of his establishment, he acted with such caution 
as to baffle the penetration of common observers. The 
neighbouring tea-tables were rather inclined to consign his 
affections to a lively young heiress, whose estate had for- 
merly been dismembered from that of Norwood ; for he 
had flirted with her at a review, and danced with her at 
the county ball. Moreover, the charitable declared, " that 



SELF-CONTROL. 2Q 

if he was backward,, it was not for want of encouragement ; 
that miss allowed herself strange liberties ; though, to be 
sure, heiresses might do any thing." 

In spite of the lynx eye in detecting embryo passion, 
which is ascribed to the sex, Montague's secret was safe 
even from Laura herself; or if a momentary suspicion 
had glanced across her mind, she chid it away with self- 
accusations of vanity, and recollections of the ten thousand 
opportunities for a declaration which he had suffered to 
pass unimproved. Besides, Mrs. de Courcy had once 
hinted that Montague's little fits of melancholy and ab- 
sence were occasioned by his partiality for a lady whose 
affections were pre-engaged ; and Laura was sure that the 
hint could not refer to herself. Her humiliating secret, 
she was thankful, was safely lodged in her own breast, 
and could never be divulged to cover her with mortifi- 
cation. 

That which any effort of imagination can ascribe to the 
influence of Cupid, no woman ever attributed to any other 
power ; and if, at any time, a shade crossed the open 
countenance of Montague, Laura called to mind his mo- 
ther's hint, and added to her truly sisterly affection a pity 
which lent indescribable softness to her manners towards 
him. Indeed she always treated him with undisguised 
regard, and Montague tried to be satisfied. Yet he could 
not help longing to read, in some inadvertent glance, a 
proof that all the heart was not freely shown. In vain ! 
the heart was open as the day; and all was there that 
could delight the friend, but nothing that could satisfy 
the lover. 

He had, however, none of the temptations of jealousy to 
betray his secret, for his rivals were neither numerous nor 
formidable. Laura was known to have no fortune ; she had 
little talent for chitchat, and still less for flattery: thus, amid 
universal admiration and general good will, she had only 
two professed adorers one, who haunted her while present, 
toasted her when absent, and raved of her charms, both in 
prose and rhyme, without ever suffering his pretensions to 
become so serious as to afford her a pretext for seriously 
repulsing them the other, a prudent, elderly widower, 



298 SELF-CONTROL. 

who,, being possessed of a good fortune, and a full-grown 
daughter, thought himself entitled to consult his taste, 
without regard to pecuniary views, and conceived that 
Laura might be useful to the young lady in the double 
capacities of companion and example. Laura's answer to 
his proposals was a firm but gentle refusal, while she 
assured him, that she would not abuse his confidence, nor 
betray the trust which he had reposed in her. Elderly 
gentlemen are seldom inclined to publish a repulse. The 
widower never mentioned his even to Lady Pelham ; and 
Laura, on this occasion, owed to her principle an escape 
from many a tedious remonstrance, and many a covert 
attack. 

The summer had almost glided away, and Montague 
continued to fluctuate between hope and fear, his mother 
to cherish his hopes and allay his apprehensions, Laura to 
be tranquil, Harriet to be gay, and Lady Pelham to exhi- 
bit, by turns, every various degree of every various 
humour, when one morning Miss de Courcy, who had 
lately returned from a visit to a companion, accompanied 
her brother on horseback to Walbourne. Lady Pelham 
was, as usual, engaged in her garden, but the visiters had 
no sooner entered the room where Laura sat, than she ob- 
served that they seemed to have exchanged characters. 
Harriet looked almost thoughtful, while the countenance of 
De Courcy sparkled with unusual animation. He was gay 
even to restlessness. He offered to give Laura her lesson 
in mathematics ; and before it was half over, having com- 
pletely bewildered both himself and his pupil, he tossed 
away the book, declaring that he never in his life was so 
little fit for thinking. Pleasure spoke in every tone of his 
voice, or sported in his eye when he was silent. 

After a short visit, enlivened by a hilarity which Laura 
found more infectious than the gravity of Harriet, he pro- 
posed leaving his sister with her friend, while he rode on 
to call for a gentleman in the neighbourhood. " Begone, 
then," cried Laura gaily, " for I long to question Harriet 
what has given you such enviable spirits this morning." 
"Ah, she must not betray me," said De Courcy, half- 
smiling, half-sighing, (t or I forfeit my only chance of 



SELF-CONTROL. 

being remembered when I am out of sight. If she can be 
silent, curiosity may perhaps befriend me." " How very 
humble ! " cried Laura, " as if curiosity were the only 
name you could find for the interest I take in what makes 
you gay, or Harriet grave!" e< Dear Laura," said De 
Courcy, ardently, " give the cause what name you will, if 
you will but think of me." Then snatching her lily hands, 
he pressed them to his lips, and the next moment was 
gone. 

Confused, surprised, a little displeased, Laura stood si- 
lently revolving his behaviour. He had never before made 
the slightest approach to personal familiarity. Had her 
frankness invited the freedom ? (e Dear Laura I" It was 
the first time he had ever called her by any name less re- 
spectful than Miss Montreville. " Well, and what then 
it were mere prudery to be displeased at such a trifle. 
What," thought she, " can have delighted him so much ? 
Perhaps the lady is kind at last. He need not, however, 
have vented his transports upon me." And Laura was a 
little more angry than before. 

During her cogitation, Laura forgot that she might apply 
to her companion for a solution of the mystery ; perhaps 
she did not even recollect that Harriet was in the room, till 
happening to turn her head, she met a glance of sly inqui- 
sition, which, however, was instantly withdrawn. Harriet 
made no comment on the subject of her observation. 
<c The man is as much elated/' cried she, " as if I were 
five-and-forty, and had never had a lover before." 

" You, my dear Harriet," exclaimed Laura, suddenly 
recovering her good humour; "is it a conquest of yours 
which has pleased Mr. de Ccurcy so much ?" " Even so," 
returned Harriet ' ' Heigho ! " 

te I congratulate you : and yet it does not seem to 
delight you quite so much as it does your brother/' 

" Really, Laura, I am not sure whether it does or not ; 
so I am come to ask you." 

" Me ! Indeed you have too much confidence in my 
penetration; but you have, fortunately, abler, and more 
natural advisers. Your mother " 

" Oh, my mother is so cautious, so afraid of influencing 



300 SELF-CONTROL. 

me ! when to be influenced is the very thing I want. I do 
hate caution. Then I can't talk it over with her as I 
could with you. And then, there's Montague looks so pro- 
vokingly pleased; and yet he pretends to prim up his 
mouth, and say, ' Really it is a subject on which he nei- 
ther can or ought to give an opinion.' Pray, advise me, 
my dear." 

f( What ! before I know who the gentleman is ; when 
perhaps you have even no right to inform me ? " 

" Pshaw ! nonsense. It is Bolingbroke. But I believe 
you have never met with him." 

" So you would have me advise you to marry a man 
whom I have never seen ; for of course that is the advice 
you want. Had the balance lain on the other side, no ad- 
vice would have been thought necessary." 

" Poh," cried Harriet, pouting, " I don't want to be ad- 
vised to marry him." " Are you sure," returned Laura, 
smiling, cc that you know what you want." 

" Saucy girl ! I would have you tell me whether I am 
ever likely to marry him !" 

" Do you think I am by birth entitled to the second- 
sight, that I should foresee this before I know any thing of 
the gentleman's merits, or, what is of more consequence, of 
their rank in your estimation ? " 

" The man has good legs," said Harriet, plaiting the 
fingers of her glove with great industry. 

" Legs ! really, Harriet, I was in hopes I had for once 
found you serious." 

" So I am, my dear ; I never was so serious before, and 
hope I never shall again. Yet I don't know what to think ; 
so I shall just tell you honestly how the matter stands, and 
you shall think for me." 

" I will not promise that; but I own I have some 
curiosity to hear your honest confession." 

" Oh you need not peep so archly askance under these 
long eyelashes; I can stand a direct look, I assure you; 
for at this moment I have not the slightest preference in 
the world for Bolingbroke over half a score of others." 

" Then what room is there for hesitation ?" 

" Why, my dear, in the first place, he has a noble for- 



SELF-CONTROL. 301 

tune : though that goes for nothing with you ; secondly, 
he is really a good creature, and far from a fool ; then, to 
talk in your style, I have had advantages in observing his 
temper and dispositions such as I shall never have with 
any other man ; for his sister and I have heen companions 
from childhood, and I have lived under his roof for months : 
then, which will weigh with you more than all, he is Mon- 
tague's particular favourite." 

" Great, recommendations these, Harriet ; sufficient at 
least to bias any woman who intends to marry. I should 
like to know Mr. Bolingbroke." 

ee Here is his letter, my dear," said Harriet ; " it came 
enclosed in one to my brother. There is a good deal of 
the man's turn in it." 

Laura took the letter, and read as follows : 

(f I will not wrong your penetration so much as to sup- 
pose that this letter will surprise you, or that you will 
fail to anticipate the subject on the first glance at the sig- 
nature. Nor do I write to tell you, in the hackneyed 
phrase, that the happiness of my whole life depends upon 
you, because, next to your affection, nothing is so de- 
sirable to me as your esteem, and the hope, that, though 
you should reject my suit, you will continue to respect 
my understanding. But I may with truth declare, that I 
prefer you to all women; that I love you not only in 
spite of your faults, but, perhaps, even the more for them ; 
and that, to forfeit the hope of your affection, would 
dispel many a long cherished vision of domestic peace, 
and even some lighter dreams of rapture. Dearest Har- 
riet, do not, in return for this confession, write me a cold 
profession of esteem. I know already that you esteem 
me, for you have long known me possessed of qualities 
which inevitably engage esteem ; but I am conscious of 
a deficiency in those which excite passion, and I dread 
that I may never awaken sentiments like those I feel. 
Yet it is no small compliment which I offer, when I sup- 
pose you superior to the attractions which captivate the 
vulgar of your sex ; and you may value it the more, be- 
cause it is perhaps the only one I shall ever pay you. 



302 SELF-CONTROL. 

" To say all this, or something like it, has long been in 
my thoughts : and, during your late visit to my sister, 
occupied them more than I shall own ; but a dread of I 
know not what, forced me to let you depart without offer- 
ing to your acceptance all that I have to offer. I felt a 
certainty that I was not yet beloved, and I believe I 
feared that you, in your lively way, (so I must call it, 
since no epithet which implies reproof must flow from a 
lover's pen,) would give utterance to the feeling of the 
moment, and bid me think of you no more. Is it pre- 
sumption to say, that I hope more from a more considerate 
decision? Ask your own heart, then, dear Miss de 
Courcy, whether time and the assiduities of respectful love 
can beguile you of such tenderness as is due to a confiding, 
affectionate husband. Ask yourself, whether you can ever 
return my warm attachment to such a degree as will make 
the duties of a wife easy and pleasant to you. I need not 
assure you that I am not the selfish wretch who could find 
joy in receiving those which were painfully and reluctantly 
performed. Be candid with yourself then I adjure you. 
Fear not that I shall persecute you with importunity or 
complaint. If it must be so, I will see you no more for 
some months ; and, at the end of that time, I shall expect, 
in reward of my self-conquest, to be received with cordi- 
ality as your brother's friend. If your sentence be against 
me, save yourself the pain of telling me so; for I know 
that it must be painful to you. Yet judge of the strength 
of that regard which is thus anxious to shield you from 
uneasiness, at the moment when it anticipates such pain 
from your hands. If you can give me hope, (and, observe, 
when I say hope, I do not mean certainty,) do not tax 
your delicacy for studied phrases of acceptance, but write 
me even a common card of invitation to Norwood, and the 
tenderest billet that ever was penned by woman never gave 
more pleasure than it will bring to your very affectionate 
and obedient servant, 

" EDWARD BOLINGBROKE." 

Laura could not help smiling at the composed style of 
this epistle, so different from the only ones of its kind with 



SELF-CONTROL. 303 

which she was conversant. A lover confess that his mis- 
tress had faults, and that he was sensible of them in- 
sinuate that he expected not only duty, but willing and 
graceful duty from his wife ! have the boldness to expect 
that, if his passion were unsuccessful, he should quickly 
be able to conquer it ! Laura felt no inclination to envy 
her friend a lover so fully in the.exercise of his judgment 
and foresight ; but she was pleased with the plain honest 
rationality of the letter; and, with the materials before 
her, immediately busied her imagination in its favourite 
work of sketching and adorning character. 

She was recalled from her meditation by another petition 
for advice. " You see," said Harriet, " he pretends not 
to expect certainty ; but it is much the same whether one 
run one's neck into the noose, or get entangled so that 
one can't decently get off. If I could creditably contrive 
to keep him dangling till I had made up my mind," con- 
tinued she, illustrating the metaphor with her watch-chain. 
" Do assist me, my dear ; I am sure you have managed a 
dozen of them in your time." 

" My experience is not so extensive," replied Laura, 
" and I can really assist you to no creditable method of 
trifling." 

" You would not have me resolve to marry a man whom 
I don't care a farthing for ?" 

" No, indeed ! but I think Mr. Bolingbroke would have 
a right to complain, if you gave hopes which you did not 
fulfil." 

" You would have me dismiss him at once then ?" 

" By no means ; but I would have you think for your- 
self on a subject of which no other person can judge ; 
and remember, my dear, that, as your decision has neither 
been wrested from you by surprise, nor seduced from you 
by persuasion, you have no excuse for forming a weak or 
wavering resolution." 

Determined that on such a subject she would deliver no 
opinion, Laura was relieved from some embarrassment by 
the return of De Courcy. His reflections during his ride 
had effectually quelled the exuberance of his spirits, and 
he endeavoured to repair his unguardedness by distant 



304 SELF-CONTROL. 

civility. His manner increased the feeling of restraint of 
which Laura could not at that time divest herself; and 
after a short and constrained sequel to a visit which had 
begun so differently,, Montague hurried his sister away. 

" I shall never conquer her indifference/' said he to his 
mother, after relating the folly of the morning. " Had 
you seen her frozen look of displeasure, you would have 
been convinced." " And how,, my dear Montague, could 
you expect Miss Montreville to receive such freedom ? 
like a little village coquette, gasping at the prospect of a 
first lover ? If you are convinced that your secret would 
still be heard without pleasure, you must redouble your 
caution to preserve it. But suffer me to warn you against 
the extreme of reserve into which I have sometimes ob- 
served that you are apt to fall. It can only confirm sus- 
picions if they are excited ; if not, it will disgust by an 
appearance of caprice/' 

Montague promised to be guarded ; and withdrew to 
seek in his laboratory a refuge from despondence. Those 
who pursue worldly gains and vulgar pleasures, must 
cheerlessly toil on, waiting for their reward till their end 
be attained ; but the pursuits of science and of virtue have 
this advantage peculiar to themselves, that there is reward 
in the labour, even though the success be only partial ; 
and, in half an hour, all Montague's cares were absorbed 
in the muriatic acid. In a few days he again saw Laura, 
and her sunny smile of welcome revived hopes which she 
little thought of fulfilling. 

When a woman of ordinary delicacy is brought to 
hesitate upon the proposal of a lover, it is easy, provided 
prudence be on his side, to conjecture how the balance 
will turn. Mr. Bolingbroke received his card of invitation 
to Norwood ; and his suit advanced prosperously, though 
slowly. He was a plain unpretending man, seven years at 
least beyond excuse for any youthful indiscretion ; ha- 
bitually silent, though sure of commanding attention when 
he spoke. The perfect fairness and integrity of his mind 
had secured him the respect of all his acquaintance in a 
degree which he appeared to have precisely estimated ; 
and he never seemed to expect less or to exact more. His 



SELF-CONTROL. 



305 



calm, unobtrusive manners never captivated a stranger, 
nor gave offence to an intimate. He was kind and ge- 
nerous to a sister, who, twenty years before, had succeeded 
as his play-thing to tops and marbles; and uniformly 
respectful to a maiden aunt, who had, about the same 
date, replaced his mother as directress of the family. 

His father had long been dead, and in consequence of 
his steady resistance of all the batteries of charms opened 
against him, or rather against his 7000/. a year, the ladies 
had begun to shake their heads, and pronounce him a 
determined bachelor. But, notwithstanding their decision, 
Mr. Bolingbroke was resolved to marry, for he considered 
marriage as one of the duties of his station. 

Harriet amused, became customary, pleasing, necessary 
to him. " Our dissimilarity will assist us to correct each 
other's failings," thought he, and his choice was fixed. He 
was aware that a grave elderly man might find some 
difficulty in attaching a volatile girl ; and though he 
could not condescend to flatter even his mistress, he was 
assiduous to please. He bestowed an infinity of little 
attentions, which were the more gratifying, because, from 
a man of his temper, they were wholly unexpected. His 
books, his horses, his carriages, waited but a half- expressed 
wish. He planned little excursions and parties of plea- 
sure, or contrived to add some agreeable surprise to those 
which were proposed by others. Far from showing any 
paltry jealousy, he treated Miss de Courcy's favourites of 
both sexes with distinguished politeness ; and perhaps he 
owed his success with a heart which had withstood more 
attractive admirers, partly to the agreeable associations 
which he found means to raise, partly to vanity pleased 
with power over the philosophic Mr. Bolingbroke. 

Montague watched the progress of his friend with keen 
interest, but he conscientiously avoided influencing Har- 
riet's decision. On the contrary, lest the dread of future 
dependence should weigh with her, he informed her, that 
should she prefer a single life, or should other circumstances 
render such a sum important to her, he was determined to 
double the little fortune he had already given. 

While he was anxious to see his sister's happiness se- 
x 



306 



SELF-CONTROL* 



cured by her union with an estimable man, he felt that her 
marriage with Mr. Bolingbroke would immediately remove 
one grand obstacle to his own wishes ; for the little dower 
which he was determined, ere he settled in life, to save for 
Harriet, would form an addition altogether insignificant 
to the splendid settlement which was now in her power. 
There was nothing Quixotic in the justice and generosity 
of De Courcy, and he had no intention of incurring real 
difficulty and privation for the sake of adding a trifle to 
the stores of affluence. He therefore considered his sis- 
ter's marriage as leaving him at full liberty to pursue his 
inclinations with regard to Laura, if the time should ever 
arrive when he could declare them without hazarding the 
forfeiture of even his present stinted measure of favour. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

ONE day Miss de Courcy expressed a wish to show Laura 
the collection of paintings at a celebrated seat in the neigh- 
bourhood. Mr. Bolingbroke immediately undertook to 
procure the permission of the noble owner, who was his 
relation ; and the party was speedily arranged. Mrs. Pe- 
nelope's sociable, as Mr. Bolingbroke always called it, was 
to convey his aunt, his sister, Harriet, and Mrs. de Courcy, 
to whom the genial warmth of the season had partially 
restored the use of her limbs. Mrs. Penelope piqued her- 
self upon rising with the lark, and enforcing the same 
wholesome habit upon the whole household ; the Boling- 
brokes were, therefore, to take an early breakfast at Nor- 
wood, and then proceed on their excursion. De Courcy 
and Mr. Bolingbroke were to ride. Lady Pelham and 
Laura were to join the party in the grounds. 

The weather proved delightful; and, after spending 
some hours in examining the paintings, in which Laura 
derived additional pleasure from the skilful comments of 
De Courcy, the party proceeded to view the grounds, 
when she, with almost equal delight, contemplated a 



SELF-CONTROL. 30f 

finished specimen of modern landscape-gardening. Pur- 
suing, as usual, his cautious plan, Montague divided his 
attentions pretty equally between the elder ladies and Miss 
Bolingbroke, bestowing the least part upon her for whom 
he would willingly have reserved all; while Harriet, in 
good humour with herself, and with all around her, frankly 
gave her arm to her lover ; and sometimes laughing, some- 
times blushing, suffered herself to loiter, to incline her 
head in listening to somewhat said in a half-whisper, and 
to answer it in an under tone ; without recollecting that 
she had resolved, till she had quite made up her mind, to 
restrain her habitual propensity to flirting. 

De Courcy was certainly above the meanness of envy, 
yet he could not suppress a sigh as, with Mrs. Penelope 
and his mother leaning on his arms, while Laura walked 
behind with Miss Bolingbroke, he followed Harriet and his 
friend into the darkened path which led to a hermitage. 
The walk was shaded by yew, cypress, and other trees of 
dusky foliage, which, closing into an arch, excluded the 
gaudy sunshine. As they proceeded, the shade deepened 
into twilight, and the heats of noon gave place to refresh- 
ing coolness. The path terminated in a porch of wicker- 
work, forming the entrance to the hermitage, the walls of 
which were composed of the roots of trees, on the outside 
rugged as from the hand of nature, but within polished 
and fancifully adorned with shells and fossils. Opposite 
to the entrance, a rude curtain of leopard skin seemed to 
cover a recess ; and Harriet, hastily drawing it aside, gave 
to view a prospect gay with every variety of cheerful 
beauty. The meadows, lately cleared from their burden, 
displayed a vivid green, and light shadows quickly passed 
over them and were gone. The corn fields were busy 
with the first labours of the harvest. The village spires 
were thickly sown in the distance. More near, a rapid 
river flashed bright to the sun ; yet the blaze came chas- 
tened to the eye, for it entered through an awning close 
hung with the graceful tendrils of the passion-flower. 

The party were not soon weary of so lovely a landscape, 
and returning to the more shady apartment, found an ele- 
gant collation of fruits and ices, supplied by the gallantry 
x 2 



SOS SELF-CONTROL. 

of Mr. Bolingbroke. Never was there a more cheerful 
repast. Lady Pelham was luckily in good humour,, and 
therefore condescended to permit others to be so too. 
Laura, happily for herself, possessed a faculty not common 
to beauties she could be contented where another was 
the chief object of attention ; and she was actually enjoy- 
ing the court that was paid to her friend,, when, acciden- 
tally raising the vine leaf which held the fruit she was 
eating, she observed some verses pencilled on the rustic 
table in a hand-writing familiar to her recollection. 

Sudden instinct made her hastily replace the leaf, and 
steal a glance to see whether any other eye had followed 
Mers. No one seemed to have noticed her ; but Laura's 
gaiety had vanished. The lines were distinct, as if re- 
cently traced ; and Laura's blood ran chill at the thought, 
that, had she even a few hours sooner visited this spot, she 
might have met Colonel Hargrave. " He may still be 
near," thought she ; and she wished, though she could not 
propose, to be instantly gone. None of her companions, 
however, seemed inclined to move. They continued their 
merriment, while Laura, her mind wholly occupied with 
one subject, again stole a glimpse of the writing. It was 
undoubtedly Hargrave's ; and, deaf to all that was passing 
around her, she fell into a reverie which was first inter- 
rupted by the company rising to depart. 

Though she had been in such haste to be gone, she was 
now the last to go. In her momentary glance at the sonnet, 
she had observed that it was inscribed to her. " Of what 
possible consequence," thought she, " can it be to me ? " 
yet she lingered behind to read it. In language half pas- 
sionate, half melancholy, it complained of the pains of 
absence and the cruelty of too rigid virtue ; but it broke 
off abruptly, as if the writer had been suddenly inter- 
rupted. 

So rapidly did Laura glance over the lines, that her 
companions had advanced but a few paces, ere she was 
hastening to follow them. On reaching the porch, she 
saw that the walk was just entered by two gentlemen. An 
instant convinced her that one of them was Hargrave. 
Neither shriek nor exclamation announced this disco- 



SELF-CONTROL. 309 

very, but Laura, turning pale, shrunk back out of view. 
Her first feeling was eager desire of escape; her first 
thought, that, returning to the inner apartment, she might 
thence spring from the lofty terrace, on the verge of which 
the hermitage was reared. She was deterred, by recol- 
lecting the absurd appearance of such an escape, and the 
surprise and confusion which it would occasion. But 
what was to be done ? There was no third way of leav- 
ing the place where she stood, and if she remained, in a 
few moments Hargrave would be there. 

These ideas darted so confusedly through her mind, that 
it seemed rather by instinct than design, that she drew her 
hat over her face, and doubled her veil in order to'pass him 
unnoticed. She again advanced to the porch ; but per- 
ceived, not without consternation, that Hargrave had 
joined her party, and stood talking to Lady Pelham in an 
attitude of easy cordiality. Laura did not comment upon 
the free morality which accorded such a reception to such 
a character ; for she was sick at heart, and trembled in 
every limb. Now there was no escape. He would cer- 
tainly accost her, and she must answer him answer 
him without emotion ! or how would Mr. de Courcy 
how would his mother construe her weakness ! What 
would Hargrave himself infer from it ! What, but that 
her coldness sprung from mere passing anger ! or, more de- 
grading still, from jealousy ! The truant crimson now 
rushed back unbidden ; and Laura proceeded with slow 
but steady steps. 

During her short walk she continued to struggle with 
herself. ff Let me but this once command my self," said 
she ; (C and wherefore should I not ? It is he who ought 
to shrink. It is he who ought to tremble." Yet it was 
Laura who trembled, when, advancing towards her, Lady 
Pelham introduced her to Colonel Hargrave as her niece. 
Laura's inclination of the head, cold as indifference could 
make it, did not seem to acknowledge former intimacy ; 
and when Hargrave, with a manner respectful even to 
timidity, claimed her acquaintance, she gave a short answer 
of frozen civility, and turned away. Shrinking from even 
the slightest converse with him, she hastily passed on; 
x 3 



310 SELF-CONTROL. 

then determined to afford him no opportunity of speaking 
to her, she glided in between Mrs. de Courcy, who stood 
anxiously watching her, and Harriet, who was studying 
the contour of Hargrave's face ; and offering an arm to 
each, she gently drew them forward. 

Mr. Bolingbroke immediately joined them, and entered 
into conversation with Harriet ; while Mrs. de Courcy 
continued to read the legible countenance of Laura, who 
silently walked on, revolving in her mind the difference 
between this and her last unexpected meeting with Har- 
grave. The freedom of his address to the unfriended girl 
who was endeavouring to exchange the labour of her hands 
for a pittance to support existence (a freedom which had 
once found sympathetic excuse in the breast of Laura), 
she now, not without indignation, contrasted with the re- 
spect offered to Lady Pelham's niece, surrounded by the 
rich and the respectable. Yet while she remembered what 
had then been her half-affected coldness, her ill-restrained 
sensibility, and compared them with the total alienation of 
heart which she now experienced, she could not stifle a 
sigh which rose at the recollection, that in her the raptures 
of love and joy were chilled never more to warm. " Would 
that my preference had been more justly directed," thought 
she, her eye unconsciously wandering to De Courcy ; " but 
that is all over now." 

From idle regrets, Laura soon turned to more character- 
istic meditation upon the conduct which it was most suit- 
able for her to pursue. Hargrave had joined her party; 
had been acknowledged, by some of them at least, as an 
acquaintance; and had particularly attached himself to 
Lady Pelham, with whom he followed in close conversation. 
Laura thought he would probably take the first opportunity 
of addressing himself to her ; and if her manner towards 
him corresponded with the bent of her feelings, conscious- 
ness made her fear, that in her distance and constraint 
Lady Pelham's already suspicious eye would read more 
than merely dislike to a vicious character. Hargrave him- 
self, too, might mistake what so nearly resembled her former 
manner for the veil of her former sentiments. She might 
possibly escape speaking to him for the present, but if he 



SELF-CONTROL. 31 1 

was fixed in the neighbourhood (and something of the 
woman whispered that he would not leave it immediately), 
they would probably meet where to avoid him was not in 
her power. After some minutes of close consideration, she 
concluded, that to treat Colonel Hargrave with easy civil 
indifference best accorded with what she owed to her own 
dignity ; and was best calculated^ if he retained one spark 
of sensibility or discernment, to convince him that her 
sentiments had undergone an irrevocable change. This 
method, therefore, she determined to pursue ; making, 
with a sigh, this grand proviso, that she should find it 
practicable. 

Mrs. de Courcy, who guessed the current of her thoughts, 
suffered it to proceed without interruption ; and it was not 
till Laura relaxed her brow, and raised her head, like one 
who has taken his resolution, that her companion, stopping, 
complained of fatigue ; proposing, as her own carriage was 
not in waiting, to borrow Lady Pelham's, and return home, 
leaving the other ladies to be conveyed in Mrs. Penelope's 
sociable to Norwood, where the party was to dine. Not 
willing to direct the proposal to Laura, upon whose account 
chiefly it was made, she turned to Mrs. Penelope, and en- 
quired whether she did not feel tired with her walk ; but 
that lady, who piqued herself upon being a hale, active 
woman of her age, declared herself able for much greater 
exertion, and said she would walk till she had secured an 
appetite for dinner. Laura, who had modestly held back 
till Mrs. Penelope's decision was announced, now eagerly 
offered her attendance, which Mrs. de Courcy, with a little 
dissembled hesitation, accepted, smiling to perceive how 
well she had divined her young favourite's inclinations. 

The whole party attended them to the spot where the 
carriages were waiting. On reaching them, Mr. Boling- 
broke, handing in Mrs. de Courcy, left Laura's side for the 
first time free to Hargrave, who instantly occupied it ; 
while Montague, the drops standing on his forehead, found 
himself shackled between Mrs. Penelope and Miss Boling- 
broke. " Ever dear, ever revered Miss Montreville" . 
Hargrave began in an insinuating whisper. " Sir ! " cried 
Laura, starting with indignant surprise. " Nay, start not/' 



312 SELF-CONTROL. 

continued he in an under- voice : " I have much, much to 
say. Lady Pelham allows me to visit Walbourne ; will 

you permit me to " Laura had not yet studied her 

lesson of easy civility, and therefore the courtesy of a slight 
inclination of the head was contradicted by the tone in 
which she interrupted him, saying, " I never presume, sir, 
to select Lady Pelham's visiters." 

She had reached the door of the carriage, and Hargrave 
took her hand to assist her in entering. Had Laura been 
prepared, she would have suffered him, though reluctantly, 
to do her this little service ; but he took her unawares, and 
snatching back her hand as from the touch of a loathsome 
reptile, she sprang unassisted into her seat. 

As the carriage drove off, Mrs. de Courcy again apolo- 
gised for separating Laura from her companions : " though 
I know not," added she, "whether I should not rather 
take credit for withdrawing you from such dangerous so- 
ciety. All ladies who have stray hearts must guard them 
either in person or by proxy, since this formidable Colonel 
Hargrave has come among us." l( He has fortunately 
placed the more respectable part of us in perfect security," 
returned Laura, with a smile and voice of such unembar- 
rassed simplicity as fully satisfied her examiner. 

Had Laura spent a lifetime in studying to give pain, 
which, indeed, was not in all her thoughts, she could not 
have inflicted a sharper sting on the proud heart of Har- 
grave, than by the involuntary look and gesture with which 
she quitted him. The idea of inspiring with disgust, un- 
mixed, irresistible disgust, the woman upon whose affections, 
or rather upon whose passions, he had laboured so zealously 
and so long, had ever been more than he could bear, even 
when the expression of her dislike had no witness ; but 
now she had published it to chattering misses, and prying 
old maids, and more favoured rivals. Hargrave bit his 
lip till the blood came ; and, if the lightning of the eye 
could scathe, his wrath had been far more deadly to others. 

After walking for some minutes surly and apart, he be- 
gan to comfort himself with the hopes of future revenge. 
" She had loved him, passionately loved him, and he was 
certain she could not be so utterly changed. Her behaviour 



SELF-CONTROL. 313 

was either all affectation., or a conceit of the strength of 
her own mind, which all these clever women were so vain 
of. But the spark still lurked somewhere, whatever she 
might imagine, and if he could turn her own weapons 
against herself." Then, recollecting that he had resolved 
to cultivate Lady Pelham's favour, he resumed his station 
by her side, and was again the courtly, insinuating Colonel 
Hargrave. 

Hargrave had lately acquired a friend, or rather an ad- 
viser (the dissolute have no friends), who was admirably 
calculated to supply the deficiences of his character, as a 
man of pleasure. Indeed, except in so far as pleasure was 
his constant aim, no term could, with less justice, have 
been applied to Hargrave ; for his life was chiefly divided 
between the goadings of temptations to which he himself 
lent arms, and the pangs of self-reproach which he could 
not exclude, and would not render useful. The strait and 
narrow way he never had a settled purpose of treading, but 
his wanderings were more frequent than he intended, his 
returns more lingering. The very strength of his passions 
made him incapable of deep or persevering deceit ; he was 
humane to the suffering which pressed itself on his notice, 
if it came at a convenient season ; and he was disinterested, 
if neglect of gold deserve the name. Lambert, his new ad- 
viser, had no passions, no humanity, no neglect of gold. 
He was a gamester. 

The practice of this profession, for, though a man of 
family and fortune, he made it a profession, had rendered 
him skilful to discern, and remorseless to use the weakness 

of his fellow-creatures. His estate lay contiguous to , 

the little town where Hargrave had been quartered when 
he visited at Norwood ; but the year which Hargrave passed 

at was spent by Lambert almost entirely in London. 

He had returned, however, to the country, had been intro- 
duced to Hargrave, and had just fixed upon him as an easy 
prey, when the soldier was saved for a time, by receiving 
intimation of his promotion, and orders to join his regiment 
in a distant county. 

They met again in evil hour, just when Hargrave had 
half determined to abandon as fruitless his search after 



SI 4- SELF-CONTROL. 

Laura. The necessity of a stimulant was as strong as ever. 
Another necessity too was strong, for 10,0007. of damages 
had been awarded to Lord Bellamer ; Hargrave could not 
easily raise the money, and Lord Lincourt refused to ad- 
vance a shilling. " A pretty expensive pleasure has this 
Lady Bellamer been to me," said Hargrave, bestowing on 
her Ladyship a coarse enough epithet ; for even fine gen- 
tlemen will sometimes call women what they have found 
them to be. He was prevailed on to try the gaming-table 
for the supply of both his wants, and found that pleasure 
fully twice as expensive. His friend introduced him to 
some of those accommodating gentlemen who lend money 
at illegal interest, and was even generous enough to supply 
him when they would venture no more upon an estate in 
reversion. Lambert had accidentally heard of the phoenix 
which had appeared at Walbourne ; and, on comparing the 
description he received of her with that to which, with politic 
patience, he had often listened, he had no doubt of having 
found the object of Hargrave's search. But, as it did not 
suit his present views that the lover should renew the pur- 
suit, he dropt not a hint of his discovery, listening, with a 
gamester's insensibility, to the regrets which burst forth 
amidst the struggles of expiring virtue, for her whose 
soft influence would have led to peace and honour. 

At last a dispute arising between the worthy Mr. 
Lambert and his respectable coadjutors, as to the partition 
of the spoil, it occurred to him that he could more effec- 
tually monopolise his prey in the country ; and thither 
accordingly he was called by pressing business. There he 
was presently so fortunate as to discover a Miss Montre- 
ville, on whose charms he descanted in a letter to Har- 
grave in such terms, that, though he averred she could 
not be Hargrave's Miss Montreville, Hargrave was sure she 
could be no other ; and, as his informer expected, arrived 

in shire as soon as a chaise and four could convey 

him thither. 

Lambert had now a difficult game to play, for he had 
roused the leading passion, and the collateral one could act 
but feebly. But they who often tread the crooked path 
find pleasure in its intricacy, vainly conceiting that it gives 



SELF-CONTROL. 315 

proof of their sagacity ; and Lambert looked with pleasure 
on the obstacles in his way. He trusted, that while the 
master-spirit detained Hargrave within the circle of Wai- 
bourne, he might dexterously practise with the lesser imp 
of evil. 

Had his letter afforded a clue to Laura's residence, Har- 
grave would have flown direct to Walbourne, but he was 
first obliged to stop at ; and Lambert, with some dif- 
ficulty, persuaded him, that, as he was but slightly known 
to Lady Pelham, and probably in disgrace with her protegee, 
it would be more politic to delay his visit, and first meet 

them at Lord 's, whither he had information that 

they were to go on the following day. " You will take 
your girl at unawares," said he, " if she be your girl ; and 
that is no bad way of feeling your ground." The vanity 
of extorting from Laura's surprise some unequivocal token 
of his power, prevailed on the lover to delay the interview 
till the morning -, and, after spending half the evening in 
dwelling on the circumstances of his last unexpected meet- 
ing with her, which distance softened in his imagination to 
more than its actual tenderness, he early in the morning 

set out with Lambert for , where he took post in the 

hermitage, as a place which no stranger omitted to visit. 

Growing weary of waiting, he despatched Lambert as a 
scout ; and, lest he should miss Laura, remained himself in 
the hermitage, till his emissary brought him information 
that the party were in the picture-gallery. Thither he 
hastened; but the party had already left the house, and 
thus Laura had accidental warning of his approach. No 
reception could have been more mortifying to him, who 
was prepared to support her sinking under the struggle of 
love and duty, of jealousy and pride. No struggle was vi- 
sible ; or, if there was, it was but a faint strife between 
native courtesy and strong dislike. He had boasted to 
Lambert of her tenderness ; the specimen certainly was 
not flattering. Most of her companions were little more 
gracious. De Courcy paid him no more attention than 
bare civility required. With the Bolingbrokes he was 
unacquainted, but the character of his companion was suf- 
ficient reason for their reserve. Lady Pelham was the 



316 



SELF-CONTROL. 



only person present who soothed his wounded vanity. 
Pleased with the prospect of unravelling the mystery into 
which she had pried so long in vain, charmed with the 
easy gallantry and adroit flattery of which Hargrave, in 
his cooler moments, was consummate master, she accepted 
his attentions with great cordiality ; while he had the ad- 
dress tacitly to persuade her that they were a tribute to her 
powers of entertaining. 

Before they parted, she had converted her permission to 
visit Walbourne into a pressing invitation, nay, had even 
hinted to De Courcy the propriety of asking Colonel Har- 
grave to join the dinner-party that day at Nor wood. The hint, 
however, was not taken ; and therefore, in her way home, 
Lady Pelham indulged her fellow-travellers with sundry 
moral and ingenious reflections concerning the folly of 
being " righteous over much ; " and on the alluring access- 
ible form of the true virtue, contrasted with the repulsive, 
bristly, hedgehog-like make of the false. Indeed, it must 
be owned, that for the rest of the evening her Ladyship's 
conversation was rather sententious than agreeable; but 
the rest of the party, in high good humour, overlooked her 
attacks, or parried them in play. 

Montague had watched the cold composure of Laura on 
Hargrave's first accosting her, and seen the gesture which 
repulsed him at parting ; and though in the accompanying 
look he lost volumes, his conclusions, on the whole, were 
favourable. Still a doubt arose, whether her manner 
sprung not from the fleeting resentment of affection ; and he 
was standing mournfully calculating the effects of Hargrave's 
perseverance, when his mother, in passing him as she fol- 
lowed her guests to the eating-room, said, in an empha- 
tical whisper, " I am satisfied. There is no worm in the 
bud." 

Mrs. de Courcy 's encouraging assertion was confirmed 
by the behaviour of Laura herself; for she maintained her 
usual serene cheerfulness ; nor could even the eye of love 
detect more than one short fit of abstraction ; and then the 
subject of thought seemed any thing rather than pleasing 
retrospect, or glad anticipation. The company of his 
friends, Harriet's pointedly favourable reception of Mr. 



SELF-CONTROL. 317 

Bolingbroke's assiduities, and the rise of his own hopes, all 
enlivened Montague to unusual vivacity, and led him to a 
deed of daring which he had often projected, without find- 
ing courage to perform it. He thought, if he could 
speak of Hargrave to Laura, and watch her voice, her eye, 
her complexion, all his doubts would he solved. With 
this view, contriving to draw her a little apart, he ven- 
tured, for the first time, to name his rival ; mentioned Lady 
Pelham's hint ; and, faltering, asked Laura whether he 
had not done wrong in resisting it. 

' ' Really," answered Laura, with a very na'ive smile, and 
a very faint blush, " I don't wonder you hesitate in offer- 
ing jne such a piece of flattery as to ask my opinion." 

te Do not tax me with flattering you," said De Courcy, 
earnestly ; " I would as soon flatter an apostle ; but tell 
me candidly what you think." 

ec Then, candidly," said Laura, raising her mild unem- 
barrassed eye to his, " I think you did right, perfectly 
right, in refusing your countenance to a person of Colonel 
Hargrave's character. While vice is making her encroach- 
ments on every hand, it is not for the friends of virtue to 
remove the ancient landmarks." 

Though this was one of the stalest pieces of morality 
that ever Montague had heard Laura utter, he could 
scarcely refrain from repaying it by clasping her to his 
heart. Convinced that her affections were free, he could 
not contain his rapture, but exclaimed, " Laura, you are 
an angel ! and, if I did not already love beyond all power 

of expression, I should be " He raised his eyes to seek 

those of Laura, and met his mother's, fixed on him with an 
expression which compelled him to silence. " You 
should be in love with me," said Laura, laughing, and 
filling up the sentence as she imagined it was meant to 
conclude. " Well, I shall be content with the second 
place." 

Mrs. de Courcy, who had approached them, now spoke 
on some indifferent subject, and saved her son from a very 
awkward attempt at explanation. She drew her chair close 
to Laura, and soon engaged her in a conversation so ani- 
mated, that Montague forgot his embarrassment, and joined 



318 



SELF-CONTROL. 



them with all his natural ease and cheerfulness. The in- 
fection of his ease and cheerfulness Laura had ever found 
irresistible. Flashes of wit and genius followed the col- 
lision of their minds; and the unstudied eloquence, the 
poetic imagery of her style, sprung forth at his touch, like 
blossoms in the steps of the fabled Flora. 

Happy with her friends, Laura almost forgot the dis- 
agreeable adventure of the morning ; and every look and 
word mutually bestowing pleasure, the little party were as 
happy as affection and esteem could make them, when 
Lady Pelham, with an aspect like a sea fog, and a voice 
suitably forbidding, enquired whether her niece would be 
pleased to go home, or whether she preferred sitting chat- 
tering there all night. Laura, without any sign of noticing 
the rudeness of this address, rose, and said she was quite 
ready to attend her Ladyship. In vain did the De Courcys 
entreat her to prolong her visit till the morning. To dare 
to be happy without her concurrence, was treason against 
Lady Pelham's dignity ; and unfortunately she was not in 
a humour to concur in the joy of any living thing. De 
Courcy's reserve towards her new favourite she considered 
as a tacit reproof of her own cordiality ; and she had just 
such a conviction that the reproof was deserved, as to make 
her thoroughly out of humour with the reprover, with 
herself, and consequently with every body. Determined to 
interrupt pleasure which she would not share, the more 
her hosts pressed her stay, the more she hastened her de- 
parture ; and she mingled her indifferent good nights to 
them with more energetic reprimands to the tardiness of 
her coachman. 

" Thank heaven," said she, thrusting herself into the 
corner of her carriage with that jerk in her motion which 
indicates a certain degree of irritation, f( to-morrow we 
shall probably see a civilised being." A short pause fol- 
lowed. Laura's plain integrity and prudence had gained 
such ascendency over Lady Pelham, that her niece's opi- 
nion was to her Ladyship a kind of second conscience, 
having, indeed, much the same powers as the first its 
sanction was necessary to her quiet, though it had not force 
to control her actions. On the present occasion, she wished 



SELF-CONTROL. Q 

above all things to know Laura's sentiments; but she 
would not condescend to ask them directly. <e Colonel 
Hargrave's manners are quite those of a gentleman/' she 
resumed. The remark was entirely ineffectual ; for Laura 
coolly assented, without enquiring whether he were the 
civilised being whom Lady Pelham expected to see. An- 
other pause. (i Colonel Hargrave will be at Walbourne 
to-morrow/' said Lady Pelham, the tone of her voice 
sharpening with impatience. " Will he, ma'am ? " re- 
turned Laura without moving a muscle. " If Miss Mon- 
treville has no objections," said Lady Pelham, converting, 
by a toss of her head and a twist of her upper lip, the 
words of compliment into an insult. " Probably," said 
Laura, with a smile, " my objections would make no great 
difference." " Oh, to be sure !" returned Lady Pelham, 
" it would be lost labour to state them to such an obsti- 
nate, unreasonable person as I am ! Well, I believe you 
are the first who ever accused me of obstinacy." If Lady 
Pelham expected a compliment to her pliability, she was 
disappointed ; for Laura only answered, " I shall never 
presume to interfere in the choice of your Ladyship's 
visiters." 

That she should be thus compelled to be explicit was 
more than Lady Pelham 's temper could endure. Her eyes 
flashing with rage, " Superlative humility, indeed," she 
exclaimed with a sneer : but, awed, in spite of herself, 
from the free expression of her fury, she muttered it within 
her shut teeth, in a sentence of which the words ' ' close " 
and ee Jesuitical " alone reached Laura's ear. A long and 
surly silence followed, Lady Pelham's pride and anger 
struggling with her desire to learn the foundation and ex- 
tent of the disapprobation which she suspected that her 
conduct excited. The latter, at last, partly prevailed; 
though Lady Pelham still disdained direct consultation. 

" Pray, Miss Montreville," said she, " if Colonel Har- 
grave's visits were to you, what mighty objections might 
your sanctity find to them ? " Laura had long ago ob- 
served that a slight exertion of her spirit was the best 
quietus to her aunt's ill humour ; and therefore addressing 
her with calm austerity, she said, <( Any young woman, 



320 SELF-CONTROL. 

madam, who values her reputation, might object to Colo- 
nel Hargrave's visits, merely on the score of prudence. 
But even my f superlative humility ' does not reconcile me 
to company which I despise ; and my ' sanctity,' as your 
Ladyship is pleased to call it, rather shrinks from the 
violator of laws divine and human." 

Lady Pelham withdrew her eyes to escape a glance 
which they never could stand; but, bridling, she said, 
" Well, Miss Montreville, I am neither young nor sanc- 
timonious, therefore your objections cannot apply to Colonel 
Hargrave's visits to me ; and I am determined," continue^ 
she, speaking as if strength of voice denoted strength of 
resolution, " I am determined, that I will not throw away 
the society of an agreeable man, to gratify the whims of a 
parcel of narrow-minded bigots." 

To this attack Laura answered only by a smile. She 
smiled to see herself classed with the De Courcys ; for 
she had no doubt that they were the " bigots " to whom 
Lady Pelham referred. She smiled, too, to observe that 
the boasted freedom of meaner minds is but a poor attempt 
to hide from themselves the restraint imposed by the opi- 
nions of the wise and good. 

The carriage stopped, and Laura took sanctuary in her 
own apartment ; but at supper she met her aunt with 
smiles of unaffected complacency, and, according to the 
plan which she invariably pursued, appeared to have for- 
gotten Lady Pelham's fit of spleen ; by that means enabling 
her aunt to recover from it with as little expense to her 
pride as possible. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

LADY PELHAM was not disappointed in her expectation of 
seeing Colonel Hargrave on the following day. He called 
at Walbourne while her Ladyship was still at her toilette ; 
and was shown into the drawing-room, where Laura had 
already taken her station. She rose to receive him, with 



SELF-CONTROL. 32 1 

an air which showed that his visit gave her neither sur- 
prise nor pleasure ; and, motioning him to a distant seat, 
quietly resumed her occupation. Hargrave was a little 
disconcerted. He expected that Laura would shun him., with 
marks of strong resentment, or perhaps with the agitation 
of offended love ; and he was prepared for nothing but to 
entreat the audience which she now seemed inclined to 
offer him. 

Lovers are so accustomed to accuse ladies of cruelty, 
and to find ladies take pleasure in being so accused, that 
unlooked-for kindness discomposes them; and a favour 
unhoped is generally a favour undesired. The conscious- 
ness of ill desert, the frozen serenity of Laura's manner, 
deprived Hargrave of courage to use the opportunity which 
she seemed voluntarily to throw in his way. He hesitated, 
he faltered ; while, all unlike her former self, Laura ap- 
peared determined that he should make love, for she 
would not aid his dilemma even by a comment on the 
weather. All'the. timidity which formerly marked her de- 
meanour was now transferred to "his ; and, arranging her 
work with stoical composure, she raised her head to listen, 
as Hargrave approaching her stammered out an incohe- 
rent sentence, expressive of his unalterable loVe, and his 
fears that he had offended almost beyond forgiveness. 

Laura suffered him to conclude without interruption; 
then answered, in a voice mild but determined, " I had 
some hopes, sir, from your knowledge of rny character and 
sentiments, that, after what has passed, you could have en- 
tertained no doubts on this subject. Yet, lest even a 
shadow of suspense should rest on your mind, I have 
remained here this morning on purpose to end it. I sin- 
cerely grieve to hear that you still retain the partiality you 
have been pleased to express, since it is now beyond my 
power to make even the least return." 

The utmost bitterness of reproach would not have struck 
so chilly on the heart of Hargrave as these words, and the 
manner in which they were uttered. From the principles 
of Laura he had indeed dreaded much ; but he had feared 
nothing from her indifference. He had feared that duty 
might obtain a partial victory ; but he had never doubted 
y 



S22 



SELF-CONTROL. 



.that inclination would survive the struggle. With a mix- 
ture of doubt, surprise, and anguish, he continued to gaze 
upon her after she was silent ; then starting, he exclaimed 
"I will not believe it ; it is impossible. Oh, Laura, 
choose some other way to stab, for I cannot bear this ! " 
Cf It pains me," said Laura, in a voice of undissembled 
concern, ff to add disappointment to the pangs which you 
cannot but feel ; yet it were most blamable now to cherish 
in you the faintest expectation." " Stop," cried Har- 
grave, vehemently, " if you would not have me utterly 
undone. I have never known peace or innocence but in 
the hope of your love ; leave me a dawning of that hope, 
however distant. Nay, do not look as if it were impos- 
sible. When you thought me a libertine, a seducer all 
that you can now think me, you suffered me to hope. Let 
me but begin my trial now, and all woman-kind shall not 
lure me from you." 

" Ah," said Laura, " when I dreamt of the success of 
that trial, a strange infatuation hung over me. Now it 
has passed away for ever. Sincerely do I wish and pray 
for your repentance, but I can no longer offer to reward it. 
My desire for your reformation will henceforth be as disin- 
terested as sincere." 

Half- distracted with the cutting calmness of her man* 
ner, so changed since the time when every feature spoke 
the struggles of the heart, when the mind's whole strength 
seemed collected to resist its tenderness, Hargrave again 
vehemently refused to believe in her indifference. (( 'Tis 
but a few short months," he cried, grasping her hand with 
a violence which made her turn pale ; " 'tis but a few 
short months since you loved me with your whole soul, 
since you said that your peace depended upon my return to 
virtue. And dare you answer it to yourself to cast away 
the influence, the only influence which can secure me ? " 

" If I have any influence with you," returned Laura, 
with a look and attitude of earnest entreaty, " let it but 
this once prevail, and then be laid aside for ever. Let me 
persuade you to the review of your conduct ; to the consi- 
deration of your prospects as an accountable being, of the 
vengeance which awaits the impenitent, of the escape 



SELF-CONTROL. 323 

offered in the Gospel. As you value your happiness, let 
me thus far prevail. Or if it will move you more," con- 
tinued she, the tears gushing from her eyes, " I will be- 
seech you to grant this, my only request, in memory of a 
love which mourned your unworthiness almost unto death." 

The sight of her emotion revived Margrave's hopes ; and 
casting himself at her feet, he passionately declared, while 
she shuddered at the impious sentiment, that he asked no 
heaven but her love, and cared not what were his fate if 
she were lost. " Ah, sir," said she, with pious solemnity, 
" believe me, the time is not distant when the disappoint- 
ment of this passion will seem to you a sorrow light as the 
baffled sports of childhood. Believe the testimony of one 
who but lately drew near to the gates of the grave. On a 
death-bed, guilt appears the only real misery ; and lesser 
evils are lost amidst its horrors like shadows in the midnight 
gloom." 

The ideas which Laura was labouring to introduce into 
the mind of Hargrave were such as he had of late too suc- 
cessfully endeavoured to exclude. They had intruded like 
importunate creditors ; till, oft refused admittance, they 
had ceased to return. The same arts which he had used 
to disguise from himself the extent of his criminality, he 
now naturally employed to extenuate it in the sight of 
Laura. He assured her that he was less guilty than she 
supposed ; that she could form no idea of the force of the 
temptation which had overcome him ; that Lady Bellamer 
was less the victim of his passions than of her own ; he 
vehemently protested that he despised and abhorred the 
wanton who had undone him ; and that, even in the midst 
of a folly for which he now execrated himself, his affections 
had never wandered from their first object. While he 
spoke, Laura in confusion cast down her eyes, and offended 
modesty suffused her face and neck with crimson. She 
could indeed form no idea of a heart which, attached to 
one woman, could find any temptation in the allurements 
of another. But when he ended, virtuous indignation 
flashing in her countenance, " For shame, sir ! " said she. 
te If any thing could degrade you in my eyes it were this 
mean attempt to screen yourself behind the partner of your 
Y 2 



324; J5ELF-CONTROD. 

wickedness. Does it lessen your guilt that it had not even 
the poor excuse of passion ; or think you that, even in the 
hours of a weakness for which you have given me such 
just reason to despise myself, I could have prized the affec- 
tions of a heart so depraved ? You say you detest your 
crime ; I fear you only detest its punishment ; for, were 
you really repentant, my opinion, the opinion of the whole 
world, would seem to you a trifle unworthy of regard, and 
the utmost bitterness of censure be but an echo to your own 
self-upbraidings." 

Hargrave had no inclination to discuss the nature of re- 
pentance. His sole desire was to wrest from Laura some 
token, however slight, of returning tenderness. For this 
purpose he employed all the eloquence which he had often 
found successful in similar attempts. But no two things 
can be more different in their effects, than the language of 
passion poured into the sympathising bosom of mutual 
love, or addressed to the dull ear of indifference. The ex- 
pressions which Laura once thought capable of warming 
the coldest heart seemed now the mere ravings of insanity ; 
the lamentations which she once thought might have soft- 
ened rocks, now appeared the weak complainings of a child 
for his lost toy. With a mixture of pity and disgust she 
listened and replied ; till the entrance of Lady Pelham put 
a period to the dialogue, and Laura immediately quitted 
the room. 

Lady Pelham easily perceived that the conversation had 
been particular ; and Hargrave did not long leave her in 
doubt as to the subject. He acquainted her with his pre- 
tensions to Laura, and begged her sanction to his addresses; 
assuring her that his intercourse with Lady Bellamer was 
entirely broken off, and that his marriage would secure his 
permanent reformation. He complimented Lady Pelham 
upon her liberality of sentiment and knowledge of the 
world ; from both of which he had hopes, he said, that she 
would not consider one error as sufficient to blast his cha- 
racter. Lady Pelham made a little decent hesitation on 
the score of Lady Bellamer's prior claims ; but was as- 
sured that no engagement had ever subsisted there. " She 
hoped Lord Lincourt would not be averse." She was told 



SELF-CONTROL. 325 

that Lord Lincourt anxiously desired to see his nephew 
settled. " She hoped Colonel Hargrave was resolved that 
his married life should be irreproachable. Laura had a 
great deal of sensibility, it would break her heart to be 
neglected ; and Lady Pelham was sure, that in that case 
the thought of having consented to the dear child's misery 
would be more than she could support." Her Ladyship 
was vanquished by an assurance, that for Laura to be 
neglected by her happy husband was utterly impossible. 

" Laura's inclinations then must be consulted; every 
thing depended upon her concurrence ; for the sweet girl 
had really so wound herself round Lady Pelham's heart, 
that positively her Ladyship could not bear to give her a 
moment's uneasiness, or to press her upon a subject to 
which she was at all averse." And, strange as it may 
seem, Lady Pelham at that moment believed herself inca- 
pable of distressing the person whom, in fact, she tormented 
with ceaseless ingenuity ! Hargrave answered by confess- 
ing his fears that he was for the present less in favour than 
he had once been ; but he disclosed Laura's former con- 
fessions of partiality, and insinuated his conviction that it 
was smothered rather than extinguished. 

Lady Pelham could now account for Laura's long illness 
and low spirits ; and she listened with eager curiosity to 
the solution of the enigma, which had so long perplexed 
her. She considered whether she should relate to the lover 
the sorrows he had caused. She judged (for Lady Pelham 
often judged properly) that it would be indelicate thus to 
proclaim to him the extent of his power; but, with the 
usual inconsistency between her judgment and her practice, 
in half an hour she had informed him of all that she had 
observed, and hinted all that she suspected. Hargrave 
listened, was convinced, and avowed his conviction, that 
Lady Pelham's influence was alone necessary to secure his 
success. Her Ladyship said, " that she should feel some 
delicacy in using any strong influence with her niece, as 
the amiable orphan had no friend but herself, had owed 
somewhat to her kindness, and might be biassed by grati- 
tude against her own inclination. The fortune which she 
intended bequeathing to Laura might by some be thought 
Y 3 



326 SELF-CONTROL. 

to confer a right to advise; but for her part/ she thought 
her little all was no more than due to the person whose 
tender assiduities filled the blank which had been left in 
her Ladyship's maternal heart by the ingratitude and dis- 
obedience of her child/' This sentiment was pronounced 
in a tone so pathetic, and in language so harmonious, that 
though it did not for a moment impose upon her hearer, it 
deceived Lady Pelham herself; and she shed tears, which 
she actually imagined to be forced from her by the mingled 
emotions of gratitude and of disappointed tenderness. 

Lady Pelham had now entered on a subject inexhaust- 
ible ; her own feelings, her own misfortunes, her own dear 
self. Hargrave, who in his hours of tolerable composure 
was the most polite of men, listened, or appeared to listen, 
with unconquerable patience, till he fortunately recollected 
an appointment which his interest in her Ladyship's con- 
versation had before banished from his mind ; when he 
took his leave, bearing with him a very gracious invitation 
to repeat his visit. 

With him departed Lady Pelham's fit of sentimentality ; 
and in five minutes, she had dried her eyes, composed the 
paragraph which was to announce the marriage of Lord 
Lincourt (for she killed off the old peer without ceremony) 
to the lovely heiress of the amiable Lady Pelham ; taken 
possession of her niece's barouche and four, and heard her- 
self announced as the benefactress of this new wonder of 
the world of fashion. She would cut off her rebellious 
daughter with a shilling ; give her up to the beggary and 
obscurity which she had chosen, and leave her whole for- 
tune to Lady Lincourt ; for so, in the fulness of her con- 
tent, she called Laura. After some time enjoying her 
niece's prospects, or to speak more justly her own, she 
began to think of discovering how near they might be to 
their accomplishment ; and, for this purpose, she summoned 
Laura to a conference. 

Lady Pelham loved nothing on earth but herself; yet 
vanity, gratified curiosity, and, above all, the detection of 
a mere human weakness reducing Laura somewhat more to 
her own level, awakened in her breast an emotion resem- 
bling affection, as, throwing her arms round her niece, she., 



SELF-CONTROL. 327 

in language half-sportive, half-tender,, declared her know- 
ledge of Laura's secret,, and reproached her with having 
concealed it so well. Insulted, wronged, and forsaken by 
Hargrave, Laura had kept his secret inviolable, for she had 
no right to disclose it ; but she scorned, by any evasion, to 
preserve her own. Glowing with shame and mortification, 
she stood silently shrinking from Lady Pelham's looks ; 
till, a little recovering herself, she said, " I deserve to be 
thus humbled for my folly in founding my regards, not on 
the worth of their object, but on my own imagination ; 
and more, if it be possible, do I deserve, for exposing my 
weakness to one who has been so ungenerous as to boast of 
it. But it is some compensation to my pride," continued 
she, raising her eyes, " that my disorder is cured beyond 
the possibility of relapse." Lady Pelham smiled at Laura's 
security, which she did not consider as an infallible sign 
of safety. It was in vain that Laura proceeded solemnly 
to protest her indifference. Lady Pelham could allow for 
self-deceit in another's case, though she never suspected it 
in her own. Vain were Laura's comments upon Hargrave's 
character; they were but the fond revilings of offended 
love. Laura did not deny her former preference ; she even 
owned that it was the sudden intelligence of Hargrave's 
crimes which had reduced her to the brink of the grave ; 
therefore Lady Pelham was convinced that a little persever- 
ance would fan the smothered flame ; and perseverance, she 
hoped, would not be wanting. 

Nevertheless, as her Ladyship balanced her fondness for 
contradicting by her aversion to being contradicted, and as 
Laura was too much in earnest to study the qualifying 
tone, the conference concluded rather less amicably than it 
began ; though it ended by Lady Pelham's saying, not very 
consistently with her sentiments an hour before, that she 
would never cease to urge so advantageous a match, con- 
ceiving that she had a right to influence the choice of one 
whom she would make the heiress of forty thousand pounds. 
Laura was going to insist that all influence would be in- 
effectual, but her aunt quitted her without suffering her 
to reply. She would have followed to represent the injus- 
tice of depriving Mrs. Herbert of her natural rights; 
Y 4 



328 SELF-CONTROL. 

but she desisted on recollecting that Lady Pelham's pur- 
poses were, like wedges, never fixed but by resistance. 

The time had been when Lady Pelham's fortune would 
have seemed to Hargrave as dust in the balance, joined 
with the possession of Laura. He had gamed, had felt the 
want of money ; and money was no longer indifferent to 
him. But Laura's dower was still light in his estimation, 
compared with its weight in that of Lambert, to whom he 
incidentally mentioned Lady Pelham's intention. That 
prudent person calculated that 40,000/. would form a very 
handsome addition to a fund upon which he intended to 
draw pretty freely. He had little doubt of Hargrave's suc- 
cess : he had never known any woman with whom such a 
lover could fail. He thought he could lead his friend to 
bargain for immediate possession of part of his bride's por- 
tion, and, for certainty of the rest in reversion, before parting 
with his liberty. He allowed two, or perhaps even three 
months for the duration of Laura's influence ; during 
which time he feared he should have little of her husband's 
company at the gaming-table ; but from thenceforth, he 
judged that the day would be his own, and that he should 
soon possess himself of Hargrave's property, so far as it w r as 
alienable. He considered that, in the mean time, Laura 
would furnish attraction sufficient to secure Hargrave's stay 

at , and he trusted to his own dexterity for improving 

that circumstance to the best advantage. He failed not, 
therefore, to encourage the lover's hopes, and bestowed no 
small ridicule on the idea that a girl of nineteen should 
desert a favourite on account of a little gallantry. 

Cool cunning would engage with fearful odds against 
imprudence, if it could set bounds to the passions, as well 
as direct their course. But it is often deceived in estimating 
the force of feelings which it knows only by their effects. 
Lambert soon found that he had opened the passage to a 
torrent which bore all before it. The favourite stimulus 
found, its temporary substitute was almost disregarded ; 
and Hargrave, intoxicated with his passion, tasted sparingly 
of the poisoned cup which his friend designed for him. 
His time and thoughts were again devoted to Laura, and 
pjaming was only sought as a relief from the disappointment 



SELF-CONTROL. 329 

and vexation which generally attended his pursuit. The 
irritation of his mind, however, made amends for the 
lessened number of opportunities for plundering him, by 
rendering it easier to take advantage of those which re- 
mained. 

The insinuating manners and elegant person of Hargrave 
gained daily on the favour of Lady Pelham ; for the great 
as well as the little vulgar are the slaves of mere externals. 
She permitted his visits at home and his attendance abroad, 
expatiating frequently on the liberality of sentiment which 
she thus displayed. At first these encomiums on her own 
conduct were used only to disguise from herself and others 
her consciousness of its impropriety ; but she repeated 
them till she actually believed them just, and considered 
herself as extending a charitable hand to rescue an erring 
brother from the implacable malignity of the world. 

She was indefatigable in her attempts to promote his 
success with Laura. She lost no opportunity of pressing 
the subject. She obstinately refused to be convinced of the 
possibility of overcoming a strong prepossession. Laura, 
in an evil hour for herself, thoughtlessly replied, that affec- 
tion was founded on the belief of excellence, and must of 
course give way when the foundation was removed. This 
observation had just fallacy sufficient for Lady Pelham's 
purpose. She took it for her text, and harangued upon it 
with all the zeal and perseverance of disputation. She 
called it Laura's theory ; and insisted, that, like other 
theorists, she would shut her eyes against the plainest 
facts, nay, stifle the feelings of her own mind, rather than 
admit what might controvert her opinion. She cited all the 
instances which her memory could furnish of agricultural, 
and chemical, and metaphysical theorism ; and, with 
astonishing ingenuity, contrived to draw a parallel between 
each of them and Laura's case. It was in vain that Laura 
qualified, almost retracted her unlucky observation. Her 
adversary would not suffer her to desert her untenable 
ground. Delighted with her victory, she returned again 
and again to the attack, after the vanquished had appealed 
to her mercy ; and much more than " thrice she slew the 
slain." 



330 SELF-CONTROL. 

Sick of arguing about the possibility of her indifference, 
Laura at length confined herself to simple assertions of the 
fact. Lady Pelham at first merely refused her belief ; and, 
with provoking pity, rallied her niece upon her self-deceit ; 
but, finding that she corroborated her words by a cor- 
responding behaviour to Hargrave, her Ladyship's temper 
betrayed its accustomed infirmity. She peevishly reproached 
Laura with taking a coquettish delight in giving pain ; in- 
sisted that her conduct was a tissue of cruelty and affect- 
ation ; and upbraided her with disingenuousness in pretend- 
ing an indifference which she could not feel. " And does 
your Ladyship communicate this opinion to Colonel Har- 
grave ? " said Laura, one day, fretted almost beyond her 
patience by a remonstrance of two hours' continuance. 
" To be sure I do," returned Lady Pelham. " In common 
humanity I will not allow him to suffer more from your 
perverseness than I can avoid." " Well, madam," said 
Laura, with a sigh and a shrug of impatient resignation, 
" nothing remains but that I show a consistency, which, at 
least, is not common to affectation." 

Lady Pelham's representations had their effect upon Har- 
grave. They brought balm to his wounded pride, and he 
easily suffered them to counteract the effect of Laura's calm 
and uniform assurances of her indifference. While he lis- 
tened to these, her apparent candour and simplicity, the 
regret she expressed at the necessity of giving pain, brought 
temporary conviction to his mind ; and, with transports of 
alternate rage and grief, he now execrated her inconstancy, 
then his own un worthiness ; now abjured her, then the 
vices which had deprived him of her affection. But the 
joint efforts of Lady Pelham and Lambert always revived 
hopes sufficient to make him continue a pursuit which he 
had not indeed the fortitude to relinquish. 

His love (if we must give that name to a selfish desire, 
mingled at times with every ungentle feeling,) had never 
been so ardent. The well-known principle of our nature, 
which adds charms to what is unattainable, lent new at- 
tractions to Laura's really improved loveliness. The smile 
which was reserved for others seemed but the more en- 
chanting ; the hand which he was forbidden to touch seemed 



SELF-CONTROL. 331 

but the more soft and snowy ; the form which was kept 
sacred from his approach, bewitched him with more resist- 
less graces. Hargrave had been little accustomed to sup- 
press any of his feelings, and he gave vent to this with an 
entire neglect of the visible uneasiness which it occasioned 
to its object. He employed the private interviews, which 
Lady Pelham contrived to extort for him, in the utmost ve- 
hemence of complaint, protestation, and entreaty. He 
laboured to awaken the pity of Laura ; he even conde- 
scended to appeal to her ambition ; and persevered, in spite 
of unequivocal denials, till Laura, disgusted, positively re- 
fused ever again to admit him without witnesses. 

His public attentions were, if possible, still more dis- 
tressing to her. Encouraged by Lady Pelham, he, not- 
withstanding the almost repulsive coldness of Laura's 
manner, became her constant attendant. He pursued her 
wherever she went; placed himself, in defiance of pro- 
priety, so as to monopolise her conversation ; and seemed to 
have laid aside all his distinguishing politeness, while he 
neglected every other woman to devote his assiduities to her 
alone. He claimed the station by her side till Laura had 
the mortification to observe that others resigned it at his ap- 
proach ; he snatched every opportunity of whispering his 
adulations in her ear]; and, far from affecting any conceal- 
ment in his preference, seemed to claim the character of her 
acknowledged adorer. 

It is impossible to express the vexation with which 
Laura endured this indelicate pre-eminence. Had Hargrave 
been the most irreproachable of mankind, she would have 
shrunk from such obtrusive marks of his partiality; but her 
sense of propriety was no less wounded by the attendance of 
such a companion, than her modesty was shocked by her 
being thus dragged into the notice,, and committed to the 
mercy of the public. The exclusive attentions of the hand- 
some Colonel Hargrave, the mirror of gallantry, the future 
Lord Lincourt, were not, however undesired, to be possessed 
uneavied. Those who unsuccessfully angled for his notice 
avenged themselves on her to whom they imputed their 
failure, by looks of scorn, and by sarcastic remarks, which they 
sometimes contrived should reach the ear of the innocent 



332 SELF-CONTROL. 

object of their malice, Laura, unspeakably averse to being 
the subject of even laudatory observation, could sometimes 
scarcely restrain the tears of shame and mortification that 
were wrung from her by attacks which she could neither re- 
sent nor escape. 

In spite of the natural sweetness of her temper, she was 
sometimes tempted to retort upon Colonel Hargrave the vex- 
ation which he caused to her j and his officiousness almost 
compelled her to forsake the civility within the bounds of 
which she had determined to confine her coldness. He 
haunted her walks, stole upon her unannounced, detained her 
almost by force at these accidental meetings, or at those 
which he obtained by the favour of Lady Pelham. His 
whole conduct conspired to make him an object of real dread 
to Laura, though her watchful self-command and habitual 
benevolence preserved him from her aversion. 

Sometimes she could not help wondering at the obstinacy 
of her persecutor. " Surely," said she to him, ft after all I 
have said, after the manner in which I have said it, you 
cannot expect any fruit from all these rhapsodies j you must 
merely think your honour bound to keep them up, at what- 
ever hazard to the credit of your understanding." Laura 
had never herself submitted to be driven into a course of 
actions contrary to reason, and it never occurred to her 
that her lover had no reason for his conduct, except that 
he was not sufficiently master of himself to desist from his 
pursuit. 

From the importunities of Hargrave, however, Laura 
could sometimes escape. Though they were frequent, they 
were of necessity intermitting. He could not always be at 
Walbourne ; he could not intrude into her apartment. She 
visited sometimes where he was not admitted, or she could 
decline the invitation which she knew extended to him. 
But her persecutions by Lady Pelham had no intermission ; 
from them she had no retreat. Her chamber was no 
sanctuary from so familiar a friend ; and the presence of 
strangers only served to exercise her Ladyship in that 
ingenious species of conversation which addresses to the 
sense of one of the company what it conveys to the ear of 
the rest. 



SELF-CONTROL. 333 

For some time she employed all her forces in combating 
Laura's supposed affectation ; and when, not without ex- 
treme difficulty, she was convinced that she strove against a 
phantom of her own creation, she next employed her 
efforts to alter her niece's determination. She tried to rouse 
her ambition ; and again and again expatiated on all the 
real and on all the imaginary advantages of wealth and 
title. The theme in her Ladyship's hands seemed in- 
exhaustible, though Laura repeatedly declared that no earthly 
thing could be less in her esteem than distinctions which she 
must share with such a person as Hargrave. Every day 
and all day, the subject was canvassed, and the oft- confuted 
argument vamped up anew, till Laura was thoroughly weary 
of the very names of rank, and influence, and coronets, and 
coaches. 

Next, her Ladyship was eloquent upon Laura's implaca- 
bility. " Those who were so very unforgiving," she sup- 
posed, "were conscious that they had no need to be forgiven. 
Such people might pretend to be Christians, but in her 
opinion such pretensions were mere hypocrisy." Laura 
stood amazed at the strength of self-deception which could 
produce this sentiment from lips which had pronounced in- 
extinguishable resentment against an only child. Recovering 
herself, she calmly made the obvious reply, i( that she en- 
tertained no enmity against Hargrave ; that on the contrary, 
she sincerely wished him every blessing, and the best of all 
blessings, a renewed mind ; but that the Christian precept 
was never meant to make the vicious and the impure the 
denizens of our bosoms." It might be thought that such a 
reply was quite sufficient ; but Lady Pelham possessed one 
grand qualification for a disputant, she defied conviction. 
She could shift, and turn, and bewilder, till she found her- 
self precisely at the point from whence she set out. 

She had a practice, too, of all others the most galling to 
an ingenuous and independent spirit she would invent a 
set of opinions and sentiments, and then argue upon them 
as if they were real. It was in vain for Laura to disclaim 
them. Lady Pelham could prove incontrovertibly that they 
were Laura's sentiments ; or, which was the same thing, 
proceeded as if she had proved it. She insisted that Laura 



SELF-CONTROL, 

acted on a principle of revenge against Hargrave, for the 
slight his inconstancy had put upon her ; and argued most 
convincingly on the folly and wickedness of a revengeful 
spirit. Laura in vain protested her innocence. Lady Pelham 
was certain of the fact ; and she dilated on the guilt of such 
a sentiment,, and extenuated the temporary secession of Har- 
grave, till a by-stander must have concluded that Laura was 
the delinquent, and he her harmless victim. Her Ladyship 
declared, that " she did not wonder at her niece's obduracy. 
She had never, in her life, known a person of cool temper 
who was capable of forgiving. She had reason, for her own 
part, to be thankful, that if she had the failings of a warm 
temper she had its advantages too. She had never, except 
in one instance, known what it was to feel permanent dis- 
pleasure." 

On this topic Lady Pelham had the more room for her 
eloquence, because it admitted of no reply ; and, perhaps, 
for this reason it was the sooner exhausted ; for it had not 
been discussed above half a dozen times, before she forsook 
it in order to assert her claims to influence her niece's 
decision. And here her Ladyship was suddenly convinced 
of the indefeasible rights of relationship. " She stood in 
the place of Laura's parents, and in their title might claim 
authority." But finding Laura firmly of opinion that 
parental authority extended no further than a negative voice, 
Lady Pelham laid aside the imperative tone to take up that 
of entreaty. " She would not advance the claim which her 
tried friendship might give her to advise ; she would only 
beseech, conjure. She hoped her importunities would be 
forgiven, as they could proceed only from the tenderest re- 
gard to her dear girl's welfare. Laura was her only hope ; 
the sole being on earth to whom her widowed heart clung 
with partial affection and to see her thus throw away her 
happiness was more than her Ladyship could bear." Closely 
as Laura had studied her aunt's character, and well as it 
was now known to her, she was sometimes overpowered by 
these expressions of love and sorrow; and wept as she was 
compelled to repeat, that her happiness and her duty must 
alike be sacrificed ere she could yield to the wishes of her 
friend. But as she never, even in these moments of soft- 






SELF-CONTROL. 335 

ness, betrayed the smallest symptom of compliance, Lady 
Pelham had not patience to adhere to the only method of 
attack which possessed a chance of success. 

Of all her arts of teasing, this was indeed the most dis- 
tressing to a person of Laura's sensibility, and she felt not 
a little relieved when, exasperated by the failure of all her 
efforts, Lady Pelham burst into vehement upbraidings of 
her niece's hardness of heart. <( She could not have con- 
ceived," she said, "such obduracy in one so young; in 
woman too ; a creature who should be all made up of 
softness. Laura might pique herself upon her stoicism, but 
a Zeno in petticoats was, in her opinion, a monster. For 
her part she never could resist entreaty in her life." 

tf Then I beseech you, madam," said Laura, after having 
patiently submitted to be baited thus for three full hours, 
<f do not make mine an exception ; but for pity's sake be 
prevailed upon to drop this subject. I assure you it can 
have no effect but to distress me." 

( ' You may be determined, Miss Montreville, that all my 
endeavours shall be vain, but I shall certainly never be so 
far wanting to my duty as to neglect pressing upon you a 
match so much for your honour and advantage." 

ft Is it possible," cried Laura, losing patience at this 
prospect of the continuation of her persecutions, ' ' that your 
Ladyship can think it for my ' advantage ' to marry a man 
I despise: for my ' honour' to share the infamy of an 
adulterer ? " 

" Upon my word, Miss Montreville," returned Lady 
Pelham, reddening with anger, " I am constrained to ad- 
mire the delicacy of your language ; so very suitable to the 
lips of so very delicate a lady." 

A smile, not wholly free from sarcasm, played on 
Laura's lips. ( ' If delicacy," said she, " be henceforth to 
find so strenuous a supporter in your Ladyship, I shall hope 
to be exempted in future from all remonstrance on the sub- 
ject of this evening's altercation." 

If Laura really entertained the hope she mentioned, she 
was miserably disappointed ; for Lady Pelham remitted not 
a jot of her tormentings. Her remonstrances were ad- 
ministered in every possible form, upon every possible 



336 SELF-CONTROL. 

occasion. They seasoned every tete-a-tete, were insinuated 
into every conversation. Laura's attempts to avoid the 
subject were altogether vain. The discourse might begin 
with the conquests of Gengis Khan, but it always ended 
with the advantages of marrying Colonel Hargrave. 

Teased and persecuted, disturbed in every useful occu- 
pation, and every domestic enjoyment, Laura often con- 
sidered of the possibility of delivering herself from her 
indefatigable tormentors, by quitting the protection of her 
aunt, and taking refuge with Mrs. Douglas. But this plan 
she had unfortunately deprived herself of the means of ex- 
ecuting. 

Laura knew that her cousins, the Herberts, were poor. 
She knew that Mrs. Herbert was in a situation which needs 
comforts that poverty cannot command, and it was vain to 
expect these comforts from the maternal compassion of Lady 
Pelham. She therefore determined to supply them as far 
as possible, from her own little fund ; and fearing that a 
gift from her might revolt the high spirit of Herbert, she 
enclosed almost all her half-year's annuity in a blank cover, 
and conveyed it to her cousin. What she retained was a 
sum far too small to defray the expense of a journey to 
Scotland ; and several months were to elapse before she 
could recruit her fund. Till then, she had no resource 
but patience ; and she endeavoured to console herself with 
a hope that in time the perseverance of her adversaries 
would fail. 

Often did she with a sigh turn her eyes towards Nor- 
wood Norwood, the seat of all the peaceful domestic vir- 
tues ; where the voice of contention was unheard, where 
courtly politeness, though duly honoured, held the second 
place to the courtesy of the heart. But Mrs. de Courcy had 
never hinted a wish that Laura should be a permanent inmate 
of her family ; and, even if she had, there would have been 
a glaring impropriety in forsaking Lady Pelham's house for 
one in its immediate neighbourhood. De Courcy, too, she 
thought, was not the kind friend he was wont to be. She 
had of late seen him seldom, which was probably caused by 
the marked coolness of Lady Pelham's reception ; but it 



SELF-CONTROL. 3J 

had happened unfortunately that he had twice surprised her 
in the midst of Hargrave's extravagancies,, when she almost 
feared to speak to him, lest she should awaken the furious 
jealousy to which her tormentor was subject; and she 
dreaded that her father's friend (for so she loved to call 
him) suspected her of encouraging the addresses of such a 
lover. During these visits he had looked, she thought, dis- 
pleased ; and had early taken leave. Was it kind to judge 
her unheard ? Perhaps, if an opportunity had been given 
her, she might have assumed courage to exculpate herself ; 
but, without even calling to ask her commands, De Courcy 
was gone with Mr. Bolingbroke to London, to make ar- 
rangements for Harriet's marriage. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

THOUGH Laura could not escape the attacks of Lady Pel- 
ham, she sometimes found means to elude those of Har- 
grave. She watched his approach ; and whenever he 
appeared, entrenched herself in her own apartment. She 
confined herself almost entirely to the house, and excused 
herself from every visit where she thought he might be of 
the party. He besieged her with letters ; she sent them 
back unopened. Lady Pelham commanded her to be pre- 
sent during his visits ; she respectfully, but peremptorily, 
refused to comply. 

She had thus remained a sort of prisoner for some weeks, 
when her aunt one morning entered her room with an 
aspect which Laura could not well decipher. (( Well, 
Miss Montreville," said she, " you have at last accom- 
plished your purpose; your capricious tyranny has pre- 
vailed at last; Colonel Hargrave leaves this 

morning." 

" Dear madam," cried Laura, starting up overjoyed, 
<e what a deliverance !" 

" Oh, to be sure, mighty cause you have to congratulate 



338 



SELF-CONTROL. 



yourself upon a deliverance from a man who might 
aspire to the first woman in England ! But you will never 
have it in your power to throw away such another offer. 
You need hardly expect to awaken such another passion." 

" I hope, with all my heart, I shall not ; but are you 
certain he will go?" 

ee Oh, very certain. He has written to tell me so !" 

" I trust he will keep his word," said Laura ; ee and 
when I am sure he is gone, I will beg of your Ladyship to 
excuse me for a few hours, while I walk to Norwood. I 
have been so shackled of late ! but the first use I make of 
my liberty shall be to visit my friends." 

" I am afraid, my dear," returned Lady Pelham, with 
more gentleness than she was accustomed to use in contra- 
diction, fe you will scarcely find time to visit Mrs. de 
Courcy. I have long promised to pass some time with 
my friend Mrs. Bathurst ; and I purpose setting off to- 
morrow. I should die of ennui here, now I have lost the 
society which has of late given me so much pleasure." 

" Mrs. Bathurst, madam ? she who was formerly " 

fc Poh, poh, child," interrupted Lady Pelham, " don't 
stir up the embers of decayed slander. Will you never 
learn to forget the little mistakes of your fellow-creatures ? 
Mrs. Bathurst makes one of the best wives in the world ; 
and to a man with whom every body would not live so 
well." 

Practice had made Laura pretty expert in interpreting 
her aunt's language, and she understood more in the pre- 
sent instance than it was meant she should comprehend. 
She had heard of Mrs. Bathurst's fame, and, knowing that 
it was not quite spotless, was rather averse to accompany 
Lady Pelham ; but she never, without mature deliberation, 
refused compliance with her aunt's wishes, and she resolved 
to consider the matter before announcing opposition. Be- 
sides, she was determined to carry her point of seeing Mrs. 
de Courcy, and therefore did not wish to introduce any 
other subject of altercation. " Though I should accom- 
pany you to-morrow, madam," said she, " I shall have 
time sufficient for my walk to Norwood. The preparations 
for my journey cannot occupy an hour ; and, if I go to 



SELF-CONTROL. 



339 



Norwood now/' added she, tying on her bonnet, " I can 
return early. Good morning, madam ; to-day I may 
walk in peace." 

Laura felt as if a mountain had been lifted from her 
breast as she bounded across the lawn, and thought that 
Colonel Hargrave was, by this time, miles distant from 
Walbourne ; but as she pursued her way she began to 
wonder that Lady Pelham seemed so little moved by his 
departure. It was strange that she, who had remon- 
strated so warmly, so unceasingly, against Laura's beha- 
viour to him, did not more vehemently upbraid her with 
its consequences. Lady Pelham's forbearance was not in 
character Laura did not know how to explain it. <c I 
have taken her by surprise," thought she, " with my ex- 
cursion to Norwood, but she will discuss it at large in the 
evening ; and probably in many an evening - 1 shall 
never hear the last of it." 

It was needless, however, to anticipate evil, and Laura 
turned her thoughts to the explanation which she was bent 
upon making to her friends. The more she reflected, the 
more she was persuaded that De Courcy suspected her of 
encouraging the addresses of Hargrave ; addresses now pro- 
vokingly notorious to all the neighbourhood. He had 
most probably communicated the same opinion to his 
mother ; and Laura wished much to exculpate herself, if 
she could do so without appearing officiously communi- 
cative. If she could meet Mr. de Courcy alone, if he 
should lead to the subject, or if it should accidentally oc- 
cur, she thought she might be able to speak freely to him ; 
more freely than even to Mrs. de Courcy. " It is strange, 
too," thought she, " that I should feel so little restraint 
with a person of the other sex ; less than ever I did with 
one of my own. But my father's friend ought not to be 
classed with other men." 

Her eyes yet swam in tears of grateful recollection, 
when she raised them to a horseman who was meeting her. 
It was Montague de Courcy ; and, as he leisurely advanced, 
Laura's heart beat with a hope that he would, as he had 
often done before, dismount to accompany her walk. But 
Montague, though evidently in no haste to reach the place 
z 2 



340 SELF-CONTROL. 

of his destination, stopped only to make a slight enquiry 
after her health, and then passed on. Laura's bosom 
swelled with grief, unmixed with resentment. " He 
thinks," said she, " that I invite the attentions of a liber- 
tine ; and is it surprising that he should withdraw his 
friendship from me ? But he will soon know his error." 
And again she more cheerfully pursued her way. 

Her courage failed her a little as she entered Norwood. 
" What if Mrs. de Courcy too should receive me coldly," 
thought she ; " can I notice it to her ? Can I beg of her 
to listen to my justification ?" These thoughts gave Laura 
an air of timidity and embarrassment as she entered the 
room where Mrs. de Courcy was sitting alone. Her fears 
were groundless. Mrs. de Courcy received her with kind- 
ness, gently reproaching her for her long absence. Laura 
assured her that it was wholly involuntary, but " of late," 
said she, hesitating, " I have been very little from home." 
Mrs. de Courcy gave a faint melancholy smile ; but did 
not enquire what had confined her young friend. " Har- 
riet has just left me," said she, lf to pay some visits, and 
to secure the presence of a companion for a very important 
occasion. She meant also to solicit yours, if three weeks 
hence you are still to be capable of acting as a bridemaid." 
Laura smiling was about to reply, that being in no danger 
of forfeiting that privilege, she would most joyfully attend 
Miss de Courcy ; but she met a glance of such marked, 
such mournful scrutiny, that she stopped; and the next 
moment was covered with blushes. " Ah ! " thought she, 
" Mrs. de Courcy, indeed, believes all that I feared, and 
more than I feared what can I say to her ? " 

Her embarrassment confirmed Mrs. de Courcy 's belief; 
but, unwilling further to distress Laura, she said, " Harriet 
herself will talk over all these matters with you, and then 
your own peculiar manner will soften the refusal into some- 
what almost as pleasing as consent; if indeed you are obliged 
to refuse." 

<e Indeed, madam," said Laura, cc nothing can be farther 
from my thoughts than refusal ; I shall most willingly, most 
gladly attend Miss de Courcy ; but may I will you allow 
me to to ask you why you should expect me to refuse?" 



SELF-CONTROL. 341 

fc And if I answer you," returned Mrs. de Courcy, ee will 
you promise to be candid with me on a subject where ladies 
think that candour may be dispensed with ? " 

" I will promise to be candid with you on every sub- 
ject/' said Laura, rejoiced at this opportunity of entering on 
her justification. 

" Then I will own to you/' said Mrs. de Courcy, " that 
circumstances have conspired with public report to convince 
me that you are yourself about to need the good office which 
Harriet solicits from you. Colonel Hargrave and you share 
between you the envy of our little world of fashion." 

(C And have you, madam has Harriet has Mr. de 
Courcy given credit to this vexatious report ? " cried Laura, 
the tears of mortification filling her eyes. " Ah how dif- 
ferently should I have judged of you ! " 

" My dearest girl/' said Mrs. de Courcy, surprised but 
delighted, " I assure you that none of us would, upon slight 
grounds, believe any thing concerning you, that you would 
not wish us to credit. But, in this instance, I thought my 
authority indisputable ; Lady Pelliam " 

" Is it possible/' cried Laura, " that my aunt could pro- 
pagate such a report, when she knew the teasing, the perse- 
cution which I have endured ! " 

fe Lady Pelham did not directly assure me of its truth," 
answered Mrs. de Courcy ; " but when I made enquiries, 
somewhat, I own, in the hope of being empowered to con- 
tradict the rumour, her answer was certainly calculated to 
make me believe that you were soon to be lost to us." 

" Lost indeed ! " exclaimed Laura. " But what could 
be my aunt's intention. Surely she cannot expect still to 
prevail with me. My dear friend, if you knew what I have 
suffered from her importunities. But she has only my 
advantage in view, though, surely, she widely mistakes the 
means." 

Laura now frankly informed Mrs. de Courcy of the 
inquietude she had suffered from the persevering remon- 
strances of Lady Pelham, and the obtrusive assiduities of 
Hargrave. Mrs. de Courcy, though she sincerely pitied the 
comfortless situation of Laura, listened with pleasure to 
the tale. " And is all this confidential?" said she, " so 
z 3 



342 SELF-CONTROL. 

confidential that I must not mention it even to Montague or 
Harriet ? " 

" Oh no, indeed,, madam/' cried Laura; " I wish,, above 
all things, that Mr. de Courcy should know it ; tell him 
all, madam ; and tell him too that I would rather be in my 
grave than marry Colonel Hargrave." 

Laura had scarcely spoken ere she blushed for the warmth 
with which she spoke, and Mrs. de Courcy's smile made 
her blush again, and more deeply. But the plea which 
excused her to herself, she the next moment urged to her 
friend. " Ah, madam/' said she, " if you had witnessed 
Mr. de Courcy's kindness to my father ; if you had known 
how my father loved him, you would not wonder that I am 
anxious for his good opinion." 

<e I do not wonder, my love," said Mrs. de Courcy, in a 
tone of heartfelt affection. (C I should be much more sur- 
prised if such a mind as yours could undervalue the esteem 
of a man like Montague. But why did not my sweet Laura 
take refuge from her tormentors at Norwood, where no 
officious friends, no obtrusive lovers, would have disturbed 
her quiet ? " 

Laura excused herself, by Saying that she was sure her 
aunt would never have consented to her absence for more 
than a few hours ; but she promised, that, now when Lady 
Pelham's particular reason for detaining her was removed, 
she would endeavour to obtain permission to spend some 
time at Norwood. " I fear I must first pay a much less 
agreeable visit," continued Laura, " for my aunt talks of 
carrying me to-morrow to the house of a Mrs. Bathurst, of 
whom you probably have heard." Mrs. de Courcy knew 
that Lady Pelham was on terms of intimacy with Mrs. 
Bathurst, yet she could not help feeling some surprise that 
she should choose to introduce her niece to such a 
chaperon. She did not, however, think it proper, by ex- 
pressing her opinion, to heighten Laura's reluctance towards 
what she probably could not prevent; and therefore merely 
expressed a strong wish that Lady Pelham would permit 
Laura to spend the time of her absence at Norwood. Laura, 
though she heartily wished the same, knew her aunt too well 
to expect that a purpose which she had once announced she 



SELF-CONTROL. 34-3 

would relinquish merely because it interfered with the 
inclinations of others. Still it was not impossible that it 
might be relinquished. A thousand things might happen 
to alter Lady Pelham's resolutions, though they were invin- 
cible by entreaty. 

Laura lingered with Mrs. de Courcy for several hours,, 
and when at last she was obliged to go, received, at parting, 
many a kind injunction to remember her promised visit. 
As she bent her steps homeward, she revolved in her mind 
every chance of escape from being the companion of her 
aunt's journey. She was the more averse to attend Lady 
Pelham, because she conjectured that they would not return 
before Miss de Courcy 's marriage, on which occasion Laura 
was unwilling to be absent. But she was sensible that 
neither this nor any other reason she could urge would in 
the least affect Lady Pelham's motions. Derham Green, the 
seat of Mrs. Bathurst, was above ninety miles from Wai- 
bourne ; and it was not likely that Lady Pelham would 
travel so far with the intention of making a short visit. 

Laura had quitted the avenue of Norwood, and entered 
the lane which led to that of Walbourne, when the noise of 
singing, for it could not be called music, made her look 
round ; and she perceived that she was overtaken by a 
figure in a dingy regimental coat, and a rusty hat, which, 
however, regained somewhat of its original shade by a con- 
trast with the grey side-locks which blew up athwart it. 
This person was applying the whole force of his lungs to 
the utterance of " Hearts of Oak," in a voice, the mas- 
culine bass of which was at times oddly interrupted by the 
weak and treble tones of age, while, with a large crabstick, 
he beat time against the sides of a starveling ass upon which 
he was mounted. The other hand was charged with the 
double employment of guiding the animal, and of balancing 
a large portmanteau, which was placed across its shoulders. 
Laura, retaining the habits of her country, addressed the 
man with a few words of courtesy, to which he replied with 
the frankness and garrulity of an old Englishman ; and as 
they proceeded at much the same pace, they continued the 
conversation. It was, however, soon interrupted. At the 
gate of a grass field, with which the ass seemed acquainted, 
z 4 



344 SELF-CONTROL. 

the creature made a full stop. ee Get on/' cried the man., 
striking it with his heel. It would not stir. The rider 
applied the crabstick more vigorously than before. It had 
no effect ; even an ass can despise the chastisement with 
which it is too familiar. The contention was obstinate ; 
neither party seemed inclined to yield. At last fortune 
decided in favour of the ass. The portmanteau slipped 
from its balance, and fell to the ground. The man looked 
dolefully at it. (t How the plague shall I get it up again? " 
said he. " Don't dismount/' said Laura, who now first 
observed that her companion had but one leg ; "I can lift 
it for you." 

As she raised it, Laura observed that it was directed of 

Mr. Jones, at Squire Bathurst's, Derham Green, shire. 

Though the name was too common to excite any suspicion, 
the address struck her as being to the same place which 
had so lately occupied her thoughts. " Have you far to 
go?" said she to the man. " No, ma'am," answered he, 
" only to Job Wilson, the carrier's, with this portmanteau, 
for Colonel Hargrave's gentleman. The Colonel took Mr. 
Jones with himself in the chay, but he had only room for 
one or two of his boxes, so he left this with the groom, 
and the groom gave me a pot of porter to go with it." 

The whole affair was now clear. Lady Pelham, finding 
Laura unmanageable at home, was contriving that she 
should meet Colonel Hargrave at a place where, being 
among strangers, she would find it less possible to avoid 
him. Mrs. Bathurst, too, was probably a good convenient 
friend, who would countenance whatever measures were 
thought necessary. In the first burst of indignation at the 
discovery of her aunt's treachery, Laura thought of retracing 
her steps to Norwood, never more to enter the presence of 
her unworthy relation ; but, resentment cooling at the re- 
collection of the benefits which she owed to Lady Pelham, 
she determined on returning to Walbourne, to announce 
in person her refusal to go with her aunt ; conceiving 
this to be the most respectful way of intimating her in- 
tention. 

As soon as she reached home, she retired to her chamber 
without seeing Lady Pelham ; and immediately despatched 



SELF-CONTROL. 345 

the following note to Mrs. de Courcy : " My clear madam, 
an accident has happened which determines me against 
going to Derham Green. Will you think I presume too 
soon on your kind invitation, if I say that I shall see you 
to-morrow at breakfast? Or will not your benevolence 
rather acquire a new motive in the shelterless condition 
which awaits your very affectionate L. M. ? " 

She then proceeded to make arrangements for her de- 
parture, reflecting, with tears, on the hard necessity which 
was about to set her at variance with the only living relation 
who had ever acknowledged her. She knew that Lady 
Pelham would be enraged at the frustration of a scheme, to 
accomplish which she had stooped to such artifice ; and she 
feared that, however gentle might be the terms of her in- 
tended refusal, her aunt would consider it as unpardonable 
rebellion. She was, however, firmly resolved against com- 
pliance, and all that remained was to use the least irritating 
mode of denial. 

They met at dinner. Lady Pelham in high good humour, 
Laura grave and thoughtful. Lady Pelham mentioned her 
journey ; but, dreading to rouse her aunt's unwearied powers 
of objurgation, Laura kept silence ; and her just displeasure 
rendering her averse to Lady Pelham's company, she con- 
trived to spend the evening chiefly alone. 

As the supper hour approached, Laura began to tremble 
for the contest which awaited her. She felt herself more 
than half-inclined to withdraw from the storm, by departing 
without warning ; leaving Lady Pelham to discover the 
reason of her flight after she was beyond the reach of 
her fury. But she considered that such a proceeding must 
imply an irreconcilable breach with one to whom she owed 
great and substantial obligations ; and would carry an ap- 
pearance of ingratitude which she could not bear to incur. 
Summoning her courage, therefore, she resolved to brave 
the tempest. She determined, that whatever provocation 
she might endure, she would offer none but such as was 
unavoidable ; though, at the same time, she would maintain 
that spirit which she had always found the most effectual 
check to her aunt's violence. 

The supper passed in quiet ; Laura unwilling to begin 



346 



SELF-CONTROL. 



the attack ; Lady Pelham glorying in her expected success. 
Her Ladyship had taken her candle, and was about to re- 
tire, before Laura durst venture on the subject. " Good 
night,, my dear/' said Lady Pelham. "I fear/' replied 
Laura, <l I may rather say farewell, since it will be so long 
ere I see you again." " How do mean ? " enquired Lady 
Pelham. " That I cannot accompany you to Mrs. Ba- 
thurst's," replied Laura ; fetching, at the close of her speech, 
a breath longer than the speech itself. " You won't go ? " 
exclaimed Lady Pelham, in a voice of angry astonishment. 
" Since it is your wish that I should," returned Laura, 
meekly, " I am sorry that it is not in my power." " And 
pray what puts it out of your power ? " cried Lady Pelham, 
wrath working in her countenance. "I cannot go where 
I am to meet Colonel Hargrave." For a moment Lady 
Pelham looked confounded ; but presently recovering utter- 
ance, she began " So ! this is your Norwood intelligence; 
and your charming Mrs. de Courcy your model of 'per- 
fection sets spies upon the conduct of all the neighbour- 
hood!" 

Laura reddened at this vulgar abuse of a person whom 
she revered so highly ; but she had set a guard upon her 
temper, and only answered, that it was not at Norwood she 
received her information. "A fortunate, I should rather 
say a providential accident," said she, ce disclosed to me the 
whole " the word " stratagem " was rising to her lips, but 
she exchanged it for one less offensive. 

" And what if Colonel Hargrave is to be there ? " said 
Lady Pelham, her choler rising as her confusion subsided. 
" I suppose, forsooth, my pretty prudish miss cannot trust 
herself in the house with a man !" " Not with Colonel 
Hargrave, madam," said Laura coolly. 

Lady Pelham's rage was now strong enough to burst the 
restraints of Laura's habitual ascendency. " But I say you 
shall go, miss," cried she in a scream that mingled the 
fierceness of anger with the insolence of command. " Yes I 
say you shall go ; we shall see whether I am always to 
truckle to a baby-faced chit, a creature that might have 
died in a workhouse but for my charity." " Indeed, ma- 
dam," said Laura, " I do not forget I never shall forget 



SELF-CONTROL. 347 

what I owe to you ; nor that when I was shelterless and 
unprotected, you received and cherished me." "Then 
show that you remember it, and do what I desire," returned 
Lady Pelham, softened, in spite of herself, by the resistless 
sweetness of Laura's look and manner. " Do not, I be- 
seech you, madam," said Laura, " insist upon this proof of 
my gratitude. If you do, I can only thank you for your 
past kindness, and wish that it had been in my power to 
make a better return." " Do you dare to tell me that you 
will not go ? " cried Lady Pelham, stamping till the room 
shook. ". I beg, madam," said Laura, entreatingly, (t I 
beg of you not to command what I shall be compelled 
to refuse." " Refuse at your peril ! " shrieked Lady Pelham, 
in a voice scarcely articulate with passion, and grasping 
Laura's arm in the convulsion of her rage. 

Laura had sometimes been the witness, but seldom the 
object, of her aunt's transports ; and while Lady Pelham 
stood eyeing her with a countenance " fierce as ten furies," 
she, conscious with what burning shame she would herself 
have shrunk from making such an exhibition, sympatheti- 
cally averted her eyes as if the virago had been sensible of 
the same feeling. (i I say refuse at your peril ! " cried 
Lady Pelham. "Why don't you speak? obstinate " 
<e Because," answered Laura, with saint-like meekness, <c I 
can say nothing but what will offend you - I cannot go to 
Mrs. Bathurst's." 

Angry opposition Lady Pelham might have retorted 
with some small remains of self-possession, but the serenity 
of Laura exasperating her beyond all bounds, she was so 
far transported as to strike her a violent blow. Without 
uttering a syllable, Laura took her candle and quitted the 
room ; while Lady Pelham, herself confounded at the 
outrage which she had committed, made no attempt to 
detain her. 

Laura retired to her chamber, and sat quietly down to 
consider the state of her warfare, which she determined to 
conclude by letter, without exposing her person to another 
assault; but in a few minutes she was stormed in her 
citadel, and the enemy entered, conscious of mistake, but 
with spirit unbroken. Lady Pelham had gone too far to 



34,8 



SELF-CONTROL. 



retract,, and was too much in the wrong to recant her error ; 
her passion,, however, had somewhat exhausted itself in the 
intemperate exercise which she had allowed it ; and though 
as unreasonable as ever, she was less outrageous. Advanc- 
ing towards Laura with an air intended to express offended 
majesty (for studied dignity is generally the disguise 
chosen by conscious degradation),, she began,, " Miss 
Montreville, do you, in defiance of my commands, adhere 
to your resolution of not visiting Mrs. Bathurst ?" <f Cer- 
tainly,, madam,,'' replied Laura, provoked that Lady 
Pelham shtfuld expect to intimidate her by a blow ; <( I 
have seen no reason to relinquish it." ef There is a rea- 
son, however/' returned Lady Pelham, elevating her chin, 
curling her upper lip, and. giving Laura the side-glance of 
disdain, ff though probably it is too light to weigh with 
such a determined lady, and that is, that you must either 
prepare to attend me to-morrow, or return to that beggary 
from which I took you, and never more enter my presence." 
" Then, madam," said Laura, rising with her native mien 
of calm command, " we must part ; for I cannot go to 
Mrs. Bathurst's." 

Laura's cool resistance of a threat which was expected to 
be all powerful, discomposed Lady Pelham's heroics. Her 
eyes flashing fire, and her voice sharpening to a scream, 
" Perverse, ungrateful wretch !" she cried " get out of 
my sight leave my house this instant." " Certainly, 
if you desire it, madam," answered Laura, with unmoved 
self-possession ; " but, perhaps, if you please, I had better 
remain here till morning. I am afraid it might give rise 
to unpleasant observations if it were known that I left your 
house at midnight." 

" I care not who knows it I would have the world 
see what a viper I have fostered in my bosom. Begone, 
and never let me see your hypocritical face again." 

" Then I hope," said Laura, " your Ladyship will allow 
a servant to accompany me to Norwood. At this hour it 
would be improper for me to go alone." " Oh to be sure," 
cried Lady Pelham, " do go to your friend and favourite, 
and make your complaint of all your harsh usage, and 
descant at large upon poor Lady Pelham's unlucky failings. 



SELF-CONTROL. 349 

No, no, I promise you, no servant of mine shall be sent on 
any such errand." " There is fine moonlight," said Laura, 
looking calmly from the window, " I dare say I shall be 
safe enough alone." "You shall not go to Norwood!" 
cried Lady Pelham : " I'll take care to keep you from 
that prying censorious old hag. You two shan't be allowed 
to sit primming up your mouths, and spitting venom on all 
the neighbourhood." 

Weary of such low abuse, Laura took her bonnet, and 
was leaving the room. Lady Pelham placed herself be- 
tween her and the door. " Where are you going ? " she 
demanded, in a voice in which rage was a little mingled 
with dread. " To the only shelter that England affords 
me," returned Laura ; " to the only friends from whom 
death or distance does not sever me." " I shall spoil 
your dish of scandal for to-night, however," said Lady 
Pelham, flouncing out of the room ; and, slapping the 
door with a force that made the windows rattle, she locked 
it on the outside. Laura, making no attempt to obtain 
release, quietly sat down expecting a renewal of the charge. 
Soon, however, all the household seemed still, and Laura 
having mingled with the prayer which commended herself 
to the care of Heaven, a supplication for pardon and amend- 
ment to her aunt, retired to sound and refreshing rest. 

On quitting Laura, Lady Pelham went to bed, pride 
and anger in her breast fiercely struggling against a sense 
of blame. But the darkness, the silence, the loneliness of 
night assuage the passions even of a termagant ; and by 
degrees she turned from re-acting and excusing her con* 
duct, to fretting at its probable consequences. 

The courage of a virago is no more than the daring of 
intoxication. Wait till the paroxysm be past, and the timid 
hare is not more the slave of fear. Lady Pelham began 
to feel, though she would scarcely acknowledge it to her- 
self, how very absurdly her contest would figure in the 
mouths of the gossips round Walbourne. If her niece 
left her house in displeasure, if a breach were known to 
subsist between them, was it not most likely that Laura 
would in her own defence relate the treatment to which 
she had been subjected? At all events, if she went to 



350 SELF-CONTROL. 

Norwood before a reconciliation took place, she would cer- 
tainly explain her situation to Mrs. de Courcy ; and Lady 
Pelham could not brave the contempt of the woman whom 
she disliked and abused. Anger has been compared to a 
short madness,, and the resemblance holds in this respect, 
that in both cases, a little terror is of sovereign use in 
restoring quiet. Lady Pelham even feared the calm dis- 
pleasure of Laura, and shrunk from meeting the reproving 
eye of even the dependent girl whom she had persecuted, 
and reproached, and insulted. 

By degrees, Laura's habitual ascendency was completely 
restored, perhaps with added strength for its momentary 
suspension ; for she had rather gained in respectability by 
patient endurance, while Lady Pelham was somewhat 
humbled by a sense of misconduct. Besides, in the course of 
eight months' residence under her roof, Laura was become 
necessary to her aunt. Her prudence, her good temper, 
her various domestic talents, were ever at hand to supply 
the capital defects of Lady Pelham's character. Lady 
Pelham could not justly be said to love any mortal, but 
she felt the advantages of the method and regularity which 
Laura had introduced into her family; Laura's beauty 
gratified her vanity; Laura's sweetness bore with her 
caprice j Laura's talents amused her solitude ; and she 
made as near an approach as nature would permit to loving 
Laura. What was of more consequence, Laura was 
popular in the neighbourhood ; her story would be no 
sooner told than believed ; and, Lady Pelham's lively 
imagination strongly represented to her the aggravation, 
commentary, and sarcasm with which such an anecdote 
would be circulated. 

But though these ideas floated in Lady Pelham's mind, 
let it not be thought that she once supposed them to be 
the motives of her determination to seek a reconcilement. 
No. Lady Pelham had explained, and disguised, and 
adorned her failings, till she had converted the natural 
shame of confession into a notion that a candid avowal 
atoned for any of her errors ; and no sooner did she begin 
to think of making concessions to her niece, than the con- 
sciousness of blame was lost in inward applause of her own 



SELF-CONTROL. 351 

candour and condescension. An observing eye, therefore, 
would have seen more of conceit than of humility in her 
air, when early in the morning she entered Laura's apart- 
ment. 

Laura was already dressed, and returned her aunt's salu- 
tation a little more coldly than she had ever formerly done, 
though with perfect good humour. Lady Pelham approached 
and took her hand ; Laura did not withdraw it. " I fear," 
said Lady Pelham, " you think I behaved very absurdly 
last night." Laura looked down and said nothing. " I am 
willing to own that I was to blame," continued her Lady- 
ship, " but people of strong feelings, you know, my dear, 
cannot always command themselves." Laura was still 
silent. " We must forget and forgive the failings of our 
friends/' proceeded her Ladyship. Laura, who dreaded 
that these overtures of peace only covered a projected attack, 
still stood speechless. ' ' Will you not forgive me, Laura ? " 
said Lady Pelham coaxingly, her desire of pardon increasing, 
as she began to doubt of obtaining it. 

" 1 do, madam," said Laura, clasping Lady Pelham's 
hand between her own. " I do from my heart forgive all, 
and if you will permit me, I will forget all all but that 
when I was an orphan, alone in the world, you sheltered 
and protected me." 

" Thank you, my dear good girl," returned Lady Pelham, 
sealing the reconciliation with a kiss. " I knew you would 
think it a duty to excuse an error arising merely from my 
natural warmth, and the interest I take in you f A bad 
effect from a noble cause.' It is a melancholy truth that 
those who have the advantages of a feeling heart must share 
in its weaknesses too." 

Laura had so often listened to similar nonsense, that 
it had ceased to provoke a smile. " Let us talk of this 
no more," said she ; " let me rather try to persuade you 
not only to excuse, but sanction the obstinacy which of- 
fended you." 

" Ah, Laura," returned Lady Pelham, smiling, " I must 
not call you obstinate, but you are very firm. If I could 
but prevail on you to go with me only for a day or two, I 
should make my visit as short as you please ; for, now it has 



352 SELF-CONTROL. 

been all arranged, I must go, and it would look so awkward 
to go without you. " 

(C If the length of your visit depends upon me," answered 
Laura, waving a subject on which she was determined not 
to forfeit her character for firmness, " it shall be short in- 
deed, for I shall long to offer some reparation for all my late 
perverseness and disobedience." 

At another time Lady Pelham's temper would have failed 
her at this steady opposition of her will ; but fear kept her 
in check. After a few very gentle expostulations, she gave 
up the point, and enquired whether her niece still intended 
to spend the time of her absence at Norwood. Laura an- 
swered that she did ; and had promised to breakfast there 
that morning. Upon this Lady Pelham overwhelmed her 
with such caresses and endearments, as she intended should 
obliterate the remembrance of her late injurious behaviour. 
She extolled Laura's prudence, her sweet and forgiving dis- 
position, her commendable reserve with strangers, and her 
caution in speaking of herself, or of her own affairs. Un- 
fortunately for the effect of the flattery, Laura recollected 
that some of these qualities had at times been the subject of 
Lady Pelham's severe reprehension. She had, besides, suf- 
ficient penetration to detect the motive of her Ladyship's 
altered language ; and she strove to repress a feeling of 
contempt, while she replied to her aunt's thoughts as frankly 
as if they had been frankly spoken ; assuring her that she 
should be far from publishing to strangers the casual vexa- 
tions of her domestic life. Lady Pelham reddened, as her 
latent thoughts were thus seized and exposed naked to her 
view ; but fear again proved victorious, and she redoubled 
her blandishments. She had even recourse to a new expe- 
dient, and for the first time made Laura an offer of money. 
With infinite difficulty did Laura suppress the indignation 
which swelled her breast. She had forgiven abuse and in- 
sult, but it was beyond endurance that her aunt should sup- 
pose that her pardon and silence might be bought. Re- 
straining her anger, however, she positively refused the 
money ; and bidding Lady Pelham farewell, departed, 
amidst pressing injunctions to remain at Norwood no longer 
than till her aunt returned to Walbourne ; her Ladyship 



SELF-CONTROL. 



353 



protesting that her own home would not be endurable for 
an hour without the company of her dear Laura. 

Lady Pelham unwillingly set out on a journey of which 
the first intention had been totally defeated ; but she had 
no alternative,, since, besides having promised to visit 
Mrs. Bathurst, she had made an appointment to meet Har- 
grave at the stage where she was to stop for the night, and 
it was now too late to give him warning of his disappoint- 
ment. Even Hargrave's politeness was no match for his 
vexation, when he saw Lady Pelham, late in the evening, 
alight from her carriage, unaccompanied by Laura. He 
listened with impatience to her Ladyship's apology and con- 
fused explanations ; and more than half resolved upon 
returning to , to carry on his operations there. But 
he too had promised to Mrs. Bathurst, whom for particular 
reasons he wished not to disoblige. The travellers, there- 
fore, next day pursued their journey to Derham Green, be- 
guiling the way by joint contrivances to conquer the stub- 
bornness of Laura. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

LAURA had proceeded but a short way towards Norwood 
when she was met by De Courcy, who, with a manner the 
most opposite to his coldness on the preceding day, sprung 
forward to meet her, his countenance radiant with pleasure. 
Laura, delighted with the change, playfully reproached him 
with his caprice. Montague coloured, but defended himself 
with spirit ; and a dialogue, more resembling flirtation than 
any in which Laura had ever engaged, occupied them 
till, as they loitered along the dark avenue of Norwood, a 
shade of the sentimental began to mingle with their con- 
versation. 

De Courcy had that morning resolved, firmly resolved, 
that while Laura was his guest at Norwood, he would avoid 
a declaration of his sentiments. Convinced, as he now was, 

A A 



354 SELF- CONTROL-. 

that he had no longer any thing to fear from the perse- 
verance of Hargrave, he was yet far from being confident of 
his own success. On the contrary, he was persuaded that 
he had hitherto awakened in Laura no sentiment beyond 
friendship, and that she must become accustomed to him as 
a lover, before he could hope for any farther grace. He con- 
sidered how embarrassing would be her situation in a house 
of which the master was a repulsed, perhaps a rejected, ad- 
mirer ; and he had determined not to hazard embittering to 
her a residence from which she had at present no retreat. 
Yet the confiding manner, the bewitching loveliness of 
Laura, the stillness, shade, and solitude of their path, had 
half-beguiled him of his prudence, when, fortunately for his 
resolution, he saw Harriet advancing to meet her friend. 
Harriet's liveliness soon restored gaiety to the conversation ; 
and the party proceeded less leisurely than before to Nor- 
wood, where Laura was received with affectionate cordiality 
by Mrs. de Courcy. 

Never had the time appeared to Laura to fly so swiftly 
as now. Every hour was sacred to improvement, to ele- 
gance, or to benevolence. Laura had a mind capable of 
intense application ; and therefore could exalt relaxation 
into positive enjoyment. But the pleasure which a vigo- 
rous understanding takes in the exercise of its powers, was 
now heightened in her hours of study, by the assistance, 
the approbation of De Courcy ; and the hours of relaxation 
he enlivened by a manner which, at once frank and re- 
spectful, spirited and kind, seemed peculiarly fitted to 
adorn the domestic circle. 

A part of every day was employed by Mrs. de Courcy 
in various works cf charity ; and, joining in these, Laura 
returned with satisfaction to a habit which she had unwil- 
lingly laid aside during her residence in London, and but 
imperfectly resumed at Walbourne. Amiable, rational, 
and pious, the family at Norwood realised all Laura's day- 
dreams of social happiness ; and the only painful feeling 
that assailed her mind arose frcm the recollection that the 
time of her visit was fast stealing away. 

Her visit was, however, prolonged by a fortunate cold, 
which detained Lady Pelham at Derham Green; and Laura 



SELF-CONTROL. 355 

could not regret an accident which delayed her separation 
from her friends. Indeed she began to dread Lady 
Pelham's return., both as the signal of her departure from 
Norwood, and as a prelude to the renewal of her persecu- , 
tions on account of Hargrave. Far from having, as Lady 
Pelham had insinuated, renounced his pursuit, he returned 
in a few days from Mrs. Bathurst's ; again established 
himself with Lambert ; and, though he could not uninvited 
intrude at Norwood, contrived to beset Laura as often as 
she passed its bounds. In the few visits which she paid, 
she generally encountered him ; and he regularly waylaid 
her at church. But he had lost an able coadjutor in Lady 
Pelham ; and now, when no one present was concerned to 
assist his designs, and when Laura was protected by kind 
and considerate friends, she generally found means to escape 
his officious attentions ; though, remembering his former 
jealousy of Montague, and the irritability of his temper, 
she was scrupulously cautious of marking her preference of 
De Courcy, or of appearing to take sanctuary with him 
from the assiduities of Hargrave. 

Indeed, notwithstanding the mildness of De Courcy's 
disposition, she was not without fear that he might be in- 
volved in a quarrel by the unreasonable suspicions of Har- 
grave, who had often taxed her with receiving his addresses, 
ascribing his own failure to their success. She had in vain 
condescended to assure him that the charge was groundless. 
He never met De Courcy without showing evident marks 
of dislike. If he accosted him, it was in a tone and man- 
ner approaching to insult. The most trivial sentence which 
De Courcy addressed to Laura, drew from Hargrave looks 
of enmity and defiance ; while Montague, on his part, re- 
turned these aggressions by a cool disdain, the most oppo- 
site to the conciliating frankness of his general manners, 
Laura's alarm lest Hargrave's ill-concealed aversion should 
burst into open outrage, completed the dread with which 
he inspired her; and she felt like one subjected to the 
thraldom of an evil genius, when he one day announced to 
her that he had procured leave to remove his regiment 

to ; in order, as he said, " that he might be at hand 

to assert his rights over her." 

A A 2 



356 SELF-CONTROL. 

He conveyed this information as, rudely preventing Mr, 
Bolingbroke and De Courcy, he led her from Mrs. de 
Courcy's carriage into church. Laura durst not challenge 
his presumptuous expression, for Montague was close by 
her side, and she dreaded that his aversion to arrogance 
and oppression might induce him to engage in her quarrel. 
Silently, therefore, though glowing with resentment, she 
suffered Hargrave to retain the lace he had usurped, while 
Montague followed, with a countenance which a few short 
moments had clouded with sudden care. " Ah," thought 
he, <e those rights must indeed be strong which he dares 
thus boldly, thus publicly assert." 

It was some time ere the service began, and Laura could 
not help casting glances of kind enquiry on the saddened 
face, which, a few minutes before, she had seen bright 
with animation and delight. Hargrave's eye followed hers 
with a far different expression. While she observed him 
darting a scowl of malice and aversion on the man to whom 
he owed his life, Laura shuddered ; and wondering at the 
infatuation which had so long disguised his true character, 
bent her head, acknowledged her short-sightedness, and 
resigned the future events of her life to the disposal of 
Heaven. 

It was the day immediately preceding Harriet's mar- 
riage, and neither she nor Mrs. de Courcy was in church ; 
Laura therefore returned home tete-a-tete with Montague. 
Ignorant that Hargrave's provoking half-whisper had been 
overheard by De Courcy, she could not account for the 
sudden change in his countenance and manner ; yet though 
she took an affectionate interest in his melancholy, they 
had almost reached home before she summoned courage to 
enquire into its cause. " I fear you are indisposed," said 
she to him in a voice of kind concern. De Courcy thanked 
her. " No, not indisposed," said he, with a faint smile. 
" Disturbed, then," said Laura. De Courcy was silent for 
a moment, and then taking her hand, said, " May I be 
candid with you ? " " Surely," returned Laura. ' ' I trust 
I shall ever meet with candour in you." " Then I will 
own," resumed De Courcy, " that I am disturbed. And 
can the friend of Montreville be otherwise when he hears a 



SELF-CONTROL. 35? 

aright claimed over you by one so wholly unworthy of you? " 
" Ah," cried Laura, " you have then heard all. I hoped 
you had not attended to him." te Attended !" exclaimed 
De Courcy, " could any right be claimed over you, and I 
be regardless ? " ' e It were ungrateful to doubt your 
friendly interest in me," replied Laura. " Believe me 
Colonel Hargrave has no right over me, nor ever shall 
have." " Yet I did not hear you resist the claim," re- 
turned De Courcy. " Because," answered Laura, ff I 
feared to draw your attention. His violence terrifies me, 
and I feared that that you might " She hesitated, 
stopped, and blushed very deeply. She felt the awkward- 
ness of appearing to expect that De Courcy should engage 
in a quarrel on her account, but the simple truth ever rose 
so naturally to her lips, that she could not even qualify it 
without confusion. " Might what?" cried De Courcy 
eagerly. " Speak frankly, I beseech you." " I feared," 
replied Laura, recovering herself, l( that the interest you 
take in the daughter of your friend, might expose you to 
the rudeness of this overbearing man." " And did you, 
upon my account, dearest Laura, submit to this insolence?" 
cried De Courcy, his eyes sparkling with exultation. " Is 
my honour, my safety then dear to you ? Could you think 
of me even while Hargrave spoke ? " 

With surprise and displeasure, Laura read the trium- 
phant glance which accompanied his words. " Is it 
possible," thought she, " that, well as he knows me, he 
can thus mistake the nature of my regard? or can he, 
attached to another, find pleasure in the idle dream? Oh, 
man ! thou art altogether vanity ! " Snatching away the 
hand which he was pressing to his lips, she coldly replied, 
" I should have been equally attentive to the safety of any 
common stranger, had I expected his interference, and 
Colonel Hargrave's speeches cannot divert my attention, 
even from the most trivial object in nature." 

Poor De Courcy, his towering hopes suddenly levelled 
with the dust, shrunk from the frozen steadiness of her 
eye. " Pardon me, Miss Montreville," said he, in a tone 
of mingled sorrow and reproach, " pardon me for the hope 
that you would make any distinction between me and the 
A A 3 



358 SELF-CONTROL.' 

most indifferent. I shall scon be cured of my pre- 
sumption." Grieved at the pain she saw she had occa- 
sioned, Laura would fain have said something to mitigate 
the repulse which she had given; but a new light began to 
dawn upon her, and she feared to conciliate the friend lest 
she should encourage the lover. Fortunately for the relief 
of her embarrassment the carriage stopped. De Courcy 
gravely and in silence handed her from it ; and hurrying 
to her chamber, she sat down to re-consider the dialogue 
she had just ended. 

De Courcy 's manner more than his words recalled a 
suspicion which she had oftener than once driven from her 
mind. She was impressed, she scarcely knew why, with a 
conviction that she was beloved. For some moments this 
idea alone filled her thoughts ; the next that succeeded was 
recollection that she ought sincerely to lament a passion 
which she could not return. It was her duty to be sorry, 
very sorry indeed, for such an accident ; to be otherwise 
would have argued the most selfish vanity, the most hard- 
hearted ingratitude towards the best of friends, and the 
most amiable of mankind. Yet she was not very sorry ; 
it was out of her power to convince herself that she was ; 
so she imputed her philosophy under her misfortune to 
doubtfulness of its existence. " But after all," said she 
to herself, " his words could not bear such a construction ; 
and for his manner who would build any thing upon a 
manner! While a woman's vanity is so apt to deceive 
her, what rational creature would give credit to what may 
owe so much to her own imagination ! Besides, did not 
Mrs. de Courcy more than hint that his affections were 
engaged ? Did he not even himself confess to me that they 
were? And I taxed him with vanity! Truly, if he 
could see this ridiculous freak of mine he might very justly 
retort the charge. And see it he must. What could 
possess me, with my absurd prudery, to take offence at 
his expecting that I, who owe him ten thousand kind 
offices, should be anxious for his safety ? How could I 
be so false, so thankless, as to say I considered him as a 
common acquaintance? The friend of my father, my 
departed father ! the friend Who supported him in want, 



SELF-CONTROL. 359 

and consoled him in sorrow ! No wonder that he seemed 
shocked ! What is so painful to a noble heart as to meet 
with ingratitude ? But he shall never again have reason 
to think me vain or ungrateful;" and Laura hastened 
down stairs, that she might lose no time in convincing De 
Courcy that she did not suspect him of being her lover, 
and highly valued him as a friend. She found him in the 
drawing-room, pensively resting his forehead against the 
window-sash ; and approaching him, spoke some trifle 
with a smile so winning, so gracious, that De Courcy soon 
forgot both his wishes and his fears, enjoyed the present, 
and was happy. 

The day of Harriet's marriage arrived ; and for once 
she was grave and silent. She even forgot her bridal 
finery ; and when Laura went to inform her of Mr. 
Bolingbroke's arrival, she found her in the library, sitting 
on the ground in tears, her head resting on the seat of an 
old-fashioned elbow-chair. She sprang up as Laura 
entered ; and dashing the drops from her eyes, cried, " I 
have been trying to grow young again for a few minutes, 
before I am made an old woman for life. Just there I 
used to sit when I was a little thing, and laid my head 
upon my father's knee j for this was his favourite chair, 
and there old Rover and I used to lie at his feet together. 
I'll beg this chair of my mother, for now I love every thing 
at Norwood." Laura drew her away, and she forgot the 
old elbow-chair when she saw the superb diamonds which 
were lying on her dressing-table. 

The ceremonial of the wedding was altogether adjusted 
by Mrs. Penelope ; and though, in compliance with Mr. 
Bolingbroke's whims, she suffered the ceremony to be 
privately performed, she invited every creature who could 
claim kindred with the names of Bolingbroke or De 
Courcy to meet and welcome the young bride to her home. 
Mr. Bolingbroke having brought a licence, the pair were 
united at Norwood. Mr. Wentworth officiated, and De 
Courcy gave his sister away. Mr. Bolingbroke's own new 
barouche, so often beheld in fancy, now really waited to 
convey her to her future dwelling ; but she turned to bid 
A A 4 



360 SELF-CONTROL. 

farewell to the domestics who had attended her infancy, 
and forgot to look at the new barouche. 

Mr. Bolingbroke was a great man, and could not be 
allowed to marry quietly. Bonfires were lighted, bells 
were rung, and a concourse of his tenantry accompanied 
the carriages which conveyed the party. The admiration 
of the company whom Mrs. Penelope had assembled in 
honour of the day, was divided between Mrs. Bolingbroke's 
diamonds and her bride-maid ; and as the number of each 
sex was pretty equal, the wonders shared pretty equally. 

et Did you ever see any thing so lovely as Miss Montre- 
ville ?" said Sophia Bolingbroke to the young lady who sat 
next her. <e I never can think any body pretty who has 
red hair," was the reply. " If her hair be red," returned 
Sophia, " it is the most pardonable red hair in the world, 
for it is more nearly black. Don't you admire her 
figure ?" " Not particularly ; she is too much of the 
May-pole for me ; besides, who can tell what her figure is, 
when she is so muffled up ? I dare say she is stuffed, or 
she would show a little more of her skin." " She has at 
least an excellent taste in stuffing, then," said Sophia, " for 
I never saw any thing so elegantly formed." " It is easy 
to see," said the critic, " that she thinks herself a beauty 
by her dressing so affectedly. To-night, when every body 
else is in full dress, do but look at hers ! " " Pure, un- 
adorned, virgin white," said Miss Bolingbroke, looking at 
Laura ; " the proper attire of angels ! " The name of 
Miss Montreville had drawn the attention of De Courcy to 
this dialogue. " I protest," cried he to Mr. Went worth, 
who stood by him, " Sophy Bolingbroke is the most agree- 
able plain girl I ever saw." He then placed himself by her 
side; and while she continued to praise Laura, gave her 
credit for all that is most amiable in woman. 

The moment he left her she ran to rally Laura upon 
her conquest. " I give you joy, my dear," said she, " De 
Courcy is certainly in love with you." " Nonsense," 
cried Laura, colouring crimson ; " what can make you 
think so ? " " Why he will talk of nothing but you; and 
he looked so delighted when I praised you, and paid me 
more compliments in half an hour than ever I received in 



SELF-CONTROL. 361 

my whole life before." " If he was so complimentary/' 
said Laura, smiling, ff it seems more likely that he is in 
love with you." " Ah," said Sophia, sighing, " that is 
not very probable." <e Fully as probable as the other," 
answered Laura ; and turned away to avoid a subject which 
she was striving to banish from her thoughts. 

During the few days which Laura and the De Courcys 
spent with the newly-married pair, Miss Bolingbroke's ob- 
servations served to confirm her opinion ; and merely for 
the pleasure of speaking of Montague, she rallied Laura 
incessantly on her lover. In weighing credibilities, small 
weight of testimony turns the scale ; and Laura began 
alternately to wonder what retarded De Courcy's de- 
claration, and to tax herself with vanity in expecting that 
he would ever make one. She disliked her stay at Orford- 
hall, and counted the hours till her return to Norwood. 
De Courcy's attentions she had long placed to the account 
of a regard which, while she was permitted to give it the 
name of friendship, she could frankly own that she valued 
above any earthly possession. These attentions were now 
so familiar to her, that they were become almost necessary, 
and she was vexed at being constantly reminded that she 
ought to reject them. She had therefore a latent wish to 
return to a place where she would have a legitimate claim 
to his kindness, and where at least there would be no one 
to remind her that she ought to shrink from it. 

Besides, she was weary of the state and magnificence 
that surrounded her. While Harriet glided into the use 
of her finery as if she had been accustomed to it from her 
cradle, Laura could by no means be reconciled to it. She 
endured with impatience a meal of three hours long ; could 
not eat while six footmen were staring at her ; started, if 
she thoughtlessly leant her head against the white damask 
wall ; and could not move with ease, where every gesture 
was repeated in endless looking-glasses. With pleasure, 
therefore, she saw the day arrive which was to restore her 
to easy hospitality and respectable simplicity at Norwood : 
but that very day she received a summons to attend her 
aunt at Walbourne. 

Unwilling as Laura was to quit her friends, she did not 



362 



SELF-CONTROL. 



delay to comply with Lady Pelham's requisition. Mrs. de 
Courcy judged it improper to urge her to stay; and 
Montague in part consoled himself for her departure, by re- 
flecting, that he would now be at liberty to disclose his long- 
concealed secret. " No doubt you are at liberty/' said 
Mrs. de Courcy, when he spoke to her of his intentions, 
" and I am far from pretending to advise or interfere. 
But my dear Montague, you must neither be surprised, 
nor in despair, if you be at first unsuccessful. Though 
Laura esteems you, perhaps more than esteems you, she is 
convinced that she is invulnerable to love ; and it may be 
so, but her fancied security is all in your favour." 

Weary of suspense, however, De Courcy often resolved 
to know his fate ; and often went to Walbourne, determined 
to learn ere he returned, whether a circle of pleasing duties 
was to fill his after life, or whether it was to be spent 
alone, " loveless, joyless, unendeared ; " but when he met 
the friendly smile of Laura, and remembered that, his 
secret told, it might vanish like the gleaming of a wintry 
sun, his courage failed, and the intended disclosure was 
again delayed. Yet his manner grew less and less equi- 
vocal, and Laura, unwilling as she was to own the 
conviction to herself, could scarcely maintain her wilful 
blindness. 

She allowed the subject to occupy the more of her 
thoughts, because it came disguised in a veil of self-con- 
demnation and humility. Sometimes she repeated to her- 
self, that she should never have known the vanity of her 
own heart, had it not been visited by so absurd a suspicion; 
and sometimes that she should never have been acquainted 
with its selfishness and obduracy, had she not borne with 
such indifference, the thoughts of what must bring pain 
and disappointment to so worthy a breast. But, spite of 
Laura's efforts to be miserable, the subject cost her much 
more perplexity than distress ; and, in wondering whether 
De Courcy really were her lover, and what could be his 
motive for concealing it if he were, she often forgot to 
deplore the consequences of her charms. 

Meanwhile Hargrave continued his importunities; and 
Lady Pelham seconded them with unwearied perseverance. 



SELF-CONTROL. 



363 



In vain did Laura protest that her indifference was un- 
conquerable : in vain assure him that though a total revo- 
lution in his character might regain her esteem, her affection 
was irrecoverably lost. She could at any time exasperate 
the proud spirit of Hargrave, till in transports of fury 
he would abjure her for ever; but a few hours always 
brought the " for ever " to an end, and Hargrave back, to 
supplicate, to importune, and not unfrequently to threaten. 
Though her unremitting coldness, however, failed to con- 
quer his passion, it by degrees extinguished all of generous 
or kindly that had ever mingled with the flame ; and the 
wild unholy fire which her beauty kept alive was blended 
with the heart-burnings of anger and revenge. From such 
a passion Laura shrunk with dread and horror. She heard 
its expressions as superstition listens to sounds of evil 
omen ; and saw his impassioned glances with the dread of 
one who meets the eye of the crouching tiger. His in- 
creasing jealousy of De Courcy, which testified itself in 
haughtiness, and even ferocity of behaviour towards him, 
and Montague's determined though cool resistance of his 
insolence, kept her in continual alarm. Though she never 
on any other occasion voluntarily entered Hargrave's pre- 
sence, yet if De Courcy found him at Walbourne, she 
would hasten to join them, fearing the consequences of a 
private interview between two such hostile spirits; and 
this apparent preference not only aggravated the jealousy 
of Hargrave, but roused Lady Pelham's indefatigable spirit 
of remonstrance. 

The subject was particularly suited for an episode to her 
Ladyship's harangues in favour of Hargrave ; and she in- 
troduced and varied it with a dexterity all her own. She 
taxed Laura with a passion for De Courcy ; and in terms 
not eminently delicate, reproached her with facility in 
transferring her regards. Then assuming the tone of a 
tender monitress, and affecting to treat all Laura's denials 
as the effect of maiden timidity, she would pretend to 
sympathise in her sufferrings, advising her to use her native 
strength of mind to conquer this unfortunate partiality ; to 
transfer her affections from one to whom they appeared 
valueless to him who sued for them with such interesting 



304 SELF-CONTROL. 

perseverance. Above all, she entreated Laura to avoid the 
appearance of making advances to a man who probably 
never bestowed a thought on her in return ; thus intimating 
that her behaviour might bear so provoking a construction. 

Laura, sometimes irritated, oftener amused by these 
impertinences, could have endured them with tolerable 
patience ; but they were mere interludes to Lady Pelham's 
indefatigable chidings on the subject of Hargrave ; and 
Laura's patience would have failed her, had she not been 
consoled by reflecting that the time now drew near when 
the payment of her annuity would enable her to escape 
from her unwearied persecutors. She heartily wished, 
however, that a change of system might make her residence 
with Lady Pelham endurable ; for strong as was her at- 
tachment to Mrs. Douglas, it was no longer her only 
friendship ; and she could not without pain think of quit- 
ting, perhaps for ever, her valued friends at Norwood. 

Winter advanced, and Lady Pelham began to talk of 
her removal to town. Laura could not help wondering 
sometimes that her aunt, while she appeared so anxious 
to promote the success of Hargrave, should meditate a 
step which would place him at a distance from the object 
of his pursuit ; but Lady Pelham's conduct was so gene- 
rally inconsistent, that Laura was weary of trying to 
reconcile its contradictories. She endeavoured to hope 
that Lady Pelham, at last becoming sensible of the ineffi- 
cacy of her efforts, was herself growing desirous to escape 
the Colonel's importunity; and she thought she could ob- 
serve, that as the time of their departure approached, her 
Ladyship relaxed somewhat of her industry in teazing. 

But the motives of Lady Pelham's removal did not at 
all coincide with her niece's hopes ; and nothing could be 
farther from her intention, than to resign her labours in a 
field so rich in controversy and provocation. She imagined 
that Laura's obstinacy was occasioned, or at least strength- 
ened, by the influence of the De Courcys, and she expected 
that a more general acquaintance with the world might 
remove her prejudices. At Walbourne, Laura, if offended, 
could always take refuge with Mrs. de Courcy. In Lon- 
don, she would be more defenceless. At Walbourne, Lady 



SELF-CONTROL. 365 

Pelham acted under restraint,, for there were few objects 
to divide with her the observation of her neighbours, and 
she felt herself accountable to them for the propriety of 
her conduct ; but she would be more at liberty in a place 
where, each immersed in his own business or pleasure, no 
one had leisure to comment on the concerns of others. 
She knew that Hargrave would find means to escape the 
duty of remaining with his regiment, and indeed had con- 
certed with him the whole plan of her operations. 

Meanwhile Laura, altogether unsuspicious of their de- 
signs, gladly prepared for her journey, considering it as 
a fortunate instance of the instability of Lady Pelham's 
purposes. She paid a parting visit to Mrs. Bolingbroke, 
whom she found established in quiet possession of all the 
goods of fortune. By the aid of Mrs. de Courcy's car- 
riage, she contrived, without molestation from Hargrave, 
to spend much of her time at Norwood, where she was 
always received with a kindness the most flattering, and 
loaded with testimonies of regard. De Courcy still kept 
his secret ; and Laura's suspicions rather diminished when 
she considered that, though he knew she was to go without 
any certainty of returning, he suffered numberless oppor- 
tunities to pass without breathing a syllable of love. 

The day preceding that which was fixed for the journey 
arrived ; and Laura begged Lady Pelham's permission to 
spend it entirely with Mrs. de Courcy. Lady Pelham 
was rather unwilling to consent, for she remembered that 
her last excursion had been rendered abortive by a visit to 
Norwood ; but, flattering herself that her present scheme 
was secure from hazard of failure, she assumed an accom- 
modating humour, and not only permitted Laura to go, 
but allowed the carriage to convey her, stipulating that 
she should return it immediately, and walk home in the 
evening. She found the De Courcys alone, and passed 
the day less cheerfully than any she had ever spent at 
Norwood. Mrs. de Courcy, though kind, was grave and 
thoughtful ; Montague absent, and melancholy. Harriet's 
never-failing spirits no longer enlivened the party, and her 
place was but feebly supplied by the infantine gaiety of 
De Courcy's little protege Henry. 



366* SELF- CONTROL. 

This child, who was the toy of all his patron's leisure 
hours, had, during her visits to Norwood, become parti- 
larly interesting to Laura. His quickness, his uncommon 
beauty, .his engaging frankness, above all, the innocent 
fondness which he showed for her, had really attached her 
to him, and he repaid her with all the affections of his 
little heart. He would quit his toys to hang upon her ; 
and, though at other times as restless as any of his kind, 
was never weary of sitting quietly on her knee, clasping 
her snowy neck in his little sun-burnt arms. His prattle 
agreeably interrupted the taciturnity into which the little 
party were falling, till his grandfather came to take him 
away. " Kiss your hand Henry, and bid Miss Montre- 
ville farewell," said the old man as he was about to take 
him from Laura's arms. " It will be a long while before 
you see her again." (e Are you going away ? " said the 
child, looking sorrowfully in Laura's face. " Yes, far 
away," answered Laura. " Then Henry will go with you, 
Henry's dear pretty lady." (t No, no," said his grand- 
father : " you must go to your mammy ; good boys love 
their mammies best." " Then you ought to be Henry's 
mammy," cried the child, sobbing and locking his arms 
round Laura's neck ; " for Henry loves you best." <( My 
dear boy ! " cried Laura kissing him with a smile that 
half-consented to his wish; but, happening to turn her 
eye towards De Courcy, she saw him change colour, while, 
with an abruptness unlike his usual manntr, he snatched 
the boy from her arms, and regardless of his cries, dis- 
missed him from the room. 

This little incident did not contribute to the cheerfulness 
of the group. Grieved to part with her favourite, and 
puzzled to account for De Courcy 's behaviour, Laura was 
now the most silent of the trio. She saw nothing in the 
childish expression of fondness which should have moved 
De Courcy ; yet it had evidently stung him with sudden 
uneasiness. She now recollected that she had more than 
once enquired who were the parents of this child, and that 
the question had always been evaded. A motive of cu- 
riosity prompted her now to repeat the enquiry, and she 
addressed it to Mrs. de Courcy. With a slight shade of 



yi 



SELF-CONTROL. 367 

embarrassment, Mrs. de Courcy answered, {( His mother 
was the only child of our old servant; a pretty, meek-spirited, 

unfortunate girl ; and his father " " His father's 

crimes/' interrupted De Courcy hastily, " have brought their 
own punishment ; a punishment beyond mortal fortitude to 
bear;" and, catching up a book, he asked Laura whether 
she had seen it, endeavouring to divert her attention by 
pointing out some passages to her notice. Laura's curiosity 
was increased by this appearance of concealment, but she 
had no means of gratifying it, and the subject vanished 
from her mind when she thought of bidding farewell to 
her beloved friends, perhaps for ever. 

When she was about to go, Mrs. de Courcy affection- 
ately embraced her. " My dear child," said she, " second 
in my love and esteem only to my own Montague, almost 
the warmest wish of my heart is to retain you always with 
me ; but, if that is impossible, short may your absence be, 
and may you return to us as joyfully as we shall receive 
you." Weeping, and reluctant to part, Laura at last tore 
herself away. Hargrave had so often stolen upon her 
walks that the fear of meeting him was become habitual 
to her, and she wished to escape him by reaching home 
before her return could be expected. As she leant on De 
Courcy 's arm, ashamed of being unable to suppress her 
sensibility, she averted her head, and locked sadly back 
upon a dwelling endeared to her by many an innocent, 
many a rational pleasure. 

Absorbed in her regrets, Laura had proceeded a con- 
siderable way before she observed that she held a trembling 
arm ; and recollected that De Courcy had scarcely spoken 
since their walk began. Her tears suddenly ceased, while 
confused and disquieted, she quickened her pace. Soon 
recollecting herself, she stopped ; and thanking him for 
his escort, begged that he would go no further. " I can- 
not leave you yet," said De Courcy in a voice of restrained 
emotion, and again he led her onwards. 

A few short sentences were all that passed till they had 
almost reached the antique gate which terminated the 
winding part of the avenue. Here Laura again ert- 
deavoured to prevail upon her companion to return, but 



368 SELF-CONTROL. 

without success. With more composure than before, he 
refused to leave her. Dreading to encounter Hargrave 
while De Courcy was in such evident agitation, she be- 
sought him to go, telling him that it was her particular 
wish that he should proceed no farther. He instantly 
stopped, and, clasping her hand between his, " Must I 
then leave you, Laura ? " said he ; " you whose presence 
has so long been the charm of my existence ! " The 
blood rushed violently into Laura's face, and as suddenly 
retired. " And can I," continued De Courcy, " can I 
suffer you to go without pouring out my full heart to 
you ? " Laura breathed painfully, and she pressed her 
hand upon her bosom to restrain its swelling. " To talk to 
you of passion," resumed De Courcy, " is nothing. You 
have twined yourself with every wish and every employ- 
ment, every motive, every hope, till to part with you is 
tearing my heart-strings." Again he paused. Laura felt 
that she was expected to reply, and, though trembling and 
breathless, made an effort to speak. " This is what I 
feared," said she, " and yet I wish you had been less 
explicit, for there is no human being whose friendship is 

so dear to me as yours ; and now I fear I ought " 

The sob which had been struggling in her breast now 
choked her utterance, and she wept aloud. " It is the 
will of heaven," said she, ef that I should be reft of every 
earthly friend." She covered her face, and stood labouring 
to compose herself; while, heart-struck with a disappoint- 
ment which was not mitigated by all the gentleness with 
which it was conveyed, De Courcy was unable to break 
the silence. 

" Ungrateful ! selfish that I am," exclaimed Laura, 
-suddenly dashing the tears from her eyes, " thus to think 
only of my own loss, while I am giving pain to the 
worthiest of hearts. My best friend, I cannot indeed 
return the regard with which you honour me, but I can 
make you cease to wish that I should. And I deserve the 
shame and anguish I shall suffer. She, whom you honour 
with your love," continued she, the burning crimson glow- 
ing in her face and neck, " has been the sport of a passion, 



SELF-CONTROL. 3 69 

strong as disgraceful disgraceful as its object is worth- 
less." 

Her look, her voice, her manner, conveyed to De 
Courcy the strongest idea of the torture which this con- 
fession cost her ; and no sufferings of his own could make 
him insensible to those of Laura. " Cease, cease," he 
cried, " best and dearest of women, do not add to my 
wretchedness the thought of giving pain to you." Then, 
after a few moments' pause, he continued, (( it would be 
wronging your noble candour to doubt that you have 
recalled your affections." 

<( In doing so," answered Laura, " I can claim no 
merit. Infatuation itself could have been blind no longer." 

<f Then why, dearest Laura," cried De Courcy, his 
heart again bounding with hope, " why may not time, and 
the fond assiduities of love " 

" Ah," interrupted Laura, " that is impossible. A 
mere preference I might give you, but I need not tell you 
that I have no more to give." 

" My heavenly Laura," cried De Courcy, eager joy 
beaming in his eyes, " give me but this preference, and I 
would not exchange it for the fondest passions of all 
woman-kind." 

" You deceive yourself," said Laura, mournfully, " mi- 
serably deceive yourself. Such a sentiment could never 
content you. You would miss a thousand little arts of 
happiness which love alone can teach ; observe a thousand 
nameless coldnesses, which no caution could conceal ; and 
you would be unhappy without knowing perhaps of what 
to complain. You, who deserve the warmest affection to 
be content with mere endurance ! Oh no, I should be 
wretched in the bare thought of offering you so poor a 
return." 

" Endurance, Laura ! I should indeed be a monster to 
find joy in any thing which you could describe by such a 
word. But must I despair of awakening such an affec- 
tion as will make duty delightful, such as will enjoy the 
bliss which it bestows ? " 

" Believe me, my dear friend," said Laura, in a voice 
as sweet, as soothing, as ever conveyed the tenderest con- 



370 SELF-CONTROL. 

fession, " believe me, I am not insensible to the value of 
your regard. It adds a new debt of gratitude to all that 
Montreville's daughter owes you. My highest esteem 
shall ever be yours, but, after what I have confided to you, 
a moment's consideration must convince you that all be- 
yond is impossible." 

" Ah ! " thought De Courcy, " what will it cost me to 
believe that it is indeed impossible." But Laura's avowal 
was not quite so fatal to his hopes as she imagined ; and 
while she supposed that he was summoning fortitude to 
endure their final destruction, he stood silently pondering 
Mrs. de Courcy's oft-repeated counsel to let love borrow 
the garb of friendship, nor suffer him undisguised to 
approach the heart where, having once been dethroned as 
an usurper, all was in arms against him. 

" If I must indeed renounce every dearer hope," re- 
turned he, " then in your friendship, my ever dear Miss 
Montreville, I must seek the happiness of my after-life, 

and surely " 

ec Oh no," interrupted Xaura, " that must not be the 
part, the little part of your happiness which will depend 
upon earthly connections, you must find in that of some 
fortunate woman who has yet a heart to give." 

" How can you name it to me?" cried De Courcy, 
half indignantly. " Can he who has known you, Laura, 
admired in you all that is noble, loved in you all that is 
enchanting, transfer his heart to some common-place 
being ? You are my business you are my pleasure 
I toil but to be worthy of you your approbation is my 
sweetest reward all earthly things are precious to me 
only as you share in them even a better world borrows 
hope from you. And is this a love to be bestowed on 
some soul-less thing? No, Laura, I cannot, will not 
change. If I cannot win your love, I will admit no sub- 
stitute but your friendship." 

" Indeed, Mr. de Courcy," cried Laura, unconsciously 
pressing, in the energy of speech, the hand which held 
hers " indeed it is to no common-place woman that 1 
wish to resign you. Lonely as my own life must be, its 
chief pleasures must arise from the happiness of my 



SELF-CONTROL. 371 

friends, and to know that you are happy." Laura stopped., 
for she felt her voice grow tremulous. " But we will not 
talk of this now," resumed she, tf I shall be absent for 
some months at least, and in that time you will bring 
yourself to think differently. Promise me at least to 
make the attempt." 

<f No, Laura," answered Be Courcy, <f this I cannot 
promise. I will never harass you with importunity or 
complaint, but the love of you shall be my heart's treasure, 
it shall last through life beyond life and if you can- 
not love me, give in return only such kind thoughts as you 
would bestow on one who would promote your happiness at 
the expense of his own. And promise me, dearest Laura, 
that when we meet, you will not receive me with suspicion 
or reserve, as if you feared that I should presume on your 
favour, or persecute you with solicitations. Trust to my 
honour, trust to my love itself for sparing you all unavailing 
entreaty. Promise me then, ever to consider me as a friend, 
a faithful tender friend ; and forget, till my weakness re- 
mind you of it, that ever you knew me as a lover." 

" Ah, Mr. de Courcy," cried Laura, tears filling her eyes, 
" what thoughts but the kindest can I ever have of him 
who comforted my father's sorrows, who relieved in a 
manner which made relief indeed a kindness relieved my 
father's wants ? And what suspicion, what coldness can I 
ever feel towards him whom my father loved and honoured ! 
Yes, I will trust you ; for I know that you are as far above 
owing favour to compassion as to fear." 

" A thousand thanks, beloved Laura," cried De Courcy, 
kissing her hands, " and thus I seal our compact. One 
thing more ; shall I trespass on your noble frankness, if I 
ask you whether, had not another stolen the blessing, I 
might have hoped to awaken a warmer regard ? whether 
any labour, any cares could have won for me what he has 
forfeited ? " 

Silent and blushing, Laura stood for a few moments with 
her eyes fixed on the ground, then raising them, said, 
"' From you I fear no wrong construction of my words, 
and will frankly own to you that for my own sake, as well 
as yours, I wish you had been known to me ere the serpent 
u u 2 



37- SELF-CONTROL. 

wound me in his poisoned folds. I believe, indeed, that no 
mortal hut himself could have inspired the same what 
shall I call an infatuation with which reason had nothing 
to do. But you have the virtues which I have been taught 
to love, and and but what avails it now ? I was in- 
deed a social creature; domestic habits, domestic wishes 
strong in me. But what avails it now ? " 

" And was there a time when you could have loved me, 
Laura ? Blessings on you for the concession ! It shall cheer 
my exiled heart when you are far distant ; soothe me with 
delightful day-dreams of what might have been ; and give 
my solitude a charm which none but you could bring to the 
most social hour." 

tl Your solitude, my honoured friend/' replied Laura, 
(e needs it not ; it has better and nobler charms ; the charms 
of usefulness, of piety ; and long may these form your 
business and delight. But what makes me linger with you? 
I meant to hasten home that I might avoid one as unlike 
you as confidence is to fear ; the feelings which you each 
inspire. Farewell. I trust I shall soon hear that you are 
well and happy." 

Loth to part,, De Courcy endeavoured to detain her while 
he again gave utterance to his strong affection ; and when 
she would be gone, bade her farewell in language so solemn, 
so tender, that all her self-command could riot repress the 
tears which trickled down her cheeks. They parted; he 
followed her to beg that she would think of him sometimes. 
Again she left him ; again he had some little boon to crave. 
She reached the gate, and looking back saw De Courcy 
standing motionless where she had last quitted him. She 
beckoned a farewell. The gate closed after her, and De 
Courcy felt as if one blank dreary waste had blotted the 
fair face of nature. 



SELF-CONTROL. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

THE evening was closing, when Laura proceeded on her 
way. She had outstayed her purposed time, and from every 
bush by the path-side she expected to see Hargrave steal 
upon her ; in every gust of the chill November wind she 
thought she heard his footstep. She passed the last cot- 
tages connected with Norwood. The evening fires glanced 
cheerfully through the casements, and the voice of rustic 
merriment came softened on the ear. " Amiable DeCourcy ! " 
thought Laura. (f The meanest of his dependents finds 
comfort in his protection, while the being on whom I have 
lavished the affection which might have rejoiced that worthy 
heart, makes himself an object of dread, even to her whom 
he pretends to love." 

She reached home, however, without interruption, and 
was going to join Lady Pelham in the sitting-room ; when 
happening to pass a looking-glass, she observed that her 
eyes still bore traces of the tears she had been shedding, 
and, in dread of the merciless raillery of her aunt, she 
retired to her own room. There, with an undefined feeling 
of despondence, she sat down to re-consider her conversation 
with De Courcy. 

Never was task more easy, or more unprofitable. She 
remembered every word that De Courcy had uttered ; re- 
membered the very tone, look, and gesture with which they 
were spoken. She recollected, too, all that she had said in 
reply ; but she could by no means unravel the confused 
effects of the scene upon her own mind. She certainly 
pitied her lover to a very painful degree. " Poor De 
Courcy ! " said she, accompanying the half- whisper with a 
heavy sigh. But having, in the course of half an hour's 
rumination, repeated this soliloquy about twenty times, she 
began to recollect that De Courcy had borne his disappoint- 
ment with considerable philosophy, and had appeared to 
derive no small comfort from the prospect of an intercourse 
Of mere friendship, 

BBS 



374 SELF-CONTROL. 

This fortunate recollection, however, not immediately 
relieving her, she endeavoured to account for her depression 
by laying hold of a vague idea which was floating in her 
mind, that she had not on this occasion acted as she ought. 
Friendship between young persons of different sexes was a 
proverbial fomenter of the tender passion j and though she 
was herself in perfect safety, was it right to expose to such 
hazard the peace of De Courcy ? Was it generous, was it 
even honourable to increase the difficulties of his self-con- 
quest, by admitting him to the intimacy of friendship ? It 
was true he had voluntarily sought the post of danger : but 
then he was under the dominion of an influence which did 
not allow him to weigh consequences ; and was it not un- 
pardonable in her, who was in full possession of herself, to 
sanction, to aid his imprudence ? Yet how could she have 
rejected a friendship which did her so much honour ? the 
friendship of a man whom her father had so loved and re- 
spected ! of the man to whom her father had wished to see 
her connected by the closest ties ! the man to whom she 
owed obligations never to be repaid ? Alas ! how had she 
acknowledged these obligations? By suffering the most 
amiable of mankind to sport with his affections, while she 
had weakly thrown away her own. But the mischief was 
not yet totally irremediable ; and dazzled by the romantic 
generosity of sacrificing her highest earthly joy to the restor- 
ation of her benefactor's quiet, she snatched a pen, intend- 
ing to retract her promise. 

An obsolete notion of decorum was for once favourable 
to a lover, and Laura saw the impropriety of writing to 
De Courcy. Besides, it occurred to her that she might 
withdraw into Scotland, without formally announcing the 
reason of her retreat ; and thus leave herself at liberty to 
receive De Courcy as a friend whenever discretion should 
warrant this indulgence. After the most magnanimous 
resolves, however, feeling her mind as confused and com- 
fortless as before, she determined to obtain the benefit of 
impartial counsel, and changed the destination of the paper 
on which she had already written " My dear friend," from 
De Courcy to Mrs. Douglas. 

With all her native candour and singleness of heart, did 



SELF-CONTROL. 375 

Laura detail her case to the monitress of her youth. To 
reveal De Courcy's name was contrary to her principles ; 
but she described his situation, his mode of life, and do- 
mestic habits. She enlarged upon his character, her ob- 
ligations to him, and the regret which, for his sake, she 
felt, that particular circumstances rendered her incapable of 
such an attachment as was necessary to conjugal happiness. 
She mentioned her compliance with her lover's request of a 
continuance of their former intimacy; confessed her doubts 
of the propriety of her concession ; and entreated Mrs. 
Douglas's explicit opinion on the past, as well as her di- 
rections for the future. 

Her mind thus unburdened, she was less perplexed and 
uneasy ; and the next morning cheerfully commenced her 
journey, pleasing herself with the prospect of being released 
from the harassing attendance of Hargrave. On the even- 
ing of the second day the travellers reached Grosvenor 
Street ; and the unsuspecting Laura, with renewed senti- 
ments of gratitude towards her aunt, revisited the dwelling 
which had received her when she could claim no other 
shelter. 

Her annuity having now become due, Laura, soon after 
her arrival in town, one day borrowed Lady Pelham's 
chariot, that she might go to receive the money, and pur- 
chase some necessary additions to her wardrobe. Remem- 
bering, however, the inconveniences to which she had been 
subjected by her imprudence in leaving herself without 
money, she regulated her disbursements by the strictest 
economy ; determined to reserve a sum which, besides a 
little gift to her cousin, might defray the expense of a 
journey to Scotland. 

Her way chancing to lie through Holborn, a recollection 
of the civilities of her old landlady, induced her to stop 
arid enquire for Mrs. Dawkins. The good woman almost 
compelled her to alight ; overwhelmed her with welcomes, 
and asked a hundred questions in a breath, giving in return 
a very detailed account of all her family affairs. She in- 
formed Laura, that Miss Julia, having lately read the life 
of a heroine who, in the capacity of a governess, captivated 
the heart of a great lord, had been seized with a desire to 
B B 2 



376 



SELF-CONTROL. 



seek adventures under a similar character ; but finding that 
recommendations for experience were necessary to her ad- 
mission into any family of rank, she had condescended to 
serve her apprenticeship in the tuition of the daughters of 
an eminent cowfeeder. The good woman expressed great 
compassion for the pupils of so incompetent a teacher, from 
whom they could learn nothing useful. ie But that was," 
she observed, (t their father's look-out ; and., in the mean 
time, it was so far well that July was doing something 
towards her keeping." After a visit of some length, Laura 
wished to be gone, but her hostess would not suspend her 
eloquence long enough to suffer her to take leave. She was 
at last obliged to interrupt the harangue ; and breaking 
from her indefatigable entertainer,, hurried home, not a little 
alarmed lest her stay should expose her on her return home 
to oratory of a different kind. 

Lady Pelham, however, received her most graciously, 
examined all her purchases, and enquired very particularly 
into the cost of each. She calculated the amount, and the 
balance of the annuity remaining in Laura's possession. 
" Five and thirty pounds ! " she exclaimed, ' ' what in the 
world, Laura, will you do with so much money? " " Per- 
haps five and thirty different things," answered Laura, 
smiling; " I have never had, nor ever shall have, half so 
much money as I could spend." ' ' Oh, you extravagant 
thing ! " cried Lady Pelham, patting her cheek. c ' But 
take care that some one does not save you the trouble of 
spending it. You should be very sure of the locks of your 
drawers. You had better let me put your treasures into 
my bureau." Lama was about to comply, when recollect- 
ing that there might be some awkwardness in asking her 
aunt for the money while she concealed its intended des- 
tination, she thanked Lady Pelham, but said she supposed 
it would be perfectly safe in her own custody ; and then, 
as usual, avoided impending altercation by hastening out 
of the room. She thought Lady Pelham looked displeased; 
but as that was a necessary effect of the slightest contra- 
diction, she saw it without violent concern ; and the next 
time they met her Ladyship was again all smiles and 
courtesy. 



SELF-CONTROL. 377 

Some blanks remaining to be filled up in Lady Pelhajn's 
town establishment., Laura took advantage of the present 
happy humour, for performing her promise to the kind- 
hearted Fanny, who was, upon her recommendation, re- 
ceived into the family. A much more important boon, 
indeed, would have been granted with equal readiness. 
Lady Pelham could, for the present, refuse nothing to her 
dear Laura. 

Three days, " three wondrous days," all was sunshine 
and serenity. Lady Pelham was the most ingenious, the 
most amusing, the most fascinating of womankind. e( What 
a pity," thought Laura, " that my aunt's spirits are so 
fluctuating ! How delightful she can be when she pleases." 
In the midst of these brilliant hours, Lady Pelham one 
morning ran into the room where Laura was at work ; 
<f Here's a poor fellow," said she, with a look and voice all 
compassion, ec who has sent me his account, and says he 
must go to gaol if it be not paid instantly. But it is quite 
impossible for me to get the money till to-morrow." " To 
gaol ! " cried Laura, shocked : " what is the amount ? " 
" Forty pounds," said Lady Pelham, " and I have not 
above ten in the house." " Take mine," cried Laura, has- 
tening to bring it. Lady Pelham stopped her. " No, my 
dear good girl," said she, " I wont take away your little 
store, perhaps you may want it yourself." " Oh no," said 
Laura, " I cannot want it ; pray let me bring it." " The 
poor man has a large family," said Lady Pelham, " but 

indeed I am very unwilling to take " Her Ladyship 

spared further regrets, for Laura was out of hearing. She 
returned in a moment with the whole of her wealth, out of 
which Lady Pelham, after some further hesitation, was 
prevailed upon to take thirty pounds ; a robbery to which 
she averred that she would never have consented, but for 
the wretched situation of an innocent family, and her own 
certainty of repaying the debt in a day or two at farthest. 
Several days, however, passed away, and Lady Pelham 
made no mention of discharging her debt. Laura won- 
dered a little that her aunt should forget a promise so lately 
and so voluntarily given ; but her attention was entirely 
diverted from the subject by the following letter from 
Mrs. Douglas : 



378 



SELF-CONTROL. 



" You see,, my dear Laura,, I lose no time in answering 
your letter, though, for the first time, I answer you with 
some perplexity. The weight which you have always kindly 
allowed to my opinion makes me at all times give it with 
timidity; but this is not the only reason of my present 
hesitation. I confess that, in spite of the apparent frank- 
ness and perspicuity with which you have written, I am 
not able exactly to comprehend you. 

"You describe a man of respectable abilities, of amiable 
dispositions, of sound principles, and engaging manners. 
You profess that such qualities, aided by intimacy, have 
secured your cordial friendship, while obligations beyond 
return have enlivened this friendship by the warmest gra- 
titude. But, just as I am about to conclude that all this 
has produced its natural effect, and to prepare my congra- 
tulations for a happy occasion, you kill my hopes with a 
dismal sentence, expressing your regret for having been 
obliged to reject the addresses of this excellent person. Now 
this might have been intelligible enough, supposing you 
were pre-occupied by a stronger attachment. But so far 
from -this, you declare yourself absolutely incapable of any 
exclusive affection, or of such a regard as is necessary to 
any degree of happiness in the conjugal state. I know not, 
my dear Laura, what ideas you may entertain of the fer- 
vency suitable to wedded love ; but had you been less pe- 
remptory, I should have thought it not unlikely to spring 
from a young woman's ' most cordial esteem' and ' warm- 
est gratitude ' towards a young man with ' expressive black 
eyes,' and ' the most benevolent smile in the world.' 

" From the tenor of your letter, as well as from some 
expressions you have formerly dropped, I am led to con- 
jecture that you think an extravagant passion necessary to 
the happiness of married life. You will smile at the ex- 
pression ; but if it offend you, change it for any other 
descriptive of a feeling beyond tender friendship, and you 
will find the substitute nearly synonymous with the original. 
Now this idea appears to me rather erroneous ; and I can- 
not help thinking that calm, dispassionate affection, at least 
on the side of the lady, promises more permanent comfort. 

fe All male writers on the subject of love, so far as my 



SELF-CONTROL. 379 

little knowledge extends, represent possession as the in- 
fallible cure of passion. A very unattractive picture, it 
must be confessed, of the love of that lordly sex ! but they 
themselves being the painters, the deformity is a pledge of 
the resemblance, and I own my small experience furnishes 
no instance to contradict their testimmony. Taking its 
truth then for granted, I need not enquire whether the 
passions of our own sex be equally fleeting. If they be, 
the enamoured pair soon find themselves at best in the same 
situation with those who marry from sober sentiments of 
regard ; that is, obliged to seek happiness in the esteem, 
the confidence, the forbearance of each other. But if, in 
the female breast, the fervours of passion be less transient, 
I need not describe to you the sufferings of feminine sensi- 
bility under half- returned ardours, nor the stings of feminine 
pride under the unnatural and mortifying transference of 
the arts of courtship. I trust, my dear child, that should 
you even make a marriage of passion, your self-command 
will enable you to smother its last embers in your own bosom, 
while your prudence will improve the short advantage 
which is conferred by its empire in that of your husband, 
to lay the foundation of an affection more tender than 
friendship, more lasting than love. 

" Again, it is surely of the utmost consequence to the 
felicity of wedded life, that a just and temperate estimate 
be formed of the character of him to whose temper we must 
accommodate ourselves ; whose caprices we must endure ; 
whose failings we must pardon, whether the discord burst 
upon us in thunder, or steal on amid harmonies which render 
it imperceptible, perhaps half-pleasing. Small chance is 
there that passion should view with the calm extenuating 
eye of reason the faults which it suddenly detects in the 
god of its idolatry. The once fervent votary of the idol, 
finding it unworthy of his worship, neglects the useful pur- 
poses to which he might apply the gold which it contains. 

" I have other reasons for thinking that passion is at 
best unnecessary to conjugal happiness ; but even if I 
should make you a proselyte to my opinion, the conviction 
would, in the present case, probably come too late. Such 
a man as you describe will probably be satisfied with the 



380 SELF-CONTROL. 

answer he has received. He will certainly never importune 
you,, nor poorly attempt to extort from your pity what he 
could not win from your love. His attachment will soon 
subside into a friendly regard for you, or be diverted into 
another channel by virtues similar to those which first at- 
tracted hinv I only wish, my dear Laura, that after this 
change takes place, the ' circumstances' may remain in 
force which render you ' for ever incapable of repaying him 
with a love like his own.' If you are sure that these cir- 
cumstances are decisive, I foresee no evil which can result 
from your cultivating a friendship so honourable and ad- 
vantageous to you, as that of a man of letters and a Chris- 
tian j whose conversation may improve your mind, and 
whose experience may supply that knowledge of the world 
which is rarely attainable by women in the more private 
walks of life. 

" To him I should suppose that no danger could arise 
from such an intercourse. We are all apt to over-rate the 
strength and durability of the attachments we excite. I 
believe the truth is, that in a vigorous, well* governed, and 
actively employed mind, love rarely becomes that resistless 
tyrant which vanity and romances represent him. His em- 
pire is divided by the love of fame or the desire of useful- 
ness, the eagerness of research or the triumph of discovery. 
But even solitude, idleness, and imagination cannot long- 
support his dominion without the assistance of hope j and 
I take it for granted, from your tried honour and generosity, 
that your answer has been too explicit to leave your lover 
in any doubt that your sentence is final. 

" I own I could have wished, that the virtues of my 
ever dear Laura had found, in the sacred characters of wife 
and mother, a larger field than a state of celibacy can 
afford ; but I have no fear that your happiness or respect- 
ability should ever depend upon outward circumstances. I 
have no doubt that moderate wishes and useful employ- 
ments will diffuse cheerfulness in the loneliest dwelling, 
while piety will people it with guests from heaven. 

"Thus, my beloved child, I have given my opinion 
with all the freedom you can desire. I have written 
a volume rather than a letter. The passion for giving 
advice long survives that which is the subject of our 



SELF-CONTROL. 381 

correspondence ; but to show you that I can lay some re- 
straint on an old woman's rage for admonition, I will not 
add another line, except that which assures you that I am, 
with all a mother's love, and all a friend's esteem, 

" Your affectionate 

" E. DOUGLAS.'* 

Laura read this letter often, and pondered it deeply. 
Though she could not deny that it contained some truths, 
she was not satisfied with the doctrine deduced from them. 
She remembered that Mrs. Douglas was the most affec- 
tionate of wives ; and concluded that in one solitary in- 
stance her judgment had been at variance with her practice ; 
and that, having herself made a marriage of love, she was 
not an adequate judge of the disadvantage attending a more 
dispassionate connection. Some passages too she could well 
have spared; but as these were prophetic rather than 
monitory, they required little consideration ; and after the 
second reading, Laura generally omitted them in the perusal 
of her friend's epistle. Upon the whole, however, it gave 
her pleasure. Her conscience was relieved by obtaining 
the sanction of Mrs. Douglas to her promised intimacy 
with De Courcy, and already she looked forward to the 
time when it should be renewed. 

Since her arrival in town, her aunt, all kindness and 
complacency, had scarcely named Hargrave ; and, with the 
sanguine temper of youth, Laura hoped that she had at last 
exhausted the perseverance of her persecutors. This fruitful 
source of strife removed, she thought she could without 
much difficulty, submit to the casual fits of caprice to which 
Lady Pelham was subject; and, considering that her aunt, 
with all her faults, was still her most natural protector, 
and her house her most proper abode, she began to lay 
aside thoughts of removing immediately to Scotland, and 
to look towards Walbourne as her permanent home. 

In the mean time she promised herself that the ap- 
proaching winter would bring her both amusement and 
information. The capital, with all its wonders, of which 
she had hitherto seen little, the endless diversity of cha- 
racter which she expected its inhabitants to exhibit, the 



382 SELF-CONTROL. 

conversation of the literary and the elegant, of wits, 
senators, and statesmen, promised an inexhaustible fund of 
instruction and delight. Nay, the patriotic heart of Laura 
beat high with the hope of meeting some of those heroes 
who, undaunted by disaster, where all but honour is lost, 
maintain the honour of Britain ; or who, with happier 
fortune, guide the triumphant navies of our native land. 
She was yet to learn how little of character appears 
through the varnish of fashionable manners, and how little 
a hero or a statesman at a rout differs from a mere man of 
fashion in the same situation. 

Lady Pelham seemed inclined to furnish her with all the 
opportunities of observation which she could desire, intro- 
ducing her to every visiter of distinction, and procuring for 
her the particular attention of two ladies of high rank, who 
constantly invited her to share in the gaieties of the season. 
But Laura, instructed in the value of time, and feeling 
herself accountable for its employment, stopped far short of 
the dissipation of her companions. She had long since 
established a criterion by which to judge of the innocence 
of her pleasures, accounting every amusement, from which 
she returned to her dudes with an exhausted frame, languid 
spirits, or distracted attention, to be at best dangerous, and 
contrary to all rational ends of recreation. Of entertain- 
ments which she had never before witnessed, curiosity 
generally induced her for once to partake ; but she found 
few that could stand her test ; and to those which failed in 
the trial, she returned as seldom as possible. 

One species alone, if it deserves to be classed with en- 
tertainments, she was unwillingly obliged to except from 
her rule. From card-parties Laura always returned fatigued 
both in mind and body : while present at them she had 
scarcely any other wish than to escape ; and she quitted 
them unfit for any thing but rest. Lady Pelham, however, 
sometimes made it a point that her niece should accompany 
her to these parties ; and, though she never asked Laura to 
play, was occasionally at pains to interest her in the game, 
by calling her to her side, appealing to her against ill- 
fortune, or exacting her congratulation in success. A few 
of these parties excepted, Laura's time passed pleasantly. 



SELF-CONTROL, 383 

Though the calm of her aunt's temper was now and then 
disturbed hy short gusts of anger,, it returned as lightly as 
it fled ; and the subject, fertile in endless chiding,, seemed 
almost forgotten. 

A fortnight had passed in this sort of quiet, when one 
morning Lady Pelham proposed to carry Laura to see the 

Marquis of 's superb collection of pictures. Laura, 

obliged by her aunt's attention to her prevailing taste, 
eagerly accepted the proposal, and hastened to equip her- 
self for the excursion. Light of heart, she was returning 
to the drawing-room to wait till the carriage drew up, when, 
on entering, the first object she beheld was Colonel Har- 
grave, seated confidentially by the side of Lady Pelham. 

Laura, turning sick with vexation, shrunk back, and, 
bewailing the departure of her short-lived quiet, returned, 
half-angry, half-sorrowful, to her own room. She had 
little time, however, to indulge her chagrin, for Lady Pel- 
ham almost immediately sent to let her know that the car- 
riage waited. 

Disconcerted, and almost out of humour, Laura had 
tossed aside her bonnet, and was about to retract her con- 
sent to go ; when, recollecting that the plan had been pro- 
posed on her account, without any apparent motive unless 
to oblige her, she thought her aunt would have just reason 
to complain of such an ungracious rejection of her civility. 
" Besides, it is like a spoiled child," thought she, " to 
quarrel with my amusement, because one disagreeable cir- 
cumstance attends it;" and, re-adjusting her bonnet, she 
joined Lady Pelham, not without a secret hope that Har- 
grave might not be of the party. The hope deceived her. 
He was ready to hand her into the carriage, and to take his 
seat by her side. 

Her sanguine expectations thus put to flight, the habitual 
complacency of Laura's countenance suffered a sudden 
eclipse. She answered almost peevishly to Hargrave's en- 
quiries for her health ; and so complete was her vexation, 
that it was long ere she observed how much his manner 
towards her was changed. He whispered no extravagancies 
in her ear ; offered her no officious attentions ; and seized 
no opportunities of addressing her, but such as were con- 



384 



SELF-CONTROL. 



sistent with politeness and respect. He divided his assi- 
duities not unequally between her and Lady Pelham ; and 
even without any apparent reluctance, permitted a genteel 
young man, to whom the ladies courtesied in passing, to 
share in his office of escort, and almost to monopolise 
Laura's conversation. Having accompanied the ladies home, 
he left them immediately, refusing Lady Pelham's invita- 
tion to dinner ; and Laura no less pleased than surprised at 
this unexpected turn, wished him good morning more gra- 
ciously than she had of late spoken to him. 

The next day he dined in Grosvenor Street, and the 
same propriety of manner continued. The following even- 
ing Laura again met with him in a large party. He did 
not distinguish her particularly from any of her fair com- 
petitors. Laura was delighted. She was convinced that 
he had at last resolved to abandon his fruitless pursuit ; but 
what had so suddenly wrought this happy change, she could 
not divine. 

He did not visit Lady Pelham daily; yet it so happened 
that Laura saw him every day, and still he was consistent. 
Laura scarcely doubted, yet durst scarcely trust her good 
fortune. 

The violent passions of Hargrave, however, in some 
degree unfitted him for a deceiver ; and sometimes the 
fiery glance of impatience, of admiration, or of jealousy, 
belied the serenity of his manner. Laura did not fail to 
remark this ; but she possessed the happy faculty of ex- 
plaining every ambiguity in human conduct in a way 
favourable to the actor a faculty which, though it some- 
times exposed her to mistake and vexation, was, upon the 
whole, at once a happiness and a virtue. She concluded 
that Hargrave, determined to persecute her no further, was 
striving to overcome his passion ; that the appearances she 
had remarked were only the struggles which he could not 
wholly repress; and she felt herself grateful to him for 
making the attempt the more grateful from her idea of 
its difficulty. 

With her natural singleness of heart, she one day men- 
tioned to Lady Pelham the change in Hargrave's behaviour. 
" I suppose," added she, smiling, " that finding he can 



SELF- CONTROL. 



385 



make nothing more of me, he is resolved to lay me under 
obligation by leaving me at peace, having first contrived to 
make me sensible of its full value." Lady Pelham was a 
better dissembler than Colonel Hargrave ; and scarcely did 
a change of colour announce the deception, while, in a tone 
of assumed anger, she answered by reproaching her niece 
with having at last accomplished her purpose, and driven 
her lover to despair. Yet Lady Pelham was aware that 
Hargrave had not a thought of relinquishing his pursuit. 
His new-found self-command was merely intended to throw 
Laura off her guard, that Lady Pelham might have an op- 
portunity of executing a scheme which Lambert had con- 
trived, to entangle Laura beyond the possibility of escape. 

Many an action, harmless in itself, is seen, by a discern- 
ing by-stander, to have in it " nature that in time will 
venom breed, though no teeth for the present." It hap- 
pened that Lambert, while at Walbourne, had once seen 
Laura engaged in a party at chess ; and her bent brow and 
flushed cheek, her palpitating bosom, her trembling hand, 
her eagerness for victory, above all, her pleasure in success 
restrained but not concealed, inspired him with an idea that 
play might be made subservient to the designs of his friend; 
designs which he was the more disposed to promote, be- 
cause, for the present, they occupied Hargrave to the ex- 
clusion of that folly of which Lambert had so well availed 
himself. 

It was Lambert's proposal that he should himself engage 
JLaura in play ; and having won from her, by means which 
he could always command, that he should transfer the debt 
to Hargrave. The scheme was seconded by Lady Pelham, 
and, in part, acquiesced in by Hargrave. But though he 
could consent to degrade the woman whom he intended for 
his wife, he could not endure that any other than himself 
should be the instrument of her degredation ; and, sicken- 
ing at the shackles which the love of gaming had imposed 
upon himself, he positively refused to accede to that part 
of the plan, which proposed to make Laura's entanglement 
with him the branch of a habit previously formed. Be- 
sides, the formation of a habit, especially one so contrary 
to previous bias, was a work of time; and a stratagem of 
c c 



386 SELF-CONTROL. 

tedious execution did not suit the impatience of Hargrave's 
temper. 

He consented, however, to adopt a more summary mo- 
dification of the same artifice. It was intended that Laura 
should at first be induced to play for a stake too small to 
alarm her, yet sufficiently great to make success desirable ; 
that she should at first be allowed to win; that the stake should 
be increased until she should lose a sum which it might 
incommode her to part with ; and then that the stale cheat 
of gamblers, hope of retrieving her loss, should be pressed 
on her as a motive for venturing nearer to destruction. 

The chief obstacle to the execution of this honourable 
enterprise lay in the first step, the difficulty of persuading 
Laura to play for any sum which could be at all important 
to her. For obviating this, Lady Pelham trusted to the 
diffidence, the extreme timidity, the abhorrence of notoriety, 
which nature, strengthened by education, had made a leading 
feature in the character of Laura. Her Ladyship deter- 
mined that the first essay should be made in a large com- 
pany in the presence of persons of rank, of fame, of talent, 
of every qualification which could augment the awe, almost 
amounting to horror, with which Laura shrunk from the 
gaze of numbers. 

Partly from a craving for a confidant, partly in hope of 
securing assistance, Lady Pelham communicated her inten- 
tion to the Honourable Mrs. Clermont, a dashing widow of 
five-arid-thirty. The piercing black eyes, the loud voice, 
the free manner, and good-humoured assurance of this lady, 
had inspired Laura with a kind of dread, which had not 
yielded to the advances which the widow condescended to 
make. Lady Pelham judged it most favourable to her 
righteous purpose, that the first attempt should be made in 
the house of Mrs. Clermont, rather than in her own ; both 
because that lady's higher circle of acquaintance could com- 
mand a more imposing assemblage of visiters ; and because 
this arrangement would leave her Ladyship more at liberty 
to watch the success of her scheme, than she could be 
where she was necessarily occupied as mistress of the ce- 
remonies. 

The appointed evening came, and Lady Pelham, though 



SELF-CONTROL. 387 

with the utmost kindness of manner, insisted upon Laura's 
attendance. Laura would rather have been excused ; yet, 
.not to interrupt a humour so harmonious, she consented to 
go. Lady Pelham was all complacency. She condescended 
to preside at her niece's toilette, and obliged her to complete 
her dress by wearing for that evening a superb diamond 
aigrette, one of the ornaments of her own earlier years. 
Laura strenuously resisted this addition to her attire, ac- 
counting it wholly unsuitable to her situation ; but her aunt 
would take no denial, and the affair was not worthy of a 
more serious refusal. This important concern adjusted, 
Lady Pelham viewed her niece with triumphant admiration. 
She burst forth into praises of her beauty, declaring, that 
she had never seen her look half so lovely. Yet, with 
skilful malice, she contrived to awaken Laura's natural 
bashfulness, by saying, as they were alighting at Mrs. Cler- 
<mont's door, " Now, my dear, don't mortify me to-night by 
any of your Scotch gaucheries. Remember every eye will 
be turned upon you." '' Heaven forbid/' thought Laura, 
and timidly followed her aunt to a couch where she took 
her seat. 

For a while Lady Pelham's words seemed prophetic, and 
Laura could not raise her eyes without meeting the gaze of 
admiration or of scrutiny ; but the rooms began to be 
crowded by the great and the gay, and Laura was relieved 
from her vexatious distinction. Lady Pelham did not long 
suffer her to enjoy her release, but rising, proposed that 
they should walk. Though Laura felt in her own majestic 
stature a very unenviable claim to notice, a claim rendered 
more conspicuous by the contrast offered in the figure of 
her companion, she could not with politeness refuse to ac- 
company her aunt, and giving Lady Pelham her arm, they 
began their round. 

Laura, little acquainted with the ease which prevails in 
town parties, could not help wondering at the nonchalance 
of Mrs. Clermont, who, leaving her guests to entertain 
themselves as they chose, was lounging on a sofa, playing 
at picquet with Colonel Hargrave. " Mrs. Clermont at 
picquet," said Lady Pelham. " Come Laura, picquet is 
the only civilised kind of game you play. You shall take 
c c 2 



000 SELF-CONTROL. 

a lesson ; " and she led her niece forwards through a circle 
of misses, who, in hopes of catching the attention of the 
handsome Colonel Hargrave, were tittering and talking non- 
sense most laboriously. This action naturally drew the 
eyes of all upon Laura ; and Lady Pelham, who expected 
to find useful engines in her timidity and embarrassment, 
did not fail to make her remark the notice which she ex- 
cited. From this notice Laura would have escaped,, by 
seating herself near Mrs. Clermont ; but Lady Pelham per- 
ceiving her intention, placed herself, without ceremony, so 
as to occupy the only remaining seat, leaving Laura stand- 
ing alone, shrinking at the consciousness of her conspicuous 
situation. No one was near her to whom she could address 
herself, and her only resource was bending down to over- 
look Mrs. Clermont's game. 

She had kept her station long enough to be fully sensible 
of its awkwardness, when Mrs. Clermont,, suddenly starting 
up, exclaimed,, (c Bless me ! I had quite forgotten that I 
promised to make a loo-table for the Duchess. Do, my 
dear Miss Montreville, take my hand for half an hour." 
(( Excuse me, madam," said Laura, drawing back, " I play 
so ill." " Nay, Laura," interrupted Lady Pelham,, " your 
teacher is concerned to maintain your skill, and I insist on 
it that you play admirably." " Had not your Ladyship 
better play?" " Oh no, my dear; I join the loo-table.'* 
" Come," said Mrs. Clermont, offering Laura the seat 
which she had just quitted, t( I will take no excuse : so sit 
down, and success attend you ! " The seat presented Laura 
with an inviting opportunity of turning her back upon her 
inspectors ; she was averse from refusing a trifling request, 
and rather willing to give Hargrave a proof that she was 
not insensible to the late improvement in his behaviour. 
She therefore quietly took the place assigned her, while the 
trio exchanged smiles of congratulation on the facility with 
which she had fallen into the snare. 

Something, however, yet remained to be arranged, and 
Lady Pelham and her hostess still kept their stations by 
her side. While dividing the cards, Laura recollected hav- 
ing observed that, in town, every game seemed played for 
money ; and she asked her antagonist what was to be the 



SELF-CONTROL. 389 

stake. He of course referred that point to her own deci- 
sion ; but Laura, in profound ignorance of the arcana of 
card- tables, blushed, hesitated, and looked at Lady Pelhain 
and Mrs. Clermont for instructions. " We don't play high 
in this house, my dear," said Mrs. Clermont, <( Colonel 
Hargrave and I were only playing guineas." " Laura is 
only a beginner," said Lady Pelham, " and perhaps half-a- 
guinea " Laura interrupted her aunt by rising and deli- 
berately collecting the cards, " Colonel Hargrave will excuse 
me," said she ; ( ' that is far too great a stake for me." 
f< Don't be absurd, my dear," said Lady Pelham, touching 
Laura's sleeve, and affecting to whisper; " why should 
not you play as other people do ? " Laura not thinking 
this a proper time to explain her conscientious scruples, 
merely answered, that she could not afford it; and more 
embarrassed than before, would have glided away, but 
neither of her guards would permit her to pass. " You 
need not mind what you stake with Hargrave," said Lady 
Pelham, apart ; " you play so much better than he that 
you will infallibly win." " That does not at all alter the 
case," returned Laura. " It would be as unpleasant to me 
to win Colonel Hargrave' s money as to lose my own." 
1 ' Whatever stake Miss Montreville chooses must be equally 
agreeable to me," said Colonel Hargrave ; but Laura, ob- 
served that the smile which accompanied these words had 
in it more of sarcasm than of complacency. ' ' I should be 
sorry, sir," said she, " that you lowered your play upon 
my account. Perhaps some of these young ladies " con- 
tinued she, looking round to the talkative circle behind. 
" Be quiet, Laura," interrupted Lady Pelham, again in an 
under tone ; " you will make yourself the town-talk with 
your fooleries." " I hope not," returned Laura, calmly ; 
" but if I do, there is no help ; little inconveniences must be 
submitted to for the sake of doing right." " Lord, Miss 
Montreville," cried Mrs. Clermont, aloud, " what odd no- 
tions you have ! Who would mind playing for half-a- 
guinea ? It is nothing ; absolutely nothing. It would not 
buy a pocket-handkerchief." It would buy a week's food 
for a poor family, thought Laura and she was confirmed 
in her resolution ; but not willing to expose this reason to 
c c 3 < 



390 SELF-CONTROL. 

ridicule,, and a little displeased that Mrs. Clermont should 
take the liberty of urging her, she coolly, yet modestly re- 
plied, (t That such matters must greatly depend on the 
opinions and circumstances of the parties concerned, of 
which they were themselves the best judges." " I insist 
on your playing," said Lady Pelham, in an angry half- 
whisper : " if you will make yourself ridiculous, let it be 
when I am not by to share in the ridicule/' " Excuse 
me, madam, for to-night," returned Laura, pleadingly; 
" before another evening I will give you reasons which I 
am sure will satisfy you." " I am sure/' said Hargrave., 
darting a very significant look towards Laura, " if Miss 
Montreville, instead of cards, prefer allowing me to attend 
her in your absence, I shall gain infinitely by the exchange." 

Laura, to whom his glance made this hint very intelli- 
gible, reddened ; and, saying she would by no means 
interrupt his amusement, was again turning to seek a 
substitute among her tittering neighbours, when Mrs. 
Clermont prevented her, by calling out to a lady at a con- 
siderable distance, " My dear Duchess, do have the good- 
ness to come hither, and talk to this whimsical beauty of 
ours. She is seized with an economical fit, and has taken 
it into her pretty little head that I am quite a gambler be- 
cause I fix her stake at half-a-guinea." " What may not 
youth and beauty do ! " said her Grace, looking at Laura, 
with a smile half-sly, half-insinuating. " When I was 
the Miss Montreville of the day, I too might have led the 
fashion of playing for pence, though now I dare not ven- 
ture even to countenance it.** 

The mere circumstance of rank could never discompose 
Laura ; and, rather taking encouragement from the charm- 
ing though faded countenance of the speaker, she replied, 
" But, in consideration of having no pretensions to lead 
the fashion, may I not claim exemption from following it?" 
" Oh by no means," said her Grace. " When once you 
have entered the world of fashion, you must either be the 
daring leader or the humble follower. If you choose the 
first, you must defy the opinions of all other people ; and., 
if the last, you must have a suitable indifference for your 
own." " A gentle intimation/' returned Laura, fc that iu 



SELF-CONTROL. SQl 

the world of fashion, I am quite out of place, since nothing 
but my own opinion is more awful to me than that of others." 

" Miss Montreville," said Lady Pelham, with an aspect 
of vinegar, " we all wait your pleasure." (( Pray, madam," 
answered Laura, " do not let me detain you a moment ; I 
shall easily dispose of myself." <f Take up your cards 
this instant, and let us have no more of these airs," said 
Lady Pelham, now without affectation whispering, in order 
to conceal from her elegant companions the wrath which 
was, however, distinctly written in her countenance. 

It now occurred to Laura as strange, that so much 
trouble should be taken to prevail upon her to play for 
more than she inclined. Hargrave, though he had pre- 
tended to release her, still kept his seat, and his language 
had tended rather to embarrass than relieve her. Mrs. 
Clermont had interfered further than Laura thought either 
necessary or proper ; and Lady Pelham was eager to carry 
her point. Laura saw that there was something in all this 
which she did not comprehend ; and, looking up to seek 
an explanation in the faces of her companions, she per- 
ceived that the whole trio seemed waiting her decision with 
looks of various interest. The piercing black eyes of Mrs. 
Clermont were fixed upon her with an expression of sly 
curiosity. Hargrave hastily withdrew a sidelong glance 
of anxious expectation ; while Lady Pelham's face was 
flushed with angry impatience of delay. " Has your Lady- 
ship any particular reason for wishing that I should play 
for a higher stake than I think right ? " said Laura, fixing 
on her aunt a look of calm scrutiny. Too much out of 
humour to be completely on her guard, Lady Pelham's 
colour deepened several shades, while she answered, " I, 
child! what should make you think so?" "I don't 
know," said Laura ; " people sometimes try to convince 
from mere love of victory ; but they seldom take the 
trouble to persuade without some other motive." " Any 
friend," said Lady Pelham, recollecting herself, ff would 
find motive enough for what I have done, in the absurd 
appearance of these littlenesses to the world, and the odium 
that deservedly falls on a young miser." "Nay, Lady 
Pelham," said the Duchess, " this is far too severe. Come," 
cc 4 



SELF-CONTROL. 

added she, beckoning to Laura, with a gracious smile, 
" you shall sit by me,, that I may endeavour to enlarge 
your conceptions on the subject of card-playing." 

Laura, thus encouraged, instantly begged her aunt's 
permission to pass. Lady Pelham could not decently re- 
fuse ; and, venting her rage, by pinching Laura's arm till 
the blood came, and muttering, through her clenched teeth, 
' ' Obstinate wretch ! " she suffered her niece to escape. 
Laura did not condescend to bestow any notice upon this 
assault ; but, pulling her glove over her wounded arm, 
took refuge beside the Duchess. The facinating manners 
of a high-bred woman of fashion, and the respectful atten- 
tions offered to her whom the Duchess distinguished by her 
particular countenance, made the rest of the evening pass 
agreeably, in spite of the evident ill-humour of Lady 
Pelham. 

Her Ladyship restrained the further expression of her 
rage till Laura and she were on their way home ; when it 
burst out in reproaches of the parsimony, obstinacy, and 
perverseness which had appeared in her niece's refusal to 
play. Laura listened to her in silence; sensible, that, 
while Lady Pelham's passion overpowered the voice of 
her own reason, it was vain to expect that she should hear 
reason from another. But, next day, when she judged 
that her aunt had had time to grow cool, she took occasion 
to resume the subject ; and explained, with such firmness 
and precision, her principles in regard to the uses of money 
and the accountableness of its possessors, that Lady Pel- 
ham laid aside thoughts of entangling her by means of 
play ; since it was vain to expect that she would commit 
to the power of chance that which she habitually considered 
as the sacred deposit of a father, and as specially destined 
for the support and comfort of his children. 



SELF-CONTROL. 3<)3 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

HABGBAVE no sooner perceived the futility of his design 
to involve Laura in a debt of honour, than he laid aside 
the disguise which had been assumed to lull her vigilance, 
and which he had never worn without difficulty. He con- 
descended, however, to save appearances, by taking advan- 
tage of the idea which Laura had herself suggested to 
Lady Pelham, and averred that he had made a powerful 
effort to recover his self-possession ; but he declared, that, 
having totally failed in his endeavours to obtain his liberty, 
he was determined never to renew them, and would trust 
to time and accident for removing Laura's prejudice. In 
vain did she assure him that no time could produce such a 
revolution in her sentiments as would at all avail him ; 
.that though his eminent improvement in worth might 
secure her esteem, her affections were alienated beyond re- 
call. The old system was resumed, and with greater vigour 
than before, because with less fear of observation, and 
more frequent opportunities of attack. Every meal, every 
visit, every public place, furnished occasions for his inde- 
fatigable assiduities, from which Laura found no refuge 
beyond the precincts of her own chamber. 

Regardless of the vexation which such a report might 
give her, he chose to make his suit a subject of the tittle- 
tattle of the day. By this manoeuvre, in which he had 
before found his advantage, he hoped that several purposes 
might be served. The publicity of his claim would keep 
other pretenders at a distance ; it would oblige those who 
mentioned him to Laura to speak, if not favourably, at 
least with decent caution ; and it might possibly at last 
induce her to listen with less reluctance to what every one 
spoke of as natural and probable. Lady Pelham seconded 
his intentions, by hints of her niece's engagement, and 
confidential complaints to her friends of the mauvaise 
honte which made Laura treat with such reserve the man 
to whom she had long been affianced. The consequence 



3Q4t SELF-CONTROL. 

of their manoeuvring was, that Hargrave's right to perse- 
cute Laura seemed universally acknowledged. The men, 
at his approach, left her free to his attendance ; the 
women entertained her with praises of his person, manners, 
and equipage ; with hints of her situation, too gentle to 
warrant direct contradiction ; or charges made with con- 
viction too strong to yield to any form of denial. 

Lady Pelham, too, resumed her unwearied remonstrances, 
and teased, chided, argued, upbraided, entreated, and scolded, 
through every tedious hour in which the absence of visiters 
left Laura at her mercy. Laura had at one time determined 
against submitting to such treatment, and had resolved, 
that, if it were renewed, she would seek a refuge far from 
her persecutors, and from England. But that resolution 
had been formed when there appeared no immediate ne- 
cessity for putting it in practice; and England contained 
somewhat to which Laura clung almost unconsciously. 
Amidst all her vexations, Mrs. de Courcy's letters soothed 
her ruffled spirits ; and more than once, when she had re- 
newed her determination to quit Lady Pelham, a few lines 
from Norwood made her pause on its fulfilment, reminding 
her that a few months, however unpleasing, would soon 
steal away, and that her return to the country would at least 
bring some mitigation of her persecutions. 

Though Mrs. de Courcy wrote often, and confidentially, 
she never mentioned Montague further than was necessary 
to avoid particularity. She said little of his health, nothing 
of his spirits or occupations, and never hinted any knowledge 
of his rejected love. Laura's enquiries concerning him 
were answered with vague politeness : and thus her interest 
in the state of his mind was constantly kept awake. Often 
did she repeat to herself, that she hoped he would soon learn 
to consider her merely as a friend ; and that which we have 
often repeated as truth, we in time believe to be true. 

Laura had been in town about a month, when one of her 
letters to Norwood was followed by a longer silence than 
usual. She wrote again, and still the answer was delayed. 
Fearing that illness prevented Mrs. de Courcy from writing, 
Laura had endured some days of serious anxiety, when a 
a letter was brought her, addressed in Montague's hand. 



SELF-CONTROL. 395 

She hastily tore it open, and her heart fluttered between 
pleasure and apprehension, when she perceived that the 
whole letter was written by him. It was short and cautious. 
He apologised for the liberty he took, by saying, that a 
rheumatic affection having prevented his mother from using 
her pen, she had employed him as her secretary, fearing to 
alarm Laura by longer silence. The letter throughout was 
that of a kind yet respectful friend. Not a word betrayal 
the lover. The expressions of tender interest and remem- 
brance with which it abounded, were ascribed to Mrs. de 
Courcy, or at least shared with her, in a manner which 
prevented any embarrassment in the reply. Laura hesitated 
for a moment, whether her answer should be addressed to 
Mrs. de Courcy or to Montague : but Montague was her 
benefactor; their intimacy was sanctioned by her best friend, 
and it is not difficult to imagine how the question was de- 
cided. Her answer produced a reply, which again was 
replied to in its turn; and thus a correspondence was 
established, which, though at first constrained and formal, 
was taught, by Montague's prudent forbearance, to assume 
a character of friendly ease. 

This correspondence, which soon formed one of Laura's 
chief pleasures, she never affected to conceal from Lady 
Pelham. On the contrary, she spoke of it with perfect 
openness and candour. Unfortunately, howerer, it did not 
meet with her Ladyship's approbation. She judged it highly 
unfavourable to her designs in regard to Hargrave. She 
imagined that, if not already an affair of love, it was likely 
soon to become so ; and she believed that, at all events, 
Laura's intercourse with the De Courcys would foster those 
antiquated notions of morality to which Hargrave owed his 
ill success. Accordingly, she first objected to Laura's new 
correspondence ; then lectured on its impropriety and im- 
prudence ; and, lastly, took upon her peremptorily to pro- 
hibit its continuance. Those who are already irritated by 
oppression, a trifle will at last rouse to resistance. This was 
an exercise of authority so far beyond Laura's expectations, 
that it awakened her resolution to submit no longer to the 
importunity and persecution which she had so long endured, 
but to depart immediately for Scotland. Willing, however, 



396 SELF-CONTROL. 

to execute her purpose with as little expense of peace as. 
possible, she did not open her intentions at the moment of 
irritation. She waited a day of serenity to propose her 
departure. 

In order to procure the means of defraying the expense 
of her journey, it was become necessary to remind Lady 
Pelham of her loan, which appeared to have escaped her 
Ladyship's recollection. Laura, accordingly, one day gently 
hinted a wish to be repaid. Lady Pelham at first 
looked surprised, and affected to have forgotten the whole 
transaction ; . but, upon being very distinctly reminded of 
the particulars, she owned that she recollected something 
of it, and carelessly promised to settle it soon ; adding that 
she knew Laura had no use for the money. Laura then 
frankly announced the purpose to which she meant to apply 
it ; saying, that, as her aunt was now surrounded by more 
agreeable society, she hoped she might, without incon- 
venience, be spared, and would therefore relieve Lady 
Pelham of her charge, by paying a visit to Mrs. Douglas. 
Rage flamed in Lady Pelham's countenance, while she burst 
into a torrent of invective against her niece's ingratitude, 
stnd coldness of heart; and it mingled with triumph as 
she concluded by saying, " Do, miss ; by all means go to 
your precious Scotland, but find the means as you best can ; 
for not one penny will I give you for such a purpose. I 
have long expected some such fine freak as this; but I 
thought I should disappoint it." 

Not daunted by this inauspicious beginning, Laura taking 
encouragement from her aunt's known instability, again and 
again renewed the subject ; but Lady Pelham's purposes, 
however easily shaken by accident or caprice, were ever in- 
flexible to entreaty. " She possessed," she said, " the 
means of preventing her niece's folly, and she was deter- 
mined to employ them." Laura burnt with resentment at 
the injustice of this determination. She acknowledged no 
right which Lady Pelham possessed to detain her against 
her own consent, and she considered the detention of her 
lawful property as little else than fraud. But perceiving 
that remonstrance was useless, she judged it most prudent 
not to embitter, by vain recriminations, an intercourse from. 



m. 

virl 



SELF-CONTROL. 397 

which she could not immediately escape. Without further 
complaint or upbraiding, she submitted to her fate ; con- 
tent with resolving to employ more discreetly the next pay- 
ment of her annuity, and with making a just but unavailing 
appeal to her aunt's generosity, by asserting the right of 
defencelessness to protection. Lady Pelham had not the 
slightest idea of conceding any thing to- this claim. On thfe 
contrary, the certainty that Laura could not withdraw from 
her power, encouraged her to use it with less restraint. 
She invited Hargrave to a degree of familiarity which he 
had not before assumed ; admitted him at all hours ; sanc- 
tioned any freedom which he dared to use with Laura ; 
and forced or inveigled her into frequent tete-a-tetes 
with him. 

Fretted beyond her patience, Laura's temper more than 
once failed -under this treatment, and she bitterly reproached 
Hargrave as the source of all her vexation. As it was, 
however, her habitual study to convert every event of her 
life to the purposes of virtue, it soon occurred to her that, 
during these compulsory interviews, she might become the 
instrument of awakening her unworthy lover to more noble 
pursuits. Like a ray of light, the hope of usefulness 
darted into her soul, shedding a cheering beam on objects 
which before were dark and comfortless ; and, with all the 
enthusiastic warmth of her character, she entered on her 
voluntary task ; forgetting, in her eagerness to recall a 
sinner from the error of his ways, the weariness, disgust, 
and dread with which she listened to the ravings of selfish 
passion. She no longer endeavoured to avt>id him, no 
longer heard him with frozen silence or avowed disdain. 
During their interviews, she scarcely noticed his protes- 
tations, but employed every interval in urging him, with 
all the eloquence of dread, to retreat from the gulf which 
was yawning to receive him ; in assuring him, with all the 
solemnity of truth, that the waters of life would repay him 
a thousand-fold for the poisoned cup of pleasure. 

Truth, spoken by the loveliest lips in the world, con- 
firmed by the lightnings of a witching eye, kindled at times 
in Hargrave a something which he mistook for the love of 
virtue. He declared his abhorrence of his former self, as- 



398 SELF-CONTROL. 

serted the innocence of his present manner of life, and 
vowed that; for the future, he should be blameless. But 
when Laura rather incautiously urged him to give proof of 
his reformation, by renouncing a passion whose least grati- 
fications were purchased at the expense of justice and hu- 
manity, he insisted that she required more than nature could 
endure, and vehemently protested that he would never, but 
with life, relinquish the hope of possessing her. 

Her remonstrances had, however, one effect, of which she 
was altogether unconscious. Hargrave could not estimate 
the force of those motives which led her to labour so 
earnestly for the conversion of a person wholly indifferent 
to her ; and though she often assured him that her zeal was 
disinterested, he cherished a hope that she meant to reward 
his improvement. In this hope, he relinquished for a 
while the schemes which he had devised against the un- 
suspecting Laura, till accident again decided him against 
trusting to her free consent for the accomplishment of his 
wishes. 

Among other exercises of authority to which Lady Pel- 
ham was emboldened by her niece's temporary dependence 
on her will, she adhered to her former prohibition of Laura's 
correspondence with De Courcy. Laura, unwilling to 
make it appear a matter of importance, promised that she 
would desist ; but said that she must first write to Mr. de 
Courcy to account for her seeming caprice. Lady Pelham 
consented, and the letter was written. It spoke of Laura's 
situation, of her sentiments, of her regret for Hargrave's 
strange perseverance, of the dread and vexation to which 
he occasionally subjected her. To atone for its being the 
last, it was more friendly, more communicative than any 
she had formerly written. Laura meant to disguise, under 
a sportive style, the effects which oppression had produced 
upon her spirits ; and the playful melancholy which ran 
throughout, gave her expressions an air of artless tender- 
ness. 

Lady Pelham passed through the hall as this letter was 
lying upon the table, waiting the servant who was to carry 
it to the post. She looked at it. The sheet was com- 
pletely filled. She wondered what it could contain. She 






SELF-CONTROL^ 

took it up and examined it, as far as the seal would permit 
her. What she saw did but increase her curiosity. It was 
only wafered, and therefore easily opened ; but then it was 
so dishonourable to open a letter. Yet what could the let- 
ter be the worse ? A girl should have no secrets from her 
near relations. Still, to break a seal ! It was punishable 
by law. Lady Pelham laid down the letter and walked 
away, already proud of having disdained to do a base ac- 
tion ; but she heard the servant coming for his charge ; 
she thought it best to have time to consider the matter. 
She could give him the letter at any time and she slipped 
it into her pocket. 

Sad sentence is pronounced against f( the woman who 
deliberates : " Lady Pelham read the letter ; and then, in 
the heat of her resentment at the manner in which her 
favourite was mentioned, showed it to Hargrave. As he 
marked the innocent confiding frankness, the unconstrained 
respect, the chastened yet avowed regard, with which 
Laura addressed his rival, contrasting them with the timid 
caution which, even during the reign of passion, had cha- 
racterised her intercourse with himself, contrasting them 
too with the mixture of pity, dislike, and dread, which had 
succeeded her infatuation, all the pangs of rage and jea- 
lousy took hold on the soul of Hargrave. He would have 
vented his frenzy by tearing the letter to atoms, but it was 
snatched from his quivering grasp by Lady Pelham, who, 
dreading detection, sealed and restored it to its first des- 
tination. 

The first use which he made of his returning powers of 
self-command was to urge Lady Pelham's concurrence in 
a scheme which he had before devised, but which had been 
laid aside in consequence of his ill-founded hopes. He 
entreated that her Ladyship would, by an opportune absence, 
assist his intention ; which was, he said, to alarm Laura 
with the horrors of a pretended arrest for an imaginary 
debt, and to work upon the gratefulness of her disposition, 
by himself appearing as her deliverer from her supposed 
difficulty. Lady Pelham in vain urged the futility of this 
stratagem, representing the obstacles to its accomplishment, 
and the certainty of early detection. Hargrave continued 
to importune, and she yielded. 



400 SELF-CONTROL. 

Yet Hargrave himself was as far as Lady Pelham from 
expecting any fruits from the feeble artifice which he had 
detailed to her. He had little expectation that Laura 
eould ever be induced to receive any pecuniary obligation 
at his hands, and still less that she would consider a loan 
which she might almost immediately repay as a favour 
important enough to be rewarded with herself. He even 
determined that his aid should be offered in terms which 
would ensure its rejection. Though he durst not venture 
to unfold his whole plan to Lady Pelham, his real intention 
was merely to employ the disguise of law in removing 
Laura from even the imperfect protection of her aunt, to a 
place where she would be utterly without defence from his 
power. To the baseness of his purpose he blinded himself 
by considering the reparation which he should make in 
bestowing wealth and title on his victim ; its more than 
savage brutality he forgot in anticipation of the gratitude 
with which Laura, humbled in her own eyes, and in those 
of the world, would accept the assiduities which now she 
spurned. He little knew the being whom he thus devoted 
tD destruction ! 

Incited by jealousy and resentment, he now resolved on 
the immediate execution of his design ; and he did not 
quit Lady Pelham till he had obtained her acquiescence in 
it so far as it was divulged to her. He then hastened to 
prepare the instruments of his villany; and ere he gave 
himself time to cool, all was in readiness for the scheme 
which was to break the innocent heart that had loved and 
trusted him in seeming virtue, and pitied and prayed for 
him and warned him in guilt. How had the shades of 
evil deepened since the time when Hargrave first faltered 
between his infant passion and a virtuous purpose. He 
had turned from the path which " shineth more and more 
unto the perfect day." On that in which he trode the 
night was stealing, slow but sure, which closes at last in 
e( outer darkness." 

One morning at breakfast, Lady Pelham, with more 
than usual civility, apologised for leaving Laura alone 
during the rest of the day, saying, that business called her 
a few miles out of town, but that she would return in the 



SELF-CONTROL. 401 

evening. She did not say whither she was going; and 
Laura, never imagining that it could at all concern her to 
know, did not think of enquiring. Pleasing herself with 
the prospect of one day of peace and solitude, she saw her 
aunt depart, and then sat down to detail to the friend of 
her youth her situation, her wishes, and her intentions. 

She was interrupted by Fanny, who came to inform her 
that two men below desired to speak with her. Wonder- 
ing who, in that land of strangers, could have business 
with her, Laura desired that they might be shown up stairs. 
Two coarse robust-looking men, apparently of the lower 
rank, entered the room. Laura was unable to divine what 
could have procured her a visit from persons of their ap- 
pearance ; yet, with her native courtesy, she was motioning 
them to a seat, when one of them stepped forward ; and, 
laying on her shoulder a stick which he held, said, in a 
rough ferocious voice, ec Laura Montreville, I arrest you at 
the suit of John Dykes." Laura was surprised, but not 
alarmed. " This must be some mistake," said she ; " I 
know no such person as John Dykes." " He knows you 
though, and that is enough," answered the man. ec Get 
away, girl/' continued he, turning to Fanny, who stood 
lingering with the door a-jar ; " you have no business 
here." " Friend," returned Laura, mildly, "you mistake 
me for some other person." " What, Miss," said the other 
man, advancing, " do you pretend that you are not Laura 
Montreville, daughter of the late Captain William Mon- 
treville, of Glenalbert in Scotland ? " Laura, now changing 
colour, owned that she was the person so described. " But," 
said she, recovering herself, " I cannot be arrested. I do 
not owe five shillings in the world." " Mayhap not, 
Miss," said the man, ' ' but your father did ; and you can 
be proved to have intermeddled with his effects as his heir- 
ess, which makes you liable for all his debts. So you'll 
please to pay me the two hundred pounds which he owed to 
Mr. John Dykes." " Two hundred pounds ! " exclaimed 
Laura. " The thing is impossible. My father left a list 
of his debts in his own hand-writing, and they have all 
been faithfully discharged by the sale of his property in 
Scotland." The men looked at each other for a moment, 

D D 



4-02 SELF-CONTROL. 

and seemed to hesitate ; but the roughest of the two pre- 
sently answered, " What nonsense do you tell me of lists ? 
who's to believe all that? I have a just warrant; so either 
pay the money or come along." Surely, friend," said 
Laura, who now suspected the people to be mere swindlers, 
({ you cannot expect that I should pay such a sum without 
enquiring into your right to demand it. If your claim be 
a just one, present it in a regular account, properly attested, 
and it shall be paid to-morrow." " I have nothing to do 
with to-morrow, Miss," said the man. " I must do my 
business. It's all one to me whether you pay or not. It 
does not put a penny in my pocket : only if you do not 
choose to pay, come along ; for we can't be staying here all 
day." " I cannot procure the money just now, even though 
I were willing/' answered Laura with spirit ; " and I do 
not believe you have any right to remove me." " Oh ! as 
for the right, Miss, we'll let you see that. There is our 
warrant, properly signed and sealed. You may look at it 
in my hand, for I don't much like to trust you with it." 

The warrant was stamped, and imposingly written upon 
parchment. With the tautology which Laura had been 
taught to expect in a law-paper, it rung changes upon 
the permission to seize and confine the person of Laura 
Montreville, as heiress of William Montreville, debtor to 
John Dykes, of Pimlico. It was signed as by a magistrate, 
and marked with the large seals of office. Laura now no 
longer doubted; and, turning pale and faint, asked the 
men whether they would not stay for an hour while she 
sent to beg the advice of Mr. Derwent, Lady Peiham's 
solicitor. " You may send for him to the lock-up house," 
said the savage. " We have no time to spare." " And 
whither will you take me ? " cried Laura, almost sinking 
with horror. " Most likely," answered the most gentle of 
the two ruffians, " you would not like to be put into the 
common prison ; and you may have as good accommoda- 
tions in my house as might serve a duchess." 

Spite of her dismay, Laura's presence of mind did not 
entirely forsake her. She hesitated whether she should not 
send to beg the assistance of some of Lady Peiham's ac- 
quaintance, or at least their advice in a situation so new to 



SELF-CONTROL. 



403 



her. Among them all there was none with whom she had 
formed any intimacy ; none whom, in her present circum- 
stances of embarrassment and humiliation, she felt herself 
inclined to meet. She shrunk at the thought of the form 
in which her story might be represented by the malignant 
or the misjudging ; and she conceived it her best course to 
submit quietly to an inconvenience of a few hours' conti- 
nuance, from which she did not doubt that her aunt's re- 
turn would that evening relieve her. Still the idea of 
being a prisoner; of committing herself to such attend- 
ants ; of being an inmate of the abodes of misery, of de- 
gradation, perhaps of vice, filled her with dread and 
horror. Sinking on a couch, she covered her pale face 
with her hands, inwardly commending herself to the care 
of heaven. 

The men, meanwhile, stood whispering apart, and seemed 
to have forgotten the haste which they formerly expressed. 
At last one of them, after looking from the window into 
the street, suddenly approached her, and, rudely seizing 
her arm, cried, " Come, Miss, the coach can't wait all day. 
It's of no use crying ; we're too well used to that, so walk 
away if you don't choose to be carried." Laura dashed 
the tears from her eyes, and, faintly trying to disengage 
her arm, was silently following her conductor to the door, 
when it opened and Hargrave entered. 

Prepared as he was for a scene of distress, determined as 
he was to let no movement of compassion divert his pur- 
pose, he could not resist the quiet anguish which was 
written in the lovely face of his victim ; and, turning with 
real indignation to her tormentor, he exclaimed, <e Ruffian ! 
what have you done to her ? " But, quickly recollecting 
himself, he threw his arm familiarly round her, and said, 
fc My dearest Laura, what is the meaning of all this ? 
What can these people want with you ? " " Nothing 
which can at all concern you, Sir," said Laura, her 
spirit returning at the boldness of his address. " Nay, 
my dear creature," said Hargrave, " I am sure something 
terrible has happened. Speak, fellows," said he, turning to 
his emissaries, " what is your business with Miss Montre- 
ville?" "No great matter, Sir," answered the man; 
D D 2 



404 SELF-CONTROL. 

" only we have a writ against her for two hundred pounds, 
and she does not choose to pay it ; so we must take her to a 
little snug place, that's all." " To a prison ! You, Laura, 
to a prison ! Heavens ! it is not to be thought of. Leave 
the room fellows, and let me talk with Miss Montreville." 
" There is no occasion, Sir/' said Laura. " I am willing 
to submit to a short confinement. My aunt returns this 
evening, and she will undoubtedly advance the money. It 
ought to be much the same to me what room I inhabit for 
the few intervening hours." " Good heaven ! Laura, do 
you consider what you say ? Do you consider the horrors 
the disgrace ? Dearest girl, suffer me to settle this 
affair, and let me for once do something that may give you 
pleasure." Laura's spirit revolted from the freedom with 
which this was spoken. Suffering undeserved humiliation, 
never had she been more jealous of her claim to respect. 
(C I am obliged to you, Sir," said she, " but your good 
offices are unnecessary. Some little hardship, I find, I 
must submit to; and I believe the smallest within my 
choice is to let these people dispose of me till Lady Pel- 
ham's return." Hargrave reddened. " She prefers a 
prison," thought he, " to owing even the smallest obliga- 
tion to me. But her pride is near a fall;" and he smiled 
with triumphant pity on the stately mien of his victim. 

He was, in effect, almost indifferent whether she ac- 
cepted or rejected his proffered assistance. If she accepted 
it, he was determined that it should be clogged with a 
condition expressly stated, that he was for the future to be 
received with greater favour. If she refused, and he 
scarcely doubted that she would, he had only to make the 
signal, and she would be hurried, unresisting, to destruc- 
tion. Yet, recollecting the despair, the distraction, with 
which she would too late discover her misfortune ; the 
bitter upbraidings with which she would meet her be- 
trayer; the frantic anguish with which she would mourn 
her disgrace, if, indeed, she survived it, he was inclined to 
wish that she would choose the more quiet way of forward- 
ing his designs ; and he again earnestly entreated her to 
permit his interference. 

Laura's strong dislike to being indebted for any favour to 



SELF-CONTROL. 



405 



Hargrave, was somewhat balanced in her mind by the horror 
of a prison, and by the consideration that she could imme- 
diately repay him by the sale of part of her annuity. 
Though she still resisted his offer,, therefore., it was less 
firmly than before. Hargrave continued to urge her. " If, 
said he, " you dislike to allow me the pleasure of oblig- 
ing you, this trifling sum may be restored whenever you 
please ; and if you afterwards think that any little debt re- 
mains, it is in your power to repay it a thousand fold. 
One kind smile, one consenting look, were cheaply pur- 
chased with a world." 

The hint which concluded this speech seemed to Laura 
manifestly intended to prevent her acceptance of the offer 
which he urged so warmly. " Are you not ashamed, 
Sir," said she, with a disdainful smile, ". thus to make a 
parade of generosity which you do not mean to practise ? 
I know you do not cannot expect that I should poorly 
stoop to purchase your assistance." (f Upon my soul, 
Laura," cried Hargrave, seizing her hands, " I am most 
earnest, most anxious, that you should yield to me in this 
affair ; nor will I quit this spot till you have consented 
nor till you have allowed me to look upon your consent as 
a pledge of your future favour." Laura indignantly 
snatched her hands from his grasp. " All that I compre- 
hend of this," said she, " is insult, only insult. Leave 
me, Sir ! It is unworthy even of you to insult the misfor- 
tunes of a defenceless woman." 

Hargrave would not be repulsed. He again took her 
hand and persevered in his entreaties, not forgetting, how- 
ever, to insinuate the conditions. Laura, in silent scorn, 
turned from him, wondering what could be the motive of 
his strange conduct, till it suddenly occured to her that 
the arrest might be a mere plot contrived by Hargrave 
himself for the purpose of terrifying her into the acceptance 
of the conditions necessary to her escape. This suspicion 
once formed gained strength by every circumstance. The 
improbability of the debt ; the time chosen when Lady 
Pelham was absent ; the opportune arrival of Hargrave ; 
the submission of the pretended bailiffs to his order ; his 
frequent repetition of the conditions of his offer, at the 
D D 3 



406 



SELF-CONTROL. 



same time that he appeared to wish for its acceptance ; all 
conspired to convince Laura that she was intended to be 
made the dupe of a despicable artifice. Glowing with 
indignation, she again forced herself from Hargrave. 
" Away with this contemptible mockery/' she cried., "I 
will hear no more of it. While these people choose to 
guard me in this house, it shall be in an apartment secure 
from your intrusion." Then, before Hargrave could 
prevent her, she left him, and shut herself into her own 
chamber. 

Here, at greater liberty to think, a new question occurred 
to her. In case of her refusal to accept of Hargrave's 
terms in case of her entrusting herself to the pretended 
bailiffs, whither could they intend to convey her ? Laura's 
blood ran cold at the thought. If they were indeed the 
agents of Hargrave, what was there of dreadful which she 
might not fear ! Yet she could scarcely believe that per- 
sons could be found to attempt so daring a villany. Would 
they venture upon an outrage for which they must answer 
to the laws ! an outrage which Lady Pelham would cer- 
tainly feel herself concerned to bring to immediate detection 
and punishment? "Unfortunate chance!" cried Laura, 
" that my aunt should be absent just when she might have 
saved me. And I know not even where to seek her. 
Why did she not tell me whither she was going ? She 
who was wont to be so open ! Can this be a part of this 
cruel snare ? Could she Oh it is impossible ! My fears 
make me suspicious and unjust." 

Though Laura thus endeavoured to acquit Lady Pelham, 
her suspicion of Hargrave's treachery augmented every 
moment. While she remembered that her father, though 
he had spoken to her of his affairs with the most confidential 
frankness, had never hinted at such a debt, never named 
such a person as his pretended creditor ; while she thought 
of the manner of Hargrave's interference, the impro- 
bability that her own and her father's name and address, 
as well as the casualty of Lady Pelham's absence, should 
be known to mere strangers, the little likelihood that 
common swindlers would endeavour to extort money by 
means so hazardous, and with such small chance of success, 



SELF-CONTROL. 407 

her conviction rose to certainty ; and she determined 
that nothing short of force should place her in the power 
of these impostors. Yet how soon might that force be 
employed ! How feeble was the resistance which she could 
offer ! And who would venture to aid her in resisting the 
pretended servants of law ! " Miserable creature that I 
am !" cried she, wringing her hands in an agony of grief 
and terror, " must I submit to this cruel wrong ? Is 
there no one to save me no friend near ? Yes ! yes, 
I have a friend from whom no treachery of man can tear 
me who can deliver me from their violence who can 
do more can make their cruelty my passport to life eternal. 
Let me not despair then Let me not be wanting to my- 
self. With His blessing the feeblest means are mighty." 

After a moment's consideration, Laura rang her bell, 
that she might despatch a servant in quest of Mr. Derwent ; 
resolving to resist every attempt to remove her before his 
arrival, or, if dragged by force from her place of refuge, 
to claim the assistance of passengers in the street. No 
person, however, answered her summons. She rang again 
and again. Yet still no one came. She perceived that 
the servants were purposely kept at a distance from her ; 
and this served to confirm her suspicions of fraud. 

The windows of her chamber looked towards the gardens 
behind the house ; and she now regretted that she had not 
rather shut herself up in one of the front apartments, from 
whence she could have explained her situation to the passers 
by. Seeing no other chance of escape, she resolved on 
attempting to change her place of refuge, and was ap- 
proaching the door to listen whether any one was near, 
when she was startled by the rough voice of one of the 
pretended bailiffs ; " Come along, Miss," he cried ; " we 
are quite tired of waiting. Come along." Laura made 
no reply ; but throwing herself on a seat, strove to rally the 
spirit she was so soon to need. " Come, come, Miss," 
cried the man again ; " you have had time enough to make 
ready." Laura continued silent, while the ruffian called 
to her again and again, shaking the door violently. He 
threatened, with shocking oaths, that he would burst it 
open, and that she should be punished for resisting the 

D D 4 



408 SELF-CONTROL. 

officers of justice. All was in vain. Laura would not 
answer a single word. Trembling in every limb, she 
listened to his blasphemies and vows of vengeance till she 
had wearied out her persecutor, and her ear was gladdened 
with the sound of his departing steps. 

He was almost immediately succeeded by his less fe- 
rocious companion, who more civilly begged her to hasten, 
as their business would not permit any longer delay. 
Finding that she did not answer, he reminded her of the 
consequences of obstructing the execution of law ; and 
threatened, if she continued obstinate, to use force. Laura 
sat silent and motionless, using every momentary interval 
of quiet, in breathing a hasty prayer for deliverance. The 
least violent of the fellows proved the most persevering ; 
yet at last she had the satisfaction to hear him also retire. 

Presently a lighter step approached, and Hargrave called 
to her, "Miss Montreville ! Laura! Miss Montreville ! " 
Laura was still silent. He called again without success. 
" Miss Montreville is ill," cried he aloud, as if to some 
one at a distance. " She is insensible. The door must 
be forced." ei No ! no !" cried Laura, determined not to 
leave him this pretence, " I am not insensible, nor ill, if 
you would leave me in peace." " For heaven's sake, 
then," returned he, " let me speak a few words to you." 
{f No," answered Laura, cc you can say nothing which I 
wish to hear." "I beseech you, I implore you," said 
Hargrave, " only by one word put it in my power to save 
you from these miscreants say but that one little word, 
and you are free." " Man, man ! " cried Laura vehemently, 
" Why will you make me abhor you ? I want no freedom 
but from your persecutions. Begone ! " ' ' Only promise 
me," said Hargrave, lowering his voice, "only promise 
me that you will give up that accursed De Courcy, and I 
will dismiss these men." " Do you curse him who saved 
your life ? Monster ! Leave me ! I detest you." Har- 
grave gnawed his lip with passion. " You shall dearly 
pay this obstinacy," said he, and fiercely strode away. 

In the heat of his wrath, he commanded his coadjutors 
to force the door ; but the law which makes the home of 
an Englishman a sacred sanctuary, extends its precious in- 



SELF-CONTROL. 409 

fluence, in some faint degree, to the breasts even of the 
dregs of mankind; and these wretches, who would have 
given up Laura to any other outrage, hesitated to perpetrate 
this. They objected the danger. "Does your honour 
think," said one of them, " that the servants will stand by 
and allow us to break open the door ? " "I tell you," 
said Hargrave, " all the men-servants are from home. 
What do you fear from a parcel of women ? " " Women 
can bear witness as well as men, your honour ; and it 
might be as much as our necks are worth to be convicted. 
But if your honour could entice her out, we'd soon catch 
her." 

Hargrave took two or three turns along the lobby, and 
then returned to Laura. ' ' Miss Montreville/'said he, " my 
dearest Miss Montreville, I conjure you to admit me only 
for a moment. These savages will wait no longer. They 
are determined to force your door. Once more I implore 
you, before it be too late, let me speak with you. I ex- 
pect them every moment." Laura's breast swelled with 
indignation at this vile pretence of kindness. " Acting 
under your commands, Sir," said she, (C I doubt not that 
they may even dare this outrage. And let them at their 
peril. If the laws of my country cannot protect, they 
shall avenge me." For a moment Hargrave stood con- 
founded at this detection, till anger replaced shame, 
" Very well, madam," he cried ; " insult me as you please, 
and take the consequences." He then rejoined his emis- 
saries ; and, by bribery and threats, endeavoured to prevail 
upon them to consummate their violence. The men, un- 
willing to forfeit the reward of the hazard and trouble 
which they had already undergone, allured by Hargrave's 
promises, and fearing his vengeance, at last agreed to drag 
their hapless victim to her doom. 

Having taken such instruments as they could find, for 
the purpose of forcing the door, they followed Hargrave 
up stairs, and prepared to begin their work. At this near 
prospect of the success of all his schemes, Hargrave's rage 
began to cool, and a gleam of tenderness and humanity 
reviving in his heart, he shrunk from witnessing the an- 
guish which he was about to inflict. " Stop," said he to 



410 SELF-CONTROL. 

his people, who were approaching the door ; " stay a few 
moments;" and, putting his hand to his forehead, he 
walked about, not wavering in his purpose, but endeavour- 
ing to excuse it to himself. <( It is all the consequence of 
her own obstinacy," said he, suddenly stopping. "You 
may go on No ; stay, let me first get out of this house : 
her cries would drive me mad. Make haste lose no 
time after I am gone. It is better over." 

Besides the motive which he owned, Hargrave was im- 
pelled to depart by the dread of meeting Laura's upbraid- 
ing eye, and by the shame of appearing even to the ser- 
vants, who were so soon to know his baseness, an inactive 
spectator of Laura's distress. He hastened from the house, 
and the men proceeded in their work. 

With dread and horror did Laura listen to their attempts. 
Pale, breathless, her hands clenched in terror, she fixed 
her strained eyes on the door, which every moment seemed 
yielding ; then flying to the window, surveyed in despair 
the height, which made escape an act of suicide; then 
again turning to the door, tried with her feeble strength to 
aid its resistance. In vain ! it yielded, and the shock 
threw Laura on the ground. The ruffians seized her, more 
dead than alive, and were seizing her lily arms to lead her 
away ; but, with all her native majesty, she motioned them 
from her. ff You need not touch me," said she; " you 
see I can resist no further." With the composure of de- 
spair, she followed them to the hall, where, her strength 
failing, she sunk upon a seat. 

Some of the servants now in pity and amazement ap- 
proaching her, she addressed herself to one of them. " Will 
you go with me, my good friend," said she, " that you 
may return and tell Lady Pelham where to find her niece's 
corpse ? " The girl consented with tears in her eyes ; but 
one of the fellows cried, " No, no; she may run after 
the coach if she likes, but she don't go withinside." 
" Why not?" said the other, with a brutal leer. " They 
may both getliome again together. They'll be free enough 
soon." Laura shuddered. " Where wandered my senses," 
said she, " when I thought of subjecting any creature to 
the chance of a fate like mine ! Stay here, my dear, and 






SELF-CONTROL. 



411 



tell Lady Pelham, that I charge her, by all her hopes here 
and hereafter, to seek me before she sleeps. Let her seek 
me wherever there is wickedness and woe and there, living 
or dead, I shall be found." "Let's have done with all 
this nonsense," said one of the men. " John, make the 
coach draw up close to the door." The fellow went to do 
as he was desired ; while the other with a handkerchief 
prepared to stifle the cries of Laura, in case she should 
attempt to move the pity of passengers in the street. Laura 
heard the carriage stop, she heard the step let down, and 
the sound was like her death-knell. 

The man hurried her through the hall. He opened 
the street door and Fanny entered with Mr. Derwent. 
Laura, raising her bowed down head, uttered a cry of joy. 
t( I am safe !" she cried, and sunk into the arms of Fanny. 

The faithful girl had witnessed the arrest of her young 
mistress, and with affectionate interest had lingered in the 
anti-room, till Laura's request that she might be allowed 
to send for Mr. Derwent had suggested to her what was 
most fit to be done; and the refusal of the pretended bailiff 
had warned her that it must be done quickly. She had 
then flown to Mr. Derwent's ; and, finding him just step- 
ping into his carriage, easily persuaded him to order it to 
Grosvenor Street. 

Mr. Derwent immediately directed his servants to seize 
the fellow who had held Laura ; the other having made his 
escape upon seeing the arrival of her deliverers. Laura, 
soon recovering, told her tale to Mr. Derwent, who order- 
ing the man to be searched, examined the warrant, and 
declared it to be false. The danger attending forgery, 
however, had been avoided ; for there was no magistrate of 
the same name with that which appeared in the signature. 
Hargrave's villany thus fully detected, Laura wished to 
dismiss his agent ; but Mr. Derwent would not permit 
such atrocity to go unpunished, and gave up the wretch to 
the arm of the law. He then quitted Laura, leaving his 
servant to attend her till Lady Pelham's return ; and, worn 
out with the emotion she had undergone, she threw herself 
on a bed to seek some rest. 

Early in the evening Lady Pelham returned, and im- 



412 



SELF-CONTROL. 



mediately enquired for her niece. The servant, always 
attentive and often uncharitable spectators of the actions of 
their superiors, had before observed the encouragement 
which their mistress gave to Hargrave ; and, less unwilling 
to suspect than Laura, were convinced of Lady Pelham's 
connivance in his purpose. None of them, therefore, 
choosing to announce the failure of a scheme in which they 
believed her so deeply implicated, her questions produced 
no information except that Miss Montreville was gone in- 
disposed to bed. The habitual awe with which the good 
sense arid discernment of Laura had inspired Lady Pelham, 
was at present augmented almost to fear by the conscious- 
ness of duplicity. She shrunk from encountering the glance 
of quiet scrutiny, the plain direct question which left no 
room for prevarication, no choice between simple truth and 
absolute falsehood. But curiosity to know the success of 
the plot, and still more a desire to discover how far she 
was suspected of abetting it, prevailed over her fears ; and 
having before studied the part she was to play, she entered 
Laura's apartment. 

She found her already risen, and prepared to receive 
her. cc My dear child," said her Ladyship in one of her 
kindest tones, " I am told you have been ill. What is 
the matter ? " ' ' My illness is nothing, Madam," an- 
swered Laura, " but I have been alarmed in your absence 
by the most daring, the most unprincipled outrage ! " 
' ' Outrage, my dear ! " cried Lady Pelham in a voice of the 
utmost surprise; " what outrage?" Laura then, com- 
manding by a powerful effort the indignation which 
swelled her heart, related her injuries without comment ; 
pausing at times to observe how her aunt was affected by 
the recital. 

Lady Pelham was all amazement ; which, though chiefly 
pretended, was partly real. She was surprised at the 
lengths to which Hargrave had gone, arid eren suspected 
his whole design, though she was far from intending to 
discover her sentiments to her niece. 

" This is the most extraordinary thing I ever heard of ! " 
cried she when Laura had ended. " What can have been 
the meaning of this trick? What can have incited the 
people ? " 



SELF-CONTROL. 413 

" Colonel Hargrave, Madam/' said Laura without hesi- 
tation. 

" Impossible,, my dear ! Hargrave can be no further 
concerned in it, than as taking advantage of the accident 
to extort the promise of a little kindness from you. He 
would never have ventured to send the men into my house 
on such an errand." 

" One of them confessed to Mr. Derwent, before the 
whole family,, that Colonel Hargrave was his employer." 

f ' Astonishing ! " cried Lady Pelham. ' ' And what do 
you suppose to have been Hargrave' s intention ?" 

* " I doubt not, Madam/' returned Laura, commanding 
her voice, though resentment flashed from her eyes, " I 
doubt not that his intentions were yet more base and inhu- 
man than the means he employed. But, whatever they 
were, I am certain he would never have dared to entertain 
them, had it not been for the encouragement which your 
ladyship has thought proper to give him." 

" I, child ! " cried Lady Pelham, truth in her colour 
contradicting the falsehood of her tongue : " surely you do 
not think I would encourage him in such a plot." 
! <e No, madam," answered Laura; " I hope and believe 
you are incapable of consenting to such wickedness. I 
allude only to the general countenance which you have 
always shown to Colonel Hargrave." 

Lady Pelham could implicitly rely upon Laura's word ; 
and finding that she was herself unsuspected, she had 
leisure to attempt palliating the offence of her protege. 
" That countenance," returned she, " shall be completely 
withdrawn for the future, if Hargrave do not explain this 
strange frolic entirely to my satisfaction." 

" Frolic, Madam !" cried Laura indignantly. ff If that 
name belong to crimes which would disgrace barbarians, 
then call this a frolic ! " 

" Come, my dear girl," said Lady Pelham, coaxingly 
throwing her arm round Laura, " you are too much, and 
I must own, according to present appearances, too justly 
irritated, to talk of this affair coolly to-night. To-morrow 
we shall converse about it. Now let's go to tea." 

' ' No, Madam," said Laura with spirit,, for she saw 



SELF-CONTROL. 

through her aunt's intention of glossing over Hargrave's 
villany " I will never again expose myself to the chance 
of meeting a wretch whose crimes are my abhorrence. I 
will not leave this room till I quit it for ever. Madam, 
you have often called me firm. Now I will prove to you 
that I am so. Give me the means of going hence in a 
manner becoming your niece, or my own limbs shall bear 
me to Scotland, and on the charity of my fellow-creatures 
will I rely for support." 

" I protest, my love," cried Lady Pelham, " you are 
absolutely in a passion ; I never saw you so angry till now." 

" Your Ladyship never saw me have such reason for 
anger," replied Laura. " I own I am angry, yet I know 
that my determination is right; and I assure you it will 
outlive the heat with which it is expressed." 

Had Laura's purpose been more placidly announced it 
would have roused Lady Pelham to fury ; but even those 
who have least command over their tempers have general- 
ship enough to perceive the advantage of the attack ; and 
the passion of a virago has commonly a patriarchal sub- 
mission for its elder-born brother. Lady Pelham saw that 
Laura was in no humour for trifling ; she knew that her 
resolutions were not easily shaken; and she quitted her 
niece upon pretence of fatigue, but in reality that she 
might consider how to divert her from the purpose which 
she had so peremptorily announced. 

Laura was every day becoming more necessary to her 
aunt; and to think of parting with her was seriously dis- 
agreeable. Besides, Laura's departure would effectually 
blast the hopes of Hargrave ; and what would then become 
of all Lady Pelham's prospects of borrowing consequence 
from the lovely young Countess of Lincourt ? 

Never wanting in invention, Lady Pelham thought of a 
hundred projects for preventing her niece's journey to 
Scotland. Her choice was fixed by a circumstance which 
she could not exclude from her consideration. The story 
of Hargrave's nefarious plot was likely soon to be made 
public. It was known to Mr. Derwent, and to all her own 
household. Her conscience whispered that her connivance 
would be suspected. Mr. Derwent might be discreet ; but 



SELF-CONTROL. 415 

what was to be expected from the discretion of servants ? 
The story would spread from the footmen to the waiting- 
maids,, and from these to their ladies, till it would meet 
her at every turn. Nor had her imprudent consent left her 
the power of disclaiming all concern in it, by forbidding 
Hargrave her house ; since he would probably revenge him- 
self by disclosing her share in the stratagem. 

Lady Pelham saw no better means of palliating these 
evils, than by dismissing her establishment and returning 
immediately to Walbourne ; and she hoped, at the same 
time, that it might not be impossible to prevail on Laura 
to change the direction of her journey. For this purpose 
she began by beseeching her niece to lay aside thoughts of 
retiring to Scotland ; and was beginning to recount all the 
disadvantages of such a proceeding: but Laura would 
listen to no remonstrance on the subject ; declaring that if, 
after what had happened, she remained in a place where 
she was liable to such outrage, she should be herself ac- 
countable for whatever evil might be the consequence. 
Lady Pelham then proposed an immediate removal to 
Walbourne., artfully insinuating that, if any cause of com- 
plaint should there arise, Laura would be near the advice 
and assistance of her friends at Norwood, and of Mrs. 
Bolingbroke. Laura was not without some wishes that 
pointed towards Walbourne ; but she remembered the 
importunities which she had there endured, and she firmly 
resisted giving occasion to their renewal. 

Lady Pelham had then recourse to tender upbraidings. 
" Was it possible that Laura, the only hope and comfort 
of her age, would quit her now, when she had so endeared 
herself to the widowed heart, reft of all other treasure 
now when increasing infirmity required her aid now 
when the eye which was so soon to close was fixed on her 
as on its last earthly treasure ! Would Laura thus cruelly 
punish her for a crime in which she had no share ; a crime 
which she was willing to resent to the utmost of her niece's 
wishes ! " Lady Pelham talked herself into tears, and few 
hearts of nineteen are hard enough to resist the tears of 
age. Laura consented to accompany her aunt to Wal- 
bourne, provided that she should never be importuned on 



416 



SELF-CONTROL. 



the subject of Hargrave, nor even obliged to see him. 
These conditions Lady Pelham solemnly promised to fulfil, 
and, well pleased, prepared for her journey. 

Hargrave, however,, waited on her before her departure, 
and excused himself so well on the score of his passion, 
his despair, and his eager desire of being allied to Lady 
Pelham, that, after a gentle reprimand, he was again re- 
ceived into favour, informed of the promises which had 
been made against him. and warned not to be discouraged if 
their performance could not immediately be dispensed with. 
Of this visit Laura knew nothing ; for she adhered to her 
resolution of keeping her apartment, nor ever crossed its 
threshold till, on the third day after her perilous adven- 
ture, the carriage was at the door which conveyed her to 
Walbourne. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

As Lady Pelham's carriage passed the entrance of the 
avenue which led to Norwood, Laura sunk into a profound 
reverie ; in the course of which she settled most minutely 
the behaviour proper for her first meeting with De Courcy. 
She decided on the gesture of unembarrassed cordiality with 
which she was to accost him ; intending her manner to 
intimate that she accounted him a friend, and only a friend. 
The awkwardness of a private interview she meant to avoid 
by going to Norwood next day, at an hour which she knew 
that Montague employed in reading aloud to his mother. 

All this excellent arrangement, however, was unfortu- 
nately useless. Laura was taking a very early ramble in 
what had always been her favourite walk, when, at a sudden 
turn, she saw De Courcy not three steps distant. Her 
white gown shining through the still leafless trees had 
caught his attention : the slightest glimpse of her form was 
sufficient for the eye of love, and he had advanced prepared 
to meet her ; while she, thus taken by surprise, stood be- 



SELF-CONTROL. 417* 

fore him conscious and blushing. At this confusion, so 
flattering to a lover, De Courcy's heart gave one bound of 
triumphant joy : but he was too modest to ascribe to love 
what timidity might so well account for j and he prudently 
avoided reminding Laura, even by a look, of either his 
hopes or his wishes. Quickly recollecting herself, Laura 
entered into a conversation, which, though at first reserved 
and interrupted, returned by degrees to the confidential 
manner which De Courcy had formerly won from her under 
the character of her father's friend. 

This confidence, so precious to him, De Courcy was 
careful never to interrupt. From the time of Laura's re- 
turn, he saw her almost daily. She made long visits to 
Mrs. De Courcy ; he came often to Walbourne ; they met 
in their walks, in their visits ; they spent a week together 
under Mr. Bolingbroke's roof: yet De Courcy religiously 
kept his promise, nor ever wilfully reminded Laura that 
he had a wish beyond her friendship. Always gentle, 
respectful, and attentive, he never invited observation by 
distinguishing her above others who had equal claims on 
his politeness. She only shared his assiduities with every 
other woman whom he approached : nor did he betray 
uneasiness when she, in her turn, received attentions from 
others. His prudent self-command had the effect which 
he intended ; and Laura, in conversing with him, felt none 
of the reserve which may be supposed to attend intercourse 
with a rejected admirer. His caution even at times deceived 
her. She recollected Mrs. Douglas's prophecy, that " his 
attachment would soon subside into friendly regard," and 
imagined she saw its accomplishment. " How happy are 
men in having such flexible affections !" thought she with 
a sigh. f( I wonder whether he has entirely conquered 
the passion which, three short months ago, was to ' last 
through life beyond life?' I hope he has," whispered 
she, with a deeper sigh ; and she repeated it again " I 
hope he has ;" as if, by repeating it, she would have 
ascertained that it was her real sentiment. Yet, at other 
times, some little inadvertency, unheeded by less interested 
observers, would awaken a doubt of De Courcy's self- con- 
quest ; and in that doubt Laura unconsciously found plea- 





418 SELF-CONTROL. 

sure. She often reconsidered the arguments which her 
friend had used to prove that passion is unnecessary to the 
happiness of wedded life. She did not allow that she was 
convinced by them ; but she half- wished that she had had 
an opportunity of weighing them before she had decided 
her fate with regard to De Courcy. Meanwhile,, much of 
her time was spent in his company,, and his presence had 
ever brought pleasure with it. Week after week passed 
agreeably away, and the close of the winter atoned for the 
disquiet which had marked its commencement. 

During all this time, Laura saw nothing of Hargrave. 
His visits, indeed, to Walbourne were more frequent than 
she supposed ; but the only one of which she had been 
informed Lady Pelham affected to announce to her, ad- 
vising her to avoid it by spending that day at Norwood. 
Since their return from town, her Ladyship had entirely 
desisted from her remonstrances in his favour ; and Laura 
hoped that his last outrage had opened her aunt's eyes to 
the deformity of his character. And could Lady Pelham's 
end have been pursued without annoyance to any living 
being, it would long before have shared the perishable 
nature of her other purposes. But whatever conferred the 
invaluable occasion of tormenting, was cherished by Lady 
Pelham as the dearest of her concerns; and she only 
waited fit opportunity to show that she could be as stub- 
born in thwarting the wishes of others, as capricious in 
varying her own. 

De Courcy's attachment could not escape her penetra- 
tion ; and, as she was far from intending to desert the 
cause of Hargrave, she saw, with displeasure, the pro- 
gressive advancement of Laura's regard for the friend of 
her father. Though she was sufficiently acquainted with 
Laura to know that chiding would effect no change in her 
sentiments or conduct, she had not temper enough to re- 
strain her upbraidings on this subject, but varied them 
with all the skill and perseverance of a veteran in provo- 
cation. " She did not, she must confess, understand the 
delicacy of ladies whose affections could be transferred from 
one man to another. She did not see how any modest 
woman could find two endurable men in the world. It 



SELF-CONTROL. 419 

was a farce to tell her of friendship and gratitude, and 
such like stuff. Every body knew the meaning of a friend- 
ship between a girl of nineteen and a good-looking young 
fellow of five-and-twenty. She wondered whether Laura 
was really wise enough to imagine that De Courcy could 
afford to marry her ; or whether, if he were mad enough 
to think of such a thing, she could be so ungenerous as to 
take advantage of his folly, to plunge him into irretrievable 
poverty, and this, too, when it was well known that a cer- 
tain young heiress had prior claims upon him." 

Laura at first listened to these harangues with tolerable 
sang froid ; yet they became, she was unconscious why, 
every day more provoking. Though she had self-command 
enough to be silent, her changing colour announced Lady 
Pelham's victory ; and it was followed up without mercy 
or respite. It had, however, no other effect than that of 
imposing a little restraint when her Ladyship happened to 
be present ; for De Courcy continued his attentions, and 
Laura received him with increasing favour. 

Lady Pelham omitted none of the minor occasions of 
disturbing this harmonious intercourse. She interrupted 
their tete-a-tetes, beset them in their walks, watched their 
most insignificant looks, pried into their most common- 
place messages, and dexterously hinted to the one whatever 
foible she could see or imagine in the other. 

A casual breath of scandal soon furnished her with a 
golden opportunity of sowing dissension, and she lost no 
time in taking advantage of the hint. " It is treating me 
like a baby," said she once to Laura, after opening in form 
her daily attack : " it is treating me like a mere simpleton, 
to expect that you are to deceive me with your flourishing 
sentiments about esteem and gratitude. Have esieem arid 
gratitude the blindness of love ? Don't I see that you 
overlook in your beloved Mr. Montague De Courcy faults 
which in another you would think sufficient excuse for any 
ill treatment that you chose to inflict ? " 

Laura kept silence ; for of late she had found that her 
temper could not stand a charge of this kind. 

" What becomes of all your fine high-flown notions of 
E B 2 



420 SELF-CONTROL. 

purity, and so forth/' continued Lady Pelham, lc when you 
excuse his indiscretions with his mother's protegee, and 
make a favourite and a plaything of his spoiled bantling?" 

Laura turned pale, then reddened violently. " What 
protegee ? what bantling ? " cried she, quite thrown off her 
guard. " I know of no indiscretions I have no playthings." 

" What ! you pretend not to know that the brat he takes 
so much notice of is his own ! Did you never hear of his 
affair with a pretty girl whom his mamma was training as a 
waiting-maid for her fine-lady daughter ? " 

ft Mr. de Courcy, madam ! " cried Laura, making a 
powerful struggle with her indignation "He seduce a 
girl, who, as a member of his family, was doubly entitled to 
his protection ! Is it possible that your Ladyship can give 
credit to such a calumny ? " 

" Hey-day," cried Lady Pelham, with a provoking laugh, 
" a most incredible occurrence, to be sure ! And pray why 
should your immaculate Mr. de Courcy be impeccable any 
more than other people ? " 

" I do not imagine, madam," returned Laura, with re- 
covered self-possession, " that Mr. de Courcy, or any of the 
human race, is perfectly sinless ; but nothing short of proof 
shall convince me that he is capable of deliberate wickedness; 
or even that the casual transgressions of such a man can be 
so black in their nature, so heinous in their degree. It were 
next to a miracle if one who makes conscience of guarding 
his very thoughts, could, with a single step, make such pro- 
gress in iniquity." 

" It were a miracle, indeed," said Lady Pelham, 
stieeringly, cc if you could be prevailed upon to believe any 
thing that contradicts your romantic vagaries. As long as 
you are determined to worship De Courcy, you'll never listen 
to any thing that brings him down from his pedestal." 

" It is wasting time," returned Laura calmly, " to argue 
on the improbability of this malicious tale. I can easily give 
your Ladyship the pleasure of being able to contradict it. 
Mrs. Bolingbroke is at Norwood. She will tell me frankly 
who is the real father of little Henry, and I shall feel no dif- 
ficulty in asking her. Will you have the goodness to lend 
me the carriage for an hour ? " 



SELF-CONTROL. 4 

"A pretty expedition, truly ! " cried Lady Pelham; " and 
mighty delicate and dignified it is for a young lady, to roa 
about enquiring into the pedigree of aU the bastards in the 
country ! I assure you, Miss Montreville, I shall neither 
countenance nor assist such a scheme ! " 

" Then, madam," answered Laura coolly, <f I shall 
walk to Norwood. The claims of dignity, or even of deli- 
cacy, are surely inferior to those of justice and gratitude. 
But though it should subject me to the scorn of all man- 
kind, 1 will do what in me lies to clear his good name whose 
kindness ministered the last comforts that sweetened the life 
of my father." 

The manner in which these words were pronounced 
showed Lady Pelham that resistance was useless. She was 
far from wishing to quarrel with the De Courcy family; 
and she now began to fear that she might appear the propa- 
gator of this scandal. Having little time to consult the 
means of safety, since Laura was already leaving the room, 
she hastily said, "I suppose, in your explanations with 
Mrs. Bolingbroke, you will give me up for your authority ? " 
" No, madam," replied Laura, with a scorn which she 
could not wholly suppress ; e ' your Ladyship has no right 
to think so at the moment when I am showing such concern 
for the reputation of my friends." Lady Pelham would 
have fired at this disdain, but her quietus was at hand 
she was afraid of provoking Laura to expose her, and there- 
'fore she found it perfectly possible to keep her temper. "If 
you are resolved to go," said she, " you had better wait till 
I order the carriage ; I fear we shall have rain." Laura at 
first refused ; but Lady Pelham pressed her, with so many 
kind concerns for a slight cold which she had, that, though 
she saw through the veil, she suffered her Ladyship to wear 
it undisturbed. The carriage was ordered, and Laura has- 
tened to Norwood. 

Though she entertained not the slightest doubt of De 
Courcy's integrity, she was restless and anxious. It was 
easy to see that her mind was pre-occupied during the few 
minutes which passed before, taking leave of Mrs. de 
Courcy, she begged Mrs. Bolingbroke to speak with her 
apart. Harriet followed her into another room : and Laura, 
E E 3 



4 SELF-CONTROL. 

with much more embarrassment than she had expected to 
feel, prepared to begin her interrogations. 

Harriet, from the thoughtful aspect of her companion, an- 
ticipating something of importance,, stood gravely waiting 
to hear what she had to say ; while Laura was confused by 
the awkwardness of explaining her reason for the question 
she was about to ask. " I have managed this matter very 
ill/' said she at last, pursuing her thoughts aloud. " I 
have entered on it with so much formality that you must 
expect some very serious affair; and, after all, I am only 
going to ask a trifling question. Will you tell me who is 
the father of my pretty little Henry ? " Harriet looked sur- 
prised, and answered, " Really, my dear, I am not sure 
that I dare. You enquired the same thing once before ; and 
just when I was going to tell you, Montague looked so ter- 
rible, that I was forced to hold my tongue. But what 
makes you ask? What! you won't tell? Then I know 
how it is. My prophecy has proved true, and the good 
folks have given him to Montague himself. Ah ! what a 
tell-tale face you have, Laura ! And who has told you this 
pretty story ? " ' ' It is of no consequence," replied Laura, 
" that you should know my authority, provided that I have 
yours to contradict the slander." e( You shall have better 
authority than mine," returned Harriet. " Those who 
were malipious enough to invent such a tale of Montague, 
might well assert that his sister employed falsehood to clear 
him. You shall hear the whole from nurse Margaret her- 
self ; and her evidence cannot be doubted. Come, will you 
walk to the cottage, and hear what she has to say ?" 

They found Margaret alone ; and Harriet, impatient till 
her brother should be fully justified, scarcely gave herself 
time to answer the old woman's civilities, before she entered 
on her errand. " Come, nurse," said she, with all her na- 
tural frankness of manner, " I have something particular 
to say to you. Let's shut the door and sit down. Do you 
know, somebody has been malicious enough to tell Miss 
Montreville that Montague is little Henry's father." Mar- 
garet lifted up her hands and eyes. " My young master, 
madam ! " cried she " He go to bring shame and sorrow 
into any honest man's family ! If you'll believe me, miss," 



SELF-CONTROL. 423 

continued she, turning to Laura, " this is, begging your 
pardon, the wickedest lie that ever was told." 

Laura was about to assure her that she gave no credit to 
the calumny ; but Harriet, who had a double reason for 
wishing that her friend should listen to Margaret's tale, in- 
terrupted her, saying, " Nurse, I am sure nothing could 
convince her so fully as hearing the whole story from your 
own lips. I brought her hither on purpose ; and you may 
trust her, I assure you, for she is just such a wise prudent 
creature as you always told me that I ought to be." "Ah! 
madam," answered Margaret, " I know that ; for John 
says she is the prettiest behaved young lady he ever saw j 
and says how fond my lady is of her, and others too besides 
my lady, though it is not for servants to be making re- 
marks." " Come then, nurse," said Harriet, " sit down 
between us ; tell us the whole sad story of my poor foster- 
sister, and clear your friend Montague from this aspersion." 

Margaret did as she was desired. ef Ah, yes ! " said she, 
tears lending to her eyes a transient brightness, "I can 
talk of it now ! Many a long evening John and I speak of 
nothing else. She always used to sit between us, but 
now we both sit close together. But we are growing old," 
continued she, in a more cheerful tone, ' ' and in a little 
while we shall see them all again. We had three of the 
prettiest boys ! My dear young lady, you will soon have 
children of your own; but never set your heart upon them, 
nor be too proud of them, for that is only provoking Pro- 
vidence to take them away." "I shall probably never 
have so much reason," said Harriet, " as you had to be 
proud of your Jessy." The mother's pride had survived its 
object ; and it brightened Margaret's faded countenance, as 
pressing Harriet's hand between her own, she cried, " Ah, 
bless you ! you were always kind to her. She was indeed 
the flower of my little flock ; and when the boys were taken 
away, she was our comfort for all. But I was too proud of 
her. Five years since, there was not her like in all the 
country round. A dutiful child, too, and never made us sad 
or sorrowful till and such a pretty modest creature ! But 
I was too proud of her." 

Margaret stopped, and covered her face with the corner 
E E 4 



424 SELF-CONTROL. 

of her apron. Sympathising tears stood in Laura's eyes ; 
while Harriet sobbed aloud at the remembrance of the play- 
fellow of her infancy. The old woman first recovered her- 
self: ' ' I shall never have done at this rate/' said she ; and, 
drying her eyes, turned to address the rest of her tale to 
Laura. " Well, ma'am, a gentleman who used to come a- 
visiting to the castle, by ill-fortune chanced to see her; and 
ever after that he noticed her and spoke to her ; and flat- 
tered me up, too, saying, what a fine-looking young creature 
she was, and so well brought up, and what a pity it was 
that she should be destined for a tradesman's wife. So, like 
a fool as I was, I thought no harm of his fine speeches, be- 
cause Jessy always said he behaved quite modest and re- 
spectful like. But John, to be sure, was angry, and said 
that a tradesman was her equal, and that he hoped her rosy 
cheeks would never give her notions above her station ; and, 
says he, I am sure many and many a time I have thought 
of his words, says he, ' God grant I never see worse come 
of her than to be an honest tradesman's wife ! ' My young 
master, too, saw the gentleman one day speaking to her ; 
and he was so good as to advise her himself, and told her 
that the gentleman meant nothing honest by all his fine 
speeches. So after that, she would never stop with him at 
all, nor give ear to a word of his flatteries ; but always ran 
away from him, telling him to say those fine things to his 
equals. 

" So one unlucky day I had some matters to be done in 
the town, and Jessy said she would like to go, and poor 
foolish I was so left to myself that I let her go. So she 
dressed herself in her clean white gown. I remember it 
as were it but yesterday. I went to the door with her, 
charging her to be home early. She shook hands with 
me. Jessy, says I, you look just like a bride. So she 
smiled. ' No, mother,' says she, ' I shan't leave home so 
merrily the day I leave it for all and I never saw my 
poor child smile again. So she went, poor lamb, little 
thinking ! and I stood in the door looking after her, 
thinking, like a fool as I was, that my young master need 
not have thought it strange though a gentleman had taken 
her for a wife ; for there were not many ladies that looked 
like her." 



SELF-CONTROL. 



425 



Margaret rested her arms upon her knees, bent her head 
over them, made a pause, and then hegan again. " All day 
I was as merry as a lark, singing and making every thing 
clean in our little habitation here, where I thought we 
should all sit down together so happy when John came 
home at night from the castle. So it was getting darkish 
before my work was done, and then I began to wonder 
what was become of Jessy ; and many a time I went across 
the green to see if there was any sight of her. At last 
John came home, and 1 told him that I was beginning to 
be frightened ; but he laughed at me, and said she had 
perhaps met with some of her comrades, and was gone to 
take her tea with them. So we sat down by the fire ; but 
I could not rest, for my mind misgave me sadly ; so says 
I, John, I will go and see after my girl. ( Well,' says he, 
c we may as well go and meet her.' Alas ! alas ! a sad 
meeting was that ! We went to the door ; I opened it, and 
somebody fell against me It was Jessy. She looked as 
dead as she did the day I laid her in her coffin ; and her 
pretty cheek ! and her pretty mouth, that used to smile 
so sweetly in my face when she was a baby on my knee. 
And her pretty shining hair that I used to comb so often ! 
Oh woe, woe is me ! How could I see such a sight and 
live!" 

The mother wrung her withered hands, and sobbed as if 
her heart were breaking. Laura laid her arms kindly round 
old Margaret's neck; for misfortune made the poor and the 
stranger her equal and her friend. She offered no words 
of unavailing consolation, but pitying tears trickled fast 
down her cheeks ; while Mrs. Bolingbroke, her eyes flash- 
ing indignant fires, exclaimed, <e Surely the curse of heaven 
will pursue that wretch ! " 

" Alas ! " said Margaret, " I fear I cursed him too ; but 
J was in a manner beside myself then. God forgive both 
him and me ! My poor child never cursed him. All that 
I could say she would not tell who it was that had used her 
so. She said she should never bring him to justice ; and 
always prayed that his own conscience might be his only 
punishment. So from the first we saw that her heart was 
quite broken ; for she would never speak nor look up, nor 
let me do the smallest thing for her, but always said it was 



426 



SELF-CONTROL. 



not fit that I should wait on such a one as she. Well, one 
night, after we were all a-bed, a letter was flung in at the 
window of Jessy's closet ; and she crept out of her bed to 
take it. I can show it you,, miss, for it was under her 
pillow when "she died." Margaret, unlocking a drawer, 
took out a letter and gave it to Laura, who read in it these 
words : 

(( My dear Jessy, I am the most miserable wretch upon 
earth. I wish I had been upon the rack the hour I 
met you. I am sure I have been so ever since. Do not 
curse me, dear Jessy ! Upon my soul, I had far less 
thought of being the ruffian I have been to you, than I 
have at this moment of blowing out my own brains. I 
wish to heaven that I had been in your own station, that I 
might have made you amends for the injury I have done. 
But you know it is impossible for me to marry you. I en- 
close a bank bill for 100/.; and I will continue to pay you the 
same sum annually while you live, though you should never 
consent to see me more. If you make me a father, no 
expense shall be spared to provide the means of secrecy and 
comfort. No accommodation which a wife could have 
shall be withheld from you. Tell me if there be any thing 
more that I can do for you. I shall never forgive myself 
for what I have done. I abhor myself; and, from this 
hour, I forswear all woman-kind for your sake. Once more, 
dear Jessy, pardon me I implore you." 

This letter was without signature ; but the hand- writing 
was familiar to Laura, and could not be mistaken. It was 
Hargrave's. Shuddering at this new proof of his depravity, 
Laura inwardly offered a thanksgiving that she had escaped 
all connection with such a monster. ee You may trust my 
friend with the wretch's name," said Harriet, anxious that 
Laura's conviction should be complete. " She will make 
no imprudent use of it." I should never have known it 
myself had it not been for this letter," answered Mar- 
garet. <( But my poor child wished to answer it, and she 
was not able to carry the answer herself, so she was obliged 
to ask her father to go with it. And first she made us 
both promise on the Bible, never to bring him either to 
shame or punishment ; and then she told us that it was 



SELF-CONTROL. 427 

that same Major Hargrave that used to speak her so fair. 
Here is the scroll that John took of her answer." 

" Sir,, I return your money,, for it can be of no use where 
I am going. I will never curse you ; but trust I shall to 
the last have pity on you, who had no pity on me. I 
fear your sorrow is not right repentance ; for, if it was, you 
would never think of committing a new sin by taking your 
own life, but rather of making reparation for the great evil 
you have done. Not that I say this in respect of wishing 
to be your wife. My station makes that unsuitable, more 
especially now when I should be a disgrace to any man. 
And I must say, a wicked person would be as unsuitable 
among my friends; for my parents are honest persons, 
although their daughter is so unhappy as to bring shame on* 
them. I shall not live long enough to disgrace them any 
farther, so pray enquire no more for me, nor take the 
trouble to send me money, for I will not buy my coffin 
with the wages of shame; and I shall need nothing else. 
So, wishing that my untimely end may bring you to a true 
repentance, I remain, sir, the poor, dying, disgraced 

" JESSY WILSON." 

fe Ah ! miss," continued Margaret, wiping from the paper 
the drops which had fallen on it, " my poor child's pro- 
phecy was true. She always said she would just live till 
her child was born, and then lay her dishonoured head and 
her broken heart in the grave. My Lady and Miss Harriet 
there were very kind ; and my young master himself was 
so good as to promise that he would act the part of a 
father to the little orphan. And he used to argue with 
her that she should submit to the chastisement that was 
laid upon her, and that she might find some comfort still ; 
but she always said that her chastisement was less than she 
deserved, but that she could never wish to live to be c a 
very scorn of men, an outcast and an alien among her 
mother's children.' 

" So the day that little Henry was born, she was doing 
so well that we were in hopes she would still be spared 
to us ; but she knew better ; and, when I was sitting by 
her, she pulled me close to her, and said, ' Mother,' says 
she, looking pleased like, ' the time of my release is at hand 



428 SELF-CONTROL. 

now ; ' and then she charged me never to give poor little 
Henry to his cruel father. I had not power to say a word 
to her, but sat hushing the baby, with my heart like to 
break. So, by and by, she said to me again, but very weak 
and low like, ' My brothers lie side by side in the church- 
yard, lay me at their feet ; it is good enough for me.' So 
she never spoke more, but closed her eyes, and slipped 
quietly away, and left her poor old mother." 

A long pause followed Margaret's melancholy tale. "Are 
you convinced, my friend," said Mrs. Bolingbroke at length. 
e( Fully," answered Laura, and returned to silent and 
thankful meditation. 

" My master," said Margaret, " has made good his pro- 
mise to poor Jessy. He has shown a father's kindness to 
her boy. He paid for his nursing, and forces John to take 
a board for him that might serve any gentleman's son ; and 
now it will be very hard if the end of all his goodness 
is to get himself ill spoken of : and nobody saying a word 
against him that was the beginning of all this mischief. 
But that is the way of the world." " It is so," said 
Laura. " And what can better warn us that the earth was 
never meant for our resting-place. The ' raven' wings his 
way through it triumphant. The ' dove' finds no rest for 
the sole of her foot, and turns to the ark from whence she 
came." 

Mrs. Bolingbroke soon after took leave of her nurse, and 
the ladies proceeded in their walk towards Walbourne. 
Harriet continued to express the warmest detestation of the 
profligacy of Hargrave ; while Laura's mind was chiefly oc- 
cupied in endeavouring to account for De Courcy's desire 
to conceal from her the enormity which had just come to 
her knowledge. Unable to divine his reason, she applied to 
Harriet. " Why, my dear/' said she, " should your bro- 
ther have silenced you on a subject which could only be men- 
tioned to his honour?" " He never told me his reasons," 
said Harriet, smiling ; ' ' but if you will not be angry, I may 
try to guess them." "I think," said Laura, " that, thus 
cautioned, I may contrive to keep my temper ; so speak 
boldly." " Then, my dear," said Harriet, " I may venture 
to say that I think he suspected you of a partiality for this 



SELF-CONTROL. 429 

wretch, and would not shock you by a full disclosure of 
his depravity. And I know/' added she, in a voice tremu- 
lous with emotion, " that in him this delicacy was virtue ; 
for the peace of his life depends on securing your affec- 
tionate,, your exclusive preference." " Ah ! Harriet, you 
have guessed right. Yes ! I see it all. Dear generous 
De Courcy ! " cried Laura, and burst into tears. 

Harriet had not time to comment upon this agitation ; 
for the next moment De Courcy himself was at her side. 
For the first time, Laura felt embarrassed and distressed by 
his presence. The words she had just uttered still sounded 
in her ear, and she trembled lest they had reached that of 
De Courcy. She was safe. Her exclamation was unheard 
by Montague, but he instantly observed her tears, and 
they banished from his mind every other idea than that 
of Laura in sorrow. He paid his compliments like one 
whose attention was distracted, and scarcely answered what 
his sister addressed to him. Mrs. Bolingbroke, inwardly 
enjoying his abstraction and Laura's embarrassment, deter- 
mined not to spoil an opportunity which she judged so 
favourable to her brother's suit. " This close walk," said 
she with a sly smile, " was never meant for a trio. It is 
just fit for a pair of lovers. Now I have letters to write, 

and if you two will excuse me" De Courcy, colouring 

crimson, had not presence of mind to make any reply; 
while Laura, though burning with shame and vexation, 
answered, with her habitual self-command, " Oh pray, my 
dear, use no ceremony. Here are none but friends." The 
emphasis which she laid upon the last word wrung a heavy 
sigh from De Courcy ; who, while his sister was taking 
leave, was renewing his resolution not to disappoint the 
confidence of Laura. 

The very circumstances which Mrs. Bolingbroke had 
expected should lead to a happy eclaircissement made this 
interview the most reserved and comfortless which the two 
friends ever had. Laura was too conscious to talk of the 
story which she had just heard, and she was too full of it 
to enter easily upon any other subject. With her gratitude 
for the delicacy which De Courcy had observed towards 
her, was mingled a keen feeling of humiliation at the idea 



430 ' SELF-CONTROL. 

that he had discovered her secret before it had been confided 
to him ; for we can sometimes confess a weakness which 
we cannot without extreme mortification see detected. Her 
silence and depression infected De Courcy ; and the few 
short constrained sentences which were spoken during their 
walk,, formed a contrast to the general vivacity of their 
conversations. 

Laura, however, recovered her eloquence as soon as she 
found herself alone with Lady Pelham. With all the ani- 
mation of sensibility, she related the story of the ill-fated 
Jessy ; and disclosing in confidence the name of her de- 
stroyer, drew, in the fulness of her heart, a comparison 
between the violator of laws human and divine, owing his 
life to the mercy of the wretch whom he had undone, and 
the kind adviser of inexperienced youth, the humane pro- 
tector of forsaken infancy. Lady Pelham quietly heard her 
to an end ; and then wrinkling her eyelids, and peeping 
through them with her glittering blue eyes, she began, " Do 
you know, my dear, I never met with prejudices so strong 
as yours ? When will you give over looking for prodigies? 
Would any mortal but you expect a gay young man to be 
as correct as yourself? As for your immaculate Mr. de 
Courcy, with his sage advices, I think it is ten to one that 
he wanted to keep the girl for himself. Besides, I'll answer 
for it, Hargrave would have bid farewell to all his indis- 
cretions if you would have married him." " Never name 
it, madam," cried Laura warmly, " if you would not banish 
me from your presence. His marriage with me would have 
been itself a crime; a crime aggravated by being, as if in 
mockery, consecrated to Heaven. For my connection with 
such a person no name is vile enough." cc Well, well," 
said Lady Pelham, shrugging her shoulders ; " I prophesy 
that one day you will repent having refused to share a title 
with the handsomest man in England." ' ' All distinctions 
between right and wrong," returned Laura, ef must first be 
blotted from my mind. The beauty of his person is no 
more to me than the shining colours of an adder ; and the 
rank which your Ladyship prizes so highly, would but 
render me a more conspicuous mark for the infamy in which 
his wife must share." 



SELF-CONTROL. 431 

Awed by the lightnings of Laura's eye,, Lady Pelham 
did not venture to carry the subject farther for the present. 
She had of late been watching an opportunity of procuring 
the re-admission of Hargrave to the presence of his mis- 
tress : but this fresh discovery had served, if possible, to 
widen the breach. Hargrave' s fiery temper submitted with 
impatience to the banishment which he had so well deserved, 
and he constantly urged Lady Pelham to use her authority 
in his behalf. Lady Pelham, though conscious that this 
authority had no existence, was flattered by having power 
ascribed to her, and promised at some convenient season to 
interfere. Finding herself, however, considerably embar- 
rassed by a promise which she could not fulfil without 
hazarding the loss of Laura, she was not sorry that an op- 
portunity occurred of evading the performance of her agree- 
ment. She, therefore, acquainted Hargrave with Laura's 
recent discovery, declaring that she could not ask her niece 
to overlook entirely so great an irregularity. 

From a regard to the promise of secrecy which she had 
given to Laura, as well as in common prudence, Lady 
Pelham had resolved not to mention the De Courcy family 
as the fountain from which she had drawn her intelligence. 
Principle and prudence sometimes governed her Ladyship's 
resolutions, but seldom swayed her practice. In the first 
interview with Hargrave which followed this rational de- 
termination, she was led, by the mere vanity of a babbler, 
to give such hints as not only enabled him to trace the story 
of his shame to Norwood, but inclined him to fix the pub- 
lishing of it upon Montague. 

From the moment when Hargrave first unjustly sus- 
pected Laura of a preference for De Courcy, his heart had 
rankled with an enmity which a sense of its ingratitude 
served only to aggravate. The cool disdain with which De 
Courcy treated him, a strong suspicion of his attachment, 
above all, Laura's avowed esteem and regard, inflamed 
this enmity to the bitterest hatred. Hopeless as he was of 
succeeding in his designs by any fair or honourable means, 
he might have entertained thoughts of relinquishing his 
suit, and of seeking, in a match of interest, the means of 
escape from his embarrassments : but that Laura, with all 



4>32 SELF-CONTROL. 

her unequalled charms,, should be the prize of De Courcy, 
that in her he should obtain all that beauty, affluence, and 
love could give, was a thought not to be endured. Lady 
Pelham, too, more skilled to practise on the passions of 
others than to command her own, was constantly exciting 
him, by hints of De Courcy's progress in the favour of 
Laura ; while Lambert, weary of waiting for the tedious 
accomplishment of his own scheme, continually goaded him, 
with sly sarcasms on his failure in the arts of persuasion, 
and on his patience in submitting to be baffled in his wishes 
by a haughty girl. In the heat of his irritation, Hargrave 
often swore that no power on earth should long delay the 
gratification of his love and his revenge. But to marry a 
free-born British woman against her consent, is, in these 
enlightened times, an affair of some difficulty ; and Har- 
grave, in his cooler moments, perceived that the object of 
three years' eager pursuit was farther than ever from his 
attainment. 

Fortune seemed in every respect to oppose the fulfilment 
of his designs, for his regiment at this time received orders 
to prepare to embark for America; and Lord Lincourt, 
who had discovered his nephew's ruinous connection with 
Lambert, had influence to procure, from high authority, a 
hint that Hargrave was expected to attend his duty on the 
other side of the Atlantic. 

The news of this arrangement Hargrave immediately 
conveyed to Lady Pelham, urging her to sanction any means 
which could be devised for making Laura the companion 
of his voyage. Lady Pelham hesitated to carry her com- 
plaisance so far ; but she resolved to make the utmost use 
of the time which intervened to promote the designs of her 
favourite. Her Ladyship was not at any time much ad- 
dicted to the communication of pleasurable intelligence, and 
the benevolence of her temper was not augmented by a 
prospect of the defeat of a plan in which her vanity was so 
much interested. She, therefore, maliciously withheld from 
her niece a piece of information so likely to be heard with 
joy. It reached Laura, however, by means of one who was 
ever watchful for her gratification. De Courcy no sooner 
ascertained the truth of the report, than he hastened to 
convey it to Laura. 



SELF-CONTROL. 433 

He found her alone, and was welcomed with all her 
accustomed cordiality. * ' ( I am sorry," said he, with a smile 
which contradicted his words, " I am sorry to be the bearer 
of bad news to you ; but I could not deny myself the edi- 
fication of witnessing your fortitude. Do you know that 
you are on the point of losing the most assiduous admirer 
that ever woman was blessed with ? In three weeks 
Colonel Hargrave embarks for America. Nay, do not look 
incredulous. I assure you it is true." fe Thank Heaven," 
cried Laura, " I shall once more be in peace and safety ! " 
" Oh, fie! Is this your regret for the loss of so ardent a 
lover ! Have you no feeling ?" <( Just such a feeling as 
the poor man had when he escaped from beneath the sword 
that hung by a hair. Indeed, Mr. de Courcy, I cannot tell 
you. to what a degree he has embittered the two last years 
of my life. But I believe," continued she, blushing very 
deeply, " I need not explain to you any of my feelings 
towards Colonel Hargrave, since I find you have I know 
not what strange faculty of divining them." Assisted by a 
conversation which he had had with his sister, De Courcy 
easily understood Laura's meaning. Respectfully taking 
her hand, " Pardon me," said he, in a low voice, " if I 
have ever ventured to guess what it was your wish to con- 
ceal from me." " Oh ! believe me," cried Laura, with a 
countenance and manner of mingled candour and modesty, 
" there is not a thought of my heart which I wish to con- 
ceal from you ; since from you, even my most humbling 
weaknesses are sure of meeting with delicacy and indul- 
gence. But since you are so good an augur," added she, 
with an ingenuous smile, " I trust you perceive that I shall 
need no more delicacy or indulgence upon the same score." 

The fascinating sweetness of her looks and voice for the 
first time beguiled De Courcy of his promised caution- 
<f Dear, dear Laura," he cried, fondly pressing her hand 
to his breast, " it is I who have need of indulgence, and I 
must I must sue for it. I must repeat to you that " 
Laura's heart sprung to her lips, and unconsciously snatch- 
ing away her hand, she stood in breathless expectation of 
what was to follow. " Madman, that I am ! " cried De 
Courcy, recalled to recollection by her gesture, <e whither 



434) SELF-CONTROL. 

am I venturing !" That was precisely what of all things 
Laura was most desirous to know ; and she remained with 
her eyes fixed on the ground, half dreading the confidence, 
half the timidity of her lover. A momentary glance at the 
speaking countenance of Laura, glowing with confusion, 
yet brightened with trembling pleasure, awakened the 
strongest hopes that ever had warmed De Courcy's bosom. 
" Beloved Laura," said he, again tenderly approaching her, 
" remember I am but human. Cease to treat me with this 
beguiling confidence. Cease to bewitch me with these 
smiles, which are so like all that I wish, or suffer me to " 
Laura started, as her attention was drawn by some one 
passing close to the ground window near which they were 
standing. " Ah ! " cried she, in a tone of vexation, " there 
is my evil genius. Colonel Hargrave is come into the 
house. He will be here this instant. Excuse me for driving 
you away. I beseech you do not remain a moment alone 
with him." 

Laura was not mistaken. She had scarcely spoken, ere, 
with a dark cloud on his brow, Hargrave entered. He 
bowed to Laura, who was advancing towards the door. " I 
am afraid, madam, I interrupt you," said he, darting a 
ferocious scowl upon De Courcy. Laura, without deigning 
even a single glance in reply, left the room. 

Hargrave, as he passed the window, had observed the 
significant attitude of the lovers ; and his jealousy and rage 
were inflamed to the uttermost by the scorn which he had 
endured in the presence of his rival. Fiercely stalking up 
to De Courcy, " Is it to you, sir," said he, " that I am in- 
debted for this insolence?" "No, sir," answered De 
Courcy, a little disdainfully. " I have not the honour of 
regulating Miss Montreville's civilities." " This is a 
paltry evasion," cried Hargrave. Is it not to your mis- 
representations of a youthful indiscretion that I owe Miss 
Montreville's present displeasure ? " " I am not parti- 
cularly ambitious of the character of an informer," answered 
De Courcy j and taking his hat wished Hargrave a stately 
good morning. " Stay, sir ! " cried Hargrave, roughly 
seizing him by the arm. " I must have some further con- 
versation with you You don't go yet." ' ' I am not 



SELF-CONTROL. 435 

disposed to ask your permission/' returned De Courcy ; and 
coolly liberating his arm, walked out of the house. 

Boiling with rage, Hargrave followed him. " It is easy 
to see, sir/' said he, " from whence you borrow a spirit 
which never was natural to you : your presumption builds 
upon the partiality of that fickle capricious woman. But 
observe, sir, that I have claims on her claims which she 
herself was too happy in allowing; and no man shall dare to 
interfere with them." (e I shall dare," returned De Courcy, 
anger kindling in his eyes, '" to enquire by what right you 
employ such expressions in regard to Miss Montreville; and 
whether my spirit be my own or not, you shall find it suf- 
ficient to prevent your holding such language in my pre- 
sence." " In your presence, or the presence of all the 
devils," cried Hargrave, " I will maintain my right ; and, 
if you fancy that it interferes with any claim of yours, you 
know how to obtain satisfaction. There is but one way to 
decide the business." a I am of your opinion," replied 
De Courcy, {( that there is one way, provided that we can 
mutually agree to abide by it ; and that is, an appeal to 
Miss Montreville herself." Hargrave turned pale, and his 
lip quivered with rage. (< A mode of decision, no doubt," 
said he, " which your vanity persuades you will be all in 
your favour ! No, no, sir; our quarrel must be settled by 
means in which even your conceit cannot deny my equality." 
" By a brace of pistols, you mean of course," said De 
Courcy, coolly: "but I frankly tell you, Colonel Hargrave, 
that my notions must have changed before I can find the 
satisfaction of a gentleman in being murdered; and my 
principles, before I shall seek it in murdering you." 
" Curse on your hypocrisy ! " cried Hargrave. " Keep 
this canting to cozen girls, and let me revenge my wrongs 
like a man, or the world shall know you, sir." ce Do you 
imagine," said De Courcy, with a smile of calm disdain, 
" that I am to be terrified into doing what I tell you I 
think wrong, by the danger of a little misrepresentation ? 
You may, if you think fit, tell the world that I will not 
stake my life in a foolish quarrel, nor wilfully send an un- 
repenting sinner to his great account ; and, if you go on 
to ascribe for my forbearance any motive which is dero- 
F P 2 



436* SELF-CONTROL. 

gatory to my character,, I may, if / think fit, obtain justice 
as a peaceable citizen ought ; or I may leave you undis- 
turbed the glory of propagating a slander which even you 
yourself believe to be groundless." 

De Courcy's coolness served only to exasperate his adver- 
sary. " Truce with this methodistical jargon !" cried he 
fiercely. " It may impose upon women, but I see through 
it, sir see that it is but a miserable trick to escape what 
you dare not meet." f ' Dare not ! " cried De Courcy, 
lightnings flashing from his eye. " My nerves have failed 
me, then, since " He stopped abruptly, for he scorned at 
such a moment to remind his antagonist of the courageous 
effort to which he owed his life. " Since when ! " cried 
Hargrave, more and more enraged, as the recollection 
which De Courcy had recalled placed before him the full 
turpitude of his conduct. " Do you think I owe you 
thanks for a life which you have made a curse to me, by 
heating me of its dearest pleasures ? But may tortures be 
my portion if I do not foil you !" 

The latter part of this dialogue was. carried on in a close 
shady lane which branched off from the avenue of Wai- 
bourne. The dispute was proceeding with increasing 
warmth on both sides, when it was interrupted by the ap- 
pearance of Laura. From a window she had observed the 
gentlemen leave the house together; had watched Hargrave's 
angry gestures, and seen De Courcy accompany him into 
the by-path. The evil which she had so long dreaded 
seemed now on the point of completion ; and alarm leaving 
no room for reserve, she followed them with her utmost 
speed. 

" Oh ! Mr. de Courcy," she cried, with a look and atti- 
tude of the most earnest supplication, te for mercy leave 
this madman ! If you would not make me for ever mi- 
serable, carry this no further I entreat I implore you. 
Fear for me, if you fear not for yourself." The tender 
solicitude for the safety of his rival, which Hargrave ima- 
gined her words and gestures to express, the triumphant 
delight which they called up to the eyes of De Courcy, 
exasperated Hargrave beyond all bounds of self-command. 
Frantic with jealousy and rage, he drew, and rushed fiercely 



SELF-CONTROL. 437 

on De Courcy ; but Montague,, having neither fear nor anger 
to disturb his presence of mind, parried the thrust with his 
cane, closed with his adversary before he could recover, 
wrested the weapon from his hand ; and having calmly 
ascertained that no person could be injured by its fall, threw 
it over the fence into the adjoining field. Then taking 
Hargrave aside, he whispered that he would immediately 
return to him; and, giving his arm to Laura, led her towards 
the house. 

She trembled violently, and big tears rolled down her 
colourless cheeks, as, vainly struggling with her emotion, 
she said, " Surely you will not endanger a life so precious, 
so " She was unable to proceed ; but, laying her hand on 
De Courcy's arm, she raised her eyes to his face, with such 
a look of piteous appeal as reached his very soul. Enchanted 
to find his safety the object of such tender interest, he again 
forgot his caution ; and, fondly supporting with his arm the 
form which seemed almost sinking to the earth, " What 
danger would I not undergo," he cried, l< to purchase such 
concern as this ! Be under no alarm, dear Miss Montreville. 
Even if my sentiments in regard to duelling were other than 
they are, no provocation should tempt me to implicate your 
revered name in a quarrel which would, from its very nature, 
become public." 

Somewhat tranquillised by his words, Laura walked si- 
lently by his side till they reached the house, when, in a 
cheerful tone, he bade her farewell. " A short farewell," 
said he, " for I must see you again this evening." Laura 
could scarcely prevail on herself to part from him. " May 
I trust you ? " said she, with a look of anxiety which spoke 
volumes. " Securely, dearest Laura," answered he. " He 
whom you trust needs no other motive for rectitude." 

He then hastened from her into the field, whither he had 
thrown Hargrave's sword ; and having found it, sprung over 
into the lane where he had left its owner. Gracefully pre- 
senting it to him, De Courcy begged pardon for having 
deprived him of it; " though," added he, " I believe you 
are now rather disposed to thank me for preventing the 
effects of a momentary irritation." Hargrave took his sword, 
and, in surly silence, walked on ; then, suddenly stopping, 
FF 3 



438 SELF-CONTROL. 

he repeated that there was only one way in which the quar- 
rel could be decided ; and asked De Courcy whether he was 
determined to refuse him satisfaction. ts The only satisfac- 
tion," returned De Courcy, <f which is consistent with my 
notions of right and wrong, I will give you now, on the 
spot. It is not to my information that you owe Miss Mon- 
treville's displeasure. Circumstances, which I own were 
wholly foreign to any consideration of your interests, induced 
me to keep your secret almost as if it had been my own ; 
and it is from others that she has learned a part of your con- 
duct, which, you must give leave to say, warrants, even on 
the ground of modern honour, my refusal to treat you as 
an equal." " Insolent!" cried Hargrave: " Leave me 
avoid me, if you would not again provoke me to chastise 
you, unarmed as you are." " My horses wait for me at 
the gate/' said De Courcy, coolly proceeding by his side; 
<f and your way seems to lie in the same direction as mine." 

The remainder of the way was passed in silence. At the 
gate De Courcy, mounting his horse, bid his rival good 
morning, which the other returned with an ungracious bow. 
De Courcy rode home, and Hargrave, finding himself mas- 
ter of the field, returned to Walbourne. There he exerted 
his utmost influence with Lady Pelharn to procure an op- 
portunity of excusing himself to Laura. Lady Pelham 
confessed that she could not venture to take the tone of 
command, lest she should drive Laura to seek shelter else- 
where; but she promised to contrive an occasion for an 
interview which he might prolong at his pleasure, provided 
such a one could be found without her apparent interference. 

With this promise he was obliged for the present to con- 
tent himself; for, during his stay, Laura did not appear. 
She passed the day in disquiet. She could not rest. She 
could not employ herself. She dreaded lest the interview 
of the morning should have been only preparatory to one of 
more serious consequence. She told herself a hundred times 
that she was sure of De Courcy 's principles ; and yet feared 
as if they had been unworthy of confidence. 

He had promised to see her in the evening, and she 
anxiously expected the performance of his promise. She 
fcnew that if he came while Lady Pelham was in the way, 



SELF-CONTROL. 439 

her Ladyship would be too vigilant a guard to let one con- 
fidential word be exchanged. She therefore, with a half- 
pardonable cunning, said not a word of De Courcy's pro 
mised visit ; and as soon as her aunt betook herself to her 
afternoon's nap, stole from the drawing-room to receive him. 
Yet, perhaps, she never met him with less semblance of 
cordiality. She blushed and stammered while she expressed 
her hopes that the morning's dispute was to have no further 
consequences, and apologised for the interest she took in it, 
in language more cold than she would have used to a mere 
stranger. Scarcely could the expression of tenderness have 
delighted the lover like this little ill- concerted affectation, 
the first and the last which he ever witnessed in Laura 
Montreville. " Ah ! dearest Laura," cried he, ' ' it is too 
late to retract. You have said that my safety was dear to 
you ; owned that it was for me you feared this morning, 
and you shall not cancel your confession." Laura's colour 
deepened to crimson, but she made no other reply. Then, 
with a more timid voice and air, De Courcy said, " I would 
have told you then what dear presumptuous hopes your 
anxiety awakened, but that I feared to extort from your 
agitation what perhaps a cooler moment might refuse me. 
My long-loved, ever dear Laura, will you pardon me these 
hopes ? Will you not speak to me ? Not one little word 
to tell me that I am not too daring." Laura spoke not even 
that little word. She even made a faint struggle to with- 
draw the hand which De Courcy pressed. Yet the lover 
read the expression of her half- averted face, and was 
satisfied. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

"PRAY," said Lady Pelham to her niece, "what might 
you and your paragon be engaged in for the hour and 
a half you were together this evening ? " 

" We were discussing a very important subject, madam," 
answered Laura, mustering all her confidence. 
F F 4 



440 SELF-CONTROL. 

{< May I be permitted to enquire into the nature of it ? " 
returned Lady Pelham, covering her spleen with a thin dis- 
guise of ceremony. 

<e Certainly., Madam/' replied Laura. " You may re- 
member I once told you that if ever I received addresses 
which I could with honour reveal, I should bespeak your 
Ladyship's patience for my tale. Mr. de Courcy was talking 
of marriage, madam; and and I " 

" Oh ! mighty well, Miss Montreville," cried Lady Pel- 
ham, swelling with rage, "I comprehend you perfectly. 
You may spare your modesty. Keep all these airs and 
blushes till you tell Colonel Hargrave, that all your fine 
high-flown passion for him has been quite at the service of 
the next man you met with !" 

Laura's eyes filled with tears of mortification ; yet she 
meekly answered, " I am conscious that the degrading at- 
tachment of which I was once the sport merits your up- 
braidings ; and indeed they have not been its least punish- 
ment." She paused for a moment, and then added with 
an insinuating smile: ee I can bear that you should 
reproach me with my new choice ; for inconstancy is the 
prescriptive right of woman, and nothing else can be 
objected to my present views." 

" Oh, far be it from me," cried Lady Pelham, scorn and 
anger throwing her whole little person into active motion, 
<f far be it from me to make any objection to your imma- 
culate swain ! I would have you understand, however, 
that no part of my property shall go to enrich a parcel of 
proud beggars. It was indeed my intention, if you had 
made a proper match, to give you the little all which I have 
to bestow ; but if you prefer starving with your methodist 
parson, to being the heiress of five-and-forty thousand 
pounds, I have no more to say. However, you had better 
keep your own secret. The knowledge of it might probably 
alter Mr. de Courcy's plans a little." 

" Your Ladyship," returned Laura, with spirit, " has 
good access to know that the love of wealth has little in- 
fluence on my purposes ; and I assure you that Mr. de 
Courcy would scorn, upon any terms, to appropriate what 
he considers as the unalienable right of your own child. 



SELF-CONTROL. 



441 



Though we shall not be affluent, we shall he too rich for 
your charity, and that is the only claim in which I could 
compete with Mrs. Herbert." 

This mention of her daughter exasperated Lady Pelham 
to fury. In a voice half choked with passion, she cried, 
" Neither that rebellious wretch nor any of her abettors or 
imitators shall ever have countenance or assistance from 
me. No ! not though they should beg with their starved 
bantlings from door to door." 

To this intemperate speech Laura made no reply, but 
quietly began to pour out the tea. Lady Pelham continued 
to hurry up and down the room, chafing, and venting her 
rage in common abuse ; for a scold in a drawing-room is 
not very unlike a scold at a green-stall. The storm meet- 
ing with no opposition, at length spent itself; or subsided 
into short growlings, uttered in the intervals of a surly 
silence. To these, as no answer was absolutely necessary, 
none was returned. Laura did not utter a syllable till 
Lady Pelham's wrath beginning to give place to her 
curiosity, she turned to her niece, saying, "Pray, Miss 
Montreville, when and where is this same wise marriage of 
yours to take place ? " 

(e The time is not quite fixed, Madam," answered Laura. 
tc As soon as you can conveniently spare me, I intend going 
to Scotland ; and when you and Mrs. de Courcy wish me 
to return, Mr. de Courcy will escort me back." 

' ( I spare you ! " returned Lady Pelham, with a sneer 
" Oh, ma'am, if that is all, pray don't let me retard your 
raptures. You may go to-morrow, or to-night, ma'am, if 
you please. Spare you indeed ! Truly while I can af- 
ford to pay a domestic, I need not be dependent on your 
assistance ; and in attachment or gratitude any common 
servant may supply your place." 

The rudeness and ingratitude of this speech again forced 
the tears to Laura's eyes ; but she mildly replied, " Well, 
madam, as soon as you find a substitute for me, I shall be 
ready to depart." Then to escape further insult she quitted 
the room. 

Lady Pelham's wrath at the derangement of her plan 
would not suffer her to rest till she had communicated the 



442 SELF-CONTROL. 

disaster to Colonel Hargrave. Early next morning, ac- 
cordingly, she despatched a note requiring his immediate 
presence at Walbourne. He oheyed the summons, and 
was as usual privately received by Lady Pelham. He 
listened to her intelligence with transports of rage rather 
than of sorrow. He loaded his rival with execrations, de- 
claring that he would rather see Laura torn in pieces than 
know her to be the wife of De Courcy. He swore that he 
would circumvent their schemes, and that, though his life 
should be the forfeit, he would severely revenge the suffer- 
ings which he had endured* 

Lady Pelham had not courage to encounter the evil 
spirit which she had raised. Subdued, and crouching be- 
fore his violence, she continued to give a terrified assent to 
every extravagance he uttered, till he announced his reso- 
lution of seeing Laura on the instant, that he might know 
whether she dared to confirm this odious tale. Lady Pel- 
ham then ventured to represent to him that Laura might be 
so much offended by this breach of contract, as to take 
refuge with Mrs. de Courcy, a measure which would oppose 
a new obstacle to any scheme for breaking off the intended 
marriage. She assured him that she would grant every 
reasonable assistance in preventing a connection so injurious 
to her niece's interest, though she knew Laura's obstinacy 
of temper too well to hope any thing from direct resistance. 
She hinted that it would be most prudent to give the desired 
interview the appearance of accident; and she promised to 
contrive the occasion as soon as Hargrave was sufficiently 
calm to consider of improving it to the best advantage. 

But calm was a stranger to the breast of Hargrave. 
The disquiet which is the appointed portion of the wicked 
raged there beyond control. To the anguish of disappoint- 
ment were added the pangs of jealousy, and the heart- 
burnings of hatred and revenge. Even the loss of the 
object of three years' eager pursuit was less cutting than the 
success of De Courcy ; and the pain of a forfeiture which 
was the just punishment of a former crime, was heightened 
to agony by the workings of such passions as consummate 
the misery of fiends. 

The associates of the wicked must forego the consolations 



SELF-CONTROL. 443 

of honest sympathy. All Hargrave's tortures were aggra- 
vated by the sarcasms of Lambert ; who, willing to hasten 
the fever to its crisis, goaded him with coarse comments 
upon the good fortune of his rival, and advices (which he 
well knew would act in a direction opposite to their seem- 
ing purpose) to desist from further competition. After 
spending four-and-twenty hours in alternate fits of rage 
and despair, Hargrave returned to Lady Pelham, informing 
her that, whatever were the consequence, he would no longer 
delay seeing Laura. Lady Pelham had foreseen this de- 
mand ; and, though not without fear of the event, had 
prepared for compliance. She had already arranged her 
scheme, and the execution was easy. 

Laura's favourite walk in the shrubbery led to a little 
summer-house, concealed in a thicket of acacias. Thither 
Lady Pelham had conveyed some dried plants, and had 
requested Laura's assistance in classing them. Laura had 
readily agreed, and that very morning had been allotted 
for the task. Lady Pelham, having first directed Har- 
grave where to take his station, accompanied her unsus- 
pecting niece to the summer-house, and there for a while 
joined in her employment. Soon, however, feigning a 
pretext for half an hour's absence, she quitted Laura, in- 
tending at first to loiter in the shrubbery, as a kind of 
safeguard against the ill consequences of her imprudent 
connivance j but meeting with a gardener who was going 
to transplant a bed of favourite auriculas, she followed 
him to watch over their safety, leaving her niece to guard 
her own. 

Scarcely had Laura been a minute alone, ere she was 
startled by the entrance of Hargrave, and seriously alarmed 
by seeing him lock the door, and deliberately secure the 
key. " What is it you mean, sir ? " said she, trembling. 

(f To decide your fate and mine ! " answered Hargrave, 
with a look and voice that struck terror to her soul. " I 
am told you are a bride, Laura," said he, speaking through 
his clenched teeth. " Say," continued he, firmly grasping 
her arm. " Speak ? is it so ? " 

" I know no right," said Laura, recovering herself, 
(< that you have to question me nor meanly thus to 
steal" 



444 



SELF-CONTROL. 



" No evasions ! " interrupted Hargrave, in a voice of 
thunder. " I have rights rights which I will maintain 
while I have being. Now tell me, if you dare, that you 
have transferred them to that abhorred " 

He stopped, his utterance choked by the frenzy into 
which he had worked himself. " What has transported 
you to this fury, Colonel Hargrave ? " said Laura, calmly. 
" Surely you must be sensible, that whatever claims I 
might once have allowed you, have long since been made 
void by your own conduct. I will not talk to you of 
principle, though that were of itself sufficient to sever us 
for ever ; but ask yourself what right you can retain over 
the woman whom you have insulted, and forsaken, and 
oppressed, and outraged ? " 

" Spare your taunts, Laura. They will only embitter 
the hour of retribution. And may hell be my portion if 
I be not richly repaid for all the scorn you have heaped 
upon me ! I will be revenged, proud woman. You shall 
be at my mercy, where no cool canting villain can wrest 
you from me ! " 

His threats, and the frightful violence with which they 
were uttered, filled Laura with mingled dread and pity. 
tf Command yourself, I beseech you, Colonel Hargrave," 
said she. " If you resent the pain which, believe me, 
I have most unwillingly occasioned, you are amply re- 
venged. You have already caused me sufferings which 
mock description." 

et Yes, yes I know it," cried Hargrave in a milder 
voice. <f You were not then so hard. You could feel 
when that vile wanton first seduced me from you. Then 

think what I now endure, when this cold-blooded 

but may I perish if I do not snatch his prize from him. 
And think not of resistance, Laura ; for, by all that I have 
suffered, resistance shall be vain." 

" Why do you talk so dreadfully to me ? " said Laura, 
making a trembling effort to release her arm, which he 
still fiercely grasped. " Why, why will you not cease to 
persecute me ? I have never injured you. I have for- 
given, pitied, prayed for you. How have I deserved this 
worse than savage cruelty ? " 



SELF-CONTROL. 445 

" Laura," said Hargrave, moved by the pleadings of a 
voice which would have touched a murderer's heart, " you 
have still a choice. Promise to be mine. Permit me 
only, by slow degrees, to regain what I have lost. Say 
that months that years hence you will consent, and you 
are safe." 

te Impossible ! " said Laura. " I cannot bind myself. 
Nor could you trust a promise extorted by fear. Yet be 
but half what I once thought you, and I will esteem " 

" Esteem ! " interrupted Hargrave, with a ghastly smile. 
" Yes ! And shrink from me, as you do now, while you 
hang on that detested wretch till even his frozen heart 
warms to passion. No ! " continued he, with an awful 
adjuration, " though the deed bring me to the scaffold^ 
you shall be mine. You shall be my wife too, Laura 
but not till you have besought me sued at my feet for 
the title which you have so often despised. I will be 
master of your fate, of that reputation, that virtue which 
you worship and your minion shall know it, that he 
may writhe under jealousy and disappointment." 

" Powers of Mercy !" cried Laura, raising her eyes in 
strong compunction, " have I made this mine idol !" Then 
turning on Hargrave a look of deep repentance, " Yes," 
she continued, " I deserve to see thee as thou art, without 
mitigation vile ; since on thee my sacrilegious heart be- 
stowed such love as was due to the Infinite alone !" 

" Oh ! Laura," cried Hargrave, softened by the remem- 
brance of her youthful affection, " let but one faint spark 
of that love revive, and I will forget all your scorns, and 
feel again such gentle wishes as blessed our first hours of 
tenderness. Or only swear that you will renounce that 
bane of my existence that you will shrink from him, 
shun him like a serpent! Or give me your word only, 
and I will trust it. Your liberty, your person, shall be 
sacred as those of angels. Promise then " 

" Why do you attempt to terrify me ? " said Laura, her 
indignation rising as her alarm subsided. " I have per- 
haps no longer the right even if I had the inclination 
to utter such a vow. I trust that, in this land of free- 
dom, I am safe from your violence. My reputation, frail 



446 



SELF-CONTROL. 



as it is, you cannot harm without permission from on 
high ; and if, for wise purposes, the permission he given, 
I doubt not that I shall be enabled to bear unjust reproach, 

nay, even to profit by the wrong." 

Hargrave suffered her to conclude ; rage bereft him, for 
a time, of the power of utterance. Then, bursting into a 
torrent of reproach, he upbraided her in language the 
most insulting. " Do you dare to own," said he, te that 
your inclination favours that abhorred that this accursed 
marriage is your choice your free choice?" He paused 
in vain for a reply. Laura would not irritate him further, 
and scorned to disguise the truth. " Then, Laura," said 
he, and he confirmed the sentence with a dreadful oath, 
" you have sealed your fate. Think you that your De 
Courcy shall foil me ? By Heaven, I will see you perish 
first. I will tear you from him, though I answer it with 
my life and soul. Let this be the pledge of my triumph" 

and he made a motion to clasp her rudely in his arms. 
With a cry of dread and horror, Laura sprang from him, 
and, throwing open the casement, called loudly for assist- 
ance. Hargrave forced her back. " Spare your alarms, 
my lovely proud one," said he, with a smile, which made 
her blood run cold. " You are safe for the present. But 
may I not even kiss this pretty hand, as an earnest that you 
shall soon be mine beyond the power of fate ? " " Silence, 
audacious," cried Laura, bursing into tears of mingled 
fear and indignation, while she struggled violently to dis- 
engage her hands. " Nay, this rosy cheek will content 
me better," cried Hargrave when the door was burst 
suddenly open, and De Courcy appeared. 

" Ruffian ! " he exclaimed, approaching Hargrave, who, 
in his surprise, permitted Laura to escape. Her fears now 
taking a new direction, she flew to intercept De Courcy. 
" Ah ! " she cried, ' ' my folly has done this. Fly from 
this madman, I entreat you. I have nothing to fear but 
for you. Begone, I implore you." 

" And leave you to such treatment ! Not while I have 
life ! When you choose to go, I will attend you. For you, 
sir ! But I must stoop below the language of a gentleman 
ere I find words to describe your conduct." 



SELF-CONTROL. 447 

" For Heaven's sake/' cried Laura, " dear De Courcy, 
provoke him no farther. Let us fly this place ;" and 
clinging to De Courcy's arm, she drew him on ; while, 
with the other, he defended her from Hargrave, who had 
advanced to detain her. Her expression of regard, her 
confiding attitude, exasperated the frenzy of Hargrave to 
the uttermost. Almost unconscious of his own actions, he 
drew a pistol from his pocket, and fired. Laura uttered a 
cry of terror, clasping her lover's arm more closely to her 
breast. " Be not alarmed,, love," whispered De Courcy, 
<f It is nothing ! " and staggering forward a few paces, 
he fell to the ground. 

Laura in desperation rushed from the summer-house, 
calling wildly for help; then struck with the fearful 
thought that Hargrave might now complete his bloody 
work, she hurried back. During the few moments of her 
absence, De Courcy addressed his murderer, whose rage 
had given place to a wild stupor. " I fear this is an un- 
lucky stroke, Hargrave. Save yourself. My horse is at 
the gate." Hargrave answered only with a groan ; and, 
striking his clenched hand on his forehead, turned away. 
His crime was unpremeditated. No train of self-deceit 
had reconciled his conscience to its atrocity. The remem- 
brance of the courage which had saved his life ; the gene- 
rous concern of De Courcy for his safety ; humanity, the 
last virtue which utterly forsakes us, all awakened him to 
remorse, keen and overwhelming, like every other passion 
of Hargrave. Not bearing to look upon his victim, he 
stood fixed and motionless; while Laura, on her knees, 
watched, in dismay, the changing countenance of De 
Courcy, and strove to stanch the blood which was stream- 
ing from his wound. 

De Courcy once more tried to cheer Laura with words 
of comfort. " Were it not," said he, " for the pleasure 
this kind concern gives me, I might tell you that I do not 
suffer much pain. I am sure I could rise, if I could trust 
this slender arm," laying his hand gently upon it. Laura 
eagerly offered her assistance, as he attempted to raise him- 
self ; but the effort overpowered him, and he sunk back 
fainting. 



44)8 SELF-CONTROL. 

In the strong language of terror, Laura] now besought 
Hargrave to procure help. Still motionless, his forehead 
resting against the wall, his hands clenched as in con- 
vulsion, Hargrave seemed not to heed her entreaties. 
" Have you no mercy ? " cried she, clasping the arm from 
which she had so lately shrunk- in horror. " He saved 
your life will you let him perish without aid?" " Off, 
woman !" cried Hargrave, throwing her from him. " Thy 
witchcraft has undone me ! " and he distractedly hurried 
away. 

Laura's terror was not the passive cowardice of a feeble 
mind. She was left alone to judge, to act, for herself 
for more than herself. Immediate, momentous decision 
was necessary ; and she did decide by an effort of which 
no mind enfeebled by sloth or selfishness could have been 
capable. She saw that loss of blood was the cause of De 
Courcy's immediate danger ; a danger which might be 
irremediable before he could receive assistance from more 
skilful hands than hers. Such remedy, then, as she could 
command she hastened to apply. 

To the plants which their beauty had recommended to 
Lady Pelham, Laura had added a few of which the useful- 
ness was known to her. Agaric of the oak was of the 
number ; and she had often applied it where many a hand 
less fair would have shrunk from the task. Nor did she 
hesitate now. The ball had entered near the neck ; and 
the feminine, the delicate Laura herself disengaged the 
wound from its coverings; the feeling, the tender Laura 
herself performed an office from which false sensibility 
would have recoiled in horror. 

She was thus employed when she was found by a woman 
whom Hargrave had met and sent to her assistance, with 
an indistinct message, from which Laura gathered that he 
was gone in search of a surgeon. The woman no sooner 
cast her eyes on the bloody form of De Courcy, and on the 
colourless face of Laura, more death-like than his, than, 
with noisy imbecility, she began to bewail and ejaculate. 
Laura, however, instantly put a stop to her exclamations 
by despatching her for cordials and assistance. 

In a few minutes all the household was assembled round 



SELF-CONTROL. 449 

Pe Courcy ; yet such was the general curiosity, horror, or 
astonishment, that he would have remained unaided but for 
the firmness of her who was most interested in the scene. 
She dismissed every one whose presence was unnecessary, 
and silenced the rest by a peremptory command. She ad- 
ministered a cordial to recruit the failing strength of De 
Gourcy ! and causing him to be raised to the posture which 
seemed the least painful, made her own trembling arms his 
support. 

Nothing further now remained to be done, and Laura 
began to feel the full horrors of her situation ; to weigh 
the fearful probability that all her cares were vain ; to up- 
braid herself as the cause of this dire tragedy. Her an- 
guish was too great to find relief in tears. Pale and cold 
as marble, chilly drops bursting from her forehead, she sat 
in the stillness of him who waits the sentence of condemn- 
ation, save when a convulsive shudder expressed her 
suffering. 

The mournful quiet was interrupted by the entrance of 
Lady Pelham ; who, quite out of breath, began a string of 
questions, mixed with abundance of ejaculation. " Bless 
my soul!" she cried, "how has all this happened? For 
Heaven's sake, Laura, tell me the meaning of all this. Why 
don't you speak, girl ? Good Lord ! could not you have 
prevented these madmen from quarrelling ? What brought 
De Courcy here ? How did he find you out ? Why don't 
you speak ? Mercy on me ! Is the girl out of her senses?" 

The expression of deep distress with which Laura now 
raised her eyes, reminded Lady Pelham of the sensibility 
requisite upon such an occasion, which her Ladyship's cu- 
riosity had hitherto driven from her recollection. Ap- 
proaching, therefore, to De Courcy, she took a hasty look of 
this dismal spectacle ; and, exclaiming, (< Oh, what a sight 
is here ! Unfortunate Laura ! Dear wretched girl ! " she 
began first to sob, and then to scream violently. Laura 
motioned to the attendants to lead her away ; and she suf- 
fered them to do so without resistance ; but she had no 
sooner crossed the threshold, than, perceiving the spectators 
whom curiosity had collected in the shrubbery, she re- 
doubled her shrieks, struggled, beat herself ; and, but for 
G a 



450 SELF-CONTROL. 

the untoward strength of her nerves, would have scon con- 
verted her pretended fit into reality. Wearied with her 
efforts, she was beginning to relax them,, when the surgeon 
appeared, and her Ladyship was more vociferous than 
ever. Mr. Raby, a quiet sensible man, undertook her cure 
before he proceeded to his more serious business; and, 
either guided by previous acquaintance with his patient, or 
by his experience in similar cases, gave a prescription which, 
though simple, was perfectly efficacious. He directed that, 
the lady should be instantly secluded in her own chamber, 
with only one attendant ; and the remedy proved so bene- 
ficial, that her Ladyship enjoyed a night of tranquil 
repose. 

He next turned his attention to De Courcy ; and judging 
it proper to extract the ball without delay, advised Laura 
to retire. Without opposition she prepared to obey ; and, 
seeing De Courcy about to speak, put her hand on his lips 
to save him the exertion, and herself the pain of a farewell. 
Yet, as she resigned the charge, raising her eyes to heaven, 
once more to commend De Courcy to the divine protection, 
the fervour of her supplication burst into words. " Oh if 
it be possible ! if it be possible !" she cried. <e Yes it is 
possible," said De Courcy, comprehending the unfinished 
sentence. " Your firmness, noble creature, has made it 
possible." Reproaching herself with having allowed De 
Courcy to perceive her alarm, she hastened away; and 
seating herself on the steps which led to the door, awaited 
in silence the event of the operation. 

Here, as she sorrowfully called to mind the various ex- 
cellencies of De Courcy, his piety, his integrity, his do- 
mestic virtues, so lately known, so soon to be lost to her, 
she suddenly recollected the heavier calamity of the mother 
deprived of such a son, and perceived the inhumanity of 
permitting the stroke to fall without preparation. Having 
access to no messenger more tender than a common servant, 
she determined, though with unspeakable reluctance, her- 
self to bear the tidings to Mrs. de Courcy. " I will knew 
the worst," thought she, <e and then " 

She started at a faint noise that sounded from the 
summer-house. Steps approached the door from within. 



SELF-CONTROL. 451 

She sprung up, and the surgeon appeared. <c I have the 
happiness to tell you," said he, " that, if no fever 'take 
place, our friend is safe. The chief danger has been from 
loss of blcod ; and your presence of mind Ah ! Do you 
feel faint?" 

The awful interest which had supported the spirits of 
Laura thus suddenly withdrawn, the tide of various feel- 
ing overpowered them; and she sunk into one of those 
long and deep faintings which were now unhappily become 
in some degree constitutional with her. Mr. Raby, having 
given directions for her recovery, placed De Courcy in Lady 
Pelham's carriage, and himself attended him to Norwood ; 
where he mitigated Mrs. de Courcy 's horror and distress 
by assurances of her son's safety, which he again delighted 
Montague by ascribing to the cares of Laura. 

It was late in the evening before Laura was sufficiently 
collected to review with composure the events of the day. 
As soon, however, as she was capable of considering all the 
circumstances, a suspicion occurred that her unfortunate 
interview with Hargrave had been sanctioned, if not con- 
trived by Lady Pelham. That he should know the place 
and the hour in which he might surprise her alone ; that 
to this place, which because of its loneliness she had of late 
rather deserted, she should be conducted by her aunt ; 
that at this moment she should, upon a trivial pretence be 
left in solitude, seemed a coincidence too strong to be 
merely accidental. She recollected some symptoms of 
private communication between Lady Pelham and Hargrave. 
Suspicions of connivance in the infamous stratagem of her 
arrest again revived in her mind. Lady Pelham, she per- 
ceived, had afforded her a protection at best imperfect, 
perhaps treacherous. Hargrave's late threats, too, as she 
revolved them in her thoughts, appeared more like the 
intimations of settled design than the vague ravings of 
passion. Prudence, therefore, seemed to require that she: 
should immediately provide for her own safety : and in- 
dignation at her aunt's breach of confidence hastened the 
purpose which she formed of leaving Walbourne without 
delay. She determined to go the next morning to Nor- 
wood, there to remain till De Courcy showed signs of con-- 
o G 2 



452 SELF-CONTROL. 

valescence, and then perform her long-projected journey to 
Scotland. 

In order to avoid unpleasant altercation, she resolved to 
depart without warning Lady Pelham of her intention; 
merely announcing by letter the reasons of her conduct. 
The affectionate Laura would not have parted from the 
meanest servant without a kindly farewell ; but her innate 
abhorrence of treachery steeled her heart, and she rejoiced 
that it was possible to escape all present intercourse with 
her deceitful kinswoman. 

As soon as the dawn appeared she arose ; and on her 
knees thankfully acknowledged the protecting care which 
had watched over her, since first as a destitute orphan she 
applied to Lady Pelham. She blessed the goodness which 
had softened in her favour a heart little subject to bene- 
volent impressions which had restored her in sickness, 
consoled her in sorrow, delivered her from the snares of 
the wicked, and opened to her the joys of virtuous friend- 
ship. And where is the wretch so miserable that he may 
not in the review of eighteen months find subjects of 
gratitude still more numerous ! Laura began no important 
action of her life without imploring a blessing on the 
event; and she now proceeded to commend herself and her 
future prospects to the same care of which she had glad 
experience. 

The proper business of the morning ended, she had 
begun to make arrangements for her immediate departure ; 
when she heard Lady Pelham's bell ring, and the next 
instant a noise like that occasioned by the fall of something 
heavy. She listened for a while, but all was again still. 
The rest of the family were yet buried in sleep, and Laura, 
hearing no one stirring to answer Lady Pelham's summons, 
began to fear that her aunt was ill, perhaps unable to 
make any further effort to procure assistance. At this idea, 
all her just indignation subsiding in a moment, she flew to 
.Lady Pelham's chamber. 

Lady Pelham was lying on the floor, having apparently 
fallen in an attempt to rise from her bed. She was alive 
though insensible ; and her face, though altered, was still 
florid. Laura, soon procuring help, raised her from the 



SELF-CONTROL. 453 

ground; and guessing that apoplexy was her disorder, 
placed her in an upright posture, loosened her night-clothes, 
and having hurried away a servant for Mr. Raby, ventured, 
until his arrival, upon such simple remedies as she knew 
might be safely administered. In little more than an hour 
the surgeon arrived ; and having examined his patient, de- 
clared her to be in extreme danger. Before he left her, 
however, he succeeded in restoring her to some degree of 
recollection ; yet, far from changing his first opinion, he 
advised Laura to lose no time in making every necessary 
use of an amendment which he feared would be only tran- 
sient. 

From Lady Pelham, he went to Norwood ; and return- 
ing to Walbourne in the evening, brought the pleasing 
intelligence that De Courcy continued to do well. This 
second visit produced no change in his sentiments, and he 
remained persuaded that though Lady Pelham might con- 
tinue to linger for a time, the shock had been too great to 
allow of complete recovery. Laura now rejoiced that she 
had not executed her purpose of leaving Walbourne ; since, 
had her aunt's illness succeeded to the rage which her de- 
parture would have excited, she could never have ceased to 
blame herself as the cause. 

She looked with profound compassion, too, upon the 
condition of an unfortunate being, whose death-bed was 
neither smoothed by affection, nor cheered by pious hope. 
" Unhappy woman !" thought she, as she sat watching an 
unquiet slumber into which her aunt had fallen, te to whom 
the best gifts of nature and of fortune have by some 
fatality been useless, or worse than useless ; whose affluence 
has purchased no higher joys than half-grudged luxuries ; 
whose abilities have dazzled others and bewildered herself, 
but lent no steady light to guide her way ; whose ge- 
nerosity has called forth no gratitude; whose kindness has 
awakened no affection; to whom length of days has 
brought no reverence, and length of intimacy no friends ! 
Even the sacred ties of nature have been to her unblessed. 
Her only child, driven from her in anger, dares not 
approach to share the last sad offices with me, who, in 
performing them, must forgive as well as pity. Favourite 
G o 3 



454 SELF-CONTROL. 

of fortune ! what has been wanting to thee save that 
blessing which ' bringeth no sorrow with it.' But that 
blessing was light in thine esteem ; and amidst the glitter 
of thy toys, the f pearl of great price ' was disregarded." 

For some days Lady Pelham continued much in the 
.same situation. She suffered no pain, yet gave no signs of 
amendment. On the sixth morning from her first attack 
she grew suddenly and materially worse. It was soon 
discovered that her limbs were paralysed, and the surgeon 
declared that her end could not be very distant. Her 
senses, however, again returned, and she continued free 
from pain. She showed little apprehension of her own 
danger ; and Laura debated with herself whether she 
should permit her aunt to dream away the last precious 
hours of probation, or endeavour to awaken her to a 
sense of her condition. 

Laura had no faith in death-bed repentance. She 
knew that resolutions of amendment which there is no 
longer time to practise, and renunciations of sin made 
under the immediate prospect of punishment, are at best 
suspicious. She knew that, in the ordinary course of 
Providence, the grace which has been long despised is at 
length justly withdrawn. Yet she saw that she had no 
.right to judge Lady Pelham as wholly impenitent; and 
she considered a death-bed as highly suitable to the re- 
newal, though not to the beginning of repentance. She 
knew, too, that the call might be made effectual even at the 
f eleventh hour ; ' and the bare chance was worth the toil 
.of ages. She felt how little she herself would have valued 
the mistaken pity which could suffer her to enter on the 
e dark valley ' without a warning to cling closer to the 
' staff and rod ' of comfort : she therefore ventured to 
hint gently to Lady Pelham the opinion of her medical 
friends, and to remind her of the duty of preparing for 
the worst. 

Lady Pelham at first appeared a good deal shocked ; 
and lay for some time apparently meditating on her situ- 
ation. At last, recovering her spirits, she said, " Your 
nerves, Laura, were always so coarse, that you seemed to 
me to take a pleasure in thinking of shocking things ; but 



SELF-CONTROL. 4?5 

I am sure it is abominably barbarous in you to tease me 
with them now when I arn ill. Do keep your horrid 
fancies to yourself, or keep away till you are cured of the 
vapours I dare say it is your dismal face which makes 
me to dream so unpleasantly." 

Laura, however,, was not to be so discouraged. She 
took occasion to represent that rto harm could ensue from 
preparing to meet the foe ; since his march was not to be 
retarded by shutting our eyes on his advances, nor hastened 
by the daring which watched his approach. She at length 
thought she had succeeded in convincing her aunt of her 
danger. Lady Pelham said that she feared she was dying, 
and she believed that she said the truth. But Lady Pel- 
ham had had sixty years' practice in self-deceit. The fear 
might flutter in her imagination, but was not strong 
enough to touch her heart. 

Laura, however, made use of her acknowledgment to 
press upon her the duties of forgiveness and charity 
towards all mankind, and especially towards her child; 
reminding her of the affecting parity of situation between 
offending man and his disobedient offspring. Lady Pel- 
ham at first answered impatiently that she would not be 
urged on this subject ; but, as her spirits began to fail 
under the first confinement which she had ever endured, 
she became more tractable. " God knows," said she to 
Laura, one day, " we have all much need to be forgiven ; 
and therefore we must forgive in our turn. For my part, 
I am sure I die in charity with all mankind, and with that 
creature among the rest. However, I shall take my friend 
the Spectator's advice, and remember the difference between 
giving and /brgiving." 

Laura often begged permission to send for Mrs. Her- 
bert ; but Lady Pelham sometimes postponed it till she 
should get better, sometimes till she should grow worse. 
Laura was in the mean time her constant attendant ; bear- 
ing with her peevishness, soothing her caprice, and striving 
to rouse in her feelings suitable to her condition. Finding, 
however, that she made but little progress in her pious 
work, she begged that she might be allowed to take the 
assistance of a clergyman. " A clergyman, child ! " cried 
G G 4 



456 SELF- CONTROL. 

Lady Pelham ; " Do you imagine me to be a papist ? Ot 
do you think me capable of such weak superstition as to 
place more reliance on a parson's prayers than on your's or 
my maid Betty's ? No, no ! though I may be weak, I 
shall never be fanatical." 

" It would indeed be superstition/' answered Laura, 
(e to expect that the prayers of any mortal should be useful 
to you any further than as they speak the language of your 
own heart ; but, as our Divine Master has chosen some of 
his servants as guides to the rest, we may hope that he will 
grant a peculiar blessing on their labours. Besides, Mr. 
Wentworth has been accustomed to plead with men, and 
knows every aven