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“ She is no cousin of mine," repeated William.
“No what ?" asked the manufacturer, pushing his glasses to the top of his forehead, and staring at his son. “Is the thought of this marriage turning your head, my boy?”
“I don't understand, sir,” repeated William, perfectly mystified. “I only said she was not my cousin."
• Why, God bless my soul !” exclaimed Mr. Arkell, “ what do you mean? She has been your cousin ever since she was born-she is the daughter of my poor brother Dan-do you want to disown her now?”
“ Are you talking of Mildred Arkell ?” exclaimed the astonished bridegroom elect. “I don't want to marry her. I am going to marry Charlotte Travice. Mildred's a very nice girl for a cousin, but I never thought of her as a wife.”
Mr. Arkell stood contemplating his son for a minute in silence. He then turned short away, and walked into the presence of his wife.
“A pretty ambassador you would make at a foreign court,” he exclaimed, “to mistake your credentials in this way!”
“What is the matter?” exclaimed Mrs. George, looking up from her patchwork.
“You told me William wanted to marry Mildred.” “So he does.”
“So he does not," returned Mr. Arkell. “I wish he did. He wants to marry your fine visitor, Miss Charlotte.”
“Dear! dear!” faintly uttered Mrs. George, dropping her work and clasping her hands, " I hope not !"
It was of no use “hoping,” one way or the other. Mr. William had set his heart, or, it may be better to say, his will, upon Charlotte Travice, and he meant to marry her. And when an only and indulged son resolves upon such a step, opposition is in general very faint, if made at all.
“ It is a sad piece of business," lamented his mother to him. “ Mildred would have been to you the better wife.”
“I don't think so," persisted Mr. William.
“We have made a fine mess of it, together," retorted his mother. “ You should have been more explicit. A pretty simpleton I shall look in the matter-going to Mrs. Dan's yesterday, and making an offer, on your part, to Mildred !”
“But did you do so ?” cried William, in dismay.
“I did indeed. It is the most unpleasant affair I ever got mixed up with."
“It does not matter,” returned William, after reflection. “Mildred will only treat it as a joke."
“Mildred treated it in earnest,” cried Mrs. Arkell, who, in her disappointment, was letting out more than she meant, or ought, to have done. # She was willing to take you for her husband, and her mother told me that she feared she had been secretly attached to you for years."
William remembered the scene of the previous night, and Mildred's sudden indisposition. It was accounted for now. He smoothed his hand over his troubled brow. He felt deeply perplexed and concerned ; for the happiness of Mildred was dear to him as a sister's. But the more he looked at the case, the less chance he saw of mending it. So he reasoned himself into composure and indifference, as many another does. “There's no help for it,” he concluded at last. "She will get over it in time.”
What mattered the searing of one heart?-how many are there which are daily blighted, and the world knows it not! Time and events wept on in Riverton, without reference to the feelings of poor Mildred Arkell : she had to bury them within her, and suffer in silence.
II. WILLIAM ARKELL married the wife he had chosen. Mildred remained as she was before, quiet, unassuming Mildred Arkell; absorbed, it appeared, in the domestic cares of her own home, and in the daily decreasing health of her mother. Ere many months had elapsed, that mother died. And Mildred's heart almost leaped within her, in the midst of her bitter grief for the loss of her only remaining parent, for she felt that there was now no imperative tie to bind her to Riverton.
Quietly she arranged her plans, after much thought ; quietly she hoped and prayed for assistance to be enabled to carry them out. Her first step was to call upon Colonel and Mrs. Dewsbury, with whose sons it was that her brother read the classics in an evening. Mildred knew the colonel had many and powerful friends, in different parts of England, and she at once stated the object of her visit, the nature of her petitionthat Mrs. Dewsbury would interest herself to get her a situation with some one of them.
“In what capacity ?” Mrs. Dewsbury asked.
“ In any that I am fitted for,” Mildred answered. Let her go anywhere, do anything, that would take her out of Riverton, she had nearly added ; but she controlled her words, and spoke calmly. “I would go as governess,” she proceeded to say, “provided accomplishments are not required : or I would go as humble companion : or”—and here her cheek blushed, for she thought of what the town would say—“I would go as lady's maid.”
“ Are you fitted for the latter ?" inquired Mrs. Dewsbury.
“I think so," replied Mildred : “I would endeavour to render myself so. I have always made my own dresses and bonnets, and my poor mother's caps : and I am handy at platting and arranging hair. I have no fear that I should be found inadequate to my duties.”
“ You are a good reader, I believe ?” added the lady. “ Yes," replied Mildred.
“I ask these questions," continued Mrs. Dewsbury, “because a widowed relative of my husband's, Lady Dewsbury, mentioned, the last time she wrote, that she was in want of some one to act both as companion and lady's maid. It was merely mentioned incidentally, and I do not know whether she is suited, but I will write and inquire."
“ Oh, thank you, thank you !" uttered Mildred, eagerly grasping at this faint prospect. “I shall not care what I do, if she will but take me !"
Mildred went back to her home, and for two whole weeks was she kept in suspense--letters were not written then by bushels, as they are now. At the end of that time Mrs. Dewsbury sent for her.
"Lady Dewsbury is willing to engage you," she said to Mildred, “ provided you can undertake what she requires. Can you bear confinement ?”
“I can indeed,” replied Mildred ; " and the better, perhaps, that I have no wish for aught else.”
“ Are you a good nurse, in case of sickness ?”
“ I nursed my mother in her last illness," returned Mildred, with tears in her eyes.
“Lady Dewsbury is a great invalid,” proceeded Mrs. Dewsbury, “and what she requires is a patient attendant, a maid, in short, who will at the same time be a companion, and friend. “A thoroughly-well brought-up person,' she writes, • lady-like in her manners and habits ; but not a fine lady, who would object to make herself useful.' I really think you would suit, Miss Arkell.”
Mildred thought so too, and engaged herself there and then. She even fixed the time of her departure from Riverton, to enter upon her situation within the week. Upon leaving Mrs. Dewsbury's, she went straight to Mrs. George Arkell's, and told her for the first time of these new plans, to the latter's extreme astonishment and anger.
“Do you know what you are doing, child ?” asked her aunt. “Don't talk to me about Peter's income being small, and that he ought to put by for a rainy day! Let him put it by-it is what he should do. And you, Mildred, must come and live with us-be a child to me and to your uncle in our old age : since William left, the house is not like the same. We once thought you will not mind my mentioning it now--that you would indeed have been a daughter to us, and then your home and William's should have been here."
“ Be still and hear me, Mildred. I do not ask you this on the spur of the moment; because you have threatened to go out to service-and it is nothing less, child. Your uncle and I have talked about having you, ever since your mother's death; but we thought to let a little time elapse ere we spoke to you of it.”
“Oh, aunt, you are both very kind," she murmured, with the tears rising, “and I should have liked much to come and contribute to your comforts, but indeed— ”
“Indeed—what ?” persisted Mrs. Arkell, pressing the point at which Mildred had stopped.
“ Aunt! aunt! do not ask me. Indeed I cannot stop in Riverton.”
“I can make nothing of her,” cried Mrs. Arkell, who, after again vainly endeavouring to turn Mildred's resolution, left the room vexed and angry. “William,” she said, just then encountering her son, "you heard but now about this senseless business of Mildred's-go in and see if you can do anything with her. I cannot.”
William went into the room. Mildred was leaning back in her chair with an air of exhaustion, the tears standing on her pale cheeks. She passed her handkerchief hurriedly over her face, and sat up.
William looked at her and hesitated, speaking at length in a low tone. “ Is there anything I can say, Mildred, that will induce you to abandon this undertaking of yours, and remain in Riverton ?”.
“ Nothing," she replied.
“Why should you persist in leaving your native place—why have you formed such a strange dislike to it?” he continued, taking her hand.
She would have answered him ; she tried to answer him ; any idle excuse that rose to her lips, but as he sat there, asking why she had
taken a dislike to the home of her childhood, he, the husband of another, the full sense of all her bitter sorrow and desolation rushed upon her, and she hid her face in her hands, and sobbed in anguish.
“If I have had a share in causing you any grief, or-or-disappointment,” he whispered, leaning over her, and speaking with emotion, “let me implore your forgiveness, Mildred. It was not intentionally done. You cannot think so."
She motioned him away, her sobs seeming as if they would choke her.
“I have begun to think lately,” he continued, his agitation scarcely less than hers, “ that it might have been well for us both had we understood each other better. You talk of going out into the world, Mildred, to lead a solitary life ; and my path, I fear, will not be one of rosesalthough it was of my own choosing. Can we not try and make the best of what is left to us? Stay in Riverton, Mildred. Come home here to my father and mother : they are lonely enough : be to them a daughter, and to me as a dear sister."
“I shall never more have my home in Riverton," she answered, “never more, never more. We can bid each other adieu now."
He clasped her for one moment to his heart-as a cousin, perhapswhispering, that if ever she should want a friend, ever want assistance, at any time, or in any way, not to forget him.
So that was how it happened that poor Mildred Arkell left her home to find one among strangers. And she was ever after, through life, looked upon as a cold, passionless being, devoid of warm affections. How many are there of those we meet in daily intercourse, who are alike despised for being cold and passionless! I never see one of these isolated women, but I mentally ask whether her feelings may not have been trampled on and crushed-feelings that once perhaps were warm and kindly as were those of Mildred Arkell !
A LATE NIGHT-SCENE ON THE BALTIC.
BY NICHOLAS MICHELL.
From Night's blue chamber, and with finger laid
They ride upon the Baltic, each huge bark,
O mighty armament! what dost thou here, Clothed with dread force and thunder?- not to bear Ruin and desolation to men's homes, But bring sweet exiled Peace, and strew her flowers Along the blood-stained paths of earth again, And wake again her silver-breathing voice. The happiest lands are those that do good deeds ; The greatest lands are those-not crushing others, Slaughtering, or seeking power, but who build up, Strangle wild war, and spread art, knowledge, love. Russia ! not great, not happy, shalt thou be, Blind to thy welfare, and, while spilling blood, A mad, rash suicide! The two knit lands, Whose fleets this night o'erawe the Baltic wave, Who send their armies forth to plant the tree Of Right and Justice--these are great and blest ; Albion and Gaul, the guardians of the world.