Page images

I wrote a short answer, which I put under the door early in the morning, to announce my concurrence with this plan.

“ I observed, during the day, that many significant looks were directed towards me by Miss Atkins and Miss Chatterton, from which I understood that they were abettors in this schenie; and, indeed, it could not be carried into effect without their assistance, for, in going out, I must needs pass between the beds of these two

young ladies.

“ With what impatience did I look forward to the approaching night, and how, in my own wicked heart, did I triumph and exult over Amelia !

“At length, the hour for retirement came, and my heart danced with eagerness at the prospect. I made haste to get into bed, having put my dressing-gown over my night-dress, in order to be ready for my midnight excursioni, whatever it was intended to be. But what was my mortification, just as I had got into bed, to see Amelia's eyes intently directed towards the door! Clara,' she said, “get up, and bolt that door which is by your bed; I see that both of the bolts are drawn. Who can have opened it?' she added; what is the meaning of this? But I will take care that it shall not happen again.' So saying, she forced her way into the corner by my bed, fastened both the bolts, and, taking a riband from a drawer, twisted it through the openings of the jalousies, and tied it in twenty knots.'

Why, Miss Carrisforth, said Miss Chatterton, who was standing on the other side, “what's the matter now? what are you doing there?

". No harm,' said Amelia: • but I will prevent the matrannee from passing through this door again.'

A violent burst of laughter, in which there was more indignation than merriment, then followed from every individual in the next room; and Miss Chatterton exclaimed, 'Amelia Carrisforth, you need not take such pains to keep us ont: we are not so over fond of your company.'

“ Amelia made no answer; but, turning to me, 'Cla-, ra,' she said, “get up, and pull off your dressing-gown: you surely cannot need it this hot night.'

I arose, trembling, and not knowing how far she suspected me.

“Get up, Clara Lushington,” she said, 'get up, you unprincipled girl: put on your clothes, and follow me to Mrs. Patterson's room.'

“I instantly left my bed, guilt causing every limb to tremble, and, falling down on my knees before my youthful and lovely monitress, I solemnly assured her that she suspected me wrongfully, if she thought that I knew any thing of the door being open.

“ Amelia turned from me with an air of that beautiful severity which we find so admirably described in the Paradise Lost, by Milton, who, when speaking of the rebuke given by the angel to the arch fiend, says,

“«So spake the cherub; and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace

Invincible.' “I pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of my innocence, and, at length, so far prevailed, that she bade me get into bed again, saying, Clara, I do not know what to think of you; but I believe you to be utterly destitute of principle.

“I was surprised and abashed. I could not utter another word. But Amelia adied, • Remember, Clara Lushington, that if you fall, it is not through temptation, —for I have shielded you from that, - but it is because you love sin: you relish it, you delight in it, it is your element, and in sin alone you exist.'

“ Hardened as I then was, I was shocked by these strong expressions; and the more so, because the habitual language of Amelia was so decidedly gentle, and, though conscious myself of my own deceitful character, I was not aware that she was acquainted with it. As I before said, 'I was unable to speak. I made her no reply; but Miss Chatterton, who, on the other side of the door, had been listening to what was passing, would not suffer her to go on unanswered, but, raising the jalousies with a motion so violent as to make us both start, she poured forth such a torrent of abusive language as surely is seldom propelled, even by passion itself, from the mouth of any being calling herself a lady.

“ Amelia permitted her to proceed, unreproved, till she was compelled to stop for want of breath; and then calmly said, Miss Chatterton, do not compel me to conclude that there is more in this affair than I suspected, or, at least, do not induce me to imagine that it is any particular concern of yours: as I have always treated you with politeness and respect, I have a right to require the same from you.'

Chatterton, hold your tongue,' said another voice behind, which we knew to be Miss Atkins's. • What Miss Carrisforth says is very true; she has always behaved very obligingly to you: and wherefore, then, should you meddle with what can be no concern of yours? Come away crom the door.'

At the same nioment, the jalousies, which had been forcibly held up, flapped violently down; and we heard Miss Chatterton's voice, though not so near, exclaiming, • But she is so provoking, so insolent, to come and fasten the door between us, as if our very breath were poison ! I hate that cool command of temper, too, by which she carries all before her. Beaumont is worth a hundred such: one may do something with her.'

"Hold your tongue, can't you, Chatterton ?' said Miss Atkins. You are so unaccountably imprudent!'

"• Qu'est ce que c'est? what is all dis noise? what is dis uproar, mes Demoiselles? my young ladies?' said a voice, at that instant issuing from a distant room, and every moment becoming louder, as its owner, Madame de Roseau, approached from her own chamber. • Is dat you, Mademoiselle Chattertone? is dat you? Well, I never did see such young ladies. And what do you here, Mademoiselle Gabrielle? Did I not see you in your own room two minutes past? For shame! what an uproar is here! I shall tell Madame; I shall call Mrs. Patterson. Miss Chattertone! pourquoi, wherefore do you shed tears? are you sick ?'

No,' said a young lady, who was present; "she has been quarrelling with Amelia Carrisforth.' Quarrelling !' repeated Miss Chatterton; ‘no,

I have been grossly insulted by her.'

“• In what way? Comment? how? expliquez,' said Madame. How is dis? Miss Carrisforth est toujours, always polie. What is de quarrel?"

Nothing at all, Madame,' said Miss Atkins; only she heard Amelia, through the door, scolding Clara Lushington, and that offended her.'

"O! O! Miss Chattertone is become de female Quixote,' added Madame de Roscau, since Miss Beaumont has renounced de caractere! Eh bien ! very

well! very good! But, ladies, you now must please to go to bed ; let us enjoy de peace à present, s'il vous plait; let me hear no more of dis noise.'

“All was now hushed, and I endeavoured to sleep; but shame and disappointment kept me long awake.

“ The total failure of our scheme, on this occasion, so depressed our spirits, thąt I did not receive even a single line from Gabrielle for several weeks; at the end of which period one of our monthly public nights arrived, and Miss Atkins and Miss Chatterton were made very gay by the reappearance of the captain and lieutenant of the Ariadne, before mentioned, both of whom had been for some time absent.

“ It happened, that on this dancing-night just spoken of, I overheard a conversation between Miss Atkins and Miss Chatterton which filled my mind with strange thoughts. These young ladies were just without the door so often mentioned, and I was in my bed; but it was evident that they did not wish that any one should hear their whisperings, as they were unusually low.

"s! The Ariadne is in the river, almost opposite my uncle Jackson's door,' said Miss Chatterton.

"r"When does she sail ?' said Miss Atkins.

".0, very soon,' said the other; her cargo is complete.'

" It consists of buffalos' horns and skins,' said Miss Atkins, • does not it?'

".. Yes,' said Miss Chatterton. . But what of that?' O, nothing,' said Miss Atkins.

• But what day does the captain talk of?'

Thursday next,' answered Miss Chatterton: “you know, that we can pretend to have an invitation from my uncle Jackson's.'

What, and go from thence ?' said Miss Atkins. • Pooh, you simpleton!' returned Miss Chatterton: . don't you know that my uncle Jackson is not to know any thing about it?'

"Well, but is not Biddy Jackson invited ?' said Miss Atkins.

. To be sure she is,' returned Miss Chatterton; .but we are all to meet her at Gordon's quarters, which are just by the dock near which the vessel lies.'

And Captain Besbrook says we shall have a dance, does not he?' said Miss Atkins.

“To be sure he does,' said Miss Chatterton. • Biddy Jackson and I were on board the Ariadne the last time she was in port: we had a supper and a ball, and came home about four in the morning. We had a charming evening!

“Sundry whisperings followed, which I could not hear. After which, however, I heard Miss Chatterton say, “Captain Besbrook asked me whether I could not bring two or three more of my schoolfellows: but we shall be enough without them. Besides, I don't know whom we could trust.'

Hush! don't speak so loud,' said Miss Atkins: • they say that walls have ears.'

• The young ladies then lowered their voices so much, that I could distinguish nothing more; but I had already learned enough to render me excessively anxious to make one of this charming party.

“ The next day, while we were in the school-room, Gabrielle contrived, in passing by me, to give me a chit, which, when I had an opportunity of reading, I discovered to contain an account of her having found out the captain of the Ariadne's invitation to Miss Chatterton. She would not tell me how she had effected this discovery, although she plainly declared to me the use that she meant to make of it. •I am resolved,' said she, • either to be of the party, or to betray them; and, if you please, you also shaii


us.' " I watched my opportunity, and, in a short note to Gabrielle, stated, that nothing would give me greater delight than to join this party, if she could in any way obtain my liberty for that day.

“ No further communication passed between me and Gabrielle till, on the evening before the appointed day, when I was walking with my usual companions in the garden, Gabrielle again contrived to give me a short note, affirming that all was settled, and that I should have an invitation from my aunt on the following evening. On the morning of the Thursday, although I had a



« EelmineJätka »