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days; and Emily undertook to take care of the trees and flowers they had planted together.
Thus they endeavoured to console each other; notwithstanding which, the grief of Emily was little abated at the time when news came from abroad that Captain Muller was promoted to be a major, and that he was obliged at the same time to leave the army on account of the state of his health.
Mrs. Courtney, Emily, and Christopher were all differently affected on hearing this news, with the additional information that the major purposed to return to England and to his family immediately. Mrs. Courtney felt that his presence would not add to her happiness; Christopher, who had ever associated unpleasant feelings with the remembrance of his father, instantly lost his cheerfulness ; and Emily alone seemed pleased, though she often expressed a hope, indicative of anxiety, that her father would not take her away from her grandmother.
In proportion as the time of the major's arrival approached, the apprehensions of Mrs. Courtney, and Christopher seemed to increase; and even Emily's joy changed into something like dread. However, all seemed willing to conceal their feelings from the rest, and to endeavour, in the bustle of preparation, to overcome the apprehensions of which they could not but be sensible.
There was a vacant parlour in Mrs. Courtney's house, which, together with her best bed-room, she determined to devote to the major; and she caused Emily to busy herself, the day before he was expected, in adorning the parlour with flowers, and making other affectionate preparations for the father who was to return to his children after so long an absence.
Mrs. Courtney had been told, that, during the years in which her son-in-law had been absent, he had acquired the habits of a great man; that he was also become an old man in constitution, though young in years; and that the irritation of his temper was become much greater: for the major had found the pleasures of the world greatly inferior to the ideas he had formed of them; and, having no religion to sooth his wounded feelings, he had fallen a miserable victim to the violence of his own passions.
Mrs. Courtney had taken care to conceal from Christo
pher and Emily the unpleasant account she had heard of their father; but it is very certain, that she trembled for herself and them when she looked forward to his arrival, and hoped that he would soon find for himself some other residence than that which was under her roof; notwithstanding which, she secretly resolved to sacrifice her own comfort rather than be separated from the young people, in case that he should propose either to remain with them in her house, or require them to accompany him to another.
Such was the state of mind of the family at the period when the father was expected. It was afternoon when the major drove up to the door, accompanied by his valet, who was a Swiss, and in a hack-chaise, laden with dressingboxes, military hats, swords, medicine-chests, and other appurtenances of a beau, an invalid, and a soldier.
Mrs. Courtney, though expecting to find a considerable change in the appearance of her son-in-law, was not prepared to see him become exceedingly corpulent, or limping with a gouty affection, or to discover that his hard, and, I might add, profligate, mode of life for many years past, had effected such an alteration in his handsome countenance, that, had she seen him when she had not expected him, she would hardly have recognized him. But however shocked she might be at this inauspicious change which she instantly perceived, she endeavoured to appear pleased, hastened to her garden gate to receive him, and led him into the house with as hearty a welcome as she could express; while Emily and her brother stood trembling in the hall, startled at the appearance of their father, at whom they had been peeping from behind their parlourblinds.
From the moment that the major had entered the garden, his eye had been seeking his daughter; and no sooner did it rest upon her, than his countenance lighted up.Scarcely had he pronounced her name, than she flew towards him, and, throwing her arms round his neck, mingled her tears with his, and from that moment conceived for him all the affection due from a child to a parent; and as he never used any means to cool that affection, it continued to augment, and was the means of supporting her through many trials, as will appear hereafter.
The sudden rush of affection in the lovely child, with the effect it produced on the father, affected the old grandmother, whose heart warming on the occasion, she hastened to bring forward Christopher, who had drawn somewhat into the back-ground. The major, in the mean time, had seated himself on a chair in the hall, and was pressing Emily to his bosom, kissing her forehead and her cheeks ; at sight, however, of his son, who came timidly forward, led by Mrs. Courtney, he started, addressed him with a sort of forced kindness, put some question to him, the answer to which he did not wait; and then, turning again to Emily, he bestowed upon her some fresh caress, which seemed to say, “ This shall be my darling." Higher and still higher rose the blushes on the cheek and forehead of Christopher, and he turned suddenly away to conceal the tear that started in his eye. Emily was too young to observe all this, but it was not lost on the tender Mrs. Courtney, who, as she brushed by him in leading the major into the parlour, prepared, unobserved, to give him a gentle pressure of the hand, which so thoroughly overpowered the warm-hearted youth, that he rushed out into the garden, and there indulged in tears and sorrow.
From this day might be dated the beginning of troubles to this unfortunate young man; and here we might say much upon the subject of partiality in parents; but, as our history will supply a sufficient warning on this topic, we now forbear to multiply precepts.
Mrs. Courtney had occasioned her hospitable table to be spread with refreshments, and answered many questions respecting Emily, on whom the father still gazed with unabated pleasure; Christopher still being absent. The major had summoned his valet to unpack a box of pungent sauces which he had brought with him from town, one of which he required, to give a relish to some cold lamb which was placed upon the table, before he again recollected, and called for, his son. The box at length being uncorded, and the phials produced, he bethought himself, and, as he held up one bottle and other between his eye and the light, he commenced his inquiries. “ What is become of young hopeful, Mrs. Courtney?" said he: “ did I not see him as I came in? is he already tired of my company, think you? I know that he was never over fond
of me." Then turning to his valet, he made some inquiry respecting a particular bottle which had not yet come to hand; adding, with a heathenish oath, often used by persons who have reasons for not being more profane, that he would break his skull if he had left the preparation behind.
In reply to this, the valet shrugged up his shoulders, and smiled, or rather grinned; on which the master, calling him by his German name of Wietlesbach, told him, in French, that he might be thankful that ladies were present, or he would put his threat immediately in execution.
Mrs. Courtney, who had never been used to hear persons swear by Jupiter, or threaten to break the bones of their servants, hardly knew whether all this was passing in jest or earnest; for the major's countenance was not one which was easily deciphered; but seeing that Monsieur Wietlesbach remained perfectly calm, she came to this conclusion—that what had passed was merely an every day occurrence, and that, if she continued to live with her son-in-law, she must accustom herself to hear these things with the same nonchalance as the valet himself evinced on these occasions. The question then was, “ But can I-must I live with this man?" This point, however, was too important to be hastily settled; she therefore fetched a deep yet gentle sigh, in memory of the peaceful days which now seemed for ever fled, and softly whispered to Emily to look for her brother.
The major being by this time fully engaged, with the help of his servant, in compounding and concocting a sauce for the lamb which should exactly suit his delicate palate, did not observe the departure of Emily, who, after having run up stairs, and down stairs, out of the house and into the house several times, at length found her brother in an arbour of woodbine, in a retired corner of the garden, where he had fled to conceal from all the world, and from himself if possible, the acuteness of his feelings, and the extreme mortification which he felt at the manner of his father's reception. He was seated in the arbour when Emily appeared, and was leaning his head against the frame-work which supported the woodbine, his fine hair of dark chesnut hanging over his face, and half concealing it in the attitude he then was; but at the sound of his sister's step, he suddenly raised his head, and, rub
bing his sleeve across his eyes, asked her, somewhat roughly, what she was doing there.
It was not usual for Christopher thus to address his Emily; and the little girl, little suspecting what was passing in his mind, was terrified and startled by his manner, and stood still, trembling and irresolute, while the tears glistened in her eyes.
On this, he held out his hand to her, and said, “ My Emily! my little Emily! will you cease to love me?"
She sprang forward, at one moment conceiving all that was passing in her brother's mind, and throwing herself into his arms, she burst into tears, and, laying her head in his bosom, said, “No, my brother! my brother! never, never, never shall I forget to love my brother!” She would have said more, but was interrupted by her feelings.
The brother and sister remained awhile weeping together; after which, Emily having made known her errand, they both returned to the parlour, and found the major extended on the sofa, on the opposite side of the table to his mother-in-law, with a bottle of Madeira and a glass standing on a table by his side. As soon as the young people entered, the father ceased from a description into which he had entered on the subject of foreign and homemade wines, and addressed Christopher in a bitter strain of merriment on his long absence, expressing a hope that he was not already tired of his father's company.
The youth made no answer, but his blushes denoted his unpleasant feelings; on which, the major, laughing, remarked to the old lady, that it was a pity Christopher was not a girl; adding, that his fine complexion and curling hair would look very well under the shade of a lace cap.
• I rejoice,” said Mrs. Courtney somewhat angrily, “ that you have no other fault to find with your son, Sir, than that he is too good-looking; this being a defect,” she observed, “which time will soon moderate."
I have before remarked that the major's countenance was not one which was easily deciphered, and on this occasion it was utterly impenetrable. He made Mrs. Courtney no reply whatever, but, directing his son to ring the bell, called for a pair of slippers, and gave orders, in the old lady's presence, about his bed; adding, as he addressed Mrs. Courtney, “ You will excuse me, madam,