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The Chevalier de J was the complete man of fashion, though possessing all the ease which is common to his countrymen. His person was remarkably fine, and his face strikingly handsome; his eyes being dark and brilliant, and his features regular and manly. “I am come, Madame,” said he to his aunt, after the first salutations were over, “to spend a fortnight with you; and to explore with you, Monsieur, the various heights of your mountain. Afford me and my valet some room in a neighbouring cottage, and we shall be perfectly satisfied.
Madame was all rapture at the sight of her nephew; Monsieur full of compliment; and Eleanore violently seized with her old temptation, viz. the desire of pleasing at all events. What was passing in the mind of Antoinette was not equally apparent, as the expression of her countenance did not vary from its usual composure. Certain it is, that a mind under divine influence, as we suppose that of Antoinette to have been, is not liable to those rapid transitions from joy to sorrow, from elation to depression, to which other minds are subject. She, however, was particularly courteous to her cousin, and thanked him for his kindness in visiting her poor mother; but, as the rest of the company were all eager to talk, less was required of her.
The party sat some time over their breakfast; after which, they placed themselves before the doors which open into the garden, where they enjoyed a fine prospect of the mountain.
Madame had many questions to ask her nephew, and the young gentleman had much to relate. Eleanore had also many little contrivances for drawing attention to herself; and Monsieur had also his stories to tell: in consequence of which, the conversation did not flag; and Antoinette, who was silent, had ample leisure to contemplate the character of her cousin. She thought him pleasing-particularly so; his manners were a pattern of ease, refinement, and fashion. He was aware, that, by this visit, he was conferring a favour; while his vanity and self-love were pleased by the manner in which he had been received; he was, therefore, in high good humour; and his fine features glowed with youth and
conscious pride. Another circumstance also rendered him additionally pleasing in the eyes of Antoinette. From the first moment he had seen her, he had been struck with her appearance; for her modesty and piety had given her forcible attractions in his eyes, though he was probably unaware of the cause whence these attractions proceeded. And although the loquacity of the party had prevented him from addressing her particularly, nevertheless, there was a something in his man. ner, when he turned towards her, of respect and deference, which raised him in her opinion. In short, she thought him so amiable, that she could not help frequently saying to herself, “How heartily do I wish that my cousin Theodore were of the Reformed Church!"
A conversation, carried on for some hours, is seldom worthy of recapitulation; especially when the parties are, for the most part, destitute of true seriousness; I shall, therefore, pass on till the dinner-hour; after which, the evening being cool, the party set out to walk. Antoinette, as usual, kept close to her mother, and declared her intention of proceeding no further than her mother could conveniently bear. Monsieur wished to tempt the chevalier into the higher regions of the hill; and Eleanore was ready to accompany them. Accordingly, these three climbed some considerable steeps; and the sound of their voices in loud laughter frequently reached the ears of those below.
Antoinette pointed them out to her mother, in different points of view, as they ascended; and the old lady regretted her inability to be with them.
At length they quite lost sight of them, and Madame sat down on the grass with her gentle daughter by her side. Antoinette's little Bible was then produced, and she had already read several chapters from the Prophet Isaiah; commenting, in her simple way, as she proceeded, and endeavouring to represent to her mother the future glory of Christ's kingdom on earth, a subject on which she especially delighted to dwell; when suddenly she heard a noise behind her, and, looking upwards, she saw her cousin bounding like a chamois down the hill, having left his companions on the heights above.
“ Theodore !” exclaimed the old lady, as he approached, his fine features glowing from the exercise, “where have you left your cousin and Monsieur ???
The young gentleman made no reply to this question, but approaching Antoinette, he presented her with a bouquet of mountain flowers, saying, “My beautiful cousin, I bring you this offering from the hills, to prove to you, that, lovely as these flowers are, they are infinitely excelled by those of the valley."
Madame called for an explanation; when the gallant 'chevalier added, "There is a bloom in this flower of the valley (pointing at the same time to his cousin) more rare and excellent than any thing which Paris or Versailles could possibly supply.”.
Madame laughed: “Ah," she said, “ des complimens such as I remember in my youth:” then turning to Antoinette, she added, " but she deserves every compliment you can pay her; she is the best of daughters.”
“To the best of mothers," returned Antoinette quickly; and, laying her hand on her mother's arm, “a good mother, cousin Theodore,” she added, “ will make a good daughter."
By this time Theodore had extended himself on the grass, at the feet of the ladies, and, having thrown aside the ermine cap which he used for travelling, was brushing up his hair from his forehead with his open hand, at the same time whispering to Antoinette a compliment of a less equivocal nature than the one he had before ventured to utter.
He had spoken low, but Antoinette answered aloud, “Dear cousin, let us be as brother and sister while we are together, and do not say more to me than you really think."
“I never say more than I really think," said the young man, looking earnestly at her, and speaking with quick
“I did not mean to call your sincerity in question, Theodore,” said Antoinette; “but while we are together let our intercourse be that of a brother and sister. I have no brother; I have never known that endeared relation. Let me experience this kind of friendship in my cousin."
Theodore looked at her with an expressive and inquiring glance; then added: “So let it be. And now, my dear sister Antoinette, tell me, do you never leave your mother's side ?"
“I never wish to do so,” said Antoinette, cheerfully; “ for, where, I pray, can I be better ??
“My sister Antoinette is a prodigy,” remarked Theodore.
“What !” said Madame," is it such a wonder in these days to see a daughter by her mother's side ?"
The conversation then took another turn; and Eleanore presently appeared descending the hill, and playfully reproached her cousin for want of gallantry, in having led her into difficulties, and left her in them.
It was impossible for him to be deaf to such a call; he sprang up immediately, and was at the young lady's side in a few minutes. The party then returned to supper, and the conversation was kept up with considerable gaiety till the hour of rest.
In the manner described above, did several days pass after the arrival of Theodore, with the exception of one or two exploring parties on the mountain, from which the ladies were of course excluded.
During this time, it became evident to all, that Antoinette was the favourite of her cousin : and Madame, with her usual want of judgment, expressed her pleasure on this event; and said, more than once, “O Antoinette, what delight would it give me to see you married to your cousin !"
Antoinette could have answered, “How could you expect me to marry a Roman Catholic ?" but, dreading to refer to this, she said, “Am I not without a dowry, mamma ? it cannot be expected that my uncle should give his consent to such a marriage. It is better therefore that we should never think of it."
In the mean time, the marked attentions and strong expressions of the young man were continually drawing the thoughts of Antoinette to the subject; and the strength of natural inclination, though powerfully controlled in her regenerate heart, now arose with a vivid power and influence to plead for the young man; and Antoinette was compelled to confess that she had never
known so great a trial. Nature now entered into a contest with grace, as warmly and as vehemently as could be imagined ; and Antoinette painfully felt that she should assuredly fall in the contest if not divinely upheld. For some time past she had slept in a little closet within her mother's room, instead of her sister's apartment; and now she found the comfort of such retirement; and, by the divine blessing, she used the opportunity to indulge in earnest prayer, and endeavours to raise her soul above all vain allurements. Sometimes, indeed, she could do little more than say to her God, “Thy will, O Lord, be done!" Nevertheless, He whó had given her the heart to cry thus to him in the anguish of her spirit, speedily appeared for her relief; and before the young man had left the valley, she found herself fully enabled to renounce him in her own mind; and, to further her object, she withdrew as much as possible from his society. She was afterwards confirmed from day to day in the propriety of this renunciation, by finding that her cousin, though a nominal Papist, was, in fact, an infidel of the school of Voltaire; of whom he continually spoke with enthusiasm, until checked by her; for one day in the warmth of her feelings, she observed that she considered the friend of Voltaire as an enemy of God.
From that time the young man spoke more cautiously of this infidel writer, and more guardedly in the presence of Antoinette on the subject of religion; notwithstanding, sufficient proofs were afforded her, that her opinion respecting his infidelity was well founded.
But my history has run to so great a length, that I feel myself compelled to pass over certain events very briefly, that I may be able to enter more fully on some circumstances of more importance.
After a protracted residence of a month in the valley of Anzasca, the Chevalier de J— took his leave, though not before he had made such a declaration of his regard for Antoinette, as rendered it necessary for her to give him a very decided answer, which she did agreeably with the intention she had formed of rejecting his suit, should it ever be brought forward.
Madame and Monsieur were displeased at her be