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preting that hesitation to a cause contrary from that whence it really proceeded, she became enraged, and, rising in haste, left the room, saying, that she would give her granddaughter a short time to consider what line of conduct she would adopt.
Antoinette being thus left, hastened to her own apartment, where, closing her door and falling on her knees, she rested her face upon her spread hands at the foot of the bed. She was in the attitude of prayer, but she was not praying. So far from her mind being raised to heaven, it was in a tumult of worldly passions and feelings, against which her renewed nature scarcely made an effort. Yet she was a child of God, and her heavenly Father forgot her not, and forsook her not in this hour of trial. What she could not do for herself was done for her; and the affair was decided for her in that way in which she could not have decided it for herself.
The comtesse, in quitting Antoinette, hastened to seek Eleanore, and finding her alone in the garden of the chateau, she began in all the haste of passion to inform her of what had passed between herself and her younger granddaughter. Such was the heat with which this information
was given and received, that neither the comtesse nor Eleanore was aware of the sound of approaching steps, and they were both amazed when Theodore stood before them. The young man as he drew near, had heard the name of Antoinette, and a bitter censure passed on that beloved name: it was therefore natural for him to ask in what way Antoinette had deserved this censure; and the comtesse was in no humour to conceal the cause of her anger: he was accordingly immediately informed of all that had passed, and the obstinacy of Antoinette was represented to him in the most unqualified and bitter manner.
“Permit me to ask you, Madame,” said Theodore, “what you mean to do if my cousin persists in her resolution of adhering to the mode of worship in which she was educated ?
“To renounce her for ever," replied the comtesse.
“That is, to send her back to her friends in England ?" said Theodore.
The old lady made no answer.
Theodore then addressed Eleanore; and asked her if she too were engaged in this opposition to her sister.
The face of Eleanore flushed with indignation on being thus questioned: she had, no doubt, reasons of her own for being deeply interested in what was passing between her grandmother and her cousin; she was, however, unable to frame any thing like a consistent answer: on which the lip of Theodore was raised with an expression of the utmost scorn; and he again turned to his grandmother, and affecting indifference, “Well, Madame," said he, “do as you please: but understand that the same act of banishment which removes Antoinette from beneath your roof will extend itself to me."
The comtesse was struck with astonishment, as this was the first open declaration which Theodore had made of his regard for Antoinette. She had indeed observed the attention which he had paid to her, but she had attributed this to that gallantry for which her countrymen are celebrated through Europe; and as she well knew that her grandson had been betrothed almost from infancy to another lady, she supposed that he was only amusing himself with Antoinette, during the interval that must needs pass until his affianced bride should be thought old enough to leave the convent, where she was receiving her education. Great then, indeed, was the amazement of the old lady on hearing this proof of the regard of Theodore for Antoinette; and, being uncommonly irritated by this new provocation, she burst forth into such violent expressions of displeasure as threw the young comte entirely off his guard, and led him to utter sentiments very unbecoming his relative situation. But we forbear to repeat what passed at this time: suffice it to say, that the comtesse thought proper, before her grandson left her, to make some apology to him, and to assure him, that, if he would excuse the warmth of some of her expressions, Antoinette should be no longer molested, and the affair should at least remain as it was till the return of her son, his father, to Paris; which event was expected to take place in a few weeks. What the motives of the comtesse were in making these concessions did not appear at that time: even Eleanore
could form no conjectures respecting them; and the young man was entirely misled by them.
Neither was Antoinette less perplexed by the mode of treatment she met with, for at the usual hour of dinner the comtesse sent to request her presence, and she was received, as formerly, with such condescension and kindness, that she was led to hope that the discussion which had given her so much pain would not be renewed.
From that time affairs continued the same till the return of the comte, which happened in a few weeks. Eleanore and Antoinette were received politely by their uncle when introduced to him: but there was little cordiality in his manner. He was haughty, formal, and impenetrable, and practised the unmeaning ceremonies of life in the very bosom of his fainily. He had been the husband, for one year, of an unfeeling woman; and had never thought of a second matrimonial alliance since relieved by death from the first.
So much for the comte, the brother of the warm-hearted, though injudicious Madame Northington.
It was soon after the return of the comte, that Theodore, watching his opportunity, went to the door of a small room in which Antoinette commonly employed herself, and there he found her sitting composedly at an embroidery-frame.
It is recorded of the late unhappy queen of France, that, when all other amusements failed, she could sometimes solace herself with her needlework. So it was with Antoinette during this most anxious period of her life: yet it will not be wondered at if she was sometimes obliged to stop in the midst of her work to wipe away the tear, lest it should fall and deface the delicate flower which was formed by her skilful hand.
Touched with the sight of his weeping, yet patient cousin, Theodore rushed into the room ; and then followed such a scene as I should despair of describing. In this intercourse Theodore exhibited all that was amiable, open, and honourable in his nature. He began by making a full and free profession of his regard, assuring Antoinette, that, if she would but for awhile profess herself a Papist, he had no fear of obtaining the full approbation of his father to their marriage; “ for” added
VOL. VII. Q
he, “I have already made it known that I never will consent to complete the union which was planned for me in childhood." He further added, that, should he be blessed in the possession of her hand, she should be entirely at liberty to practise any mode of worship she might approve. Numerous were the arguments he used to shake her constancy; employing all the various forms of speech, and the attractive figures of rhetoric, usually employed where the heart is deeply interested, and where the happiness of life seems, as it were, to be suspended upon a favourable answer.
In reply to all this, Antoinette could only weep; but her tears and silence betrayed the struggles of her heart, and the contest which raged within her breast, between natural feelings and her renewed nature. During this interview, Theodore was fully sensible of his lovely cousin's regard for him ; while, at the same time, he perceived her attachment to religion was a strong and vital principle; stronger than the strongest feelings of our nature; and able to support her under inflictions worse than death, and of preserving her from false doctrine and worship.
The sound of the comtesse's voice, who was returned with Eleanore from an airing, obliged the young people to break up this conference, which had only added to the unhappiness and hopelessness of each of them.
In the mean time, the comtesse had informed her son of all that had passed under his roof relative to Antoinette, and had consulted him respecting the methods to be taken with the young heretic. They had accordingly arranged their plans, and only waited an opportunity when they should be quite certain of the absence of Theodore, to put them into execution.
At length this convenient time arrived, and Antoinette was informed, one morning, that the comtesse desired to see her as soon as she was dressed.
There was nothing which Antoinette dreaded more than an interview with her grandmother; and she was so much affected on receiving this summons, that she could not refrain from grief. The faithful Alice O'Neal was present, and endeavoured to console her.
Dear Alice,” said Antoinette, “I know not why I
should be so much alarmed. Surely there can be no reason for my terror: but, should any thing unpleasant happen to me, should we be separated, you will hasten to England, Alice, and tell Mrs. Montague my situation.”
“What can you fear, Miss ?” asked Alice.
A second summons from the comtesse prevented the reply of Antoinette, and she was led to her grandmother's chamber; where, in the presence of the old lady, and of the uncle, she was required to say whether she was willing to renounce her heresies, and receive the only true faith.
Antoinette was enabled to make such a reply as every one who wishes her well must desire; and she was then dismissed.
As she returned to her chamber, she met her sister in the gallery. Eleanore did not move away, as she had lately been accustomed to do, when there was any chance of avoiding her sister, but stood still till she approached. Antoinette held out her hand to her. Eleanore took hold of it and kissed it; but with a motion so rapid, that Antoinette had no time to prevent her; for it seemed to her almost degrading for an elder sister thus to condescend to a younger sister.
The next moment, however, Eleanore was gone; and a servant, following Antoinette from the comtesse's chamber, informed her that her lady was about to take an airing, and wished for her company:
Antoinette did not doubt but that the comtesse had chosen this way of being alone with her; and she prepared for this airing with the expectation of a long and painful discussion. Being told that her grandmother was in the hall, she went down to her without loss of time, and found her waiting on the steps of the portico, her carriage being ready in the court.
Her grandmother appeared flushed and agitated, and directed her granddaughter to get into the carriage. Antoinette obeyed, and the old lady followed her.
Antoinette feared, that, as soon as they should be alone, the comtesse would enter on the subject of their last interview: but she was mistaken; she did not speak; and they continued silent while the carriage traversed several streets.