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swered. “But I know what is good and right in a young man, and I do not see what can deserve to be called either the one or the other in my cousin: but, if he would let Theodore alone, I should not mind. -0, papa ! papa!" she added, with an expressive earnestness,
one thing only I am sorry for; and that is, that you did not leave my own dear Theodore with mamma when you went abroad. He might, then, have been such a young man as Augustus. He might have had the same engaging and lovely manners; the same kindness to dear mamma; the same benevolence to the poor. O, papa! he might have been a comfort to us all." 1 was affected, I could not help being so, at this
pathetic address; but I strove to smother my better feelings, and I said, “Well, Laura, time will show; you are too young to judge of these things.” And I immediately put my horse into a canter, and thus broke off the discourse, from which I had obtained no satisfaction; for I had wanted to discover by Laura some such flaw in her mother's conduct as might justify my own ill behaviour. But no such flaw appeared; and I, on the contrary, was made to feel, that, if my daughter did not already condemn my conduct to her mother, it was owing to that mother's extraordinary delicacy, and not to any want of discernment in herself. In short, this conversation made me thoroughly uncomfortable; and dwelt so much on my mind, that my sister, when she saw me next, discovered that something had vexed me; and was artful enough to draw from me all that Laura had said, even respecting her own son.
When I had made a full recital, “ Brother,” she said, you are the dupe of Lady Roxeter; and, unless you get Laura out of her hands, you will lose your daughter's affection, as surely as you have done that of Lord Bellamy.-Let me go, as soon as possible, to Seaforth Castle, and let me take Laura with me; and I will engage, that I will soon make her change her mind respecting my son. This, let me assure you, Roxeter, is what is necessary to be done, or Laura will be lost to you past recovery.”
I felt reluctance at the idea of giving Lady Roxeter pain by separating her daughter from her; but these
better feelings were overruled in the manner I shall take occasion to describe.
The evil effects of want of confidence, between a man and his wife, seldom appear in their full force during the infancy of their children. When they grow up, the seeds of discord produce their fruits of misery; and the storms of divine vengeance roll with irresistible fury on the guilty head.
As I before said, my chastisement was light in comparison of my desert; yet it was not without severe sufferings that I was brought to a sense of my sin.
I remained in a state of irresolution, as it regarded my daughter, for some time after the above-mentioned conversation ; and, during this period, I had more uneasy thoughts than liked to acknowledge; and often found myself looking with the eye of pity, of remorse, and returning affection, on Lady Roxeter; indeed, I have no doubt but that I should have knelt at her feet, implored her forgiveness, and have been received again to her most cordial affection, within a very few weeks after my return to Hartlands, had not I dreaded the sneers of Lady Seaforth, whose eagle_eye was ever upon me when my wife was present. But I was not to be let off so easily; I was to be made to feel ; I was to be thoroughly cast down and abased, before the work of mercy could have its effectual course.
I have stated that Lady Roxeter had been much hurt by the indifference of her son Theodore. It seems that the young man had been so prejudiced against his mother and elder brother, that he scarcely attempted to treat the one with kindness, or the other with politeness. During the first few days, however, of their residence at Hartlands, Theodore had not transgressed the rules of general decorum towards his brother; but, at the end of that period, on Lord Bellamy hinting that he did not approve of the continual betting which was going forward between his brother and Lord Seaforth, Theodore broke out, and spoke what he called his mind to Augustus; giving him to understand that he wanted none of his interference; that he wanted none of his advice; and that he considered him as a person who knew nothing of the world, or even of polite life; adding cer
tain hints respecting hypocrisy, deceit, and want of honour, all of which he endeavoured to fix upon his brother. Thus rancour, long indulged, but hitherto smothered, burst forth on a very slight occasion; and Lord Seaforth omitted no means, in an underhand way, of rendering the anger of Theodore more violent against his brother.
From that time, every attempt which Lord Bellamy made to win the friendship of his brother was repulsed with determined and haughty disdain. And thus Lord Bellamy was thrown back again upon his beloved stepmother; whose faithful and warm affection had hitherto formed the solace of his life.
According to what had been agreed between me and my sister, Lady Seaforth shortened her stay at Hartlands; and, the day of her departure being fixed, she paid the compliment to Lady Roxeter of asking her to permit Laura to accompany her.
I was present when this proposal was made; and I at least expected a polite though unwilling acquiescence, or a reluctant reference to me. I was, therefore, surprised to hear Lady Roxeter give a decided refusalone, indeed, which was too decided to be altogether polite. I saw my sister change colour, and I said, "Lady Roxeter, you must permit me in this instance to interfere: I have never, hitherto, meddled in any concerns of your daughter; I have left her entirely to your control; hence, she has lived much in retirement: it is now, I think, time that she should see a little variety of life; and I think that we ought to accept the offer of Lady Seaforth with the utmost alacrity.”
“ You will excuse me, my Lord,” replied Lady Roxeter: “I cannot part with Laura."
I felt my indignation rising. “You cannot, Lady Roxeter!" I said:
you mean you will not.” “Well then, my Lord,” she answered, “let it be so; I will not."
“I beg Lady Roxeter may be pressed no further,” said my sister, haughtily: “I am truly sorry that I made the proposal; but, of course, I can say no more; and, as I cannot hope to have my niece with me, I must hasten my departure, for I really have
lingered here too long. To-morrow then, if you please
“To-morrow then, Lady Seaforth," 1 thundered out, " You shall take Laura! I will be trifled with no longer. Lady Roxeter, I will be master of my own house, and of my own family. When I signify my will, I expect it should be submitted to."
Lady Roxeter became very pale. She rose, and looking imploringly at me, “Lord Roxeter! dear Lord Roxeter !” she said, “permit me an interview alone. If you love me,”—and she checked herself,—"if you love Laura, let me spak to you without witnesses." “Shall I retire, Lady Roxeter ?” said my sister.
Do, do, Lady Seaforth,” she replied: "do, for mercy's sake, leave me and my Lord together for once! Do not try my patience any further! Let my Laura alone, I beseech you; unless you would wish to see me dead at your feet! Are you not contented with the ruin of my Theodore ? O! when I remember what he once was, when I see what he now is, I am beside myself-I am unable to control my indignation! All, all else I could have borne! Yes,” she added, becoming hysterical from excess of feeling, “I could have borne every other misery!-the blasting of all my hopes—the neglect of my husband—the contempt of the world-any thing, every thing, had you left me my son! And now you would take my Laura !" and she fell back upon the sofa almost in a fainting fit.
My sister ran to the door, and was about to fasten it within, when some one without gently pressed it against her, and my eldest son appeared. He had been passing through a little vestibule into which the room opened, and had heard his mother's voice in unusual accents. What his suspicions might have been I know not; but, on seeing his aunt, his countenance flushed with indignation, and he pressed forward and came to the sofa.
Lady Roxeter was not quite insensible; she had evidently struggled against the sensation which had nearly overcome her, and had raised herself up before Lord Bellamy approached her.
“My mother," said the young man, “what is the matter ? you are ill; you are distressed at something :” and VOL. VII.
his eyes sought mine with an air of defiance; while I looked down upon him with all the scorn which I could collect in my features.
"Come with me, Augustus,” said Lady Roxeter, seizing his hand.
"My aunt, perhaps, will condescend to tell me why I find my mother in this condition,” said Lord Bellamy.
“ You may ask her yourself, sir,” said Lady Seaforth.
“If it is as I suspect, she will not gratify my curiosity," returned my son.
“What do you mean, sir ?" I asked, although I well understood him: “do you intend to insult your aunt? Think you I do not know the malice of your heart, young man ?" and I placed my hand on his shoulder and shook him roughly. I knew not what I did. I am thankful I did not strike him; but I might have done so, had not my sister on one side, and Lady Roxeter on the other, succeeded in parting us. The next minute he left the room, with his stepmother, and I found myself alone with my sister.
What was next to be done was difficult to say. I now come to an open rupture with Lady Roxeter and with my son, and nothing seemed to remain but either to seek a reconciliation, or to carry on the quarrel with a high hand. My sister recommended the latter
I sent to speak with Laura. I directed her to get ready to attend her aunt, who was about to depart immediately from Hartlands.
Laura, it seems, had seen her mother in the mean time, and had been thus prepared to resist my commands. But I had embarked on an enterprise which I had determined to carry through. I was resolved to come to the point, and to ascertain who was master at Hartlands. I accordingly would hear no excuse on the part of Laura. I hastened her preparations; I handed her, all bathed in tears, into Lady Seaforth's chariot-and-four; and finished the evening at a public dinner, where I happened to be engaged on some county business. I contrived to drown thought that night: but the next morning, when I awoke, I began to consider that I was rather in an awkward situation ; having quarrelled with