Page images
PDF
EPUB

morals? What a pedantic creature I must be ! but I will confess I did think just then how often our misfortunes turn out for our benefit. Could you desire anything more trite ?'

Scarcely. I will forgive you, however, because you are so kind in coming to see Eve; it is my fault that she was not at Carisbroke this morning.'

And now, as Mrs. Sackville turned away for a moment, Eve stood, playing with her whip, and hesitating. It was some little time since she had seen Jane, and many benefits had accumulated upon her since then. At last she broke silence. 'I am dressed in your habit, and there lies my gown, which was your gift, and at home our garden is full of your flowers, our shelves with

But her mouth was stopped by the quick pressure of Jane's hand, and her face was flushed painfully.

'Eve, you could not wound me more than by trying to thank me so. Don't check off my little acts of friendship, as if we kept a debtor and creditor account. Be generous enough to give me pleasure.'

"But how can ever repay you ?
Oh, Eve! you disappoint me when you ·

[blocks in formation]

speak so. There is no question of obligation when people love each other; if there were, it could not be more fully settled than by my seeing you the happier, and thinking you believe and trust in my affection.'

Eve wondered at the humble tone-the genuine feeling; she knew she could not herself have so easily shaken off the consciousness of being a benefactress. She was shocked and ashamed that clouds of jealousy so often distorted in her mind that beautiful image. She half fancied Jane knew that it was so, and yet loved, pitied, and enriched her. There was something of this tender compassion and yearning in her glance even now; and, unable to resist it, with a sudden impulse Eve threw her arms round her, hid her face on her bosom, and murmured—' Oh, how good you are !-oh, that I could be like you! but it is impossible. How can you love me if you really know me?'

'I am afraid,' Jane replied, kindly, that we should none of us either love or be loved, if we only loved the perfect. I like you, Eve, with all your faults—not because I do not see them, but because I know we are all frail beings, struggling with a thousand temptations,

[ocr errors]

a

which others cannot guess, and advancing, I hope, on our course through many battles, to a triumph even here. Do you suppose I have no trials, no temptations, no dark errors of my

own ?

[ocr errors]

6

Mrs. Sackville came in again, smiling.

What is to be done, Miss Desborough? The horses are at the door ; shall they be ordered back again for half an hour, or will you content yourself with only my society, and let Eve go?'

Most certainly,' Jane answered; and so they went down, and she held the whip while Eve mounted, and lent a skilful hand to the adjustment of her habit.

'She is a good friend to you,' remarked Mr. Sackville, warmly.

It was a pleasant ride. The horse went well, and Mr. Sackville was in his most agreeable mood. Then the country was so fresh and beautiful; the scorching summer sun had not yet told upon the foliage, although the very latest leaf was unfurled and shaken to the wind. Eyes, blue, golden, and white, glanced up at them from every bank; and once or twice their course lay through woods, carpeted by wild flowers.

are

but you

[ocr errors]

'I think there no woods like the Kentish woods for the multitude of flowers, said Eve, enthusiastically, all the pride of her native county kindling in her cheek.

Mr. Sackville smiled.

' Perhaps you are not far wrong; but must allow that your experience has not been very extended.

'No, I have travelled so little. Oh! Mr. Sackville, how much I should like to see more of the world; to go abroad, to leave all that behind me'—and she pointed backward in the direction of her home. To change the scene,

"

, to hear new tongues, and see new people. What happiness it would be !'

* Pleasure, perhaps, but by no means happiness. Don't desecrate my favourite term by such an application. It may be amusing, it may be instructive to travel ; it is healthfulbut happiness is of home growth. True happiness can exist in a very contracted arena, and is independent of wet days and bad roads.'

It was easy to talk thus, Eve thought, but did not venture to remark more than

Oh! then, you don't admit that outward circumstances have anything to do with happiness. Miss Desborough is of that opinion;

6

6

6

6

but as I have not a superior mind, I cannot help being depressed by poverty, monotony, and the hundred and one trivial occupations, and stinging vexations of life of such a life as ours, for instance.'

My dear Eve, if I were to lecture you till midnight upon the impropriety of such feelings, I fear I should make no impression upon you. Experience must teach that lesson, and will do it only too surely. I wish it may not prove that you will yet look back upon this period as your happiest.'

Oh! Mr. Sackville, do you think I shall never be happier than I am ? Then is life worth having ?

'Do you suppose, then, that we live only in order to be happy ?'

Eve considered, blushed, and shook her head.

'It was very wrong of me; but then, you know, besides improving and all that sort of thing, I should like to be a little happy as well.'

'I see you think growing good quite the reverse of growing happy. Don't you allow that the one may often depend upon the other ?'

Now, Mr. Sackville, a case in point. Miss

6

« PreviousContinue »