> Can such things be, And overcome us like a summer's cloud, Without ou_pecial wonder?
On the next morning, Emily ordered a fire to be lighted in the stove of th_hamber, where St. Aubert used to sleep; and, as soon as she had breakfasted, went thither to burn the papers. Having fastened the door to preven_nterruption, she opened the closet where they were concealed, as she entere_hich, she felt an emotion of unusual awe, and stood for some moment_urveying it, trembling, and almost afraid to remove the board. There was _reat chair in one corner of the closet, and, opposite to it, stood the table, at which she had seen her father sit, on the evening that preceded hi_eparture, looking over, with so much emotion, what she believed to be thes_ery papers.
The solitary life, which Emily had led of late, and the melancholy subjects, on which she had suffered her thoughts to dwell, had rendered her at time_ensible to the 'thick-coming fancies' of a mind greatly enervated. It wa_amentable, that her excellent understanding should have yielded, even for _oment, to the reveries of superstition, or rather to those starts o_magination, which deceive the senses into what can be called nothing les_han momentary madness. Instances of this temporary failure of mind had mor_han once occurred since her return home; particularly when, wandering throug_his lonely mansion in the evening twilight, she had been alarmed b_ppearances, which would have been unseen in her more cheerful days. To thi_nfirm state of her nerves may be attributed what she imagined, when, her eye_lancing a second time on the arm-chair, which stood in an obscure part of th_loset, the countenance of her dead father appeared there. Emily stood fixe_or a moment to the floor, after which she left the closet. Her spirits, however, soon returned; she reproached herself with the weakness of thu_uffering interruption in an act of serious importance, and again opened th_oor. By the directions which St. Aubert had given her, she readily found th_oard he had described in an opposite corner of the closet, near the window; she distinguished also the line he had mentioned, and, pressing it as he ha_ade her, it slid down, and disclosed the bundle of papers, together with som_cattered ones, and the purse of louis. With a trembling hand she remove_hem, replaced the board, paused a moment, and was rising from the floor, when, on looking up, there appeared to her alarmed fancy the same countenanc_n the chair. The illusion, another instance of the unhappy effect whic_olitude and grief had gradually produced upon her mind, subdued her spirits; she rushed forward into the chamber, and sunk almost senseless into a chair.
Returning reason soon overcame the dreadful, but pitiable attack o_magination, and she turned to the papers, though still with so littl_ecollection, that her eyes involuntarily settled on the writing of some loos_heets, which lay open; and she was unconscious, that she was transgressin_er father's strict injunction, till a sentence of dreadful import awakene_er attention and her memory together. She hastily put the papers from her; but the words, which had roused equally her curiosity and terror, she coul_ot dismiss from her thoughts. So powerfully had they affected her, that sh_ven could not resolve to destroy the papers immediately; and the more sh_welt on the circumstance, the more it inflamed her imagination. Urged by th_ost forcible, and apparently the most necessary, curiosity to enquir_arther, concerning the terrible and mysterious subject, to which she had see_n allusion, she began to lament her promise to destroy the papers. For _oment, she even doubted, whether it could justly be obeyed, in contradictio_o such reasons as there appeared to be for further information. But th_elusion was momentary.
'I have given a solemn promise,' said she, 'to observe a solemn injunction, and it is not my business to argue, but to obey. Let me hasten to remove th_emptation, that would destroy my innocence, and embitter my life with th_onsciousness of irremediable guilt, while I have strength to reject it.'
Thus re-animated with a sense of her duty, she completed the triumph of he_ntegrity over temptation, more forcible than any she had ever known, an_onsigned the papers to the flames. Her eyes watched them as they slowl_onsumed, she shuddered at the recollection of the sentence she had just seen, and at the certainty, that the only opportunity of explaining it was the_assing away for ever.
It was long after this, that she recollected the purse; and as she wa_epositing it, unopened, in a cabinet, perceiving that it contained somethin_f a size larger than coin, she examined it. 'His hand deposited them here,'
said she, as she kissed some pieces of the coin, and wetted them with he_ears, 'his hand—which is now dust!' At the bottom of the purse was a smal_acket, having taken out which, and unfolded paper after paper, she found t_e an ivory case, containing the miniature of a—lady! She started—'The same,'
said she, 'my father wept over!' On examining the countenance she coul_ecollect no person that it resembled. It was of uncommon beauty, and wa_haracterized by an expression of sweetness, shaded with sorrow, and tempere_y resignation.
St. Aubert had given no directions concerning this picture, nor had even name_t; she, therefore, thought herself justified in preserving it. More than onc_emembering his manner, when he had spoken of the Marchioness of Villeroi, sh_elt inclined to believe that this was her resemblance; yet there appeared n_eason why he should have preserved a picture of that lady, or, havin_reserved it, why he should lament over it in a manner so striking an_ffecting as she had witnessed on the night preceding his departure.
Emily still gazed on the countenance, examining its features, but she knew no_here to detect the charm that captivated her attention, and inspire_entiments of such love and pity. Dark brown hair played carelessly along th_pen forehead; the nose was rather inclined to aquiline; the lips spoke in _mile, but it was a melancholy one; the eyes were blue, and were directe_pwards with an expression of peculiar meekness, while the soft cloud of th_row spoke of the fine sensibility of the temper.
Emily was roused from the musing mood into which the picture had thrown her, by the closing of the garden gate; and, on turning her eyes to the window, sh_aw Valancourt coming towards the chateau. Her spirits agitated by th_ubjects that had lately occupied her mind, she felt unprepared to see him, and remained a few moments in the chamber to recover herself.
When she met him in the parlour, she was struck with the change that appeare_n his air and countenance since they had parted in Rousillon, which twiligh_nd the distress she suffered on the preceding evening had prevented her fro_bserving. But dejection and languor disappeared, for a moment, in the smil_hat now enlightened his countenance, on perceiving her. 'You see,' said he,
'I have availed myself of the permission with which you honoured me— o_idding YOU farewell, whom I had the happiness of meeting only yesterday.'
Emily smiled faintly, and, anxious to say something, asked if he had been lon_n Gascony. 'A few days only,' replied Valancourt, while a blush passed ove_is cheek. 'I engaged in a long ramble after I had the misfortune of partin_ith the friends who had made my wanderings among the Pyrenees so delightful.'
A tear came to Emily's eye, as Valancourt said this, which he observed; and, anxious to draw off her attention from the remembrance that had occasioned it, as well as shocked at his own thoughtlessness, he began to speak on othe_ubjects, expressing his admiration of the chateau, and its prospects. Emily, who felt somewhat embarrassed how to support a conversation, was glad of suc_n opportunity to continue it on indifferent topics. They walked down to th_errace, where Valancourt was charmed with the river scenery, and the view_ver the opposite shores of Guienne.
As he leaned on the wall of the terrace, watching the rapid current of th_aronne, 'I was a few weeks ago,' said he, 'at the source of this noble river; I had not then the happiness of knowing you, or I should have regretted you_bsence—it was a scene so exactly suited to your taste. It rises in a part o_he Pyrenees, still wilder and more sublime, I think, than any we passed i_he way to Rousillon.' He then described its fall among the precipices of th_ountains, where its waters, augmented by the streams that descend from th_nowy summits around, rush into the Vallee d'Aran, between whose romanti_eights it foams along, pursuing its way to the north west till it emerge_pon the plains of Languedoc. Then, washing the walls of Tholouse, and turnin_gain to the north west, it assumes a milder character, as it fertilizes th_astures of Gascony and Guienne, in its progress to the Bay of Biscay.
Emily and Valancourt talked of the scenes they had passed among the Pyrenea_lps; as he spoke of which there was often a tremulous tenderness in hi_oice, and sometimes he expatiated on them with all the fire of genius, sometimes would appear scarcely conscious of the topic, though he continued t_peak. This subject recalled forcibly to Emily the idea of her father, whos_mage appeared in every landscape, which Valancourt particularized, whos_emarks dwelt upon her memory, and whose enthusiasm still glowed in her heart.
Her silence, at length, reminded Valancourt how nearly his conversatio_pproached to the occasion of her grief, and he changed the subject, thoug_or one scarcely less affecting to Emily. When he admired the grandeur of th_lane-tree, that spread its wide branches over the terrace, and under whos_hade they now sat, she remembered how often she had sat thus with St. Aubert, and heard him express the same admiration.
'This was a favourite tree with my dear father,' said she; 'he used to love t_it under its foliage with his family about him, in the fine evenings o_ummer.'
Valancourt understood her feelings, and was silent; had she raised her eye_rom the ground she would have seen tears in his. He rose, and leaned on th_all of the terrace, from which, in a few moments, he returned to his seat, then rose again, and appeared to be greatly agitated; while Emily found he_pirits so much depressed, that several of her attempts to renew th_onversation were ineffectual. Valancourt again sat down, but was stil_ilent, and trembled. At length he said, with a hesitating voice, 'This lovel_cene!—I am going to leave—to leave you—perhaps for ever! These moments ma_ever return; I cannot resolve to neglect, though I scarcely dare to avai_yself of them. Let me, however, without offending the delicacy of you_orrow, venture to declare the admiration I must always feel of you_oodness—O! that at some future period I might be permitted to call it love!'
Emily's emotion would not suffer her to reply; and Valancourt, who no_entured to look up, observing her countenance change, expected to see he_aint, and made an involuntary effort to support her, which recalled Emily t_ sense of her situation, and to an exertion of her spirits. Valancourt di_ot appear to notice her indisposition, but, when he spoke again, his voic_old the tenderest love. 'I will not presume,' he added, 'to intrude thi_ubject longer upon your attention at this time, but I may, perhaps, b_ermitted to mention, that these parting moments would lose much of thei_itterness if I might be allowed to hope the declaration I have made would no_xclude me from your presence in future.'
Emily made another effort to overcome the confusion of her thoughts, and t_peak. She feared to trust the preference her heart acknowledged toward_alancourt, and to give him any encouragement for hope, on so short a_cquaintance. For though in this narrow period she had observed much that wa_dmirable in his taste and disposition, and though these observations had bee_anctioned by the opinion of her father, they were not sufficient testimonie_f his general worth to determine her upon a subject so infinitely importan_o her future happiness as that, which now solicited her attention. Yet, though the thought of dismissing Valancourt was so very painful to her, tha_he could scarcely endure to pause upon it, the consciousness of this made he_ear the partiality of her judgment, and hesitate still more to encourage tha_uit, for which her own heart too tenderly pleaded. The family of Valancourt, if not his circumstances, had been known to her father, and known to b_nexceptionable. Of his circumstances, Valancourt himself hinted as far a_elicacy would permit, when he said he had at present little else to offer bu_n heart, that adored her. He had solicited only for a distant hope, and sh_ould not resolve to forbid, though she scarcely dared to permit it; a_ength, she acquired courage to say, that she must think herself honoured b_he good opinion of any person, whom her father had esteemed.
'And was I, then, thought worthy of his esteem?' said Valancourt, in a voic_rembling with anxiety; then checking himself, he added, 'But pardon th_uestion; I scarcely know what I say. If I might dare to hope, that you thin_e not unworthy such honour, and might be permitted sometimes to enquire afte_our health, I should now leave you with comparative tranquillity.'
Emily, after a moment's silence, said, 'I will be ingenuous with you, for _now you will understand, and allow for my situation; you will consider it a_ proof of my—my esteem that I am so. Though I live here in what was m_ather's house, I live here alone. I have, alas! no longer a parent—a parent, whose presence might sanction your visits. It is unnecessary for me to poin_ut the impropriety of my receiving them.'
'Nor will I affect to be insensible of this,' replied Valancourt, addin_ournfully—'but what is to console me for my candour? I distress you, an_ould now leave the subject, if I might carry with me a hope of being som_ime permitted to renew it, of being allowed to make myself known to you_amily.'
Emily was again confused, and again hesitated what to reply; she felt mos_cutely the difficulty—the forlornness of her situation, which did not allo_er a single relative, or friend, to whom she could turn for even a look, tha_ight support and guide her in the present embarrassing circumstances. Madam_heron, who was her only relative, and ought to have been this friend, wa_ither occupied by her own amusements, or so resentful of the reluctance he_iece had shewn to quit La Vallee, that she seemed totally to have abandone_er.
'Ah! I see,' said Valancourt, after a long pause, during which Emily ha_egun, and left unfinished two or three sentences, 'I see that I have nothin_o hope; my fears were too just, you think me unworthy of your esteem. Tha_atal journey! which I considered as the happiest period of my life—thos_elightful days were to embitter all my future ones. How often I have looke_ack to them with hope and fear—yet never till this moment could I prevai_ith myself to regret their enchanting influence.'
His voice faltered, and he abruptly quitted his seat and walked on th_errace. There was an expression of despair on his countenance, that affecte_mily. The pleadings of her heart overcame, in some degree, her extrem_imidity, and, when he resumed his seat, she said, in an accent that betraye_er tenderness, 'You do both yourself and me injustice when you say I thin_ou unworthy of my esteem; I will acknowledge that you have long possessed it, and—and- -'
Valancourt waited impatiently for the conclusion of the sentence, but th_ords died on her lips. Her eyes, however, reflected all the emotions of he_eart. Valancourt passed, in an instant, from the impatience of despair, t_hat of joy and tenderness. 'O Emily!' he exclaimed, 'my own Emily—teach me t_ustain this moment! Let me seal it as the most sacred of my life!'
He pressed her hand to his lips, it was cold and trembling; and, raising he_yes, he saw the paleness of her countenance. Tears came to her relief, an_alancourt watched in anxious silence over her. In a few moments, sh_ecovered herself, and smiling faintly through her tears, said, 'Can yo_xcuse this weakness? My spirits have not yet, I believe, recovered from th_hock they lately received.'
'I cannot excuse myself,' said Valancourt, 'but I will forbear to renew th_ubject, which may have contributed to agitate them, now that I can leave yo_ith the sweet certainty of possessing your esteem.'
Then, forgetting his resolution, he again spoke of himself. 'You know not,'
said he, 'the many anxious hours I have passed near you lately, when yo_elieved me, if indeed you honoured me with a thought, far away. I hav_andered, near the chateau, in the still hours of the night, when no eye coul_bserve me. It was delightful to know I was so near you, and there wa_omething particularly soothing in the thought, that I watched round you_abitation, while you slept. These grounds are not entirely new to me. Once _entured within the fence, and spent one of the happiest, and yet mos_elancholy hours of my life in walking under what I believed to be you_indow.'
Emily enquired how long Valancourt had been in the neighbourhood. 'Severa_ays,' he replied. 'It was my design to avail myself of the permission M. St.
Aubert had given me. I scarcely know how to account for it; but, though _nxiously wished to do this, my resolution always failed, when the momen_pproached, and I constantly deferred my visit. I lodged in a village at som_istance, and wandered with my dogs, among the scenes of this charmin_ountry, wishing continually to meet you, yet not daring to visit you.'
Having thus continued to converse, without perceiving the flight of time, Valancourt, at length, seemed to recollect himself. 'I must go,' said h_ournfully, 'but it is with the hope of seeing you again, of being permitte_o pay my respects to your family; let me hear this hope confirmed by you_oice.' 'My family will be happy to see any friend of my dear father,' sai_mily. Valancourt kissed her hand, and still lingered, unable to depart, whil_mily sat silently, with her eyes bent on the ground; and Valancourt, as h_azed on her, considered that it would soon be impossible for him to recall, even to his memory, the exact resemblance of the beautiful countenance he the_eheld; at this moment an hasty footstep approached from behind the plane- tree, and, turning her eyes, Emily saw Madame Cheron. She felt a blush stea_pon her cheek, and her frame trembled with the emotion of her mind; but sh_nstantly rose to meet her visitor. 'So, niece!' said Madame Cheron, casting _ook of surprise and enquiry on Valancourt, 'so niece, how do you do? But _eed not ask, your looks tell me you have already recovered your loss.'
'My looks do me injustice then, Madame, my loss I know can never b_ecovered.'
'Well—well! I will not argue with you; I see you have exactly your father'_isposition; and let me tell you it would have been much happier for him, poo_an! if it had been a different one.'
A look of dignified displeasure, with which Emily regarded Madame Cheron, while she spoke, would have touched almost any other heart; she made no othe_eply, but introduced Valancourt, who could scarcely stifle the resentment h_elt, and whose bow Madame Cheron returned with a slight curtsy, and a look o_upercilious examination. After a few moments he took leave of Emily, in _anner, that hastily expressed his pain both at his own departure, and a_eaving her to the society of Madame Cheron.
'Who is that young man?' said her aunt, in an accent which equally implie_nquisitiveness and censure. 'Some idle admirer of yours I suppose; but _elieved niece you had a greater sense of propriety, than to have received th_isits of any young man in your present unfriended situation. Let me tell yo_he world will observe those things, and it will talk, aye and very freel_oo.'
Emily, extremely shocked at this coarse speech, attempted to interrupt it; bu_adame Cheron would proceed, with all the self- importance of a person, t_hom power is new.
'It is very necessary you should be under the eye of some person more able t_uide you than yourself. I, indeed, have not much leisure for such a task; however, since your poor father made it his last request, that I shoul_verlook your conduct—I must even take you under my care. But this let me tel_ou niece, that, unless you will determine to be very conformable to m_irection, I shall not trouble myself longer about you.'
Emily made no attempt to interrupt Madame Cheron a second time, grief and th_ride of conscious innocence kept her silent, till her aunt said, 'I am no_ome to take you with me to Tholouse; I am sorry to find, that your poo_ather died, after all, in such indifferent circumstances; however, I shal_ake you home with me. Ah! poor man, he was always more generous tha_rovident, or he would not have left his daughter dependent on his relations.'
'Nor has he done so, I hope, madam,' said Emily calmly, 'nor did his pecuniar_isfortunes arise from that noble generosity, which always distinguished him.
The affairs of M. de Motteville may, I trust, yet be settled without deepl_njuring his creditors, and in the meantime I should be very happy to remai_t La Vallee.'
'No doubt you would,' replied Madame Cheron, with a smile of irony, 'and _hall no doubt consent to this, since I see how necessary tranquillity an_etirement are to restore your spirits. I did not think you capable of so muc_uplicity, niece; when you pleaded this excuse for remaining here, I foolishl_elieved it to be a just one, nor expected to have found with you so agreeabl_ companion as this M. La Val—, I forget his name.'
Emily could no longer endure these cruel indignities. 'It was a just one, madam,' said she; 'and now, indeed, I feel more than ever the value of th_etirement I then solicited; and, if the purport of your visit is only to ad_nsult to the sorrows of your brother's child, she could well have spared it.'
'I see that I have undertaken a very troublesome task,' said Madame Cheron, colouring highly. 'I am sure, madam,' said Emily mildly, and endeavouring t_estrain her tears, 'I am sure my father did not mean it should be such. _ave the happiness to reflect, that my conduct under his eye was such as h_ften delighted to approve. It would be very painful to me to disobey th_ister of such a parent, and, if you believe the task will really be s_roublesome, I must lament, that it is yours.'
'Well! niece, fine speaking signifies little. I am willing, in consideratio_f my poor brother, to overlook the impropriety of your late conduct, and t_ry what your future will be.'
Emily interrupted her, to beg she would explain what was the impropriety sh_lluded to.
'What impropriety! why that of receiving the visits of a lover unknown to you_amily,' replied Madame Cheron, not considering the impropriety of which sh_ad herself been guilty, in exposing her niece to the possibility of conduc_o erroneous.
A faint blush passed over Emily's countenance; pride and anxiety struggled i_er breast; and, till she recollected, that appearances did, in some degree, justify her aunt's suspicions, she could not resolve to humble herself so fa_s to enter into the defence of a conduct, which had been so innocent an_ndesigning on her part. She mentioned the manner of Valancourt's introductio_o her father; the circumstances of his receiving the pistol-shot, and o_heir afterwards travelling together; with the accidental way, in which sh_ad met him, on the preceding evening. She owned he had declared a partialit_or her, and that he had asked permission to address her family.
'And who is this young adventurer, pray?' said Madame Cheron, 'and what ar_is pretensions?' 'These he must himself explain, madam,' replied Emily. 'O_is family my father was not ignorant, and I believe it is unexceptionable.'
She then proceeded to mention what she knew concerning it.
'Oh, then, this it seems is a younger brother,' exclaimed her aunt, 'and o_ourse a beggar. A very fine tale indeed! And so my brother took a fancy t_his young man after only a few days acquaintance!— but that was so like him!
In his youth he was always taking these likes and dislikes, when no othe_erson saw any reason for them at all; nay, indeed, I have often thought th_eople he disapproved were much more agreeable than those he admired;—bu_here is no accounting for tastes. He was always so much influenced b_eople's countenances; now I, for my part, have no notion of this, it is al_idiculous enthusiasm. What has a man's face to do with his character? Can _an of good character help having a disagreeable face?'—which last sentenc_adame Cheron delivered with the decisive air of a person who congratulate_erself on having made a grand discovery, and believes the question to b_nanswerably settled.
Emily, desirous of concluding the conversation, enquired if her aunt woul_ccept some refreshment, and Madame Cheron accompanied her to the chateau, bu_ithout desisting from a topic, which she discussed with so much complacenc_o herself, and severity to her niece.
'I am sorry to perceive, niece,' said she, in allusion to somewhat that Emil_ad said, concerning physiognomy, 'that you have a great many of your father'_rejudices, and among them those sudden predilections for people from thei_ooks. I can perceive, that you imagine yourself to be violently in love wit_his young adventurer, after an acquaintance of only a few days. There wa_omething, too, so charmingly romantic in the manner of your meeting!'
Emily checked the tears, that trembled in her eyes, while she said, 'When m_onduct shall deserve this severity, madam, you will do well to exercise it; till then justice, if not tenderness, should surely restrain it. I have neve_illingly offended you; now I have lost my parents, you are the only person t_hom I can look for kindness. Let me not lament more than ever the loss o_uch parents.' The last words were almost stifled by her emotions, and sh_urst into tears. Remembering the delicacy and the tenderness of St. Aubert, the happy, happy days she had passed in these scenes, and contrasting the_ith the coarse and unfeeling behaviour of Madame Cheron, and from the futur_ours of mortification she must submit to in her presence—a degree of grie_eized her, that almost reached despair. Madame Cheron, more offended by th_eproof which Emily's words conveyed, than touched by the sorrow the_xpressed, said nothing, that might soften her grief; but, notwithstanding a_pparent reluctance to receive her niece, she desired her company. The love o_way was her ruling passion, and she knew it would be highly gratified b_aking into her house a young orphan, who had no appeal from her decisions, and on whom she could exercise without controul the capricious humour of th_oment.
On entering the chateau, Madame Cheron expressed a desire, that she would pu_p what she thought necessary to take to Tholouse, as she meant to set of_mmediately. Emily now tried to persuade her to defer the journey, at leas_ill the next day, and, at length, with much difficulty, prevailed.
The day passed in the exercise of petty tyranny on the part of Madame Cheron, and in mournful regret and melancholy anticipation on that of Emily, who, whe_er aunt retired to her apartment for the night, went to take leave of ever_ther room in this her dear native home, which she was now quitting for sh_new not how long, and for a world, to which she was wholly a stranger. Sh_ould not conquer a presentiment, which frequently occurred to her, thi_ight—that she should never more return to La Vallee. Having passed _onsiderable time in what had been her father's study, having selected some o_is favourite authors, to put up with her clothes, and shed many tears, as sh_iped the dust from their covers, she seated herself in his chair before th_eading desk, and sat lost in melancholy reflection, till Theresa opened th_oor to examine, as was her custom before she went to bed, if was all safe.
She started, on observing her young lady, who bade her come in, and then gav_er some directions for keeping the chateau in readiness for her reception a_ll times.
'Alas-a-day! that you should leave it!' said Theresa, 'I think you would b_appier here than where you are going, if one may judge.' Emily made no repl_o this remark; the sorrow Theresa proceeded to express at her departur_ffected her, but she found some comfort in the simple affection of this poo_ld servant, to whom she gave such directions as might best conduce to he_omfort during her own absence.
Having dismissed Theresa to bed, Emily wandered through every lonely apartmen_f the chateau, lingering long in what had been her father's bed-room, indulging melancholy, yet not unpleasing, emotions, and, having often returne_ithin the door to take another look at it, she withdrew to her own chamber.
From her window she gazed upon the garden below, shewn faintly by the moon, rising over the tops of the palm-trees, and, at length, the calm beauty of th_ight increased a desire of indulging the mournful sweetness of biddin_arewel to the beloved shades of her childhood, till she was tempted t_escend. Throwing over her the light veil, in which she usually walked, sh_ilently passed into the garden, and, hastening towards the distant groves, was glad to breathe once more the air of liberty, and to sigh unobserved. Th_eep repose of the scene, the rich scents, that floated on the breeze, th_randeur of the wide horizon and of the clear blue arch, soothed and graduall_levated her mind to that sublime complacency, which renders the vexations o_his world so insignificant and mean in our eyes, that we wonder they have ha_ower for a moment to disturb us. Emily forgot Madame Cheron and all th_ircumstances of her conduct, while her thoughts ascended to the contemplatio_f those unnumbered worlds, that lie scattered in the depths of aether, thousands of them hid from human eyes, and almost beyond the flight of huma_ancy. As her imagination soared through the regions of space, and aspired t_hat Great First Cause, which pervades and governs all being, the idea of he_ather scarcely ever left her; but it was a pleasing idea, since she resigne_im to God in the full confidence of a pure and holy faith. She pursued he_ay through the groves to the terrace, often pausing as memory awakened th_ang of affection, and as reason anticipated the exile, into which she wa_oing.
And now the moon was high over the woods, touching their summits with yello_ight, and darting between the foliage long level beams; while on the rapi_aronne below the trembling radiance was faintly obscured by the lightes_apour. Emily long watched the playing lustre, listened to the soothing murmu_f the current, and the yet lighter sounds of the air, as it stirred, a_ntervals, the lofty palm-trees. 'How delightful is the sweet breath of thes_roves,' said she. 'This lovely scene!—how often shall I remember and regre_t, when I am far away. Alas! what events may occur before I see it again! O, peaceful, happy shades!—scenes of my infant delights, of parental tendernes_ow lost for ever!—why must I leave ye!—In your retreats I should still fin_afety and repose. Sweet hours of my childhood—I am now to leave even you_ast memorials! No objects, that would revive your impressions, will remai_or me!'
Then drying her tears and looking up, her thoughts rose again to the sublim_ubject she had contemplated; the same divine complacency stole over he_eart, and, hushing its throbs, inspired hope and confidence and resignatio_o the will of the Deity, whose works filled her mind with adoration.
Emily gazed long on the plane-tree, and then seated herself, for the las_ime, on the bench under its shade, where she had so often sat with he_arents, and where, only a few hours before, she had conversed wit_alancourt, at the remembrance of whom, thus revived, a mingled sensation o_steem, tenderness and anxiety rose in her breast. With this remembranc_ccurred a recollection of his late confession—that he had often wandered nea_er habitation in the night, having even passed the boundary of the garden, and it immediately occurred to her, that he might be at this moment in th_rounds. The fear of meeting him, particularly after the declaration he ha_ade, and of incurring a censure, which her aunt might so reasonably bestow, if it was known, that she was met by her lover, at this hour, made he_nstantly leave her beloved plane-tree, and walk towards the chateau. She cas_n anxious eye around, and often stopped for a moment to examine the shadow_cene before she ventured to proceed, but she passed on without perceiving an_erson, till, having reached a clump of almond trees, not far from the house, she rested to take a retrospect of the garden, and to sigh forth anothe_dieu. As her eyes wandered over the landscape she thought she perceived _erson emerge from the groves, and pass slowly along a moon-light alley tha_ed between them; but the distance, and the imperfect light would not suffe_er to judge with any degree of certainty whether this was fancy or reality.
She continued to gaze for some time on the spot, till on the dead stillness o_he air she heard a sudden sound, and in the next instant fancied sh_istinguished footsteps near her. Wasting not another moment in conjecture, she hurried to the chateau, and, having reached it, retired to her chamber, where, as she closed her window she looked upon the garden, and then agai_hought she distinguished a figure, gliding between the almond trees she ha_ust left. She immediately withdrew from the casement, and, though muc_gitated, sought in sleep the refreshment of a short oblivion.