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Chapter 9

  • > Can Music's voice, can Beauty's eye, Can Painting's glowing hand supply _harm so suited to my mind, As blows this hollow gust of wind? As drops thi_ittle weeping rill, Soft tinkling down the moss-grown hill; While, throug_he west, where sinks the crimson day, Meek Twilight slowly sails, and wave_er banners gray?
  • >
  • > MASON
  • Emily, some time after her return to La Vallee, received letters from he_unt, Madame Cheron, in which, after some common-place condolement and advice,
  • she invited her to Tholouse, and added, that, as her late brother ha_ntrusted Emily's EDUCATION to her, she should consider herself bound t_verlook her conduct. Emily, at this time, wished only to remain at La Vallee,
  • in the scenes of her early happiness, now rendered infinitely dear to her, a_he late residence of those, whom she had lost for ever, where she could wee_nobserved, retrace their steps, and remember each minute particular of thei_anners. But she was equally anxious to avoid the displeasure of Madam_heron.
  • Though her affection would not suffer her to question, even a moment, th_ropriety of St. Aubert's conduct in appointing Madame Cheron for he_uardian, she was sensible, that this step had made her happiness depend, in _reat degree, on the humour of her aunt. In her reply, she begged permissio_o remain, at present, at La Vallee, mentioning the extreme dejection of he_pirits, and the necessity she felt for quiet and retirement to restore them.
  • These she knew were not to be found at Madame Cheron's, whose inclinations le_er into a life of dissipation, which her ample fortune encouraged; and,
  • having given her answer, she felt somewhat more at ease.
  • In the first days of her affliction, she was visited by Monsieur Barreaux, _incere mourner for St. Aubert. 'I may well lament my friend,' said he, 'for _hall never meet with his resemblance. If I could have found such a man i_hat is called society, I should not have left it.'
  • M. Barreaux's admiration of her father endeared him extremely to Emily, whos_eart found almost its first relief in conversing of her parents, with a man,
  • whom she so much revered, and who, though with such an ungracious appearance,
  • possessed to much goodness of heart and delicacy of mind.
  • Several weeks passed away in quiet retirement, and Emily's affliction began t_often into melancholy. She could bear to read the books she had before rea_ith her father; to sit in his chair in the library—to watch the flowers hi_and had planted—to awaken the tones of that instrument his fingers ha_ressed, and sometimes even to play his favourite air.
  • When her mind had recovered from the first shock of affliction, perceiving th_anger of yielding to indolence, and that activity alone could restore it_one, she scrupulously endeavoured to pass all her hours in employment. And i_as now that she understood the full value of the education she had receive_rom St. Aubert, for in cultivating her understanding he had secured her a_sylum from indolence, without recourse to dissipation, and rich and varie_musement and information, independent of the society, from which he_ituation secluded her. Nor were the good effects of this education confine_o selfish advantages, since, St. Aubert having nourished every amiabl_ualify of her heart, it now expanded in benevolence to all around her, an_aught her, when she could not remove the misfortunes of others, at least t_often them by sympathy and tenderness;—a benevolence that taught her to fee_or all, that could suffer.
  • Madame Cheron returned no answer to Emily's letter, who began to hope, tha_he should be permitted to remain some time longer in her retirement, and he_ind had now so far recovered its strength, that she ventured to view th_cenes, which most powerfully recalled the images of past times. Among thes_as the fishing-house; and, to indulge still more the affectionate melanchol_f the visit, she took thither her lute, that she might again hear there th_ones, to which St. Aubert and her mother had so often delighted to listen.
  • She went alone, and at that still hour of the evening which is so soothing t_ancy and to grief. The last time she had been here she was in company wit_onsieur and Madame St. Aubert, a few days preceding that, on which the latte_as seized with a fatal illness. Now, when Emily again entered the woods, tha_urrounded the building, they awakened so forcibly the memory of former times,
  • that her resolution yielded for a moment to excess of grief. She stopped,
  • leaned for support against a tree, and wept for some minutes, before she ha_ecovered herself sufficiently to proceed. The little path, that led to th_uilding, was overgrown with grass and the flowers which St. Aubert ha_cattered carelessly along the border were almost choked with weeds—the tal_histle—the fox-glove, and the nettle. She often paused to look on th_esolate spot, now so silent and forsaken, and when, with a trembling hand,
  • she opened the door of the fishing-house, 'Ah!' said she, 'every thing—ever_hing remains as when I left it last—left it with those who never mus_eturn!' She went to a window, that overhung the rivulet, and, leaning ove_t, with her eyes fixed on the current, was soon lost in melancholy reverie.
  • The lute she had brought lay forgotten beside her; the mournful sighing of th_reeze, as it waved the high pines above, and its softer whispers among th_siers, that bowed upon the banks below, was a kind of music more in uniso_ith her feelings. It did not vibrate on the chords of unhappy memory, but wa_oothing to the heart as the voice of Pity. She continued to muse, unconsciou_f the gloom of evening, and that the sun's last light trembled on the height_bove, and would probably have remained so much longer, if a sudden footstep,
  • without the building, had not alarmed her attention, and first made he_ecollect that she was unprotected. In the next moment, a door opened, and _tranger appeared, who stopped on perceiving Emily, and then began t_pologize for his intrusion. But Emily, at the sound of his voice, lost he_ear in a stronger emotion: its tones were familiar to her ear, and, thoug_he could not readily distinguish through the dusk the features of the perso_ho spoke, she felt a remembrance too strong to be distrusted.
  • He repeated his apology, and Emily then said something in reply, when th_tranger eagerly advancing, exclaimed, 'Good God! can it be— surely I am no_istaken—ma'amselle St. Aubert?—is it not?'
  • 'It is indeed,' said Emily, who was confirmed in her first conjecture, for sh_ow distinguished the countenance of Valancourt, lighted up with still mor_han its usual animation. A thousand painful recollections crowded to he_ind, and the effort, which she made to support herself, only served t_ncrease her agitation. Valancourt, meanwhile, having enquired anxiously afte_er health, and expressed his hopes, that M. St. Aubert had found benefit fro_ravelling, learned from the flood of tears, which she could no longe_epress, the fatal truth. He led her to a seat, and sat down by her, whil_mily continued to weep, and Valancourt to hold the hand, which she wa_nconscious he had taken, till it was wet with the tears, which grief for St.
  • Aubert and sympathy for herself had called forth.
  • 'I feel,' said he at length, 'I feel how insufficient all attempt a_onsolation must be on this subject. I can only mourn with you, for I canno_oubt the source of your tears. Would to God I were mistaken!'
  • Emily could still answer only by tears, till she rose, and begged they migh_eave the melancholy spot, when Valancourt, though he saw her feebleness,
  • could not offer to detain her, but took her arm within his, and led her fro_he fishing-house. They walked silently through the woods, Valancourt anxiou_o know, yet fearing to ask any particulars concerning St. Aubert; and Emil_oo much distressed to converse. After some time, however, she acquire_ortitude enough to speak of her father, and to give a brief account of th_anner of his death; during which recital Valancourt's countenance betraye_trong emotion, and, when he heard that St. Aubert had died on the road, an_hat Emily had been left among strangers, he pressed her hand between his, an_nvoluntarily exclaimed, 'Why was I not there!' but in the next momen_ecollected himself, for he immediately returned to the mention of her father;
  • till, perceiving that her spirits were exhausted, he gradually changed th_ubject, and spoke of himself. Emily thus learned that, after they had parted,
  • he had wandered, for some time, along the shores of the Mediterranean, and ha_hen returned through Languedoc into Gascony, which was his native province,
  • and where he usually resided.
  • When he had concluded his little narrative, he sunk into a silence, whic_mily was not disposed to interrupt, and it continued, till they reached th_ate of the chateau, when he stopped, as if he had known this to be the limi_f his walk. Here, saying, that it was his intention to return to Estuviere o_he following day, he asked her if she would permit him to take leave of he_n the morning; and Emily, perceiving that she could not reject an ordinar_ivility, without expressing by her refusal an expectation of something more,
  • was compelled to answer, that she should be at home.
  • She passed a melancholy evening, during which the retrospect of all that ha_appened, since she had seen Valancourt, would rise to her imagination; an_he scene of her father's death appeared in tints as fresh, as if it ha_assed on the preceding day. She remembered particularly the earnest an_olemn manner, in which he had required her to destroy the manuscript papers,
  • and, awakening from the lethargy, in which sorrow had held her, she wa_hocked to think she had not yet obeyed him, and determined, that another da_hould not reproach her with the neglect.