"A creature not too bright or
For human nature’s daily food;
Made up of charms and simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles."
"Here, then, our conference
ends!" said Mr. Barton, rising; "I love your daughter, Constance—fondly,
passionately love her; but you are well aware my slender means are
inadequate to support her as my wife."
"And, however happy I might
be," said Mr. Forrester also rising, "to settle a very good girl with a
man of character, whom she seems to approve, I cannot consent to injure
the interest of my youngest daughter, by bestowing such a sum as you
propose upon her sister."
"Farewell, then," cried Barton, pressing the old man’s
hand—"Heaven bless you and her! Farewell, for ever!" So saying, the suitor
took his hat, and passed from the apartment.
For some time after his
departure, Mr. Forrester stood with his eyes fixed upon the door which
Barton had closed behind him. He could hardly believe but that the scene
which had just passed, was all a dream.
"That the noble, the
romantic lover!" he exclaimed, "could be thus mercenary, I could not have
believed." He passed his hands across his eyes, and hastened to convey
tidings of the unpleasant result of this interview to his daughter.
Constance heard all,
calmly, meekly. There was no fainting—no tremor shook her frame; but a
deadly paleness o’erspread her "carnation-dyed" cheek. She approved her
father’s resolution, while she felt that Barton’s ascendancy over her
affections could never be shaken off.
"She pined in thought," and
her health became impaired. Her sister, Julia, a bright-eyed laughing girl
of sixteen, marked the change upon her and the discontinuance of the
visits of one who had been with them for the last two years almost daily.
Soon the truth beamed upon her. That instant she flew to her father, and
entreated him not to let a mistaken kindness to her prove their general
unhappiness. She declared, with all the sincerity of a young affectionate
mind, that she valued fortune only in so far as it might enable her to
promote the comfort of those she loved. The continued illness of
Constance, and the fear that it might hurry her into an untimely grave,
were urged by Julia. The father heard, and reluctantly approved.
Constance, while she could not but admire the noble-mindedness of Julia,
would not consent to this sacrifice of her sister’s interest. She
attempted to rally her spirits, and resume her wonted avocations; but the
effort was too great—her heart sickened, and the couch of suffering again
Julia could bear this no
longer; and with her father’s consent, she recalled Barton. His return
soon restored the declining health of his mistress. The day was fixed, and
he and Constance Forrester were united.
young, the gay—"the glass of fashion, and the mould of form"—had won the
affections of the pretty Julia Forrester. Shortly after the marriage of
her sister, a letter came from him, informing her that his father had
obtained a cadetship for him, and that in less than a week he must sail
for India. "It is best," he said, "that I should depart without the misery
of a meeting." He concluded, by avowing that in his "heart of hearts," she
should ever hold the chiefest place; and that, in a few years, he would
return to her, and once again they should be happy.
Bitter were the tears that Julia
shed—joyless was that heart to which grief had been a stranger. The very
scenes which together they had looked on, became hateful to her for the
remembrances they brought. She resolved on a change of scene, and
accordingly set out on a visit to her sister, who had fixed her abode at a
distance of about thirty miles from her father’s, on the borders of
For some weeks she remained
under the Bartons’ roof, and great was her annoyance when she saw that
they were far, very far from happy. Barton himself had got into a course
of dissipation, and he was borne away by its impulse. He neglected his
wife, staying away from her for days, whenever she ventured to reprove or
contradict him. Julia remonstrated with him on the folly of such a course;
but for her pains, she received nothing but a volley of invectives,
intermingled with the wish that she would never more enter his house.
Within the hour, she took leave of her sister, who was somewhat astonished
at the abruptness of her departure, and returned to her father’s.
In due course of time,
Constance became a mother; but her infant was so sickly that it lived only
a few hours after its birth.
Time wore away, and
Constance, feeling keenly the untoward conduct of her husband, pined away,
and died. The widower passed the customary period of mourning in the
outward show of grief, and many weeks did not thereafter elapse ere he led
to the altar a more wealthy bride.
Julia was deeply afflicted
by the death of her sister; but, alas! this affliction was not the only
one reserved for her. Her father was connected with an extensive
mercantile house in Liverpool, which he visited twice a year, along with
another "sleeping partner" of the firm, to examine into the state of its
affairs. His whole fortune was embarked in the concern. What then was his
horror on being one morning informed by a communication from the head
clerk in the establishment, that the acting partner had absconded with all
the money in his possession, and that he himself was a ruined man! Fast
upon the heels of this announcement, came a demand upon him to pay the
outstanding debts of the firm, with which he was unable to comply.
Proceedings were summary; and the evening of that day month on which his
eldest daughter had died, saw him the tenant of a jail. Not long did his
body survive the troubles of his mind. A raging fever attacked him, and
confined him to his cell. Julia was ever near his couch, endeavouring to
alleviate his sufferings; but all was of no avail—the old man expired,
after recommending his daughter to the protection of his sister, Mrs.
M’Tavish, a widow lady, resident in Edinburgh.
Possessed of a comfortable
jointure, and a notable spirit of economy, Mrs. M’Tavish was enabled to
make a very conspicuous figure in that particular corner of the Modern
Athens in which she was domiciled. She rented a house at Newington. She
was one of those rigidly righteous women, who, by paying the most punctual
visits to a church, imagine they acquire an unquestionable right, not only
to descant upon their own exemplary virtues, but to make free with the
conduct and character of everybody. Having enjoyed from her youth a very
hale constitution, and not having injured it by any tender excesses either
of love or sorrow, she was, at the age of fifty-five, completely equal to
all the business and bustle of the female world. She was but too happy to
receive the ill-starred Julia under her roof, for the sake of the pleasure
she would derive from informing every one who visited her, "what a great
friend she was to that poor girl."
Mrs. M’Tavish had an utter
contempt, or rather, constitutional antipathy, to literature and music.
All her ideas of useful knowledge and rational amusements, were centred in
a social game of cards; and Julia, who, from principles of gratitude and
good-nature, wished to accommodate herself to the humour of every person
from whom she had received an obligation, assiduously endeavoured in this
respect to promote the diversion of her aunt; but, having little or no
pleasure in cards, she usually came off a loser—a circumstance which
produced a very bitter oration from the attentive old lady, who declared
that inattention of this kind was inexcusable in a girl, when the money
she lost did not come out of her own pocket. At the keenness, or rather
brutality of this reproach, uttered in the presence of a large and
promiscuous assortment of people, the poor insulted Julia burst into
tears, and retired to her room.
In various other little ways did Mrs. M’Tavish annoy
the sensitive Julia, who at length determined to abandon her protection,
and seek her fortune in the world. But how to employ herself, and where to
seek for that employment, she could not determine; for, from her retired
habits, Edinburgh and its community were quite unknown to her. Mr. Barton,
whose second wife was now dead, had written, assuring her that when she
needed a home his house was open to receive her; but the recollection of
his conduct to her sister and herself deterred her from accepting his
Casting her eyes by chance
upon the advertisements of the newspaper next morning at breakfast, Julia
noticed one to this effect:--
"Wanted, by a family a
short distance from town, a young lady as governess. She must be competent
to teach English reading, grammar, geography, with the use of the globes,
French, music, and other branches of female education. Apply, personally,
to Mrs. Sarah M’Dougal, 10, Dove’s Court, Sallyville Place, West End."
Joyfully did she treasure
up in her memory the name and residence of the person to whom application
was to be made; and, breakfast over, she sallied forth for the purpose of
calling upon the lady, and, if possible, securing her situation.
Sallyville Place was
situated not in the most fashionable part of the old town of Edinburgh;
and it was only after much inquiry that Julia was enabled to discover
Dove’s Court; No. 10 was therefore speedily found, and, up two pair of
stairs was the habitation of Mrs. Sarah M’Dougal.
Julia was not a little
astonished, on being shown into a sumptuously furnished apartment, that
the interior of the house should present such a contrast to the outside;
but, her thoughts and conjectures were interrupted by the entrance of the
lady of the mansion, as large as life.
Mrs Sarah M’Dougal was a
fat fusby woman of seemingly five-and-forty, not at all to be mistaken for
a lady. She inquired of Julia, in the broadest of broad Scotch, whether
she had ever been in a situation before, what her terms were, and other
particulars, to all of which Julia gave suitable replies, at the same time
informing her how uncomfortably she was situated in the house of her aunt,
and of her wish to leave it. Something like a pleasurable feeling passed
over the countenance of Mrs. M’Dougal when she mentioned this; and the
worthy lady immediately advised her to quit the protection of her aunt
without so much as bidding her "good-bye." "For it’s no respect she should
hae frae you," continued she, "whan she hasna shewn much."
‘This would be unkind,"
But the old lady soon
overruled her scruples on the subject, by suggesting that, if she once
signified her intention to her aunt, her every motion would be watched,
and the treatment she would receive would be more heartless and unfeeling
than before. Accordingly, it was at length agreed that Julia should depart
from her aunt’s house that night after the venerable lady retired to bed,
and put herself under the protection of Mrs. M’Dougal.
"An’, in the mornin’," said
Mrs. M’Dougal, "I’ll hae great pleasure in introducin’ ye to my friend
Mrs. Spigot, the brewer’s leddy at Canaan. It’s her that wants the
governess. Sae ye’ll juist consider yoursel’ as engaged."
And, as an earnest of the
agreement, Mrs. M’Dougal, in ushering Julia out, thrust a five-pound note
into her hand. That night, as the clock struck twelve, Julia, with her
clothes tied in a bundle, jumped from her aunt’s dining-room window into
the little garden plot that lay before the door; and, passing through the
outer gate, bade adieu to the house for ever, and set out for the
habitation of her new friend. The moon was up; and with somewhat less of
difficulty than she had experienced in the morning, Julia picked her way
to Dove’s Court, Sallyville Place, and gained ready admittance into No.
After a little pattering
talk with Mrs, M’Dougal, and a hot supper, consisting of stewed kidneys
and minced collops, Julia was conducted, by a stout, red-elbowed
serving-girl, to her bedroom. Her observation led her to detect the entire
absence of a bolt, or any other fastening by which the door of the
apartment might be effectually secured in the inside; and, that no one
might enter her room without her knowledge—for this circumstance had not
divested her altogether of suspicion—she placed a chair against the door,
and then, half-undressing, threw herself upon the bed, and commanded her
eyelids to the especial tutelage of Morpheus. Restless, fatigued, and
feverish, she found it impossible to sleep. The imprudence of the step
which she had taken occurred in vivid colours to her imagination. Thought
pressed heavy upon her, and she rose and paced her chamber with a
noiseless foot. Her candle, though still burning, was fast consuming away.
She trimmed it; and, as a precautionary step towards the prevention of
fire, lifted it from the dressing-table, whereon it had been placed, and
carefully set it down upon the bob of the cheerless grate—in which, from
the accumulated mass of well used curl-papers, and other debris, it
was quite evident that no blaze had been for many a day. During the
process of this action, the eye of Julia rested upon a piece of paper, of
greater dimensions and better texture than the other occupants of the fire
place, stuck between the bars. Her curiosity was excited. She drew it
forth. It seemed to be the scroll of a letter. She read:—
"MR. CRAFORD— SIR, — I am exceedingly sorry for
troubling you this morning. But, realey, as a Gentlemen, so as I take you
to be, I thought you would have come done on Sauterday. I am very hard up
to-day, or I would not have sent. Ware it ever so little, I would take it
kind would you give it to the bearer. I am, with much respect,
This was an odd enough
epistle in itself; and to Julia—finding it, as she had done, in such a
place—it was doubly so. It puzzled her extremely.
An hour had passed away in this
manner, the candle was now quite burned out, and Julia was about to make a
second appeal to the better nature of sleep, when, as she suddenly
stopped, she distinctly heard footsteps treading softly in the passage
leading to her room. They approach the door, and ceased. She could hear a
whispering; and presently a light streamed through the crannies of the
door. Breathless with fear, the truth at once flashed upon her mind. The
situation of the house—its shabby appearance on the outside, and its
magnificent appearance in the inside—the strange looks of Mrs. M’Dougal—the
letter she had just read—all tended to confirm her worst suspicions A hand
was laid upon the handle of the door—Julia shrank into a corner. The door
was opened, and the falling of the chair which Julia had placed against
it, seemed to delay the further progress of her mystenous visitors for a
moment. She could hear the voice of Mrs. M’Dougal whisper, "Bide a bit,"
to her companion. A moment
afterwards, and one in the dress of a gentleman entered her apartment. He
was evidently in liquor. Mrs. M’Dougal followed cautiously after, with a
light, which she was carefully shading with the corner of her apron. The
light by accident glanced upon the countenance of the stranger, and the
horror-stricken Julia was scarcely able to suppress the scream which
involuntarily rose to her lips; for in that stranger she beheld him to
whom her sister had pledged her earliest love—she beheld Mr. Barton! Not a
moment was to be lost; Julia rushed forward, blew out the light, passed
Mrs. M’Dougal, and flew along the passage; and, as she ran, the mingled
screams of Mrs. M’Dougal and the imprecations of Barton struck upon her
ear. In groping in the dark, they had both stumbled against the prostrate
chair, and there they lay sprawling on the floor. The outer door was
luckily ajar--Julia pulled it forward, and gained the street.
Turning the corner of
Sallyville Place as quickly as possible, she ran on, without meeting a
single person, until at length she found herself in the suburbs of the
town. A light—the only one to be seen, for the moon had retired half an
hour before—was burning in a little public-house; and thither Julia was
but too glad to betake herself for shelter. The woman to whom the house
belonged gave some credence to her tale, and agreed to give her lodgings
for the night. Next morning, Julia rose not. A fever—the consequence of
the state of over-excitement into which she had been thrown the preceding
night—confined her to the pallet-bed whereon she had passed the hours till
sunrise; and, for weeks after that morning, she still lay on it—oftentimes
delirious. Her landlady was compassionate enough to allow her to retain
the shelter of her roof; but little more could she afford to give her. She
had searched Julia’s person, and discovered the five-pound note which Mrs.
M’Dougal had thrust into Julia’s hand on the day of her so-called
engagement—that expended, no other resources remained. Julia felt she was
dying. She bethought herself of her desolate situation—not a being to care
for her—not a friend to soothe her in her wretchedness! And where was
Charles Sommerville—he to whom her young affection had been given—he who
should have smoothed her dying pillow? She could not believe that he meant
to play her false—but why, then, had he allowed seven years to elapse
without writing or sending to her? The thought was madness; and she strove
to repress it.
Once Julia had determined
on sending to inform her aunt, Mrs. M’Tavish, of her present situation,
and had, accordingly, given orders to the woman of the house; but on
second thoughts, had countermanded them, as she scorned to owe anything to
the pity of a relation. The woman, however, seeing little prospect of
remuneration for more than a month’s rent of her room, had secreetly
dispatched a message to Mrs. M’Tavish, informing her of the present
residence of Julia, and her pitiable condition. Great, therefore, was the
astonishment of Julia, when, the following night, on opening her eyes for
the first time, and casting them round the miserable apartment, she
beheld, seated in the only chair which it could boast of, a young man, of
apparently twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, in a military undress.
He advanced; and, taking her hand, said, with an evidently forced calmness
"Pardon me, lady, that I have thus presumed to thrust
myself unbidden into your presence; but business of an urgent nature
demanded it. Here is a letter from your aunt, in which, I trust, she meets
your fondest wishes."
So saying, he extended his
hand with the letter; but Julia did not take it. Half-rising on her couch,
she gazed and gazed upon the handsome countenance of the speaker. A hectic
flush was on her cheek; a wild, unearthly glare was in her eye—these might
tell that for this world she could not long be: but the stranger marked
them not. He could not imagine how ill she was .
"That voice!" she
cried—"that form! Am I—can I be mistaken? Ah, no!—It is my own, my
The exertion was too much
for her, and she fell back fainting. Charles Sommerville—for it was indeed
he—with the prompt assistance of the woman of the house, soon effected her
recovery from the swoon.
When he thought she was composed enough to listen to
his narrative, Sommerville informed her that, having obtained leave of
absence from India for the space of seven years, he had returned to
England for the purpose of making her his wife. Judge of his horror and
disappointment when, in answer to his inquiries regarding Mr. Forrester
and his daughter, he learned that the former had died in a jail, and the
latter was dependent on the bounty of an aunt in Edinburgh. Without
farther delay, he hastened thither; and, without much difficulty,
discovered the whereabouts of Mrs. M’Tavish, who informed him that Julia,
having decamped from her house some weeks before, was living at a low
public house on the outskirts of the town, adding, that she was about to
dispatch a note to "the dear girl." This note Charles Sommerville insisted
on carrying, and Mrs. M’Tavish had reluctantly acceded to his wish. He had
flown to the place to which it was directed; and, on being shewn into the
room where Julia lay, he observed that she was asleep. Hearing that she
had been ill, he feared to disturb her; and had accordingly thrown himself
into the chair, in which he had patiently sat for three hours, at the end
of that time Julia had unclosed her eyes. He ended by urging Julia to
read, if she felt herself able for the task, the letter from her aunt;
for, he argued, if that lady desired her presence at Newington, the sooner
she went there the better. He trusted she was now well enough to be moved.
Julia answered, him by a
mournful shake of the head, and with a trembling hand she undid the seal
of the letter, and read:—
"Mrs. M’Tavish is
exceedingly sorry that, for the reputation of her house, she cannot
receive Miss Julia Forrester again under her roof. Miss Julia’s conduct
will sufficiently explain this. Yet, as Miss Julia Forrester seems
repentant, Mrs. M’T. will have much pleasure in soliciting the interest of
her own personal friends to procure Miss Julia a situation in some
"Enclosed is a letter which
was left at Mrs. M’T.’s, a few days ago, addressed to Miss Julia
"P.S.—Pray, Miss Forrester,
did you walk off with any of my night-caps? I had half-a-dozen before you
went, and after that I could only find five."
"Well, well!" said Julia,
throwing down the letter, "‘tis no matter. She won’t be long tormented
with me now." Sommerville started at these words, as the truth began to
dawn upon him.
"Ay, you may doubt it,
Charles, but I must tell you I am dying. Once the thought crossed me that
there was a peculiar cruelty in the lot assigned me; but for that thought
may Heaven forgive me! My past murmurs are, I trust, forgiven.
Charles!"—and her voice faltered—"I have but little business to adjust on
earth. May I—may I entreat you to be my executor? My property," added she,
with a tender yet ghastly smile, "being all contained in this narrow
chamber, will not give you much embarrassment. That letter"—and she
pointed to the enclosure in the one received from her aunt—"I have neither
strength nor inclination to peruse. It cannot contain much of
consequence—nothing of pleasure. Charles, when I am gone, I pray you
answer it. My last request is, that you will cause me to be buried by the
side of my dear, unhappy father." Charles could not answer, but he looked
consent; and, supporting Julia, he pressed his lips to hers, and her last
sigh was mingled with her tears.
"Is the leddy dead?" cried
the woman of the house, abruptly entering. And she bustled forward to open
the window, as she gratuitously informed Sommerville, "to let out the
Among the first acts of
Sommerville’s executorship, it was his to open the letter that she had
requested him to answer. It was from a lawyer, mentioning the sudden death
of Mr. Barton, and of his having bequeathed the bulk of his fortune to