Page:First Love.pdf/3

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Constancy in the Nineteenth Century.

had said that their ward ought to see a little of the world, and they were both of them men of their word.

Accordingly, it was settled that Edward should go to London for the next three months, and see how he liked studying the law. He certainly did not like the prospect at all; and his only consolation was, that he should not leave his adored Emily exposed to the dissipations of Allerton. She had agreed to go and stay with an aunt, some forty miles distant, where there was not even a young curate in the neighbourhood. The town of Allerton was touched to the heart by the whole proceeding; no one spoke of them but as that romantic and that devoted young couple. I own that I have known greater misfortunes in life than that a young gentleman and lady of twenty should have to wait a twelve-month before they were married; but every person considers their own the worst that ever happened, and Edward and Emily were miserable to their hearts’ content. They exchanged locks of hair; and Emily gave him a portfolio, embroidered by herself, to hold the letters that she was to write. He saw her off first, under the care of an old servant, to the village where she was to stay. She waved her white handkerchief from the window as long as she could see her lover, and a little longer, and then sank back in a flood of "falling pearl, which men call tears."

Edward was as wretched, and he was also exceedingly uncomfortable, which helps wretchedness on very much. It was a thorough wet day—all his things were packed up—for he himself was to start in the afternoon when the mail passed through—and never was young gentleman more utterly at a loss what to do with himself. In such a case an affair of the heart is a great resource; and young Rainsforth got upon the coach-box looking quite unhappy enough to satisfy the people of Allerton. It must be owned that he and the weather equally brightened up in the course of a couple of stages. To be sure, a cigar has a gift of placidity peculiarly its own. If I were a woman I should insist upon my lover’s smoking: if not of much consequence before, it will be an invaluable qualification after, the happiest day of one’s life.

In these days roads have no adventurers—they might exclaim, with the knife-grinder, "Story! Lord bless you, I have none to tell!"—we will therefore take our hero after he was four days in London. He is happy in a lover’s good conscience, for that very morning he had written a long letter to his beloved Emily—the first three days having been "like a teetotum all in a twirl," he had been forced to neglect that duty so sweet and so indispensable to an absent lover. He had, however, found time to become quite domesticated in Mr. Alford’s family. Mr. Alford was of the first eminence in his profession, and had two or three other young men under his charge; but it was soon evident that Edward was a first-rate favourite with the mother and two daughters at all events. They were fine-looking girls, and who understood how to look their best. They were well dressed, and it is wonderful how much the hair "done to a turn," ribands which make a complexion, and an exquisite chaussure, set off a young woman. Laura taught him to waltz, and Julia began to sing duets with him. Now, these are dangerous employments for a youth of one-and-twenty. The heart turns round, as well as the head sometimes, in a sauteuse, and then it is difficult to ask these tender questions appropriated to duets, such as "Tell me, my heart, why wildly beating?" "Canst thou teach me to forget?" &c., without some emotion.