Page:What will he do with it.djvu/414

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404 WHA T WILL HE DO WITH IT?

Fairthorn, my father's bailiff, entreating me to come immediately to Fawley, hinting at some great calamity. On taking leave of my friend and his family, something in the manner of his sister startled and pained me — an evident confusion, a burst of tears — I know not what. I had never sought to win her affections. I had an ideal of the woman I could love. It did not resemble her. On reaching Fawley, conceive the shock that awaited me. My father was like one heart-stricken. The principal mortgagee was about to foreclose — Fawley about to pass forever from the race of the Darrells. I saw that the day when my father was driven from the old house would be his last on earth. What means to save him ? — how raise the pitiful sum — but a few thousands — by which to release from the spoiler's gripe those barren acres which all the lands of the Seymour or the Gower could never replace in my poor father's eyes ? My sole income was a college fellowship, adequate to all my wants, but useless for sale or loan. I spent the night in vain consultation with Fairthorn. There seemed not a hope. Next morning came a letter from young Vipont Crooke. It was manly and frank, though somewhat coarse. With the consent of his parents he offered me his sister's hand, and a dowry of ^10,000. He hinted, in excuse for his bluntness, that, perhaps from motives of delicacy, if I felt a, preference for his sister, I might not deem myself rich enough to propose, and — but it matters not what else he said. You foresee the rest. My father's life could be saved from despair — his beloved home be his shelter to the last. That dowry would more than cover the paltry debt upon the lands. I gave myself not an hour to pause. I hastened back to the house to which fate had led me. But," said Dar- rell, proudly, " do not think I was base enough, even with such excuses, to deceive the young lady. I told her what was true ; that I could not profess to her the love painted by romance- writers and poets ; but that I loved no other, and that, if she deigned to accept my hand, I should studiously consult her happiness, and gratefully confide to her my own. I said also, what was true, that, if she married me, ours must be for some years a life of privation and struggle ; that even the interest of her fortune must be devoted to my father while he lived, though every shilling of its capital would be settled on herself and her children. How I blessed her when she accepted me, despite my candor ! — how earnestly I prayed that I might love, and cherish, and requite her ! " Darrell paused, in evident suffer- ing. " And, thank Heaven ! I have nothing on that score wherewith to reproach myself. And the strength of that memory

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