Precaution/Chapter 47

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CHAPTER XLVII.

The warm weather bad now commenced, and Sir Edward, unwilling to be shut up in London at a time the appearance of vegetation gave the country a new interest, and accustomed for many years of his life to devote an hour in his garden each morn, had taken a little ready furnished cottage a short ride from his residence, with the intention of frequenting it until after the birthday. Thither then Pendennyss took his bride from the altar, and a few days were passed by the newly married pair in this little asylum.

Doctor Ives, with Francis, Clara, and their mother, had obeyed the summons with an alacrity in proportion to the joy they felt on receiving it, and the former had the happiness of officiating on the occasion. It would have been easy for the wealth of the earl to procure a license to enable them to marry in the drawing-room; the permission was obtained, but neither Emily nor himself felt a wish to utter their vows in any other spot than at the altar, and in the house of their Maker.

If there was a single heart that felt the least emotion of regret or uneasiness, it was Lady Moseley, who little relished the retirement of the cottage on so joyful an occasion; but Pendennyss silenced her objections by good-humoredly replying,—

"The fates have been so kind to me, in giving to me castles and seats, you ought to allow me, my dear Lady Moseley, the only opportunity I shall probably ever have of enjoying love in a cottage."

A few days, however, removed the uneasiness of the good matron, who had the felicity within the week of seeing her daughter initiated mistress of Annerdale House.

The morning of their return to this noble mansion the earl presented himself in St. James's Square, with the intelligence of their arrival, and smiling as he bowed to Mrs. Wilson, he continued,—

"And to escort you, dear madam, to your new abode."

Mrs. Wilson started with surprise, and with a heart beating quick with emotion, she required an explanation of his words.

"Surely, dearest Mrs. Wilson—more than aunt—my mother—you cannot mean, after having trained my Emily through infancy to maturity in the paths of duty, to desert her in the moment of her greatest trial. I am the pupil of your husband," he continued, taking her hands in his own with reverence and affection; "we are the children of your joint care, and one home, as there is but one heart, must in future contain us."

Mrs. Wilson had wished for, but hardly dared to expect this invitation. It was now urged from the right quarter, and in a manner that was as sincere as it was gratifying. Unable to conceal her tears, the good widow pressed the hand of Pendennyss to her lips as she murmured out her thanks. Sir Edward was prepared also to lose his sister; but unwilling to relinquish the pleasure of her society, he urged her making a common residence between the two families.

"Pendennyss has spoken truth, my dear brother," cried she, recovering her voice; "Emily is the child of my care and my love—the two beings I love best in this world are now united—but," she added, pressing Lady Moseley to her bosom, "my heart is large enough for you all; you are of my blood, and my gratitude for your affection is boundless. There shall be but one large family of us; and although our duties may separate us for a time, we will, I trust, ever meet in tenderness and love, though with George and Emily I will take up my abode."

"I hope your house in Northamptonshire is not to be vacant always," said Lady Moseley to the earl, anxiously.

"I have no house there, my dear madam," he replied; "when I thought myself about to succeed in my suit before, I directed a lawyer at Bath, where Sir William Harris resided most of his time, to endeavor to purchase the deanery, whenever a good opportunity offered: in my discomfiture," he added, smiling, "I forgot to countermand the order, and he purchased it immediately on its being advertised. For a short time it was an incumbrance to me, but it is now applied to its original purpose. It is the sole property of the Countess of Pendennyss, and I doubt not you will see it often and agreeably tenanted."

This intelligence gave great satisfaction to his friends, and the expected summer restored to even Jane a gleam of her former pleasure.

If there be bliss in this life, approaching in any degree to the happiness of the blessed, it is the fruition of long and ardent love, where youth, innocence, piety, and family concord, smile upon the union. And all these were united in the case of the new married pair; but happiness in this world cannot or does not, in any situation, exist without alloy.

The peace of mind and fortitude of Emily were fated to receive a blow, as unlooked for to herself as it was unexpected to the world. Bonaparte appeared in France, and Europe became in motion.

From the moment the earl heard the intelligence his own course was decided. His regiment was the pride of the army, and that it would be ordered to join the duke he did not entertain a doubt.

Emily was, therefore, in some little measure prepared for the blow. It is at such moments as our own acts, or events affecting us, get to be without our control, that faith in the justice and benevolence of God is the most serviceable to the Christian. When others spend their time in useless regrets he is piously resigned: it even so happens, that when others mourn he can rejoice.

The sound of the bugle, wildly winding its notes, broke on the stillness of the morning in the little village in which was situated the cottage tenanted by Sir Edward Moseley. Almost concealed by the shrubbery which surrounded its plazza, stood the forms of the Countess of Pendennyss and her sister Lady Marian, watching eagerly the appearance of those whose approach was thus announced.

The carriage of the ladies, with its idle attendants, was in waiting at a short distance; and the pale face but composed resignation of its mistress, indicated a struggle between conflicting duties.

File after file of heavy horse passed them in military pomp, and the wistful gaze of the two females had scanned them in vain for the well known, much-beloved countenance of the leader. At length a single horseman approached them, riding deliberately and musing: their forms met his eye, and in an instant Emily was pressed to the bosom of her husband.

"It is the doom of a soldier," said the earl, dashing a tear from his eye; "I had hoped that the peace of the world would not again be assailed for years, and that ambition and jealousy would yield a respite to our bloody profession; but cheer up, my love—hope for the best—your trust is not in the things of this life, and your happiness is without the power of man."

"Ah! Pendennyss—my husband," sobbed Emily, sinking on his bosom, "take with you my prayers—my love—everything that can console you—everything that may profit you. I will not tell you to be careful of your life; your duty teaches you that. As a soldier, expose it; as a husband, guard it; and return to me as you leave me, a lover, the dearest of men, and a Christian."

Unwilling to prolong the pain of parting, the earl gave his wife a last embrace, held Marian affectionately to his bosom, and mounting his horse, was out of sight in an instant.

Within a few days of the departure of Pendennyss, Chatterton was surprised with the entrance of his mother and Catharine. His reception of them was that of a respectful child, and his wife exerted herself to be kind to connections she could not love, in order to give pleasure to a husband she adored. Their tale was soon told. Lord and Lady Herriefield were separated; and the dowager, alive to the dangers of a young woman in Catharine's situation, and without a single principle on which to rest the assurance of her blameless conduct in future, had brought her to England, in order to keep off disgrace, by residing with her child herself.

There was nothing in his wife to answer the expectations with which Lord Herriefield married. She had beauty, but with that he was already sated; her simplicity, which, by having her attention drawn elsewhere, had at first charmed him, was succeeded by the knowing conduct of a determined follower of the fashions, and a decided woman of the world.

It had never struck the viscount as impossible that an artless and innocent girl would fall in love with his faded and bilious face, but the moment Catharine betrayed the arts of a manager, he saw at once the artifice that had been practiced; of course he ceased to love her.

Men are flattered for a season with notice that has been unsought, but it never fails to injure the woman who practices it in the opinion of the other sex, in time. Without a single feeling in common, without a regard to anything but self, in either husband or wife, it could not but happen that a separation must follow, or their days be spent in wrangling and misery. Catharine willingly left her husband; her husband more willingly got rid of her.

During all these movements the dowager had a difficult game to play. It was unbecoming her to encourage the strife, and it was against her wishes to suppress it; she therefore moralized with the peer, and frowned upon her daughter.

The viscount listened to her truisms with the attention of a boy who is told by a drunken father how wicked it is to love liquor, and heeded them about as much; while Kate, mistress at all events of two thousand a year, minded her mother's frowns as little as she regarded her smiles; both were indifferent to her.

A few days after the ladies left Lisbon, the viscount proceeded to Italy in company with the repudiated wife of a British naval officer; and if Kate was not guilty of an offense of equal magnitude, it was more owing to her mother's present vigilance than to her previous care.

The presence of Mrs. Wilson was a great source of consolation to Emily in the absence of her husband; and as their longer abode in town was useless, the countess declining to be presented without the earl, the whole family decided upon a return into Northamptonshire.

The deanery had been furnished by order of Pendennyss immediately on his marriage; and its mistress hastened to lake possession of her new dwelling. The amusement and occupation of this movement, the planning of little improvements, her various duties under increased responsibilities, kept Emily from dwelling unduly upon the danger of her husband. She sought out amongst the first objects of her bounty the venerable peasant whose loss had been formerly supplied by Pendennyss on his first visit to B——, after the death of his father. There might not have been the usual discrimination and temporal usefulness in this instance which generally accompanied her benevolent acts; but it was associated with the image of her husband, and it could excite no surprise in Mrs. Wilson, although it did in Marian, to see her sister driving two or three times a week to relieve the necessities of a man who appeared actually to be in want of nothing.

Sir Edward was again amongst those he loved, and his hospitable board was once more surrounded with the faces of his friends and neighbors. The good-natured Mr. Haughton was always a welcome guest at the hall, and met soon after their return, the collected family of the baronet, at a dinner given by the latter to his children and one or two of his most intimate neighbors—

"My Lady Pendennyss," cried Mr. Haughton, in the course of the afternoon, "I have news from the earl, which I know it will do your heart good to hear."

Emily smiled at the prospect of hearing in any manner of her husband, although she internally questioned the probability of Mr. Haughton's knowing anything of big movements, of which her daily letters did not apprise her.

"Will you favor me with the particulars of your intelligence, sir?" said the countess.

"He has arrived safe with his regiment near Brussels; I heard it from a neighbor's son who saw him enter the house occupied by Wellington, while he was standing in the crowd without, waiting to get a peep at the duke."

"Oh!" said Mrs. Wilson, with a laugh, "Emily knew that ten days ago. Could your friend tell us anything of Bonaparte? We are much interested in his movements just now."

Mr. Haughton, a good deal mortified to find his news stale, mused a moment, as if in doubt to proceed or not; but liking of all things to act the part of a newspaper, he continued,—

"Nothing more than you see in the prints; but I suppose your ladyship has heard about Captain Jarvis, too?"

"Why, no," said Emily, laughing; "the movements of Captain Jarvis are not quite as interesting to me as those of Lord Pendennyss—has the duke made him an aid-de-camp?"

"Oh! no," cried the other, exulting at his having something new: "as soon as he heard of the return of Boney, he threw up his commission and got married."

"Married!" cried John; "not to Miss Harris, surely."

"No; to a silly girl he met in Cornwall, who was fool enough to be caught with his gold lace. He married one day, and the next day told his disconsolate wife and panic-stricken mother that the honor of the Jarvises must sleep until the supporters of the name became sufficiently numerous to risk them in the field of battle."

"And how did Mrs. Jarvis and Sir Timo's lady relish the news?" inquired John, expecting something ridiculous.

"Not at all," rejoined Mr. Haughton; "the former sobbed, and said she had only married him for his bravery and red coat, and the lady exclaimed against the destruction of his budding honors."

"How did it terminate?" asked Mrs. Wilson.

"Why, it seems while they were quarreling about it, the War Office cut the matter short by accepting his resignation. I suppose the commander-in-chief had learned his character; but the matter was warmly contested; they even drove the captain to a declaration of his principles."

"And what kind of ones might they have been, Haughton?" said Sir Edward, dryly.

"Republican."

"Republican!" exclaimed two or three, in surprise.

"Yes, liberty and equality, he contended, were his idols, and he could not find it in his heart to fight against Bonaparte."

"A somewhat singular conclusion," said Mr. Benfield, musing. "I remember when I sat in the House, there was a party who were fond of the cry of this said liberty; but when they got the power they did not seem to me to suffer people to go more at large than they went before; but I suppose they were diffident of telling the world their minds after they were put in such responsible stations, for fear of the effect of example."

"Most people like liberty as servants, but not as masters, uncle," cried John, with a sneer.

"Captain Jarvis, it seems, liked it as a preservative against danger," continued Mr. Haughton; "to avoid ridicule in his new neighborhood, he has consented to his father's wishes, and turned merchant in the city again."

"Where I sincerely hope he will remain," cried John, who, since the accident of the arbor, could not tolerate the unfortunate youth.

"Amen!" said Emily, in an undertone, heard only by her brother.

"But Sir Timo—what has become of Sir Timo—the good, honest merchant?" asked John.

"He has dropped the title, insists on being called plain Mr. Jarvis, and lives entirely in Cornwall. His hopeful son-in-law has gone with his regiment to Flanders; and Lady Egerton, being unable to live without her father's assistance, is obliged to hide her consequence in the west also."

The subject became now disagreeable to Lady Moseley, and it was changed. Such conversations made Jane more reserved and dissatisfied than ever. She had no one respectable excuse to offer for her partiality to her former lover, and when her conscience told her the mortifying fact, was apt to think that others remembered it too.

The letters from the continent now teemed with preparations for the approaching contest; and the apprehensions of our heroine and her friends increased, in proportion to the nearness of the struggle, on which hung not only the fates of thousands of individuals, but of adverse princes and mighty empires. In this confusion of interests, and of jarring of passions, there were offered prayers almost hourly for the safety of Pendennyss, which were as pure and ardent as the love which prompted them.