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Part 2 Chapter 3

Which Ferdinand Returns to Armine.

IT WAS settled that a year must elapse from the death of Lord Grandison before the young couple could be united: a reprieve which did not occasion Ferdinand acute grief. In the meantime the Grandisons were to pass at least the autumn at Armine, and thither the united families proposed soon to direct their progress. Ferdinand, who had been nearly two months at Bath, and was a little wearied of courtship, contrived to quit that city before his friends, on the plea of visiting London, to arrange about selling his commission; for it was agreed that he should quit the army.

On his arrival in London, having spoken to his agent, and finding town quite empty, he set off immediately for Armine, in order that he might have the pleasure of being there a few days without the society of his intended; celebrate the impending first of September; and, especially, embrace his dear Glastonbury. For it must not be supposed that Ferdinand had forgotten for a moment this invaluable friend; on the contrary, he had written to him several times since his arrival: always assuring him that nothing but important business could prevent him from instantly paying him his respects.

It was with feelings of no common emotion, even of agitation, that Ferdinand beheld the woods of his ancient home rise in the distance, and soon the towers and turrets of Armine Castle. Those venerable bowers, that proud and lordly house, were not then to pass away from their old and famous line? He had redeemed the heritage of his great ancestry; he looked with unmingled complacency on the magnificent landscape, once to him a source of as much anxiety as affection. What a change in the destiny of the Armines! Their glory restored; his own devoted and domestic hearth, once the prey of so much care and gloom, crowned with ease and happiness and joy; on all sides a career of splendour and felicity. And he had done all this! What a prophet was his mother! She had ever indulged the fond conviction that her beloved, son would be their restorer. How wise and pious was the undeviating confidence of kind old Glastonbury in their fate! With what pure, what heart-felt delight, would that faithful friend listen to his extraordinary communication!

His carriage dashed through the park gates as if the driver were sensible of his master’s pride and exultation. Glastonbury was ready to welcome him, standing in the flower-garden, which he had made so rich and beautiful, and which had been the charm and consolation of many of their humbler hours.

‘My dear, dear father!’ exclaimed Ferdinand, embracing him, for thus he ever styled his old tutor.

But Glastonbury could not speak; the tears quivered in his eyes and trickled down his faded cheek. Ferdinand led him into the house.

‘How well you look, dear father!’ continued Ferdinand; ‘you really look younger and heartier than ever. You received all my letters, I am sure; and yours, how kind of you to remember and to write to me! I never forgot you, my dear, dear friend. I never could forget you. Do you know I am the happiest fellow in the world? I have the greatest news in the world to tell my Glastonbury—and we owe everything to you, everything. What would Sir Ratcliffe have been without you? what should I have been? Fancy the best news you can, dear friend, and it is not so good as I have got to tell. You will rejoice, you will be delighted! We shall furnish a castle! by Jove we shall furnish a castle! We shall indeed, and you shall build it! No more gloom; no more care. The Armines shall hold their heads up again, by Jove they shall! Dearest of men, I dare say you think me mad. I am mad with joy. How that Virginian creeper has grown! I have brought you so many plants, my father! a complete Sicilian Hortus Siccus. Ah, John, good John, how is your wife? Take care of my pistol-case. Ask Louis; he knows all about everything. Well, dear Glastonbury, and how have you been? How is the old tower? How are the old books, and the old staff, and the old arms, and the old everything? Dear, dear Glastonbury!’

While the carriage was unpacking, and the dinner-table prepared, the friends walked in the garden, and from thence strolled towards the tower, where they remained some time pacing up and down the beechen avenue. It was evident, on their return, that Ferdinand had communicated his great intelligence. The countenance of Glastonbury was radiant with delight.

Indeed, although he had dined, he accepted with readiness Ferdinand’s invitation to repeat the ceremony; nay, he quaffed more than one glass of wine; and, I believe, even drank the health of every member of the united families of Armine and Grandison. It was late before the companions parted, and retired for the night; and I think, before they bade each other good night, they must have talked over every circumstance that had occurred in their experience since the birth of Ferdinand.



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