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Part 2 Chapter 7

In Which Captain Armine Indulges in a Reverie.

THE squire’s carriage was announced, and then came his lady’s shawl. How happy was Ferdinand when he recollected that he was to remain at Ducie. Remain at Ducie!

Remain under the same roof as Henrietta Temple. What bliss! what ravishing bliss! All his life, and his had not been a monotonous one; it seemed that all his life could not afford a situation so adventurous and so sweet as this. Now they have gone. The squire and his lady, and the worthy rector who recollected Armine so well; they have all departed, all the adieus are uttered; after this little and unavoidable bustle, silence reigns in the salon of Ducie. Ferdinand walked to the window. The moon was up; the air was sweet and hushed; the landscape clear, though soft. Oh! what would he not have given to have strolled in that garden with Henrietta Temple, to have poured forth his whole soul to her, to have told her how wondrous fair she was, how wildly bewitching, and how he loved her, how he sighed to bind his fate with hers, and live for ever in the brilliant atmosphere of her grace and beauty.

‘Good night, Captain Armine,’ said Henrietta Temple.

He turned hastily round, he blushed, he grew pale. There she stood, in one hand a light, the other extended to her father’s guest. He pressed her hand, he sighed, he looked confused; then suddenly letting go her hand, he walked quickly towards the door of the salon, which he opened that she might retire.

‘The happiest day of my life has ended,’ he muttered.

‘You are so easily content then, that I think you must always be happy.’

‘I fear I am not so easily content as you imagine.’

She has gone. Hours, many and long hours, must elapse before he sees her again, before he again listens to that music, watches that airy grace, and meets the bright flashing of that fascinating eye. What misery was there in this idea? How little had he seemed hitherto to prize the joy of being her companion. He cursed the hours which had been wasted away from her in the morning’s sport; he blamed himself that he had not even sooner quitted the dining-room, or that he had left the salon for a moment, to commune with his own thoughts in the garden. With difficulty he restrained himself from reopening the door, to listen for the distant sound of her footsteps, or catch, perhaps, along some corridor, the fading echo of her voice. But Ferdinand was not alone; Mr. Temple still remained. That gentleman raised his face from the newspaper as Captain Armine advanced to him; and, after some observations about the day’s sport, and a hope that he would repeat his trial of the manor tomorrow, proposed their retirement. Ferdinand of course assented, and in a moment he was ascending with his host the noble and Italian staircase: and he then was ushered from the vestibule into his room.

His previous visit to the chamber had been so hurried, that he had only made a general observation on its appearance. Little inclined to slumber, he now examined it more critically. In a recess was a French bed of simple furniture. On the walls, which were covered with a rustic paper, were suspended several drawings, representing views in the Saxon Switzerland. They were so bold and spirited that they arrested attention; but the quick eye of Ferdinand instantly detected the initials of the artist in the corner. They were letters that made his heart tremble, as he gazed with admiring fondness on her performances. Before a sofa, covered with a chintz of a corresponding pattern with the paper of the walls, was placed a small French table, on which were writing materials; and his toilet-table and his mantelpiece were profusely ornamented with rare flowers; on all sides were symptoms of female taste and feminine consideration.

Ferdinand carefully withdrew from his coat the flower that Henrietta had given him in the morning, and which he had worn the whole day. He kissed it, he kissed it more than once; he pressed its somewhat faded form to his lips with cautious delicacy; then tending it with the utmost care, he placed it in a vase of water, which holding in his hand, he threw himself into an easy chair, with his eyes fixed on the gift he most valued in the world.

An hour passed, and Ferdinand Armine remained fixed in the same position. But no one who beheld that beautiful and pensive countenance, and the dreamy softness of that large grey eye, could for a moment conceive that his thoughts were less sweet than the object on which they appeared to gaze. No distant recollections disturbed him now, no memory of the past, no fear of the future. The delicious present monopolised his existence. The ties of duty, the claims of domestic affection, the worldly considerations that by a cruel dispensation had seemed, as it were, to taint even his innocent and careless boyhood, even the urgent appeals of his critical and perilous situation; all, all were forgotten in one intense delirium of absorbing love.

Anon he rose from his seat, and paced his room for some minutes, with his eyes fixed on the ground. Then throwing off his clothes, and taking the flower from the vase, which he had previously placed on the table, he deposited it in his bosom. ‘Beautiful, beloved flower,’ exclaimed he; ‘thus, thus will I win and wear your mistress!’



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