« PreviousContinue »
THE TWO FAIR HERMITS.
. a Valentine Story. THERE is one day in the year on flushed, and felt a thrill of gratified
I which the postman's knock pride such as she had never before seems to herald none but pleasant experienced. The letter, though untidings—at least to all the younger signed, was from Harry Clifford, and fairer portion of the commu- that was obvious, yet hitherto Harry nity; a day on which its sound sends had been supposed to be paying his a flutter of anticipation from the attentions to her intimate friend drawing-room into the very kitchen - Georgiana Fletcher. Had he pledged and that day is St. Valentine's morn. his troth unthinkingly, and then reIt is true that in the upper strata pented when he beheld Anna Maof society Betty gets more valentines tilda's superior charms? (for that than her young mistress, and that her beauty was superior to her valentines would be deemed vulgar friend's she never for an instant in Belgravia or Mayfair; still, writ- doubted), and had he taken this ing valentines is a time-honoured mode of conveying to her what his custom that will not be rooted out real sentiments might be, though by modern over-refinement, and in honour might forbid his declaring the middle classes, at all events, himself more explicitly? there still exist timid lovers who Anna Matilda's heart beat quicker pen valentines, and romantic young than ever it had done at all the ladies who receive them, read them, knee-worship and passionate proand are pleased with them too, in testations of Frank Blythwood. She spite of the frowns of fashion. Be cherished a secret admiration for not shocked, therefore, gentle reader, Harry's manly beauty, and had felt that a missive of this kind should piqued that the only being she just have been handed by a sim- thought worthy of her should repering maid to Miss Anna Matilda main insensible to her attractions. Audley, as she sat in her little bou. Now, after all, it was plain his heart doir, in her uncle's handsome house was touched, though prudential at Bayswater.
reasons relative to being off with Martha guessed it was a valentine, the old love,' as the song inculcates, as she had just received one from induced him to beseech his fair one, her sweetheart, the policeman; and in case she took pity on him, to she lingered in the room under pre- signify as much by wearing a red tence of making up the fire, to see rose in her hair the next time they whether the effect on her young were to meet at a party--which mistress would be as pleasing as mysterious telegraphic sign would Tom's epistle had proved to herself. have no meaning for the uninitiated. But she was doomed to be disap- She was still holding the valentine pointed; for the young lady, deter- in her hand, and perusing it for mined on not displaying the least the twentieth time, when the door eagerness to open the letter in pre- opened, and Georgiana entered, saysence of her maid, waited with an ing: 'I would not let your maid anair of the most sublime indifference, nounce me, as I knew you would be until Martha, having no excuse to at home for me; so I ran upstairs, remain, was reluctantly obliged to for I have something particular to quit the room.
say to you.' Anna Matilda then tore the letter Georgiana Fletcher was one of open with undisguised impatience. those charming, plump little creaThe haughty bearing that suited her tures that everybody must love. But regal style of beauty so well, gave so absorbed was Miss Audley by her way for the moment to a girlish thoughts, that it was not till Georcuriosity that made her look more giana exclaimed in a merry voice: fascinating still. The address was “So you have had a valentine, too, in an unknown hand, but on un- Matty!' that the latter awoke her folding the letter, she started, from her reverie.
'I don't know whether I ought to show it to you,' said she.
Oh, do!' said Georgiana; 'I'm so fond of valentines!
With a deprecatory shrug of the shoulders, as if the fault were none . of hers, Anna Matilda proceeded to do what she most longed for, and held out the letter for Georgiana's inspection.
Georgiana looked, started, and then burst into tears, till suddenly checking herself, she exclaimed: 'It cannot be!'
• What cannot be, Georgy ?asked Anna Matilda.
'It's only a joke; I'm sure it is,' said Georgiana.
'A joke, Miss Fletcher ?' said Anna Matilda, assuming an air of frigid dignity; 'do you think Mr. Clifford would dare to joke on such a subject?
‘But,' sobbed poor Georgiana, ‘Harry Clifford loved me—at least he gave me to understand he did; he always danced with me, and turned over the leaves when I sang; and can he be so wicked now
'My dear,' interrupted Miss Audley, if after dancing with a young lady and turning over the leaves of her music-book, a gentleman sees another woman whom he prefers, what is he to do?
‘Do?' exclaimed Georgiana; “he has no business to prefer another, after-after
‘Dancing and turning leaves,' said Miss Audley. Well! I think in such a case he is much to be pitied, and that the young lady ought not
Here she paused. Georgiana left off crying for a moment, and looked up expectantly, when, finding her friend did not proceed, she exclaimed eagerly, 'ought not to do what?
• To endeavour to retain a heart no longer hers,' said Miss Audley, authoritatively.
Georgiana sank back in her chair, and indulged in another long fit of weeping. Miss Audley waited patiently till the storm was over, knowing from experience that her gentle friend's blue eyes were frequently lit up by a ray of sunshine after an April shower, until, finding that this time such a result seemed
less likely to follow, she said, in a conciliatory voice: 'What was it you had to say to me, Georgy ?
Oh, I had forgotten!' replied Georgiana; 'I wanted to show you a valentine I received this morning - I cannot imagine from whom.'
She then drew forth her valentine, and observing they were such beautiful verses, read the following linesGo, Valentine, and tell my Story. "Go, Valentine, and tell that lovely maid, Whom fancy still will portray to my sight, How bere I linger in this sullen shade, This dreary gloom of dull monastic night; Say, that from ev'ry joy of life remote, At evening's closing hour I quit the throng, List'ning in solitude the ring-dove's note Who pours like me ber solitary song. Say, that hier absence calls the sorrowing sigh, Say, that of all her charms I love to speak, In fancy feel the magic of her eye, In fancy view the smile illume her cheek, Court the lone hour when silence stills the grove, And heave the sigh of memory and of love.'
*Are they not pretty?' added she, as she concluded.
*Very,' said Anna Matilda, disdainfully; but they have not cost your unknown admirer much trouble, for they are Southey's lines.'
They may be flattering for all that,' said poor Georgiana, whom Harry's desertion had rendered all the more sensible to a compliment;
and see what a nice hand they are written in!'
Anna Matilda took the proffered letter, but had no sooner cast her eyes upon it, than she turned pale, aud appeared violently agitated.
“What is the matter?' asked Georgiana.
Matter!' exclaimed Miss Audley, whose dilated nostrils breathed unutterable indignation, while her fingers unconsciously crumpled the luckless valentine. “Frank Blythwood is false—that's all.'
You don't mean to say this is Frank Blythwood's handwriting, do you?' asked the bewildered Georgiana.
“I should have thought you knew his hand,' said Miss Audley, sarcastically, since he writes so very tenderly to you.'
'Oh, Matilda!' cried Georgiana, reproachfully.