Page images
PDF
EPUB

fation, not only to maintain herself, but to appear better dressed than many girls whose situation in life was not higher than her own.

Fanny was beautiful; so much so, that her beauty was the subject of conversation, even amongst the most genteel circles, and many a youth of the same station with herself was eager to be her accepted lover; but professions of love she listened to with pleasure from one only.

Llewellyn Morgan, with his father and mother, and his cousin Mary, was her opposite neighbour. His father was a carpenter, his mother took in plain-work, and he himself was undecided whether to follow his father's business, or seek a different employment, when he fell in love with our handsome sempstress.

Fanny, wheiher from coquetry or convenience, always sat by the window at work; it was therefore impossible for her not to observe Llewellyn sometimes, particularly as he was young, neatly dressed, well inade, and as much an object of admiration to the women, as she was to the men; besides, his eyes seeined to be often on the watch for hers, and it would have been cruel to disappoint them.

But though Llewellyn's eyes had been talkative, his tongue was still silent, though the state of his heart began to be suspected at home. His father observed that he ceased to be as eager to settle in some business as he used to be; his mother said he was no longer as attentive as usual in anticipating her wishes; and his cousin Mary remarked, in an accent unusually sarcastic for her, that Llewellyn had time for nothing but looking out of the window.

“ That seems a good industrious girl who lives opposite," said his father, taking his cue froin the deep blush that overspread Llewellyn's face at Mary's observation.

I dare say she would make a good wife," added his mother. Llewellyn's head absolutely dropped on his waistcoat, but he remained silent.

“ She is pretty looking,” said Mary, in a faltering voice.

Pretty looking " cried Llewellyn, roused to uiterance by indignation-pretty looking, indeed; she is an angel !

His parents smothered a laugh; and Mary, suppressing a sigh, turned up her meek eyes to heaven, and soon after made an excuse for taking a walk. To be brief, Llewellyn's parents told him they saw the state of his heart, and ihat if he wished to make Fanny his wife, they gave himn their consent to try his fortune with her,

But, true love is always timid; and though Llewellyn's parents had consented, would she, and would her aunt consent? But they were opposite neighbours, and Llewellyn soon learned to take advantage of opportunity: he first began to make acquaintance with Fanny by handing her over the kennel when she went to carry home her work; then, he begged leave to carry her parcel for her, and so on : and these attentions, at last, Fanny received so graciously, and was so often coming to the window to thread her needle, that Llewellyn began to flatter himself that her heart was a little touched in his favour. True, there were other opposite neighbours to Fanny, young men too, who had time to look out of the window as well as he; but then Llewellyn did not know that, and he thought Fanny's needle-threadings were all for him ; however, he was right in taking the smile and nod which she gave on these occasions to himself, and Llewellyn was authorised to liope; but when he was on the point of declaring his love, Fanny fell ill, and was confined to her bed.

Oh, the anxiety of poor Llewellyn! He walked tiptoe across the floor of his own house, as if fearful of disturbing the invalid over the way; and on his mother's complaining of a bad head-ache, and not being able to bear any noise, he flew to expend his little earnings on a litter of straw to lay before the door, and having bought enough for both sides of the way, he sent to Fanny's aunt, and asked permission to lay it before her door too. He said, nay, even persuaded himself that he did this merely for the sake of his mother, but Fanny and her aunt thought otherwise, and Mary too; and when Fanny recovered, she thanked him for his attention in a manner so tender, that he took courage, declared his love, and was accepted.

The next thing to be done was to choose a trade, or rather to let Fanny choose it for him, and she decided that he should follow his father's business, but, as he had it yet to learn, it was judged imprudent for them to marry immediately; and the young couple were looking forward to the hour that was to unite them, when an increase of the standing army, in consequence of the declaration of war, and the gradual change of private citizens into soldiers, produced an alteration, not only in the appearance of the place, but in the inanners of its inhabitants.

A military spirit pervaded the whole town; the industrious artisan forsook his workshop to lounge on the parade; here too the servant girl shewed herself in her Sunday clothes; and even Fanny, preferred listening to the mi

litary band, and beholding the military array, to a quiet walk in the fields with her lover.

But the sound of martial inusic was not the only one that reached and delighted her ear. Praises of her beauty ran along the ranks. Some young men, who had in vain sought Fanny's attention when they wore the plain dress of tradesmen, now took pains to attract her eyes, by their dexterity in the manuel, and by displaying to all possible advantage the brilliancy of their dress, in order, perhaps, to let Fanny feel the value of the prize which she had rejected; while others, not content with exciting her regret for her cruelty to them, were still desirous of gaining her love; and, unawed by the almost fierce looks of Llewellyn, persisted in making way for her in the crowd, that she might hear the band to advantage.

And but too often, Faouy, delighted at the attention paid her, rewarded it by smiles so gracious, that they conveyed hopes and joy to the bosom of her attendants, and fear and jealousy to that of her lover. Not that Llewellyn was sorry to see the woman of his choice the object of general admiration; on the contrary, he would have felt pleasure in it, had not Fanny seemed to enjoy it so much herself; but he saw her eyes sparkle at other praises than his, and he always returned from the parade displeased with Fanny, and dissatisfied with himself.

Stiil he had not resolution to refuse to accompany her every evening to a scene so fatal to his peace; and if he had, he feared that she might resolve to go thither without him; and he was as wretched as an accepted lover could be, when a day was fixed on for a review of the regulars quartered in the town and its environs, and of the newraised militia.

“ Only thisk, Llewellyn,” said Fanny to her lover, “ there is going to be a review !"

“ And what then?” replied he in a peevish accent, displeased at the joy that sparkled in her eyes.

" What then?” rejoined the mortified beauty,“ only I I never saw a review in my life.”

“And I do not know that it signifies whether you ever see one or no,” returned Llewellyn, still more pettishly.

“I am of a different opinion," retorted Fanny," and if you do not take me to see the review next week, I know who will—that's all:” and away she walked in all the dignity of conscious and offended power.

Nor did she overrate her influence. Llewellyn's jealousy

took alarm; he followed her immediately, and with a forced laugh told her, that he knew as well as she did who would take her to the review. “ Who?" angrily asked Fanny.

Myself,” replied her humble swain, “and we will walk together to the heath on which it is to be, it is, you know, only three miles off.

áš Walk!” exclaimed Fanny, " Walk! and be melted with heat, and our clothes covered with dust when we get there—no indeed ! fine figures we should be !"

“ I should not like you the worse, Fanny, if I thought you went to see, and not to be seen,” said Llewellyn. * However, just as you please; I suppose you have thought of soine other way of going."

0

yes, we can borrow your cousin John's cart and horse ; Mary can drive me, and you can hire a pony and ride by the side of us.”

Llewellyn with a deep sigh consented to the proposal, and even assisted Fanny to conquer Mary's aversion to perform her part of the plan.

“ I hate war and all that belongs to it,” cried Mary; “I shall have no pleasure if I go.”

“ But you will give others pleasure by going,” said Llew. ellyn, and Mary consented directly.

The important day arrived, and Fanny appeared at her aunt's window ready dressed, long before the hour appointed for them to set off.“ How beautiful she looks!" thought Llewellyn, “and how smart she is, too smart for her situation ; yet had she been dressed so to please me I should not bave cared for that; but she would not have taken such pains with her dress to please me.”

Llewellyn was only too much in the right; and though she looked so handsome, that he could not help gazing on her as they went along the road, at the hazard of riding against posis and carriages, this look had something in it so sad and reproachful, that Fanny, she knew not why, perhaps wished to avoid it; and when he ventured to say, You would not have made yourself so smart to walk alone with me, l'anny,” a self accusing blush spread itself over her cheek, and for the first time in her life she wished her. self less smart.

Eager, therefore, to change the subject of Llewellyn's thoughis, she asked Mary whence arose her extreme aversion to soldiers. “You must own the dress a very becoming one," she said.

« I cannot think that dress becoming;” replied Mary, gravely, “ which I have heard our curate say he thought the livery of blood.

“ Bless me, how you talk Mary!” replied Fanny: "well; but it is very strange that you should hate reviews, though you may battles.”

“ I hate all that belongs to war,” said Mary.

“ But if there were no wars there would be no soldier's and no parades,” cried Fanny; “ and what a pity that would be! But why should you hate war?"

“ I will tell you," said Mary, impatiently, “and then I desire you to question me on this subject no more. My father was a soldier, my mother followed him to battle; I was born on a baggage waggon, bred in the horrors of a camp, and at ten years old I saw my father brought home mangled and dying from the field, while my mother was breathing her last of the camp fever. I remember it as if it were only yesterday,” continued Mary, shuddering, and deeply affected; and her volatile companion was awed into silence.

At length they arrived on the review ground, and Llew. ellyn, afraid lest the horse should be frightened at the firing, made them leave the cart, and then leaning on his arm they proceeded to the front of the ranks. But the crowd was soon so great, that Fanny began to find she was not likely either to see or be seen, and was almost tempted to join Mary in regrets that she had given herself the trouble of coming, when she was seen and recognised by one of her quondam lovers, who, since she had rejected him, had be. come a serjeant in the militia of the town. Immediately this 'gallant hero made his way through the crowd ; and forcing a poor boy to dismount from a coach-box conveniently situated for overlooking the field, he seized Fanny's unreluctant hand, led her along the ranks, and lifted her to the place, crying out—" Make way for a lady."

Surprise, and the suddenness of Fanny's removal, prevented Llewellyu's opposing it, but, as soon as surprise gave way to jealousy and resentment, he prepared to follow them; but it was impossible, the review was begun, and Llewellyn could not leave Mary, lest he should expose her to the risk of being run down by the horses, though his own danger he would have disregarded; he was therefore obliged to content himself with watching the conduct of Fanny at a distance, who, placed in a conspicuous situation, and taugh's

« PreviousContinue »