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CHAPTER IV. 


ALTHOUGH Julia spent most of her time with her aunt and cousin, opportunities for meditation were not wanting: in the retirement of her closet she perused and re-perused the frequent letters of her friend. The modesty of Julia, or rather shame, would have prevented her from making Anna acquainted with all her feelings, but it would have been treason to her friendship not to have poured out a little of her soul at the feet of Miss Miller. Accordingly, in her letters, Julia did not avoid the name of Antonio. She mentioned it often, but with womanly delicacy, if not with discretion. The seeds of constant association had, unknown to herself, taken deep root, and it was not in the power of Anna Miller to eradicate impressions which had been fastened by the example of the aunt, and cherished by the society of her cousin. Although deluded, weak, and even indiscreet, Julia was not indelicate. Yet enough escaped her to have given any experienced eye an insight into the condition of her mind, had Anna chosen to have exposed her letters to any one. The danger of such a correspondence should alone deter any prudent female from its indulgence. Society has branded the man with scorn who dares abuse the confidence of a woman in this manner; and the dread of the indignation of his associates makes it an offence which is rarely committed by the other sex: but there is no such obligation imposed on women, and that frequently passes for a joke which harrows every feeling that is dear to the female breast, and violates all that is delicate and sensitive in our nature. Surely, where it is necessary from any adventitious circumstances to lay the heart open in this manner, it should only be done to those whose characters are connected with our own, and who feel ridicule inflicted on us, as disgrace heaped on themselves. A peculiar evil of these confidential friendships is, that they are most liable to occur, when, from their youth, their victims are the least guarded; and, at the same time, from inconstancy, the most liable to change. Happily, however, for Julia's peace of mind, she foresaw no such dangers from her intimacy with Anna, and letter and answer passed between them, at short intervals, during the remainder of the summer. We shall give but one more specimen of each, as they have strong resemblance to one another--we select two that were written late in August.

"My own and beloved Julia,

"Your letters are the only consolation that my anxious heart can know in the dreary solitude of this place. Oh! my friend, how would your tender heart bleed did you but know the least of my sufferings; but they are all requited by the delightful anticipations of Park-Place. I hope your dear aunt has not found it necessary to lay down her carriage in the change of the times: write me in your next about it. Antonio has been here again, and he solicited an audience with me in private--of course I granted it, for friendship hallows all that is done under its mantle. It was a moonlight night-- mild Luna shedding a balmy light on surrounding objects, and, if possible, rendering my heart more sensitive than ever. One solitary glimmering star showed by its paly quiverings the impress of evening, while not a cloud obscured the vast firmament of heaven. On such an evening Antonio could do nothing but converse of my absent friend; he dwelt on the indescribable grace of your person, the lustre of your eye, and the vermilion of your lips, until exhausted language could furnish no more epithets of rapture: then the transition to your mind was natural and easy; and it was while listening to his honied accents that I thought my Julia herself was talking.

"Soft as the dews from heaven descend, his gentle accents fell."

Ah, Julia! nothing but a strong pre-possession, and my friendship for you, could remove the danger of such a scene. Yes! friend of my heart, I must acknowledge my weakness. There is a youth in New-York, who has long been master of my too sensitive heart, and without him life will be a burthen. Cruel fate divides us now, but when invited by your aunt to Park-Place, Oh, rapture unutterable! I shall be near my Regulus. This, surely, is all that can be wanting to stimulate my Julia to get the invitation from her aunt. Antonio says that if I go to the city this fall, he will hover near me on the road to guard the friend of Julia; and that he will eagerly avail himself of my presence to seek her society. I am called from my delightful occupation by one of my troublesome sisters, who wishes me to assist her in some trifle or other. Make my most profound respects to your dear, good aunt, and believe me your own true friend,

ANNA."

{Regulus = prince}

At length Julia thought she had made the discovery of Anna's reason for her evident desire to spend the winter in town--like herself, her friend had become the victim of the soft passion, and from that moment Julia determined that Katherine Emmerson must seek another residence, in order that Anna might breathe love's atmosphere. How much a desire to see Antonio governed this decision, we cannot say, but we are certain that, if in the least, Julia was herself ignorant of the power. With her, it seemed to be the result of pure, disinterested, and confiding friendship. In answer, our heroine wrote as follows:

"My beloved Anna,

"Your kind, consolatory letters are certainly the solace of my life. Ah! Anna, I have long thought that some important secret lay heavy at your heart. The incoherency of your letters, and certain things too trifling to mention, had made me suspect that some unusual calamity had befallen you. You do not mention who Regulus is. I am burning with curiosity to know, although I doubt not but he is every way worthy of your choice.

"I have in vain run over in my mind every young man that we know, but not one of them that I can find has any of the qualities of a hero. Do relieve my curiosity in your next, and I may have it in my power to write you something of his movements. Oh! Anna, why will you dwell on the name of Antonio--I am sure I ought not to listen as I do to what he says--and when we meet, I am afraid that he will not find all the attractions which your too partial friendship has portrayed. If he should be thus disappointed, Oh! Anna--Anna--what would become of your friend--But I will not dwell an the horrid idea. Charles Weston is yet here, and Katherine Emmerson too; so that but for the thoughts of my absent Anna, and perhaps a little uneasiness on the subject of Antonio, I might be perfectly happy. You know how good and friendly Katherine is, and really Charles does all in his power to please. If he were only a little more heroical, he would be a charming young man: for although he is not very handsome, I don't think you notice it in the least when you are intimate with him. Poor Charles, he was terribly mortified about the flash of lightning--but then all are not brave alike. Adieu, my Anna--and if you do converse more with a certain person about, you know whom, let it be with discretion, or you may raise expectations she will not equal. Your own JULIA."

"P. S. I had almost forgotten to say that aunt has promised me that I can ask you to stay with us, if, after the 20th September, I wish it, as you may be sure that I will. Aunt keeps her carriage yet, and I hope will never want it in her old age."

About the time this letter was written, Miss Emmerson made both of her nieces acquainted with the promised project that was to give them the agreeable surprise:--she had long contemplated going to see "the Falls," and she now intended putting her plan into execution. Katherine was herself pressed to make one of the party, but the young lady, at the same time she owned her wish to see this far-famed cataract, declined the offer firmly, but gratefully, on account of her desire to spend the remaining time with her father and mother, before they went to the south. Charles Weston looked from Katherine to Julia during this dialogue, and for an instant was at a loss to know which he thought the handsomest of the cousins. But Julia entered into the feelings of the others so quickly, and so gracefully offered to give up the journey, in order that Miss Emmerson might continue with her brother, that, aided by her superior beauty, she triumphed. It was evident, that consideration for her niece was a strong inducement with the aunt for making the journey, and the contest became as disinterested as it was pleasing to the auditors. But the authority of Miss Emmerson prevailed, and Charles was instantly enlisted as their escort for the journey. Julia never looked more beautiful or amiable than during this short controversy. It had been mentioned by the aunt that she should take the house of Mr. Miller in her road, and the information excited an emotion that brought all her lustre to her eyes, and bloom to her cheeks. Charles thought it was a burst of generous friendship, and admired the self-denial with which she urged her aunt to relinquish the idea. But Julia was constitutionally generous, and it was the excess of the quality that made her enthusiastic and visionary. If she did not deserve all of Charles's admiration, she was entitled to no small share of it. As soon as the question was determined in favour of going, Miss Emmerson and Katherine withdrew, leaving Charles alone with the heroine of our tale. Under the age of five-and- twenty, men commonly act at the instigation of sudden impulse, and young Weston was not yet twenty-one. He had long admired Julia for her beauty and good feelings; he did not see one half of her folly, and he knew all of her worth; her enthusiastic friendship for Miss Miller was forgotten; even her mirth at his own want of heroism had at the moment escaped his memory-- and the power of the young lady over him was never greater.

"How admirable in you, Julia," he said, seating himself by her side, "to urge what was against your own wishes, in order to oblige your aunt!"

"Do you think so, Charles?" said the other simply; "but you see I urged it feebly, for I did not prevail."

"No, for you mistook your aunt's wishes, it seems: she desires to go--but then all the loveliness of the act was yours."

At the word loveliness, Julia raised her eyes to his face with a slight blush--it was new language for Charles Weston to use, and it was just suited to her feelings. After a moment's pause. however, she replied--

"You use strong language, cousin Charles, such as is unusual for you."

"Julia, although I may not often have expressed it, I have long thought you to be very lovely!" exclaimed the young man, borne away with his ardour at the moment.

"Upon my word, Charles, you improve," said Julia, blushing yet more deeply, and, if possible, looking still handsomer than before.

"Julia--Miss Warren--you tear my secret from me before its time--I love you, Julia, and would wish to make you my wife."

This was certainly very plain English, nor did Julia misunderstand a syllable of what he said--but it was entirely new and unexpected to her; she had lived with Charles Weston with the confidence of a kinswoman, but had never dreamt of him as a lover. Indeed, she saw nothing in him that looked like a being to excite or to entertain such a passion; and although from the moment of his declaration she began insensibly to think differently of him, nothing was farther from her mind than to return his offered affection. But then the opportunity of making a sacrifice to her secret love was glorious, and her frankness forbade her to conceal the truth. Indeed, what better way was there to destroy the unhappy passion of Charles, than to convince him of its hopelessness? These thoughts flashed through her mind with the rapidity of lightning--and trembling with the agitation and novelty of her situation, she answered in a low voice--

"That, Charles, can never be."

"Why never, Julia?" cried the youth, giving way at once to his long-suppressed feelings--"why never? Try me, prove me! there is nothing I will not do to gain your love."

Oh! how seductive to a female ear is the first declaration of an attachment, especially when urged by youth and merit!--it assails her heart in the most vulnerable part, and if it be not fortified unusually well, seldom fails of success. Happily for Julia, the image of Antonio presented itself to save her from infidelity to her old attachment, and she replied--

"You are kind and good, Charles, and I esteem you highly--but ask no more, I beg of you."

"Why, if you grant me this, why forbid me to hope for more?" said the youth eagerly, and looking really handsome.

Julia hesitated a moment, and let her dark eyes fall before his ardent gaze, at a loss what to say--but the face of Apollo in the imperial uniform interposed to save her.

"I owe it to your candour, Mr. Weston, to own my weakness--" she said, and hesitated.

"Go on, Julia--my Julia," said Charles, in an unusually soft voice; "kill me at once, or bid me live!"

Again Julia paused, and again she looked on her companion with kinder eyes than usual--when she felt the picture which lay next her heart, and proceeded--

"Yes, Mr. Weston, this heart, this foolish, weak heart is no longer my own."

"How!" exclaimed Charles, in astonishment, "and have I then a rival, and a successful one too?"

"You have," said Julia, burying her face in her hands to conceal her blushes.--"But, Mr. Weston, on your generosity I depend for secrecy--be as generous as myself."

"Yes--yes--I will conceal my misery from others," cried Charles, springing on his feet and rushing from the room; "would to God I could conceal it from myself!"

Julia was sensibly touched with his distress, and for an instant there was some regret mingled with self- satisfaction at her own candour--but then the delightful reflection soon presented itself of the gratitude of Antonio when he learnt her generous conduct, and her self-denial in favour of a man whom she had as yet never seen.--At the same time she was resolutely determined never to mention the occurrence herself--not even to her Anna.

Miss Emmerson was enabled to discover some secret uneasiness between Charles and Julia, although she was by no means able to penetrate the secret. The good aunt had long anxiously wished for just such a declaration as had been made to her niece, and it was one of the last of her apprehensions that it would not have been favourably received. Of simple and plain habits herself, Miss Emmerson was but little versed in the human heart; she thought that Julia was evidently happy and pleased with her young kinsman, and she considered him in every respect a most eligible connexion for her charge: their joint fortunes would make an ample estate, and they were alike affectionate and good-tempered--what more could be wanting? Nothing however passed in the future intercourse of the young couple to betray their secrets, and Miss Emmerson soon forgot her surmises. Charles was much hurt at Julia's avowal, and had in vain puzzled his brains to discover who his rival could be. No young man that was in the least (so he thought) suitable to his mistress, visited her, and he gave up his conjectures in despair of discovering this unknown lover, until accident or design should draw him into notice. Little did he suspect the truth. On the other hand, Julia spent her secret hours in the delightful consciousness of having now done something that rendered her worthy of Antonio, with occasional regret that she was compelled by delicacy and love to refuse Charles so hastily as she had done.

Very soon after this embarrassing explanation, Julia received a letter from her friend that was in no way distinguishable from the rest, except that it contained the real name of Regulus, which she declared to be Henry Frederick St. Albans. If Charles was at a loss to discover Julia's hidden love, Julia herself was equally uncertain how to know who this Mr. St. Albans was. After a vast deal of musing, she remembered that Anna was absent from school without leave one evening, and had returned alone with a young man who was unknown to the mistress. This incident was said, by some, to have completed her education rather within the usual time. Julia had herself thought her friend indiscreet, but on the whole, hardly treated--and they left the school together. This must have been St. Albans, and Anna stood fully exculpated in her eyes. The letter also announced the flattering fact, that Antonio had already left the country, ordering his servants and horses home, and that he had gone to New-York with the intention of hovering around Julia, in a mask, that she could not possibly remove, during the dangers of their expected journey. Anna acknowledged that she had betrayed Antonio's secret, but pleaded her duty to her friend in justification. She did not think that Julia would be able to penetrate his disguise, as he had declared his intentions so to conceal himself, by paint and artifice, as to be able to escape detection. Here was a new source of pleasure to our heroine: Antonio was already on the wing for the city, perhaps arrived--nay, might have seen her, might even now be within a short distance of the summer-house where she was sitting at the time, and watching her movements. As this idea suggested itself, Julia started, and unconsciously arranging her hair, by bringing forward a neglected curl, moved with trembling steps towards the dwelling. At each turn of the walk our heroine threw a timid eye around in quest of an unknown figure, and more than once fancied she saw the face of the god of music peering at her from the friendly covert of her aunt's shrubbery--and twice she mistook the light green of a neighbouring cornfield, waving in the wind, for the coat of Antonio. Julia had so long associated the idea of her hero with the image in her bosom, that she had given it perfect identity; but, on more mature reflection, she was convinced of her error: he would come disguised, Anna had told her, and had ordered his servants home; where that home was, Julia was left in ignorance--but she fervently hoped, not far removed from her beloved aunt. The idea of a separation from this affectionate relative, who had proved a mother to her in her infancy, gave great pain to her best feelings; and Julia again internally prayed that the residence of Antonio might not be far distant.-- What the disguise of her lover would be, Julia could not imagine--probably, that of a wandering harper: but then she remembered that there were no harpers in America, and the very singularity might betray his secret. Music is the "food of love," and Julia fancied for a moment that Antonio might appear as an itinerant organist--but it was only for a moment; for as soon as she figured to herself the Apollo form, bending under the awkward load of a music-grinder, she turned in disgust from the picture. His taste, thought Julia will protect me from such a sight--she might have added, his convenience too. Various disguises presented themselves to our heroine, until, on a view of the whole subject, she concluded that Antonio would not appear as a musician at all, but in some capacity in which he might continue unsuspected, near her person, and execute his project of shielding her from the dangers of travelling. It was then only as a servant that he could appear, and, after mature reflection, Julia confidently expected to see him in the character of a coachman.

Willing to spare her own horses, Miss Emmerson had already sent to the city for the keeper of a livery-stable, to come out and contract with her for a travelling carriage, to convey her to the Falls of Niagara. The man came, and it is no wonder that Julia, under her impressions, chose to be present at the conversation.

"Well then," said Miss Emmerson to the man, "I will pay you your price, but you must furnish me with good horses to meet me at Albany--remember that I take all the useless expense between the two cities, that I may know whom it is I deal with."

"Miss Emmerson ought to know me pretty well by this time," said the man; "I have driven her enough, I think."

"And a driver," continued the lady, musing, "who am I to have for a driver?" Here Julia became all attention, trembling and blushing with apprehension.

"Oh, a driver!" cried the horse-dealer; "I have got you an excellent driver, one of the first chop in the city."

{first chop = first rank, highest quality}

Although these were not the terms that our heroine would have used herself in speaking of this personage, yet she thought they plainly indicated his superiority, and she waited in feverish suspense to hear more.

"He must be steady, and civil, and sober, and expert, and tender-hearted," said Miss Emmerson, who thought of any thing but a hero in disguise.

"Yes--yes--yes--yes--yes," replied the stable- keeper, nodding his head and speaking at each requisite, "he is all that, I can engage to Miss Emmerson."

"And his eyesight must be good," continued the lady, deeply intent on providing well for her journey; "we may ride late in the evening, and it is particularly requisite that he have good eyes."

"Yes--yes, ma'am," said the man, in a little embarrassment that did not escape Julia; "he has as good an eye as any man in America."

"Of what age is he?" asked Miss Emmerson.

"About fifty," replied the man, thinking years would he a recommendation.

"Fifty!" exclaimed Julia, in a tone of disappointment.

"'Tis too old," said Miss Emmerson; "he should he able to undergo fatigue."

"Well, I may be mistaken--Oh, he can't be more than forty, or thirty," continued the man, watching the countenance of Julia; "he is a man that looks much older than he is."

"Is he strong and active?"

"I guess he is--he's as strong as an ox, and active as a cat," said the other, determined he should pass.

"Well, then," said the aunt, in her satisfied way, "let every thing be ready for us in Albany by next Tuesday. We shall leave home on Monday."

The man withdrew.

Julia had heard enough--for ox she had substituted Hercules, and for cat, she read the feathered Mercury.

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