|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
[By the Bight Hon. the Eabl of Bbacohbfxbld.]
About the time that the ladies rose from the dinner-table in Hill-street, Mr. Sidney Wilton .entered the hall of the Clarendon Hotel, and murmured an enquiry of the porter. Where upon a bell was rung, and soon a foreign servant appeared, and, bowing, invited Mr. Wilton to ascend the staircase, and follow him. Mr. Wilton was ushered through an ante-chamber into a room of some importance, lofty and decorated, and obviously adapted for distinguished guests. On a principal table a desk waa open and many papers strewn about. Apparently some person had only recently been writing there. There were in the room several musical instruments, the piano was open, there was a harp and a guitar. The room was rather dimly lighted, but cheerful from the steady blaze of the fire, before whioh Mr. Wilton stood, cot long aione, for an oppo site door opened, and a lady advanbed, leading with her left hand a youth of interesting mien, .and about twelve years of age. The lady was fair and singularly thin. It seemed that her -delicate hand muBt really be transparent. Her -cheek was sunk, but the expression of her large brown eyes was inexpressively pleasing. She wore her own hair, once the most celebrated in Europe, and still uncovered. Though the pro digal richness of the tresses bad disappeared, the arrangement was still striking from its grace. That rare quality pervaded the being -of this lady, and it was impossible not to be struck with her carriage as Bhe advanced to greet her guest; free from all affectation, and yet full of movement and gestures which might have been the study of painters.
"Ah!" she exclaimed, as she gave him her hand, which he pressed to his lips, " you are •ever faithful."
Seating themselves, she continued," you have not seen my boy since he sat upon your knee. JflorestaD, salute Mr. Wilton, your mother's most cherished friend."
" This is a sudden arrival," said Mr. Wilton.
" Wei), they would not let us rest," said the lady. " Our only refuge was Switzerland; but 3 cannot breathe among the mountains, and so, ?after a while, we stele to an. obscnre corner of the Sonth, and for a time we were tranquil. But -soon the old story: representations, remon strances, warnings, and threats, appeals to Yienna, and lectures from Prince Metternich, not the less impressive because they were oour teous, and even gallant."
" And had nothing occurred to give a colour -to such complaints ? or, was it sheer persecu tion ?"
"Well, you know," replied the lady, "we wished to remain quiet and obscure; but where the lad is they will find him out. It often astonishes me. I believe, if we were in the -centre of a forest, in some Indian isle, with no -companions but monkeys and elephants, a secret agent would appear—some devoted victim of -our family, prepared to restore our fortunes and xenovate his own. I speak the truth to you always. I have never countenanced these people; I have never encouraged them; but it is impossible rudely to reject the sympathy of those who, after all, are your fellow-sufferers, .-and some of whom _ have given proof of even -disinterested devotion. For my own part, I have never faltered in my faith, that Florestan would some day Bit on the throne of his father, dark as appears to be our life; but I have never much believed that the great result could be occasioned or precipitated by intrigues, but xather by events more powerful than maD, and led on by that fatality in which his father believed."
" And now you think of remaining here ?"
.said Mr. Wilton.
" No," said the lady ; " that I cannot do. I love everything in this country except its cli mate, and perhaps its hotels. I think of trying -the south of Spain, and fancy, if quite alone, I might vegetate there unnoticed. I cannot bring myself altogether to quit Europe. I am, my dear Sidney, intensely European. But -Spain is not exactly the country I should fix upon to form kings and statesmen. And this is the point on which I wish to consult yon. I want Florestan to receive an English education, and I want you to put me in the way of accom plishing this. It might be convenient, under ?such circumstances, tbat he should not obtrude bis birth— perhaps, that it should be concealed. He has many honourable names besides the one which indicates the state to which he was born. Ent, on all these points, we want your advice." And she seeuxd to appeal to her son, who bowed bis head with a slight smile, but did not speak.
Mr. Wilton expressed his deep interest in her wishes, and promised to consider how they might best be accomplished, and' then the con versation took a more general tone.
"Thisohange of Government in your coun try," said the lady, " so unexpected, so utterly ?unforeseen, disturbs me; in fact, it decided my hesitating movements. I cannot but believe that the accession of the Duke of Wellington to power must be bad, at least for us. It is essen tially reactionary. They are triumphing at Tienna."
"Have they cause?" said Mr. Wilton. "I ?am not an impartial witness, for I have no post in the new Administration; but the leading -colleagues of Mr. Canning form part of it, and the conduct of foreign affairs remains in the same hands."
"That is consoling," said the lady. "I wonder if Lord Dudley would see me. Perhaps not—Ministers do not love pretenders. I knew -him when I was not a pretender," added the lady, with the sweetest of smileB," and thought -him agreeable. He was witty. Ah! Sidney, those were happy days. I - look back to the ?past with regret, but without remorse. One might have done more good, but one did some -and she sighed.
" You seem to me," said Sidney, with emotion, 41 to diffuse benefits and blessings among all ?around you."
" And I read," said the lady, a little indig nant, " in some memoirs the other day that our <Jourt was a corrupt and dissolute Court. It was a Court of pleasure if you like, but of pleasure that animated and refined, and put the world in good humour, which, after all, is good government. The most corrupt and dis solute Courts on the Continent of Europe that I have known," said the lady, " have been out wardly the dullest and most decorouB."
" My memory of those days," said Mr. Wilton, 41 is of ceaseless grace and inexhaustible charm."
" Well," said the lady," if I Binned I have at -least suffered. And I hope they were only sins of omission. I wanted to see everybody happy, and tried to make them so. But let us talk no more of ourselves. The unfortunate are always egotistical. Tell me something of Mr. Wilton; -and above all, tell me why you are not in the new Government."
" I have not been invited," said Mr. Wilton. " There are more claimants than can be satisfied, and my claims are not very strong. It is soarcely a disappointment to me. I shall con tinue in public life; but, so far as political responsibility is concerned, I would rather wait. I have some fancies on that head, but I will hot trouble you with them. My time, therefore, is at my command; and so," he added smilingly, "I can attend to the education of Prince Florestan."
" Do yon hear that, Florestan ?" said the lady to her son. "I told you we had a friend.
Thank Mr. Wilton."
And the young Prince bowed as before, but with a more serious expression. He, however, said nothing.
"I see you have not forgotten your most delightful pursuit," said Mr. Wilton, and he
looked towards the musical instruments.
"ISTo," said the lady; "throned or dis crowned, music hag ever been the charm or con solation of my life."
" Pleasure should follow business," said Mr. Wilton," and we have transacted ours. Would it be too bold if I asked again to hear those tones which have so often enchanted me?"
" My voice has not fallen off," said the lady, "for you know it was never first-rate. But they were kind enough to aay it had some expression, probably because I generally sang my own words to my own music. I will sing you my farewell to Florestan," she added gaily, and she took up her guitar, and then, in tonea of melancholy sweetness, breaking at last into a gushing burst of loDg-controlled affection, she expressed the agony and devotion of a mother's heart. Mr. Wilton was a little agitated; her son left the room. The mother turned round with a smiling tace, and Baid," The darling cannot bear to hear it, but 1 sing it ou purpose to prepare him for
" He is soft-hearted," said Mr. Wilton.
" He is the most affectionate of beings," replied the mother. *'Affectionate and mys terious. I caa say no more. I ought to tell you his character. I cannot. You may say he may have none. I do not know. He has abilities, for he acquires knowledge with facility, and knows a great deal for a boy. But he never gives an opinion. He is silent and solitary. Poor darling! he has rarely had companions, and that may be the cause. He seems to me always to be thinking."
"Well, a public school will rouBO him from his reveries," said Mr. Wilton.
" As be is away at this moment, I will say that which I should not care to say before his face," said the lady. " You are about to do me a great servioe—not the first; and before I leave this we may—we must—meet again more than once, but there is no time like the present. The separation between Florestan aud my self may be final. It is sad to think of such things, but they must be thought of, for they are probable I still look in a mirror, Sidney; I am not so frightened by what has oc curred since we first met to be afraid of that— but I never deceive myself. I do not know what may be the magical effect of the raiains ef Malaga, but if it saved my life the grape cure will indeed achieve a miracle. Do not look gloomy. Those who have known real grief seldom seem sad. I have been struggling with sorrow for ten years, bat I have got through it with music and singing, and my boy. See, now, be will be a source of expense, and it will not do for you to be looking to a woman for supplies. Women are generous, Dut not precise in money matters. I have some excuse, for the world has treated me not very well. I never got my pen sion regularly; now I never get it at all. So much for the treaties, but everybody laughs at them. Here is the fortune of Florestan, and I wish it all to be spent on his education," and she took a case from ker bosom. " They are not the Crown jewels, though. The memoirs I was reading the other day say I ran away with them. That is false, like most things said of me. But these are gems of Golconda, which I wish you to realize and expend for bis service. They were the gift of love, and they were worn in love."
" It is unnecessary," said Mr. Wilton, depre cating tbe offer by his attitude.
" Hush!" said tbe lady. " I am still a sove reign to jou, and'I must be obeyed."
Mr. Wilton took the case of jewels, pressed it to his lips, and then placed It in the breast pocket of his coat. He was about to retire, when tbe lady added, " I must give you this copy of my sorrow."
" And jou will write my name on it ?"
" Certainly," replied the lady, as she went to tb'e table and wrote, " For Mr. Sidney Wilton, from Agrippina."