Chapter 36699507

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Chapter NumberLV
Chapter Url
Full Date1868-08-29
Page Number2
Word Count1950
Last Corrected2020-02-01
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA, [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, 22nd August.) CHAPTER LV. GRISELDA'S DISTRESS. Before relating what took place between Henry Arnott and Mr. Rousal on the one part, and Edwin on the other, we will convey our readers back to Bremgarton to see how affairs went on from the day on which Henry, Eugene, and Charles arrived there. Mrs. Maxwell was delighted to see her son after so long an absence looking so well, and grown so tall and manly ; and Isabel was, or seemed to be, no less pleased to see and wel- come back her brother. She was in most extravagant spirits, talked almost incessantly, played and sang with the greatest possible glee—to all appearance exactly the reverse of "broken hearted," as she had so recently signed herself in her strange letter to Edwin. It had been her favorite hobby in all her private conversations with Griselda, to pro- mote and encourage by all the eloquence of which she was the fluent mistress, the union between her brother and her fair friend. Of Henry's private and domestic virtues she spoke in the highest terms of praise, ignoring all she had formerly said to the contrary ; and now that he was come again she loaded him with kind attentions, and spoke openly of his marriage with Griselda as being as much irrevocable as if had already taken place. Henry appeared to his friends to be a little changed since the death of the worthy Colonel his father ; but he was now in the prime of life, and had not yet begun to show any symptoms of premature decay. His countenance had always been eminently handsome, but now it had, as Mrs. Maxwell thought ; a certain wildness of expression which she had never observed before, and there occasionally gleamed from his dark eye a peculiar lustre, which the good lady was at some loss to define or understand. Some times, too, she noticed upon his cheek a crimson flush which she thought was some- thing new ; and to arrive at a satisfactory explanation of which puzzled her sorely. He had become, or her powers of observation de- ceived her, somewhat negligent of his person —a remarkable circumstance, for on this subject he had always been extremely punc- tilious. Mrs. Maxwell noticed these changes and his every movement with intense in- terest. The character of the man to whose care the future happiness of her beloved daughter was to be entrusted was a subject of so much importance that she had privately determined to lose no opportunity of im- proving her acquaintance with it. Henry himself seemed to be conscious that he was an object of close observation, and had evi- dently resolved to be on his guard. His conversation was gentlemanly and attractive, and though he had occasion to reprove Isabel for an extraordinary elation of spirits, which was by no means unusual with her, yet he did so in such a quiet and good humored manner, that his volatile sister was struck with astonishment. Griselda had hitherto maintained her usual sweetness and equanimity of temper, and it was only on the occurrence of any important event like the arrival of Henry, a declared suitor, that the slightest change was per- ceptible in her mind. She was not like her friend Isabel, either variable in her humor or unstudy in her affections, now up, now down, now boiling over with excitement, now cooled to some twenty degrees below zero. On the present occasion, however, a remark- able change was perceptible in her general demeanor, which was by her father charged to the account of timidity in excess, and by her mother to something more like its true cause. It was noticed that she avoided Henry as much as she possibly could without incur- ring the charge of rudeness. Her counten- ance, paler than usual, and wearing a dejected appearance, changed color suddenly when- ever he addressed her; and in her replies she hesitated and stammered, as if it had become painful to her to speak. When under the influence of this embarrassment, she appeared positively beautitul, for the bright color of her complexion had the effect of making the delicate blue of her large eyes, and the golden bloom of the prettiest hair that ever fell over snowy shoulders, more apparent and more brilliant. Isabel was highly amused with these changes, and good naturedly told her that she was too transparent. " A blind per- son could see my dear," said she, " what effect the tender passion has upon you—you should not let your face mirror your thoughts so readily. Some gentlemen are very particular, and would object to a too manifest display of affection on the part of the woman, but I know Henry's generous nature is not dis- pleased by it ; he is flattered." They walked together in the garden, their beautiful arms encircling each other's waists. The weather was as fine as it could be in any part of the world in the month of April : the silence of the surrounding woods was broken only by the rippling murmurs of the adjacent river. Griselda listened to her friend's last observation, and turned her eyes upon her in a kind of dreamy wonder ; and when the latter had gaily laughed at her own assertion that Henry was not displeased, but flattered, Griselda looked upon her silently for a mo- ment, and then said in a tone which betokened great internal distress-- " Did you say the too manifest display of affection on the part of the woman ? What can you mean, Isabel ? Have I been guilty of such indelicacy—such a shocking violation of feminine modesty as your words would imply ?" " Oh, guilty !—no," said Isabel, playfully pressing her fair friend's waist ; " what an idea ! You are never guilty of anything my dear ; I never said you were guilty of anything." " You said as plainly as words can say," said Griselda, with tears flowing down her cheeks, " that my face was a mirror of my thoughts, and that your brother was not dis- pleased but flattered by my too-manifest dis- play of affection for him, did you not ?" " Come, Griselda," said Isabel, " you are too sensitive—you are positively foolish. If I did say the words you have repeated I meant no harm by them. What ! is the idea of Henry's love so strange to you that you cannot hear the most trifling remark, the most innocent badinage on the subject with- out wincing and crying ?" " Well," said Griselda, " if you did not mean any harms by what you said, Isabel, there is an end of the matter ; but if you supposed for a moment that I have displayed any affection for your brother you are very much mistaken. I do not—I cannot—I never did entertain the affection you speak of,

and consequently could not suffer it to be mirrored in my face." " Do you mean to say that you do not love your affianced husband, Griselda ?" said Miss Arnott, affecting great surprise. "I have no affianced husband," replied Griselda ; " your brother has not addressed me during his present visit, and I am far from wishing to anticipate his intentions. I re- member a conversation which I had with him shortly after your father's death, in which I told him that perhaps in time I might gain a better insight into his character, and become more acquainted with his disposition ; but now more than a year has gone by, and I feel as ignorant, as inexperienced as a child. I do not understand him : if he ad- dresses me on the subject of marriage I have but one answer to give. Shall I accept as my husband the man whom my heart does not know and cannot love ?" " Then you have decided to decline this alliance, Griselda," said Isabel, withdrawing her arm from her friend's waist, and moving a little way from her. " I did not expect this. What will Henry say or do, when he hears of it ? and yet why should he care ?—a young man with his talents and advantages of fortune—or pine because he is refused by a capricious doll who does not know her own mind two minutes at a time." Griselda was greatly hurt at the unkind words uttered and the tone of contemptuous indifference assumed by Isabel ; and the hot tears fell faster down her cheeks as she re- plied— " You do me a great injustice, Isabel ; I do know my own mind, it has never changed since I first knew your brother. I thought when I heard that he did me the honor to think of me as worthy to become his wife, that I was not the exact person with whom he should ally himself, and I think so still. I am, if I know myself, too timid, too fond of a retired life : I stand too much in awe of the gay and giddy world to which this union would introduce me—and by shrinking from it I might displease my husband. Your brother is self-willed and violent, and harsh- ness in any shape would, I know, break my heart." " That he is self-willed I know," answered Isabel, " but that he is likely to be violent to a weak woman I altogether deny—and inde- pendently of that I think you cannot excul- pate yourself from the imputation of being both frivolous and fickle, since you never in the long-period of our sisterly intercourse led me to suppose for a single instant that you regarded my brother otherwise than as your affianced husband, except indeed when in low spirits you might have said something to the contrary which you did not mean. It is no ordinary love on his part, Griselda, which has led him here for the second time to lay himself and all he is worth at your feet. I tremble to think of the effect it will have upon him when he finds he is rejected and despised—" " I do not despise him," said Griselda quickly. " Indeed whether you do or not," returned Miss Arnott, " after your rejection of him it will be a matter of perfect indifference to Henry." " Then you need not tremble for the effect it will have upon him," said Griselda. " I mean," replied Isabel, " that your des- pising him will be a matter of indifference. When he reflects that after thinking of you in the most tender manner and waiting with the utmost patience for four or five years, you at last coolly tell him to go back whence he came, unblessed by the love of her upon whom he set his heart, his pride will be wounded, and the very thought that he ever gave you the opportunity of rejecting him will be an agony which he will carry to his grave." " O, why can it not be prevented ?" broke in the afflicted maiden. " Why, dear Isabel, need he be suffered to approach any nearer ? Cannot you induce him to withdraw without urging his suit further ?—You now know all —tell him, for mercy's sake, all you do know, and let him not hear it from my lips. I tremble whenever he addresses me—my heart is inconceivably low—I am most wretched and unhappy.—O, Isabel ! save me the pain of saying what a great and solemn duty must compel me to say if he should speak to me." And as she uttered these words our poor heroine threw herself upon the seat in the summer-house and sobbed bitterly." (To be continued.)