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« I have seen him again, Matilda,-seen him twice. I have used every argument to convince him that this secret intercourse is dangerous to us both-I even pressed him to pursue his views of fortune without farther regard to me, and to consider my peace of mind as sufficiently secured by the knowledge that he had not fallen under my father's sword. He answers—but how can I detail all he has to answer? he claims those hopes as his due which my mother permitted him to entertain, and would persuade me to the madness of a union without my father's sanction. But to this, Matilda, I will not be persuaded. I have resisted; I have subdued the rebellious feeling which arose to aid his plea; yet how to extricate myself from this unhappy labyrinth, in which fate and folly have entangled us ! : « I have thought upon it, Matilda, till my head is almost giddy-nor can I conceive a better plan than to make a full confession to my father. He deserves it, for his kindness is unceasing; and I think I have observed in his character, since I have studied it more nearly, that his harsher feelings are chiefly excited where he suspects deceit or imposition; and in that respect, perhaps, his character was formerly misunderstood by one who was dear to bim. He has, too, a tinge of romance in his disposition; and I have seen the narrative of a generous action, a trait of heroism, or virtuous self-denial, extract tears from him, which refused to flow, at a tale of mere distress. But then, Brown urges, that he is personally hostile to him-And the obscurity of his birththat would be indeed a stumbling-block – 0 Matilda, I hope none of your ancestors ever fought at Poictiers or Agincourt. If it were not for the esteem which my father attaches to the memory of old Sir Miles Mannering, I should make out my explanation with half the tremor which must now attend it.»
« I have this instant received your letter-your most welcome letter!—Thanks, my dearest friend, for your sympathy and your counselsI can only repay them with unbounded confidence.
« You ask me, what Brown is by origin, that his descent should be so unpleasing to my father. His story is shortly told. He is of Scottish extraction, but, being left an orphan, his education was undertaken by a family of relations settled in Holland. He was bred to commerce, and sent very early to one of our settlements in the East, where his guardian had a correspondentBut this correspondent was dead when he arrived in India, and he had no other resource than to offer himself as a clerk to a counting-house. The breaking out of the war, and the straits to which we were at first reduced, threw the army
open to all young men who were disposed to embrace that mode of life; and Brown, whose genius had a strong military tendency, was the first to leave what might have been the road to wealth, and to chuse that of fame. The rest of his history is well known to you; but conceive the irritation of my father, who despises commerce, (though, by the way, the best part of his property was made in that honourable profession by my great uncle,) and has a particular antipathy to the Dutch; think with what ear he would be likely to receive proposals for his only child from Van-beest Brown, educated for charity by the house of Van-beest and Van-bruggen! 0, Matilda, it will never do-nay, so childish am I, I hardly can help sympathizing with his aristocratic feelings.- Mrs Van-beest Brown! The name has little to recommend it. - What children we are !»
« It is all over now, Matilda!-I shall never have courage to tell my father-nay, most deeply do I fear he has already learned my secret from another quarter, which will entirely remove the grace of my communication, and ruin whatever gleam of hope I had ventured to connect with it. Yesternight, Brown came as usual, and his flageolet on the lake announced his approach. We had agreed that he should continue to use this signal. These romantic lakes attract numerous
visitors, who indulge their enthusiasm in visiting the scenery at all hours; and we hoped, that if Brown were noticed from the house, he might pass for one of those admirers of nature, who gave vent to his feelings through the medium of music. The sounds might also be my apology should I be observed in the balcony. But last night, while I was eagerly enforcing my plan of a full confession to my father, which he as earnestly deprecated, we heard the window of Mr Mervyn's library, which is under my room, open softly. I signed to Brown to make his retreat, and immediately re-entered, with some faint hopes that our interview had not been observed.
« But, alas ! Matilda, these hopes vanished the instant I beheld Mr Mervyn's countenance at breakfast the next morning. He looked so provokingly intelligent and confidential, that, had I dared, I could have been more angry than ever I was in my life; but I must be on good behaviour, and my walks are now limited within his farm precincts, where the good gentleman can amble along by my side without inconvenience. I have detected him once or twice attempting to sound my thoughts, and watch the expression of my countenance. He has talked of the flageolet more than once; and has, at different times, made eulogiums upon the watchfulness and ferocity of his dogs, and the regularity with which the keeper makes his rounds with a loaded fowling-piece. He mentioned even men-traps and spring-grins. I should be loth to affront my father's old friend in his own house, but I do long to show him that I am my father's daughter, a fact of which Mr Mervyn will certainly be convinced, if ever I trust my voice and temper with a reply to these indirect hints. Of one thing I am certain-I am grateful to him on that account, he has not told Mrs Mervyn. Lord help me, I should have had such lectures about the dangers of love and the night air on the lake, the risk arising from colds and fortunehunters, the comforts and convenience of saekwhey and closed windows!—I cannot help trifling, Matilda, though my heart be sad enough. What Brown will do I cannot guess. I presume, however, the fear of detection prevents his resuming his nocturnal visit. He lodges at an inn on the opposite shore of the lake, under the name, he tells me, of Dawson, --he has a bad choice in names, that must be allowed. He has not left the army, I believe, but he says nothing of his present views.
« To complete my anxiety, my father is returned suddenly, and in high displeasure. Our good hostess, as I learned from a bustling conversation between her housekeeper and her, had no expectation of seeing him for a week, but I rather suspect his arrival was no surprise to his friend Mr Mervyn. His manner to me was singularly cold and constrained-sufficiently so to have damped all the courage with which I once resolved to throw myself on bis generosity. He lays the blame of his being discomposed and out