Imágenes de páginas

with her aunt, but he settled this matter in his own hard mind by the plea that if her life in town were dull, it was her own fault to choose it-he had not forced it upon her : it was open at any time, as he told her more than once, for her to return to Mrs. Lutterel, and she had only one trifling concession to make.

Nothing could be more monotonous, more uninteresting, than the life to which Emmeline was condemned during the first weeks of her sojourn in London; she was required to attend her father at the breakfast-table, which was set out with as much ceremony as if he had still been in the state cabin in the Hebe, and two men servants were constantly in waiting. The captain was delicate and deliberate in his appetite, and often studied the public news at table. Sometimes before Emmeline withdrew, he appointed an hour to take her out to see some spectacle, but even these excursions were made in silence. She did not often dine with him, and seldomer spent the evenings, and it was but little relief when she did so, for the worthy gentleman was a perfect adept in minute fault-finding, and perhaps in the whole round of petty domestic annoyances there is none greater than such as proceed from the minute critic, who is always finding fault with the arrangement of a sentence, some imaginary flaw in manners, or the disposition of a knot or a brooch.

Captain Loveday had his ideas on all these matters, and he had always prided himself in having his “ Hebe” trimmed in the most perfect style. Now he was exercising his faculties as a martinet upon his daughter for a while, to the utter extinction of all that sweet vivacity with which she was naturally endowed, and which the delightful views of religion she had received from on high, could not have failed to render more permanent than youth itself. Thus it seemed at first that her father was unapproachable by any effort of daughter-like love, whilst the maid, a foreigner, who had been chosen for her, proved to be a papist, and was so on her guard as not to be tempted on any account to hear a chapter read from the Bible, though Emmeline procured a French copy on purpose; and as the youth Damien was so near her in age, she did not dare to attempt more with him than to give him a Bible, encourage him to read it, and speak before him on the subject of religion, when there was any third person present whom she could venture to address.

But was it possible for the spring of life within thus to remain hidden in one of such natural spirit and strength of character as Emmeline, though it might have been said almost to have done so for many months with little Barbara ? No, no, it could not be; and that grace which is from above, taking hold of her natural affection for her father, urged her, after they had been in London a few weeks, to make some effort at first to break through the frost which was hardening between herself and her only parent; and next, to ascertain whether, through the divine favor, she, in her weakness, might not be made a channel of grace to him, as little Barbara had been to herself, and the poor despised Jocelyn to Barbara ?

He is not in good health, my poor father !” she said to herself, “ his hair is mixed with grey, the lines of age are beginning to shew themselves; he may soon be called away from me, and when we are parted, oh ! how may I regret the lost opportunity!" Full of these thoughts, she knelt and lifted up her heart in silence to her heavenly Father again and again. Nor did she pray in vain ; she was enabled to trust in him who said, “Whatsoever thou shalt ask in my name I will do it.” She asked for courage and strength to deal with her parent-and it was given her; and she asked, but too truly believing that if he were not actually an infidel, he was more than careless on religious subjects.

The first attempt made by the pious daughter to win her way towards an easy communication with her father, was as little encouraging in its result as it well might be. She chose the time when she was at the dinner-table with him, several servants being present; and she selected such occasion, because she had observed that in their presence he treated her with more attention and politeness than when they were alone together. She had but one clue, and that a very imperfect one, to guide her on, for it did not promise to lead her to the desired end, and yet it was her only hope. On usual occasions, her father never addressed her, and seldom condescended to reply to any remark of hers. She must first then, she was assured, contrive to gain his attention, and accustom him to the habit of conversing with her.

The clue she possessed was this : the first day of their meeting at Linton, the silly, but worldly-wise, Miss Mitchell, whom she knew he heartily despised, had contrived to draw him forth in conversation to a degree that rendered him an agreeable, if not an instructive companion, and the theme she had chosen was the navy, and more particularly such parts of it, its ships, its officers, and its battles, as were connected with himself, Captain Loveday.

The gentle daughter had since observed the effect such memories had upon her father, and it was to win his attention that she determined to try her power in drawing him out.

“Dear Sir,” she began, affecting an ease which she did not feel, some days since, you were telling a gentleman, in my presence, of a very perilous situation which you were in on the Baltic, soon after you took the command of the Hebe; I was called out of the room just as all the guns of Elsinore were open-mouthed upon you ; I long to hear how you escaped ?"

Perhaps,” returned the captain, after a somewhat protracted interval, “ if I were to explain the movements to which I had recourse, Miss Loveday, you might afterwards understand about as much as you do now." He was in the habit, before servants, of always using the same formal address to his daughter. It was not, therefore, this cold formality, but the sneering, contemptuous tone, which chilled her heart; but the Living Spring within her, however, animated her again to the contest, and she replied with forced cheerfulness, “ You forget, papa, that I am a sailor's daughter, and understand nautical matters by intuition; I must hear how you got out of that difficulty at Elsinore.”

What wine is this, Ramsey ?" growled the captain, as, instead of answering his daughter, he held up a full glass of some red liquid between his eyes and the lamp, glaring at it from under his bent and bushy eye-brows, with an expression of concentrated indignation.

The butler answered respectfully, but so steadily, as to prove that he was not to blame, even if the liquor were nothing better than sloe-juice; and silence being restored, Emmeline resumed her efforts, though, to use a nautical phrase, on another tack. Well, papa,” she said, “ if you will not tell me the issue of this business in the Baltic now, I must have patience. Mrs. St. Leger,-you know whom I mean, Sir,-used to say that I was a very pattern of patience, otherwise, she would add, I could never

[ocr errors]

have borne as I did with one of my little school-fellows, whom no one else liked, but that child never really tried my patience, for she was the sweetest companion I ever knew,-she was always ready to converse with me, papa- and it is very pleasant to live with any one who will enter into discourse with us.”

Or any one,” replied the captain, whilst seeming to be engaged in mixing up some condiments in his plate, “who will hear one talk, Miss Loveday ; but unless a person can speak to the purpose, it is not always so agreeable to act the auditor.” This speech he followed up by another appeal to Ramsey, the subject on this second occasion being Chili peppers, the captain asking him how he contrived to discharge the heat from every sample which he brought to table.

But Emmeline was not to be so baffled; her motive of action was a glorious one, and her courage was not to be overthrows by any difficulties which a human being could throw in her way. The spirit of truth left her not in doubt, that if she' persevered in her attempts to draw out her father towards herself, she could not but succeed even in a natural way, for she could not believe that there were not some strata of paternal affection lying below the deep bed of rubbish which the world had heaped upon it. Nobly and gallantly then did she pursue her purpose, not only until the meal was finished, but till the wine and biscuits were placed on the table afterwards ; and agreeably with her purpose, she continued to speak on, not suffering any symptom of fear or uneasiness to betray itself, and yet, as divinely guided, conforming all she said to what she thought her sullen father would approve if he could approve anything.

She was fully aware that had it not been for the presence of the servants, she would have been met with more than looks of displeasure and astonishment at her change of manner, which visibly glanced from beneath the eyebrows, and she was still wondering how it would be when the attendants were gone out, when the captain, having asked her if she would take a glass of wine, and been refused according to wont, added, much in his usual tone—“I shall be absent all the evening, Emmeline, and not be back again till you have retired.”

Then, papa,” answered the daughter, rising hastily and going round the table to him; “ then, dear papa, I shall wish you a

good night now," and kissing his cheek instead of his hand as he had used her aforetime to do, she flew up to her room to pour forth her feelings in a flood of tears, though under the persuasion that this first effort had passed off much better than she could have expected.

How often does the feeble champion of the cross sicken and faint through many discouragements in the middle of his course, and it is perhaps well it should be so, that all the glory of man's salvation, and man's conversion from first to last, may be given to him to whom only it is due. But thrice blessed are they who are made able to persevere unto the end of their earthly course! These are they who shall be set as jewels of light in the crown of their Redeemer, and amongst those blessed ones was that fair daughter of whom our narrative now speaks, and who now is gathered high in salvation, around that goodly company of pious sons and daughters of which the old rhyme thus speaks, when enumerating the hosts of the redeemed

“ And there were those who pass'd life's blooming year
Beside the mournful couch of parents dear,
Renouncing all the joys of early days,

To serve their God and sing their Saviour's praise!" Such strength and courage were added to Emmeline, that in a little, a very little time, the rugged frost of her father's nature began visibly to melt before her sweetly winning daughter-like attentions, and she was greatly assisted, through the Divine favor, by an illness, which somewhere about the end of the month of November confined her parent to his couch. The disease was rheumatic gout, and he required some one to be constantly rubbing one or another of his aching members. No one could do this service to his satisfaction but Emmeline, and when she was weary, his favorite Damien. Most wonderful were the means by which the circumstances related in the foregoing pages were rescued from oblivion in this present state of man's existence, and that information brought to light which can be only given in an abridged form in the present number; for gladly, were space allowed, would the narrator tell how for many months the sweet young daughter used to bear with her irritable parent, whilst he remained in utter helplessness upon his couch, and how at length she opened boldly out to him the whole statement of those

« AnteriorContinuar »