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قراءة كتاب Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309 New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

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‏اللغة: English
Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309
New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 309 New Series, Saturday, December 8, 1849

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

becoming, I daresay, among your wild Welsh mountains; but when you come into the busy world again, it is necessary to cast aside all sentiment and romance, as you would your old garden-bonnet. But, seriously, tell me about this will: how did you miss your good-fortune?'

'Miss Moore had a nephew, a barrister, who is striving very hard to fight his way at the bar: he has a mother and two sisters entirely depending on him, and they are all very poor. All my aunt's property is left to him.'

'Well, but why at least not shared with you?'

'I did not want it, you know, Selina, so much as they do. I have a home, and papa is rich, and so'——

'And so, I suppose, you very generously besought Miss Moore not to leave her fortune to you, but to her nephew?' said Selina with a scornful laugh.

'No, no; I should not have presumed to speak on the subject to my kind, good aunt. But one day before she had this last attack of illness she spoke to me about my prospects, and asked me if papa was getting on very well, and if he would be able to provide for me when I grew up'——

'And I've no doubt in the world,' interrupted Selina, staring with excessive wonderment in her sister's face, 'that you innocently replied that he would?'

'Of course, sister,' replied Lucy calmly; 'I could say nothing else, you know; for when I came to see you five years ago, papa told me that he meant to give us both fortunes when we married.'

'And you told Miss Moore this?'

'Certainly. She kissed me when I told her,' continued Lucy, beginning to weep again as all these reminiscences were summoned to her mind, 'and said that I had eased her mind very much, her nephew was very poor, and her money would do him and his family great service; and it is never a good thing for a young girl to have much money independent of her parents, my aunt said; and I think she was quite right.'

'Well,' said Selina, drawing a long breath, 'for a girl of nineteen years and three months of age I certainly do think you are the very greatest simpleton I ever saw.'

'Why so?' inquired Lucy in some surprise.

'Why, for telling your aunt about the fortune you would have: you might have known that she would not make you her heiress if you were rich already.'

'But she asked me the question, Selina.'

'That was no reason why you should have answered as you did.'

'How could I have answered otherwise after what papa had told me?'

Lucy was imperturbable in her simplicity and guilelessness. Selina turned from her impatiently, despairing of ever making her comprehend how foolishly she had behaved.

The next morning Mr and Mrs Davenant were informed by their eldest daughter of Lucy's communications to her respecting Miss Moore's property. Selina was surprised to find that they exhibited no signs of great anger or disappointment, but contented themselves with inveighing against Lucy's absurd simplicity, and her fatal deficiency in worldly wisdom.

'Not that it matters so very much this time,' said Mrs Davenant philosophically; 'for it appears that the amount of Miss Moore's fortune was very much exaggerated. Still, Lucy might as well have had her three thousand pounds as Arthur Meredith; and it grieves me—the entire affair—because it shows how very silly Lucy is in these matters. She sadly wants common sense I fear.'

Similar verdicts were pronounced with regard to poor Lucy almost every hour in the day, until she would plaintively and earnestly inquire, 'What could mamma mean by worldly wisdom?' Certainly it was a branch of knowledge which poor Miss Moore, with most unpardonable negligence, had utterly neglected to instil into her young relative's mind. But though it was greatly to be feared that Lucy would never possess wisdom, according to her mother's definition of the word, she could not avoid, as in course of time she became better acquainted with the principles and practices of her family, perceiving what it was that her parents dignified by so high-sounding a name. It made her very miserable to perceive the system of manœuvring that daily went on with regard to the most trivial as well as the more important affairs of life. She could not help seeing that truth was often sacrificed for the mere convenience of an hour, and was never respected when it formed an obstacle to the execution of any plan or arrangement.

She felt keenly how wrong all this was, but she dared not interfere. On two or three occasions, when she had ventured, timidly and respectfully, to remonstrate on the subject, she had been chidden with undue violence, and sent sad and tearful to her own room. With Selina she was equally unsuccessful; only, instead of scolding, her lively, thoughtless sister contented herself with laughing loudly, and contemptuously affecting to pity her 'primitive simplicity and ignorance.'

'It's a thousand pities, Lu, that your lot was not cast in the Arcadian ages. You are evidently formed by nature to sit on a green bank in shepherdess costume, twining flowers round your crook, and singing songs to your lambs. Excuse me, my dear, but positively that's all you are fit for. I wonder where I should be if I possessed your very, very scrupulous conscience, and your infinitesimally nice notions of right and wrong? I daresay you'd be highly indignant—excessively shocked—if you knew the little ruse I was forced to resort to in order to induce cross old Mrs Aylmer to take me to London with her last year. Don't look alarmed; I'm not going to tell you the whole story; only remember there was a ruse.'

'Surely, Selina, you don't exult in it?' said Lucy, vexed at her sister's air of triumph.

'Wait a minute. See the consequences of my visit to London, which, had I been over-scrupulous, would never have taken place. Had I been too particular, I should not have gone with Mrs Aylmer—should not have been introduced to her wealthy and fashionable friends—should not have met Mr Alfred Forde—ergo, should not have been engaged to be married to him, as I have at present the happiness of being.'

'My dear Selina,' said Lucy timidly, but affectionately, laying her hand upon her arm, and looking up into her face, 'are you sure that it is a happiness? Are you quite sure that you love Mr Forde?'

Selina frowned—perhaps in order to hide the blush that she could not repress—and then peevishly shook off her sister's gentle touch.

'No lectures, if you please,' she said, turning away. 'Whatever my feelings may be with regard to my future husband, they concern no one but him and myself. Be assured I shall do my duty as a wife far better than half the silly girls who indulge in hourly rhapsodies about their love, devotion, and so forth.'

Lucy sighed, but dared not say more on the subject. She was aware that Selina classed her with the 'silly girls' she spoke of. Some time before, when her heart was bursting with its own weight of joy and love, Lucy had been fain to yield to the natural yearning she felt for some one to whom she could impart her feelings, and had told her sister of her own love—love which she had just discovered was returned. What an icy sensation she experienced when, in reply to her timid and blushing confession, Selina sneered undisguisedly at her artless ingenuousness, and 'begged to know the happy individual's name!' And when she murmured the name of 'Arthur Meredith,' with all the sweet, blushing bashfulness of a young girl half afraid of the new happiness that has arisen in her heart—and almost fearing to whisper the beloved name even to her own ears—how crushing, how cruel was the light laugh of the other (a girl, too, yet how ungirlish!), as she exclaimed half in scorn, half in triumph, 'I thought so! No wonder Miss Moore's legacy was so easily resigned. I did not give you credit, Lu, for so much skill in manœuvring.' Lucy earnestly and indignantly disclaimed the insinuation; but Selina