Page images

and believed it would be equally imprudent of her to suffer the guidance of a stranger, in a place she was wholly unacquainted with. She, therefore, thanking him for his information, said she would return by the same way she had come, but did not tell him her reasons for objecting to the other. Either Emily's countenance was too expressive, or the youth too discerning, but he read what passed in her mind, and without presuming to urge her farther, silently presented his hand, and conducted her in safety over to the opposite bank: when again taking off his cap, with a low bow, he was retiring, as she, drawing out her purse, requested of him to return, and made an offer of opening it, with the intent of presenting him some recompense, together, she said, with her grateful thanks for all his services.

The youth's face glowed to the deepest scarlet, and his eyes were lighted up with unusual fire, as, with a respectful wave of his hand, he declined her offer.

"I have

"I have done nothing, Madam,” said he, with an animated voice, " to merit a reward; the act is more than equal to one, in being permitted the honour of assisting you, which is the duty of our sex to yours, even at the hazard of their lives; mine has not been endangered, but if it even had, and that you thought I merited any reward, the pleasure I should feel, in believing you considered yourself obliged to me, would be the highest I could receive."

[ocr errors]

Forgive me," cried Emily, returning the purse to her pocket; "I did not mean to insult your feelings, which I now see are truly noble; and by them, I confess, I judge your station superior to your outward appearance.”,

"The soul of man, Madam," he answered, "is not to be judged by externals. The peasant may be born with the sentiments of a Prince. Perhaps you may think me proud in my expressions, and deserving of being humbled; but if it is a vanity unbecoming of me, the error is in my nature, which I would die rather than endeavour

deavour to subdue; and I acknowledge myself no better than I appear to be. My station is as obscure as my origin; for in a cottage, sheltered behind yon tall trees, I drew my first breath, and there I have ever since resided with a widowed mother."

Emily became every moment more astonished; admiration had given place to attention, and a sentiment, hitherto unknown to her, tempered both with respect for this extraordinary youth.

[ocr errors]

May I," said Emily," without hazard ing the opinion of being thought impertinently curious, ask you to favour me with your name?"

"The favour is to me, Madam," he replied, "that you condescend to enquire after so unknown a being: and I never heard the name with more pleasure than I now feel in answering to your demandArthur."

Emily was again silent; she pondered


on the name, as having somewhere heard it before, and recollected it was old Margarette, who had slightly mentioned a grandson of hers by it. As her curiosity was more interested than it ever had been in her life, she was anxiously solicitous to gratify it, without giving him offence, and she mentioned, in distant terms, the old woman having spoken of such a person.

"I am he, Madam," answered the youth; "and you may judge by that the insignificance of my extraction."

"Yet," said Emily, "humble as it is, your manners and actions, so superior, entitle you to a better situation in life; and indeed (pray don't be hurt at my freedom) how you have acquired such exalted sentiments, is not the least of my astonishment."

The youth again smiled and bowed.

"I have told you, Madam," he replied,


"they were born with me; but even in this retired spot, I found opportunities of assisting them, by my grandmother allowing me the use of Lord Fitzwalter's library, and there I have spent many hours indulging my favourite propensity. And this," added he, "accounts for my being more inclined to favour the Castle than the Cottage."

Emily had walked on towards the former during this dialogue, and was now just in sight of it; yet she felt a strange reluctance to quit the company of Arthur, without, perhaps, ever seeing him again, as she had been many days at the Castle, without meeting him till this morning.

"Do you visit your grandmother often?" asked Emily.

"Not since you, Madam, and your party have come to the Castle," he answered; my mother prohibited me."

"Then she was wrong, in my opinion,'

« PreviousContinue »