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dear George !' exclaimed she, raising his head, and pressing her lips repeatedly to his pale brow: 'O Heaven, he has killed himself to serve me!--to gratify a trifling wish of mine! I shall die also I cannot live after him! George, dear George, speak to me!'
In this manner did the young lady express the wild and agonised feelings with which she beheld the condition of the companion of her childhood. Erelong, he regained his senses, for he had but swooned through pain, his shoulder being dislocated by his fall; and he recovered in time to become fully aware of the secret of Harriet's heart, disclosed in the moments of her distress. At first, he felt as if he could have borne all the pain of his accident, and have again shut his eyes, to hear her voice and her expressions a little longer; but his better nature regained the ascendancy, and even in that moment he called to mind his own station and hers. He roused himself, to assure her that his hurt was comparatively slight, and that if he could but get a little assistance, he would be able to walk home. At first, she would have had him to lean upon her own arm for support, but at length, directed by him, she went to the nearest cottage for other assistance. She soon returned with two or three of the cottagers, but it was with a quieter step, and with a cheek coloured by reflection on the events of the past half-hour.
George Dale was carried home, and for some time afterwards was confined through the consequences of his accident. While he was in these circumstances, the Blakelys were very kind to him, as indeed all of them had ever been. It was at that period, too, that from conversations with Frank and others who visited his sick couch, he learned something which interested him deeply. The young gentleman who had visited Blakely Hall with Frank, having gone home and received his father's sanction, returned to the Hall, and proposed for the hand of Harriet. To the surprise, and also to the regret of her mother and brother, who thought the match an excellent one, the suitor being of good character, and heir to an extensive estate, Harriet gave him a decided refusal, and, in place of any satisfactory explanation, made matters worse by begging her brother and Mrs Blakely never again to entertain any thoughts of marriage for her in future. When George Dale heard of this, and listened to the confidential regrets of Frank upon the subject, a struggle took place in his bosom. After what had passed on the morning of his accident, he could not but feel and believe that Harriet loved himself. The thought excited a mixture of emotions, but the mental contention within ended in a firm resolve to sacrifice everything for the peace of the family to which he owed so much. He determined to quit Blakely Hall; and, as he could not quit it without giving a reason, he resolved to explain the true cause to Frank, only hinting at that as a suspicion, which he himself was almost inclined to think a certainty.
As soon as he had recovered from his illness, he sought an interview with Frank, and made his intended communication. Young Blakely was much affected by the disinterested integrity of his early playmate. . Would to Heaven, George,' said he,' that you were her equal in station, or anything near to it! I could not desire her happiness to be in better hands. But as it is, the thing is out of the question. You have done rightly, and nobly!'
Nothing but my simple duty — nothing but what gratitude commanded me to do,' said George.
“But you shall not lose by it, continued Frank : “if I, if my friends, have the slightest influence in the world, you shall not lose by your conduct?
Frank Blakely did not forget his promise. He exerted himself so earnestly with the member for the county, that a situation in one of the public offices was procured for George Dale, and, to enter on it, he quitted Blakely Hall. For the next five years, his career was a most prosperous one, and deservedly so; for his industry was unremitting, and his talents of no mean order. At the end of the period mentioned, the steps which he had ascended one by one had brought him into possession of a very handsome income, and given him a respectable and gentlemanly station in the world. During the interval following his departure from Blakely Hall, he had heard nothing of its inmates, excepting that Mrs Blakely, his kind patroness, had died.
In what condition Harriet was, whether single or wedded, he had not learned. But he himself had not forgotten the past, and it was therefore with an anxious and fluttering heart that he perused a letter, which at length came to him from Frank Blakely, inviting him to visit the Hall as a guest and friend. The note was brief, and entered into no particulars. George lost as little time as possible in accepting the invitation, and speedily followed up that acceptance by presenting himself at the gates of the well-known abode of his youth.
He was received in the first instance by Frank alone, and the latter entered at once into a conversation most interesting to his guest.
• My dear George, Harriet is yet unmarried. She has refused all offers since you left us, in so decided a way, that I have at last become convinced that she either resolutely prefers the unmarried state, or still clings to the remembrance of yourself. The subject is a delicate one, and I have had no explanations with her; but I must tell you, that she constantly expresses a wish to remain single, and, as she is quite cheerful, though not very gay, she may in this speak the truth. But you are now in a respectable position in life, and were you even in one less so, I could not see my only sister's chance of earthly happiness, if it does depend on a union with you, thrown away. I learned that you were still unmarried, and now you have my full sanction in addressing Harriet, if you choose it. But be not too confident: I tell you again that she ever expresses a wish to remain single.?
George thanked his young patron most warmly, and confessed that the feelings which had made his former position most trying, were still predominant in his breast.
• But be not too confident,' repeated Frank with a smile, as George concluded his avowal.
George and Harriet were left to themselves for some
moments that evening, and then was seen another proof of the wide applicability of Benedict's reasoning — When I said I would die single, I did not think I should live till I were married. Harriet Blakely had had much the same meaning in her declarations. George Dale had been her first and only love. Thrown into his society in childhood, she had loved him ere she knew what distinctions of rank were, or at least before she could appreciate them. When George made the offer of his heart and hand, she accepted it with a blushing joy, proportioned to its unexpectedness. So ends our story. It hath a moral, or rather a double moral. It tells parents, in the first instance, that if they would not have the young to form connections out of their station, they must guard against opportunities being given for it, and remember that there is a sort of free-masonry in youth, which takes no cognisance of social inequalities. Ere the consciousness of these is acquired, the affections may be irrevocably engaged. But our little story has also a more pleasing moral ; for we find in it self-command, disinterestedness, and high principle displayed under the most trying circumstances, and in the long-run rewarded in the most appropriate manner- - namely, by the prize which had been so nobly rejected, when it could not be accepted with honour.*
THE DROP OF DEW.
BY ANDREW MARVELL.-(1620–1678.)
See how the orient dew,
Shed from the bosom of the morn,
For the clear region where 'twas born,
* The reader will find the outline of this true story in the Loungers Commonplace Book.
Round in itself encloses :
Scarce touching where it lies ;
But gazing back upon the skies,
Like its own tear,
So the soul, that drop, that ray
Every way it turns away ;
Yet receiving in the day ; Dark beneath, but bright above, Here disdaining, there in love : How loose and easy hence to go! How girt and ready to ascend ! Moving but on a point below, It all about does upwards bend. Such did the manna's sacred dew distil, White and entire although congealed and chill ; Congealed on earth ; but does dissolving run Into the glories of the Almighty sun.