After dinner the ladies retired, and shortly afterwards William Aveleyn quitted the room.
Newton thought this to be a good opportunity to acquaint his uncle with his attachment to Miss Revel, and the favourable result. Mr John Forster heard him without interruption.
"Very nice girl, I daresay, nephew, but you are too young to marry. You can't marry and go to sea. Follow your profession, Newton; speculate in opium—I'll find the means."
"I trust, sir, that I should never speculate in marrying: but, had I acted on that plan, this would prove the best speculation of the two. Miss Revel has a very large fortune."
"So much the worse: a man should never be indebted to his wife for his money—they never forget it. I'd rather you had fallen in love with a girl without a shilling."
"Well, sir, when I first fell in love she had not a sixpence."
"Humph!—well, nephew, that may be very true; but, as I said before, follow your profession."
"Marriage will not prevent my so doing, uncle. Most captains of Indiamen are married men."
"More fools they! leaving their wives at home to be flattered and fooled by the Lord knows who. A wife, nephew is—a woman."
"I hope that mine will be one, sir," replied Newton, laughing.
"Nephew, once for all, I don't approve of your marrying now—-that's understood. It's my wish that you follow your profession. I'll be candid with you; I have left you the heir to most of my fortune; but—I can alter my will. If you marry this girl I shall do so."
"Alter your will, brother?" said Nicholas, who had been attentive to the conversation. "Why, who have you to leave your money to, except to Newton?"
"To hospitals—to pay off the national debt—to anything. Perhaps I may leave it all to that little girl, who already has come in for a slice."
"But, brother," replied Nicholas, "will that be just, to leave all your money away from your family?"
"Just! yes, brother Nicholas, quite just. A man's will is his will. If he makes it so as to satisfy the wishes or expectations of others, it is no longer his will, but theirs. Nephew, as I said before, if you marry against my consent, I shall alter my will."
"I am sorry, sir, very sorry, that you should be displeased with me; but I am affianced to this lady, and no worldly consideration will induce me not to fulfil an engagement upon which, indeed, my future happiness depends. I have no claim upon you, sir; on the contrary, I have incurred a large debt of gratitude, from your kind protection. Anything else you would require of me—"
"Humph! that's always the case; anything else except what is requested. Brother Nicholas, do me the favour to go upstairs; I wish to speak with my nephew alone."
"Well, brother John, certainly, if you wish it—if you and Newton have secrets;" and Nicholas rose from his chair.
"Surely, sir," observed Newton, not pleased at the abrupt dismissal of his father, "we can have no secrets to which my father may not be a party."
"Yes, but I have, nephew. Your father is my brother, and I take the liberty with my brother, if you like that better—not with your father."
In the meantime Nicholas had stalked out of the room.
"Nephew," continued Mr John Forster, as the door closed, "I have stated to you my wish that you should not marry this young woman; and I will now explain my reasons. The girl left in my charge by my brother Edward has become the same to me as a daughter. I intend that you shall make three or four voyages as captain of an Indiaman; then you shall marry her, and become the heir to my whole fortune. Now you understand me. May I ask what are your objections?"
"None, sir, but what I have already stated—my attachment and engagement to another person."
"Is that all?"
"Is it not enough?"
"It appears that this young woman has entered into an engagement on board ship, without consulting her friends."
"She has no father, sir. She is of age, and independent."
"You have done the same."
"I grant it, sir; but even were I inclined, could I, in honour or honesty, retract?"
"Perhaps, sir, if you were acquainted with the young lady you might not be averse to the match."
"Perhaps, if I saw with your eyes, I might not; but that is not likely to be the case. Old men are a little blind and a little obstinate. After toiling through life to amass a fortune, they wish to have their own way of disposing of it. It is the only return they can receive for their labour. However, nephew, you will act as you please. As I said before, if you marry against my consent, I shall alter my will. Now, empty the bottle, and we'll go upstairs."
"And, Betty, give this cheek a little red."
The departure of Isabel in the Windsor Castle, so immediately after the death of Colonel Revel, prevented her communicating to her mother the alteration which had taken place in her circumstances, and her intended return to England. The first intimation received by Mrs Revel was from a hurried note sent on shore by a pilot-boat off Falmouth, stating Isabel's arrival in the Channel, and her anticipation of soon embracing her mother. Isabel did not enter into any particulars, as she neither had time, nor did she feel assured that the letter would ever reach its destination.
The letter did however come to hand two days before Isabel and Mrs Enderby arrived in the metropolis, much to the chagrin of Mrs Revel, who imagined that her daughter had returned penniless, to be a sharer of her limited income. She complained to Mr Heaviside, who as usual stepped in, not so much from any regard for Mrs Revel, but to while away the time of a far niente old bachelor.
"Only think, Mr Heaviside," said the lady, who was stretched on a sofa, supported on pillows, "Isabel has returned from India. Here is a letter I have just received, signed by her maiden name! Her sisters so well married too! Surely she might have stayed out with one of them! I wonder how she got the money to pay her passage home! Dear me, what shall I do with her?"
"If I may be allowed to see the letter, Mrs Revel," said the old gentleman—
"Oh, certainly, it's nothing but a note."
Mr Heaviside read the contents.
"There is very little in it indeed, Mrs Revel; not a word about the colonel, or why she left India. Perhaps the colonel may be dead."
"Then she might have gone to live with one of her sisters, Mr Heaviside."
"But perhaps he may have left her some property."
"And do you, a sensible man, think that if such was the case, my daughter would not have mentioned it in her note? Impossible, Mr Heaviside!"
"She may intend to surprise you, Mrs Revel."
"She has surprised me," replied the lady, falling back upon the pillows.
"Well, Mrs Revel, you will soon ascertain the facts. I wish you a good-morning, and will pay my devoirs in a day or two to inquire after your health, and hear what has taken place."
To defray the expenses attending the "consignment" of the three Miss Revels to India, Mrs Revel had consented to borrow money, insuring her life as a security to the parties who provided it. Her unprincipled husband took this opportunity of obtaining a sum which amounted to more than half her marriage settlement, as Mrs Revel signed the papers laid before her without examining their purport. When her dividends were become due, this treachery was discovered; and Mrs Revel found herself reduced to a very narrow income, and wholly deserted by her husband, who knew that he had no chance of obtaining further means of carrying on his profligate career. His death in a duel, which we have before mentioned, took place a few months after the transaction, and Mrs Revel was attacked with that painful disease, a cancer, so deeply seated as to be incurable. Still she was the same frivolous, heartless being; still she sighed for pleasure, and to move in those circles in which she had been received at the time of her marriage. But, as her income diminished, so did her acquaintances fall off; and at the period of Isabel's return, with the exception of Mr Heaviside and one or two others, she was suffered to pine away in seclusion.
Isabel was greeted with querulous indifference until the explanation of the first ten minutes; then, as an heiress, with the means as well as the desire of contributing to her mother's comforts, all was joy and congratulation. Her incurable disease was for the time forgotten; and although pain would occasionally draw down the muscles of her face, as soon as the pang was over, so was the remembrance of her precarious situation. Wan and wasted as a spectre, she indulged in anticipation of again mixing with the fashionable world, and talked of chaperoning Isabel to private parties and public amusements, when she was standing on the brink of eternity. Isabel sighed as she listened to her mother, and observed her attenuated frame; occasionally she would refer to her mother's state of health, and attempt to bring her to that serious state of mind which her awful situation demanded; but in vain: Mrs Revel would evade the subject. Before a week had passed, she had set up an equipage, and called upon many of her quondam friends to announce the important intelligence of her daughter's wealth. Most of them had long before given orders not to be "at home to Mrs Revel." The few to whom, from the remissness of their porters, she obtained admittance, were satisfied at their servants' negligence when they heard the intelligence which Mrs Revel had to communicate. "They were so delighted; Isabel was always such a sweet girl; hoped that Mrs Revel would not be such a recluse as she had been, and that they should prevail upon her to come to their parties!" An heiress is of no little consequence when there are so many younger brothers to provide for; and, before a short month had flown away, Mrs Revel, to her delight, found that the cards and invitations of no inconsiderable portion of the beau monde covered the table of her confined drawing-room. To Isabel, who perceived that her mother was sinking every day under the exertion she went through, all this was a source of deep regret. It occurred to her that to state her engagements with Newton Forster would have some effect in preventing this indirect suicide. She took an opportunity of confiding it to her mother, who listened to her with astonishment.
"Isabel! what do I hear? What! that young man who calls here so often! You, that can command a title, rank, and fashion, engage yourself to a captain of an Indiaman! Recollect, Isabel, that now your poor father is dead, I am your legal protector; and without my permission I trust you have too much sense of filial duty to think of marrying. How you could venture to form an engagement without consulting me is quite astonishing! Depend upon it, I shall not give my consent; therefore, think no more about it."
How often do we thus see people, who make no scruples of neglecting their duties, as eagerly assert their responsibility, when it suits their convenience.
Isabel might have retorted, but she did not. In few words, she gave her mother to understand that she was decided, and then retired to dress for a splendid ball, at which, more to please her mother than herself, she had consented to be present.
It was the first party of any consequence to which Mrs Revel had been invited. She considered it as her re-entree into the fashionable world, and the presentation of her daughter; she would not have missed it for any consideration. That morning she had felt more pain than usual, and had been obliged to have recourse to restoratives; but once more to join the gay and fashionable throng—the very idea braced her nerves, rendered her callous to suffering, and indifferent to disease.
"I think," said Mrs Revel to her maid—"I think," said she, panting, "you may lace me a little closer, Martyn."
"Indeed, madam, the holes nearly meet; it will hurt your side."
"No, no, I feel no pain this evening—there, that will do."
The lady's-maid finished her task, and left the room.
Mrs Revel rouged her wan cheeks, and, exhausted with fatigue and pain, tottered to an easy-chair, that she might recover herself a little before she went downstairs.
In a quarter of an hour Isabel, who had waited for the services of Martyn, entered her mother's room, to announce that she was ready. Her mother, who was sitting in the chair, leaning backwards, answered her not. Isabel went up to her, and looked her in the face—she was dead!
"My dearest wife was like this maid, And such my daughter might have been."
The reader may be surprised at the positive and dictatorial language of Mr John Forster, relative to Newton's marriage, as detailed in a former chapter; but, as Mr John Forster truly observed, all the recompense which he had to expect for a life of exertion was to dispose of the fruits of his labour according to his own will. This he felt; and he considered it unreasonable that what he supposed a boyish attachment on the part of Newton was to overthrow all his preconcerted arrangements. Had Mr Forster been able to duly appreciate the feelings of his nephew, he probably would not have been so decided; but Love had never been able to establish himself as an inmate of his breast. His life had been a life of toil. Love associates with idleness and ease. Mr Forster was kind and cordial to his nephew as before, and the subject was not again renewed; nevertheless, he had made up his mind, and having stated that he would alter his will, such was his intention, provided that his nephew did not upon mature reflection accede to his wishes. Newton once more enjoyed the society of Isabel, to whom he imparted all that had occurred. "I do not wish to play the prude," answered Isabel, "by denying that I am distressed at your uncle's decision; to say that I will never enter into his family without having received his consent, is saying more than my feelings will bear out; but I must and will say that I shall be most unwilling so to do. We must, therefore, as Madame de Fontanges did with the pirate captain, temporise, and I trust we shall be as successful." Newton, more rational than most young men in love, agreed with Isabel on the propriety of the measure, and, satisfied with each other's attachment, they were by no means in a hurry to precipitate their marriage.
It may be recollected that Newton Forster felt convinced that the contents of the trunk which he picked up at sea, when mate of the coasting vessel, was the property of the Marquis de Fontanges. During their passage home in the Windsor Castle, he had renewed the subject to M. de Fontanges, and from the description which he gave from memory, the latter appeared to be of the same opinion. The conversation had not been revived until some time after their arrival in England, when Newton, anxious to restore the articles, desired M. de Fontanges to communicate with the marquis, and request that he would appoint a day upon which he would call at his uncle's and identify the property. The marquis, who had never been informed by M. de Fontanges that any supposed relics of his lost wife remained, sighed at the memory of his buried happiness—buried in that vast grave, which defrauds the earth of its inherent rights—and consented to call upon the ensuing day. When the marquis arrived, accompanied by M. and Madame de Fontanges, he was received in the drawing-room by Mr John Forster, who had brought from his chamber the packet in question, which had remained locked up in the iron safe ever since Newton had first committed it to his charge. After their introduction to each other, the marquis observed, in English—
"I am giving you a great deal of trouble; unavailing indeed; for, allowing that the articles should prove to be mine, the sight of them must be a source of renewed misery."
"Sir," replied Mr John Forster, "the property does not belong to my nephew, and he has very properly reserved it until he could find out the legal owner. If the property is yours, we are bound to deliver it into your hands. There is an inventory attached to it," continued the old lawyer, putting on his spectacles, and reading, "one diamond ring—but perhaps it would be better that I should open the packet."
"Will you permit me to look at the diamond ring, sir?" observed M. de Fontanges. "The sight of that will identify the whole."
"There it is, sir," replied Mr John Forster.
"It is, indeed, that of my poor sister-in-law!" said M. de Fontanges, taking it up to the marquis. "My brother, it is Louise's ring!"
"It is," cried the marquis, passionately, "the ring that I placed in the centre of her corbeille de mariage. Alas! where is the hand which graced it?" and the marquis retreated to the sofa, and covered his face.
"We have no occasion then to proceed further," observed Mr John Forster, with emotion. "The other articles you, of course, recognise?"
"I do," replied Monsieur de Fontanges. "My brother had taken his passage in the same vessel, but was countermanded. Before he had time to select all his own baggage, which was mixed with that of his wife, the ship was blown out to sea, and proceeded on her voyage. These orders of merit were left with her jewels."
"I observe," said the old lawyer, "which I did not when Newton entrusted the packet to my charge, that the linen has not all the same marks; that of the adult is marked L. de M., while that which belonged to the child is marked J. de F. Was it the marquis's child?"
"It was; the linen of the mother was some belonging to her previous to her marriage. The maiden name was Louise de Montmorenci; that of the child has the initials of its name, Julie de Fontanges."
"Humph! I have my reasons for asking that question," replied the old lawyer. "Newton, do me the favour to step to my chambers and open the safe. You will find in it, on the right-hand side, another small bundle of linen: bring it here. Stop, Newton, blow the dust out of the pipe of the key before you put it in, and be careful that it is well inserted before you turn it, or you may strain the wards. In all other points, you may be as quick as you please. My lord Marquis', will you allow me to offer you some refreshment?—a glass of wine will be of service. Brother Nicholas, do me the favour to call Amber."
Newton and Nicholas both departed on their respective missions. Amber made her appearance.
"Papa," said Amber, "do you want me?"
"Yes, my dear," said Mr Forster, handing her the keys; "go down to the cellaret and bring up some wine. I do not wish the servants to come in just now."
Amber reappeared with a small tray. She first handed it to the marquis, who was roused at her voice.
"Papa requests that you will take some wine, sir. It will be of service to you."
The marquis, who had looked earnestly in her face when she had spoken, took the wine, and drinking it off, bowed as he replaced the glass. He then sunk back on the sofa.
When the rap at the door announced the return of Newton, Mr John Forster requested M. de Fontanges, in a low voice, to follow him, and directing Newton, whom they met on the stairs, to return, they proceeded to the dining-parlour.
"I have requested you to come down, sir," said Mr John Forster, "that I might not, without being certain, raise hopes in your brother the marquis, which, if not realised, would create bitter feelings of disappointment; but I remarked the initials on the linen of the child; and if my memory, which is not very bad, fails me not, we shall find corresponding ones in the packet now before us;" and the old lawyer opened the bundle and displayed the contents, which proved to be marked as he had surmised.
"Most true," replied Monsieur de Fontanges. "They are the same, and of course part of the property which was picked up."
"Yes; but not picked up at the same time, or at the same spot, or by the same person. Those above stairs were, as you know, picked up by my nephew; these by a brother, who is since dead: and in these clothes an infant was also washed upon the beach."
"His child!" exclaimed Monsieur de Fontanges. "Where was it buried?"
"The child was restored to life, and is still living."
"If it is," replied Monsieur de Fontanges, "it can be no other than the young lady who just now called you father. The likeness to Madame la Marquise is most astonishing."
"It is as you suppose, sir," replied Mr John Forster. "At my brother's death, he bequeathed the little girl to my protection; and I trust I have done justice to the deposit. Indeed, although an alien by blood, she is as dear to me as if she were my own daughter: and," continued the old lawyer, hesitating a little, "although I have the satisfaction of restoring her to her father's arms, it will be a heavy blow to part with her! When my brother spoke to me on the subject, I told him it was trouble and expense enough to bring up a child of one's own begetting. I little thought at the time how much more I should be vexed at parting with one of another's. However, with the bundle, she must be returned to the lawful owner. I have one more remark to make, sir. Do me the favour to look at that drawing of my poor brother's, which hangs over the sideboard. Do you recognise the portrait?"
"Triton!" cried Monsieur de Fontanges; "the dog which I gave my poor sister-in-law!"
"You are indebted to that dog for the life of your niece. He brought her on shore, and laid her at my brother's feet; but I have all the documents, which I will send for your perusal. The facts I consider so well established as to warrant a verdict in any court of justice; and now, sir, I must leave you to make the communication as soon, and, at the same time, as cautiously as you please. Newton, send Amber down to me."
We will pass over the scenes which followed in the dining-parlour and drawing-room. The Marquis de Fontanges discovered that he was blest with a daughter, at the same time that Amber learnt her own history. In a few minutes Amber was led upstairs to the arms of her father, whose tears of sorrow at the loss of his wife were now mingled with those of delight, as he clasped his daughter to his heart.
"What obligations do I owe to your whole family, my dear friend!" said the Marquis to Newton.
"I will not deny it, sir," replied Newton; "but allow me to observe, that for the recovery of your daughter you are equally indebted to the generosity of your own relatives and your own feeling disposition. Had not Monsieur and Madame de Fontanges protected and assisted me in my distress; had not you, instead of throwing me into prison, set me at liberty, you never would have known where your daughter was to be found. Had not one of my uncles hastened to the relief of the vessel in distress, and the other protected your little girl after his death, she would not have been now in existence. My gratitude for your kindness induced me to remain by your ship, and subsequently to rescue you from the pirate, or you would not have now been a prisoner in this country—an evil which, under divine Providence, has been changed to a blessing, by restoring to you your daughter. We have all, I trust, done our duty, and this happy issue is our full reward."
"Humph!" observed the old lawyer.
"Thus far our chronicle—and now we pause, Though not for want of matter, but 'tis time."
Amber, or Julie de Fontanges, as we must now call her, quitted the abode of her kind protector in such distress, that it was evident she regretted the discovery which had been made. She was too young to be aware of the advantages of high birth, and her removal was for some time a source of unfeigned regret. It appeared to her that nothing could compensate for the separation from her supposed father, who doted on her, from Mrs Forster, who had watched over her, from Nicholas, who amused her, and from Newton, whom she loved as a brother. But the idea of going to a foreign country, and never seeing them or William Aveleyn again, and, though last, not least, to find that she was not an Englishwoman, and in future must not rejoice at their victories over her own nation, occasioned many a burst of tears when left alone to her own meditations. It was long before the devotion of her father, and the fascinating attentions of M. and Madame de Fontanges, could induce her to be resigned to her new condition. Mr John Forster felt his bereavement more deeply than could have been supposed. For many days after the departure of Julie, he seldom spoke, never made his appearance, except at dinner-time, and as soon as the meal was finished, hastened to his chambers, where he remained very late. Intense application was the remedy which he had selected to dispel his care, and fill up the vacuum created by the absence of his darling child.
"Newton," said he, one evening, as they discussed a bottle of port, "have you considered what I proposed? I confess to you that I am more than ever anxious for the match; I cannot part with that dear child, and you can bring her back to me."
"I have reflected, sir; but the case must be viewed in a very different light. You might affiance your adopted daughter at her early age, but the Marquis de Fontanges may not be so inclined; nay, further, sir, it is not impossible that he may dislike the proposed match. He is of a very noble family."
"I have thought on that subject," replied Mr John Forster; "but our family is as well descended, and quite well enough for any Frenchman, let him be a marquis, or even a duke. Is that the only obstacle you intend to raise —or, if this is removed, will you again plead your attachment to another?"
"It is the only one which I mean to raise at present, sir. I acknowledge Julie de Fontanges to be a sweet girl, and, as a relation, I have long been much attached to her."
"Humph!" replied the old lawyer; "I always thought you a sensible lad—we shall see."
Now, be it observed, that there was a certain degree of the jesuitical on the part of our friend Newton on this occasion,—excusable only from his wish that the mortification of his uncle at the disappointment of his hopes should not be occasioned by any further resistance on his part.
To M. de Fontanges, who was aware of Newton's attachment to Isabel, he had, previous to the discovery which had taken place, communicated the obstacle to his union, raised by the pertinacity of his uncle. After the removal of Julie, M. de Fontanges acquainted his brother with the wishes of Mr John Forster, and explained to him how much they were at variance with those of Newton.
The first time that Newton called upon the marquis, the latter, shaking him warmly by the hand, said,—"I have been informed, my dear Newton, by my brother, of the awkward predicament in which you are placed by the wish of your uncle that you should marry my Julie when she grows up. Believe me, when I say it, there is no man to whom I would sooner confide the happiness of my daughter, and that no consideration would induce me to refuse you, if you really sought her hand; but I know your wishes, and your attachment to Miss Revel, therefore be quite easy on the subject. Your uncle made his proposition when Julie had no father to be consulted: the case is now different; and, for your sake, I intend, for a time, to injure myself in the opinion of your good relation. I shall assume, I trust what, if ever I had it, would be immediately sacrificed to gratitude,—I mean, high aristocratical pride; and should your uncle make the proposal, refuse it upon the grounds that you are not noble by descent. No one will deny your nobility on any other point. Do you understand me, Newton? and will my so doing be conformable to your wishes?"
"It will, Monsieur le Marquis, and I thank you most sincerely."
"Then make no objection when he proposes the match a second time; leave all the obloquy on my shoulders," said the marquis, smiling.
This arrangement having been made, it was not surprising that Newton heard his uncle's renewal of the proposition with such calmness and apparent acquiescence.
"We dine with the marquis to-morrow, Newton," observed Mr John Forster; "I shall take an opportunity after dinner of requesting a few minutes' interview, when I shall put the question to him."
"Certainly, sir, if you think right," replied Newton.
"Well, I'm glad the dear girl has changed that foolish name of Amber. What could possess my brother? Julie is very fine, nevertheless; but then she was christened by French people."
The next day the parties met at dinner. Isabel Revel had been asked; and, having heard from Madame de Fontanges of the plan agreed upon, and anxious to see the old lawyer, she had consented to join the party. The dinner passed off as most dinners do when the viands and wines are good, and everybody is inclined to be happy. Isabel was placed next to Mr Forster, who, without knowing who she was, felt much pleased with the deference and attention of so beautiful a young woman.
"Newton," said his uncle, when the ladies retired, and the gentlemen packed up their chairs, "who was that young lady who sat next to me?"
"The young lady, my dear uncle, whom I did wish to introduce to you as my intended wife—Miss Isabel Revel."
"Humph!—why, you never spoke to her before dinner, or paid her any common civility!"
"You forget, sir, your injunctions, and—"
"That's no reason, nephew, why you should forget common civility. I requested that you would not marry the young lady; but I never desired you to commit an act of rudeness. She is a very nice young person; and politeness is but a trifle, although marriage is a very serious thing."
In pursuance of his plans, when the gentlemen rose, Mr John Forster requested a few minutes' conversation with the marquis, who, bowing politely, showed the way to a small study on the same floor.
Mr Forster immediately stated his wish that an engagement should be formed between his nephew and Julie de Fontanges.
"Mr Forster," replied the marquis, drawing up proudly, "the obligations I am under to your family are so great, that there are but few points in which I could refuse you; and I therefore am quite distressed that of this proposal I am obliged to decline the honour. You may be ignorant, Mr Forster, that the family of the De Fontanges is one of the oldest in France; and, with every respect for you and your nephew, and all gratitude for your kindness, I cannot permit my daughter to form a mesalliance."
"A mesalliance!—humph! I presume, sir, in plain English, it means marrying beneath her rank in life?"
The marquis bowed.
"I beg to observe, sir," said Mr John Forster, "that our family is a very old one. I can show you our pedigree. It has lain for some years by the side of your daughter's bundle in the iron safe."
"I have no doubt of the excellence of your family, Mr Forster. I can only express my deep regret that it is not noble. Excuse me, Mr Forster; except you can prove that—"
"Why, I could prove it by purchasing a dozen marquisates, if I thought proper!"
"Granted, Mr Forster. In our country they are to be purchased; but we make a great difference between the parvenus of the present day and the ancienne noblesse."
"Well, Mr Marquis, just as you please; but I consider myself quite as good as a French marquis," replied Mr Forster, in a tone of irritation.
"Better than many, I have no doubt; but still, we draw the line. Noble blood, Mr Forster."
"Noble fiddlestick! Monsieur le Marquis, in this country, and the inhabitants are not fools, we allow money to weigh against rank. It purchases that, as it does everything else, except heaven. Now, Monsieur le Marquis—"
"Excuse me, sir; no money will purchase the hand of Julie de Fontanges," replied the marquis.
"Well, then, Monsieur le Marquis, I should think that the obligations you are under in restoring your daughter to your arms—"
"Warrants your asking for her back again, Mr Forster?" replied the marquis, haughtily. "A labourer might find this diamond solitaire that's now upon my finger. Does it therefore follow that I am to make him a present of it?"
"Humph!" ejaculated Mr Forster, much affronted with the comparison.
"In short, my dear sir, anything which you or your family can think of, which it is in our power to grant, will make us most happy; but to sully the blood of the most ancient—"
John Forster would hear no more; he quitted the room and walked upstairs before the marquis had completed his speech. When he entered the drawing-room, his countenance plainly expressed his disappointment. Like all men who have toiled for riches, he had formed plans, in which he considered his wealth was to command success, and had overlooked every obstacle which might present itself against the completion of his wishes.
"Newton," said he, as they stood apart near the window, "you have been a good lad in not persisting to thwart my views, but that French marquis, with his folly and his 'ancienne noblesse,' has overthrown all my plans. Now, I shall not interfere with yours. Introduce me to Miss what's her name; she is a very fine girl, and from what I saw of her during dinner, I like her very much."
Isabel exerted herself to please, and succeeded.
Satisfied with his nephew's choice, flattered by his previous apparent submission, and disgusted with the marquis, Mr John Forster thought no more of Mademoiselle de Fontanges. His consent was voluntary, and in a short time Isabel Revel changed her name.
It was about five months after Newton's marriage that he received a letter from the Board, appointing him to the command of a ship. Newton handed the letter over to Mr Forster.
"I presume, sir, it is your wish that I should accept the offer?"
"What offer?" said the old lawyer, who was reading through a case for counsel's opinion. "Melville—for Madras and China.—Why, Newton, I really do not see any occasion for your going afloat again. There is an old proverb—'The pitcher that goes often to the well is broken at last.' You're not tired of your wife already?"
"I hope not, sir; but I thought it might be your wish."
"It's my wish that you should stay at home. A poor man may go to sea, because he stands a chance to come home rich; but a man who has money in hand, and in prospect, if he goes to sea, he is a fool. Follow your profession as long as you require it, but no longer."
"Why, then, do you work so hard, my dear sir," said Isabel, leaning over the old gentleman, and kissing him, in gratitude for his decision. "Surely you can afford to relax a little now?"
"Why do I work so hard, Isabel?" replied Mr Forster, looking up at her through his spectacles. "Why, you expect to have a family, do you not?"
Isabel blushed; the expectation was undeniable.
"Well, then, I presume the children will have no objection to find a few thousands more to be divided among them by-and-bye—will they, daughter?"
The conversation was interrupted by the entry of a servant with a letter; Mr Forster broke the seal, and looked at the signature.
"Humph! from the proud old marquis. 'Very sorry, for a short period, to have fallen in your good opinion—should have rejoiced to have called Newton my son-in-law! '—Humph! 'Family pride all assumed—Newton's happiness at stake—trust the deceit will be pardoned, and a renewal of former intimacy.' Why, Newton, is all this true?"
"Ask Isabel, sir," replied Newton, smiling.
"Well, then, Isabel, is all this true?"
"Ask Newton, sir," replied Isabel, kissing him. "The fact is, my dear sir, I could not afford to part with Newton, even to please you, so we made up a little plot."
"Humph!—made up a little plot—well—I sha'n't alter my will, nevertheless;" and Mr Forster recommenced the reading of his brief.
Such is the history of Newton Forster, which, like most novels or plays, has been wound up with marriage. The last time that I appeared before my readers, they were dissatisfied with the termination of my story; they considered I had deprived them of "a happy marriage," to which, as an undoubted right, they were entitled, after wading through three tedious volumes. As I am anxious to keep on good terms with the public, I hasten to repair the injury which it has sustained, by stating that about three years after the marriage of Newton Forster, the following paragraph appeared in the several papers of the metropolis:
"Yesterday, by special license, the Right Honourable William Lord Aveleyn to Mademoiselle Julie de Fontanges, only daughter of the Marquis de Fontanges, late Governor of the Island of Bourbon. The marriage was to have been solemnised in December last, but was postponed, in consequence of the death of the late Lord Aveleyn. After the ceremony, the happy couple," &c. Sec. &c.
* * * * *
And now, most arbitrary public, I consider that I have made the amende honorable, and that we are quits; for, if you were minus a happy marriage in the last work, you have a couple to indemnify you in the present.