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They felt it in each other's hearts I ween;
But see! Oh horrid change! The girl's a flirt!
He wails by moonlight, while the night-owl screeches!
The next was written after supper (eggs and bacon, followed by Welsh rabbit) and will speak for itself:
All nature frowns in darkness; and the skies
Squats on its hams-and-would I were mistaken!
"A change comes o'er the spirit of
Fantastic forms that are not what they seem,
Creatures so strange I wonder how I dreamt 'em!
With fleshless jaws! But sight still more shocking!
I can no more.
Brandy punch, it seems, to judge from the following irregular effusion, had a sort of Pindaric effect :
Reason the joys of drinking mars
Who sings a song ?
Don't let it be long
Light your cigars!
But mind that it's rich and uproarious!
Sing of women and wine,
With cheers nine times nine,
And we all will be happy and glorious!
It was plain that this state of things could not last; in a short time I should have become a public nuisance. The walls of my room were scrawled over with scraps of poetry and odds and ends of rhymes and
I had already startled my tutor by exclaiming in the middle of a problem of Euclid that Laviniă made a capital dactyl! The worthy man reproved me gently; and reminded me that Lavinia was the wife of Eneas (what had become of his wife Creusa, he remarked, had always been a problem with the learned, but Æneas lost her somehow, before gas-lights were invented, in the dark, (notwithstanding Troy was in a blaze) in turning round a corner ;) Æneas, he proceeded to remind me, was married to the young lady (whether by bans or broomstick he could not tell) at Latium, after having overcome his rival Turnus, as was the custom in those days, (but now nobody fights for a wife-it's all the other way) in single combat.
I seized this latter idea with avidity, and remembering that even with the son of the Goddess of Love the course of true love was a little roughish, I became reconciled to my own crosses; with the fixed determination however, that as the prosaic Peter was my Turnus his presumption should be punished in the same way ;-with this difference only, but whereas "pater" Æneas is graphically represented in the picture as hacking his enemy to pieces by main force with a sword curiously resembling a huge kitchen carving-knife, I would shoot mine scientifically by means of the modern invention of the pistol-a discovery which enables tlemen to settle their differences without heating themselves, and to despatch one another with a fortiter in rê and a suaviter in modo in accordance with our improved ideas of good breeding and politeness.
The fermentation of spirits which these thoughts produced rapidly caused me to take a very different view of my position towards Lavinia from that which had at first possessed me; I now viewed myself as the injured party; and it was while my thoughts were suddenly turned in this new direction that an adventure befel me which gave rise to a very awkward perplexity in its unexpected consequences.
I was one evening taking a solitary walk, and absorbed in my musings I had insensibly strayed some miles into the country, without being conscious of the time or the distance. The dusk was drawing on; and reminded by the increasing shade that the hour was getting late I turned back and began to walk briskly homeward in order to effect my return before the closing of my college gates.
As I had no time to spare I endeavoured to make a short cut over a low hill and through a thick copse of trees in a part of the country not very inviting and with which indeed I was but imperfectly acquainted, for it had never happened to me before to extend my excursions in that
direction. I had not proceeded far before I heard, as I thought, an odd cry on my right; and while I was wondering what animal it could proceed from, an unequivocal scream made me aware that it was a female voice, at the same time that it bore instant evidence that some violence was in the act of being committed.
This roused me at once; and without losing a moment I made my way as fast as I could to the spot, and it seemed just in time; for I beheld a woman on the gronnd struggling with a man of the common sort and meanly clad, who, as it afterwards proved, had taken advantage of her being alone to rob her of her purse and watch; and she in her fright and in her attempt to resist had fallen to the ground, and it was in that position that I found her. Fortunately I had a stout stake in my hand, with which Orlando-like I was making my peregrinations; but the man, at sight of me, without waiting to make a fight of it, made off with his booty, and as I was too much occupied with the lady to follow him, he made his escape.
Now there was something exceedingly romantic in all this particularly calculated to take hold of the imagination; the time-the dusk-the solitariness of the place; the imminency of the peril; all conspired to make it a striking adventure; there was a distressed damsel in extremity, and an unlooked for succour precisely at the critical moment; I was the knight-errant; which of course gave a personal zest to the affair exceedingly impressive.
The lady smoothed her dress, and as even in that agitating moment, womanlike, she could not lose sight of the attention necessary to her becoming appearance, she hastily arranged one or two curls that were out of order and pinched up her bonnet a bit, and then broke out into exuberant expressions of thankfulness at the opportune rescue which I had afforded her. I raised her up respectfully, and in so doing could not fail to observe that she was uncommonly handsome, and of a beautiful figure; this increased the satisfaction which I felt at my good fortune in having been the means of saving her from further violence from the ruffian who had assailed her. As she still trembled and was very nervous she thankfully accepted the assistance of my arm to her mother's cottage which was at the distance of about half a mile in a nook under a hill, so sequestered and shut in with trees that it might escape the discovery of all but those previously acquainted with its locality.
The mamma was looking out for her daughter anxiously; she had been somewhat alarmed at her non-appearance; and was still more surprised to see her accompanied by a stranger and in a state of agitation which required explanation. The story was told in few words; the young lady had been on a visit that day to a friend about a mile from the house; had stayed late; and, fearing no harm, had been tempted to make the same short cut as myself in order to reach her home more quickly: the attack of the man and the robbery was the affair of a few seconds only; when as she said "this gentleman happily came to my assistance and I was saved."-Some hysterical tears followed this brief recital which I thought made her look more lovely.
Profuse thanks, as might be expected, were poured forth by the mamma; and I was informed in a few words of her whole history; that she was the widow of a naval officer; that she had one son, who was then at sea, but whose return she expected every day; and that she was living in retirement with her daughter in the neighbourhood of her early youth;
then she repeated her thanks, and the daughter repeated her's also again and again; and somehow the thanks of the daughter came sweeter to me than those of the mother, although they were timidly expressed; and 1 began to feel embarrassed.
For the sake of saying something, I made known my own name, making a short allusion to the position of my father in the county where his estate was situate; a communication which, I observed, gave the mother a particular sort of satisfaction as conveying the assurance that her daughter had been assisted by one of unquestionable rank as a gentleman; but when I further mentioned that I was then at the university, I fancied that a certain sort of alarm became visible in the mamma's countenance; and shortly afterwards by a skilful manoeuvre which was executed in an apparently indifferent manner but with admirable strategy, she contrived to place herself between her daughter and myself in a protective position. The reason for this did not occur to me at the time, but it afterwards struck me that it was from an instinctive dread of the "young gentlemen of the university" who at that time had the reputation of being very ardent and not very scrupulous in their researches after the sublime and beautiful.
The cottage was about nine miles from the town; the night was getting dark; as one robber had been abroad that evening, it occurred perhaps to the ladies that more than one might appear under cover of the darkness; and it seemed not only a duty of hospitality and politeness, but a positive obligation of gratitude not to expose me to the murderous attacks of midnight marauders on such an occasion. Such I guessed were their thoughts; and I perceived that the mamma was suffering under the very awkward dilemma of seeming to turn me out of doors, on the one hand, in a dark night, or of harbouring within her domestic walls so dangerous an inmate as an unknown and juvenile member of the suspicious university.
I saved her from the painful feeling of seeming ungrateful and of violating the laws of hospitality at the same time, by expressing the necessity which I was under of returning the same night; a communication which I perceived relieved her immensely, and which inspired her with so much good-will and confidence towards me, that in expressing her extreme and most painful regret that I could not allow her the opportunity of showing further at that time how grateful she was for the service which I had rendered to her daughter, she ventured to add that if at any time I should be passing that way, she hoped I would afford her the pleasure of repeating her thanks, in which she was sure her son, the lieutenant, would join not less sincerely than herself and her daughter Emily. Emily said nothing, but kept close to her mamma.
And so we parted, the mamma shaking hands with me cordially, and Emily courtesying, and then putting forth her hand timidly, which I pressed respectfully. I thought Emily's hand felt very soft and warm; and I fancied it trembled a little; but that was natural, from her recent alarm; besides I was a stranger; and as to whether it felt soft or hard or warm or soft that was nothing to me, because my heart was engaged. The next day I considered a good deal whether it would be expected of me to call and inquire after the young lady. The distance I thought was sufficient excuse for staying away; besides, there was no particular reason why I should call; they were strangers to me, and the meeting was quite accidental; moreover, my calling on them in such a hurry
might look as if I was seeking for more thanks, and making a fresh draught on their gratitude; so I concluded that, for that day at least, I would take my ride in another direction; however, as the day was fine, and as my staying away might be thought a want of proper respect, and a mark of ill-breeding, I thought I might as well ride that way as any other; so I went.
Now, I declare, that in paying this visit, and many others that followed, I had no other thought than of being polite and attentive; but when I was there, somehow I felt at a loss for something to talk about; and when a young man is in the habit of seeing one of the opposite sex of his own age, although in the present case the young lady was not of my own age, for I was more than twenty, and she was not seventeen ; I say that in such cases it is difficult to avoid paying compliments; and sometimes, perhaps, more is said than is intended. I am sure I meant nothing. But somehow, I don't know how it was- -it was by insensible degrees-I became very-what shall I say-?-in short a good deal of intimacy sprang up-unavoidably, indeed-for we were only there in company except on rare occasions--between me and Mrs. Navis's daughter. I forgot to say, that their name was Navis; her son's name, as she often told me, was Frederick.
A good deal of intimacy, as I say, sprung up between me and Emily; there was no love in it, but a friendly familiarity and confidence. She certainly was a most lovely girl; and, excepting Lavinia, I had never met with one so calculated to absorb my affections. But, as I say, there was no love in the case at all, neither with her nor with me. I believe she liked me very well as an acquaintance of her mamma's, and it was natural that she should entertain a strong feeling of gratitude towards me for the service I had done her which of course I never mentioned, although she often did as a reason for her good wishes towards me and the confidence and familiarity with which she was pleased to honour me. For my part, I don't mean to say that I was altogether insensible to the attractions of a very lovely girl; I felt a high esteem for her character young as she was; and certainly I always felt happy in her society; but her mamma seldom left us alone.
It was an odd complicated feeling that I had, and I candidly confess it; when I was present I was almost in love with her; but when I was absent I felt that I was in love with Lavinia.
While I was thus employed alternately in my college studies and in making visits to Mrs. Navis, for whom I conceived a great esteem, I received several letters from my mother, in all of which Lavinia was more or less alluded to. This cherished my passion; and the expression in one of her letters in particular made a lively impression on me, for it seemed that she had met Lavinia in one of her drives, and that Lavinia had made particular inquiries after my health, &c., desiring also to know when I should return home, &c., &c.
This letter and these inquiries agitated me very much. I meditated on them continually. From some feeling of embarrassment I refrained for some days from visiting Mrs. Navis. I was certainly violently in love. I did not know what to do or what to think; my predominant idea was to see Lavinia. Soon that idea became so powerful that I could not resist it. I determined to return home on some pretence, and, at all risks, to have a decisive explanation with her. While I was absorbed and agitated with this irresistible impulse I received a letter which