LADY ROSAMOND'S SECRET:
A Romance of Fredericton.
RE. AGATHA ARMOUR.
St. John, N. B. Telegraph Printing and Publishing Office. 1878.
The object of the following story has been to weave simple facts into form dependent upon the usages of society during the administration of Sir Howard Douglas, 1824-30. The style is simple and claims no pretensions for complication of plot. Every means has been employed to obtain the most reliable authority upon the facts thus embodied. The writer is deeply indebted to several gentlemen of high social position who kindly furnished many important facts and showed a lively interest in the work, and takes the present opportunity of returning thanks for such support. In producing this little work the public are aware that too much cannot be expected from an amateur. Hoping that this may meet the approval of many, the writer also thanks those who have so generously responded to the subscription list.
Fredericton. August, 1878.
LADY ROSAMOND'S SECRET
A ROMANCE OF FREDERICTON.
OLD GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
Breathes there a man with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said, This is my own, my native land!—Scott.
A September sunset in Fredericton, A. D. 1824. Much has been said and sung about the beauteous scenes of nature in every clime. Scott has lovingly depicted his native heaths, mountains, lochs and glens. Moore draws deep inspiration amid scenes of the Emerald Isle, and strikes his lyre to chords of awakening love, light and song. Cowper, Southey and Wordsworth raised their voices in tuneful and harmonious lays, echoing love of native home. Our beloved American poet has wreathed in song the love of nature's wooing in his immortal Hiawatha. Forests in their primeval grandeur, lovely landscapes, sunrise, noonday and sunset—each has attracted the keen poetic gaze. Though not the theme of poet or pen—who that looks upon our autumn sunset can deny its charms? The western horizon, a mass of living gold, flitting in incessant array and mingling with the different layers of purple, violet, pink, crimson, and tempting hues of indescribable beauty; at intervals forming regular and successive strata of deep blue and red, deepening into bright red. Suddenly as with magic wand a golden cloud shoots through and transforms the whole with dazzling splendour. The bewildering reflection upon the trees as they raise their heads in lofty appreciation, forms a pleasing background, while Heaven's ethereal blue lies calmly floating above. The gently sloping hills lend variety to the scene, stretching in undulations of soft and rich verdure; luxuriant meadow and cultivated fields lie in alternate range. The sons of toil are returning from labour; the birds have sought shelter in their nests; the nimble squirrel hides beneath the leafy boughs, or finds refuge in the sheltering grass, until the next day's wants shall urge a repeated attack upon the goodly spoils of harvest. Soon the golden sheen is departing, casting backward glances upon the hill tops with studied coyness, as lingering to caress the deepening charms of nature's unlimited and priceless wardrobe.
Amid such glowing beauty could the mind hold revel on a glorious September sunset in Fredericton, 1824. To any one possessed with the least perception of the beautiful, is there not full scope in this direction? Is not one fully rewarded by a daily stroll in the suburban districts of Fredericton, more especially the one now faintly described? If any one asks why the present site was chosen for Government House in preference to the lower part of the city, there would be no presumption in the inference—selected no doubt with due appreciation of its view both from river and hills on western side. Truly its striking beauty might give rise to the well established title of "Celestial City." Though unadorned by lofty monuments of imposing stateliness, costly public buildings, or princely residences, Fredericton lays claim to a higher and more primitive order of architecture than that of Hellenic ages. The Universal Architect lingered lovingly in studying the effect of successive design. Trees of grace and beauty arose on every side in exquisite drapery, while softly curved outlines added harmony to the whole, teaching the wondrous and creative skill of the Divine. The picturesque river flows gently on, calm, placid, and unruffled save by an occasional splash of oars of the pleasure seekers, whose small white boats dotted the silvery surface and were reflected in the calm depths below.
On such an evening more than half a century ago when the present site of Government House was occupied by the plain wooden structure known as "Old Government House," a group of ladies was seated on the balcony apparently occupied in watching the lingering rays descending behind the hills. Suddenly the foremost one, a lovely and animated girl whose beauty baffled description, espied a gentleman busily engaged in admiring some choice specimens of flowers which were being carefully cultivated by a skilful gardener. Bounding away with the elasticity of a fawn, her graceful form was seen to advantage as she stood beside the high-bred and distinguished botanist. The simple acts of pleasantry that passed shewed their relationship as that of parent and child. Sir Howard Douglas was proud of his beautiful and favorite daughter. He saw in her the wondrous beauty of her mother blending with those graces and rare qualities of the heart which won for Lady Douglas the deep admiration of all classes. Beauty and amiability were not the entire gifts of Mary Douglas. She was endowed with attainments of no ordinary stamp. Though young, she displayed uncommon ability in many different branches of education; shewing some skill as a composer and musician, also a talent for composition and poetry. With simple earnestness she placed her hand lovingly upon her father's shoulder, exclaiming "Papa, dear, I have come to watch you arrange those lovely flowers." "Well, my dear, you are welcome to remain. I am certainly complimented by such preference. You must allow me to acknowledge it by this," saying which, the fond parent plucked a white rosebud and fastened it in the snowy lace upon the bosom of his child. "Papa, dearest, one act of love certainly deserves another," exclaimed Mary, as she fondly pressed the lips of Sir Howard, adding "remember that you are my chevalier for the remainder of the evening. When you have finished, we will rejoin the company." Mary Douglas seated herself in a rustic chair and chatted in gay and animated tones while her father listened with a deep interest. The well tried soldier, the gallant commander at Badajos, at Corunna, the hero of many fierce conflicts, and the firm friend and favourite of the Duke of Wellington, listened to the conversation of his daughter with as much keenness as a question involving the strongest points of diplomacy.
"Papa, this garden will fully repay you for your labour. I do wish that I could understand and enter into the study of plants and flowers as you do." "Ah, my Mary," exclaimed Sir Howard in a deep reverential tone, as his thoughts went back to the days of his boyhood, "I had a kind benefactress, and I may say mother in my aunt Helena. She created in me an early love for flowers, and I have always cherished it. Often during my campaign in the Peninsula, the sight of a lovely flower would call up emotions that would for the time unman me for the raging conflicts of battle. I always look upon flowers as the trophies of God's grace. Mary, I trust you yet will be able to attend to the cultivation of Heaven's choicest offerings, and remember, that by so doing, you only contribute a small share in the beautifying of nature." Having enjoyed this strain of converse for some length of time, Mary Douglas rose, exclaiming, "Now, Papa, you are at my service." Sir Howard bowed, and offered his arm to his fair daughter. Together they went out, being greeted by the merry party still lingering on the verandah. "Explain, Mary," said the foremost of the party, "this breach of confidence and utter contempt of the necessities of your friends. We have been vainly waiting your appearance to join us in a walk, and now it is nearly time to dress for dinner." "Very prettily said, Lady Rosamond," replied Sir Howard, "but as I wear my lady's favour, you will grant me a hearing on her behalf." Pointing to the spray of mignonnette and forget-me-not which Mary Douglas had placed on his coat, he continued, "I hope that your company has employed the moments as profitably. We commenced with vows of love and constancy, then followed topics of general conversation, and ended on the study of flowers. With this explanation perhaps some of this goodly company might favor us with a like result." "I venture to say, your Excellency, that in the present instance, we might too clearly prove the old saying as regards comparisons," returned Lieut. Trevelyan, "and would therefore enjoin silence." "Ah, no, Mr. Trevelyan," said Miss Douglas, "we will not allow our claim to be set aside in this manner. We must muster courage in our own self-defence as an offset to your acquiescence, or else papa will wear his laurels very lightly."
"In the first instance," said she, "we were admiring the beautiful sunset, the soft outline of the hills, and the beauty of the landscape. Is that not worthy of describing, papa?" The eldest daughter of this distinguished family made this appeal with a face beaming with the enthusiasm of her deep appreciative nature. Anne Douglas possessed not the great beauty of her sister Mary, yet was a lovely and loveable woman, capable of inspiring deep regard. Sir Howard acknowledged by saying, that if she continued, the comparison would turn the weight on the other side. "Not yet, papa dear," said Miss Douglas, "you must hear further. We were speaking freely of our warm reception from the citizens, of the social resources of Fredericton, its commercial interests; and before you joined us, were planning to ask your assistance, by giving your views and opinion of Fredericton in its general aspect, as presented on your arrival." "Mr. Trevelyan," ventured Sir Howard, "I am sorry to acknowledge that the ladies have sufficient cause to charge you with desertion of your colours; but the end may not justify the means." "Ah, papa, your inference is indirect—you will not surely justify Mr. Trevelyan." "In the present state of affairs," exclaimed Sir Howard, in playful military tone, "the enemy is preparing for action. The only chance of success is thus—retreat under cover of fire, or fall back on the strength of defence." "Your Excellency has a stronghold in the enemy's quarter," joined in Lady Rosamond, who had been seated at the side of Captain Charles Douglas, their eldest son. "Before testing the strength of our forces let there be a short truce, on condition that His Excellency will give us the desired information this evening," said Mr. Trevelyan, playfully endeavouring to conciliate Miss Douglas. At this moment Lady Douglas formed an attractive feature to the group. Her graceful form, dignity of gesture and gentle expression was a subject of admiration. Her winning smile was greeted by recognitions of deep and respectful courtesy on the part of the gentlemen.
"My Lady, fortune has at last condescended to favour me by your appearance among us," said Mr. Trevelyan, rising and advancing towards Her Ladyship, while a blush suffused his handsome face, hastily making its way with deepening colour, showing the clear and open hearted spirit of the young Lieutenant. "We now have hopes of a speedy restoration." Mr. Trevelyan then related the foregoing sallies to the fair arbitress, who listened with keen relish and enjoyment. "As I have arrived at this unfavourable moment," said Her Ladyship, "I will try to end the matter satisfactorily to all parties. His Excellency being one of the chief actors, shall forfeit his liberty by devoting an hour in satisfying the present demands of the company. Mr. Trevelyan also, will only extricate himself from his present position by giving one of his many excellent renditions from Shakespeare or any of the favorite authors. Do you not all agree to this decision?" As Lady Douglas glanced towards her daughter Mary, she read in those beautiful eyes a mischievous flash directed towards Miss Douglas. "If I judge aright there is yet another to be brought to hasty retribution," said the former. "Pardon me, but I think your Ladyship is rather severe," said the youthful lieutenant with a boyish flush of youth upon his brow. "I beg that the penalty imposed upon Miss Douglas may be something which rests upon her direct choice." "Treason within the camp," exclaimed Captain Douglas, in his military tone. "Trevelyan, beware, you are being caught in a pitfall." Lady Douglas smiled as she turned to Miss Douglas, saying "Mr. Trevelyan's request shall be granted, you can choose your own task of imposition, music, reading, or any other pastime." "The matter is settled, thanks to her Ladyship," exclaimed Sir Howard, "and I beg leave to withdraw to mature my views for the coming lengthy topic of this evening." The hour being announced warned the ladies to prepare for dinner, the group separated leaving the verandah to the romps of two favorite hounds, a spaniel, and a pair of tame rabbits.
While preparations are thus going on in the different apartments of Government House, a carriage arrives with its occupant, Mr. Howe, private secretary to Sir Howard. The carriage, a handsome one, is driven by a span of full-blooded Arabian horses; magnificent specimens of their species; proudly sits their owner in his costly equipage. As a man of wealth, high family, Mr. Howe occupied a prominent position in the household of the Douglas family. His coming is awaited with eagerness. Captain Douglas, his friend and companion, is at his side in a moment addressing him with hearty familiarity, "Howe, you are late. Has business been pressing? Takes some time to get reconciled to the hum drum of life in New Brunswick! Well, old fellow, send around the horses and we will yet have time for a cigar before dinner. Strange, I enjoy one better before than after. You know I am an odd bird in every sense. Was odd last evening at mess when we got the rubber." "Douglas, one thing is confoundedly odd." "How did the natives of New Brunswick ever impose upon the British Government to send a governor and a private secretary," interrupted Charles Douglas. "Ha, ha, ha," laughed the latter, with repeated and renewed attacks. "Howe, you have been baulked in some design to-day; perhaps the fair one smiled on another, or odder still, some rival is ready to exchange a few kindly shots." "Oh, Douglas, for Heaven's sake stop and save your breath for more interesting topics," exclaimed the latter. The secretary lit a cigar and sat down to glance over the contents of a letter. Muttering some irreverent expressions upon the writer. "Howe, you 'see through a glass darkly,'" yelled Captain Douglas, "to-morrow you will see face to face Major McNair and the sports of H.M. 52nd. It will be mightily odd if you do not give them a brush. Count upon me, too, as I intend to show in earnest what stuff Prince is made of." "One thing you show," said Mr. Howe, with a strange grin—"a desire to turn parson or priest. I might make a few suppositions without interruption. Perhaps you have been initiating yourself in the good graces of a Rev. Clergyman, by a few such quotations. Perhaps the church might take better in New Brunswick than the army. Douglas, with all your perhapses, you are a cunning diplomatist." "You certainly do me credit, Howe," said his friend; "I possess enough cunning to perceive that you are not in your native element this September 22nd, 1824."
The private secretary of His Excellency, Sir Howard Douglas, was a man of no ordinary stamp. He had ability and coolness; the last named quality had gained him much favour from the veteran commander, and a desire to retain his service. Tall, slight and athletic, Mr. Howe was foremost in all feats of physical sports. Horse racing was his greatest mania. Few could manage a horse as he, and fewer still could own one faster than his favourite mare, Bess. Quickly he rose to his feet with "Jove, Douglas, I feel angry with myself and everybody." "Then keep your distance, I beseech you," returned Captain Douglas, in his usual jolly manner. "Listen for a moment and hear my scrape," said Howe. "Down in the mess this afternoon we got talking,"—"horse, of course," said the Captain—"yes, horse," said the former, "and got mixed up into one of the greatest skirmishes ever heard of. Captain Markham swore and raged like a wild beast Captain Hawley bit his lips with anger, and when I tried to conciliate matters, they turned on me like a set of vipers. In fact, with two or three exceptions, they hung together and irated me in good round English, forward and backward with little regard to Johnson or any of the time-honoured lexicographers. It was a hot encounter. In spite of anger, I cannot help laughing, to think how they abused each other, and, in turn, united themselves into a general force, directing the fire of their battery upon me. By St. George of England, it was too much. Of Course this is only the beginning of a series of such demonstrations." "All's well that ends well," returned Captain Douglas, "a night's sleep will restore all to a former footing. Major McNair would frown upon any breach thus made."
AMID THE HOUSEHOLD
The spacious dining hall of Government House now assumed an aspect of studied splendour. The tables groaned under the weight of tempting and delicious dishes. The culinary intricacies of Sir Howard's table were often under comment. Viands of all kinds stood on every side, while the brilliant scintillations from chandeliers—massive silver and sparkling glasses—were of wondrous radiance. Sir Howard, preceded by Mr. Howe and Lady Douglas, led his beautiful daughter to a seat at his side. Captain Charles Douglas was the escort of Miss Cheenick, the family governess, and companion of Miss Douglas. The remaining part of the company took their places in like order, thus completing the usual dinner party. None but those who have passed much time in the company of Sir Howard Douglas, and enjoyed his many gay and social dinners and parties, can form any just conception of the true worth and genuine goodness of this fine specimen of an English gentleman. The flashes of wit and graceful repartees, mingled with sound judgment and truthful dignity, characterized the nature of the gallant Sir Howard. He was ever on the alert to minister to the wants of others. No one was neglected within his knowledge or recollection. From his daughter beside him to every guest around this festive board, none were allowed to go forth without coming directly under his recognition. The stern realities of military life through which he had passed, had in nowise interfered with those social qualities which so endeared our hero to the hearts of all. In Lady Douglas, Sir Howard found a faithful helpmate, a loving wife and deeply affectionate and pious mother. Lady Douglas never wearied in watching and caring for the welfare of her children. No mother could be more amply rewarded in seeing her family grow up loved and honoured; her sons true types of gentlemanly honour; her daughters having all those graces which are desirable to beautify the female characters, and make woman an ornament in her family and in society. "Mr. Howe," exclaimed Sir Howard, glancing towards that personage, "you escaped a severe ordeal by being tardy this afternoon. You have proved that every rule has an exception, but I must be careful not to introduce any comparisons;" thus saying, his Excellency directed his smile towards Mr. Trevelyan. Seated beside Miss Douglas, the young Lieutenant once more heightening the effect of his handsome dark eyes by the deepening colour of his cheeks. "Come, come, Mr. Trevelyan, reveal what is hidden behind His Excellency's smile." "Pardon me, Mr. Howe," said Lady Douglas, "I am pledged to relieve Mr. Trevelyan of any further parley. A truce was effected until the compromise is paid this evening in the drawing room." "I thank your Ladyship," said the Lieutenant, bowing. "Then, Your Excellency, that theory falls to the ground at present," said Mr. Howe, "I am not classified as an exception." The secretary smiled as he thought of the cause of his tardiness, and the sport his revelation would make for the gentlemen, when the ladies had withdrawn. "My Lady Rosamond is rather demure," said Sir Howard, smiling upon that young lady with his truthful smile. "Really Your Excellency cannot forget that I have been studiously trying to avoid any pitfalls." "Ah, you cunning rogue, you are amusing yourself with the shortcomings of the party," returned Sir Howard, "this is unjust. We will demand some concessions from those members who have been drawing largely upon the resources of others." Turning to Lady Douglas, he added, "Your Ladyship will please bear that fact in mind, or rather make a note of it. Lady Rosamond Seymour and Mr. James Douglas will make amende honourable for past delinquencies, not forgetting Mr. Howe. Will add that the last clause be conditional." A general flow of conversation follows as the dinner progressed. Harmony prevailed throughout while humour and wit were salient points in many topics. The most remarkable feature, perhaps, was the absence of anything that could not be received by the most fastidious. All practical jokes or questionable remarks were discountenanced by the family of Sir Howard Douglas.
One of the members laying claim to your attention is the Lady Rosamond Seymour, a distant cousin to Lady Douglas, descended from that distinguished family of Seymours so conspicuous in the Tudor Period. Lady Rosamond was a character of rare distinction. Her Father, Sir Thomas Seymour, an English Admiral, a man brave, honourable, respected and admired. He had married Lady Maria Bereford, the daughter of an English Baronet, who, dying at an early date, left two sons and one daughter—the Lady Rosamond. Placed under the care of a maiden aunt, the young lady had the benefit of learned instructions. Sir Thomas was determined that his child should receive all possible pains in her education. Though displaying no uncommon ability, Lady Rosamond was studious and persevering, compensating for genius by never failing application. She made considerable progress in classics, literature and poetry. In mathematics she was deficient. "I will do my best," she would often say to her tutor, "but you know I never was expected to be a mathematician." Lady Rosamond was indeed beautiful. The perfect features of her oval shaped face were lit by sparkling black eyes, full, large and dreamy, sometimes bewildering one with their variety of expression. While residing with her aunt, Lady Rosamond had formed an intimacy with Mary Douglas, which increased as they grew older. Together they spent many happy hours, and never wearied in their bright day dreams thus woven together. Nothing could exceed the grief of those companions when it was announced that the family of Sir Howard Douglas was soon to depart for New Brunswick. Lady Rosamond was inconsolable, and after urgent entreaties on the part of Lady Douglas, Sir Thomas Seymour consented to allow his daughter to remain with them for two years, after which she would for a time assume the duties and responsibilities of his household. Hence, Lady Rosamond Seymour came to New Brunswick with the family of Sir Howard Douglas, and thus we find her the friend of Mary Douglas in Fredericton.
In after chapters will be found the reason for thus introducing Lady Rosamond. To return to the preceding narrative. After the ladies withdrew the gentlemen remained to discuss over their cigars and wine. Mr. Howe began by repeating the affair among the messmates of the 52nd, and the result of his friendly interference. The warmth of his passion was aroused and he vehemently exclaimed, "Trevelyan, I both regard and respect you as a gentleman and friend, and feel regret that you were so unfortunate as to become attached to one of the most dissolute and dissipated of His Majesty's Regiments." The secretary was about to proceed when he was interrupted by Captain Douglas. "Strong terms, Howe. Your case would in some instances demand redress but I repeatedly avow not if considered in the light of reason." Mr. Howe saw in the strange light of Sir Howard's eye that His Excellency would now give, in a few words, his decision with unerring judgment. "Gentlemen," said he, rising from his seat and casting successive glances at all, "Mr. Howe seems to feel that the treatment received this afternoon should justify his seeking redress from those military gentlemen. Would any here think it necessary to create a breach between the Regiment and ourselves, from the fact of their having, while under the influence of liquor, shewed an incapacity to treat a guest with becoming respect, being utterly indifferent to every feeling save that engendered by abuse of appetite? Do I state it aright Mr. Howe?" "Your Excellency is right," said the Secretary, "sometimes I see the foolishness of being hot-tempered, but never more than on this occasion."
"We can afford to laugh at the matter now, Howe," said Captain Douglas, "to-morrow you will heap coals on their heads with a vengeance." The company enjoyed a hearty laugh, in which His Excellency joined. "You may have cause to bless your stars that you were absent, Trevelyan," said Mr. Douglas, "as you might have been pressed into service against Howe."
Guy Trevelyan was indeed a young man of marked ability and much promise. His father, Colonel Trevelyan, was a brother officer with Sir Howard during the Peninsula campaign. For signal service he was rewarded by knighthood and the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Having obtained for his son, Guy, a commission in H. M. 52nd Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Trevelyan hailed with delight the tidings of his friend's appointment to the Governorship of New Brunswick. The Regiment was then stationed in Fredericton and St. John—headquarters at the former—with Major McNair in command, while the companies stationed at St. John were in charge of Sir Thomas Tilden. In His Excellency, Guy Trevelyan had a warm-hearted friend. The son of Colonel Trevelyan was dear to him. Many times Sir Howard looked upon his handsome boyish face, pleased with tracing the strong resemblance between father and son. The open, generous and manly disposition of the young Lieutenant shone in every lineament of his countenance. Guy Trevelyan was loved by every member of the Douglas family. Lady Douglas showed him daily marks of favour, making him at ease in the bosom of her household. Nor did our young officer abuse these acts of true kindness and personal privilege. Unassuming, gentle and affable Guy Trevelyan was more eagerly sought than seeking. Sir Howard admired his favorite, his diffidence and bashful coyness. "He is one to make a mark," said he. "Give me the disposition of Guy in preference to those aping and patronizing airs assumed by the majority of young gentlemen on entering the army." Once, on addressing Lieutenant-Colonel Trevelyan, he wrote the following: "Have no fear for Guy; he is a true scion of the old stock. His nature is truthful, honourable and sincere, not being addicted to those vices which ruin our bravest soldiers. He has endeared himself to our family, in fact, Lady Douglas would lament his absence almost the same as one of her own sons."
Having made this digression, thus introducing the principal members of the company, we will now ask the reader to follow the ladies into the drawing room. Government House drawing room was indeed an apartment of costly elegance. Richly covered and gilded furniture was arranged in stately profusion. Quaintly and gorgeously embroidered silken draperies were festooned with graceful effect. Rare paintings adorned the frescoed walls. Priceless cabinets, vases and statuary were grouped with artistic hand. Turkey carpets of the most brilliant hues covered the floor, while the flashing and almost dazzling light radiating from the massive chandeliers, made the scene one of surpassing grandeur—something almost incredible outside the lustre and surroundings of a kingly residence. Such is a correct picture of old Government House over half a century ago. Then it shone with true chivalric glory. Now with its structure and surroundings a dream of the past.
In the midst of her group sat Lady Douglas occupied in some fancy netting, while each lady had some especial task. "Miss Cheenick," said Her Ladyship, "will you be so kind as to assist Miss Mary in the selection of suitable shades of silk for this piece of embroidery. You will accompany her to-morrow after luncheon, as she is anxious to commence." "It is to be hoped that we will meet with success as, judging from the appearance of the stores in this city, there is not much to select from," said Mary Douglas, "but, Miss Cheenick, only think, it will be our first attempt at shopping in Fredericton." "How much better and more convenient if there were exclusive dry goods stores as in England," said Lady Rosamond. "It is rather amusing to see all kinds of groceries and provisions on one side, and silks, satins and laces on the other. Pardon me, mamma, if I use the expression of Mr. Howe, 'everything from a needle to an anchor.'" "Well, my child, you will agree that both are useful," said Her Ladyship, "but I am doubtful whether the last named article is to be obtained here."
At the close of these remarks, the gentlemen were received. Sir Howard, true to his obligation, had found a seat beside his daughter Mary. "Papa," she exclaimed, "my knight is true,—'A good knight and true.'"
"At Lady Douglas' suggestion, I am duly bound to disclose some views upon New Brunswick and its capital. In the first place, I must plead ignorance, from want of sufficient time to note the general aspect, features and surroundings. This is a primitive soil, populated and toiled by a primitive people. Agriculture is yet in its infancy, and no prospect at hand for the furtherance of this important calling. Well wooded land, fertile valley and pleasing variety, show that this should be the great and only resource of this country. What facilities are afforded to the farmer for the importation of produce, were this noble river to be opened up with steam navigation. In a year hence, if my life be spared, I shall be able to afford you some information on life in the back settlements, and the means resorted to by the settlers. At present there are only five roads in the whole Province; three of which you have seen, as they lead from this city in different directions; the one to St. John; also, that passing our door to Quebec; and the third which I shewed you last week as leading to Miramichi. The fourth leads to St. Andrews, a small seaport in the south-west; while the fifth leads to Halifax." "Pardon me, Your Excellency, I could not help observing that the condition of these roads pay small tribute to McAdam, or Telford, being a rapid and sudden succession of up hill and down dale." "One would need a vigorous constitution," returned Sir Howard, "to make a practical test. People do not have much traffic upon these roads, from the fact that the settlements are more numerous along the river, which holds out more advantages."
"Papa," exclaimed Sir Howard's favourite daughter, "How much I should like to accompany you on an expedition through the forests of New Brunswick." "Perhaps you may, when the roads are more accessible, when there will be established comfortable inns where one can rest and be refreshed. None will press me to give any further report of the country, when I make a guarantee to do so at some time in the future, when there will be, I trust, good progress made."
"Many thanks, Your Excellency," said Mr. Howe, in response to Sir Howard, and, "in behalf of the company, may I express a hope that your wish be realized in the future of New Brunswick's history. May this province yet rise in commercial prosperity and national wealth, and may New Brunswick's sons yet assume their proud position as Governors of the province." "Mr. Howe is growing eloquent," remarked Lady Rosamond, to Mr. Trevelyan.—"A conspiracy on foot," exclaimed Miss Douglas, glancing towards Lady Rosamond. "Now Mr. Trevelyan will play his part," said Captain Douglas, with mock solemnity.
The young Lieutenant selected a passage from "Cymbeline," receiving the gratitude and applause of the ladies, to whose repeated entreaties he also read an extract from "King Lear," commencing with the line "No, I will be the pattern of all patience." Guy Trevelyan's voice was full, soft and musical, having the power of soothing the listener; but when required for dramatic readings, could command a versatility that was surprising. Miss Douglas archly proposed to Lady Douglas her wish to join in a game of whist. Thus engaged, the remainder of the evening passed quickly away. Mary Douglas still retaining her gallant partner, having secured the rubber against Mr. Howe and Miss Douglas, warmly congratulated Sir Howard on their success. "Never despair, Miss Douglas," said Mr. Howe, "we bide our time." The secretary's carriage being announced, with smiles and bows he took leave, followed by Mr. Trevelyan, who accepted the proffered invitation.
AN EVENING IN OFFICERS' MESS-ROOM.
Many of our readers are familiar with the old building still standing, facing on Queen Street, known as the officers' barracks. At the time when this story opened, this was a scene of continual festivity—life in its gayest aspect. Here were quartered the noisy, the swaggering, the riotous, the vain, the gallant, the honourable, and all those different qualities which help to form the make-up of the many individuals comprising the officers of H. M. 52nd Regiment. At no period, before or since, has Fredericton ever risen to such notoriety. Several enterprising gentlemen of this body in connexion with a few of the leading citizens planned and laid the first regular and circular race course, near where the present now is situated, under the management of J. H. Reid, Esq., and the members of York County Agricultural Society.
On the old race course it was no unusual occurrence to witness as many as a dozen races during the space of two days. Sons of gentlemen, both in military and private life, were the owners of thorough-bred horses, each claiming the highest distinctions regarding full-blooded pedigree. These were Fredericton's glorious days—days of sport; days of chivalry; days of splendour and high life. On the evening in question, a festive board was spread with all the eclat attending a dinner party. Some hours previous a grand assemblage had gathered on the race course to witness a race between Captain Douglas' mare Bess, and a celebrated racer introduced on the course by Lieutenant-Colonel Tilden, ridden by his groom. Much betting had arisen on both sides. Excitement ran high. Bets were being doubled. The universal din and uproar was growing loud, noisy and clamorous. The band played spirited music, commencing with national airs, and, in compliment to an American officer, a guest of Sir Thomas Tilden, finished off with Hail Columbia. Bess won the race. His Excellency, Capt. Douglas, in the capacity of aide-de-camp, Mr. Howe and Mr. James Douglas, with their friend, Lieutenant Trevelyan, stood on an eminence bordered by woods. Here Sir Howard watched the afternoon's sport with keen interest. He saw in the assembly many features to be discountenanced. None admired a noble animal better than Sir Howard, and none were more humane in their treatment. Captain Douglas entered more into the sport of the proceedings. His whole mind for the present was centered on the expectation of his noble little animal. In gaining the race he was generous to the last degree. Honor was the password in all his actions, while he gave his opponents that feeling which led them to thank him for an honorable defeat.
The occasion of Lt. Col. Tilden's arrival was always hailed with a round of festivities. This evening was the commencement, servants in livery were at every footstep. An array of butlers and waiters was conspicuous arranging the different tables. The grateful odors emitted from several passages presaged the elaborate dishes to be served. The rattle of dishes, clinking of glasses, and drawing of corks, hinted of the viands in unlimited store. While the above were conducted in the mess-room, many of the guests were as busy in their own private apartments making the necessary toilet for the reception. In the foremost tier of rooms to the left, facing the river, on the ground floor, is the one occupied by Lieut. Guy Trevelyan. He is brushing out the waves of chestnut brown hair which, though short, shows a tendency to assert its nature despite the stern orders of military rule. A shade passes over the brow of the youthful-looking soldier as he dons his scarlet uniform. His thoughts are not at ease. Guy Trevelyan feels a vague and unaccountable yearning—an undefined feeling which is impossible to shake off. "Well, Trevelyan," soliloquized he; "you are a strange old fellow; such a state as this must not be indulged amidst the stir and hurly-burly of to-night. I believe bedlam has broken loose." No wonder that Trevelyan thought so; for, at that moment, several noisy songs broke upon him—the barking of at least a score of dogs, the clatter of steps upon the pavement, and the practising of fifes and drums. Such a babel—a distraction of noises and shouts of hilarious impatience were amusing in the extreme. At the appointed hour, the usual ceremonies of introduction being passed, the company were at last seated. And such a table! Such an array that one would only get into difficulty by attempting to describe it. Captain Douglas occupied a seat to the right of Lt. Col. Tilden and received that attention which characterizes Sir Thomas. Mr. Howe, once more on friendly footing, was assigned a seat beside the incorrigible Captain Hawley, whose choice epithets produced such sensitive effects upon the ears of the secretary sometime previous. Major McNair, a brusque, genial, stout-hearted soldier, always ready to do the honors of the Regiment under his charge, had on his right Captain Hawkins, an American officer; on his left an American youth and nephew of the officer. The convivial resources of these dinners were of a nature sometimes loud, boisterous, and exhilarating. Though indulging in countless practical jokes, various scenes of carousal, revels, mingling with toast upon toast, cards and amusements, there was a general good feeling throughout the whole proceedings. Misunderstandings sometimes led to sharp words, but the intervention of a superior had a healing effect. In nowise did Lieutenant Trevelyan receive so many taunts from his fellow officers as for habits of moderation. They often dubbed him "Saint Guy, the cold water man," which only served to amuse the young Lieutenant. The attention of the American was often directed to Mr. Trevelyan, listening with deep interest to the history of the young man and his distinguished father. "Lieutenant Trevelyan is a gentleman in every sense of the term," said the Major. "There is no need of that explanation, sir," said the American; "it is written in bold outline upon his handsome boyish face. His father will yet be proud of such a son." "The words of His Excellency," returned the Major. In the flow of general conversation that ensued many pretty speeches were made by the military and responded by several citizens, gentlemen who were frequent guests at dinner. Sir Thomas Tilden arose, complimenting Captain Douglas on his success, hoping that they may meet soon on the same business. This called from the gallant and handsome Captain one of his most witty and humorous speeches, after which Captain Hawley sang Rule Britannia with the entire company in a deafening chorus. After a short pause, cries of "Howe! Howe!" Nothing short of an oration would satisfy. The secretary rose and delivered something which would take some investigation to classify either as an epic, oration, or burlesque. They wanted variety and such it was. A puzzled expression rested on Lieutenant Trevelyan's face as he tried to follow Mr. Howe in the lengthy harangue.
The band afterwards played "Hail Columbia," which was the signal for Captain Hawkins to respond. The American thanked the Commander and Officers of H. M. 52nd Regt. for the marked hospitality and courtesy extended to him during his stay. Alluding to the feeling of dissatisfaction existing between the sister nations, he hoped to see a firmer footing established between them; and all former animosities wiped out forever. These and other like sentiments called forth loud applause, the band playing "The Star Spangled Banner." Speech followed toast and song until the hours wore on unheeded. Lest it might be considered an absurdity, we will not say how many toasts were actually made—not in water, either, on this occasion. The strongest proof of this fact was found in the dozens of empty bottles lying scattered in profusion upon sideboards, tables and floors, the following morning, as servants looked on in dismay. The task of removal is no slight task. Before the company breaks up let us take another glance at Lieutenant Trevelyan. In respect to his superiors the young gentleman still remained as one of the company. Though twenty-one years had lightly passed over our young friend and favourite, one would not judge that he was more than eighteen. His smooth and beardless face had the delicate bloom of a young and pretty girl. Dimples nestled in his cheeks playing hide and seek to the various emotions of the owner. Guy Trevelyan had not mastered his feelings during the "hurly burly," as firmly as was his wont. Relapsing into an existence half reality, half dreamlike, he was striving to divine the true state of his thoughts when called upon by Sir Thomas Tilden. "Here is Lieutenant Trevelyan, the Adonis of our Regiment, whom we cannot accuse of a breach of impropriety to-night, except it be that of reserve." "Come now, Trevelyan, you are in for a song," exclaimed a dozen voices, pressing around the young Lieutenant, in noisy appeals. Contrary to their expectations, Trevelyan did favor the company with a patriotic song, which drew forth stirring applause and made him the hero of the evening. "Well done, my hearty," exclaimed Captain Hawley, slapping him on the shoulders, shouting lustily, "Hurrah for Trevelyan, hip, hip, hurrah for Trevelyan." "Eh, old chum," muttered Lieutenant Landon, in incoherent and rambling speech, about "faint heart and fair lady." "As congratulations are at present the rule, I cannot make an exception," said Mr. Howe. "Thanks my boy for this, and may you soon have occasion for another." "And another," roared the crowd, taking up the last words of the secretary. "My warmest thanks, Mr. Trevelyan," said the Lieutenant Colonel, warmly pressing his young friend's hand. This last act of courtesy was more gratefully received by Mr. Trevelyan than the noisy demonstrations of his brother officers. Soon afterwards, guest after guest departed in various moods and in various ways; some making zig-zag and circuitous routes, while others were more steady in the bent of their direction. More definite description might be given of these parties than that pictured here. More details might be given of scenes of dissipation, when each member must "drink himself under the table," to achieve the respect of his fellows; but the writer forbears not wishing to expose the darker shades of the picture, allowing the reader full control of his or her imagination, if willing to go further. Suffice it to say, no brawls had marred the "jolly time." All went away in good humour, while the American was so loud in praise, that he almost wished himself an officer in H. M. 52nd Regiment. Having made his adieu, Captain Douglas took leave for his bachelor's quarters, held in the house on the site at present occupied by George Minchin, Esq., on King Street, whither his friend Howe had preceded him. In this building, was kept the Governor's Office, as well. Here Captain Douglas found himself, as the darkest hour that precedes the dawn reminded of approaching day. "Howe," said he, "sit down and have a chat for a few moments. What did you think of the affair? Of cousin Jonathan and his nephew?" "One question at a time, Douglas," said Mr. Howe, pulling out a cigar case and passing one to his friend. "In answer to your first, I may say that under the circumstances there was some credit for being merry. It happened at a deuced bad time, but Sir Thomas took his defeat manfully, while those animated volcanoes, Hawley and Markham were wonderfully passive—a fact we must attribute to Major McNair. The general melee and pow-wow in which I was so unceremoniously toasted, taught a lesson. Jove, the Major is entitled to an order if he can, by any means, reclaim any of the 52nd. But the most amusing of the crowd is Trevelyan, who reminds me of an Englishman in Paris. He is clear, too. The oftener I see him the more I find to admire. He has a stock of drollery in reserve, too. Only think of the song and how received; Jove, he can sing like a thrush or nightingale."
"Sometimes he wears a puzzled look which I cannot define; but Trevelyan one day will make his mark if not led astray by some of his comrades. Still, in the same youth, there is considerable backbone, plenty of determination if necessary." "Hold on, Howe, when are you coming to the second question," exclaimed Douglas, in slightly impatient tones. "Bide your time, old fellow. Getting sleepy too, by Saint George," said the secretary, using his favourite Saint and Patron as necessary expletive. "Oh! about Jonathan, or Sam, or cousin Jonathan. Cousin Jonathan is certainly a jolly fellow. How they did stuff him with compliments. Cousin Jonathan is a bigger man than when he arrived, and Markham, would you not think he hailed from the 'ould country,' by the quantities of that commodity supposed to come direct from Killarney, which he used upon cousin Jonathan and Hail Columbia. Ha, ha, ha."
"Douglas, the younger Jonathan is a genuine specimen of Young America. By Jove, to see him at good advantage he should have been seated beside Guy Trevelyan—our Adonis. Is not the old chap mighty complimentary? Think it was rather hard on the vanity of Landon and Grey. We must be sure give the toast to Trevelyan, when they are present, to have another skirmish." "Judging from your state of mind at the first, one would not deem it advisable to enter the lists a second time," said Captain Douglas. "Bear in mind the Major has too much on his hands already." "Constant practice only serves to sharpen his wits," said Mr. Howe, with a vein of sarcasm in his tones. "It grows late, or, I should say, early," said Douglas, without taking notice of the last sentence. "Howe, good morning, I shall retire." "Au revoir Douglas."
"Oh, sleep! Oh, gentle sleep! Nature's soft nurse," murmured Captain Douglas, as he sought repose from the wearing and fatiguing rounds of the last evening and remaining part of the night. Soon the "gentle sleep" was upon him, and, steeped in quiet forgetfulness, slept peacefully, regardless of toast, speeches and cousin Jonathan.
His friend in the adjoining room still puffed away at a cigar, drank another toast to cousin Jonathan, soliloquizing: "By Jove, I shall watch him closely. He is a clever youth, but I shall make a study of him. If he would make me his confidante I should readily assist him. Douglas has not the penetration to perceive it, but I can. Can any young lady be mixed up in the affair? If so, I may be at a loss to discover." In the meantime, the secretary, now thinking it time to follow Douglas to gentle sleep, commenced to prepare for retiring, further soliloquizing: "That look puzzled me last night, I must make good my word." Here he stopped short and was soon enjoying sound sleep, in order to feel refreshed for the duties and social demands of another day. The coming day intended to be almost a repetition of the past. Morning, public parade; afternoon, on the race course; and evening in the mess-room. Sir Thomas Tilden's arrival was always hailed with joy, being marked with grand festive honours, balls, parties and suppers. To these seasons the officers and many of the leading citizens looked forward with fond expectation. Beautiful ladies met in their ball-room the gallantry and chivalry of Fredericton. Nothing but gaiety on every hand. Such events marked the order of society in the capital of New Brunswick over half a century ago.
LADY ROSAMOND'S REVERIE.
In a small but exquisitely furnished apartment in Government House sat a young and beautiful lady. The room commanded a north-west view, showing a bright and silvery sheet of rippling water. This was the private apartment of Lady Rosamond. It is the hour when she is occupied in writing letters and attending to the many little matters demanding her attention. An open letter lies upon her lap. Lady Rosamond is listlessly leaning against a dressing-table, with one hand partially shading her beautiful face. Quickly turning round to look at some object beyond gives a full view, which reveals a tender sadness resting in the depths of those powerful dark eyes. Lady Rosamond is in a deep study—one which is not of an agreeable nature—one which she is not most likely to reveal. Alternate shades of displeasure, rebellion and defiance, flit across her brow, which remain, in quiet and apparently full possession, until reluctantly driven forth by the final ascendancy of reason, at the cost of many conflicting feelings of emotion and deep despondency.
Again Lady Rosamond reads the letter very slowly, as though to find, in each word and sentence, some other meaning which might allay her present distracting thoughts. Vainly did the reader search for relief. The diction was plain, clear and definite. No chance to escape. No fond smiles from Hope's cheering presence. Hope had fled, with agonizing gaze, as Lady Rosamond once more read that letter. Every word was stamped upon her heart in characters of bold and maddening outline. Heaving a deep sigh she folded the letter, placed it within her desk, and mechanically stood gazing upon the quiet river, peaceful and calm, save the little ripple on the surface. Lady Rosamond contrasted the scene with her troubled depths and superficial quiet exterior.
Quietly opening the window the cool sharp breeze of an October morning was grateful to the feverish flush partially visible upon the cheeks of Lady Rosamond. She was usually pale, save when an occasional blush asserted its right. Standing here in such a state of mind Lady Rosamond was indeed beautiful—a lovely picture with delicate expression and coloring. While she is thus engaged let us intrude upon the privacy of her feelings by taking forth the letter from its hiding place, and examining its contents. It seems a sacrilegious act, but it is in our great sympathy and interest on behalf of Lady Rosamond that we yield to the temptation.
The writing is in a bold, masculine hand, clear, legible, and uniform. If there be such a thing as judging the character of the writer by the chirography in the present instance, there was decision, firmness, bordering on self-will, and resistance to opposition. The letter ran thus:—
Chesley Manor, Surrey, Oct. 4th, 1824.
My Dear Child:
Having a few moments to spare this morning I devote them to your benefit, with a fond hope that you are as happy as the day is long. It does seem rather hard for me to be moping around this quiet house and my little girl away in New Brunswick, but it is useless to repine. In a few days I will take charge of a ship to go abroad for some months. Our fleet now demands my attention, which, I am happy to say, will drive away loneliness and repinings for the little runaway. Was much pleased to meet an old friend of Sir Howard Douglas—Colonel Fleetwood—who served in the same regiment while in Spain, and is ever loud in praise of his friend. Though an old soldier now, he has the true ring of military valor, which would gain the esteem of Sir Howard.
Your aunt is enjoying a visit to Bereford Castle; writes in good health and spirits. Your cousin, Gerald, is again on a political campaign, being sanguine in the prospect of being re-seated in Parliament the next session. I am watching the event as one which concerns us deeply. Bereford is a young man of much promise. He will indeed fill well his position as owner of Bereford Castle, as well as peer of the realm. Lord Bereford is truly proud of his heir as the noblest of this ancient and loyal family. My dearest child, it is my fondest desire that in you may be doubly united the families of Seymour and Bereford. Gerald is the son-in-law of my choice, and it is my earnest desire that you may favor a fond parent's views in this matter. That your cousin regards you both fondly and tenderly I am truly convinced. He expressed his opinion very freely on making a visit last week, when I gave him my unbounded confidence and direct encouragement. On leaving he requested me to intimate this feeling towards you in a quiet manner, which I now do, with sufficient knowledge of your character to know that a parent's wishes will not be opposed. Gerald Bereford will be in a position to give you that ease and affluence your birth demands. As Lady Bereford, Lady Rosamond Seymour will neither compromise rank, wealth, nor dignity, and will be happy in the love of a fond, devoted husband, and the blessing of a doting father. It is my great love for you, my child, that urges this settlement. I am certain that you will have no hesitation in giving your answer. You are young, and have as yet formed no prior attachments, for which circumstance thank heaven, and allow me to congratulate you for being so fortunate as to secure the heart and hand of Gerald Bereford. Do not imagine that it is our wish to shorten your stay in New Brunswick. You are at liberty to enjoy the companionship of your friend Mary till the years have expired, after which I think that my daughter will be anxious to see her only parent, and to form high opinions of her cousin Gerald. My dear, I do not wish to hurry you, already knowing your answer. Wishing to be kindly remembered to Sir Howard and Lady Douglas, and the family, with my fondest love.
Remain, Your Father.
Such was the tenor of the epistle which had caused these feelings within the bosom of Lady Rosamond. Sir Thomas Seymour was a man not to be thwarted in his designs. He loved his child with deep tenderness, and, as he said in the letter, this was the reason of his solicitude. It had always been the secret pride of the Admiral's life that Gerald Bereford should wed Lady Rosamond, but he kept his favorite plans closely guarded until means were offered to aid him. Many times Sir Thomas fancied that Gerald Bereford admired his lovely cousin, and had a faint hope in the realization of his wishes. When the climax was reached, by those avowals on the part of the suitor, the great joy of the solicitous parent knew no bounds. He seemed to view the matter as one which would give entire happiness to all parties. Lady Rosamond was to be congratulated on the brilliant prospects of her future. The Bereford family were to be congratulated on their securing such an acquisition as Lady Rosamond, while Gerald Bereford was to be congratulated on having won the heart of such a pure and lovable being as his future bride. All those congratulations were in prospect before the mental vision of the Admiral as he lovingly dwelt upon the matter.
From the effect thus produced upon Lady Rosamond it was certain she viewed the matter in a different light. True, she had never, by thought or action, been betrayed to show the least possible regard or preference towards any of the many gallants from whom she oftentimes received many flattering attentions.
Towards her cousin Gerald she had always been considerate and friendly. When on several occasions he had taken particular pains to gratify her slightest wish, and pay more deferential regard than was necessary to the demands of their relationship, Lady Rosamond affected utter ignorance of the cause by treating him with a familiarity that gave him no opportunity to urge his suit.
When Sir Thomas gave consent to his daughter's reception in the family of Sir Howard Douglas, it was in the firm belief that on her return her mind would be matured to enter more fully upon plans relative to her settlement in life. At the death of Sir Thomas the lands and estate of Chesley Manor would be inherited by Frederick Seymour, the eldest son; a smaller estate, bordering upon that of Lord Bereford, affording a moderate income, went to the second son Geoffrey, while an annuity of four thousand pounds had been settled upon Lady Rosamond, with a marriage jointure of fifty thousand pounds, to be placed in the hands of the trustees. By the marriage of Gerald Bereford and Lady Rosamond, the latter would secure an inheritance of which she was next direct heir, being the niece of the present lord incumbent.
Lady Rosamond weighed all these arguments and tried to find by some means a possibility of escape, but all lay in the dark and dim distance, exacting heavy payment from her ladyship.
This was a heavy blow to a person of Lady Rosamond's sensitive nature. The thought was revolting to her. For some time previous a dim foreboding haunted her—a presentiment of gloom and of deep sorrow. On receiving the letter its weight seemed to lie heavily upon her. Now the contents again caused her much pain. To whom could she go for comfort? To whom unburden her mind? Leaning her head upon the table Lady Rosamond sought refuge in tears. She sobbed bitterly. "It is at this trying moment I miss my dear mother," murmured the poor girl in faltering accents of outspoken grief. "Heaven pity those who have no mother. With her loving and tender heart my mother never would have allowed the sanctity of my feelings to be thus invaded and trampled upon. And my dear father, I love him, but can I fulfil his wishes? It is my duty! Oh, heaven direct me!"
Poor Lady Rosamond! Her sorrow was indeed deep. In the midst of such murmurs she arose, walked to the window, and once more fanned her cheeks with the cooling breath of heaven, which afforded momentary relief.
As the large plate mirror opposite reflected the tear stains upon her pale but lovely face, Lady Rosamond resolved to banish all traces of sorrow. Returning from the adjoining dressing-room not a shade clouded the features of the suffering girl. The silken ringlets of her raven black hair were rearranged with bewildering profusion, while the feverish blush added to her surpassing charms. A faint smile passed over Lady Rosamond's features as she tried to appear gay and assumed those girlish charms which made friends on every side, from Sir Howard to the youngest member in the household. "Oh, dear, what shall I do?" escaped the lips of the sufferer. "What will bring this matter to an end?" But pride would not allow Lady Rosamond to reveal her feelings. She would be a true Seymour. It were well that she possessed this spirit, being in this instance an offset to injured delicacy.
Having remained in privacy longer than it was customary, she reluctantly prepared to meet the family. Descending the upper stairway, she was met by one of the children who had come to summon her to join them in a walk.
Lady Rosamond was always a favorite with children and the family of Sir Howard formed no exception. They loved to accompany her on long walks in search of any thing the surrounding woods afforded. Scarce two months had passed since their arrival and they were familiar with all the cosy retreats, nooks and pretty spots to be found. Surrounded by her followers, Lady Rosamond appeared as a naiad holding revel with her sylvan subjects.
In her present mood the woods seemed to suggest calm. With her companion, Mary Douglas, and the romping children, Lady Rosamond was seemingly happy. A slight accident occurred which somewhat disturbed the enjoyment of all, more especially those whom it most concerned.
In crossing a narrow brook by means of a small plank which, being rotten, gave way, Lady Rosamond was thrown into the water with no regard to ceremony. A loud scream from Helen Douglas, who was standing near, brought the whole company, while terrified shrieks arose on all sides. In an instant Master Johnnie Douglas appeared in sight followed by Lieut. Trevelyan. The mischievous disposition of the former could not prevent an outburst of laughter despite all his high notions of gallantry. The young lieutenant came boldly forward, seized the hand of Lady Rosamond, and led her to a seat at a short distance. The dripping garments clinging to the form of the frightened girl moved the young soldier with pity and showed the tender nature of his manly heart. The heartless Johnnie was dispatched for dry wraps and more comfortable clothing. Lieutenant Trevelyan could not force a smile. The same puzzled expression which had baffled Mr. Howe forced itself upon him.
Mary Douglas had wrapped her companion's feet in the shawl taken off her own shoulders, and sat anxiously awaiting their courier. The children were more demonstrative in showing their grief. During the moments that passed the minds of the elder members of the group were busily engaged.
Lady Rosamond, regardless of her situation, was busied in projecting schemes the most fanciful. She was thinking of the contents of her father's letter. In spite of the strong efforts of will her thoughts would turn in another and far different direction, which, perhaps, on this occasion it would be more discreet to conceal. The painful and ill-disguised look was attributed to the accident. Well for Lady Rosamond if it were so. Yes, an accident, a painful accident—forgive the expression—an accident of the heart. Poor Lady Rosamond!
Ah, Mr. Trevelyan, we have an undue curiosity to follow the turn of your thoughts; but, as we once more note that puzzled look, think your generous heart and honest nature deserve more generous treatment. At least, this time, we grant you further respite.
Johnnie's arrival prevents further moralizing. No room for gravity when Johnnie Douglas is near. His mischievous spirit is infectious.
CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES, ETC.
The months pass quickly away. October, with its brilliant trophies of the wood, has departed, leaving behind many pleasing memories of its presence. November, in its raw and surly mood, is allowed to take farewell without any expression of regret. The last of this numerous family—December—is greeted with a hearty reception from every member of the Douglas family. The purity of the soft snow flakes, falling in myriads, are invested with indescribable charms. The clear, cold, and frosty atmosphere is exhilarating to the bright, fresh countenances of the youthful party sliding on the ponds and brooks. The river affords amusement for skaters. The jingle of the bells is music sweet and gratifying as the horses prance along with a keen sense of the pleasure they afford to the beautiful ladies encased in costly furs and wrapped in inviting buffalo robes.
A happy season is in prospective. Christmas is approaching with its time-honored customs and endearing associations. High and low, rich and poor, have the same fond anticipations. In the lowly cot, surrounded by miles of wilderness, little faces brighten as quickly at mention of Christmas as those who are reared in the lap of luxury and expectant of fond remembrance in showers of valuable presents in endless variety.
Preparations were being commenced at Government House on an extensive scale. Lady Douglas was remarkable for the labors of love in her family at this approaching season. Christmas was to her a time of unalloyed happiness. "Peace and good will" reigned supreme. Every minute was spent in promoting happiness by devotion, recreation or charity. The last was one of her most pleasing enjoyments, for which Lady Douglas received many blessings. From her childhood this noble lady had exercised her leisure moments in relieving the wants of the poor, often leaving to them food and clothing with her own hands.
At the suggestion of Miss Douglas, who was always ready for any important duty, a party was proposed to visit the woods to procure boughs for greening the grand hall and drawing-room. Foremost was Johnnie Douglas, master of ceremonies, whose presence on the occasion was indispensable; so said Johnnie, throwing a mischievous glance at Lady Rosamond as a reminder of his services on a former expedition. The rising color on his victim's face brought a reprimand from Mary Douglas.
"Don't be of such importance, Johnnie, there are plenty of gentlemen at our command."
"Ha, ha, ha," roared the young gentleman in undisguised and unsuppressed fits of laughter.
"Miss Mary, don't be of too much importance; there may not be so many gentlemen at your command as you reckon on," said Johnnie, bent on following up his argument; "Mr. Howe is engaged, Mr. Trevelyan goes on parade this morning, Charles is away; now where are the reserves? Answer—Fred, and your humble servant."
"Well, Johnnie, you are holding your ground manfully," exclaimed Sir Howard, smiling as he passed through the group in the lower hall, where they still sat discussing the grounds of Johnnie's superiority.
Decision turning in favor of the champion, the party set off—boys, ladies, and children—forming a pretty sight. Lady Douglas stood on the balcony waving approval and beaming with happy smiles.
The shouts of Master Johnnie, laughter of the ladies, and romping of the children, kept the woods busy in the constant repetition of echoes on every side.
"Oh, Lady Rosamond," cried the hero of the expedition, eager to maintain his position, "here is the brook, but where is the water to receive some one with another cooling reception, and where is Mr. Trevelyan with his gallant service and kind sympathy?—Not hinting of the hasty retreat of your valuable pioneer!"
Mary Douglas, detecting a shade passing over Lady Rosamond's brow, came to the rescue with another mild reprimand upon the incorrigible Johnnie. "I am afraid, sir, that you take the opportunity of reminding Lady Rosamond of your former importance without due regard to her feelings, which, you are aware, is not very gentlemanly."
"If your ladyship is offended," said the mischievous but generous and manly Johnnie, turning to Lady Rosamond, "I beg your pardon in the most humble manner, feeling deeply sorry."
"Lady Rosamond you really do not think I would consciously give you annoyance," said master Johnnie, throwing down the bough which he had lopped from a tree near, and drawing up his boyish form with true dignity and an amusing earnestness in his tone.
"Of course not, Johnnie," returned her ladyship, "you and I are on the best of terms. Nothing that you say or do gives me any annoyance; on the contrary, it always amuses me."
This last speech of Lady Rosamond had surprised Mary Douglas. Apparently engaged in selecting the most suitable branches of fir and spruce, she was more intently occupied in the study of her own thoughts. She was wondering why the mention of the brook adventure had caused that look which, notwithstanding protests to the contrary, recalled something disagreeable to Lady Rosamond.
Being interrupted in these thoughts by her brother Fred's arrival with a request to go home, Mary Douglas joined the merry party, each bearing some burden as part of the spoil, while Johnnie collected and piled a large heap to be conveyed thither when necessary.
On arriving in the courtyard, Johnnie set up three lusty cheers which brought out Lady Douglas, accompanied by Mr. Howe and Lieutenant Trevelyan.
"Thought you were on parade this morning, Mr. Trevelyan," exclaimed the pioneer Johnnie, "else you might have formed another of our party."
"The ladies might not have accepted your decision," returned Mr. Trevelyan, hastily; "however, I thank you kindly for your consideration."
After the ladies had returned from making the change of toilet necessary upon the tour of the woods, luncheon was served. Mr. Howe and Mr. Trevelyan remained. Johnnie was full of adventure, but made no allusion to the brook. Lady Rosamond was calm, possessed, and entertaining. Everybody seemed inspired with the occasion. Sir Howard was deeply immersed in the furtherance of those measures and means to be resorted to for the benefit and advancement of the Province. "I have promised," said he, "to be able to give clearer views upon the improvement of New Brunswick a year hence, and, in order to do so, must not neglect one moment. Another object which claims my notice very urgently is the establishment of laws regulating a better system of education. The grammar school is in a state of mediocrity, its support not being secured on a proper basis. We want a college—an institution where our young men can receive a thorough education and be fitted for entering upon any profession."
In every measure advocated by Sir Howard he had the full concurrence of Lady Douglas and her intelligent and highly educated sons and daughters. Perhaps to this cause may be attributed the amazing success which marked Sir Howard's career through life. He had the entire and heartfelt sympathy of his household. He was loved with the truest and fondest affection as a husband and father. He, in return, placed every confidence in his lovely and amiable wife and daughters, knowing that through them he received great happiness; and, unfettered with those domestic trials which attend some families, he was able to discharge the duties of state with full and determined energy.
The hours that elapsed between luncheon and dinner were spent in the various styles of decoration suggested by Lady Douglas. The important Johnnie was under the direct supervision of Miss Cheenick, cutting off and preparing little twigs for garlands, with occasional sallies of good natured badinage.
Miss Douglas was making illuminated mottoes and texts in a quiet corner of the apartment. Mary Douglas and her companion were busily weaving pretty and graceful festooning. To each member was allotted some especial part.
Every one participated in the preparation by noting each successive step towards completion. Thus the work progressed until it was time for the ladies to dress for dinner; after which the evening was spent in the same occupation, with the valuable assistance of Mr. Howe and Captain Douglas.
After several days had elapsed, the work was considered complete. The design was choice and beautiful. Nothing was necessary to produce a more graceful and pleasing effect. Holly there was none, but our woods supplied the loss with lovely evergreens of native growth.
It was the day preceding Christmas eve. Mirth and joy revelled around the glowing firesides. Happy faces beamed with radiating smiles. Each was trying to do some small act of kindness for the benefit of the household. A Christmas tree, in all its mysterious surroundings, was being laden with beautiful presents. Loving tokens of friendship were placed on its strong branches by lovely and delicate hands. Lady Douglas presided over these mysteries, in the secret chamber, with the vigilance of the dragon who guarded the golden apples in the classic shades of the Hesperides. All busy little feet were turned towards the door, but further entrance was barred by gentle admonition from her ladyship.
Lady Rosamond had been allowed the privacy of her own apartments without interruption. She was preparing some tokens of regard for different members of the family. Many chaste and valuable articles had been received from home for this purpose, but she wished to make some choice trinkets as her own work. Many times she had stolen a half-hour to devote to this labor of love. An elegant silk purse had been netted for Lady Douglas. For Mary Douglas she is engaged on a prettily-designed portfolio. None were forgotten, not even Sir Howard, who was the recipient of a neat dressing-case. As Lady Rosamond's deft fingers wrought upon each article her mind was busy upon a far different, and, to her, important matter. She longed for sympathy and advice. Her father gave himself little concern regarding her ambiguously-written message. He saw that his daughter was somewhat cold and indifferent to her cousin's preference, but he expected that, on her return, she would readily agree to anything which met his approval. Not wishing to repeat the sentiment of the letter thus described, Sir Thomas Seymour had considered moderation as the surest hope of success. Having thus expressed his opinion to Lady Bereford, the Admiral was assured and confident. On this Christmas season he had selected a costly locket, studded with diamonds, as a gift to Lady Rosamond, and dwelt, with loving pride, upon the many gentle qualities of the lovely girl; her happy prospects as Lady Bereford, adored by a fond husband, beloved by all.
Happy Lady Rosamond! in thy busy thoughts. Dared we venture for thee an encouraging word, it would be "Every cloud has a silver lining."
Christmas eve was a scene of stir and excitement. Though work was done in a systematic manner, the unusual tasks of labor and love were hurrying upon each other with increasing rapidity. The servant's hall was not to be passed over at this joyous time. Everyone, both family and servants, shared in the festivity. How the graceful form of Mary Douglas flew from room to room, arranging some pleasing surprise, planning some little act of courtesy or civility. The housekeeper's room, stealthily invaded by bribing another domestic, becomes the hiding place of a handsome lace cap. Each maid finds under her pillow a sovereign and some little trinket, as a ribbon, scarf or work box.
These were happy moments in the life of Mary Douglas. In the performance of such acts of goodness she was truly happy. This lovely girl was possessed of the united virtues of Sir Howard and Lady Douglas. Free from the remotest clouds of sorrow or care, Mary Douglas was indeed to be envied. Her father's smile was of more value to his gifted daughters than the most flattering attention from the many admirers who vainly tried to receive the slightest sign of encouragement.
That Lady Rosamond often longed for the happy and contented hours of her companion—for a like participation of uninterrupted and halcyon days, should form no ground for surprise. "How I should like to tell Mary my trouble and receive her sweet counsel," murmured the sad girl. "I should feel the burden lighter to bear, but it would seem almost a sacrilege to invade upon such quiet harmony, for, with her sweet sympathizing nature, I know that Mary would grieve over my sorrow. Dear girl, your Christmas shall not be clouded by me," soliloquized Lady Rosamond, "I love you too deeply to wish you care like mine. Ah, no, Mary darling, may you never know the depth of sorrow such as mine."
Lady Rosamond stood before her mirror to place a tiny rosebud in the raven hair that encircled her stately head in luxuriant coils. Slight and graceful in form, she saw indeed a pretty picture reflected there. It seemed to mock her with pitying gaze. Her black silk dress revealed the snowy whiteness of her beautifully rounded shoulders and arms, pure as the marble mantel upon which she rested. The costly locket, with its flashing diamonds, suspended by a heavy gold chain, rested upon her bosom. She thought of her father's kindness as she placed his gift to her lips, exclaiming, "Poor, dear papa, how I should like to see him to-night; I love him so fondly. If he knew what I am suffering perhaps he might relent. No doubt he is lonely to-night and wishing to see his 'only little girl,' as he lovingly calls me."
Presently Lady Rosamond was formally ushered into the apartment where the company, comprising the family and a few intimate friends, were assembled to divest the Christmas tree of its gay clothing and appendages.
As a veritable Santa Claus presented each present, the all-important Johnnie was ready to exclaim: "Thank old Sandy for that, can't you? What a hale old chap is Sandy!" Turning to Lieutenant Trevelyan, the incorrigible ventured to ask who might be Sandy's tailor?
When among the presents a tiny case, lined with white velvet, revealed a jewelled cross of exquisite design, Sir Howard exclaimed gaily, "Lady Rosamond, a coincidence—the cross followed by an anchor!" producing at the same time a costly ornament in the form of an anchor. "Have no fear, your cross is outweighed by the anchor Hope in the end. What a beautiful encouraging omen!"
ST. JOHN'S EVE.
It was St. John's Eve; Government House was a scene of splendour; truly every precinct was a blaze of dazzling light. Here was assembled the distinguished, gay, beauty, and wit of the Province; the learned and severe as well as the thoughtless. Hearts beat with throbbing and exciting pulsation, fired by hope's fondest dreams. The spacious drawing-room, already described in a preceding chapter, now assumed, if possible, a more brilliant aspect—flooded with light, rendered more effective by an additional chandelier, a gem of countless scintillations, distracting in variety and prismatic design. The courtly reception, high-born dignity and ease exhibited in every smile, gesture, word and action of the distinguished occupants, might recall vivid conceptions of the days when beauty and chivalry were conspicuous in homage to royalty and grand pageantry.
Amidst the pressure and arrival of each guest no confusion was apparent. Rank took precedence with studied regard. The many guests were attired in a style and elegance becoming the occasion. Conspicuous was the military rank of the large number of officers of His Majesty's service—colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, ensigns, and all those insignias of like distinction. Among these might be found hidden, viscounts, lords, and baronets, and those aspiring to the proudest titles and birth of family. To describe the most imposing and costly dresses worn on this evening would be a difficult task. Ladies arrayed in the most gorgeous and priceless brocade and satins ablaze with diamonds and gems, snowy silks studded with pearls, velvet robes lined with costly furs and covered with lace at a fabulous price and texture, coronets of jewels, necklaces, bracelets, and beautiful trinkets, made the suggestion to a beholder that Heaven had showered down her radiation of delight by bestowing upon these jewels a reflection scarce less than that of her own upon the scene above. Among the throng none were more eagerly sought than Lady Rosamond; her quiet and easy dignity had won the regard and esteem of all those with whom she mingled. Unassuming and retiring, Lady Rosamond had excited no jealousy on the part of her less favored female friends. On her they all united in bestowing kind and sisterly regard. To gratify curiosity, and show our beautiful young friend as she appeared in the drawing-room, leaning on the arm of Captain Douglas, I will try describe her as nearly as possible:—A white satin robe with court train, bordered with the purest lace, festooned with pearls, over a blue satin petticoat, formed a lovely costume, with bodice of white satin, showing the faultless waist of the wearer; white satin slippers, ornamented with pearls, encased the tiny feet of Lady Rosamond. She was, indeed, worthy the name she bore—a type of her lovely but unfortunate ancestress, who won, for a time, the fickle heart of Henry Eighth, and gave birth to the good and pious young Edward.
Many smiles of recognition were bestowed upon the Lady Rosamond, among whom were those of the old cavaliers and statesmen, the middle-aged and the young and gay gallants of the day. If the latter showed any preference, as regards companionship, it was a strange preference for the more advanced in life. Ladies in the declining stage of life were to her the greatest source of comfort. To their varied experience of life the young girl would give the entire earnest of her truthful nature. Nor was this fact unnoticed. Lady Rosamond was the frequent partner of a revered grandfather, either at the whist table or in the quadrille, much to the secret annoyance of the young gentlemen present.
Mary Douglas was often at the side of her girl friend. It frequently happened that they were vis-a-vis in a quadrille, when Lady Rosamond indulged in exchanging playful sallies of mirthful character. In appearance, manners and companionship those lovely girls might be considered as sisters. On more than one occasion had such a mistake been of concurrence, while Mary Douglas was recognized as Lady Rosamond.
Colonel L——, an intimate friend of Sir Howard, remarked to a lady beside him, "This is truly an enjoyable affair. I am doubtful if many years hence some will not look back and say that this was one of the happiest moments of their life."
In the midst of this speech a gay and dashing young officer stepped forward, accosting a superior in command in a brotherly and familiar way, shewing behind a tie of relationship. Aside, in quiet tones, the younger exclaimed, "Cousin Charles, will you introduce me to the lady in crimson velvet and white satin, with tiara of diamonds?" "Certainly, Montague, whenever you wish. Do you not think her beautiful?" "Yes," was the reply, "but not in effect with Lady Rosamond or Miss Mary. Does not that lovely costume set off her ladyship's charms. How faultless her form! It is a hard matter to decide between the beauty of those companions."
This last remark caused a blush to suffuse the brow of a handsome youth standing within hearing. Suddenly turning away, and musing as he went, Lieutenant Trevelyan was half angry at himself for some slight betrayal of feeling which fortunately had not been detected.
As Lady Douglas was sitting in a corner, whither some of her guests had retired to rest from the fatigue of the evening, a lady near ventured to exclaim, "What a noble looking young man is Lieutenant Trevelyan! He has such a frank and honest face; besides, he is so kind and considerate. Having heard so many kind allusions towards him from so many sources, I have a great interest in his welfare. It is said that his father won distinction in the army."
"Yes," returned Lady Douglas, "I can remember his father when he really appeared not much older and wore the same blushing countenance as our dear friend Guy."
"Ah, there he is," exclaimed one of the eager admirers.
At this moment the subject of their remarks led forth Lady Rosamond as his partner in the dance.
"What a charming couple," said one. "How striking the contrast of their dress," said another, as the bright scarlet of Lieutenant Trevelyan's uniform reflected on the pure white satin of Lady Rosamond's bodice, while the blue satin added a pretty effect.
"How happy he looks as he smiles upon his partner," said one of the group.
"Who could be unhappy in the presence of Lady Rosamond?" replied Lady Douglas.
"Pardon, your ladyship, but there are many here who feel the hidden pain caused by one look or smile from her ladyship's lovely face." The speaker here lowered her voice, continuing: "I cannot explain or account for the feeling which prompts me, but I really think that Lieutenant Trevelyan is under the influence of those beautiful eyes, and really it would be the fondest of my dreams realized, having in both seen much to admire."
"Mrs. B——," said Lady Douglas, in playful tones of reproof. "You really would be tempted to become a match-maker?"
"Yes," replied the other, "if by any means I could further the present scheme."
"Lady Rosamond is indeed amiable and loveable, and worthy of a true and noble husband, while Lieutenant Trevelyan is in every sense a gentleman worthy the fairest and best. It would grieve me to see him rejected, yet, Lady Rosamond is not in a position to favor any suitor until she returns to England."
While the preceding remarks were being made by the group in the corner, the totally unconscious pair were apparently enjoying the music and dancing.