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A pause of some moments now ensued. Mrs. Sandford was affected to tears. She felt the conviction of truth, and the force of what her friend had so clearly and powerfully placed before her. She felt, also, for the disappointed happiness of her daughter; as she foresaw the deep responsibility that would fall upon Mr. Sandford and herself, were they to give their consent to her marriage with Mr. Merton, under all the grave objections that started up to “ forbid the bans.”
Feeling too much agitated to continue the conversation, Mrs. Sandford simply requested, with a tearful countenance, that her friend would leave with her all the books, writings, and documents referring to the absorbing subject, which had so deeply engrossed their attention; as well for the purpose of reading them deliberately herself, as of submitting them to the serious perusal of her husband.
With these, and the various texts of Scripture noted down for her by Mrs. Gracelove, and thanking her for the trouble she had so conscientiously taken, she now retired to her private apartment till the hour of dinner. The conversation partook of a general character during the repast that ensued, and throughout the remainder of the evening; and the two ladies bore their part with apparent cheerfulness, for the purpose of avoiding observation and inquiries, though with a painful exertion.
On the following day Mrs. Gracelove returned to Derwent Cottage.
THREE days had scarcely elapsed after the return of our “ Lady of the Lake” to her lovely home, when her husband received a letter from Mrs. Stately, written in a very tremulous hand, and dated from Bowness; a village situated in a most delightful position on the eastern shore of Windermere. The few lines it contained bore evident marks of great emotion of mind, and expressed an earnest wish that Mr. Gracelove would proceed with as much haste as possible to the White Lion at that place, where Mr. Stately had been attacked with a most dangerous illness, on his journey from the metropolis, where he and his wife had been paying a visit. As an additional motive to acquiesce in the request, it was mentioned in the letter that Mr. Stately had himself earnestly begged of his wife to make the communication in question, and to solicit the christian sympathy of our friend's presence at the bedside of his sick neighbour.
The appeal, as may readily be supposed, was immediately responded to. A principle of kindness and humanity had marked Mr. Gracelove's character from the days of his boy. hood; and he had learnt in his maturer years that, greatly as it is our religious duty to administer to the physical wants of our fellow-creatures, there is, in truth, something still higher; and that the noblest exercise of virtue has reference to their spiritual wants; and, especially, in the momentous case of a possibly dying man. Having hastily placed, therefore, a few things in a carpet-bag, he stepped into his stanhope, which he had ordered to the door, and, accompanied by a servant, drove off to Bowness.
The country through which our friend was about to direct his course, lying between Keswick and Ambleside, and so onward along the shores of Windermere, is perhaps unsurpassed by any other portion of England in the beauty and variety of its scenery. All the features of a fine landscape are here exhibited in rich combination. A winding and undulating road; mountain heights; luxuriant vallies; hill and dale ; rocks and cascades; with the charm and grace of three or four lakes gleaming in the sunshine, and contrasting their soft repose with the rugged aspect of crags and precipices, and the frowning ridges above and around them all conspire to render this drive, or to the pedestrian this walk, one of the most interesting in the united kingdom.
On the left hand, at the distance of about six miles from Keswick, towers aloft, to an elevation of 3,055 feet, the mighty form of Helvellyn, overlooking the beautiful shores of Ullswater. On the right, and immediately opposite the giant mountain, is beheld the glassy surface of Thirlmere; a lake extremely indented and irregular in the outline of its margin, and stretching over an extent of four miles in length, with a breadth varying from one mile to one half.
Proceeding onwards four or five miles, the traveller obtains most interesting views of the two lakes, Grassmere and Rydal water; and beyond them, of the splendid expanse of Windermere, the largest of our English lakes. The two former extend only one mile in length ; but the picturesque features by which they are surrounded, especially those of Grassmere,
make an ample compensation for their more contracted surface.
Leaving these two lakes on the right, the tourist shortly afterwards enters the little town of Ambleside, distant sixteen miles from Keswick; in the vicinity of which are to be seen the remains of a Roman station, of considerable celebrity in the olden times. Here, also, he may enjoy the view of a highly picturesque cascade, called Stock-gill Force, which will well repay a visit to the deep recesses of its fountain glen ; as indeed the town itself, the situation of which is equally romantic and beautiful.
As Mr. Gracelove had six miles farther to go, in order to reach Bowness, he remained half an hour at Ambleside for the purpose of feeding and refreshing his horse, and then proceeded on his way. Solomon truly says, that " a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast:" and in the same verse as truly declares, that “the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." *
One mile farther brought the traveller to the banks of Windermere, the head of which lies at this extremity; where is beheld a superb accumulation of mountains, unexceeded, perhaps, by those of any other lake in the world. Mr. Gracelove was, however, too anxious to reach his destination to enjoy the gorgeous picture presented to his eye; and as it was his intention to return to Ambleside in a boat, along the central line of the lake, he willingly deferred to that period a renewal of those pleasing recollections which the captivating scenery before him had so often inspired. Passing quickly, therefore, by Low Wood Inn,-a position which commands an enchanting prospect of the upper part of the lake,-half an hour more brought him to the end of his journey.
Arrived at Bowness, he proceeded at once to the hotel named in Mrs. Stately's letter, and was immediately shown to
. Prov. xii. 10.
the apartment which that lady was then occupying, and which adjoined the bed-room where lay her poor sick husband.
After the first hasty salutations had passed between them, intermingled, on the lady's part, with warmly-expressed thanks towards their kind neighbour for his prompt and feeling compliance with their request, she intimated to him the nature of Mr. Stately's complaint. It appeared, that he had been taken alarmingly ill when within a few miles of the village, during their journey homeward from London. The disorder was an internal one, of a very serious character, accompanied by most unfavourable symptoms, and which his high luxurious living had been gradually bringing on for a length of time previously. He was attended by two medical men, who, while they endeavoured to cheer his disconsolate wife with hopes of their patient's ultimate recovery, considered it their duty not to disguise from her his real condition; and the certainty of the cure, if effected at all, being slow and tedious, arising from the nature of the disease.
Mrs. Stately now retired, for a few moments, into the next room, in order to announce to her husband the arrival of their kind visitor; but quickly returning, took hold of the latter's hand, and softly led himn into the apartment of the once gay, and thoughtless, and dissipated squire of the Hall, but now terrified and desponding
The instant Mr. Gracelove appeared at his bedside, the sick man, raising himself upon his bed, seized the extended hand that was offered to him with an impressive and affecting eagerness. His feverish and anxious countenance, and rest. less eye, betrayed the vivid sense he entertained of his dangerous state, and the deep feeling that was working within ; which, though he lamented the cause, Mr. Gracelove could not but rejoice to see, as exhibiting the token of an awakening conscience.