| ||The Banished Man. Volume 1 of 2|
—Like the lily;
That once was mistress of the field, and flourished,
I'll hang my head and perish.
WHEN Ellesmere learned the circumstances that had happened the evening before, he became as eager as D'Alonville, or if possible more so, to offer to the unhappy strangers every service he could render them. He proposed for this purpose a thousand projects in a moment. He would write to his mother and sisters—he would carry the two ladies to Eddisbury. D'Alonville, who was not so sanguine as to the reception they might meet with, felt all the generosity of his friend, but did not seem in haste to avail himself of it. He readily, however, assented to Ellesmere's wish of going with him to wait on them; and with a melancholy smile bade him beware of the fascinating eyes of the younger Madame de Touranges. "I know the influence of beauty in distress, my friend," said he, "and I assure you, you will not find that of the young Marquisse less dangerous that that of your fair Polonese."
"Probably it might be much more," replied Ellesmere "were I a Frenchman; but I have not been accustomed to consider married women as objects of gallantry, having had neither a foreign nor a fashionable education."
"Well, then, let us go," said D'Alonville, "for though I hope and believe that this wandering family of our luckless acquaintance de Touranges, is not so distressed as to need pecuniary
assistance, yet it cannot but be advantageous to them to be known by people of consequence in England. They seem extremely sensible of the kindness they have received from a family of the name of—, I cannot now recollect the name—but I understand them to be related to the nobleman with whose hounds we were out, and to live about two miles from the village. It was this family who found the lodging for them, and who have with unwearied kindness visited them since.—I am sorry I cannot recollect the name."
"Relations of Lord Aberdore's are they," answered Ellesmere. "I do not know any family of that description, but indeed this is a part of the country with which I am very slightly acquainted; and I only know Lord Aberdore by sight. If he has relations so liberal minded I am glad of it, for of his own liberality of mind one hears but little."
"Suppose," added Ellesmere, " that I tell my uncle whither we are going. He would do any thing in the world to serve women in distress—and is a perfect knight-errant in their cause."
"Perhaps it would be better," replied D'Alonville, "to see the Ladies de Touranges first ourselves;—your uncle has no woman in his family, and perhaps we may only, by engaging his good humoured endeavours, be troublesome to him, without deriving any benefit to the parties for whom we are interested." "I fear," added he, "that in this country, people of mine, hate nothing to hope but protection and subsistence; for the great evils they suffer, the most generous efforts of strangers can do nothing to relieve. These poor women, who are now hid in a little lodging in a solitary village, have been accustomed to the highest degree of affluence. The elder
of them has passed her life at court; the younger, with all the advantages that beauty and youth, fortune and birth could give her, was just entering on a most splendid scene of life, all is vanished! but that they no longer are surrounded with whatever can flatter the imagination or gratify the taste, does not seem to be to them the subject of regret. It is de Touranges for whom his mother trembles, it is de Touranges that draw continual tears from the eyes of his wife, and the dreadful fate that has overwhelmed our country, and now our lamented monarch. The general evil, indeed, cannot be repaired, but their individual misfortune may. Would to heaven I knew where de Touranges is."—D'Alonville now fell into a reverie, which lasted till they reached the house they were going to, and Ellesmere did not interrupt him.
On their entering the shop they were received by Mr. Sanderson, to whom Ellesmere was known; and who, on their eager enquiry after the two French ladies, shook his head when he mentioned the younger. "The sweet creature," said he, " is so ill, so nervous, and, in short, her whole system so deranged, that Susy and I have been up all night." "I hope," said D'Alonville, extremely alarmed, "that there is no danger." "I assure you I don't half like the symptoms, and that languor and giving herself up, which she does to an excess I never saw. But however, our young ladies from Besthorpe will be here by and by, and I hope that this company, which always does Madame the Marchioness good, and seeing you Gentlemen, her friends, will altogether be of more use than my drugs."
"And who," enquired Ellesmere, "are the ladies from Besthorpe?" "The Denzil family,"
replied Sanderson, "perhaps, Mr. Ellesmere, you may know them.—Excellent, worthy people, I can assure you they are, and nearly related, as I understand, to the Aberdore family, though how I cannot make out. Somehow though, the connection came by the late lady, though that you know" continued he, nodding significantly, "does not recommend them to the house now; but indeed the noble family is so seldom down, that I don't imagine Mrs. Denzil and the family took a place in this neighbourhood on that account, so much as because it suited them in other respects. It was by their means that I was induced to lett my house to these foreign ladies. I was at first rather averse to it; but on reflection, I thought the Denzil family would not recommend people the least improper; and Susy, who loves any thing that is uncommon, was mightily for receiving them. I cannot say I have repented it. The elder lady, who, I am told, lived always with the Queen, in her own country, is, to be sure, what we in England call haughty; but for the youngest, she is, as her confessor sometimes says, half an angel. A man must be a savage who would not undertake almost any thing to do her good. I assure you, she is too pretty and amiable not to be very dangerous; even a country apothecary, like me, who has enough to do to think of his patients, and to ride round the country from six in the morning to twelve at night, can find out that there would be no living near her without being in love with her, if it were not for the difference of religion and country, and her being married already, as I told her confessor."
"Her confessor," said Ellesmere, "and who is her confessor, is he here now?" "He is a French priest," replied Sanderson, "who came
over with them, and has been with them ever since they have been here, but he is now gone to London on the business of his order. A very honest, simple, good sort of man he seems to be. For my part, I am free to own, I had conceived a sort of a prejudice against Catholic priests. One has heard all one's life time, ugly stories of them; but I am free to confess, that this gentleman seems to me to be as worthy a man as any clergyman of the church of England."—While this dialogue was passing, D'Alonville, who had received a message from Madame de Touranges, that she would be glad to see him in a few moments, stood meditating on the strange reverse of fortune. The woman, who so lately had the most brilliant circles around her that Paris or Versailles could boast of, was now an object for the pity of a country apothecary. Whoever recollects the distance at which people of high rank in France were accustomed to keep even the most respectable professional men in that line, will pardon a remnant of involuntary pride in D'Alonville, who, notwithstanding the good-humoured manner in which Mr. Sanderson spoke of his guests, felt shocked that he should name them so familiarly; yet, in a moment remembering to what condition Marie Antoinette of Austria was reduced, he corrected himself, and was ashamed of the transitory emotion he had felt; and had he ever read Spencer in ours, or had he at that moment recollected any thing to the same purport in his own language, he would perhaps have said in the sense, if not in the words, of the author of the Fairy Queen.
"Such is the weakness of all mortal hope;
"So fickle is the state of earthly things,
"That, e'er they come into their aimed scope,
"They fall too short of out frail reckonings,
"And bring us bale and bitter sorrowings
"Instead of comfort which we should embrace.
"This is the state of Keasars and of kings.
"Let none, therefore, that is in meaner place,
"Too greatly gravest his unlucky case."
Miss Sanderson now came and informed D'Alonville, that Madame de Touranges desired to see both him and the gentlemen his friend; they entered the small parlour he had been in the evening before, where only the elder lady appeared.
Perfectly mistress of herself, from her long intercourse with the world, she received Ellesmere as if she had known him from his infancy; and spoke of their affairs to D'Alonville with the same unreserved as if a stranger had not been present. "My daughter," said she, "has been so affected by what we have heard from the Chevalier D'Alonville, relative to our poor wanderer, though I endeavoured to alleviate the pain such intelligence must give her, as much as possible, that she is too ill to leave her bed. Had I not expected the favor of seeing you, my good Chevalier," continued she, addressing herself to D'Alonville, "I believe I should have got our hosts here to have sent to you, for my daughter is restless, because she did not herself hear all the particulars relative to de Touranges, which she believes you can tell her. I endeavoured to evade this painful recital, but she persists in it; and will perhaps be easy when she has seen both you and this gentleman, your friend, who is the same, I conclude by his name, that passed through Germany from Vienna to Berlin, with
Marquis." Ellesmere bowed, and Madame de Touranges again spoke:
"As you have travelled," said she, speaking to Ellesmere, "and as you," addressing herself to D'Alonville, "are of a country where such things are customary, I shall make no apology to either of you, for desiring you to attend my daughter in her bed room - - - for I have insisted upon her not leaving her bed. I believe we may now go up." Madame de Touranges led the way, and Ellesmere and D'Alonville followed.
In a small neat room they found the beautiful French woman in her bed, with her infant boy sleeping by her. If D'Alonville had thought her extremely lovely and interesting from what he had seen of her the day before, she now appeared infinitely more so: yet there was nothing studied, or coquettish, in her dishabille. Ellesmere gave D'Alonville a look, which seemed to say "you might well tell me there was danger in this service;" while the glance D'Alonville returned, intimated a sort of half-triumph, which expressed "have I then always a taste adulterated by French notions? Is here not a woman of my country, who is truly and simply beautiful." The elder Marquise began the conversation, and did not wish that either Ellesmere or D'Alonville should conceal any part of what they knew as to the state of mind in which they had seen the unfortunate de Touranges, or his abruptly quitting friendly monitor St. Remi; and even by her own questions she drew from D'Alonville what he thought it necessary to conceal from them both—the purport of the Abbé last letter.
This conduct D'Alonville thought strange, after the fears Madame de Touranges had expressed for her daughter's health and life;—and still more was he hurt, when having asked this
letter of him, she read it herself, and then gave it to Gabrielle, as she sometimes familiarly called her daughter. Gabrielle did little else but weep—she tried to read the letter, but could not; and she was so visibly overcome, that is seemed almost cruel to remain with her. Far from seizing it with avidity, on the hopes that her husband would be restored to her, with which some how or other her mother-in-law had contrived to flatter herself, she seemed to consider the state of mind in which the Abbé de St. Remi described him to be, as tending to the most fatal consequences. She saw him rushing on destruction, by going back to France—already, perhaps he was the victim of his own despair, and the inhumanity of savages, who seemed to delight only in blood. Her own desolate situation affected her not; but when she spoke, her conversation expressed an inclination to abandon the asylum they had found in England, and go back, at all hazards, to France. The persuasion that she should there meet de Touranges, or death, was strengthened by what she now learned from the Abbe's letter.
When it seemed better to leave her than to make any farther attempts to console her, D'Alonville and Ellesmere took leave; but both were too much occupied with their new acquaintance, to have the power of thinking of any think else. "What can be done, my dear friend?" said Ellesmere, as he rode away from the door—"how can we relieve the anguish of this charming woman?" "I do not know, indeed," answered D'Alonville, if she is determined to give herself up to despair. Her project of going to France is wildness and insanity, and must not be listened to; but all circumstances considered, though these poor women cannot go, I know
who can." "Aye, indeed!" answered Ellesmere, who did not comprehend him;—"do you know any one whose going will be of use to them?"
"Yes," replied he, "I believe I do—I think my going will be of use to them; and in a few, a very few days, I shall take leave of you, my dear Ellesmere, and of this hospitable island." "But how," cried his friend, "on what plan? In what character would you go?"
"Do not ask me yet," said D'Alonville, "for yet, I hardly know myself—but I find it impossible not to go."
"And I," answered Ellesmere, "shall find it as impossible to stay inactive in England. We will cross the water together, Chevalier—and should you go to France, which, however, I hope you will not do;—I will go as a volunteer into the army on the Continent, if I do not procure a commission in our own troops.
On their return to Fernyhurst, Ellesmere, who could speak and think of nothing else; with the permission of D'Alonville related to his uncle the little melancholy romance of their two ladies, Captain Caverly, who retained gallant and eccentric ideas enough to have revived the age of chivalry, if its influence had wholly ceased thoughout the world; was, as his nephew had foreseen, immediately seized with the most ardent zeal to serve and protect these interesting strangers; and it was with some difficulty that Ellesmere could prevent his setting out immediately, to offer them an asylum in his house. "You are very good," said he, "my dear uncle—but I am afraid our friends could not with propriety accept your generosity;" "And why not, pray," answered he, "propriety!—non-sense!—will they hear the remarks that are made
by the wise gentlemen of the neighbourhood, or have they not so much sense as not to care for them if they did; what is propriety in this country, to women of another; and pr'y thee tell me, dear Ned, whether any of the prudes who might find out this want of propriety would have the generosity to prevent its neccessity, by receiving these unhappy women themselves, or even showing them the least countenance? not they indeed—illiberal-minded, selfish, odious cats, half of them—yet it is to such that one is expected to make all kinds of sacrifices."
Ellesmere knew there was a great deal of truth in what Captain Caverly said; but he knew also, that there were other insuperable objections to which the warm-hearted veteran, in his first ardour to succour the ladies in distress, had not sufficiently attended. Ellesmere gently hinted at these, and Caverly immediately seemed to retreat into himself, and soon after turned the conversation, which he no more renewed on the same footing; but he still professed so much inclination to befriend the Mesdames de Touranges, that the two young men were extremely happy to find they had secured them a warm advocate and protector; for it seemed to be agreed, in their short consultation hitherto, that the two ladies could no where be better situated than where they were, till some intelligence could be obtained of the Marquis de Touranges, or some favorable event restore them to their country. Alas! such events seemed more distant than ever.