« 上一頁繼續 »
NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE ELOPEMENT. ,
I. AMONGST the motley collection of English, residents and visitors, that congregate in what we are apt to think the most crowded and fashionable of all the French watering-places, Boulogne-sur-Mer, whose bathingmachines were last summer converted into sleeping-rooms, was a Mrs. Seymour-the Honourable Mrs. Seymour. Mrs. Seymour was the daughter of a Scotch nobleman, and years ago, had married, in defiance of her friends, a young officer, who had nothing but his commission, his handsome face, and his relationship to a ducal family, to recommend him. Captain Seymour fell in India, leaving his widow only her half-pay, and her “good blood”—if that was of any service. Since then Mrs. Seymour had vegetated in Boulogne. Somebody had spoken to her of it as being “cheap," especially for education, and she had retired to it with her only child, Eleanor. Her father, the Right Honourable Baron Loftus, had died, soon after her marriage, without forgiving her, and had erased her name from his will, so Mrs. Seymour had to do the best she could with her pension, and an occasional bank-note from one or other of her relatives. Not a very magnificent income; but Mrs. Seymour, in right of her noble connexions, and her own prefix of “Honourable,” held her head higher, and was allowed to do it, than anybody else in the Anglo-French watering-place. She was a tall, faded lady, with a hooked nose and supercilious grey eyes. Eleanor was placed at the educational establishment of Madame de Nino, a school renowned in Boulogne, nearly one-half of whose pupils were English. She remained in it till she was eighteen, when she returned to her mother, one of the “family” having obligingly settled the school-bills.
The time went on. Eleanor made a visit to her aristocratic relatives in Scotland and London, and was taken by some of them to Italy: but she came back at length to Boulogne. The tattlers (and if you tattle, go to any of these continental watering-places) said she would never get a chance of changing the name of Seymour, for men in a high rank would be scarcely likely to seek her, wanting, as she did, both fortune and position, and her mother would never suffer her to marry in any other. Mrs. Seymour forgot that her daughter's inclinations might become enthralled, and that she might choose to assert a will of her own, as she herself had done.
There came into Boulogne one day, on his road to Paris, a very handsome young fellow, George Marlborough. Mrs. Seymour was introduced to him at the house of a friend, and though she bowed (figuratively) to his personal attractions and his winning manners when in his presence, she turned
up that hooked dose of hers afterwards, and spoke of him conJan.-VOL. CIII. NO. CCCCIX.
temptuously to Eleanor. One of the rich commoners of England, indeed! she slightingly said ; she hated commoners, and especially these rich ones, for they were apt to forget the broad gulf that rose between them and the aristocracy. This old Marlborough, Mr. George's father, had begun
life as a clerk, or a servant—she could not tell which, and it did not matter —and had plodded on, till' he was the proprietor of an extensive trade, and of enormous wealth. Either iron works, or coal works; or it might be cotton works ; something, she believed, down in the North; and this Mr. George, the eldest son, had been brought up to be an iron man too --if it was iron. She desired Eleanor to be very distant with him, should they come in contact again. Now
poor Eleanor Seymour had inherited her father's notions (which were by no means exclusive, though his great uncle was a duke) with her father's beauty, and, talk as Mrs. Seymour would, she had never been able to make her thoroughly comprehend the fearful and immense superiority of rank over everything else, especially worth and riches. Mr. George Marlborough stayed in the town, instead of going on to Paris, for—it is only the old tale, reader-he had fallen in love with Eleanor.
And she with him? Yes, verily. Mrs. Seymour, enshrined in her “ honourable” state and her exclusiveness, and having warned Eleanor to be cold, because he was a plebeian, never gave a thought or a suspicion that danger could arise. These very exclusive people are often as blind as beetles. Mr. George Marlborough danced with Eleanor at "soirées," met her at an occasional pic-nic, which were much in vogue that summer, and often joined her in those pleasant (and crowded) evening walks upon the pier; so that if he had any inclination to make love, he did not want for opportunity.
It may have been about two months after Mr. George Marlborough's arrival, that Mrs. Seymour received a summons to England. A sister of hers, much older than herself, who had never married, was laid up with nervous fever, and wanted Mrs. Seymour to be with her. Mrs. Seymour wished to comply with the request, but she was at a loss what to do with Eleanor. The Honourable Miss Loftus hated children-in which light she was pleased still to consider Eleanor-and never willingly admitted them to her house, and Mrs. Seymour knew that a nervous fever is no soother of prejudices. The Honourable Miss Loftus, moreover, had a very comfortable little fortune at her own disposal-though of course nobody accused Mrs. Seymour of casting an eye to that. She took her decision, which was to go; and she determined to place Eleanor, during her absence, under the roof of Madame de Nino. And then she descanted to everybody in Boulogne about the sacrifice" she was making for her dear sister.
It was a lovely evening in July, and Mrs. Seymour went out with her daughter to take her customary walk on the pier. Probably her last for some time to come, for on the morrow Eleanor was to enter at Madame de Nino's,
and Mrs. Seymour to leave for London. Several friends, by twos and threes, made haste to join them-Boulogne thought it was a great feather in its cap to be on walking terms with a lord's daughterbut, ere they had well reached the pier, one, dearer than all, had come up to Eleanor ; and she, with a deep blush and a thrill of happiness, suffered herself to fall into the rear of her party, side by side with George Marlborough.