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Book of Scottish Story
The Twin Sisters


BY ALEXANDER BALFOUR.

The part she was now acting, and the situation in which she had placed herself, in spite of all Emily’s natural forwardness, called forth that modest timidity which still adds to the loveliness of a young and beautiful woman, suffusing her cheeks with crimson, and softening the brightness of her sparkling eye. Altogether, her appearance and behaviour made a powerful impression on the heart of the gallant soldier; and he contrived to protract the interview till the latest period that good breeding permitted. When Emily offered to return the shilling which her brother had received, the Captain refused it, saying, with a smile, that he had not yet renounced his claim on her, but reserved it for further investigation, for the discussion of which he proposed repeating his visit.

With self-possession, but becoming modesty, Emily replied, that although she had already overstepped the bounds of female decorum, she was neither ignorant of, nor indifferent to, that propriety of conduct which her situation required; and would. therefore request, that if he was again inclined to visit the farm of Greenbraes, it might be after the return of her parents. The Captain now left Emily, nearly as much fascinated with her as she had been with his first appearance; while the respectful propriety of his behaviour, in a case where some freedom of speech might have been excusable, raised him in her estimation; and she flattered herself that he had not seen her with indifference.

The Captain was now impatient for the return of her parents; as, afraid of incurring the displeasure of Emily, he could not venture to visit Greenbraes till that time; but he, oftener than once, threw himself in the way by walking in the vicinity, hoping to meet her whom he now found it impossible to forget. Emily had seen him sauntering in the fields, and rightly conjectured his purpose; but she, actuated, no doubt, partly by a little coquetry, had uniformly disappointed him.

Her father now returned from England; and Emily, who had never before disguised her actions, convinced that her parent must soon hear, from some officious friend, what had already made much noise in the place, resolved to tell as much of the truth as suited her purpose. She therefore informed her father that Edward, in a frolic, had enlisted ; but that she had sent him out of the way, and represented him when the Captain came to claim his recruit, and that officer had laughed heartily at the joke.

“Ah, Emily I you are a light-hearted, and lighter-headed lassie,” said the fond father. "You carry things ower far; and I’m fleyed ye’ll tine your ain character, or render it no worth the keeping. What will Francie Meldrum say to that business? I’ll think shame to see him. ”

"My dear father, if naebody’s angry but Francie, I’ll never rue doing that for my brother. Say that you’re no angry, father, and set my heart at ease." And, looking in her father’s face with a timid, but affectionate smile, she laid her arm around his neck, pressing her glowing lip to his bronzed cheek.

"I am angry, you little flattering gipsey; but promise to gie ower thae light-headed pranks, and I’ll forgive
you for this.”

Emily had reason to congratulate herself on this speedy reconciliation with her father, who she saw was in good humour; for, looking from the window, she saw Francis, the object of her detestation, approaching, although he had never tormented her during the absence of her parents. Leaving her father to receive the unwelcome visitor, Emily secreted herself in an adjoining closet, where she could hear every word of the conversation, which soon became more agreeable to her than she had expected; for Francis began to speak of her frolic with an asperity which her father did not think it merited. They came to high words, the result of which was, that the farmer conducted his guest to the door, requesting him never to enter it again till Emily bade him welcome. This was so far beyond Emily’s expectations, that her heart bounded with delight; and, had it not been that she must have betrayed her being a listener, she would have rushed in, and, kneeling to her father, thanked him for the deliverance.

The fact was, that her father, on his return from England, had stayed in Perth to deposit some money with his banker, who insisted on his dining with him, as he was to see a few friends that day. Captain Munro happened to be of the party, and, hearing the farmer’s name and residence, endeavoured to make himself as agreeable as possible, in which he succeeded admirably. Before parting, he took an opportunity of having a private conversation with the farmer, relating circumstantially what the reader is already acquainted with, as far as consisted with his own knowledge. He concluded by confessing the impression which Emily had made on him, which all that he had since heard concerning her had contributed to deepen; and that her motive for the frolic which had given him the pleasure of knowing her was a sufficient apology; and, as it was obvious she would never consent to marry the widower, he begged the farmer to sanction his addresses, instead of a man whose age certainly rendered the match very unsuitable. For his own character and family he referred him to the banker, under whose roof they were, requesting the pleasure of another interview before he left town.

The honest farmer was rather vexed at the first part of this relation, but the conclusion put him in good humour; and, in a conversation with the banker, he learned that Captain Munro was the son and heir of a landed gentleman in Aberdeenshire, and that the young officer bore a highly respectable character, both as a man and a soldier. The farmer and Captain again met, when the former gave the officer his hearty permission to address his daughter, adding, that as she had several times perplexed him with her harmless tricks, of which the Captain had seen and felt a specimen, he wished this interview to be kept secret, and, when they met at Greenbraes, that they might appear strangers to each other. The Captain approved of the suggestion, esteeming it a good joke; and they parted, both in high spirits.

Emily was highly delighted with the dismissal of the importunate widower; and, just as she was wondering whether the Captain knew that her father had returned, she, one morning, saw him approaching the house.

Although this was by no means a disagreeable discovery, yet, when commanded by her father to join them in the parlour, she entered with a palpitating heart, and her cheeks blushing like a half-blown rose.

The Captain met her with the respectful ease of a gentleman and an old acquaintance, when her father, in rather a severe tone, said, "Emily, you informed me of a joke which you played off upon this gentleman, and gave me to understand it was all settled and forgotten; but I find that is not the case. Captain Munro insists that you received earnest money from him, which you still retain ; and, therefore, he is entitled either to your services, or satisfaction for the insult offered to him. What do you say? ”

"When Captain Munro explains what he wants, I shall then know how to answer," replied Emily.

"That is easily done, Miss Graham, replied the Captain. " You engaged to be a soldier for life, and I claim the fulfilment of your agreement—wish you to follow the drum. In a word, dear Emily, I love you, and wish to make you a soldier’s wife. When I last had the pleasure of seeing you, I informed you that I reserved my claim for further discussion, and requested permission to visit you, which you very prudently declined till your father’s return. He is now present, and I wait your reply. A soldier hates trifling."

"My first engagement with you, Captain, was rash, and I repented,” replied Emily. "I am afraid you have
imitated my folly, in the present declaration, which you would probably regret on reflection. I shall take time to deliberate; and, when we both know each other better, if you continue in the same mind, I shall then be prepared to reply."

This response, while it did credit to Ernily’s prudence, was such as gave the suitor every reasonable hope of success ; as the expression, "when we know each other better,” was sufficiently encouraging to induce him to continue his visits. Love had already done his work with both hearts, and in a short time they perfectly understood each other.

Emily’s mother now returned; and, after the necessary preparations, the wedding-day was appointed, when the Captain was called to Edinburgh, as member of a court-martial, to be held in the Castle. They had known each other but a short time and both had been so much engrossed with their own affairs, that, although the Captain had heard Emma’s name mentioned, he was ignorant of the striking resemblance which she bore to her sister. Emily had also continued unacquainted with the Captain’s first interview with her father, till she happened to overhear the latter relating it to her mother, and chuckling over it as a good joke which he and the Captain had played off on Emily. Although not displeased at the imposition practised on her, she resolved, sooner or later, to pay both her father and lover in their own coin; and her fertile invention soon contrived a scheme, in which, if she could engage her sister as a confederate, she trusted to enjoy the pleasure of full retaliation.

A letter had been despatched to Emma, announcing the intended nuptials, and requesting her presence, to officiate as bride’s maid on the occasion. This message had, however, been crossed on the road by another from Emma, to the same tune; informing her parents of her intended marriage, two days before that fixed for Emily’s wedding, and requesting the same service of her sister which had been expected from her.

This ‘contretemps’ was a disappointment to both; however, a second letter arrived from Emma, congratulating Emily on the approaching event, and intimating that she and her husband intended doing themselves the pleasure of being with them in time to witness the ceremony.

The absence of some important witnesses in the case before the court-martial had prevented its sitting; and a letter arrived from Captain Munro, intimating, that, however much it vexed him, he found it would be impossible for him to be at Greenbraes sooner than the day appointed for their union; and, even then, the hour of his arrival was uncertain, but he hoped to be in time for dinner.

Edward arrived from England on the eve of the wedding-day; and Emma, with her husband, in the morning. After the mutual congratulations among so many friends, Emily took an early opportunity of communicating her intentions, and requesting their assistance; especially as it was the last opportunity she would have of indulging in frolic; as, in a few hours, she should be sworn to love, honour, and obey her husband. Edward was highly delighted with the scheme; and Emma’s husband, who loved a joke, prevailed on her to comply with her sister’s request, and perform her share in the plot, as explained by Emily; and the striking likeness of the two sisters being still as strong as ever, rendered success almost certain. As a necessary preliminary, it was agreed that the sisters should be dressed exactly alike, in every, the minutest article, except that Emma should wear a ‘bandeau’ of artificial rosebuds, by which she could be at once distinguished from her sister. All this was carried into effect ; and, when dressed, the distinction was pointed out to their parents, to prevent, as they said, any ridiculous mistake at the approaching ceremony.

The farmhouse of Greenbraes had, in former times, been the mansion-house of the estate, and still had attached to it an extensive and old-fashioned garden. The house stood on a rising ground, and had a commanding view of the road by which the bridegroom must approach. Emily had every thing ready; and, when she saw him at some distance, she joined her brother, with Emma and her husband, in the garden, where they had been for some time; but, as she passed out, requested her mother to conduct Captain Munro to the garden, on his arrival, contriving some excuse for leaving him as he entered, as she wished to she him privately.

The party had disposed themselves in order, waiting his approach; and, when they heard the garden-door open, Edward and Emily withdrew, secreting themselves in a thicket of evergreens; and the Captain entering, beheld Emma and her husband sauntering most lovingly, at a little distance before him. They did not seem to observe the bridegroom; but, on turning the corner of a new-clipped yew-hedge, Emma, as if by accident, dropped her handkerchief, and the next moment they were out of sight. Captain Munro believed at first glance that it was Emily he had seen, but still was reluctant to suppose it possible that she would permit any other man to use the freedom he had just witnessed; and endeavoured to persuade himself that the lady must be a stranger, invited to the wedding. However, the handkerchief seemed a probable clue to solve his doubts; he approached, took it up, and found it marked Em. G. In no very pleasant mood, he stepped forward a little farther, when he heard a soft whisper, which he knew proceeded from a rustic bower; and he was aware that, by a slight circuit, he could discover the occupants without being seen. He now saw, as he believed, Emily seated in the bower, her head leaning on the shoulder of a handsome-looking young man, whose arm encircled her waist. Rage and jealousy now took possession of the bridegroom’s soul, and he was at first disposed to leave the farm, without speaking to any one, but, standing for a few minutes in a stupor, he determined to see the face of him for whom he had been so cruelly deceived. He therefore walked up in front of the bower, and, with all the calm respect which he could assume, said, "Madam, permit me to present your handkerchief, which you dropped in the walk."

"I thank you, Sir,” replied Emma; " may I inquire to whom I am indebted for restoring it to its owner?”

The cool composure with which this question was put, raised the indignation of the maddened bridegroom to its highest pitch; and, with a glance of the most sovereign contempt which he could assume, he replied, "To one, rnadam, who despises you from his soul, and thanks God for his timely discovery of your infamy ! ”

Her husband now started to his feet, and said, " Sir, you bear the insignia, although you want the manners of a gentleman. But were you of the blood-royal, you should not insult my wife with impunity.”

Captain Munro started at the word, and repeated, "Wife! did you say, Sir? permit me to ask one question, to which your candid reply will oblige me. How long has that woman been your wife ? ”

"For these two days.”

"Enough. Farewell for ever! infamous woman!”

Edward now sprang from the thicket, and standing right before the Captain, in the exact costume in which he had enlisted, said, with an arch and good-humoured smile, "My honoured Captain, excuse the freedom of your recruit. I cannot patiently hear those opprobrious epithets applied to my sister; perhaps she could explain all this if you had patience?

The Captain was now fairly bewildered, and stood staring, first at the one, and then the other, in half-frantic amazement, when, to his relief, the farmer approached ; and, seeing the four looking in gloomy silence on each other, exclaimed, "Why, what is the matter with all of you, that you stare as if bewitched?”

Captain Munro, recovering himself a little, replied, "It is even so, Sir; and you are come in time to remove the spell. Say, who are these before you?"

The farmer surveyed the group, and observing that Emma had not the 'bandeau' of rose-buds by which she was to be distinguished from her sister, replied:

"Captain, what do you mean? The young man is my son Edward ; the other is Dr Malcolm, my son-in-law : you surely do not require to be told that the female is my daughter, and your bride.”

"She is no bride of mine—I renounce her for ever!" said the angry soldier, in a most indignant tone.

While the farmer stood, as much amazed as the Captain had been, Emily came forward from the thicket, and, standing close beside her sister, said, “Dear father, let not the gentlemen quarrel; you have certainly a daughter for each of them; and as both of us are quite willing to have husbands, have the goodness to give our hands to those for whom you intend us ;" and both sisters stood with the stillness, gravity, and silence of statues. The astonished father found the distinguishing badge wanting in both, and replied, "I must confess I am fairly bewildered ; gentlemen, choose for yourselves, for I cannot !”

Edward now put on Emily’s playful smile, and looked at the Captain in a manner which made him at once clasp the youth in his arms, crying, "My dear Emily ! I know you now.”

The loud laughter of the party again renewed the confusion of the bridegroom and farmer, which was enjoyed for a considerable time before they condescended to give any explanation. It was, however, at last made; all was set right, and the evening passed at Greenbraes in hilarity and unclouded happiness.


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