In the care and
superintendence of their darling daughter, did their years roll on in
humble content. If they heaved a sigh, it was for their Ellen’s future
welfare; if they breathed a wish, it was to see her placed in a situation
which might guard her against the attacks of poverty, and the designs of
iniquity. From the former, they were aware, beauty and accomplishments
would prove no shield; and they trembled when they reflected that they
might prove the most powerful incitement to the latter. The sweets of life
are not to be enjoyed without its accompanying embitterments. The regiment
in which Mr Arundel served received orders to embark for America, in
transports already prepared for the reception of the British forces. On
the communication of this intelligence, so subversive of their little
plans of economy and felicity, Mrs Arundel earnestly entreated that she
and Ellen might be the companions of his voyage. For a while Mr Arundel
would not consent to this, from a fear of incurring expense which they
were unable to support; but all the difficulties which the narrowness of
their finances suggested, were obviated by a thousand little arrangements,
the ingenious devices of love; and the command of a company, which was
conferred upon him before the embarkation, relieved them from their
Few events happened, either
during their voyage or on their arrival at Boston, except that the
assiduities of a young officer of another regiment, who accompanied them
in the transport, seemed to have made some impression on the heart of
Ellen Arundel. She listened to his tales of love, with the full sanction
of her parents, and sighed out the confession that his passion was
returned. Mr Meredith was formed on the model which Captain Arundel had,
in idea, fixed on for the husband of his Ellen. To the qualifications of a
soldier, he added those which most highly adorn private life; nor was his
income limited, for he was the only son of a gentleman of fortune. But
both Captain Arundel and Mr Meredith were too regardful of decency and
propriety to hasten an event of so much importance till the father of the
young gentleman had been made acquainted with the attachment; and letters
from Captain Arundel and the lover were accordingly prepared, for the
purpose of being despatched to Europe by the first ship that should sail.
But, alas! these
precautions were soon rendered unnecessary, by events which dissolved the
bonds of affection. On that day when the attack of Bunker’s Hill
occasioned a carnage which thinned the British ranks, Captain Arundel and
Mr Meredith stood foremost in the bloody contest. Accident had placed them
in the same brigade: they fought and fell together. The body of the young
officer was carried off by the Americans; and the mortally-wounded captain
conveyed to the habitation of his wretched wife and daughter, where,
shortly afterwards, he expired.
The keen and piercing
anguish felt by Ellen and her mother, in consequence of this sorrowful
event, had changed to silent and corroding melancholy, when they embarked
for their native land, after having received every attention which the
governor and garrison could offer as a tribute to the memory of the
deceased. On their arrival in Britain, a pension was granted to Mrs
Arundel, which, in the event of her death, was to be continued to her
daughter; and with this they retired to a small village northward of the
Scottish metropolis, where a maiden sister of Captain Arundel, who was
remarkably fond of Ellen, resided.
But, as no retirement will
conceal the charms of beauty, nor any circle, however confined, prevent
the fame of accomplishments from spreading beyond its limit, Mr Newton, a
widower of independent fortune, not much past the prime of life, having
been told of Ellen, resolved to visit the Arundels. An opportunity soon
presented itself. The house which the ladies inhabited was advertised for
sale; and, under pretence of an intention to purchase, he wrote Mrs
Arundel, desiring to know when it would be convenient for him to call. To
which Mrs Arundel returned a polite answer, naming an early day.
Mr Newton went; and, after
he had viewed the house and gardens with the air of an intending
purchaser, Mrs Arundel, desirous of cultivating the acquaintance of so
distinguished a neighbour, asked him to stay tea; which being
unhesitatingly accepted, he was introduced to the fair, the amiable, the
still mourning Ellen. Prepared by the universal voice to admire, love was
the immediate consequence of a visit, which he requested leave to repeat,
in terms with which civility could not refuse to comply; and a few weeks
confirmed Mr Newton the ardent and the professed lover of Ellen. But her
heart was still engaged; nor could she abandon even a hopeless passion.
The character, the fortune, the unobjectionable person of Mr Newton, were
urged to her, by her only friends, with such energy, but mildness of
persuasion, that, enforced by the declarations of her admirer, she was
prevailed upon to promise him her hand, though not her heart; and a day
was named for the celebration of their nuptials.
The necessary preparations
now engaged the attention of Mr Newton and the two matron ladies; whilst
Ellen passively yielded to the assiduities of her friends, and suffered
the adornments of her person, and the intended provisions of settlement,
to be adjusted, without once interfering.
A few mornings before the
appointed day, as Ellen was seated at breakfast with her mother and aunt,
a note was put into her hands. She saw at a glance that it was from Mr
Newton, and she immediately handed it across the table to Mrs Arundel, who
"MADAM, —That your heart is
not at all interested in the intended event, you have, with candour,
frequently acknowledged to me. You will not, therefore, even wish to
receive an apology for my releasing you from an unsuitable engagement.
"My long-lost son—my son,
whom I had for years resigned to heaven, is restored to me; and
Providence, which has bestowed on me this consummate happiness, will not
permit me to add to it a wish which concerns myself. He is young; he is
amiable; and more worthy of your regard than I am. It is my sincere wish
that he should become your husband. I shall, therefore, take an early
opportunity of introducing him to you.
"My real name is not
what you have hitherto considered it to be. I changed it when, on the
supposed death of my son, I retired from my usual place of residence to a
distant part of the kingdom, to avoid the importunities of some worthless
relations; but, until I have the honour of disclosing to you in person my
real name, I beg to subscribe myself, madam,
"Yours very truly,
"J. B. NEWTON.
"To Miss Ellen Arundel"
When this most
extraordinary epistle was read, Ellen turned deadly pale, and would
certainly have fallen to the ground, had not a young man entered through
the window which opened out on the lawn, and caught her in his arms. He
was followed by Mr Newton.
"Ellen," exclaimed the
latter, "behold my son!"
The sorrowing girl cast her
eyes upon the form of him who held her.