“Try if you cannot be still a very short time longer, dear Emmeline,” whispered the more restrained Ellen, whose eye had caught a glimpse of Caroline’s countenance, and who perceived in an instant her feelings were not in unison with Emmeline’s. She was right; Caroline could not feel as did her sister. She was not the same light-hearted, innocent being she had been when she quitted Oakwood; the appearance of the home of her childhood vividly recalled all that had occurred since she had mingled in the world, that world of which she had indulged so many brilliant visions; and while Entmeline’s laugh conveyed gladness in that hour to all who heard it, Caroline leaned forward to conceal from her companions the tears that stole silently down her cheek.
A shout from Percy proclaimed the old hall in sight. A group of domestics stood on the steps, and the setting sun threw its brilliant hues on the mansion, as if with increased and unusual lustre that venerable spot should welcome the return of the Hamilton family within its sheltering walls.
“There wants but the guardian spirit of yon old Manor to render this scene as perfect as her society would bid the present hours roll on in unalloyed felicity to me,” was Herbert Hamilton’s observation some little time after their return to Oakwood, as he stood, arm in arm with his friend Arthur Myrvin, on the brow of a hill which overlooked, among other beautiful objects, Greville Manor, now inhabited by strangers.
Young Myrvin smiled archly, but ere their walk that evening was concluded, he too had become interested in the being so dear to his friend; for Herbert spoke in perfect confidence, secure of friendly sympathy. Oakwood was to him as dear, perhaps even dearer than to Emmeline, for his nature and tastes were not such as any amusement in London could gratify. His recreation from the grave studies necessary for the profession which he had chosen, was to wander forth with a congenial spirit, and marking Nature in all her varied robes, adore his Creator in His works as well as in His word. In London his ever active mind longed intensely to do good, and his benevolent exertions frequently exceeded his strength; it was his chief delight to seek the dwellings of the poor, to relieve distress, alleviate affliction. The prisoner in his cell, the bold and wilful transgressor of the laws of God, these would he teach, and by gentle admonitions bring nearer to the Throne of Grace. Yet notwithstanding the gratification which the pursuits of Herbert gave to his parents, they often felt considerable anxiety lest his health should suffer from his unceasing efforts, and they rejoiced on that account when their removal to Oakwood afforded their son a quieter and more healthful field of occupation. For miles around Oakwood the name of Herbert Hamilton was never spoken without a blessing. There he could do good; there he could speak of God, and behold the fruits of his pious labours; there was Mr. Howard ever ready to guide and to sympathise, and there was the field of Nature spread before him to fill his heart with increased and glowing adoration and reverential love.