Emmeline heard, and the words “will he not write me one line in farewell ere he leaves England?” were murmured internally, but were instantly suppressed, for she knew the very wish was a departure from that line of stern control she had laid down for herself and him; and that letter, that dear, that precious letter—precious, for it came from him, though not one word of love was breathed,—ought not that to be destroyed? Had she any right now to cherish it, when the aid she sought had been given, its object gained? Did her parents know she possessed that letter, that it was dear to her, what would be their verdict? And was she not deceiving them in thus retaining, thus cherishing a remembrance of him she had resolved to forget? Emmeline drew forth the precious letter; she gazed on it long, wistfully, as if in parting from it the pang of separation with the beloved writer was recalled. She pressed her lips upon it, and then with stern resolution dropped it into the fire that blazed upon the hearth; and, with cheek pallid and breath withheld, she marked the utter annihilation of the first and last memento she possessed of him she loved.
Mrs. Hamilton’s anxiety on Emmeline’s account did not decrease. She still remained pale and thin, and her spirits more uneven, and that energy which had formerly been such a marked feature in her character appeared at times entirely to desert her; and Mr. Maitland, discovering that the extreme quiet and regularity of life which he had formerly recommended was not quite so beneficial as he had hoped, changed in a degree his plan, and advised diversity of recreation, and amusements of rather more exertion than he had at first permitted. Poor Emmeline struggled to banish thought, that she might repay by cheerfulness the tenderness of her parents and cousins, but she was new to sorrow; her first was indeed a bitter trial, the more so because even from her mother it was as yet concealed. She succeeded for a time in her wishes, so far as to gratify her mother by an appearance of her usual enthusiastic pleasure in the anticipation of a grand ball, given by Admiral Lord N——, at Plymouth, which it was expected the Duke and Duchess of Clarence would honour with their presence. Ellen anxiously hoped her brother would return to Oakwood in time to accompany them. He had passed his examination with the best success, but on the advice of Sir Edward Manly, they both lingered in town, in the hope that being on the spot the young officer would not be forgotten in the list of promotions. He might, Edward gaily wrote, chance to return to Oakwood a grade higher than he left it.
“Ellen, I give you joy!” exclaimed Emmeline, entering the room where her mother and cousin were sitting one afternoon, and speaking with some of her former cheerfulness. “There is a carriage coming down the avenue, and though I cannot quite distinguish it, I have second sight sufficient to fancy it is papa’s. Edward declared he would not tell us when he was coming home, and therefore there is nothing at all improbable in the idea, that he will fire a broadside on us, as he calls it, unexpectedly.”