Read CHAPTER XIII. of Eugene Aram, free online book, by Edward Bulwer Lytton, on

The marriage settled. ­Lester’s hopes and schemes. ­Gaiety of temper A good speculation. ­The truth and fervour of Aram’s love.

Love is better than a pair of spectacles, to make
every thing seem greater which is seen through it. 
­Sir Philip Sydney’s Arcadia.

Aram’s affection to Madeline having now been formally announced to Lester, and Madeline’s consent having been somewhat less formally obtained, it only remained to fix the time for their wedding.  Though Lester forbore to question Aram as to his circumstances, the Student frankly confessed, that if not affording what the generality of persons would consider even a competence, they enabled one of his moderate wants and retired life to dispense, especially in the remote and cheap district in which they lived, with all fortune in a wife, who, like Madeline, was equally with himself enamoured of obscurity.  The good Lester, however, proposed to bestow upon his daughter such a portion as might allow for the wants of an increased family, or the probable contingencies of Fate.  For though Fortune may often slacken her wheel, there is no spot in which she suffers it to be wholly still.

It was now the middle of September, and by the end of the ensuing month it was agreed that the spousals of the lovers should be held.  It is certain that Lester felt one pang for his nephew, as he subscribed to this proposal; but he consoled himself with recurring to a hope he had long cherished, viz. that Walter would return home not only cured of his vain attachment to Madeline, but of the disposition to admit the attractions of her sister.  A marriage between these two cousins had for years been his favourite project.  The lively and ready temper of Ellinor, her household turn, her merry laugh, a winning playfulness that characterised even her defects, were all more after Lester’s secret heart than the graver and higher nature of his elder daughter.  This might mainly be, that they were traits of disposition that more reminded him of his lost wife, and were therefore more accordant with his ideal standard of perfection; but I incline also to believe that the more persons advance in years, the more, even if of staid and sober temper themselves, they love gaiety and elasticity in youth.  I have often pleased myself by observing in some happy family circle embracing all ages, that it is the liveliest and wildest child that charms the grandsire the most.  And after all, it is perhaps with characters as with books, the grave and thoughtful may be more admired than the light and cheerful, but they are less liked; it is not only that the former, being of a more abstruse and recondite nature, find fewer persons capable of judging of their merits, but also that the great object of the majority of human beings is to be amused, and that they naturally incline to love those the best who amuse them most.  And to so great a practical extent is this preference pushed, that I think were a nice observer to make a census of all those who have received legacies, or dropped unexpectedly into fortunes; he would find that where one grave disposition had so benefited, there would be at least twenty gay.  Perhaps, however, it may be said that I am taking the cause for the effect!

But to return from our speculative disquisitions; Lester then, who, though he so slowly discovered his nephew’s passion for Madeline, had long since guessed the secret of Ellinor’s affection for him, looked forward with a hope rather sanguine than anxious to the ultimate realization of his cherished domestic scheme.  And he pleased himself with thinking that when all soreness would, by this double wedding, be banished from Walter’s mind, it would be impossible to conceive a family group more united or more happy.

And Ellinor herself, ever since the parting words of her cousin, had seemed, so far from being inconsolable for his absence, more bright of cheek and elastic of step than she had been for months before.  What a world of all feelings, which forbid despondence, lies hoarded in the hearts of the young!  As one fountain is filled by the channels that exhaust another; we cherish wisdom at the expense of hope.  It thus happened from one cause or another, that Walter’s absence created a less cheerless blank in the family circle than might have been expected, and the approaching bridals of Madeline and her lover, naturally diverted in a great measure the thoughts of each, and engrossed their conversation.

Whatever might be Madeline’s infatuation as to the merits of Aram, one merit ­the greatest of all in the eyes of a woman who loves, he at least possessed.  Never was mistress more burningly and deeply loved than she, who, for the first time, awoke the long slumbering passions in the heart of Eugene Aram.  Every day the ardour of his affections seemed to increase.  With what anxiety he watched her footsteps! ­with what idolatry he hung upon her words! ­with what unspeakable and yearning emotion he gazed upon the changeful eloquence of her cheek.  Now that Walter was gone, he almost took up his abode at the manor-house.  He came thither in the early morning, and rarely returned home before the family retired for the night; and even then, when all was hushed, and they believed him in his solitary home, he lingered for hours around the house, to look up to Madeline’s window, charmed to the spot which held the intoxication of her presence.  Madeline discovered this habit, and chid it; but so tenderly, that it was not cured.  And still at times, by the autumnal moon, she marked from her window his dark figure gliding among the shadows of the trees, or pausing by the lowly tombs in the still churchyard ­the resting-place of hearts that once, perhaps, beat as wildly as his own.

It was impossible that a love of this order, and from one so richly gifted as Aram; a love, which in substance was truth, and yet in language poetry, could fail wholly to subdue and inthral a girl so young, so romantic, so enthusiastic, as Madeline Lester.  How intense and delicious must have been her sense of happiness!  In the pure heart of a girl loving for the first time ­love is far more ecstatic than in man, inasmuch as it is unfevered by desire ­love then and there makes the only state of human existence which is at once capable of calmness and transport!