Read CHAPTER V of Heart A Social Novel , free online book, by Martin Farquhar Tupper, on ReadCentral.com.

WHEREIN A WELL-MEANING MOTHER ACTS VERY FOOLISHLY.

Returned from her unsuccessful embassage, Lady Dillaway determined kind, calm soul to hide the bitter truth from poor Maria, that her father was inexorably adverse. A scene was of all things that indentical article least liked by the quiescent mother; and that her warm-hearted daughter would enact one, if she heard those echoes of paternal love, was clearly a problem requiring no demonstration.

Accordingly, with well-intentioned kindliness, but shallowish wisdom, and most questionable propriety, Maria was persuaded to believe that her father had hem’d and haw’d a little, had objected no doubt to Henry’s lack of money, but would certainly, on second thoughts, consider the affair more favourably:

“You know your father’s way, my love; leave him to himself, and I am sure his better feeling will not fail to plead your cause: it will be prudent, however, just for quiet’s sake, to see less of Henry Clements for a day or two, till the novelty of my intelligence blows over. Meantime, do not cry, dear child; take courage, all will be well; and I will give you my free leave to console your Henry too.”

“Dearest, dearest mamma, how can I thank you sufficiently for all this? But why may I not now at once fly to papa, tell him all I feel and wish cordially and openly, and touch his dear kind heart? I am sure he would give us both his sanction and his blessing, if he only knew how much I love him, and my own dear Henry.”

“Sweet child,” sighed out mamma, “I wish he would, I trust he would, I believe indeed he will some day: but be advised by me, Maria, I know your father better than you do; only keep quiet, and all will come round well. Do not broach the subject to him be still, quite still; and, above all, be careful that your father does not yet awhile meet Mr. Clements.”

“But, dearest mamma, how can I be so silent when my heart is full? and then I hate that gloomy sort of secresy. Do let me ask papa, and tell him all myself. Perhaps he himself will kindly break the ice for me, now that your dear mouth has told him all, mamma. How I wish he would!”

“Alas, Maria, you always are so sanguine: your father is not very much given, I fear, to that sort of sociality. No, my love; if you only will be ruled by me, and will do as I do, managing to hold your tongue, I think you need not apprehend many conversational advances on your father’s part.”

Poor Maria had more than one reason to fear all this was true, too true; so her lip only quivered, and her eyes overflowed as usual.

Thereafter, Lady Dillaway had all the talk to herself, and she smoothly whispered on without let or hindrance; and what between really hoping things kindly of her husband’s better feelings, and desiring to lighten the anxieties of dear Maria’s heart, she placed the whole affair in such a calm, warm, and glowing Claude-light, as apparently to supply an emendation (no doubt the right reading) to the well known aphorism

“The course of true love never did run smooth-er.”

In fine, our warm and confiding Maria ran up to her own room quite elated after that interview; and she heartily thanked God that those dreaded obstacles to her affection were so easily got over, and that her dear, dear father had proved so kind.

It is quite a work of supererogation to report how speedily the welcome news were made known, by billet-doux, to Henry Clements; but they rather smote his conscience, too, when he reflected that he had not yet made formal petition to the powers on his own account. To be sure, they (the lovers, to wit) were engaged only yesterday, quite in an unintended, though delightful, way: and, previously to that important tete-a-tete, however much he may have thought of only dear Maria however frequently he found himself beside her in the circle of their many mutual friends however happily he hoped for her love however foolishly he reveried about her kindness in the solitude of his Temple garret still he never yet had seen occasion to screw his courage to the sticking point, and boldly place his bliss at hard Sir Thomas’s disposal. Some day not yet perhaps next week, at any rate not exactly to-day these were his natural excuses; and they availed him even to the other side of that social Rubicon, engagement. Nevertheless, now at length something must decidedly be done; and, within half an hour, Finsbury’s deserted square echoed to the heroic knock of Mr. Henry Clements, fully determined upon claiming his Maria at her father’s hands.

The knight was out; probably, or rather certainly, not yet returned from his counting-house in St. Benet’s Sherehog. So, perforce, our hero could only have an audience with his lady.

The same glossing over of unpalatable truths the same quiet-breathing counsel the same tranquil sort of hopefulness fully satisfied the lover that his cause was gained. How could he think otherwise? In the father’s absence, he had broached that mighty topic to the mother, who even now hailed him as her son, and promised him his father’s favour. What could be more delicious than all this? and what more honourable, while prudent, too, and filial, than to acquiesce in Lady Dillaway’s fears about her husband’s nervousness at the sight of one who was to take from him an only and beloved daughter? It was delicacy itself charming; and Henry determined to make his presence, for the first few days, as scarce as possible in the sight of that affectionate father.

And thus it came to pass that two open and most honourable minds, pledged to heartiest love, could not find one speck of sin in loving on clandestinely. Nay, was it clandestine at all? Is it, then, merely a legal fiction, and not a religious truth, that husband and wife are one? and is it not quite as much a matrimonial as a moral one that father and mother are so too? Was it not decidedly enough to have spoken to the latter, especially when she undertook to answer for the former? Sir Thomas was a man engrossed in business; and, doubtless, left such affairs of the Heart to the kinder keeping of Lady Dillaway. No; there was nothing secret nor clandestine in the matter; and I entirely absolve both Henry and Maria. They could not well have acted otherwise if any harm should come to it, the mother is to blame.

Lady Dillaway, without doubt, should have known her husband better; but her tranquil love of our dear Maria seemed to have infatuated her into simply believing what she so much wished her happiness secure. She heeded not how little sympathy Sir Thomas felt with lovers; and only encouraged her innocent child to play the dangerous game of unconscious disobedience. Accordingly, consistent with that same quiet kindness of character which had smoothed away all difficulties hitherto, the indulgent mother now allowed the loving pair to meet alone, for the first time permissively, to tell each other all their happiness. Lady Dillaway left the drawing-room, and sent Maria to the heart that beat with hers.

Who shall describe the beauty of that interview the gush of first affections bursting up unchecked, unchidden, as hot springs round the Hecla of this icy world! They loved and were beloved openly, devotedly, sincerely, disinterestedly. Henry had never calculated even once how much the city knight could give his daughter; and as for Maria, if she had not naturally been a girl all heart, the home wherein she was brought up had so disgusted her of still-repeated riches, that (it is easy of belief) the very name of poverty would be music to her ears. Accordingly, how they flew into each other’s arms, and shed many happy tears, and kissed many kindest kisses, and looked many tenderest things, and said many loving words, “let Petrarch’s spirit in heroics sing:” as for our present prosaical Muse, she delights in such affections too naturally and simply to wish to cripple them with rhymes, or confine them in sonnets; she despises decoration of simple and beautiful Nature gilding gold, and painting lilies; and she loves to throw a veil of secret sanctity over all such heaven-blest attachments. “Hence! ye profane,” these are no common lovers: I believe their spirits, still united in affections that increase with time, will go down to the valley of death unchangeably together; and will thence emerge to brighter bliss hand in hand throughout eternity a double Heart with one pulse, loving God, and good, and one another!