The Heir of Redclyffe
Ah! county Guy, the hour is nigh,
The sun has left the lea,
The orange flower perfumes the bower,
The breeze is on the sea.
The lark, his lay, who thrilled all day,
Sits hushed, his partner nigh,
Breeze, bird, and flower, confess the hour,
But where is county Guy?--SCOTT
How was it meantime with Laura? The others were laughing and talking round her, but
all seemed lost in the transcendent beam that had shone out on her. To be told by Philip
that she was all to him that he had always been to her! This one idea pervaded her--too
glorious, too happy for utterance, almost for distinct thought. The softening of his voice,
and the look with which he had regarded her, recurred again and again, startling her with
a sudden surprise of joy almost as at the first moment. Of the future Laura thought not.
Never had a promise of love been made with less knowledge of what it amounted to: it
seemed merely an expression of sentiments that she had never been without; for had she
not always looked up to Philip more than any other living creature, and gloried in being
his favourite cousin? Ever since the time when he explained to her the plates in the
Encyclopaedia, and made her read 'Joyce's Scientific Dialogues,' when Amy took fright at
the first page. That this might lead further did not occur to her; she was eighteen, she had
no experience, not even in novels, she did not know what she had done; and above all,
she had so leant to surrender her opinions to Philip, and to believe him always right, that
she would never have dreamt of questioning wherever he might choose to lead her. Even
the caution of secrecy did not alarm her, though she wondered that he thought it required,
safe as his confidence always was with her. Mrs. Edmonstone had been so much
occupied by Charles's illness, as to have been unable to attend to her daughters in their
girlish days; and in the governess's time the habit had been disused of flying at once to
her with every joy or grief. Laura's thoughts were not easy of access, and Philip had long
been all in all to her. She was too ignorant of life to perceive that it was her duty to make
this conversation known; or, more truly, she did not awaken her mind to consider that
anything could be wrong that Philip desired.
On coming home, she ran up to her own room, and sitting by the open window, gave
herself up to that delicious dream of new-found joy.
There she still sat when Amy came in, opening the door softly, and treading lightly and
airily as she entered, bringing two or three roses of different tints.
'Laura! not begun to dress?'
'Is it time?'