Crotchet Castle HTML version
The stars of midnight shall be dear
To her, and she shall lean her ear
In many a secret place,
Where rivulets dance their wayward round,
And beauty, born of murmuring sound,
Shall pass into her face.--WORDSWORTH.
Miss Susannah Touchandgo had read the four great poets of Italy, and many of
the best writers of France. About the time of her father's downfall, accident threw
into her way Les Reveries du Promeneur Solitaire; and from the impression
which these made on her, she carried with her into retirement all the works of
Rousseau. In the midst of that startling light, which the conduct of old friends on a
sudden reverse of fortune throws on a young and inexperienced mind, the
doctrines of the philosopher of Geneva struck with double force upon her
sympathies: she imbibed the sweet poison, as somebody calls it, of his writings,
even to a love of truth; which, every wise man knows, ought to be left to those
who can get anything by it. The society of children, the beauties of nature, the
solitude of the mountains, became her consolation, and, by degrees, her delight.
The gay society from which she had been excluded, remained on her memory
only as a disagreeable dream. She imbibed her new monitor's ideas of simplicity
of dress, assimilating her own with that of the peasant-girls in the neighbourhood:
the black hat, the blue gown, the black stockings, the shoes, tied on the instep.
Pride was, perhaps, at the bottom of the change: she was willing to impose in
some measure on herself, by marking a contemptuous indifference to the
characteristics of the class of society from which she had fallen.
And with the food of pride sustained her soul In solitude.
It is true that she somewhat modified the forms of her rustic dress: to the black
hat she added a black feather, to the blue gown she added a tippet, and a
waistband fastened in front with a silver buckle; she wore her black stockings
very smooth and tight on her ankles, and tied her shoes in tasteful bows, with the
nicest possible ribbon. In this apparel, to which, in winter, she added a scarlet
cloak, she made dreadful havoc among the rustic mountaineers, many of whom
proposed to "keep company" with her in the Cambrian fashion, an honour which,
to their great surprise, she always declined. Among these, Harry Ap-Heather,
whose father rented an extensive sheepwalk, and had a thousand she-lambs
wandering in the mountains, was the most strenuous in his suit, and the most
pathetic in his lamentations for her cruelty.
Miss Susannah often wandered among the mountains alone, even to some
distance from the farmhouse. Sometimes she descended into the bottom of the
dingles, to the black rocky beds of the torrents, and dreamed away hours at the
feet of the cataracts. One spot in particular, from which she had at first shrunk
with terror, became by degrees her favourite haunt. A path turning and returning
at acute angles, led down a steep wood-covered slope to the edge of a chasm,
where a pool, or resting-place of a torrent, lay far below. A cataract fell in a single