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The Artist's Daughter, A Tale, by Miss Anna Maria Sargeant

Act well thy part—there the true honour lies.—POPE.

'I wish, papa, you would teach me to be a painter,' was the exclamation of a fair-haired child, over whose brow eleven summers had scarcely passed, as she sat earnestly watching a stern middle-aged man, who was giving the last touches to the head of a Madonna.

'Pshaw,' pettishly returned the artist; 'go play with your doll, and don't talk about things you can't understand.'

'But I should like to learn, papa,' the child resumed: 'I think it would be so pretty to paint, and, besides, it would get us some more money, and then we could have a large house and servants, such as we used to have, and that would make you happy again, would it not, papa?'

'You are a good girl, Amy, to wish to see me happy,' the father rejoined, somewhat softened by the artless affection of his little daughter; 'but women are never painters—that is, they are never great painters.' The child made no further comment, but still retained her seat, until her father's task was accomplished.

The chamber in which this brief dialogue took place was a meanly-furnished apartment in a small house situated in the suburbs of Manchester. The appearance of the artist was that of a disappointed man, who contends doggedly with adversity rather than stems the torrent with fortitude. Habitual discontent was stamped on his countenance, but ever and anon a glance of fierceness shot from his full dark eyes, as the thought of the position to which his talents ought to have raised him would flit across his brain. A greater contrast could scarcely be conceived than existed between the father and child: the latter added to the charms of that early period of life a face and form of exquisite beauty. Her dazzling complexion, rich auburn hair, and graceful attitudes, accorded ill with the rusty black frock which was the mourning habiliment for her maternal parent, and the expression of her features was that of natural joyousness, tempered, but not wholly suppressed, by thoughtfulness beyond her years.

Leonard Beaufort had once been, as was implied by his daughter, in a different station to that he how occupied. He was by birth and education a gentleman; but partly owing to his own mismanagement and extravagance, and partly from misfortunes altogether unavoidable (though he chose to attribute his reverses wholly to the latter cause), he found himself suddenly plunged from competence into utter destitution. He had hitherto practised painting as an amateur, but now he was forced to embrace it as the only means afforded him of supporting his family, which at that time consisted of a wife and two children. He was not without some share of talent; but unhappily for those who depended on his exertions, he was too indolent to make much progress in an art which requires the exercise of perseverance, no less than the possession of genius; and after struggling for more than three years with the bitterest poverty, his wife and youngest child fell victims to their change of circumstances. Little Amy was thus left motherless, and would have been friendless, but for the care of a neighbour, who, pitying her forlorn condition, watched over her with almost maternal regard. Mrs Lyddiard was the widow of a merchant's clerk, who had no other provision than that which was afforded her by her own labours in a little school; but from these humble means she was enabled, by prudent management, to give her only child Herbert—a boy about three years the senior of Amy—a tolerable education, which would fit him to undertake a similar situation to that which his father had filled.

Towards this amiable woman and her son, the warm affections which had been pent up in the young heart of our little heroine, since the death of her mother and infant brother, now gushed forth in copious streams; for, though she loved her father with a tenderness scarcely to be expected, and certainly unmerited by one who manifested such indifference in return, she dared not express her feelings in words or caresses. Beaufort would usually devote a few of the morning hours to his profession, and then, growing weary, throw aside his pencil in disgust, and either wander about the neighbourhood in moody silence, or spend the rest of the day in the society of a few dissolute persons of education, with whom he had become acquainted since his residence in Manchester. The indolence of the parent had, however, the effect of awakening the latent energies of the daughter's mind; and young as she was at the time we introduce her to our readers, her thoughts were engaged upon a scheme which, if successful, would, she deemed, reinstate them in competence. This was for her to become possessed of a knowledge of her father's art (secretly, since he had given a check to her plan), and she believed she could accomplish it by watching his progress, and practising during his long absences from home. As Mrs Lyddiard warmly approved of the proposition, it was immediately put into execution; and Herbert, who was also made a confidant, volunteered to purchase her colours and brushes; for she dared not make use of her father's, for fear of discovery.

The performances of the young artist for the first twelve months, as might be expected, did not rise above mediocrity; but by increased perseverance and a determination to excel, she rapidly improved. The disposal of a few of her pictures furnished her with the means to procure materials for others; but she still studiously concealed her knowledge from her father, intending to do so till her skill approximated in some degree to his.

Eight years thus glided away, and the beautiful and artless child had now become an elegant and lovely young woman. Her nineteenth birthday was approaching, and she determined to prepare a specimen of her abilities to be displayed on that occasion. She selected Lear and Cordelia for her subject, thinking it would tacitly express the affection which had instigated her desire to acquire a knowledge of her father's profession. She completed her task, and the Lyddiards were lavish in their praises of the performance. Herbert declared it to be quite equal to any her father had done, and his approbation, it must be acknowledged, was highly valued by the fair artist. On the evening before the eagerly-anticipated day, Beaufort came home at an unusually early hour, and what was of rare occurrence, in excellent spirits.

'I've sold that piece from Shakespeare I finished last week to a gentleman who is, going abroad,' he said, addressing his daughter with unwonted confidence and kindness; for it was not often that he deigned to make her acquainted with anything connected with his profession.

'What, the Prospero and Miranda I admired so much, papa?' Amy asked.

'Yes; and he wants another to pair it done within a fortnight, so I must rise early and labour hard, for the days are short; but I was better remunerated than commonly, which makes it worth my while to put myself to a little inconvenience.'

'You will like to have your coffee at six to-morrow morning, then?'
Amy observed.

'Yes, child, not a moment later.'

The coffee was prepared to the minute, and, contrary to the expectation of the daughter, her father was up to partake of it; for it was not an uncommon case for him to talk of executing a painting in a hurry, and then be more than usually dilatory in its performance. In this instance, however, he seemed in earnest, for, after having hastily swallowed his breakfast, he sat down to sketch out the piece. Amy silently withdrew from the room, not daring at present to broach the subject which was uppermost in her thoughts, and employed herself with her domestic duties till the time when she deemed he would require her assistance in mixing his colours, which was her usual task.

'It won't do; the design is bad,' the artist petulantly exclaimed as his daughter re-entered the apartment, and he dashed his pencil to the ground.

'What won't do, dear papa?' Amy gently inquired.

'I've spent the whole night deciding on a subject, and now that I have sketched it, see that it's not suitable,' he pettishly made answer.

'What is it, papa?'

'Coriolanus and his mother.'

'Well, in my opinion, that would be very appropriate. As the other was a father and daughter, here is a mother and son; but if you don't like it, what think you of Lear and Cordelia?' Amy's voice faltered, and she dared not raise her eyes from the sketch which she affected to be examining.

'I'm not in a mood for painting to-day: I'll try tomorrow.'

'But your time, you said, was short,' Amy ventured to interpose.

'Well, if I can't get it done, he must go without it,' was his irritable reply. 'I'm not going to be tied down to the easel, whether disposed or not, for such a paltry sum.'

'I thought you told me that this gentleman would remunerate you handsomely?'

'Handsomely!' the artist scornfully repeated; 'it is better than I am usually paid, but not a fiftieth part of what I ought to receive. See how some men, not possessed of half my talent, succeed! but they have the patronage of the great to aid them.'

'And perhaps brighter days may yet dawn on you, dear father!' pleaded the daughter.

'Never!' and Beaufort rose in haste to attire himself for departure.

'Papa,' cried Amy, gently catching his arm, 'will you just stay for a few minutes; I have something to say to you;' and a deep flush of crimson suffused her cheek as she spoke. Beaufort turned hesitatingly. 'It is my birthday,' she pursued—' I am this day nineteen.'

'That is no subject for rejoicing, girl,' he doggedly observed.

'I have been looking forward to this period with intense anxiety, meaning then to make you acquainted with a subject which has long engrossed my thoughts,' she timidly said.

'No foolish love affair, I hope?' Beaufort almost fiercely demanded, looking sternly in his daughter's agitated and flushed countenance as he uttered the words. 'Perhaps,' he sarcastically continued, without giving her time to reply—'perhaps you deem yourself marriageable at the matron-like' age of nineteen, and have selected some country boor for my son-in-law?'

This speech was directed at Herbert Lyddiard, and Amy felt it; but her thoughts were at this moment occupied by another subject of absorbing interest. 'No,' she returned with modest dignity; 'I have at present no desire to alter my condition, but I have for years been intent upon bettering yours. I may be presumptuous in supposing it possible that any effort of mine could do so; but I was resolved to make the trial, and this shall speak for me.' As she concluded, she drew from a closet the picture she had so anxiously prepared, and displayed it to her parent's astonished gaze. Beaufort could not speak, but stood for some minutes immovable, with his eyes fixed on the piece, as if doubting the reality of what he beheld.

'Amy,' he exclaimed, 'is it possible that this is your performance?'

'It is, father.'

'And you have had no teacher?'

'Yes, you have been, my teacher. For eight long years I have been your pupil—a silent but a most attentive pupil. I owe all my knowledge to you.'

'It is admirable,' he murmured, 'and the very thing I want; as like my execution as if I myself had done it.'

'Do you say so, my father?' Amy exultingly exclaimed. 'Do you say so? That is praise beyond what I had ever dared to hope for;' and, for the first time in her life, she threw herself into her parent's embrace.

Beaufort re-examined the work. 'Did you intend it to pair my Prospero and Miranda?' he asked.

'I did, though not with the idea of its ever being sold as such. I greatly admired your father and daughter, and thought I would attempt a similar piece. I thought, to'—she stopped for a moment, then blushingly added—'I thought it an appropriate offering from one who desires to be a Cordelia to you.'

The sale of his daughter's picture was a fresh era in the life of the artist, as it was the means of introducing him to several persons of rank and influence, who were at the time visitors at the house of the purchaser. Though Amy's picture was more highly finished than her father's, no one guessed that the Lear and Cordelia, and the Prospero and Miranda were not done by the same hand. Amy had caught her father's bold style, but added to it a delicate softness which he, from impatience, not want of ability, usually omitted. The calls upon her time were now incessant; for Beaufort grew more indolent than ever when he found that she cheerfully took so large a portion of his labour off his hands. He would frequently sketch an outline, and then leave it for her to finish, without regarding the inroads he was by these means making on his daughter's health. Meanwhile, he spent the profits of her toil in luxuries, in which she shared not; still allowing her the miserable pittance which barely kept want from their dwelling, and would not permit of her making, either in her home or her person, an appearance above the humbler class of mechanics.

'We will bid a joyful adieu to this hateful town, and settle again in London,' the artist exclaimed, as, late one evening, he entered his house in an excited state, after a visit to one of his new patrons.

'Are you in earnest, papa ?' Amy asked, whilst the colour forsook her cheek.

'In earnest, girl?' he repeated, 'to be sure I am. I think I have droned here long enough, and it is time that some change took place for the better. The purchaser of my last picture is a young baronet who has just come into possession of a princely fortune, and, by a little flattery, I have so far got myself into his good graces, that he has promised to provide money to enable me to make a suitable appearance in town: he says, too, that amongst his acquaintances alone he can procure me sufficient employment, which shall be liberally remunerated. 'Tis true,' Beaufort laughingly added,' he has no more taste for paintings than his valet, and perhaps not so much; but that matters not: he thinks that he has, and it is not my place to undeceive him; for, as he is rich and influential, he may be a valuable friend to us.'

Amy listened without making any reply.

'You are silent, girl?' her father resumed; 'I thought you would be delighted with the intelligence. Will you not be glad to exchange this miserable hovel for a handsomely-furnished house? And you shall have masters to instruct you in dancing, singing, and music; for I expect that you will now have an opportunity of getting settled in the rank of life in which you were born.'

Still Amy replied not.

'Well, you are the strangest girl I ever met with,' Beaufort pursued, in tones indicative of rising wrath; 'but I see how it is. I have suspected as much for some time. You would rather marry a beggarly clerk. I can tell you, however, that Herbert Lyddiard is no husband for you, and I positively forbid you to hold any further intercourse with him or his mother.'

'Oh, father,' cried Amy in the agony of her feelings, now finding utterance, 'can you require me to be so base as thus to treat a friend who has been to me like a mother?'

'I have no personal objection to the woman, nor to her son either, had I not reason to believe that he aspires to an alliance with you,' he rejoined; adding: 'Now hear what I say, girl; I start for London to-morrow, and shall send for you in a few days, during which time I shall get a house prepared for your reception. Here are the means to provide suitable apparel for the position we shall resume in society; and I expect that you hold yourself in readiness to depart at an hour's warning.'

Amy dared not oppose her father's commands, and took the offered purse in silence.

As might be expected, the knowledge of Miss Beaufort's intended departure drew from Herbert Lyddiard a full confession of his long-cherished love; and Amy could not deny that it was reciprocal, though she thought it right to make known to him the cruel prohibition her father had enjoined. The mother strove to console the young couple, by representing that it was probable that some change might take place which would induce Mr Beaufort to withdraw his opposition to their union, and counselled Amy for the present to yield implicit obedience to her father's commands. 'You are yet very young, my dear children,' she said, 'and that directing Providence which has hitherto smiled upon your early attachment, will not, I trust, see fit to sever you.'

The dreaded summons came within a week, Beaufort not thinking it safe for her to remain longer than necessity obliged in the neighbourhood of her humble lover's residence. He received her in an elegant house in the vicinity of Portman Square, which in this brief time he had handsomely furnished and provided with servants. Amy entered it with a sickening heart; and, as he led her from room to room, demanding her approbation, she felt more disposed to weep than to rejoice.

'Amy,' he said, when they were quite alone in the room designed for his studio, 'you are to reign mistress here; but be careful never to drop a hint regarding the humble manner in which you have lived for so many years; no one must surmise that we have been in poverty, or our ruin is certain. I intend giving an entertainment to my friends a few nights hence, and then I shall introduce you to society; meantime I expect that you will provide yourself with elegant and appropriate attire for the occasion; for on you much of my success may depend.'

'On me!' Amy exclaimed in astonishment; then recollecting herself, she added: 'If you mean on my exertions, father, you may still depend upon them.'

'No, I do not mean your exertions, though at present I must avail myself of your assistance; but I mean by the manner in which you receive my friends. Amy,' he continued, looking steadily in his daughter's face, 'you are possessed of uncommon beauty; you are doubtless aware of it. Herbert Lyddiard has not failed, I daresay, to tell you so. A beautiful young woman is at all times a powerful attraction, and to me it is everything, to extend the circle of my acquaintances.'

Amy's cheek, which had been flushed by the former part of this speech, turned deadly pale at its conclusion. How could she, who had all her life been shut out from society, entertain her father's male guests—she, a retiring and almost ignorant girl, without one female friend or adviser? She did not speak; but Beaufort saw that powerful feelings were agitating her breast, and strove to laugh away what he termed her foolish fears.

'A few evenings will dispel all your mauvaise honte,' he gaily said. 'I will hear of no silly objections;' and, thrusting a purse of gold into her hand, he left the room.

Amy could scarcely realise the truth of the position in which she stood. The events of the last few days seemed like a dream; but if so, it was a dream from which she would have been glad to have awakened, and to have found herself in her former humble home. She could not but fear that all her father possessed was held upon a very uncertain tenure, and, what was worse, that it was obtained by dishonourable means. This idea was strengthened when the gala evening arrived, and our heroine was introduced to her father's principal patron, a vain and weak-minded man, who listened to his host's extravagant adulation with evident complacency, though to every one else it was palpably insincere. Beaufort insisted on his visiting his studio, to give his opinion of the grouping of a historical piece he had sketched out for Amy to fill up. The baronet, thus flattered, suggested some alterations which would have made it absolutely ridiculous; and the artist would actually have complied, had not his daughter, who had been requested to be present, interposed; and her guest gallantly acquiesced in her judgment.

From this period a new trial awaited the unhappy girl, for Sir Philip Rushwood now became her professed admirer. Beaufort had planned this affair from the moment of his first introduction to the young man, though he had warily concealed his wishes from Amy. He had contrived to display, as if by accident, a miniature portrait he had once taken of his daughter; and as he pretended unwillingness, to make known the name of the original, the curiosity of the baronet was naturally excited. On finding that the beautiful young woman he so much admired was the artist's daughter, he became anxious to see her; but her father was determined that a meeting should not take place until Amy was in a situation to set off her natural charms, and was removed from her humble lover. Little suspecting the scheme which had been laid, she met Sir Philip with feelings of gratitude; but they were exchanged for sentiments bordering on disgust when he became a suitor for her hand. There was nothing vicious about the young man—he was the dupe, not the deceiver; but to a mind like Amy's, filled, too, as it was with the image of Herbert Lyddiard, his attentions were intolerable. The open encouragement he now received from the father, however, emboldened him to persevere, and he professed to look upon her marked disapproval as nothing but maidenly diffidence, and proceeded to address her as though a positive engagement existed between them.

Amy now spent her days either at the easel, or in receiving instructions from the masters her father hired, and her evenings in entertaining his guests. He appeared not to have an idea that prudence required that some matronly lady should become the chaperon of his isolated child, much less that her heart could yearn for feminine society. To one who was naturally so sensitive and timid, the task was exquisitely painful; yet she dared not murmur, or a volley of abuse would have been the result. Nine months thus passed away in splendid misery, during which period Beaufort had often indirectly expressed his wishes that his daughter would accept the overtures of the baronet; but on the morning of her twentieth birthday, he called her into his studio, saying that he had a matter of importance to consult with her upon. Poor Amy guessed too well the subject he was about to introduce; but she was appalled when, in a few hurried words, and with a voice almost choked by agitation, he told her that it depended on her decision, respecting the acceptance of Sir Philip Rushwood's suit, whether he was to give her away at the altar as a bride, or be himself dragged to a prison.

'But why, father, should there be so dreadful an alternative?' she eagerly asked.

'Because I have nothing but what I owe to him. On his credit this house has been furnished, and his trades-people have supplied our table. Your very apparel has been purchased from sums of money I have from time to time borrowed from him—for I have not yet met with the increased sale and handsome remuneration for my pictures I was led to expect. Indeed, many of those you supposed to be ordered, were pledged for a tenth part of their value. If, however, you become his wife,' he proceeded, 'we shall never want; for his fortune is immense, and he is easily persuaded to part with it; but if you refuse, his vanity, which is his ruling passion, will be so deeply wounded, that he will withdraw his assistance from me, and our ruin is inevitable. I have amused him with hopes of success and assurances that you will smile on him at last, in spite of your girlish coquetry, till he is incensed at the delay; and he last night told me that he would be put off no longer, but have a positive answer from your own lips this very evening.' Amy pressed her hands upon her burning brow in unutterable anguish. 'Yes,' her father resumed, 'this very evening you must set your seal to our destiny. It remains for you either to open a brilliant career before me, or to shut me up in a prison in disgrace. I ask you not to give me an answer. Your bane and antidote are both before you; but remember that on the decision of your lips to-night our mutual welfare depends.'

As Beaufort concluded, he rose from his seat and hurriedly left the room, whilst poor Amy remained panic-struck, and scarcely comprehending the extent of her wretchedness. Her energies were, however, aroused, and directed into a fresh channel; when, a few minutes after her father's departure, a servant placed a note in her hand, bearing the well-known characters of Herbert Lyddiard, which she said had been delivered at the door by a meanly-dressed young man. She almost flew to her chamber to peruse the contents, which, though written by Herbert, were dictated by his mother. She stated that her son, having lost his situation in Manchester by the death of his employer, had been induced to remove to London, with the hope of obtaining a more lucrative one in that city; but, being disappointed in his expectations, that they were consequently reduced to the greatest distress. Her health, she concluded, had suffered so severely from intense anxiety and privations, that, believing herself to be dying, she solicited, as a last request, one brief visit from her beloved young friend.

Amy Beaufort possessed a mind which never sunk under difficulties whilst there was any active duties to perform, and in less than half an hour she was in a hackney-coach on her way to Mrs Lyddiard's residence, bearing with her, besides a few articles of nourishment for the invalid, a large packet containing some of the early efforts of her pencil, which she, with prompt thoughtfulness, imagined might be disposed of, if only for a trifle, to aid her unfortunate friends in their present exigence. She had a few guineas left from her father's last gift; but she now shrunk from using them even for so sacred a purpose. The coach stopped at the door of a large but mean-looking house in a narrow crowded street, and her inquiry if Mrs Lyddiard lived there, was answered in the affirmative by a ragged boy, who asked if he should carry her parcel. Amy followed him, not without some apprehension, up three flights of dark steep stairs; but her fears were relieved when, her gentle tap at the door to which her guide pointed, was answered by the well-known voice of her early friend.

The meeting was affecting in the extreme; but Amy did not find the invalid reduced quite so low as her imagination had pictured. Though a few months only had elapsed since they parted, each had a long tale of trials to tell, and that Amy had to relate was rendered doubly distressing by the confession she was forced to make of a parent's delinquency. At length she spoke of the decision which was expected from her that night.

'And how do you intend to act?' asked her companion in breathless anxiety. 'I feel that I dare not offer you counsel. I am too deeply interested; for it would be draining the last drop of earthly bliss from my cup to see you wedded to any other than to my son.'

'I never will, Mrs Lyddiard,' cried Amy energetically, rising at the same time from her kneeling position beside the bed of the invalid. 'I feel myself justified in making this resolution. I have been an unwilling, nay, I may say an unconscious agent in a scheme of dishonour; but I should be culpable if, by any act of mine, I furthered it, even though the motive should be to save a parent from disgrace and a prison. Still, my father claims my duteous regard, and so long as my personal exertions and self-denial can afford him aid, I will never desert him.'

'You have spoken nobly, my dear Amy,' Mrs Lyddiard exclaimed, her eyes brightening, and her pale cheek flushing with pleasure. 'Your own upright heart is your best adviser, and Heaven will aid your filial piety.'

As our heroine prudently wished to avoid a meeting with her lover, she left the house earlier than she otherwise would have done, and returned home to prepare her mind for the trial which awaited her. She resolved to decline the baronet's suit respectfully, yet firmly, alluding with gratitude to the services he had rendered her father; and she hoped much, notwithstanding the anger he had evinced, from the natural mildness of his character. She had not, however, been long in her chamber, when she, to her surprise, received another summons from her father, who she had imagined to be from home. The dark frown which clouded his brow too surely indicated the state of his feelings. 'You may spare yourself the trouble of refusing Sir Philip Rushwood, Miss Beaufort,' he sneeringly remarked, as she tremblingly took a seat by his side; 'you will not have the opportunity of displaying your triumph.'

'What do you mean, papa?' Amy interrogated, wholly at a loss to understand the import of his words.

'Oh, you are in utter ignorance that your vagabond suitor, Lyddiard, left a billet for you this morning,' he resumed in the same sarcastic strain; 'and you are quite unconscious that you were carried in a coach to his residence; but the lynx-eye of jealousy watched you, and you have converted a friend into a foe. It is I, however,' he fiercely added, 'who must suffer the penalty of your disobedience and duplicity, and either die in a prison, or become an exile from my country. I prefer the latter, and must leave you to reap the fruits of your own self-will.'

'Oh, my father!' Amy almost wildly exclaimed, throwing herself at his feet, 'had you given me time I should have explained everything to you connected with my visit to Mrs Lyddiard; but I entreat you not to add to the dishonour you are already involved in by flight. Surely the debts you have contracted are not to so large an amount but they may be liquidated in time by our mutual exertions. Let us descend to the sphere from which we have so lately risen, if by that means we can honourably overcome our difficulties.'

'Talk not to me in this manner,' Beaufort angrily interposed: 'I will not brook the disgrace your obstinacy has brought upon me; and you have yourself alone to blame that you are not the mistress of a princely fortune. Go to your beggarly lover, if he will receive you when penniless and homeless—the tie between us is broken,' And with these words he rose to quit the room.

'Do not leave me, father !' Amy shrieked forth, clinging around him to prevent his departure. 'I will share a prison with you, if such he the dreadful alternative. I will labour for your support; but do not—do not leave me.'

Beaufort shook her from him with a violence which threw her to the ground. 'Go, wretched girl!' he vociferated as he descended the stairs; 'you have been my ruin.' It was the last words he addressed to her—they met no more.

Scarcely allowing herself to believe that her father would not repent of his determination to leave the country, Amy awaited with intense anxiety the event of the evening. The shades of twilight fell, but he appeared not. The guests he had invited arrived; still he did not return. She was obliged to send an apology for her absence; for she was really ill, and felt unequal to the trial of meeting the baronet in her present agitated state of mind.

The morning brought a confirmation of her worst fears. A rumour of Beaufort's sudden flight had gone abroad, owing to his absence from his guests; and the consequence was, that creditors poured in from all quarters. Amy met the emergency with a presence of mind she was herself surprised at. Her first care was to have all the effects sold, that the debts might be liquidated as far as possible; but now, to her unspeakable concern, she discovered that her father had carried off the principal part of the plate and small valuables. She next met her late suitor, Sir Philip Rushwood, and after soliciting an account of the sums due to him by her parent, declared her intention of refunding them from the labours of her own hands. 'I may perhaps make trial of your patience by some delay, Sir Philip,' she said; 'but so far as my receipts will allow, no one shall be the loser from having placed confidence in my unhappy father. Had I accepted your addresses, you would have had reason to despise me; but I am not so base as to form a union in which my heart has no share.'

The baronet was astonished. He had hitherto formed a mean opinion of the female character, having been incessantly beset by manoeuvring mammas with marriageable daughters ever since he became possessed of his fortune. His desire to win the beautiful young artist, who never appeared so lovely as at this moment, increased; but he felt that he dared not urge his suit after this declaration.

Amy now sought the home of her early friend; and, deserted by her only natural protector, thought herself justified in consenting to become the wife of Herbert Lyddiard when circumstances would admit of the union taking place. She employed herself indefatigably at the easel; and Sir Philip Rushwood having with some difficulty discovered the mart at which her pictures were exposed for sale, bought them up (though with the strictest secrecy) as fast as she produced them, paying considerably more than the price she hoped to obtain for them. Herbert was at this period so fortunate as to obtain a situation, which, though not very lucrative, yet afforded him the means of providing the family with a more comfortable home; and as Mrs Lyddiard's health rapidly amended with her improved circumstances, no further obstacle opposed the marriage of the young couple. Amy's only anxiety now arose from the uncertainty of her father's fate; for she could gain no further intelligence of him than that he had fled the kingdom, having obtained a passport under a feigned name.

The ready and profitable sale of her paintings enabled our heroine to set aside sums for the liquidation of her father's debts earlier than she expected. Herbert volunteered to become the bearer of her first payment to Sir Philip Rushwood; and as his manners and appearance were those of a gentleman, he was shown by the footman into the dining-parlour, to wait a few minutes till his master was at liberty. The young man started on entering the apartment, for he, to his astonishment, perceived it to be hung around with the pictures Amy had executed since her residence with them. He was examining them more minutely, that he might be certain he was not mistaken, when the baronet appeared.

'You are admiring those paintings, sir,' the latter observed. Herbert bowed assent. 'They were executed by a lady who is no less distinguished for her virtues than for her beauty and talent,' he added, his features glowing with animation. 'And should you become a purchaser, you will confer an obligation on me.'

'Happily for me, sir, I possess the fair artist herself,' his visitor smilingly interposed.

Sir Philip drew back in amazement, and Herbert proceeded to explain the object of his mission.

'I cannot take the money, Mr Lyddiard,' the baronet returned with evident emotion. 'The loss of a few hundreds is of no real importance to me; and do you think that I could suffer that noble young woman to toil incessantly to pay the debt of an unprincipled parent? No, I am not so mercenary. Miss Beaufort refused me as a husband, but she must allow me the pleasure of becoming her friend. You need not be jealous, sir, of the title I am solicitous to assume, for it was for your sake that she rejected me; but whether as a maiden or wife, I shall deem myself happy in being permitted to serve her.'

'I am most grateful for your kindness, Sir Philip,' Herbert returned; 'but I cannot avail myself of it with respect to the money. Mrs Lyddiard is, I know, too desirous to rescue, as far as possible, her unhappy father's character from disgrace, to suffer a debt of his to remain uncancelled.'

Thus urged, the baronet reluctantly took the sum; determining, however, to return it through some medium which would not compromise the independence, or hurt the feelings, of the person he was so anxious to serve; and he had soon an opportunity of proving the sincerity of his professions, by using his interest in procuring Herbert an appointment far superior to that he at present filled.

It was nearly three years subsequent to the period at which Beaufort quitted England, that his daughter received the sad intelligence of his death. He had been a miserable wanderer on the continent for that space of time, and he breathed his last in a lazaretto at Naples. It was not till he lay upon his dying bed that he could summon courage to address his deserted child. When all earthly hope was over, and the awful realities of a future state presented themselves to his appalled vision, he thought of the misery he had caused one who had ever been an affectionate and devoted daughter to him; and as this epistle expressed the deepest penitence for the errors of his misspent life, Amy clung to the hope that it was sincere.

Thus Leonard Beaufort, with genius which would have done honour to his profession, died a miserable outcast, through its misuse; whilst his noble-minded daughter, by industry, integrity, and perseverance, rose by slow but sure degrees to competence, and enjoys that peace known only to those who pursue a virtuous course.