Tale, by Miss
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
'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,
'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
'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
'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?'
'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
'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
'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!' 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
'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
'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
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
'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
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
'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
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
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
'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
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
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
'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
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.