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COACH ROAD SCENE.
Our engraving this month represents one of those lovely rural drives which are so fast disappearing from the face of the land, through the influence of railways. It depicts the road from Southampton to Lyndhurst, the small capital of the new forest, in Hampshire, passing through the village of Four Posts. Spring-hill, an eminence on the right, commands extensive prospects. Freemantle House, in the same direction, was often visited by Cowper, at an early period of his life. Millbrook, a large and pretty village, is next reached. The churchyard contains a monument to the memory of Pollok, author of “ The Course of Time,” who died at Shirley, near this place, in 1827, at the age of twenty-nine. A mile further, at the head of Southampton Water, is Redbridge, an old port. Totton and Rumbridge are next reached; after which a branch of the Southampton Water is crossed, and we approach Hunsdown-hill, over which the road lies. From this point there are grand and commanding prospects of the forest, which we enter about a mile distant from the base of the hill.
William Howitt, in his “Rural Life of England,” gives glimpse of this district. The forest, he says, “ has not acquired, like Windsor, too much of a park-like character,
by becoming a royal residence; nor has it been inclosed, and shaped into quadrangular fields; but there it is in its original extent-vast, wild, stocked with deer; with its alternations of woods and heaths, morasses and thickets; interspersed with hamlets and farms, and forest-huts, as were the forests of old.
“As you go from Southampton to Lyndhurst, you have a fine ride through its lower regions, and see enough to make
you desire to steal away into the beautiful woodlands. Lovely streams come winding out of its shades, and hasten towards the sea. You get glimpses of forest glades, and peeps under the trees into distant park-like expanses, heathy wastes. The deer are wandering here and there : here you see whole troops of ponies, peculiar to the forest; pheasants and partridges come often running out on the way before you. All about grow hollies, which were encouraged in most ancient forests for winter browze; and you have glimpses of forest trees that were enough to enrich all the landscape-painters in the world."
LOOK TO THE END. On our return home we were summoned to evening prayers, after which supper was
ght in. Elizabeth sat next to me. I observed that she looked pale, and declined eating; but this I attributed to the emotion excited by our late conversation. I refrained from asking her any questions, and placed myself in such a position as enabled me to screen her, in some measure, from the impertinent curiosity of the less refined of our school-fellows, and the still more dreaded observation of Miss Charlotte. The conscious and watchful Louisa, however, detected another cause for Elizabeth's languor which had not suggested itself to me; and I was somewhat startled on hearing her thus address my companion, in tones which, though low, were so earnest that I did not lose a syllable.
“ Elizabeth Dalton, you are ill, are you not ?"
“Yes, I wish I might go to bed, I believe I am tired," was the reply.
“No, no, you are like the rest,” added Louisa, " those seeds have disagreed with several of the girls who ate them. Poor Miss Cope, who devoured so many, is very sick, but I tell her she must not betray our secret, and as she sleeps with me, I will take care she does not, neither must you, Elizabeth. Promise me," she continued anxiously, for Elizabeth's countenance expressed strong agitation.
“Oh, Louisa,” she said, “ suppose we are poisoned ?”
“ Nonsense, I am not ill, and I know the seeds I gave you will do you no serious injury. A night's rest will set all to rights. Bear up, dear Elizabeth, till we reach our bed-room. Anything is better than detection you know.” So saying, Louisa tripped back to her place, and succeeded in getting poor Miss Cope up stairs, without exciting the suspicions of the teachers.
On reaching our bed-room I begged to be allowed to tell Miss Percy what had occurred, and ask for her assistance, but to this all the three strongly objected, pleading that they already felt better, and promising that if the sickness continued I should be at liberty to inform our governess the next morning. It was useless attempting to reason with Louisa : my remonstrances only drew from her a torrent of reproaches. At length she reminded me of the lateness of the hour, and the impropriety of disturbing the family, who were now retired to rest, for what she called a mere trifle. In vain I tried to persuade myself there could be no harm in postponing the communication till the morrow. I never shall forget the anguish I endured after my weak compliance with the wishes of my companions, or the terror I experienced on finding the sickness continue at intervals through that long weary night. For the others, there were periods of uneasy slumber, but for me only nervous forebodings of evil.
Observing that, towards morning, my companions appeared more composed, my fears were in some degree allayed, and I, likewise, fell asleep, nor did I awake until aroused by Elizabeth, who was partly dressed.
“Come, Caroline,” said she, “the bell has rung, and you will be late. Louisa and I are both better this morning. To be sure Miss Cope is not quite well," added she, glancing towards the bed on which that young lady was seated, and who appeared very faint.
With Elizabeth's assistance I helped the poor girl to bed, and then expressed my determination not to delay the communication to Miss Percy, and my regret that I had been induced to keep silence so long.
There is something in a firm will, a full consciousness of right, and unwavering decision, that acts like a charm upon the
young Neither Louisa nor Elizabeth offered the least opposition, though whilst I dressed myself, I perceived they were whispering together, and on Louisa's leaving the room, which she did with the air of a deeply injured individual; Elizabeth approached me. “ Caroline," she said, “ before you go to Miss Percy, Louisa wishes me to inform you, that as there is no necessity for her name to be used, she requests you will not betray her.”
“How mean!” was my involuntary exclamation.
“ That is the very word Louisa used, when speaking of you, just now,” remarked Elizabeth : “ she said you were acting the mean part of an informer— I know where the true meanness is, but, lest the other girls should think with Louisa, I will go myself,” she added, bursting into tears, “and I am resolved to keep her secret."
“ But if Miss Percy should inquire who were your companions in the arbour?”
“I will beg her to excuse me betraying them, as they are not ill. I think she will, don't you, dear Caroline?”
I tried to re-assure her, though I confess I was anxious and fearful. We went together down stairs. I felt the little hand I held tremble violently.
“ Shall I go with you?" I asked. “Oh, do! dear Caroline.”
My godmother had not yet left her room. We approached softly, and listened to catch any sound within. Presently we distinguished a footstep, and I knocked gently. On hearing her say, “Come in,” I tried to disengage my hand from Elizabeth's, but she grasped it so firmly, and seemed so much agitated, that I opened the door, when to my great consternation I perceived Miss Charlotte seated on the sofa at the foot of the bed, from which Miss Percy had not yet risen. An electric shock could scarcely have produced a more sensible effect on my nervous system, and I felt inclined to act the part of an arrant coward