Lady Rosamond's Secret_ A Romance of Fredericton
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Title: Lady Rosamond's Secret
A Romance of Fredericton
Author: Rebecca Agatha Armour
Release Date: April 10, 2006 [eBook #18145]
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LADY ROSAMOND'S SECRET:
A ROMANCE OF FREDERICTON.
BY RE. AGATHA ARMOUR.
N. B. TELEGRAPH PRINTING AND PUBLISHING OFFICE.
CHAPTER I. OLD GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
CHAPTER II. AMID THE HOUSEHOLD
CHAPTER III. AN EVENING IN OFFICERS' MESS-ROOM.
CHAPTER IV. LADY ROSAMOND'S REVERIE.
CHAPTER V. CHRISTMAS FESTIVITIES, ETC.
CHAPTER VI. ST. JOHN'S EVE.
CHAPTER VII. THE DISCLOSURE.
CHAPTER VIII. BEREFORD CASTLE.
CHAPTER IX. MEMORABLE SCENES OF AUTUMN, 1825.
CHAPTER X. THE INTERVIEW.
CHAPTER XI. FREDERICTON: ITS BUILDINGS, PUBLIC HOUSES, AMUSEMENTS, ETC.
CHAPTER XII. CHANGE.
CHAPTER XIII. CHESLEY MANOR—MARRIAGE OF LADY ROSAMOND.
CHAPTER XIV. NEW FRIENDS—THE 81ST—SOCIAL RECREATION.
CHAPTER XV. POLITICAL LIFE.
CHAPTER XVI. NEW BRUNSWICK.
CHAPTER XVII. REGRETS.
CHAPTER XVIII. SIR HOWARD DOUGLAS.
CHAPTER XIX. TREVELYAN HALL—THE ARRIVAL.
CHAPTER XX. A WINTER IN THE ETERNAL CITY.
CHAPTER XXI. LIGHT, SHADOW, AND DARKNESS.
CHAPTER XXII. CONCLUSION.
The object of the following story has been to weave simple facts intoform dependent upon the usages of society during the administration ofSir Howard Douglas, 1824-30. The style is simple and claims nopretensions for complication of plot. Every means has been employed toobtain the most reliable authority upon the facts thus embodied. Thewriter is deeply indebted to several gentlemen of high social positionwho kindly furnished many important facts and showed a lively interestin the work, and takes the present opportunity of returning thanks forsuch support. In producing this little work the public are aware thattoo much cannot be expected from an amateur. Hoping that this may meetthe approval of many, the writer also thanks those who have sogenerously responded to the subscription list.
Fredericton. August, 1878.
A ROMANCE OF FREDERICTON.
OLD GOVERNMENT HOUSE.
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!—Scott.
A September sunset in Fredericton, A. D. 1824. Much has been said andsung about the beauteous scenes of nature in every clime. Scott haslovingly depicted his native heaths, mountains, lochs and glens. Mooredraws deep inspiration amid scenes of the Emerald Isle, and strikes hislyre to chords of awakening love, light and song. Cowper, Southey andWordsworth raised their voices in tuneful and harmonious lays, echoinglove of native home. Our beloved American poet has wreathed in song thelove of nature's wooing in his immortal Hiawatha. Forests in theirprimeval grandeur, lovely landscapes, sunrise, noonday and sunset—eachhas attracted the keen poetic gaze. Though not the theme of poet orpen—who that looks upon our autumn sunset can deny its charms? Thewestern horizon, a mass of living gold, flitting in incessant array andmingling with the different layers of purple, violet, pink, crimson, andtempting hues of indescribable beauty; at intervals forming regular andsuccessive strata of deep blue and red, deepening into bright red.Suddenly as with magic wand a golden cloud shoots through and transformsthe whole with dazzling splendour. The bewildering reflection upon thetrees as they raise their heads in lofty appreciation, forms a pleasingbackground, while Heaven's ethereal blue lies calmly floating above. Thegently sloping hills lend variety to the scene, stretching inundulations of soft and rich verdure; luxuriant meadow and cultivatedfields lie in alternate range. The sons of toil are returning fromlabour; the birds have sought shelter in their nests; the nimblesquirrel hides beneath the leafy boughs, or finds refuge in thesheltering grass, until the next day's wants shall urge a repeatedattack upon the goodly spoils of harvest. Soon the golden sheen isdeparting, casting backward glances upon the hill tops with studiedcoyness, as lingering to caress the deepening charms of nature'sunlimited and priceless wardrobe.
Amid such glowing beauty could the mind hold revel on a gloriousSeptember sunset in Fredericton, 1824. To any one possessed with theleast perception of the beautiful, is there not full scope in thisdirection? Is not one fully rewarded by a daily stroll in the suburbandistricts of Fredericton, more especially the one now faintly described?If any one asks why the present site was chosen for Government House inpreference to the lower part of the city, there would be no presumptionin the inference—selected no doubt with due appreciation of its viewboth from river and hills on western side. Truly its striking beautymight give rise to the well established title of "Celestial City."Though unadorned by lofty monuments of imposing stateliness, costlypublic buildings, or princely residences, Fredericton lays claim to ahigher and more primitive order of architecture than that of Hellenicages. The Universal Architect lingered lovingly in studying the effectof successive design. Trees of grace and beauty arose on every side inexquisite drapery, while softly curved outlines added harmony to thewhole, teaching the wondrous and creative skill of the Divine. Thepicturesque river flows gently on, calm, placid, and unruffled save byan occasional splash of oars of the pleasure seekers, whose small whiteboats dotted the silvery surface and were reflected in the calm depthsbelow.
On such an evening more than half a century ago when the present site ofGovernment House was occupied by the plain wooden structure known as"Old Government House," a group of ladies was seated on the balconyapparently occupied in watching the lingering rays descending behind thehills. Suddenly the foremost one, a lovely and animated girl whosebeauty baffled description, espied a gentleman busily engaged inadmiring some choice specimens of flowers which were being carefullycultivated by a skilful gardener. Bounding away with the elasticity of afawn, her graceful form was seen to advantage as she stood beside thehigh-bred and distinguished botanist. The simple acts of pleasantry thatpassed shewed their relationship as that of parent and child. Sir HowardDouglas was proud of his beautiful and favorite daughter. He saw in herthe wondrous beauty of her mother blending with those graces and rarequalities of the heart which won for Lady Douglas the deep admiration ofall classes. Beauty and amiability were not the entire gifts of MaryDouglas. She was endowed with attainments of no ordinary stamp. Thoughyoung, she displayed uncommon ability in many different branches ofeducation; shewing some skill as a composer and musician, also a talentfor composition and poetry. With simple earnestness she placed her handlovingly upon her father's shoulder, exclaiming "Papa, dear, I have cometo watch you arrange those lovely flowers." "Well, my dear, you arewelcome to remain. I am certainly complimented by such preference. Youmust allow me to acknowledge it by this," saying which, the fond parentplucked a white rosebud and fastened it in the snowy lace upon the bosomof his child. "Papa, dearest, one act of love certainly deservesanother," exclaimed Mary, as she fondly pressed the lips of Sir Howard,adding "remember that you are my chevalier for the remainder of theevening. When you have finished, we will rejoin the company." MaryDouglas seated herself in a rustic chair and chatted in gay and animatedtones while her father listened with a deep interest. The well triedsoldier, the gallant commander at Badajos, at Corunna, the hero of manyfierce conflicts, and the firm friend and favourite of the Duke ofWellington, listened to the conversation of his daughter with as muchkeenness as a question involving the strongest points of diplomacy.
"Papa, this garden will fully repay you for your labour. I do wish thatI could understand and enter into the study of plants and flowers as youdo." "Ah, my Mary," exclaimed Sir Howard in a deep reverential tone, ashis thoughts went back to the days of his boyhood, "I had a kindbenefactress, and I may say mother in my aunt Helena. She created inme an early love for flowers, and I have always cherished it. Oftenduring my campaign in the Peninsula, the sight of a lovely flower wouldcall up emotions that would for the time unman me for the ragingconflicts of battle. I always look upon flowers as the trophies of God'sgrace. Mary, I trust you yet will be able to attend to the cultivationof Heaven's choicest offerings, and remember, that by so doing, you onlycontribute a small share in the beautifying of nature." Having enjoyedthis strain of converse for some length of time, Mary Douglas rose,exclaiming, "Now, Papa, you are at my service." Sir Howard bowed, andoffered his arm to his fair daughter. Together they went out, beinggreeted by the merry party still lingering on the verandah. "Explain,Mary," said the foremost of the party, "this breach of confidence andutter contempt of the necessities of your friends. We have been vainlywaiting your appearance to join us in a walk, and now it is nearly timeto dress for dinner." "Very prettily said, Lady Rosamond," replied SirHoward, "but as I wear my lady's favour, you will grant me a hearing onher behalf." Pointing to the spray of mignonnette and forget-me-notwhich Mary Douglas had placed on his coat, he continued, "I hope thatyour company has employed the moments as profitably. We commenced withvows of love and constancy, then followed topics of generalconversation, and ended on the study of flowers. With this explanationperhaps some of this goodly company might favor us with a like result.""I venture to say, your Excellency, that in the present instance, wemight too clearly prove the old saying as regards comparisons," returnedLieut. Trevelyan, "and would therefore enjoin silence." "Ah, no, Mr.Trevelyan," said Miss Douglas, "we will not allow our claim to be setaside in this manner. We must muster courage in our own self-defence asan offset to your acquiescence, or else papa will wear his laurels verylightly."
"In the first instance," said she, "we were admiring the beautifulsunset, the soft outline of the hills, and the beauty of the landscape.Is that not worthy of describing, papa?" The eldest daughter of thisdistinguished family made this appeal with a face beaming with theenthusiasm of her deep appreciative nature. Anne Douglas possessed notthe great beauty of her sister Mary, yet was a lovely and loveablewoman, capable of inspiring deep regard. Sir Howard acknowledged bysaying, that if she continued, the comparison would turn the weight onthe other side. "Not yet, papa dear," said Miss Douglas, "you must hearfurther. We were speaking freely of our warm reception from the citizens,of the social resources of Fredericton, its commercial interests; andbefore you joined us, were planning to ask your assistance, by givingyour views and opinion of Fredericton in its general aspect, as presentedon your arrival." "Mr. Trevelyan," ventured Sir Howard, "I am sorry toacknowledge that the ladies have sufficient cause to charge you withdesertion of your colours; but the end may not justify the means." "Ah,papa, your inference is indirect—you will not surely justify Mr.Trevelyan." "In the present state of affairs," exclaimed Sir Howard, inplayful military tone, "the enemy is preparing for action. The onlychance of success is thus—retreat under cover of fire, or fall back onthe strength of defence." "Your Excellency has a stronghold in theenemy's quarter," joined in Lady Rosamond, who had been seated at