In a postscript, Virginia particularly recommended to Paul's attention two kinds of seed,--those of the violet and the scabious. She gave him some instructions upon the natural characters of these flowers, and the spots most proper for their cultivation. "The violet," she said, "produces a little flower of a dark purple colour, which delights to conceal itself beneath the bushes; but it is soon discovered by its wide-spreading perfume." She desired that these seeds might be sown by the border of the fountain, at the foot of her cocoa-tree. "The scabious," she added, "produces a beautiful flower of a pale blue, and a black ground spotted with white. You might fancy it was in mourning; and for this reason it is also called the widow's flower. It grows best in bleak spots, beaten by the winds." She begged him to sow this upon the rock where she had spoken to him at night for the last time, and that, in remembrance of her, he would henceforth give it the name of the Rock of Adieus.
She had put these seeds into a little purse, the tissue of which was exceedingly simple; but which appeared above all price to Paul, when he saw on it a P and a V entwined together, and knew that the beautiful hair which formed the cypher was the hair of Virginia.
The whole family listened with tears to the reading of the letter of this amiable and virtuous girl. Her mother answered it in the name of the little society, desiring her to remain or to return as she thought proper; and assuring her, that happiness had left their dwelling since her departure, and that, for herself, she was inconsolable.
Paul also sent her a very long letter, in which he assured her that he would arrange the garden in a manner agreeable to her taste, and mingle together in it the plants of Europe with those of Africa, as she had blended their initials together in her work. He sent her some fruit from the cocoa-trees of the fountain, now arrived at maturity telling her, that he would not add any of the other productions of the island, that the desire of seeing them again might hasten her return. He conjured her to comply as soon as possible with the ardent wishes of her family, and above all, with his own, since he could never hereafter taste happiness away from her.
Paul sowed with a careful hand the European seeds, particularly the violet and the scabious, the flowers of which seemed to bear some analogy to the character and present situation of Virginia, by whom they had been so especially recommended; but either they were dried up in the voyage, or the climate of this part of the world is unfavourable to their growth, for a very small number of them even came up, and not one arrived at full perfection.
In the meantime, envy, which ever comes to embitter human happiness, particularly in the French colonies, spread some reports in the island which gave Paul much uneasiness. The passengers in the vessel which brought Virginia's letter, asserted that she was upon the point of being married, and named the nobleman of the court to whom she was engaged. Some even went so far as to declare that the union had already taken place, and that they themselves had witnessed the ceremony. Paul at first despised the report, brought by a merchant vessel, as he knew that they often spread erroneous intelligence in their passage; but some of the inhabitants of the island, with malignant pity, affecting to bewail the event, he was soon led to attach some degree of belief to this cruel intelligence. Besides, in some of the novels he had lately read, he had seen that perfidy was treated as a subject of pleasantry; and knowing that these books contained pretty faithful representations of European manners, he feared that the heart of Virginia was corrupted, and had forgotten its former engagements. Thus his new acquirements had already only served to render him more miserable; and his apprehensions were much increased by the circumstance, that though several ships touched here from Europe, within the six months immediately following the arrival of her letter, not one of them brought any tidings of Virginia.
This unfortunate young man, with a heart torn by the most cruel agitation, often came to visit me, in the hope of confirming or banishing his uneasiness, by my experience of the world.
I live, as I have already told you, a league and a half from this point, upon the banks of a little river which glides along the Sloping Mountain: there I lead a solitary life, without wife, children, or slaves.