About seven miles from Southampton, in a sequestered part of the New Forest,89 there resided an old friend of Mrs. Belmour’s, with whom, not having seen her for many years, she now took occasion to pass a fortnight. As her wards were for a time under the protection of their father, only Sophia and Mary accompanied their Aunt in this visit. Julius, however, came at his own desire for the last two days of their stay; though the year was declining, and autumn with his mellow pencil had already touched some of the shades under which they wandered. But the sort of taste they had acquired under the tuition of a person who had so true a relish for the beauties of Nature as Mrs. Belmour, now afforded them the greatest pleasure. They rambled either together, or in company with their Aunt, among the deep glades and shadowy thickets of the forest; anda Sophia, having made considerable progress in drawing, availed herself of this opportunity of studying, what has not generally been sufficiently attended to, the various forms of trees. Charlotte Amiel, a young woman the near relation of the friend at whose house they were, sometimes accompanied them on these walks. She had been almost self-educated, having livedb till very lately, at a very great distance from London, with an old and infirm grandmother, where the only advantage she enjoyed was the use of an extensive library. A lively imagination, a great deal of undirected reading, and a warm heart without the slightest knowledge of the world, had made Miss Amiel what is termed romantic; but she was so good-natured, so unaffectedly kind to persons younger than herself, as well as respectful and attentive to those who were older, that she was a general favourite with all; and though Mrs. Belmour was usually averse to her niece’s forming any great intimacy, she imagined the cold and sometimes half-repulsive manners of Sophia might be improved by the vivacity so agreeably tempered by simplicity and goodness of heart, which composed the character of Charlotte Amiel.