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der-water to purify my coach, after six Sunday people being stewed in it. My lord scrambled up an acquaintance with the Hottentots, and absolutely brought the Tom Thumb brother to my box at the opera, when I was actually in it; though he refused to tell me the man's name I am sure, because he was ashamed to reveal it. After this anecdote, can you wonder at my inattention to my lord's far from select guests; or when I do happen to notice them, if it is only to make them stare at my eccentricities ?"
Julia would have commiserated lady Gaythorn for being united to a man so every way ill calculated for domestic happiness, had she not been in possession of an anecdote which doctor Sydenham had that morning communicated to her.
By his former marriage, lord Gaythorn had three sons: the two eldest were married, and each had a numerous family. The youngest, and infinitely the most amiable of the whole race, had long been attached to the present lady Gaythorn, who gave him every encouragement, and was, in fact, under a serious engagement to him; when, in consequence of his application for his father's eonsent to his marriage with the object of his tender affections, his lordship became acquainted with his son's choice, who instantly became his own also. He offered himself, and was accepted instead of his son, with whom she stood no chance (from the already-mentioned impediments) of wearing a coronet; though she very shortly after did mourning, for the martyr to her perfidy, who, in the army, and careless of life, threw himself into the way of destruction, and fell in battle, universally lamented.
“ But does not your ladyship sometimesi allow
your eccentricity to carry you a little too far, by giving offence to the neighbourhood in which you reside ?” said kord Francis.
" Oh, yes, frequently !--but then I know how to appease the people and be forgiven. I have only to issue cards for a fête, a masqued ball, or something very gay-have every thing superb---play the agreeable condescending hostess: my offences are wipedi off, and I begin a new score.”
The long-expected dinner was now announced. Lord Gaythorn handed the high sheriff's lady to it. The rest of the party followed, as inclination or vicinity to the
door prompted. Lady Gaythorn gave her hand to lord Francis, and desired Fitzroy, who now hastily joined her ladyship’s party, to take care of Miss De Clifford, and not to let the people separate them—“ As I choose, said lady Gaythorn, “ that Miss De Clifford should sit next to me at dinner."
Fitzroy, with evident satisfaction, undertook the care of Julia, whom he led to the dining-room, placed next her ladyship, and himself beside her. Lord Gaythorn and his chaplain performed the honours of the table; and lady Gaythorn placed herself, unconcernedly, at one side of the festive board, as one of the guests.
Julia, seated at table, looked anxiously round for Mrs. Goodwin and Charles, and had the pleasure of finding them, with the rest of the rectory party, sitting exactly opposite to her-Mrs. Hargrave deriving high consolation, since she was not noticed herself by lady Gaythorn, from her visitor being the only lady who was.
Lady Gaythorn now pointed out to our heroine and lord Francis many a grotesque group and figure in this motley assemblage. -“As to Fitzroy,” said her ladyship," he is upon his good behaviour here, and must
not do any thing but be civil, and admire the quizes at lord Gaythorn's table-d'hôte.”
Several ludicrous incidents occurred dur. ing dinner, which proved alınost too much for the politesse of Julia, lord Francis, and Fitzroy, to keep their risibility in subjection; but lady Gaythorn made no attempt to conceal her feelings, and laughed at every thing absurd she saw.
There were so many electioneering demands upon Fitzroy's attention during dinner, that Julia did not wholly monopolize them; but every word, look, and assiduity, which he could spare from duty, were eagerly devoted to her, except when, now and then, a transient fit of thoughtfulness seemed to steal him from her and all around him. He told Julia, however, in their broken conversation, that since he had met her at Delamore House, lady Theodosia had been seriously indisposed, from her anxious and fatiguing attendance upon her mother, who had recovered but slowly; and being ordered frequent change of air and scene, had been scarcely a day in London since she had been able to quit it. That lord Delamore, too, had just been taken dangerously ill, at the family seat, in Dorsetshire; and upon an
express arriving in town with the alarming intelligence, lady Theodosia (though scarcely recovered) went instantly to her father, while lady Selina, his favourite, and most indulged child, although in perfect health, refused to go: nor did she remain in town from duty to her mother, as lady Delamore was at Tunbridge Wells, and still too much of an invalid to hear even of her husband's indisposition: and lady Theodosia having staid in London, not being considered by her physicians sufficiently recovered to accompany her mother to Tunbridge, her sudden and hazardous expedition to Delamore Castle was undertaken unknown to lady Delamore.
Fitzroy now made a long and profoundlythoughtful
pause, apparently of indecision; and at length, with a countenance suddenly animated, as if with joy at having at last determined something of painful irresolution, he again addressed Julia.-" When my fate here is decided,” he said, “ and that we both return to town, I hope, Miss De Clifford, you will have the goodness to prevail upon Mr. Goodwin to allow me the honour and happiness of paying my réspects to you?"