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“But what can be more inconsequential than this casual encounter ?”
Perhaps only that of this afternoon.” Nay, there
you are wrong. I should be very ungrateful if I ranked them equally.”
“Forgive me, I ought not to have implied any doubt ; but do not fall into the error of over-estimating the very trifling service I was so fortunate as to render
you.” “Your creed of fatalism does not, I hope, exclude gratitude from the list of voluntary efforts !"
“It would be presumptuous to assign it so much scope. Fate only prepares the way; it disposes of those accidents which are material ;-the mind accomplishes the rest.
“ But is not the mind, according to your theory, predisposed ?" “Yes,—to the reception of a particular theme ; but the same cause often produces very opposite effects. It is like sowing an unknown seed. The earth fructifies every germ alike, whether the plant which is to spring from it be sweet or bitter, a remedy or a poison." “You have examined these things seriously.
Where have you studied ?"
“ In the East ;-not always in solitude, but often far from the haunts of men.”
“ You have travelled much, then ?”
“I have seen many places and some varieties of mankind,—but not enough for the purpose which originally impelled me to travel.”
“And you have returned with your objects unaccomplished ? What caused you to relinquish their pursuit ?"
“I believe," said Lord Norham, looking intently at Mrs. Trevelyan, "yes, I am sure, it was fate!"
The Honourable Mrs. Rushworth must have been a lady endowed with great good nature, or a very rare patience, to have allowed this colloquy to endure without offering to interpose a word ; but there are limits even to feminine forbearance, and now she spoke.
“I see,” she said, “you are arguing in a circle ; – besides, the Duke is looking round him, a sign that the music is about to recommence. Come, Ethelinde, let us go to the concert-room.”
Lord Norham bowed to Mrs. Trevelyan's graceful inclination as she passed on ;-I am not sure, even, that their eyes did not meet ; but he did not attempt to follow,—at least, not then.
“Who is your new acquaintance, Ethelinde ?" inquired Mrs. Rushworth ; "he can only have just returned from abroad, for I don't think I over met him before."
"I am as ignorant as you, aunt, who my deliverer is, and you know also as much of
my adventure. “He is a very distinguished looking person at all events," said Mrs. Rushworth.
Ethelinde thought he was even something more, but she said nothing.
When the carriages were called that night there was at least one attentive listener in the hall with many pillars ; and it was not without a thrill of pleasure, as he handed Mrs. Rushworth and her fair companion to their brougham, that Lord Norham heard the footman give the word,
Say, what strange motive, goddess! could compel
PoPE. . WHEN Lord Norham woke on the morning after the concert, the first word which he uttered was “ Ethelinde,” and a long sigh followed the exclamation.
Antonio, who was in the room, busied about his usual avocations, hearing his master stir, presumed that he spoke to him, and therefore addressed him :
“ Milor is awake?” He received no answer, but continued, “I have got some news about dat camicia. I have discover to whom it belongà very nice lady! very beautiful, very rich !”
" Is that you, Antonio ? What are you talking about ? I wish you would hold your tongue.”
“Oh, very well, milor. I only tought your lordship vould be glad to know about de camicia."
“ Hang the camicia,” said Lord Norham, rather petulantly; "what can it signify to me whose it is ?”
“I know vere de lady live, milor.”
“And I care nothing about it. If he could tell me what I do want to know," he muttered, it would be something to the purpose."
“La lavandaja-de vashingvoman-have been here late last night, milor, and she tell me de owner of de chemise live at Nombare Fifty-tree, Harlay Strit.”
“ What do you say?” cried Lord Norham, starting up in his bed with a degree of energy that astonished even the trained Italian, “ where!what !”
Antonio repeated the intimation.
“ Make haste," said Lord Vorham, “give me my dressing-gown. Stay, you were speaking of the camicia ; you have not sent it back I hope.'
“ Certamente no, milor. Your lorship say I was to keep him till furder ordares.” " True-and
have it here ?" “ Yas, milor." “Bring it me directly."
The order was promptly obeyed; and to any one but a native of a southern clime, accustomed to vehement demonstrations, the eagerness with which Lord Norham seized the garment, and the thousand kisses he imprinted on the unconscious linen, would have been matter for neverending astonishment. An English valet would have thought of his own safety, or-if he had been awake to it--of a commission of lunacy. Antonio merely waited to see how long the passion would last—it was not quickly over.
“ Ethelinde! Ethelinde !” exclaimed Lord Norham; “yes, here is the dear initial, E. But what does the other letter mean? T!—T! I heard the name of Rushworth - The Honourable Mrs. Rushworth'that I suppose was her mother. Well, it may be so still: her daughter by a first marriage-no doubt of it. What grace! what beauty! .I never thought that English women could be so supremely lovely! I
may as well
there as anyo
must find out all about her. I don't think she is engaged—she did not look as if another occupied her thoughts. Well, this law-suit has led to something that the lawyers who devised it never dreamt of. It may take its own course for what I care, provided I can once more see my own, my dearest Ethelinde !"
But the law is more prosaic than even lovers imagine, and Lord Norham was scarcely dressed before he received a letter from Essex-street, informing him it was absolutely essential to his interests that he should attend that morning, at eleven o'clock, to meet that eminent counsel, Mr. Scatterdust, to discuss finally the question of the succession to the estate of the late Mr. Trevelyan. The letter was signed “Gabriel Quirk," and prayed his immediate attention.
" What an infernal bore!" he exclaimed, as he threw down the missive ; “I suppose I must attend-indeed, I
go where else at such an early hour. Of course she is not up yet. Antonio, desire Stevens to be here with the cab at a quarter to eleven, and let me have some breakfast.”
We leave Lord Norham to discuss his meal with such appetite as love has left him, and return to Harley Street.
It was twelve o'clock, and Ethelinde had not yet left her boudoir, though she had been up some hours, and the restlessness which haunted her couch pursued her when she quitted it. She had tried to read, but could not fix her attention on the page, and now she sat at an open secretaire, with paper before her and a pen in her hand, but her thoughts refused to flow, or wandered from the subject of her intended correspond
Absorbed in a reverie, which, to judge by the sweet serenity of her features, appeared a happy one, she had suffered some one to tap twice at her door unregarded, but the third knock roused her attention, and she bade the intruder come in.
It was Susan, and her countenance bore the signs of recent excitement, for her colour was high, and her eyes sparkled.
“What is the matter, Susan ?" asked Mrs. Trevelyan, calmly. “I
begs your parding, mem, but I never heard tell of any thing like it. To go for to keep a harticle of dress like that, and then refuse for to restore it when perlitely hasked, is one of them things as I can't bring myself to understand. He positively ubjects to send it back, mem!"
“ To send what back, Susan ? I really don't know what “Why, mem, it's all about your apparel
, mem. Iscolded the laundress finely yesterday, and she promised to do her best to find it. She knew at once who the other thing, mem, belonged to-a young nobleman as is living in the Halbany—and in the evening she went there and saw my lord's wally-de-sham, and said as how she supposed there was some mistake, and that the linning had got mixed. At first he said, in his gibberish, for Mrs. Jones says he is one of them mad forriners, that he didn't know nothink at all about it, but Mrs. Jones says he was a larfing when he spoke, which convinced her that he know'd where to set his ands on it, and she begged he'd be so good as to look, for that the lady was in want of the harticle."
“That was very ridiculous,” said Mrs. Trevelyan, blushing as she spoke. “I wish you would finish the stupid story. I am sorry I ever made any inquiry on the subject.”
“Well, mem," Mrs. Jones was only a-doing of what she thought her
duty, for I'd said to her, “ Mrs. Jones,' says I, don't let me see your face again without that there !' and so she went again to the Halbany this morning, and taxed my lord's wally with ahaving of it ; for she'd been round to every one as she washes for, and know'd it couldn't be nowhere's else ; and what do you think, mem, was the harnser as the himperdent feller give her ?"
“ Dear me! how can I possibly tell ?. To think of having one's thoughts disturbed by such nonsense as this!".
“ He said, mem—it's as true as I stand here—that his master-my lord, mem — had locked it up in his own buro, and that he was ordered to pay for it, for that it wouldn't be given back to nobody but the hoaner !"
“I never heard of any thing so absurd! And did she really come away without it?”
“ She was forced to, mem. But she wouldn't give up the other thing, no how, mem. The wally larfed and joked in his forrineering manner, and said, as how it was of no use to you, mem, and that she'd much better give it up, for that he wanted to wear it his-self, as he was agoing to the hopperer this hevening; but Mrs. Jones couldn't be persuaded to, and so the trumpery harticle is come back again, mem !"
“ I must say, I think it very singular conduct,” observed Mrs. Trevelyan, compelled by the strangeness of the affair to take some notice of it. “ Have you any idea of who this young nobleman is? not that it is of any use knowing; indeed, it would be better not to be acquainted with his name, except to avoid him if one happened to meet him.”
“Oh, yes, mem,-Mrs. Jones knows; she did mention it to me, but I never pays no attention to gentlemen's names; I can ask her again, mem, for she is down stairs now.”
Susan departed on her errand without any opposition from her mistress, and presently returned with the required information. “ Gracious, mem! Would
believe it? It's as true as I live, but the gentleman, mem, is young Lord Norham, poor Mr. Trevelyan's cousin."
“ Lord Norham!” said Mrs. Trevelyan, in astonishment. “Impossible, Susan ; Lord Norham is not in England !"
“Oh, yes, mem,--he is; he came home about ten days ago; the wally said it was very sudding, for they was in Italy, Rome, and Naples only, it might be, about a month since.”
“ That accounts then," said Mrs. Trevelyan, to herself, "for Mr. Quillet's desire that I should remain in town. Lord Norham carries on a strange sort of warfare; he not only seeks to deprive me of my estate, but lays violent hands on my personal effects. What can he mean by it! Order the carriage, Susan; as soon as I am dressed I shall go to Mrs. Rushworth's."
My only love sprung from my only hate.
Romeo and Juliet.
LORD NORHAM's groom had dismounted, and was crossing the pavement to knock at No. 53, Harley-street, when a pretty brougham a Brougham is pretty sometimes, despite the association) drove rapidly up to the door. Lord Norham recognised not only the mazarine blue carriage and the spirited cream-coloured horses that drew it, but caught a glimpse of their fair owner; and recalling his servant, leapt lightly from his saddle, and approached the carriage-window.
“I don't know why I find myself here without invitation," he said; “but I am fairly caught in the act. I wished to pay my respects to-to—," he hesitated for a moment, and then, with an effort, brought out, “Mrs. Rushworth.”
Ethelinde saw his artifice, and smiled.
“My aunt,” she replied, “ does not live here. I have just come from her house in Grosvenor-street."
Lord Norham appeared to take no notice of the explanation.
" Allow me,” he said, “ to assist you from your carriage, and,” he added, in a subdued, but earnest, tone, “ to explain the motive of my appearance."
Ethelinde bowed gravely, accepted his proffered hand, and they entered the house together. When they reached the drawing-room she took a chair near one of the windows, and motioned to Lord Norham to sit down also, for she felt too much agitated to speak.
He did not, however, accept the invitation, but stood for a few moments, irresolute, as if uncertain how to commence a conversation which he had sought in so unusual a manner. At length he spoke.
“I am sure," he began,—“that is, I hope—you will forgive the step I have taken, in presenting myself before you without an introduction ; but the truth is, I expected to have been able to plead as my apology, a friendship which I formed in the East with a relation of Mrs. Rushworth. Had I known to whom I was speaking last night, before the party broke up, I should not have been placed in this awkward predicainent.”
“ You have characterised it rightly,” returned Ethelinde, with some degree of coldness; "the situation is, at least, peculiar."
“ I am afraid,” said Lord Norham, advancing a step nearer,afraid I have offended you, and Heaven knows that is the last object of my thoughts ; but, what shall I say,–I could not resist the temptation of making an inquiry after you this morning, particularly when I was led to believe that you were the sister of the man who saved my life as I was travelling last
year between Beyrouth and Damascus." “ Indeed!" exclaimed Ethelinde; were you the Englishman whose escort fled when attacked by a party of Bedouins in the Lebanon, and whom
cousin Charles was so fortunate as to rescue ? Ile wrote to us about the adventure, but, with the carelessness that marks every thing he does, never told us who he had assisted, contenting himself with saying, that it was a feature of life in the desert which had led to very agreeable consequences.”
“. It was no other than myself to whose aid he came so opportunely, or I might not have lived to tell the story ; though, after all," and this was said with an accent of bitterness,“ life is, perhaps, a questionable blessing."
“Surely not," observed Ethelinde, “if it enables us to render any the slightest service to our fellow-creatures."
“But my life, I fear,” said Lord Norham, “is destined to be a torment to others, even against my will. At this very moment, while I am speaking to you, I am in the act-passively, it is true-of inflicting a
" I am