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“His aunt," I replied, “is a great friend of Lady Bernard's, and I met him when I was staying at Compton, in the autumn.”
“Oh, indeed! Well, I know nothing of him ; but I thought I would just caution you on one point.”
“ There is no necessity for doing so, in this case,
I answered hastily, not wishing any misconception of my sisterly feeling towards Mr. Compton to arise in my guardian's mind.
“ There may, or may not be; but I won't be personal—I'll only give you a few general hints. First and foremost, you cannot marry without my consent during your minority, which will not expire for several years yet, so that you may as well consult me, when you find your heart in a fair way of being affected ; and in the next place, I beg to say, that I will not permit you to have a number of danglers' in
Don't imagine, because you're staying with that old woman, that you can do just as you please; my eyes are upon you.”
This was said slowly and solemnly, and was followed by an impressive pause, while a gleam of intense gratification lighted up his cold, snake-like eye.
Shortly afterwards he left me.
I was pondering over his words, in bitterness of spirit, thinking how entirely I was in his power—at his mercy, and tears were again • streaming from my eyes, when a servant entered to tell me that his lady would like to see
I trusted to the defective sight of age not perceiving the traces of weeping upon my face; but I made a mistake.
My dear, what's the matter ?” said Lady Ravensden, kindly. She was sitting up in bed reading, and looking as fresh if she had had a good night's rest, instead of only half a
My heart was full-very full. I sat down on the bed, and with my hand in hers, I told her my trouble, what I had already suffered from the fear of my guardian, and what I still dreaded-and oh ! what a relief it was to do so ! Hitherto, it had been a secret locked in
my own bosom ; I had no friend with whom to take counsel on the matter, for with Mrs. Bounce, kind as she was, a sense of propriety kept me from breathing her master's affairs to her ; the Comptons knew nothing about it
either; so that relief inexpressible it was, thus to open my heart to my father's friend.
“The wretch !” cried the old lady, when she heard my tale, “I dare say he thought he had done a vastly clever thing—that it could all he managed very nicely and quietly, and I think it would have created a sensation for him to have brought such a young bride up to town; very nice indeed, Mr. Grumpy Grim; but you're not clever enough by half.”
I could scarcely help laughing at her droll manner, and the way in which she expressed herself, she continued :
“I had a slight suspicion, my dear, that something of the sort was brewing, when I heard of your being kept so close at the Castle. I know him so well; but, however, he has lost the game, now I am come to look on,” and she laughed pleasantly to herself.
“Never mind him," she continued, “ don't fret any more about it, enjoy yourself while the opportunity offers, and be upon your guard ; whatever he may say, don't you be led into giving your consent ; your word once given, however inadvertently, you may have a difficulty in getting out of it.”
“ There is no fear, dear Madam,” I cried, “of my ever agreeing to such a dreadful thing as marrying him.”
“I don't know,” she said, “ he may try to intimidate you, or tell some falsehood or other, and a young girl like you is no match for a wily old diplomatist like Lord D’Arville ; but we won't talk about him any more,” she exclaimed merrily, "you don't come up here in the season to be moped to death with an old woman ; there is the flower fête on Wednesday, and the races are next week—but that is not today. Oh ! the Comptons are coming presently
and we can consult with them; there's your presentation to be thought of, an important affair in your life, and a variety of other matters.”
Dear old lady! I was come to the right place for amusement then!
In the pause which followed, I sat meditating how I should broach a subject on which I had thought a good deal—"my father !” 1 longed to hear her ladyship speak of him, but suddenly I felt a delicacy about it, I hardly knew how to begin, but after a little consideration, thought it better to make no preliminaries.
to call upon you,
"Your ladyship spoke of my father,” I said, “in
your letter, I am so anxious for you to tell me something about him.”
Lady Ravensden was a little startled at my brusque mode of address.
“ I shall be happy to tell you anything I know, my dear,” she answered, “but it is many, many years since I saw him-long before you were born.
“But then, tell me about him then.”
She laughed though her eyes looked rather moist. “ Some day,” she said,
perhaps I may, but not now, it makes me sad, looking back on those old times, though I was a merry creature as ever lived then ! and your father was such a handsome boy! Your Grecian features he had, and the same shaped head, but he was fairer in complexion than you are, and a bold, brave lad: we used to say that when we grew up we would be married to each other. The nonsense boys and girls will talk—and when we parted, we exchanged locks of hair, and presents, and promised eternal fidelity, which promise was broken on my side the following year ; but here are the Comptons, let us go down to them.”