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pretend to any competition with her own profufion of ornament; and both the beauty and the vivacity of Geraldine fuffered from the chagrin which the manners of her visitors inspired. Conscious fuperiority always fpeaks in hyperbole. Arabella had been immenfely tired with her journey, was rapturously delighted with her new relation, and infinitely folicitous that they might foon become the ftrictest of friends.
While fhe spoke, her eye reverted to every object, except the fubject of her enthufiaftic admiration. Her aunt viewed her with a complacency which the countefs thought her features could not poffibly have affumed, but which was fometimes interrupted by obferving what effect this sparkling conversation had upon the Monteiths; for, though it could not poffibly anfwer any end, lady Madelina
Madelina would have felt mortified if even her nephew did not acknowledge how infinitely his fifter excelled his wife. Her obfervations that evening were limited to a fhort period: his lordship had business to tranfact with his banker, which could not poffibly be delayed; and he foon left them, whifpering his lady, "Go to bed if you are tired of "them."
Geraldine did not conceive herself warranted to follow her lord's advice. She made fome attempts to gain a share in the converfation; but the playful wit and eafy sweetness which at Powerfcourt" engroffed all hearts and charm-. ed all eyes," had now loft all its power, and the funk quietly into the lefs brilliant but useful character of a hearer; while her guests enumerated the old titles which might be revived in the house of Macdonald, and settled the
the exact place in which the reprefentative of their honours ought to walk at the next coronation.
They separated at an early hour. The young countess did not find herself dif pofed to fleep. Unaccustomed as the had been to contempt and to unkindnefs, Powerscourt and the friends of her youth rushed full upon her mind. "What," faid fhe to herself, " am I to "expect from ftrangers, when those "with whom I have just contracted the "tie of kindred are even studious to "fhew their diflike of me?" To this reflection followed a fear, that her lord would leave her, unprotected, to their pride and folly; and the bitter tears which fhe had hitherto reftrained courfed each other down her cheek.
At that inftant lord Monteith entered. He had met with a party of his old friends, who would felicitate him upon
his nuptials, and he was returned home in a very joyous humour. "I was "very forry to leave you, my dearest " Geraldine,” said he; " I know it was " rude and awkward to go out the first " evening after you came home; but "it was not in the power of man to "endure my consequential aunt, or the "ridiculous automaton that Arabella has "become. Did they get a little more "tolerable after I left them? Ha! you " are in tears-I fwear by heaven, that "if they have given you the leaft "cause for uneafinefs, they shall both "leave my houfe to-morrow morning."
Lady Monteith knew enough of the earl's temper to be convinced that this threat would be fulfilled. Her prudence not only determined her inftantly to avert from herfelf the dreadful imputation of violating the harmony of the -family into which fhe was adopted, but it
made her alfo refolve to affume the amiable character of a mediatrix if any contentions should in future arife. Happy in the hope that the fhould ever preferve her avowed pre-eminence in her lord's affections, her forrows feemed to diffipate like a morning mift, and the answered with a smile, that she had been wicked enough to be entertained with the eccentricities of the ftrangers, which doubtless proceeded from too reclufe a mode of life, and would certainly be worn off by a little commerce with the world. "I have," continued fhe, "enough
to condemn myself for ;-I have been "a petted child, and feeling your ab"fence this evening more than I ought, "Powerscourt returned to my memory. "But do not reprove me. My heart, "Monteith, is formed for ftrong attach"ments. I have preferred you to my "father's house and my early friends;