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The ball went on very much like other balls. Sir Richard Vernon and feveral gentlemen of his caft of character were prefent, and Geraldine complied punctually with her lord's injunction, either to fit down, or to dance with Fitzofborne. She had forgot to account for his appearing in a dress fo correfpondent to her own; and when fome ladies, by pointing it out, alarmed her fenfe of propriety, her explanation was embarraffed, and confequently fufpicious. As at the opera, Fitzofborne's attentions were confined to her; and his elegant addrefs and polite vivacity added the fneer of envy to the whifper of detraction. Lady Arabella had indeed the honour to move down one dance with the duke; but his grace was fo fatigued by the exertion, that he was obliged to renounce dancing, and to have
have recourfe to Caffino for the reft of the evening. Her fucceeding partners ranked no higher than commoners, without poffeffing any of the innate diftinctions which gave celebrity to the partner of Fitbosborne. He had only bowed to her in the moft diftant manner poffible. Her fmile of invitation was unanswered: and he began to think a fainting fit was the only chance of roufing the monster's attention. She performed it in the greatest perfection; but on opening her eyes fhe felt a little mortified to find, that neither he nor the countess appeared in the circle which had gathered round her. Another glance convinced her, that they were not in the room.
"The heat of this apartment," faid the lovely fufferer," is infupportable. "Do, my dearest Harriet, lend me << your arm, and let me breathe a little 66 pure
66 pure air in the veftibule." The vif countess complied, and the mistress of the ceremony with feveral other ladies accompanied the fair invalid.
Lady Arabella caft a fcrutinizing glance upon the fuite of chambers through which fhe was led; but she defcended into the veftibule without making any discovery. It had been converted into an orangery for the occafion, and decorated with a variety of lamps taftefully fufpended. The manycoloured light trembling on the fragrant exotics, the freshness of the air, the stillnefs of the scene, and the extenfive view which it admitted of the " stars in all their fplendor" and " the moon walking in brightness," afforded a ftriking contraft to the glittering but artificial scene which they had juft left. Lady Arabella and her friends were not the only admirers of its enchanting effect, for
for at the upper end ftood the countess
"Pray let us go back," fhrieked lady Arabella, who however did not much doubt their identity. "I am "quite frightened. Somebody is here." The lady of the houfe declared, that it could be nobody whom the could object to, while the charitable viscountess whispered," that it would be rude to interrupt a private party."
"Oh! not for the univerfe," exclaimed Arabella. "I would die a thou"fand deaths rather than be rude."
The countess advanced with an air of eafy dignity, which the inquifitive looks of the other ladies foon difcompofed. "Blefs me, fifter," faid the candid Arabella, "I really did not think it was "you."-"And Edward too," continued the fignificant lady Fitzofborne; "how "do you do? There is no fuch thing
"as catching your attention for one "moment this evening. How came "" your aufterity to condefcend to vifit "these tinfel amusements?"
"Pardon me, madam," said Edward, bowing respectfully to lady Arabella ; "thofe amufements cannot be tinfel "which have the power of attracting ❝fterling merit." Her ladyship did not deign to take the leaft notice of his fubmiffion, but continued whispering the countess: "So you have one con"ftant cecifbeo I fee, and Monteith stays "at home. Very fingular, I vow. But "was you not afraid of taking cold "during this long converfation ?"
"No," replied Geraldine with recovered compofure; "our converfa"tion was too interefting for me to "think of cold. What if I fhould tell
you, Arabella, that fome part of it "related to yourfelf? But you really