« AnkstesnisTęsti »
interference of which I have formerly feen fome traces at Danbury are merely local difeafes; I fuppofe the acceffion to Mr. Powerfcourt's fortune continued to be a profound fecret in the parish where his father refided: at least I cannot conceive that any whifper which the taylor, or the schoolmafter, or the barber, might circulate, could, through the medium of the curate, be diffused in the atmosphere of Mifs Hetty's best parlour; or that any one, by adding a unit to the rent-roll which fir William had refigned, could be the occafion of the extraordinary and even oppreffive civilities with which the diftinguished lady whom I have juft named loaded Mr. Henry Powerscourt. Her house was at his fervice; her carriage was at his fervice; her fervants were at his service; nay, the world even faid, that fhe more than hinted an offer of herself. This
This latter report I disbelieve, because it went fomewhat further than what the proverbial hofpitality of her country can account for. But if she had any latent views, they soon received a complete mortification. Henry's first step, after the arrival of the welcome gift, was to express his gratitude to the donor; his next, to request, that mifs Evans would render independence more valuable by sharing it with him.
"And now, my Geraldine," said Lucy to the countess, scarcely allowing her time to finish the letter which had introduced this long digreffion, "I call "for your felicitations. Henry, you "fee, ingenuoufly avows the early at"tachment which made you the first "mistress of his heart. I have not "that extreme refinement, which can "only be content with a primary affec❝tion. It is fufficient for me, that " after
"after long obfervation he owns a pre"ference which he is too noble to af "fect, and too upright to withdraw. "Secure in his honour and his virtue, "not even your attractions will excite "fufpicion; and though the tempered expectations of four-and-twenty abate "much of the fanguine enthusiasm of "nineteen, neither experience nor re"flection teach me to doubt of the "general happiness of my future lot "with fuch a partner as my long-loved " Henry."
Lucy's head now reclined upon the fhoulder of the countefs, to conceal at once her blufhes and her tears. "But," added the fweet girl after a moment's paufe," you exprefs neither surprise "nor pleasure at the wonders which I "am revealing."
The reader who remembers the connubial forrows which clouded the coun
tefs's mind, will not wonder, that, though free from envy, her Lucy's brighter hopes occafioned a painful comparison; and we cannot be furprised at events which ourfelves have directed. It was natural for Mifs Evans to wonder why fir William, who had fo long deJayed the promifed gift, fhould bestow it juft at that time; and why he, who had been generally hoftile to marriage, and decidedly averfe to Henry's forming any engagement which threatened to deprive him of his fociety, fhould even fuggeft a plan for his immediate eftablishment. But lady Monteith poffeffed the clue that could unravel the fecrets of the labyrinth. Her obfervations on her coufin's manner had convinced her, that he was no longer infenfible of her friend's worth, and fhe affiduously employed all her intereft with her father to expedite his intended donation to the
the delay of which the rightly attributed the prevention of a defirable union. She had once intended to apply to the known munificence of her lord; but her illness, and the painful events which had followed and preceded it, prevented that defign, and interrupted her negociation with her father. She renewed it with increased earneftnefs upon the death of the elder Mr. Powerfcourt; and at length, by the difcovery of her Lucy's fecret, won his cheerful acquiefcence. "I never thought, my dear," faid the good man, "that thofe young
people had a liking for each other. "I am sure, if they had told me fo, I "fhould have given my confent im"mediately. Why did they keep me "in the dark? My god-daughter is a very difcreet girl; and you know I "can fix them fo near me that I may "fee Henry every day which, as it is