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fortune, he had trebled it by some brilliant speculations, and in the prime of life found himself at once the envied possessor of immense wealth, and the desolate father of a motherless girl. From whatever reason, and his friends suggested many, he at once quitted England, to return no more; and wandered with his child over the continent; spending a month here, and a year there, wherever his fancy listed. Of refined manners, and graceful mind, he was welcomed in the best circles; but his principal delight was in the care of his daughter, on whose adornment in person and talent no money or pains were spared. It is not our intention here to discuss what was lacking or superfluous in his education: whatever Mr. Armadale's future designs might be, they were cut untimely short, and at the age of eighteen, his child was left an orphan. The hatchment darkened the wall of the mansion in Portland Place, bearing the arms of the old knightly house of Armadale, once as famous in the field, as of late it had become in the funds and now the conjectures exhausted on the father, descended to the child, and all her family connections (near relations she had none) grew anxious for news of her return. They had several years more to wait, but were gratified at last, as the heiress, with characteristic caprice, chose to make her first appearance in London at the commencement of a raw, bleak December.
Seated at breakfast in an apartment where the unpleasantness of the weather might be seen, but not felt; surrounded by all the elegancies of refinement, and the luxuries of wealth, were the fair mistress of the house, and her good duenna. The latter, a lady of that peculiar appearance that might be any age, from this reason, that she could never have looked young-with plain but not unpleasing features, and a costume of excellent materials, which she had the happy art of so putting on as to defeat every end for which fashion designed it, was presiding over the mysteries of the cafétiere; devoting all her skill to the task of proving that good coffee could be made in England-a fact which our heiress was rather inclined to doubt. Miss Armadale, meanwhile, ensconced in an arm-chair that might have rivalled Beauclerc's
Sleepy Hollow," her feet on the fender, and her letters and newspapers by her side, seemed little disposed to trouble herself about conventional forms, or do any thing just then but
make herself comfortable in the way she liked best. The favorite child of nature and fortune, their gifts had been lavished upon her with no sparing hand: elegant, accomplished, beautiful-with no one to control her caprice, and no guidance beyond her own wayward will with wealth sufficient to gratify every selfish desire, and no monitor to remind her of duties or of stewardship: flattered, courted, obeyed from her childhood-such was the condition of Margaret Armadale. Her character our readers must find out for themselves.
She had opened her letters with the eagerness of anticipated pleasure, but one after another was laid aside with a look of disappointment, and a murmured comment—“ Fashionable acquaintance all-no difference-no real affection— all alike ;"-during which interval her companion set before her a cup of delicate Sevres china, filled with such coffee as she flattered herself must content the most fastidious. "Any news, my dear?" said she: Miss Armadale handed her the letters. "No news, dear Martin: the world is not yet grown honest. Nothing but the old story. One devoted friend declaring that since my departure she can hardly look any one in the face without tears,-while by the same post, writes another, that the inconsolable mourner has been gayer than ever, and is considered the prima donna, now I am gone: mark that last phrase, Martin; for the very individual who pays me the pretty compliment, I myself heard say of me when she thought I was out of the way, 'Only one of your purse-proud English-setting up for a leader of fashion." But you must read their letters to appreciate them and af terwards this from some zealous friend in England, whom I have not yet the pleasure of knowing, and consequently have no right to abuse.
Miss Martin read as she was desired, folded up the letters and returned them with a calm, "Thank you, my dear." A calm ensued, the good duenna proceeded with her breakfast; Miss Armadale hardly tasted any thing, but leaning back in her chair, gazed absently at the fire: cloud after cloud chasing each other over her full dark eye, and transiently dimming its sunny brightness.
"Martin!" exclaimed the heiress, suddenly.
My dear," said Miss Martin, who was quite accustomed
to be apostrophized at a moment's notice, and was never flurried or hurried by this or any thing, "what do you want?" "I want advice, Martin."
"Very well, my dear, you shall have it."
"I am perfectly aware of that, my dear."
"What do you think of that invitation, Martin?" said Miss Armadale, sipping her coffee, but not praising it.
"Do you mean Mrs. Crawford's, my dear?"
"Yes, Mrs. Crawford's, and Mr. Crawford's, and the Misses and Master Crawford's, and a host of distant connections in the country; all most anxious to see the rich Miss Armadale, and worship her image for its golden base. What do you think of it ?"
"It is a very kind invitation, I think, my dear.”
"Too kind by a great deal: half that affection would do: what can they feel for an entire stranger? What magnetic influence is there in my nature that I can win people's hearts without our ever meeting? No, no, Martin, if I had arrived in London to earn my bread, what sort of invitation should I have received then? But to the point-shall I accept it or not?"
"Certainly not, my dear."
"And pray why not, Miss Martin ?"-said the young lady, somewhat sharply.
"Because you do not wish it, my dear."
"But supposing I do wish it ?"
"Then go, my dear."
"How provoking you are, Martin! Do you suppose I have nothing to think of but my own inclination ?"
Miss Martin coughed, and discreetly waived a reply. "In the first place," continued Miss Armadale, "I have to set advantages and disadvantages together, and that is a great deal of trouble."
"I do not think the advantages will trouble you much, my dear."
Stop, you have not heard them yet. Firstly, I shall get out of London, of which the present specimen has so disgusted me, there is no saying what I may do if I remain. Secondly, I shall keep up an old family connection, in a
county where my forefathers had their abode. Thirdly, I shall see an English Christmas, which is what I have longed for ever since I could eat roast beef."
"That is only lately then, my dear."
"Don't be satirical, Miss Martin: never was even that much-put-upon Telemachus blessed with a more aggravating Mentor. Tell me, shall I
"You have only to please yourself, my dear." "That is what you always say, and if I do not become the most selfish person in the world, it will be no thanks to my friends, who set me down as such already."
"I never said you were selfish, my dear," said Miss Martin," and I do not think you are considering."
"That is my own good Martin, and in return for that encouragement, I will not say what I intended about the strong resemblance between English coffee and English weather. Now for the disadvantages-List, list, O list!' A house full of strangers; most probably vulgar people, who will be telling every body how rich I am-that I never take change for a sovereign, and curl my hair with ten-pound notes: then to be complimented, and fêted, and worshipped, and perhaps made love to."
"Do you object to that, my dear?"
"Not at all, Martin, when it is sincere-but when it is all hollow, like this," pushing away her foreign letters, "it sickens my heart. And now I have told you all this, Martin, let me have your opinion as briefly as possible, and then I will give you mine."
Miss Martin rose, and stirred the fire thoughtfully: then turning deliberately round, poker in hand, said, "As they are family connections, I think you ought to go."
"Ought? then I certainly won't."
"Very well, my dear."
Miss Armadale went for a solitary drive, and if any thing would have helped her to come to a determination, it would have been the yellow fog in which she was speedily enveloped. Wrapped up in furs, she was impervious to cold, but the heavy atmosphere fretted her beyond endurance, and suddenly starting up, she pulled the check-string and gave the order, "Home!" Miss Martin was in the drawing-room, deep in the hook and crook marvels of Crochet, when Mar
garet flung the door open, and stood before her with gravity in her manner, and mirth in her eye.
"Martin, I mean to accept the invitation."
Very well, my dear, I thought so, all along." "Take your pen, Martin, if you please, and write a polite note to Mrs. Crawford, and sign yourself Margaret Armadale.""
"With great pleasure, my dear."
Stop a minute: hear all your instructions: say that you, Margaret Armadale, will be delighted to accept so kind an invitation, and that you will take the liberty of bringing a young companion with you."
"A young companion!" repeated Miss Martin, with emphasis.
"Yes I hope you consider me still young."
"I mean this, good Martin-I will go among these people they wish to know me, and they shall. I must settle somewhere, and I may choose to do so among family connections; but as to knowing really what they are in my own character as an independent heiress and cherished guest, it is quite out of the question. Nay, hear me out, Martin, and, whatever you do, don't contradict me, for my constitution cannot stand it, you know. We will go down together: nobody there knows either of us-you shall pass as Miss Armadale, and shall have every equipment necessary to maintain so glorious a position; and I shall be-not what you are to me that I could never attempt to be—but your humble attendant, protegée, poor dependent, or whatever you please; who carries all your parcels, and jogs your memory, and bears your ill humors, etc. etc. etc.: in short, the fac-simile of our old acquaintance at Florence, whom I am sure you remember, from the number of scrapes you got her into, by taking her part."
Miss Martin was too much of a philosopher to be easily surprised; nevertheless her eyes opened now, and she stared at the young lady without uttering a word. Miss Armadale, having stated her intentions, coolly seated herself in her arm-chair, and merely observing, "When you have written your letter, let me see it," began to amuse herself with a favorite periodical. Full ten minutes elapsed