« AnteriorContinuar »
Brooke meditated on the perfections of Catherine, while Willoughby was seriously asking himself if he were seriously in love.
As soon as the party had left them, Sir Thomas asked his lady to play chess with him, for which purpose they adjourned to the library. Ellinor retired to her dressing-room, where, throwing herself on a sofa, she revolved the occurrences of the day; and so perverted was her disposition, that, on a review of all the circumstances, she received as much pleasure from the conviction of the pain she had inflicted, as from the knowledge of the admiration which she could not but feel that she had excited in that heart, where she now desired to reign.
Catherine's retreat from the drawingroom was intercepted by Charles :-a short time decided his fate. Her rejection of his suit was too firm, to leave him any hope that perseverance would induce her to alter her determination. They parted with mutual expressions of perfect esteem ; and, if that were possible, the affection of Charles
was increased by the mingled delicacy and kindness of Catherine, on this very trying occasion.
Conscious of his inability to conceal his anguish from his family, Charles prudently sabsented himself; and while they believed him to be at the country-house of a friend, he was lamenting in solitude the downfall of his dearest hopes. Finding himself unable to rejoin his family, he wrote them, to say he was on the point of setting out for Cheltenham, for the purpose of visiting a particular friend residing there; and, desiring his servant and horses to follow him, he was far on his way south, before either objection or remonstrance could reach him.
Then rose among the female tribe a strife of silks and
satins, Miss Holder's chair's announced, and Mrs Bubble's maid
and pattens. In groups the company pair'd off ; some chairing it, some
walking, But all fatigued with doing nought, save playing cards and talking.
So,” said Miss Kennedy, as she and a few more inquisitive cronies were assembled round Miss Macdonald's tea-table; “so, I suppose you have all heard that Mr Charles Lennox is off to England ?”
“Off to England !” said Mrs Barton ; “ I never heard a word of it. What has taken him there?”
“ Not heard of it!" rejoined Miss Kennedy. “ Where have you been hiding yourself,—the whole village is ringing with
it? I heard it first from my Jenny, who had it from an acquaintance of hers, who had it from Lady Lennox's maid, Campbell, who told her, with tears in her eyes, that Mr Lennox was off; not that Mrs Campbell cared for Mr Charles, but it seems she held a pretty flirtation with his man James, who, she said, had been obliged to follow his master, in such a hurry, that he did not stay above an hour or two with her.”
“ But we don't want,” said Miss Barton, 6 to hear of Mr Charles's man ; we would rather hear of his master.”
Miss Kennedy, without deigning to reply to this remark, continued her conversation with the simple Mrs Barton.
“I understand,” said Miss Jenny Nettles, " that the departure of-a little more sugar,
you please, Miss Macdonald: that will do,--oh, no more cream-that the departure of Mr Lennox was quite unexpected by all the family, except indeed his cousin Miss Dundas, who, I am told, was the only person aware of his intention.”
“ No such thing,” exclaimed Miss Bar
• Miss Dundas no more knew of his departure than you or I did, till he was fairly off; and he left a note for Miss Dundas, saying, that her obstinacy and cruelty had driven him to this step,—and vowing never to return, unless she would promise to marry him in spite of Sir Thomas's teeth.”
“ Ladies !” said Miss Kennedy, with a sententious air," allow me to explain the business—I ought to know something about it, as the Lennoxes are old friends of mine.”
“ They must be old indeed, if they are her cotemporaries,” whispered Miss Smith to the lady next her.
Miss Kennedy meanwhile went on.—“I had it from the very best authority, that Miss Dundas has positively rejected Mr Lennox, who has on that account left home so suddenly. They say he has taken it very much to heart. Sir Thomas, I am told, made his niece give her solemn promise