By this time lord Martin had raised himself in a sitting posture and uttered a deep groan. “Best of friends,” said he, pressing the hand of sir William, “tell me truly, am I victorious, or am I defeated?” “Oh victoria!” cried sir William; “never heed a slight skin wound that you received in the combat.” His lordship stood up. “Damnation, pox confound it!” said he, a little recovering himself, “what is become of the rascal? I have not given him half what he deserved. But, ladies,” added he flourishing his cane, “it is my maxim, as I am strong to be merciful.”
Saying this, he advanced towards Delia, and, with a flourish of importance and conceit, laid the weapon, which he had so roundly employed, at her feet. “Loveliest of women,” said he, “to your shrine I devote myself. Upon your altar, I lay the insignia of my prowess. Deign, gentlest of thy sex, to accept thus publicly of those sighs which I have long poured forth upon thy account.”
Delia, though the native modesty of her character caused her whole face to be suffused with blushes at having the eyes of the whole company thus turned upon her, regarded the peer with a look of ineffable disdain, and turned from him in silence.
Such were the transactions of an evening, which will doubtless long be remembered by such as had the good fortune to be spectators. The natural impertinence and insolence of lord Martin were swelled by the event to ten times their natural pitch. He crowed like a cock, and cackled like a goose. The vulgar of the other sex, who are constantly the admirers of success, however unmerited, and conceit, however unfounded, thought his lordship the greatest man in the world. The inequality of his legs was removed by the proof he had exhibited of his prowess. The inequality of his shoulders was hid under a rent-roll of ten thousand a year. And the narrowness of his intellects, the optics of these connoisseurs were not calculated to discern.
The peer, as we have already hinted, was the suitor most favoured by the father of our heroine. The principal passion of the old gentleman was the love of money. But at the same time he was not absolutely incapable of relishing the inferior charms of a venerable title and a splendid reputation. Perceiving that his client continually rose in the public opinion, he was more eager than ever to have the match concluded. Lord Martin, though his organs were not formed to delight in beauty at the first hand, was yet tickled with the conceit of carrying off so fair a prize from the midst of a thousand gaping expectants.
It will naturally be imagined that the situation of Delia at this moment was by no means an enviable one. She was caught in the snares of love. And the more she struggled to get free, she was only the more limed and entangled. The recollection of the hopelessness of her love by no means sufficed to destroy it. The recollection of her former carelessness and gaiety was not able to restore her to present ease. In vain she summoned pride and maiden dignity to support her. In vain she formed resolutions, which were broken as soon as made. Every where she was haunted by the image of her dear unknown. Her nights were sleepless and uneasy. The fire and brightness of her eyes were tarnished. She pined in green and yellow melancholy.