“Oh, nothing truer; and everybody would say, ’See the handsome friends.’ Come now, would’nt we make a lovely couple.”
“Suppose we try it.”
“Being a couple.”
Fanny suddenly caught, from the laughing eye, the young man’s meaning, and began to color.
“I see you understand, my own Fanny,” observed Mr. Ralph, “and I expected nothing less from a young lady of your quickness. What say you? It is not necessary for me to say that I’m desperately in love with you.”
“Oh, not at all necessary!” replied Fanny, satirically, but with a blush.
“I see you doubt it.”
“Oh, not at all.”
“Which means, as usual with young ladies, that you don’t believe a word of it. Well, only try me. What proof will you have?”
Fanny laughed with the same expression of constraint which we have before observed, and said:
“You have not looked upon the map of Virginia yet for my ‘boundaries?’”
Ralph received the hit full in the front.
“By Jove! Fanny,” he exclaimed, “I oughtn’t to have told you that.”
“I’m glad you did.”
“Because, of course, I shall not make any efforts to please you—you are already ‘engaged!’”
“Engaged! well, you are wrong. Neither my heart nor my hand is engaged. Ah, dear Fanny, you don’t know how we poor students carry away with us to college some consuming passion which we feed and nurture;—how we toast the Dulcinea at oyster parties, and, like Corydon, sigh over her miniature. I had yours!”
“My—miniature?” said the lively Fanny, with a roseate blush, “you had nothing of the sort.”
“Your likeness, then.”
“Equally untrue—where is it?”
“Here!” said Mr. Ralph Ashley, laying his hand upon his heart, and ogling Miss Fanny with terrible expression. “Ah, Fanny, darling, don’t believe that story I relate about myself—never has any one made any impression on me—for my heart—my love—my thoughts—have always—”
Suddenly the speaker became silent, and rising to his feet, made a courteous and graceful bow. A young lady had just appeared at the door.
This was Redbud.
The poor girl presented a great contrast to the lively Fanny, who, with sparkling eyes and merry lips, and rosy, sunset cheeks, afforded an excellent idea of the joyous Maia, as she trips on gathering her lovely flowers. Poor Redbud! Her head was hanging down, her eyes wandered sadly and thoughtfully toward the distant autumn horizon, and the tender lips wore that expression of soft languor which is so sad a spectacle in the young.
At Mr. Ralph Ashley’s bow, she raised her head quickly; and her startled look showed plainly she had not been conscious of the presence of Fanny, or the young man on the portico.