The evening closed, the noble guests departed, and daylight had resumed its reign over the earth by the time Mr. Hamilton’s carriage stopped in Berkeley Square. Animatedly had Caroline conversed with her parents on the pleasures of the evening during their drive; but when she reached her own room, when Martyn had left her, and she was alone, she was not quite sure if a few faint whisperings of self-reproach did not in a degree alloy the retrospection of this her first glimpse of the gay world; but quickly—perhaps too quickly—they were banished. The attentions of Lord Alphingham—heightened in their charm by Miss Grahame’s positive assurance to her friend that the Viscount was attracted, there was not the very slightest doubt of it—and the proposed pleasure of compelling the proud, reserved St. Eval to yield to her fascinations, alone occupied her fancy. To make him her captive would be triumph indeed. She wished, too, to show Annie she was not so completely under control as she fancied; that she, too, could act with the spirit of a girl of fashion; and to choose St. Eval, and succeed—charm him to her side—force him to pay her attentions which no other received, would, indeed, prove to her fashionable companions that she was not so entirely governed by her mother, so very simple and spiritless as they supposed. Her power should do that which all had attempted in vain. Her cheek glowed, her heart burned with the bright hope of expected triumph, and when she at length sunk to sleep, it was to dream of St. Eval at her feet.
Oh! were the counsels, the example, the appeal of her mother all forgotten? Was this a mother’s recompense? Alas! alas!
Numerous were the cards and invitations now left at Mr. Hamilton’s door; and the world, in its most tempting form, was indeed spread before Caroline, although, perhaps, compared with the constant routine of pleasure pursued by some young ladies who attend two or three assemblies each of the six nights out of the seven, her life could scarcely be called gay. Mr. Hamilton had drawn a line, and, difficult as it was to keep, he adhered to his resolution, notwithstanding the entreaties of his friends, and very often those of his daughter. A dinner-party and a ball he would sometimes permit Caroline to attend in one day, but the flying from house to house, to taste of every pleasure offered, he never would allow. Nor did he or any member of his family ever attend the Opera on Saturday night, however great might be the attractions. To Emmeline this was a great privation, as poetry and music had ever been her chief delights, and the loss of even one night’s enjoyment was felt severely; but she acquiesced without a murmur, appreciating the truth of her father’s remark, that it was impossible to pay attention to the Sabbath duties when the previous evening had been thus employed. She knew, too, how difficult it was to attend to her