“That is my calling, to the letter. Were all others as clever, the trade would certainly cease.—Go, bring the lady.”
The Alderman, who probably saw the necessity of making some explanation to his niece, and who, it would seem, fully understood the positive character of his companion, no longer hesitated; but, first casting a suspicious glance out of the still open window he left the room.
“—Alack, what heinous sin is it in me To be ashamed, to be my father’s child! But though I am a daughter to his blood I am not to his manners.—”
Merchant of Venice.
The moment the stranger was again alone, the entire expression of his countenance underwent a change. The reckless and bold expression deserted his eye, which once more became soft, if not pensive, as it wandered over the different elegant objects that served to amuse the leisure of la belle Barberie. He arose, and touched the strings of a lute, and then, like Fear, started back, as if recoiling at the sound he had made. All recollection of the object of his visit was evidently forgotten, in a new and livelier interest; and had there been one to watch his movements, the last motive imputed to his presence would probably have been the one that was true. There was so little of that vulgar and common character, which is usually seen in men of his pursuit, in the gentle aspect and subdued air of his fine features, that it might be fancied he was thus singularly endowed by nature, in order that deception might triumph, if there were moments when a disregard of opinion was seen in his demeanor, it rather appeared assumed than easy; and even when most disposed to display lawless indifference to the ordinary regulations of society, in his interview with the Alderman, it had been blended with a reserve of manner that was strangely in contrast with his humor.
On the other hand, it were idle to say that Alida de Barberie had no unpleasant suspicions concerning the character of her uncle’s guest. That baneful influence, which necessarily exerts itself near an irresponsible power, coupled with the natural indifference with which the principal regards the dependant, had caused the English Ministry to fill too many of their posts of honor and profit, in the colonies, with needy and dissolute men of rank, or of high political connexions at home. The Province of New-York had, in this respect, been particularly unfortunate. The gift of it by Charles to his brother and successor, had left it without the protection of those charters and other privileges that had been granted to most of the governments of America. The connexion with the crown was direct, and, for a long period, the majority of the inhabitants were considered as of a different race, and of course as of one less to be considered, than that of their conquerors. Such was the laxity of the times on the subject of