Far different sounds than those of peace and praise awaited her return. Lady Juliana, apprised of this open act of rebellion, was in all the paroxysms incident to a little mind on discovering the impotence of its power. She rejected all attempts at reconciliation; raved about ingratitude and disobedience; declared her determination of sending Mary back to her vulgar Scotch relations one moment—the next protested she should never see those odious Methodists again; then she was to take her to France, and shut her up in a convent, etc., till, after uttering all the incoherences usual with ladies in a passion, she at last succeeded in raving herself into a fit of hysterics.
Poor Mary was deeply affected at this (to her) tremendous display of passion. She who had always been used to the mild placidity of Mrs. Douglas, and who had seen her face sometimes clouded with sorrow, but never deformed by anger-what a spectacle! To behold a parent subject to the degrading influence of an ungovernable temper! Her very soul sickened at the sight; and while she wept over her mother’s weakness, she prayed that the Power which stayed the ocean’s wave would mercifully vouchsafe to still the wilder tempests of human passion.
“Why, all delights are vain;
but that most vain,
Which, with pain purchased, doth inherit pain.”
IN addition to her mother’s implacable wrath and unceasing animadversion Mary found she was looked upon as a sort of alarming character by the whole family. Lord Courtland seemed afraid of being drawn into a religious controversy every time he addressed her. Dr. Redgill retreated at her approach and eyed her askance, as much as to say, “’Pon my honour, a young lady that can fly in her mother’s face about such a trifle as going to church is not very safe company.” And Adelaide shunned her more than ever, as if afraid of coming in contact with a professed Methodist. Lady Emily, however, remained staunch to her; and though she had her own private misgivings as to her cousin’s creed, she yet stoutly defended her from the charge of Methodism, and maintained that, in many respects, Mary was no better than her neighbours.
“Well, Mary,” cried she, as she entered her room one day with an air of exultation, “here is an opportunity for you to redeem your character. There,” throwing down a card, “is an invitation for you to a fancy ball.”
Mary’s heart bounded at the mention of a ball. She had never been at one, and it was pictured in her imagination in all the glowing colours with which youth and inexperience deck untried pleasures.
“Oh, how charming!” exclaimed she, with sparkling eyes, “how my aunts Becky and Bella will love to hear an account of a ball! And a fancy ball!—what is that?”
Lady Emily explained to her the nature of the entertainment, and Mary was in still greater raptures.