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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 472 pages of information about Marriage.

CHAPTER XIX.

“Qu’on vante en lui la foi, l’honneur, la probite;
Qu’on prise sa candeur et sa civilite;
Qu’il soit doux, complaisant, oflicieux, sincere: 
On Ie veut, j’y souscris, et suis pret a me taire.”

BOILEAU.

WHEN Mary entered the drawing-room she found herself, without knowing how, by the side of Mr. Downe Wright.  At dinner it was the same; and in short it seemed an understood thing that they were to be constantly together.

There was something so gentle and unassuming in his manner that, almost provoked as she was by the folly of his proceedings, she found it impossible to resent it by her behaviour towards him; and indeed, without being guilty of actual rudeness, of which she was incapable, it would not have been easy to have made him comprehend the nature of her sentiments.  He appeared perfectly satisfied with the toleration he met with; and, compared to Adelaide’s disdainful glances, and Lady Emily’s biting sarcasms, Mary’s gentleness and civility might well be mistaken for encouragement.  But even under the exhilarating influence of hope and high spirits his conversation was so insipid and commonplace, that Mary found it a relief to turn even to Dr. Redgill.  It was evident the Doctor was aware of what was going on, for he regarded her with that increased respect due to the future mistress of a splendid establishment.  Between the courses he made some complimentary allusions to Highland mutton and red deer; and he even carried his attentions so far as to whisper, at the very first mouthful, that les cotellettes de saumon were superb, when he had never been known to commend anything to another until he had fully discussed it himself.  On the opposite side of the table sat Adelaide and the Duke of Altamont, the latter looking still more heavy and inanimate than ever.  The operation of eating over, he seemed unable to keep himself awake, and every now and then yielded to a gentle slumber, from which, however, he was instantly recalled at the sound of Adelaide’s voice, when he exclaimed, “Ah!  Charming—­very charming, ah!”—­Lady Emily looked from them as she hummed some part of Dryden’s Ode—­

   “Aloft in awful state
    The godlike hero sate, etc
    The lovely Thais by his side,
    Look’d like a blooming Eastern bride.”

Then, as his Grace closed his eyes, and his head sank on his shoulder—­

   “With ravish’d ears
    The monarch hears,
    Assumes the god,
    Affects to nod.”

Lady Juliana, who would have been highly incensed had she suspected the application of the words, was so unconscious of it as to join occasionally in singing them, to Mary’s great confusion and Adelaide’s manifest displeasure.

When they returned to the drawing-room, “Heavens!  Adelaide,” exclaimed her cousin, in an affected manner, “what are you made of?  Semele herself was but a mere cinder-wench to you!  How can you stand such a Jupiter—­and not scorched! not even singed, I protest!” pretending to examine her all over.  “I vow I trembled at your temerity—­your familiarity with the imperial nod was fearful.  I every instant expected to see you turned into a live coal.”

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