Mary was now aware of the folly of talking reason to her mother, and remained silent; thankful for the present peace this event would ensure her, and almost tempted to wish that Lord Glenallan’s doom might not speedily be decided.
“It seems it is as proper
to our age
To cast beyond ourselves in our opinions,
As it is common for the younger sort
To lack discretion.”
LORD LINDORE and Colonel Lennox has been boyish acquaintances, and a sort of superficial, intimacy was soon established between them, which served as the ostensible cause of his frequent visits at Beech Park. But to Mary, who was more alive to the difference of their characters and sentiments than any other member of the family, this appeared very improbable, and she could not help suspecting that love for the sister, rather than friendship for the brother, was the real motive by which he was actuated. In half jesting manner she mentioned her suspicions to Lady Emily, who treated the idea with her usual ridicule.
“I really could not have supposed you so extremely missy-ish, Mary,” said she, “as to imagine that because two people like each other’s society, and talk and laugh together a little more than usual, that the must needs be in love! I believe Charles Lennox loves me much the same as he did eleven years ago, when I was a little wretch that used to pull his hair and spoil his watch. And as for me, you know that I consider myself quite as an old woman—at least as a married one; and he is perfectly au fait to my engagement with Edward. I have even shown him his picture and some of his letters.”
Mary looked incredulous.
“You may think as you please, but I tell you it is so. In my situation I should scorn to have Colonel Lennox, or anybody else, in love with me. As to his liking to talk to me, pray who else can he talk to? Adelaide would sometimes condescend indeed; but he won’t be condescended to, that’s clear, not even by a Duchess. With what mock humility he meets her airs! how I adore him for it! Then you are such a pillar of ice!—so shy and unsociable when he is present!—and, by-the-bye, if I did not despise recrimination as the pis aller of all conscious Misses, I would say you are much more the object of his attention, at least, than I am. Several times I have caught him looking very earnestly at you, when, by the laws of good breeding, his eyes ought to have been fixed exclusively upon me; and—”
“Pshaw!” interrupted Mary, colouring, “that is mere absence—nothing to the purpose—or perhaps,” forcing a smile, “he may be trying to love me!”
Mary thought of her poor old friend, as she said this, with bitterness of heart. It was long since she had seen her; and when she had last inquired for her, her son had said he did not think her well, with a look Mary could not misunderstand. She had heard him make an appointment with Lord Lindore for the following day, and she took the opportunity of his certain absence to visit his mother. Mrs. Lennox, indeed, looked ill, and seemed more than usually depressed. She welcomed Mary with her usual tenderness, but even her presence seemed to fail of inspiring her with gladness.