From that day Colonel Lennox’s visits insensibly increased in length and number; but Lady Emily seemed to appropriate them entirely to herself; and certainly all the flow of his conversation, the brilliancy of his wit, were directed to her; but Mary could not but be conscious that his looks were much oftener riveted on herself, and if his attentions were not such as to attract general observation, they were such as she could not fail of perceiving and being unconsciously gratified by.
“How I admire Charles Lennox’s manner to you, Mary,” said her cousin, “after the awkward dilemma you were both in. It was no easy matter to know how to proceed; a vulgar-minded man would either have oppressed you with his attentions, or insulted you by his neglect, while he steers so gracefully free from either extreme; and I observe you are the only woman upon whom he designs to bestow les petits soins. How I despise a man who is ever on the watch to pick up every silly Miss’s fan or glove that she thinks it pretty to drop! No—the woman he loves, whether his mother or his wife, will always be distinguished by him, were she amongst queens and empresses, not by his silly vanity or vulgar fondness, but by his marked and gentlemanlike attentions towards her. In short, the best thing you can do is to make up your quarrel with him—take him for all in all—you won’t meet with such another— certainly not amongst your Highland lairds, by all that I can learn; and, by-the-bye, I do suspect he is now, as you say, trying to love you; and let him—you will be very well repaid if he succeeds.”
Mary’s heart swelled at the thoughts of submitting to such an indignity, especially as she was beginning to feel conscious that Colonel Lennox was not quite the object of indifference to her that he ought to be; but her cousin’s remarks only served to render her more distant and reserved to him than ever.
“What dangers ought’st
thou not to dread,
When Love, that’s blind, is by blind Fortune, led?”
AT length the long-looked for day arrived. The Duke of Altamont’s proposals were made in due form, and in due form accepted. Lady Juliana seemed now touching the pinnacle of earthly joy; for, next to being greatly married herself, her happiness centred in seeing her daughter at the head of a splendid establishment. Again visions of bliss hovered around her, and “Peers and Dukes and all their sweeping train” swam before her eyes, as she anticipated the brilliant results to herself from so noble an alliance; for self was still, as it had ever been, her ruling star, and her affection for her daughter was the mere result of vanity and ambition.