“I confess I should like that my husband’s genius was at least as bright as my own,” said Mary, “and I can’t think there is anything unreasonable in that; or rather, I should say, were I a genius myself, I could better dispense with a certain portion of intellect in my husband; as it has been generally remarked that those who are largely endowed themselves can easier dispense with talents in their companions than others of more moderate endowments can do; but virtue and talents on the one side, virtue and tenderness on the other, I look upon as the principal ingredients in a happy union.”
“Well, I intend to be excessively happy; and yet, I don’t think Edward will ever find the longitude. And, as for my tenderness—humph!—as Lady Maclaughlan says; but as for you—I rather think you’re in some danger of turning into an Aunt Grizzy, with a long waist and large pockets, peppermint drops and powdered curls; but, whatever you do, for heaven’s sake let us have no more human sacrifices—if you do, I shall certainly appear at your wedding in sackcloth.” And this was all of comfort or advice that her Ladyship could bestow.
As Lady Emily was not a person who concealed either her own secrets or those of others, Colonel Lennox was not long of hearing from her what had passed, and of being made thoroughly acquainted with Mary’s sentiments on love and marriage. “Such a heart must be worth winning,” thought he; but he sighed to think that he had less chance for the prize than another. Independent of his narrow fortune, which, he was aware, would be an insuperable bar to obtaining Lady Juliana’s consent, Mary’s coldness and reserve towards him seemed to increase rather than diminish. Or if she sometimes gave way to the natural frankness and gaiety of her disposition before him, a word or look expressive of admiration on his part instantly recalled to her those painful ideas which had been for a moment forgot, and seemed to throw him at a greater distance than ever.
Colonel Lennox was too noble-minded himself to suppose for an instant that Mary actually felt dislike towards him because at the commencement of their acquaintance he had not done justice to her merits; but he was also aware that, until he had explained to her the nature of his sentiments, she must naturally regard his attentions with suspicion, and consider them rather as acts of duty towards his mother than as the spontaneous expression of his own attachment. He therefore, in the most simple and candid manner, laid open to her the secret of his heart, and in all the eloquence of real passion, poured forth those feelings of love and admiration with which she had unconsciously inspired him.
For a moment Mary’s distrust was overcome by the ardour of his address, and the open manly manner in which he had avowed the rise and progress of his attachment; and she yielded herself up to the delightful conviction of loving and being beloved.