“Cannot you guess, Doctor” asked Lady Emily.
“Guess! No, ’pon my soul! I defy any man to guess what could tempt a woman to refuse five and twenty thousand a year; unless, indeed, she has something higher in view, and even then she should be pretty sure of her mark. But I suppose, because Miss Adelaide has got a Duke, she thinks she must have one too. I suppose that’s the story; but I can tell her Dukes are not so plenty; and she’s by no means so fine a woman as her sister, and her market’s spoilt, or I’m much mistaken. What man in his senses would ever ask a woman who had been such an idiot as to refuse five and twenty thousand a year?”
“I see, Doctor, you are quite a novice in the tender passion. Cannot you make allowance for it: a young lady’s not being in love?”
“In what?” demanded the Doctor.
“In love,” repeated Lady Emily.
“Love! Bah—nonsense—no mortal in their senses ever thinks of such stuff now.”
“Then you think love and madness are one and the same thing, it seems?”
“I think the man or woman who could let their love stand in the way of five and twenty thousand a year is the next thing to being mad,” said the Doctor warmly; “and in this case I can see no difference.”
“But you’ll allow there are some sorts of love that may be indulged without casting any shade upon the understanding?”
“I really can’t tell what your Ladyship means,” said the Doctor impatiently.
“I mean, for example, the love one may feel towards a turtle, such as we had lately.”
“That’s quite a different thing,” interrupted the Doctor.
“Pardon me, but whatever the consequence may be, the effects in both cases were very similar, as exemplified in yourself. Pray, what difference did it make to your friends, who were deprived of your society, whether you spent your time in walking with ’even step, and musing gait,’ before your Dulcinea’s window or the turtle’s cistern?—whether you were engrossed in composing a sonnet to your mistress’s eyebrow, or in contriving a new method of heightening the enjoyments of calipash? —whether you expatiated with greater rapture on the charms of a white skin or green fat?—whether you were most devoted to a languishing or a lively beauty?—whether——”
“’Pon my honour, Lady Emily, I really—I—I can’t conceive what it is you mean. There’s a time for everything; and I’m sure nobody but yourself would ever have thought of bringing in a turtle to a conversation upon marriage.”
“On the contrary, Doctor, I thought it had been upon love; and I was endeavouring to convince you that even the wisest of men may be susceptible of certain tender emotions towards a beloved object.”
“You’ll never convince me that any but a fool can be in love,” cried the Doctor, his visage assuming a darker purple as the argument advanced.
“Then you must rank Lord Glenallan, with his five and twenty thousand a year, amongst the number, for he is desperately in love, I assure you.”