“Oh! I don’t like him at all!” exclaimed Cornelia, shuddering again.
Lest she should be suspected of a wilful misstatement, it may be as well to show how it might happen that she should deceive herself in the matter. Such likes and dislikes as she had heretofore felt could one and all have been paraphrased as a more or less agreeable state of mind, induced by the sight or thought of such and such an individual. She had never conceived the possibility that a vital affection could take its origin in aversion and fear, and grow strong through turmoil, passion, and suffering. As a matter of course, she estimated her feeling toward Bressant by the only gauge she had, and with no reference to the fact that it was a wholly inadequate one.
The majority of the impressions she had received of him could not certainly be called pleasant; and that he was continually in her thoughts; that every thing she heard or saw connected itself, in one way or another, with him; that he bore a possible part in many of her imaginations of the future—these were factors she did not take into account, because ignorant of their significance. The conclusion that she did not like him was therefore a legitimate one, according to the light she had.
Whatever Sophie may have thought of Cornelia’s answer, she said no more, but lay in reverie, opening and shutting her scissors in an objectless manner, until Cornelia’s voice flowed forth again.
“Isn’t it a pity he wasn’t a nice, jolly, society fellow? it would have been such fun this winter! As it is, I don’t suppose we shall be able to do so much even as if we were alone.”
“From something papa said the other day, I think he’d like to try and make Mr. Bressant more of a society fellow; perhaps it would wear away that coldness and hardness you speak of.”
“What I teach him the arts and pleasures of fashionable life?” exclaimed Cornelia, laughing. “Dear me! I’d no more think of trying to teach that great big thing any thing than—any thing!”
“But you can make him go to Abbie’s party, if you are to be there yourself, and then, if you don’t want to instruct him, you can give him to some one who isn’t afraid of him, and—have Bill Reynolds all to yourself.”
Cornelia laughed and pouted, and told Sophie she was mean; but probably felt it a relief to have poor Bill’s name introduced, he being so palpably hors de combat.
“It would be pretty good fun, after all—walking round on the arm of that great, tall, broad-shouldered creature, and telling him how to behave! I believe I will try it!” and she straightened herself up with a very valiant air.
“It will be your last chance, remember!” said Sophie, looking up with a deep smile in her eyes. “I promised papa that when I was well I’d take charge of Mr. Bressant myself!”