“Extremely beautiful, indeed, ma’am,” replied I, glad at last that her ladyship allowed me to speak a word.
“Emma, my dear, you look pale, you must go out into the air. Go, children, put your bonnets on and take a turn in the garden, when the carriage comes round I will send for you.”
The young ladies quitted the room. “Nice innocent girls, Mr Newland; but you are not partial to blondes, I believe?”
“Indeed, Lady Maelstrom, I infinitely prefer the blonde to the brunette.”
“That proves your taste, Mr Newland. The Fairfaxes are of a very old family—Saxon, Mr Newland. Fair-fax is Saxon for light hair. Is it not remarkable that they should be blondes to this day? Pure blood, Mr Newland. You, of course, have heard of General Fairfax, in the time of Cromwell. He was their direct ancestor—an excellent family and highly connected, Mr Newland. You are aware that they are my nieces. My sister married Mr Fairfax.”
I paid the Misses Fairfax the compliments which I thought they really deserved, for they were very pretty amiable girls, and required no puffing on the part of her ladyship; and then I commenced. “Your ladyship has expressed such kind wishes towards me, that I cannot be sufficiently grateful, but, perhaps, your ladyship may think me romantic, I am resolved never to marry, except for love.”
“A very excellent resolve, Mr Newland; there are few young men who care about love now-a-days, but I consider that love is a great security for happiness in the wedded state.”
“True, madam, and what can be more delightful than a first attachment? I appeal to your ladyship, was not your first attachment the most delightful—are not the reminiscences most lasting—do you not, even now, call to mind those halcyon days when love was all and every thing?”
“My days of romance are long past, Mr Newland,” replied her ladyship; “indeed I never had much romance in my composition. I married Lord Maelstrom for the connection, and I loved him pretty well, that is, soberly, Mr Newland. I mean, I loved him quite enough to marry him, and to obey my parents, that is all.”
“But, my dear Lady Maelstrom, I did not refer to your marriage with his lordship; I referred to your first love.”
“My first love, Mr Newland; pray what do you mean?” replied her ladyship, looking very hard at me.
“Your ladyship need not be ashamed of it. Our hearts are not in our own keeping, nor can we always control our passions. I have but to mention the name of Warrender.”
“Warrender!” shrieked her ladyship. “Pray, Mr Newland,” continued her ladyship, recovering herself, “who gave you that piece of information?”
“My dear Lady Maelstrom, pray do not be displeased with me, but I am very particularly interested in this affair. Your love for Mr Warrender, long before your marriage, is well known to me; and it is to that love, to which I referred, when I asked you if it was not most delightful.”