There had been no meeting since the one decisive interview just before she had left her original home, and there were many more bitter feelings than could be easily assuaged in looking forward to a renewal of intercourse, when all too late, she knew that she should soon be no longer needed by her sister. She tried to feel it all just retribution, she tried to rejoice in Ermine’s coming happiness; she tried to believe that the sight of Harry Beauchamp, as a married man, would be the best cure for her; she blamed and struggled with herself: and after all, her distress was wasted, Harry Beauchamp had not chosen to come home with his cousin, who took his unwillingness to miss a hunting-day rather angrily and scornfully. Alison put her private interpretation on the refusal, and held aloof, while Colin owned to Ermine his vexation and surprise at the displeasure that Harry Beauchamp maintained against his old schoolfellow, and his absolute refusal to listen to any arguments as to his innocence.
This seemed to have been Colin’s prominent interest in his expedition to Bath; the particulars of the wedding were less easily drawn from him. The bride had indeed been perfection, all was charming wherever she brought her ready grace and sweetness, and she had gratified the Colonel by her affectionate messages to Ermine, and her evident intention to make all straight between Lord Keith and his daughter Mary. But the Clare relations had not made a favourable impression; the favourite blind uncle had not been present, in spite of Bessie’s boast, and it was suspected that Alick had not chosen to forward his coming. Alick had devolved the office of giving his sister away upon the Colonel, as her guardian, and had altogether comported himself with more than his usual lazy irony, especially towards the Clare cousinhood, who constantly buzzed round him, and received his rebuffs as delightful jests and compliments, making the Colonel wonder all the more at the perfect good taste and good breeding of his new sister-in-law, who had spent among them all the most critical years of her life.
She had been much amused with the prospectus of the “Journal of Female Industry,” but she sent word to Rachel that she advised her not to publish any list of subscribers—the vague was far more impressive than the certain. The first number must be sent to her at Paris, and trust her for spreading its fame!
The Colonel did not add to his message her recommendation that the frontispiece should represent the Spinster’s Needles, with the rescue of Don as the type of female heroism. Nor did he tell how carefully he had questioned both her and Rachel as to the date of that interesting adventure.
“The counterfeit presentment.”—Hamlet.