The voice which I did more esteem
Than music in her sweetest key—
Those eyes which unto me did seem
More comfortable than the day—
Those now by me, as they have been,
Shall never more be heard or seen.
In suspense and impatience, Fitzjocelyn awaited the end of his father’s breakfast, that he might hasten to learn what ailed Mary. The post came in, vexing him at first merely as an additional delay, but presently a sound of dissatisfaction attracted his notice to the foreign air of two envelopes which had been forwarded from home.
‘Hem!’ said the Earl, gravely, ’I am afraid this fellow Ponsonby will give us some trouble.’
‘Then Mary had heard from him!’ cried Louis. ’She was keeping it from me, not to spoil the day. I must go to her this moment—’but pausing again, ‘What is it? He cannot have had my letter!’
’No, but he seems to have anticipated it. Puffed up as they are about these speculations, he imagines me to have brought Mary home for no purpose but to repair our fortunes; and informs me that, in the event of your marriage, she will receive not a farthing beyond her mother’s settlements. I am much obliged! It is all I ever thought you would receive; and but for me, it would have been in the bottom of some mine long ago! Do you wish to see what he says?’
Louis caught up the missive. It was the letter of a very angry man, too violent to retain the cold formality which he tried to assume. ’He was beholden to his lordship for his solicitude about his daughter. It was of a piece with other assistance formerly rendered to him in his domestic arrangements, for which he was equally obliged. He was happy to inform his lordship that, in this instance, his precautions had been uncalled for; and referred him to a letter which he would receive from Mr. Dynevor by the same mail, for an explanation of the circumstances to which he referred. He had been informed, by undoubted authority, that Lord Fitzjocelyn had done his daughter the honour of soliciting her hand. It might console his lordship to learn that, should the union take place, the whole of his property would be secured to Mrs. Ponsonby, and his daughter’s sole fortune would be that which she inherited by her mother’s marriage settlements. Possibly this intelligence might lead to a cessation of these flattering attentions.’
’Mrs. Ponsonby! he can mention her in the same sentence with Mary’s mother!’ said the Earl.
Louis turned pale as he read, and scarcely breathed as he looked up at his father, dreading that he might so resent the studied affronts as to wish to break off the connexion, and that he might have him likewise to contend with; but on that score he was set at rest. The Earl replied to his exclamation of angry dismay, ’It is little more than I looked for. It is not the first letter I have had from him. I find he has some just cause for offence. The marriage is less disgraceful than I had been led to believe. Here is Oliver Dynevor’s testimony.’