Emilia gave him her hand, and held up her mouth to kiss Georgiana, but no cheek was bent forward for the salute. The girl passed from among them, and then Merthyr said to his sister: “What is the matter?”
“Surely, Merthyr, you should not be at a loss,” she answered, in a somewhat unusual tone, that was half irony.
Merthyr studied her face. Alone with her, he said: “I could almost suppose that she has seen this man.”
Georgiana smiled sadly. “I have not seen him, dear; and she has not told me so.”
“You think it was so?”
“I can imagine it just possible.”
“What! while we were out and had left her! He must be mad!”
“Not necessarily mad, unless to be without principle is to be mad.”
“Mad, or graduating for a Spanish comedie d’intrigue,” said Merthyr. “What on earth can he mean by it? If he must see her, let him come here. But to dog a carriage at midnight, and to prefer to act startling surprises!—one can’t help thinking that he delights in being a stage-hero.”
Georgiana’s: “If he looks on her as a stage-heroine?” was unheeded, and he pursued: “She must leave England at once,” and stated certain arrangements that were immediately to be made.
“You will not give up this task you have imposed on yourself?” she said.
“To do what?”
She could have answered: “To make this unsatisfactory creature love you;” but her words were, “To civilize this little savage.”
Merthyr was bright in a moment: “I don’t give up till I see failure.”
“Is it not possible, dear, to be dangerously blind?” urged Georgiana.
“Keep to the particular case,” he returned; “and don’t tempt me into your woman’s snare of a generalization. It’s possible, of course, to be one-ideaed and obstinate. But I have not yet seen your savage guilty of a deceit. Her heart has been stirred, and her heart, as you may judge, has force enough to be constant, though none can deny that it has been roughly proved.”
“For which you like her better?” said Georgiana, herself brightening.
“For which I like her better,” he replied, and smiled, perfectly armed.
“Oh! is it because I am a woman that I do not understand this sort of friendship?” cried Georgiana. “And from you, Merthyr, to a girl such as she is! Me she satisfies less and less. You speak of force of heart, as if it were manifested in an abandonment of personal will.”
“No, my darling, but in the strong conception of a passion.”
“Yes; if she had discriminated, and fixed upon a worthy object!”
“That,” rejoined Merthyr, “is akin to the doctrine of justification by success.”
“You seek to foil me with sophisms,” said Georgiana, warming. “A woman— even a girl—should remember what is due to herself. You are attracted by a passionate nature—I mean, men are.”
“The general instance,” assented Merthyr.