“My own Emilia! Sandra! listen to me: promise me not to seek this interview.”
“Will you always love me as much?” Emilia bargained.
“Yes, yes; I never vary. It is my love for you that begs you.”
Emilia fell into a chair and propped her head behind both hands, tapping the floor briskly with her feet. Georgiana watched the conflict going on. To decide it promptly, she said: “And not only shall I love you thrice as well, but my brother Merthyr, whom you call your friend—he will—he cannot love you better; but he will feel you to be worthy the best love he can give. There is a heart, you simple girl! He loves you, and has never shown any of the pain your conduct has given him. When I say he loves you, I tell you his one weakness—the only one I have discovered. And judge whether, he has shown want of self-control while you were dying for another. Did he attempt to thwart you? No; to strengthen you; and never once to turn your attention to himself. That is love. Now, think of what anguish you have made him pass through: and think whether you have ever witnessed an alteration of kindness in his face toward you. Even now, when he had the hope that you were cured of your foolish fruitless affection for a man who merely played with you, and cannot give up the habit, even now he hides what he feels—”
So far Emilia let her speak without interruption; but gradually awakening to the meaning of the words:—
“For me?” she cried.
“Yes; for you.”
“The same sort of love as Wilfrid feels?”
“By no means the same sort; but the love of man for woman.”
“And he saw me when I was that wretched heap? And he knows everything! and loves me. He has never kissed me.”
“Does that miserable test—?” Georgiana was asking.
“Pardon, pardon,” said Emilia penitently; “I know that is almost nothing, now. I am not a child. I spoke from a sudden feeling. For if he loves me, how—! Oh, Merthyr! what a little creature I seem. I cannot understand it. I lose a brother. And he was such a certainty to me. What did he love—what did he love, that night he found me on the pier? I looked like a creature picked off a mud-bank. I felt like a worm, and miserably abandoned, I was a shameful sight. Oh! how can I look on Merthyr’s face again?”
In these interjections Georgiana did not observe the proper humility and abject gratitude of a young person who had heard that she was selected by a prince of the earth. A sort of ‘Eastern handmaid’ prostration, with joined hands, and, above all things, a closed mouth, the lady desired. She half regretted the revelation she had made; and to be sure at once that she had reaped some practical good, she said: “I need scarce ask you whether you have come to a right decision upon that other question.”
“To see Wilfrid?” said Emilia. She appeared to pause musingly, and then turned to Georgiana, showing happy features; “Yes: I shall see him. I must see him. Let him know he is to come immediately.”