“That is what Art does for you.”
“Only by fits and starts now. Once I never thought of myself.”
There was a knock at the street-door, and she changed countenance. Presently there came a gentle tap at their own door.
“It is that woman,” said Emilia.
“I fancy it must be Lady Charlotte. You will not see her?”
Merthyr was anticipating a negative, but Emilia said, “Let her come in.”
She gave her hand to the lady, and was the less concerned of the two. Lady Charlotte turned away from her briskly.
“Georgey didn’t say anything of you in her letter, Merthyr; I am going up to her, but I wished to satisfy myself that you were in town, first:—to save half-a-minute, you see I anticipate the philosophic manly sneer. Is it really true that you are going to mix yourself up in this mad Italian business again? Now that you’re a man, my dear Merthyr, it seems almost inexcuseable—for a sensible Englishman!”
Lady Charlotte laughed, giving him her hand at the same time.
“Don’t you know I swore an oath?” Merthyr caught up her tone.
“Yes, but you never succeed. I complain that you never succeed. Of what use on earth are all your efforts if you never succeed?”
Emilia’s voice burst out:—
almen che i miei sospir sien quali
Spera ’l Tevero e ’l Arno,
E ‘l Po,—’”
Merthyr continued the ode, acting a similar fervour:—
provvide Natura al nostro stato
Quando dell’ Alpi schermo
Pose fra noi e la tedesca rabbis.”
“We are merely bondsmen to the re-establishment of the provisions of nature.”
“And we know we shall succeed!” said Emilia, permitting her antagonism to pass forth in irritable emphasis.
Lady Charlotte quickly left them, to run up to Georgiana. She was not long in the house. Emilia hung near Merthyr all day, and she was near him when the knock was heard which she could suppose to be Wilfrid’s, as it proved. Wilfrid was ushered in to Georgiana. Delicacy had prevented Merthyr from taking special notice to Emilia of Lady Charlotte’s visit, and he treated Wilfrid’s similarly, saying, “Georgey will send down word.”
“Only, don’t leave me till she does,” Emilia rejoined.
Her agitation laid her open to be misinterpreted. It was increased when she saw him take a book and sit in the armchair between two lighted candles, calmly careless of her. She did not actually define to herself that he should feel jealously, but his indifference was one extreme which provoked her instinct to imagine a necessity for the other. Word came from Georgiana, and Emilia moved to the door. “Remember, we dine half-an-hour earlier to-day, on account of the Cameron party,” was all that he uttered. Emilia made an effort to go. She felt herself as a ship sailing into perilous