it, Mr. Marter, from the pulpit underneath, sent forth
a significant reprimand to the conscience of a particular
culprit of his congregation, in the form of a solemn
cough. Emilia had to remain unenlightened, and
she proceeded to build on her previous assumption;
doing the whispering easily and sweetly; in the prettiest
way from her tongue’s tip, with her chin lifted
up; and sending the vowels on a prolonged hushed breath,
that seemed to print them on the hearing far more
distinctly than a volume of sound. Wilfrid fell
back on monosyllables. He could not bring his
mouth to utter flinty negatives, so it appeared that
he assented; and then his better nature abused him
for deluding her. He grew utterly ashamed of
his aimless selfish double-dealing. “Can
it be?” he questioned his own mind, and listened
greedily to any mental confirmations of surpassing
excellence in her, that the world might possibly acknowledge.
Having, with great zeal, created a set of circumstances,
he cursed them heartily, after the fashion of little
people. He grew resigned to abandon Lady Charlotte,
and to give his name to this subduing girl; but a
comfortable quieting sensation came over him, at the
thought that his filial duty stood in the way.
His father, he knew, was anxious for him to marry into
a noble family—incomprehensibly anxious
to have the affair settled; and, as two or three scenes
rose in his mind, Wilfrid perceived that the obstacle
to his present fancy was his father.
As clearly as he could, with the dread of the preacher’s
admonishing cough before him, Wilfrid stated the case
to Emilia; saying that he loved her with his whole
heart; but that the truth was, his father was not in
a condition of health to bear contradiction to his
wishes, and would, he was sure, be absolutely opposed
to their union. He brought on himself another
reprimand from Mr. Marter, in seeking to propitiate
Emilia’s reason to comprehend the position rightly;
and could add little more to the fact he had spoken,
than that his father had other views, which it would
require time to combat.
Emilia listened attentively, replying with a flying
glance to the squeeze of his hand. He was astonished
to see her so little disconcerted. But now the
gradual fall of Mr. Marter’s voice gave them
“My lover?” breathed Emilia, hurriedly
and eagerly; questioning with eye and tone.
“My darling!” returned Wilfrid.
She sat down to the organ with a smile. He was
careful to retreat before the conclusion of the service;
somewhat chagrined by his success. That smile
of hers was inexplicable to him.