“Oh, Valletort, Valletort! this is, indeed, all that was wanting to complete my happiness. My sister Clara I adore with all the affection of my nature; I love her better than my own life, which is wrapped up in hers. She is an angel in disposition,—all that is dear, tender, and affectionate,—all that is gentle and lovely in woman; one whose welfare is dearer far to me than my own, and without whose presence I could not live. Valletort, that prize,—that treasure, that dearer half of myself, is yours,—yours for ever. I have long wished you should love, each other, and I felt, when you met, you would. If I have hitherto forborne from expressing this fondest wish of my heart, it has been from delicacy—from a natural fear of compromising the purity of my adored Clara. Now, however, you have confessed yourself interested, by a description that falls far short of the true peril of that dear girl, I can no longer disguise my gratification and delight. Valletort,” he concluded, impressively, “there is no other man on earth to whom I would say so much; but you were formed for each other, and you will, you must, be the husband of my sister.”
If the youthful and affectionate De Haldimar was happy, Sir Everard was no less so; for already, with the enthusiasm of a young man of twenty, he painted to himself the entire fruition of those dreams of happiness that had so long been familiarised to his imagination. One doubt alone crossed his mind.
“But if your sister should have decided differently, Charles,” he at length remarked, as he gently quitted the embrace of his friend: “who knows if her heart may not already throb for another; and even if not, it is possible she may judge me far less flatteringly than you do.”
“Valletort, your fears are groundless. Having admitted thus far, I will even go farther, and add, you have been the subject of one of my letters to Clara, who, in her turn, ’confesses a strong interest in one of whom she has heard so much.’ She writes playfully, of course, but it is quite evident to me she is prepared to like you.”
“Indeed! But, Charles, liking is many degrees removed you know from loving; besides, I understand there are two or three handsome and accomplished fellows among the garrison of Michilimackinac, and your sister’s visit to her cousin may not have been paid altogether with impunity.”
“Think not thus meanly of Clara’s understanding, Valletort. There must be something more than mere beauty and accomplishment to fix the heart of my sister. The dark eyed and elegant Baynton, and the musical and sonnetteering Middleton, to whom you, doubtless, allude, are very excellent fellows in their way; but handsome and accomplished as they are, they are not exactly the men to please Clara de Haldimar.”
“But, my dear Charles, you forget also any little merit of my own is doubly enhanced in your eyes, by the sincerity of the friendship subsisting between us; your sister may think very differently.”