“You will come over in the morning, Cornelia?”
“I cannot,” answered Cornelia. “After breakfast, I have to go to Richmond Hill with a message from my mother to Mrs. Adams; and though father will drive me there I shall most likely have to walk home. But I will come to you in the afternoon.”
“Very well. Then in the morning I will go to Aunt Angelica’s with the winders. I shall then have some news to tell you in the afternoon—that is, if the town makes us any.”
And George, hearing these words, could hardly control his delight. For he was one of Mrs. Adams’ favourites, and so much at home in her house that he could visit her at any hour of the day without a ceremonious invitation. And it immediately struck him that his mother had often desired to know how Mrs. Adams fed her swans, and also that she had wished for some seeds from her laburnum trees. These things would make a valid excuse for an early call, as Mrs. Adams might naturally suppose he was on his way to Hyde Manor.
He took a merry leave of Arenta, and with his mind full of this plan, went directly to his rooms. The Belvedere Club was this night, impossible to him. After the angelic Cornelia, he could not take into his consciousness the hideous Marat, and the savage orgies of the French Revolution. Such a thought transference would be an impossible profanation. Indeed, he could consider no other thing, but the miraculous fact, that Cornelia was going to Mrs. Adams’; and that it was quite within his power to meet her there.
“’Tis my destiny! ’Tis my happy destiny to love her!” he said softly to himself. “Such an adorable girl! Such a ravishing beauty is not elsewhere on this earth!” And he was not conscious of any exaggeration in such language. Nor was there. He was young, he was rich, he had no business to consider, no sorrow to sober him, no care of any kind to mingle with the rapturous thoughts which his transported imagination and his captivated heart blended with the image of Cornelia.
“I shall tell Mrs. Adams how far gone in love I am,” he continued. “She is herself set on that clever little husband of hers; and ’tis said, theirs was a love match, beyond all speculation. I shall say to her, ‘Help me, madame, to an opportunity’; and I think she will not refuse. As for my father, I heard him this morning with as much patience as any Christian could do; but I am resolved to marry Cornelia. I will not give her up; not for an earldom! not for a dukedom! not for the crown of England!”
And to these thoughts he flung off, with a kind of passion, his coat and vest. The action was but the affirmation of his resolve, a materialization of his will. To have used an oath in connection with Cornelia would have offended him; but this passionate action asserted with equal emphasis his unalterable resolve. A tender, gallant, courageous spirit possessed him. He was carried away by the feelings it inspired: and nobly so, for alas for that man who professes to be in love and is not carried away by his feelings; in such case, he has no feelings worth speaking of!