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humbled and trembling before her! How great a change had been wrought by the “ might, the majesty of loveliness !” Both the lady and her mother felt a relenting kindness moisten their eyes, and soften their hearts.
“May I not speak to you for a moment alone, Miss Lindsay ?” he said, imploringly fixing his fine eyes upon Augusta. “ Dear madam !” he exclaimed, going up to Mrs. Lindsay, and taking her hand, “ you have a kind, a gentle heart; beauty is not all that Miss Lindsay has inherited from you — you, who must often have driven men mad, you can pity me; grant me a few minutes' private interview with Miss Lindsay.-Oh! if you have a son !.......”
“I have no son,” said Mrs. Lindsay, much moved.
“Well then, let me plead my cause a moment; and if I succeed, you shall have a son in me. The presence even of one so kind and good as you are, chills my tongue. Oh, do be merciful! I plead for life-existence. I cannot exist if I am unsuccessful now.”
There was truth in that assertion. Well, thought Mrs. Lindsay, perhaps Augusta may as well accept him ; he is brother to a baronet, who, being a fox-hunter, stands a fair chance of a broken neck; he is by far the most desperately in love with her of all her suitors. What an altered man! I will just let him speak to her alone for five minutes ; if there should be any thing odd in his manner, she knows the other two are in the conservatory, and can call out to them. Poor fellow ! he is indeed in love! “ Captain Dashington, I cannot refuse you five minutes' conference with my daughter ; your evident agitation would make it cruel to deny you an opportunity of expressing your feelings. Be guided entirely by your own heart, dearest,” she said, embracing her daughter, and added, in a hasty whisper, “ If his manner grows odd, call out for the other two, and let your answer be regulated by circumstances—his circumstances, I mean.”
She was scarcely gone, when Dashington rushed forward, and, throwing himself on both
his knees, caught Augusta's hands, and, bursting into tears, exclaimed, “I cannot live without you, Augusta! not an hour longer can I exist without your promise to be mine!”
“ You agitate—you alarm me,” said Au. gusta, much flattered by this proof of the maddening power of her charms.
“ Forgive me! I am well nigh mad myself. I have heard of rivals here, there, every where. Augusta ! divine Augusta! Who loves you as I do? Who deserves you as I do? Say you will be mine — only say it.-To-morrow, with your uncle, I will enter on all discussions of business. But say to-day, Ferdinand, I will be yours !'”
“ I cannot be so hurried—I must reflect.”
“ Be it so, madam ; and while you reflect I will act. Either say you will be mine today; nay, sign it- sign your promise with your own sweet name, that I may have something to lire upon — something to support me -something to look forward to—or hear, tomorrow, that the man who could not exist without you is a corpse !"
Augusta shuddered. She looked at the handsome and elegant young guardsman in tears at her feet; she thought “none other loves me thus ! I shall be his death !” She hid her face in her hands.
“You cannot look at me and doom me to death—angel of mercy! you cannot do it. I would not agitate you, loveliest ; say you will be mine, and I will be calm. Here, beloved one !”—and he led her to the table " write a few sweet words”-and he put the pen into her hand. “Say, I promise, Ferdinand Dashington, to be your wife within six weeks from this time, and sign your own dear name, ' Augusta Lindsay. Angel ! if you will, I can live—I can positively exist upon those words.” Augusta took the pen ; Dashington bent over her, pale and trembling with eagerness. “Write, loveliest,” he said.
"I cannot — it is unmaidenly, unfeminine, in such haste, unadvised, even my mother not consulted.”
“Then you doom me to death ? I swear - "and he knelt down before her.
“ No, no!” and she took the pen - but started; for a cry of “ Fire !” was heard from the conservatory; flame and smoke were seen through the glass-panes of the door; plants were knocked down, shouts and cries heard, and York Sparkleton and Sir Peter Riskwell rushed into the room, in time to see Dashington on his knees before Augusta.
In a moment, the whole house was in a turmoil. Sir Peter Riskwell, who had been up all night in the House of Commons, had, on his entering the conservatory, seated himself on a bench behind a large orange-tree, and fallen fast asleep. There he had remained, unseen by Sparkleton, who, being very unobservant, although he was struck with the extreme heat of the conservatory, did not attempt to ascertain its cause ; but, entirely engrossed by the difficult task of re-arranging the calf of his leg, remained perfectly absorbed by his occupation, until the iron pipes, which had been carelessly overheated, grew red, and set fire to the wooden framework, and flames and smoke burst forth at once. Then, to his