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Never had La Zelie sung more divinely, or looked more witchingly, than in the naïve and feminine part of “ Amina,” on the evening of Grunter's disaster. Mr. Lindsay, always considerate, had requested Mr. Fitzcribb not to alarm, by any allusion to the “accident,” the ladies of the party; and therefore, quite unconscious of all that had passed, they sat enjoying to rapture La Zelie's matchless personation of her part. The whole party were to sup at Mr. Lindsay's; but, as soon as the play was over, Julian and De Villeneuve left the box, to go and compliment La Zelie on her success; they professed an intention of only staying a few minutes, and yet the ballet was over before their return. Ellen and Augusta were both anxious; the former feared that something unpleasant had occurred to detain them, the latter saw in their delay, a tribute to La Zelie's charms, and a slight to her own; she therefore felt only anger, and flirted with Sir Peter Riskwell, to avenge herself on Julian.
When at length they did return, they made
an excuse, but entered into no explanation of their delay. Ellen was sitting in the back of the box, wrapped in her white satin bernouse, pale and trembling-Augusta, flushed with resentment, was displaying her charms in the front. The contrast seemed to strike Julian, for he said almost tenderly to Ellen, “ Dear cousin, are you not well ?”
“Not very, Julian,” she replied. “I am a silly girl; I began to fear that some accident had happened to prevent your return, we have been waiting for you so long."
“ Sir Peter,” said Augusta, with a toss of the head, “suggested that you had lost your way, I, perhaps more justly, that you had lost your heart to the brilliant Zelie.”
“No,” said Julian, “ brilliancy may dazzle my eyes, but kindness alone could win my heart.”
So saying, he offered his arm to Ellen, before De Villeneuve, who had rushed forward to do so, could proffer his Augusta laughed, and took Sir Peter's.
The return of Julian had not quite re-as
sured the affectionate Ellen ; she thought there was something odd and preoccupied in his manner; he was unusually pale ; his hand, which met her's by chance, as he folded her shawl over her, felt very cold, and though he talked, it was in a rapid, and as she thought, an incoherent manner.
De Villeneuve, too, seemed excited; he was fushed, agitated, and his manner unnaturally gay. Ellen tried to quiet the fancies which tormented her : she was aware that there are no fiends so terrible as those we conjure up from the depths of our own imaginations, but still a something haunted her, a something she could not shake off.
The supper party (spite of all Julian's and and De Villeneuve's efforts to enliven it) was silent and sad. Mrs. Lindsay was very sleepy. Miss Tibby Maxwell, having, before Ellen's departure for the opera, refused to withdraw one word of her assertion about Donald's attachment, had insisted on Ellen's enclosing to Grizzy, for her perusal, “ to be returned as soon as read,” two or three of the false Donald's love-letters to herself. And when Ellen, pointing out Grizzy's apparently deep feeling on the subject, begged her not to insist on thus crushing every hope, she replied :
“ They who mak na sa great a dree, feel as deeply as Grizzy. She has na behaved weel to me in this, I can tell ye, Ellen! She has asked for the whole truth and naething but the truth, (an unco saucy message, as if I wor given to leeing) and I canna demane mysel to pass for having boasted o’ a luver I had na’. I ken weel she and that flauntering Babie will mak puir Donald o' the brae and mysel jist the talk o' Edinbro', and if folk will talk o' me, they shall talk o' me na as an empty boaster, but as having been addressed by Donald o' the brae.”
Ellen, seeing that nothing could be done, and having promised Grizzy " the truth,” enclosed the old yellow letters of the false Donald in a very kind and soothing one of her own. Miss Tibby then, not to be outdone by Grizzy in sentiment, declared her
nerves quite shattered by the effort she had made, and retired to her room, observing
“Ye maunna judge jist by appearances, Ellen; the stillest water is aye the deepest. Grizzy Douglas was ever a tragic, high-speaking crater. I was ain that never tauld my
So saying, with a handkerchief to her eyes, she went up stairs. She did not re-appear that evening.
Augusta and Riskwell alone displayed any disposition to talk or laugh. The mirth of the former was forced and overstrained, and jarred on the nerves of the preoccupied Julian, and the anxious Ellen. As for poor Annie, she was watching De Villeneuve as a fond girl watches any alteration in her first lover—his flushed cheek and hurried manner were so new to her, that she feared they foreboded some change in (what she believed to be) his feelings for her; he forgot to smile upon, or even to look at her, and to conceal her tears she glided unmarked away, and hid herself in her own room.