« 前へ次へ »
Mrs. Lindsay, who had long been discontented at the aspect of affairs, was now rather more tranquil.
“ It is not a great, but it a good match,” she said to herself, “and her loving him is something, though, as Mrs. Malaprop says, 'as both love and hatred wear off in matrimony, it is as well to begin with a little hate ;' and, by the by, that reminds me that Ellen rather dislikes Sir Peter. But, when Julian is married, she will see she cannot have him, so, why should not that be a match? I must see what can be done. Augusta once married, I'll invite him to Moss Grove; I'll give him a hint that Ellen admires him ; I'll tell her in strict confidence that he thinks her an angel, but dares not raise his eyes to one so far above him! That was the way I brought on the match between Lydia and St. Leger. Ah, poor Lydia! well, she made a good match. She didn't die an old maid. I think, as Ellen doats on humility, that will affect her, and as Sir Peter is vain, and that vanity wounded by Augusta, he will be ready to propose at once, on the merest hint, to Ellen. So far, so good. Then I can point out to Ellen all the charities she can do, all the poor she can comfort, all the sorrowful she can bless, with the wealth Sir Peter will bestow on her. And as to a disappointed girl, all other men seem ‘much of a muchness,' I have a great idea it may be brought about; and then all my girls are disposed of, and perhaps I may see what can be done for Annie ; for, though she's neither kith nor kin of mine, ‘yet she eats up the acorns that might feed my swine,' so it would be well to get her off.”
Ellen had slowly recovered from her recent illness, for she was not to be awed by Mr. Jobb into taking any unnecessary draughts, however neatly done up and delicately labelled by Mr. Smith, who wrote, as Ruth thought, a most lovely hand. Ellen's manner was composed, nay, cheerful : in her seclusion she had schooled her rebel heart, and no one, who marked her calm and smiling face, could have dreamt of all she had felt and could feel.
When first she reappeared, Julian wel
comed and thanked her with the warmest gratitude.
“I have not forgotten, Ellen,” he said, “that to your admirable presence of mind and self-possession I owe a life I should have been so loth to lose. While dear Augusta was frantic with grief and alarm, what would have become of me bad I not bad a sweet sister-cousin, who could act wisely, while that darling girl could only lie down, and let her heart break ?”
Ellen turned away, for her lip quivered, and the tears trembled in her eyes : he did not understand that there is no feeling so deep as that which can conquer self in a woman's breast; that strong Love will bear up, and act where feeble Passion can only lie down and weep. But why should he know it? What was she to him?
While he yet spoke, Augusta came in with some violets for him, and Ellen, and all Ellen had done, was forgotten.
De Villeneuve, during Ellen's absence, had been much with Annie, and Annie was grown
thoughtful and anxious : she was no more the merry Highland lassie. She might have said, with Julie, “I love, and I am woman !” Alas! alas ! — to love! what is it but to exchange life's balmy peace for fears, and cares, and watchings, with only a few faint gleams of joy to make the darkness visible !...
Our party were to leave town as soon as Mr. Grunter's work was fairly launched ; no expense was spared in “advertising,” or “ getting up." Mr. Lindsay's purse was at the service of the work; indeed, never having written a book himself, he felt a great respect for any one who had. An author seemed to him a step above ordinary mortals, and, as he was very simple, and neither knew nor guessed at any of the tricks of the trade, he read the pompous notices, convinced that they were sincere tributes, wrung forth by the matchless merits of the History of Philosophy and the Philosophy of History.
It happened that Ellen's birthday was at hand : the birthdays of his nieces were always festivals with Mr. Lindsay; he proposed to Augusta and Julian that it should be kept with all possible éclat, and left it to them to decide in what manner. They (judging of Ellen's taste by their own) proposed a fancy-ball; and Ellen, to please her uncle, appeared to enter with great spirit into the preparations.
All the fashionables of their acquaintance were invited, and the kind Ellen would not have the few frumps they knew (and who does not know a few ?) excluded.
The cards of invitation were issued ; and now, to all outward appearance, the ball engrossed every mind but that of Grunter, who would have scorned the whole affair, but that he intended himself to appear in a character in which he could offer his new work as a tribute to the Queen of the fête, thus making one copy do for the Lindsay family, and spreading the fame of his book among the frivolous fashionables, whom else, perhaps, wrapped up in themselves, it might never reach. Long and frequent were now the consultaVOL. II.