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to any one; but as it is not, I hope this chapter may serve for an introduction, like that which we receive from the master of the ceremonies at a watering-place, which in fact is none at all, but is only just sufficient to carry two people complacently through a quadrille together, who the next day will pass each other in the street, as much strangers as if they had never met.
Should any gentle reader, or ungentle reader (for I am not particular so they are readers at all) wish to know from whence this work sprung, or to ascertain its origin or veracity, let me assure them that it is perfectly genuine, for I had it direct from the manufactory ; its birth they will find in the next chapter-its parentage I have to answer for its education will be under them—its last dying speech at the end of the third volume, and its execution will depend upon the verdict of that jury to which I leave its fate for ever.
Why let the stricken deer go weep,
The hart ungalled, play,
It was one of those November mornings, when the landscape, all smeared in mist and fine drizzly rain, presents nothing distinctly to the eye, when all the little slopes of the ground are filled up with haze, the river scarce to be traced in the valley through which it wanders, and the largest trees are swathed half way up their trunks in the fog, that totally obscures the smaller
The room was a small, elegant breakfast-room, which in summer commanded a prospect of great beauty and luxuriance, but which at present afforded
no other view than a thick, dreary atmosphere, a long, dewy park, and a sober, grey line, that indicated that there was some distant object which terminated the scene; but whether it was a chain of hills, or a high brick wall, might have been a question to those that did not know the windows of Broomhill looked upon the counties of South Wales.
The interior of the apartment presented however objects much more pleasing; and in the first place (to begin at the lesser particulars, in order that my climax may be perfect) there was in the centre a table spread with all the implements for that sweetest meal, by which the necessities of humanity are supplied, breakfast, laid out in the plain but elegant style of the house of a country gentleman, distinguished at once by wealth and simplicity. A blazing coal fire occupied the grate, and bade defiance to the chilling scene without; while on one side of it stood Caroline Melville, the daughter of the mansion's owner, and,
smiling in the plenitude of good nature, fixed her large blue eyes, with a look of affectionate regard, on the more thoughtful countenance of her cousin, lady Mary Burton, who, leaning her arm on the mantlepiece, seemed a model of pensive beauty. To describe either of them would perhaps be doing them injustice. Caroline was one of those Hebe-looking creatures, to whom high health and bright expression lends a variety of charms, with which form or feature have very little to do. Her cousin was paler, but the colour that came and went in her cheek, was like the first dawn of morning breaking upon the early sky. Caroline's eyes were large and blue, while Mary's were soft and hazel, fringed with those long dark lashes which lord Byron gives to his maid of Athens, while her hair was of a deep nut colour, a sort of sunny brown, and clustered round her face in a profusion of wild ringlets that would not brook restraint. The breakfast-hour was past, and in a miB 5
nute after they were joined by Caroline's brother Charles, who, gay and elegant, soon dispelled the gloom that the dullness of the morning seemed to have cast over his two relations.--" Why, Mary,” he exclaimed,
you look most exceedingly serious; you could not appear more melancholy if you were going to be married : but truly the day is not enlivening; this deluge has so soaked the poor old park, that I am sure if it has not the constitution of a horse, it will have a very bad cold. Has not my father been down yet?”
As he spoke, sir Charles Melville entered the room, a stout, florid old gentleman, whose sparkling eye and rapid movements belied the snow that time had sprinkled on his head.--" Caroline, have you made the breakfast? There, nobody has lighted the lamp for the eggs. Mary, my love, how are you? There is a letter for you. Charles, you lazy dog, you are down first this morning. Ring the bell. Why does not Jonathan bring up the partridge pie?