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winning her affection; but these very ad..antages, thrown away as he had hitherto done, might prove the greatest detriment to his cause; for opportunity neglected is worse than if it had never occurred. Rather more than a month had passed since their arrival at Rome, and in three days they were to begin their journey to Naples. At breakfast, he fancied Mary was more cold than ordinary, though once or twice he caught her eyes straying towards his countenance with a look of some anxiety; but they were instantly again withdrawn, and she continued silent and reserved. Lord Burton had fallen into one of those melancholy fits of thought that sometimes absorbed him, and at length, after having concluded the meal almost in silence, Charles rose to take a walk through the city, as had often been his custom to do entirely by himself, for society had become annoying to him. “I suppose you will not return till dinner?” ner?” said lady Mary, seeing him prepare to depart. “Certainly I will not, if you wish me not,” replied Charles, attempting to give his answer the appearance of raillery by a smile that meant nothing. * Wish you not, Charles P. said Mary, and something more trembled on her lip, but she did not give it utterance; and turning to the window, looked out into the large gardens attached to the house. Charles left the room, and continued walking on through the wrecks of ancient grandeur strewed around him. For more than an hour he continued in bitter reflections, vacillating between hope and fear,
till the feeling became insupportable.—“I
will decide it at ance,” he said to himself; “I will know my fate, be it happy or miserable!” and procuring one of the small one-horse vehicles common to Rome, he drove as quickly as possible back to the house they occupied, which was a little. way from the city.
On his arrival, he proceeded straight to the saloon, where he had left his cousin; he threw open the door, and beheld her standing in conversation with the young nobleman lord Burton had introduced to her. The manner he was addressing her could scarcely be mistaken; Mary also was looking agitated, and he fancied smiling. Charles paused a moment, and a feeling almost like madness passed across his brain; but he overcame it, and drawing back abruptly, closed the door, leaving
them together. To the house they had was attached a large garden, laid out somewhat in the style of an English shrubbery, with walks winding through it in different directions. How it happened to be so, matters not, but into this Charles turned his steps, in a state of mind not the most enviable. His whole ideas were in confusion, he walked as in a dream; but the principal object on which his thoughts turned, was . how he might devise some plausible exCUSe
cuse for quarrelling with his rival, and cutting his throat in an honourable manner. It was a moment of passion with him, in which he could have committed any folly. - - Every man is morally mad for the first five or ten minutes of any great agitation, and Charles was so for the time; but in the midst of it, a sudden turn shewed him Mary advancing towards him. Beautiful as she always was, at that moment, when every passion of his soul was engaged, when all those charms he looked on and he loved might be about to become the possession of another—when his fate was about to be decided, to win her, or to lose her for ever, in his eyes she was more beautiful than ever; he was in agony at the thought of what might be, and darted forward to meet her. Mary, who did not know he was in the grounds, almost started when she saw him, and Charles's pace became hesitating and ill assured as he approached her—“Lady Mary,” Mary,” said he, in a faltering voice, “do I intrude?—or may I ask a few minutes conversation with you?” “If you do not call me lady Mary,” replied she, scarcely less agitated than himself, “you may ask any thing you like;” and she held out her hand to him. He took it, and kissed it repeatedly.— “Mary, dear Mary " he exclaimed, “your kindness gives me new life. Tell me— tell me, have you accepted him?” Mary saw all Charles's trepidation, and felt for him deeply; but it gave her courage, which she wanted as much as any one.—“Ask me any thing, Charles,” she replied, “where we are concerned alone, and I will answer you frankly, but not where another's confidence must be violated to gratify you.” “Then I will,” rejoined he warmly—“I will ask you what does concern me alone. I know, Mary, that I am unworthy of you—that I would not suffer myself to believe I loved you when we were in • *. England;