« AnteriorContinuar »
no right to demand that he should do so, without I expressly stipulated for it in the first instance, in which case what I conferred was not a benefit, but a loan--not an act of benevolence, but a mercantile transaction.”
“That is a new doctrine,” replied Charles; “ but at all events, it cannot lead one far astray; for it teaches us to expect little, and therefore we cannot be far disappointed.”
“ The great fault and sorrow of mankind,” answered Mr. Wilmot, “ is, that self-love teaches them to overrate the good that they do, and to deprecate the efforts of the obliged to return it. We seem to think, that any obligation which is in our power to bestow, is a chain which binds the person we favour our slave for ever.”
This occurrence afforded sufficient food for Charles's mind till their arrival at Milan, where he expected to receive letters from his family. Charles had never been so anxious before for news from England;
sir Harry Morley's letter, conveying the tidings of Mary's illness, returned upon his mind every five minutes : he could not get rid of the idea, and often doubting the nature of some particular expression in it, he would refer to the letter again, and then when he had once began, he always went through the part where Mary was mentioned; and why should he not? he asked, when he found himself doing so; she was his cousin—had been brought up with him like a sister's shie was beautiful, amiable, and accomplished. It was impossible not to 'admire her, to regard her, to esteem her, to love her. Charles stopped there, and began to doubt; but still why should he not? There was no hárm in thinking of her being anxious about her; and therefore he went on, and thought of her more, and was more anxious about her than she knew or he imagined. But at length he arrived at Milan, and the servant was sent with their passports to the post-office, from whence he
returned with two letters to Mr. Melville.
Sir Harry Morley had not failed him, and Charles eagerly tore open that which bore his hand-writing on the direction. The contents seemed to affect Charles deeply; the colour came and went in his cheek as he read, and as he concluded, he threw it down on the table, with an angry impetuous motion, which shewed him not very well pleased at the information it brought.
May I ask what is the matter?" said Mr. Wilmot. “ Your cousin is not worse, I hope?"
" Oh no," answered Charles. “ But I am both surprised and disappointed, Wil. mot. Morley here informs me that Mary is much better, but that she is coming to Italy for her health ; and my lord Burton has pointed out for her the very contrary route from what he supposes me going to travel. His lordship will find himself mistaken though, if he thinks I will not see my cousin, after her being so ill, if all
the lord Burtons on earth stood in the way."
“ But what do you think of doing then ?" demanded the other, regarding his emotion with a quiet kind of smile.
“ Oh,” replied Charles, “it will be easily managed. I will meet her at Florence, taking that city in my way as I go, instead of returning. But let me see what
This letter is from her. -Not a word, by Heavens !" continued he, as he ran through Caroline's epistle.“ She just touches upon Mary's illness, and then telling me, she is better, drops the subject. But I suppose Caroline is schooled, or else is so much occupied with Mr. Malden, who, she says, has been paying a visit to my father, that she thinks of nothing else.”
" You seem very much interested about your cousin,” observed Mr. Wilmot.
Certainly I am," answered Charles, with an affectation of frankness that he did not know himself guilty of: but he was deceiving himself, and might be par
doned for deceiving others-“ certainly I
We have been brought up like brother and sister from childhood, and I should be
very wrong not to feel interested when her health is concerned. Did you ever see her?”
“ I have often,” replied Mr. Wilmot,
“ And may I ask what you think of her?" demanded Charles,
“ Think of her!" said Mr. Wilmot, with that peculiar illumination of countenance which sometimes shewed itself in him, like the sun breaking through a cloud; “ I think of her as of the most amiable of women; as of one who, though so young, combines the brightest talents with the purest of minds—the utmost energy of character with the utmost gentleness of heart."
Charles looked at him as if he would penetrate his very inmost thoughts.“ You are animated,” said he at length; “I suspect your heart is touched, Wilmot.”