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“ It is indeed, Charles," replied the other; " but not as you think, or I should not have expressed myself so openly." He paused a moment, and then added So far from it, that I hope the gentleman for whom lord Burton designs his sister may be, in every respect, worthy of her, and that they may love each other with all the sincerity of true affection--in a word, that they may be perfectly happy,” and he quitted the room.
Charles Melville stood for a moment in astonishment.~"The gentleman for whom lord Burton designs his sister!” he repeated to himself. “ Lord Burton then destines his sister for some one else! This then is the cause of all his coldness-his holding aloof from our family-his removal of Mary from my father's house-his pointing out for her a route so different from that which he knew I was going to travel. It is nothing to me truly," continued Charles to himself; “ lord Burton may give her, of course, to whom he
pleases; but Mary is to be consulted too, and sure I am she will not give her hand where her heart is not given. In all probability she has never seen this man; and it is not at all unlikely that her choice may not exactly fall where her brother chooses: to point.”
Charles then began to convince himself that he had no personal feeling in the business--that he was merely sorry lord Burn ton had not behaved more candidly on the subject. His father, he was sure, would be much offended; but then when he came to reflect, he fancied, from many parts of his father's conduct, as well as that of his sister Carolinę, that they must be both aware already of lord Burton's intentions. His thoughts then turned upon who it could be that was to be thus highly favoured; but he had no data for his rea. soning; and after thinking over every one he knew, he could fix on no one with the least probability. At the same time, without knowing it, he looked upon Mary,
thus placed, as it were, beyond his reach, in a very different light from that in which he had regarded her, when he supposed her hand was almost at his command ; not that Charles had ever supposed Mary loved him; but he had thought that he might easily improve the affection she bore him into more tender feelings, with the advantage which he knew the strong wishes of all her family would give him; neither had he been ever without a very high sense of all the many charms of mind and person which she possessed. But now that he seemed about to lose her, all those charms appeared doubly valuable; and a thousand amiable and beautiful traits in her character returned upon his mind, with a degree of painful regret, which would have convinced most men of the true nature of their feelings. But Charles wished not to be convinced, and therefore he was not; but at the same time, as a matter of course, he resolved to join his cousin for a few days at Florence, for the
purpose of satisfying himself in regard to her health; and he also determined, as a mere point of curiosity, to gain from Mr. Wilmot, if possible, some farther information regarding lord Burton's intentions.
Mr. Wilmot, however, did not again make his appearance till dinner-time, and then he seemed totally absorbed in his own thoughts. From his conduct, Charles imagined that he either thought he had gone too far in the morning, or that something had intervened which entirely occupied his mind; for though assailed in various ways by Mr. Melville, in order to lead him towards the subject, Mr. Wilmot always kept aloof, sometimes coming so near, that Charles supposed he would enter upon it the next moment, and then, with the most indifferent quietness, would turn his conversation quite into a different channel, without dropping the least word that could throw any light on what Charles was the most interested in discovering. At length, having endured this kind of
tantalization for some time, Mr. Melville mentioned the subject himself.
* You are animated, Charles," replied Mr. Wilmot, calmly repeating the words Mr. Melville had made use of in the morning; “I suspect your heart is touched;" and then deviating rapidly into some other topic, left Charles as much in the dark as ever.