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them that would go an inch out of their way for all the smiles that ever were smiled ?”.
• You are grown strangely sententious, Jane," answered lady Mary, laughing; “ but after all, I do not think men are quite such false creatures as you represent, though you have mixed more in their society than I have.”
“The truth is,” replied her cousin, “that men have the upper hand at present, and therefore abuse us; but for all they may say, they are ten times more capricious, vain, and frivolous, than we are; believe me, Mary, there is no one but your lover, whoever he may be, and my lover, whoever he may be, that comes any thing near perfection. There is Cecilia looking at us," added she," little thinking I have taken her trade of lecturing out of her hands; and look at your brother, Maryhe has got his eyes fixed on Louisa Stanhope, as if he intended to take a likeness of her from memory.”
“ I have
“ I have got a very strange story to tell Frederic,” replied lady Mary, rising to go to her brother. “ I had very nearly been run away with last night.”
“Oh, in pity go and tell Cecilia first,” said lady Jane, laughing, “ that she may enjoy the importance of a secret for five minutes, she is so fond of a secret!"
“Oh, it is no secret,” replied lady Mary ; the whole world may hear it, and I am sure they will be all sufficiently delighted with astonishment."
Perhaps there is not a more pleasing exercise of tact in general society, than being wonderfully surprised; and though it seems all very simple, yet there is no small skill to be displayed in apportioning judiciously the degree of astonishment you express, from “ Dear me, how odd !” to “ I never heard any thing so singular in my life ! It is necessary for this purpose to enter delicately and feelingly into the vanity of the person whose tale calls forth your exclamation, and to appreciate justly
the the exact portion of extraordinaryness which they attach to it themselves. You may always go a little beyond them, for every one thinks that they underrate their own claims upon attention; but beware of going too far, for if the line of the nar. rator's vanity verges into susceptibility, he will think you are laughing at him, when your only exertion was to gratify his self
There are some people so prone to astonishment, that they are naturally surprised at every thing, and find no difficulty in wondering at any thing that is told them. Of these are the ignorant poor man, who never steps out of his vocation, and the indolent rich one, who never had a vocation to step out of, whose pliable minds, like a weak spring, are easily bent in any direction, and as easily regain their original flatness. Of the latter description were the principal auditors of lady Mary Burton's account of the attack she had suffered the night before at Ilfracombe, and accordingly every one declared that it was the most surprising circumstance that had ever taken place since the creation of the world. Lord Burton also was surprised, though he did not express it-only raised his eye to Mary's cheek, as the reiteration of Charles's name occurred so much in her narrative.
But there was nothing there that could betray any further emotion of the heart than mere gratitude-all was clear and open; and Frederic, after thinking a few minutes only, asked some questions concerning the inquiries that had been instituted to discover the offender, with which he seemed satisfied.-" Well, Mary," he added, “ I am sure we are all very much obliged to Charles, or we most likely should have lost you. My arm is very painful, or I would write personally to thank him."
« Oh, I will write for you, if you will dictate to me,” answered his sister, who, knowing that Mr. Melville's family looked
rather coolly on lord Burton, though totally unacquainted with the precise cause of offence, wished much to facilitate any renewal of friendship between those to whom she bore a strong affection.
But Frederic put a negative upon her proposal-“ No, no, Mary,” he replied, “ you have, no doubt, already thanked Charles for yourself, and therefore a letter in your hand would not do; but if Jane would write for me, she would favour me.”
Lady Jane readily agreed to do so, and drawing her chair close to her cousin, she whispered to him—“ I don't understand your politics, Frederic; you could frank my letter very well the other day, notwithstanding your arm being bruised.”
“ There is a great deal of difference," replied lord Burton, “ between five or ten words on the back of a frank, and the whole of a letter; but go on, Jane,” he added, with a smile, “ I did not know you were so inquisitive.” He then dictated a kind and easy letter to Charles