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“ Ill!” interrupted Charles, anxiously; “I hope not seriously.”
“ Yes, indeed he says very seriously,” rejoined Mr. Wilmot; “ but he adds that she is better."
“ I am sorry to hear this indeed,” said Charles; “I should like much to know more about it. It is very strange they have never written to me on the subject. Do you know who the letter to me is from?"
“ Not in the least,” replied Mr. Wilmot; “ the hand in which it is directed is quite strange to me.”...
After dinner, as he had promised, Mr. Wilmot brought down the letter, and gave it to Mr. Melville.
"Oh, from my old schoolfellow, sir Harry Morley,” said Charles ; “ this will give me no information, I am afraid,” and breaking the seal, he began to read it carelessly over; but as he proceeded he got more interested." Yes, indeed it does though,” he said aloud; “it tells me Mary
has been very ill indeed, nearly dying, and they have never let me hear a word upon the subject. It is really cruel of them; but I know who to attribute that to: it is my amiable cousin, lord Burton, that has prevented my hearing of it. However, I will write to Morley directly, and ask him to gët me all the news he can upon the subject.”
• You had better tell him then to direct to Milan," said Mr. Wilmot; “ for we shall be there by the time his letter can arrive."
6 How hard the customs of society are !” said Charles, thoughtfully; " I have been brought up with Mary almost from infancy, and yet I cannot write to her, to ask after her health, even when I know she has been “so very unwell. I am really almost tempted to do so.”
*** I see no reason why you should not.” said Mr. Wilmot.
* I certainly would,” replied Charles, “if I had no one to deal with but herself;
for Mary is frankness itself, and would take my letter just as I meant it, and answer me as if I was her brother.”
"But who then are you afraid of?” de manded Mr. Wilmot.
“Oh, of no one in particular,” answered Charles; “ but there are always people, the perversion of whose minds makes them think that no one else can act straight forwardly; they are always seeking for something under the apparent meaning, and suppose all they are concerned with as meanly political in their actions as they are themselves."
“ Well, Charles,” said his companion, " when the world and I are scarce catercousins, and I want a lesson on abusing it, I will apply to you."
“Not so," replied Mr. Melville ; “ I did not say that these people formed the bulk of the world; but, for all that, they lead it by the 'nose, and instead of asking ourselves before we act, "What will the world say? it ought to be, * What colouring can
the mean-spirited meddlers of society possibly give to what we are going to do ?”
“ What the world will say,” observed Mr. Wilmot, “ though certainly in some degree a consideration, is the last that ought to influence us; wherever we have time for thought, we ought to apply to that small still monitor, which, if we never check it, will always lead us right. But if there should remain a doubt, we ought to ask, “What will the virtuous and the good think of what I am going to do, if they could see it exactly as it is? We should next strive for that general tribute of applause, so gratifying to every feeling mind, by making our good actions appear good in the sight of mankind; but we should never commit what is wrong, or crush what is right, to avoid the world's blame, or to court its approbation.”
“ True, oh king !" answered Charles, with a smile; “ I can do what is right in theory as well as any one; I can brave the laugh of fools, and censure of the throng,
as well as another-in my own chamber. But tell me, Wilmot, did you never do a wrong thing, influenced by the opinion of the world ?”
The blood suddenly rose in Mr. Wilmot's cheek, and then seemed to rush as quickly back, leaving him as pale as death. -“ Charles ! Charles !” he exclaimed, in a voice that trembled in every tone, “ you do not know what you say !”
“Good Heaven !” replied Mr. Melville, "I beg your pardon; I did not, I could not, intend to hurt you."
“I know it-I know it !" answered his companion, rising; “ but you have called up thoughts that destroy me; I must leave you for the present, till I am more calm," and with an irregular step, which strongly betrayed the emotion of his mind, he left the room.
" Singular man !” thought Charles as he departed, “ what can it be that makes you so different from others ? some impression certainly of past days, that even