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in a hermitage, with heaps of ugly shapes about her?”
"And why should I not be contented,” replied Mary, “ when I have nothing to make me unhappy with an aunt that loves me as if I was her daughter, and every earthly thing that I could wish for?"
“And have you really nothing to make you unhappy?" demanded lady Jane, with a look between playful raillery and feeling. “ Well I know," added she, in a rambling way, “ that happiness is all imaginative. There is some man who wrote to prove that this earth, and all that it inhabit, are little better than an idea, a mere kind of supposition of a world; and I verily believe he was right. There, is captain Malcolm, a very charming idea, and you a very dear idea, and Burton a very fine idea, andi Cecilia a very stiff idea, and papa a very grand idea; and, amongst all the rest, there is that very sweet idea, Louisa Stanhope.-Mary, were you ever in love ?”
Lady Mary started at the abruptness of her question, and a warm, soft blush rose quickly in her cheek, that sickness had made pale.
“ Yes, you are the cunningest little creature I know, Mary,” continued lady Jane, " and I dare say you think you have hid it all from me; but a woman must be cunning indeed to deceive a woman. Well, I won't tease you, but you might have been more frank.”
“ Jane! Jane!” said lady Mary, “ how can you go on in such a strange way ? I really do not know what you mean.”
“ All I wanted to know was, if you had ever been in love," continued her cousin; “ for if you ever have been in that state of insanity, tell me if blushing, when we hear a name mentioned that we never mention ourselves, listening eagerly to hear every thing that is said about that name, and pretending not to listen at all, drawing a deep sigh whenever we have been thinking for five minutes "
“Well,” said lady Mary, perceiving that her cousin paused, “and what then, Jane?"
“Tell me then if all these,” continued lady Jane, are not several and particular signs of that passion, as it is called, (though, by the way, I find being in love very different from being in a passion ;) and if they are, then I will tell you in return, that Louisa Stanhope is in love, and in love with your brother.” ." Indeed !” said lady Mary, thoughtfully; " but what makes you think that, Jane? you are sometimes too hasty in your conclusions.”
“I have seen her a great deal lately," answered lady Jane; “ she has left lady Delmont, you know. Indeed it was impossible to bear with her rudeness and ill temper. When she found Miss Stanhope was really going, she entreated her to stay, and accompany them all to Switzerland; but Louisa had made up her mind, and not having found one soul in the house to whom she could feel any attachVOL. II.
ment, she put her resolution in effect, and has since joined another family, who live in Portman-square. I never heard of them before; but they keep up a good style, and I suppose are very respectable.”
“ From what I saw of her at Sturford Abbey,” replied lady Mary, .“ I should think highly of her; she is very beautiful and very elegant, and seemed gentle, modest, and amiable.”
“ That is said like yourself, Mary," answered her cousin; “ you are sure to find out all the good in a person's character directly. Cecilia scoffs at the idea of lord Burton thinking of a governess, and wonders how you and I could take such notice of her. I won't say that Louisa is better than you,.Mary, for you are an angel; but neither Cecilia or I will bear comparison with her, and what is the mock elevation of rank to true nobility of soul?"
“That Frederic admired her very much was evident,” replied lady Mary; .but whether he had an idea of offering her
his hand or not, I am sure, Jane, neither of us can say."
“Indeed though I can,” said lady Jane; " and I am sure he did it too, though Louisa will not own it. He left the Abbey six weeks ago, quite in despair because she did not accept him tout de suite, though he might have seen with a glance that the girl was in love with him, only she had got up in her own mind a fine stock of objections, on account of his family, and so forth, which would all have fallen down in a minute upon a little perseverance.” ..
"I am always inclined to think that whatever Frederic does is right," answered Mary ; " and I do not know any body I have ever seen who struck me so much as Miss Stanhope." .. “4. "Oh how I wish she may become lady
Burton!” said lady Jane, laughing, “ if it were only to mortify a few I could mention. And do not think, Mary, it would be any disgrace to your family; for though C 2