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“ Not at all,” responded her sister.
“You are very partial to her," said Lady Anne.
“Very,” replied Clara ; “ I could love her as much as it is possible for me to love. I think she is a delightful creature; beautiful is a silly word for her, for beauties are often showy, trivial, silly creatures — she is fascinating; men and women feel an indescribable admiration joined to respect when they know her well—she is a second Lady Cunnington.”
Lady Anne shrugged her shoulders ; after a pause she continued, “ and Lord Sevridge said she was beautiful ?”
“Not at all; he merely spoke of her accomplishments and solid acquirements.”
“ Pooh! pooh! what is the use of such recommendation, unless he were talking of a governess ?”
“Mamma,” said Clara, rather impatiently,
“it is very evident Miss Lemington is no favorite of yours.”
There was no denying this truth, and Lady Anne left the apartment; the sisters remained silent for some time.
“Does your head ache very much?” asked Mary, kissing Clara's brow.
“Oh, it does, indeed! the moment the season begins my sufferings commence : when I am married I shall certainly bid adieu to all this nonsense.”
“So we all say, when we are single; but as soon as we marry, women are more pleased than ever with fashionable amusements.”
“ And is it not strange-have they not their husbands, their children to please ?”
“ Those are sometimes not considerations of any importance to a fashionable woman.”
“I wonder how Miss Lemington will like her first gay season ?”
“Very much, indeed,” said Mary, “ for it is the first. Mamma took me out at seventeen, and I am now twenty-two; therefore I am able to talk from experience. I know what a first season is : the flush of delight
—the fond belief that all is true which we hear." And Mary sighed.
“How unusual it is to hear you sigh, dear sister."
“ Did I sigh? well, a sigh is only a little shortness of breath consequent on speaking too fast, so do not take any notice of my sighs."
There was another pause.
“Do you like Alice Lemington, sister ?” asked Clara, suddenly.
“No," answered Mary.
“ The rise and fall of friendship is too intricate for me to unravel ; you asked me a plain question, and I gave you a straight
answer; and now I will add, I am not obliged to love all the world.”
“ Certainly not,” said Clara, secretly pleased to think she could love Alice without having a rival in her friendship; “ but you admire her, Mary?”
“ Very much indeed,” said Mary; " much, that it shall not be my fault if her high mind be corrupted by the surfeit of flattery. I will tell her the truth when none else dare.”
“ But this is friendship,” said Clara. “ Not with me, Clara ; it is jealousy.”
Not another word was said on the subject. Mary had a peculiar way of her own, almost a majestic manner of impressing her hearers with the full conviction that she was firmly determined not to say another syllable on a subject, and Clara asked no more questions; she had, in truth, a very bad headache, and fell into an uneasy slumber, whilst Mary, convinced that her sister was asleep, heaved a louder sigh than the one which had previously attracted Clara's attention.