« 上一頁繼續 »
opened the ball with Alice, and great was Mary Grey's astonishment; more so, when young Cunnington advanced towards her, and asked her to be Alice's vis-à-vis. For an instant she positively hesitated, she thought Alice had determined to punish her; but the next moment she gaily accepted Augustus's arm, and stood proudly before her she considered her rival. She pressed his hand in the dance, and she trod the gay saloon by the side of the only young man who had ever touched her heart. Ere another season he might be the husband of another, and Mary determined more than ever to hide her sentiments. She began to hate Alice's artless beauty; yet it was not of that beauty she was jealous ; she was more jealous of the power of that mind which in a few weeks had achieved what many seasons had not given her power to do; with a mean satisfaction, which was
unworthy of her, she seemed to delight in hearing Lady Anne's ill-natured remarks about Alice.
“She has turned Lord Sevridge's head completely,” said Lady Anne ; “I asked him several questions, but he could only talk on one subject. I wonder Lady Cunnington can encourage such an insidious girl ; her quiet flirtation is very dangerous, and no prudent mother would allow her to become acquainted with her daughters.”
“Not if that mother wanted to marry the old lord, who, to screen Alice Lemington from observation, magnanimously determined to walk through a quadrille like a doomed martyr.”
Lady Anne Grey chose not to notice the first part of the speech ; but she eagerly exclaimed, “ do you really believe Lord Sevridge does not admire Alice ?”
“I think there are many shades between
love and admiration ; for example, Mr. Cunnington does admire me, but that does not bring me a shadow nearer to matrimony ; when he is married to Alice Lemington, he will admire me just the same-our Platonic love will be touchingly beautiful.”
Lady Anne had worked herself into a state which some persons call “ nervous," others “ill-tempered,” and others “fidgetty;" the reader can judge for himself; all I can affirm is, that her ladyship fancied she was very much in love with a man who had never breathed a word in her ears at all bordering on Cupid language.
There was a pensive expression on Alice Lemington's face, as she gracefully followed the inspiration of the music, and young Cunnington seemed to catch the reflection of her mind. Several times they danced together, and each time their conversation assumed a graver tone; Alice could not
rally her spirits, and poor Mary Grey, thinking there was no cause for it, attributed all she saw to a coquettish manœuvre on her rival's part. But very genuine were the feelings which caused the languor which stole over Alice Lemington's pretty face ; Lord Cunnington was proud amidst all his benevolence, and Alice spurned the idea of marrying his son, when such a marriage would be anything but eligible for one who could soar higher.
Were the words true which she had seen ?—was she a nobleman's child? Perhaps, but she shrank from wishing to unveil a mystery her gentle mother had never revealed ; and, having read Augustus's heart, she determined to cast aside all scruples, and tell him plainly her affections could not be his. Her affections—they were his already; for young love does not require months to cement its bonds. She knew, she
felt assured, that once Augustus felt persuaded to engage in a more energetic career than the pursuit of fashionable amusements, his was exactly a mind formed to go from one extreme to the other; she prayed that he might choose a bride worthy of his strange heart, and she quelled the quick palpitations of her own, for she would never be that bride.