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PENDENNIS met, as he expected, with but án indifferent reception from lady Louisa Southwell, who was much dissatisfied with him for deserting, on any pretext, the post at which she had placed him. Sir Charles, on the contrary, treated him with more than usual civility and attention. Never joining in any of the benevolent schemes of his wife, he experienced a sort of perverse pleasure when they met with an unforeseen check or failure; but this he was too well-bred a man outwardly to manifest, except in the way above related.
Having consulted Geraldine, in private, with respect to his new scheme, and finding her utterly averse to it, Pendennis determined to change his mode of attack; and relying perhaps on the influence of sir Charles Southwell, renewed his
proposal one morning that the family were assembled. If Geraldine had never heard of the historical theatricals at Mount Par. nassus, it was not the same with Pendennis, in regard to her literary triumphs. He had been greatly struck and delighted with the fame of her readings, and his request was simply this—that she would give his unfortunate and long-forgotten tragedy of Marius the advantage of her powers of declamation, one evening, at lady Kilcrest's, which, he was persuaded, would give it so much fashion, that he could *easily afterwards prevail with the manager of the Dublin theatre, or the committee of management at Drury-lane, to revive it.
Now, independent of her not being so intimate as formerly with lady Kilcrest,
Geraldine had, since O'Melvyl explained himself on the subject, an invincible aversion to the idea of public declamation or display; and when to this we add the intrinsic absurdity of the piece, we need not be surprised that she was firm in her refusal.
At this moment, a reinforcement came in to the aid of Pendennis. Lord O'Mel. vyl, and the count di San Carlos, his “constant companion,” entered together; and San Carlos, almost without waiting to hear the merits of the cause, joined in earnestly entreating that Geraldine would give the manuscript play a reading.
Miss Southwell was surprised to find that San Carlos, instead of shewing distance or pique on account of her recent refusal, should again address her in the tone of friendship, with which was still blended a degree of respectful admiration. She could not reply with harshness to such an appeal; but turning it off with a smile, contented herself with observing
to the count, that he seemed to have a favourable recollection of those evening readings.
Fixing his brilliant eyes upon her with the most penetrating expression, San Carlos replied, in the words of his native poet*
“ Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarsi del tempo felice Nella miseriat."
The beauty of that native tongue, in which he expressed himself with a manner and voice which possessed uncommon grace and melody—the interesting expression the fine features of San Carlos assumed as he addressed her, united perhaps to a little vanity fluttering at her heart, and whispering how much the noble foreigner suffered for her sake-altogether so far won upon the compassionate feelings of Geraldine, that she bestowed upon him a look of the tenderest pity,
† There is no greater torment than the renicmbrance of past felicity in the season of affliction,
when, at that moment, accidentally encountering the eyes of O'Melvyl, she was frightened at the expression of indigna. tion, mingled with high disdain, with which he proudly turned from her, and appeared to say—“ And this is woman!" How gladly would she have flown to him, and assured him that her resolution was unchangeable that nothing on earth would induce her to accede to a request of the count di San Carlos, in opposition to his wishes. But how could she venture to do so to one thus ever ready to pass from the extremes of suspicion to triumphant security—who seemed to claim the undivided empire over every thought of her mind, without assuring her of his own, heart in exchange?
This reflection led her to think more favourably than she ever yet had done of the son of Fiorenza. Geraldine compared his devoted admiration, his hopeless at tachment, to the incomprehensible and exciting O'Melvyl; but Love, who was