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Repenting of her momentary humiliation, Geraldine rose from her prostrate posture. She had used no unworthy arts to win a lover-her heart acknowledged no duplicity: up to this period, the addresses of lord O'Melvyl, if addresses they could be called, had been carried on in such a manner that she could not have communicated them without incurring the charge of the most silly vanity and presumption,
“ My dear Geraldine,” said lady Louisa, resuming some degree of kindness in her manner, " allow your reason playconsider, the marquis of Beaudesert will assuredly never give his consent, and a perseverance in this attachment can only be productive of lengthened misery to you both. Hear, I entreat you, the remonstrance of a dispassionate friend ; and let me have the satisfaction of seeing, by your answer to this romantic letter, that
you know how, with gentle firmness, to put an end to hopes inconsistent with duty.”
But this dispassionate friend was not, in fact, sufficiently uninterested to have much weight with Geraldine. She felt it was so, and, suddenly roused to indignation, gave way to all the violence of her charac ter, in one of those painful scenes which reduced this otherwise highly-gifted woman to a level with common humanity. Geraldine bent to the storm, but she began bitterly to feel her dependence, and, overwhelmed by such a variety of conflicting emotions, spent a night of misery great as any she had yet endured. The ini creased sense of gratitude she owed lady Louisa Southwell, on the one hand, weighed her down in the most painful manner; while, on the other, she could not forget how painfully that lady's reproaches had wounded her feelings. She could neither resent nor submit, nor love nor hate ; and in the tumult of her mind, but one thing appeared certain that her life would be rendered miserable if she remained at Meadowscourt.
The following morning, all on lady Louisa's part was calm—that cold, sullen calmness which succeeds the storm, and which, when evidently forced, has an effect more dreadful than the storm itself.
By every attention—by every submission, but the one which alone would have satisfied her ladyship, Geraldine endeavoured to remove the heavy cloud that had intervened between them. In vain. Lady Louisa retired to rest, without bestowing a look or a word of kindness on her unfortunate protégée ; and all the consolation that remained for poor Geraldine consisted in reading and rereading the letter of lord O'Melvyl, the original source of all this disquietude.
A week had passed on in this uncomfortable manner, and the affectionate heart of Geraldine was cruelly wrung by her friend's continued estrangement, when she observed an unusual degree of bustle and animation in the house. Gaiety, not unmingled with a considerable portion of so
licitude, seemed to pervade every individual of the family; consequential whispers passed from one to the other.' 'At length Miss O'Reilly disclosed the mighty secret. A viceregal visit was expected, and the heads of the family were busily employed making suitable preparations, Young ladies were sighing and imaging conquering aide-de-camps at their feet; while the servants, in their own humorous phraseology, congratulated themselves on this opportunity of judging, by ocular observation, “how the government looked.”
Anxious, depressed, and wretched, Geraldine became extremely uneasy at the idea of being obliged to bear her part in a scene of gaiety and magnificence. That night, being unable to sleep, she turned, as a refuge from her own thoughts, to a packet of letters with which lady Louisa, in the first effusions of confidence and feel. ing, had entrusted her. They contained the correspondence of Fitz-Clare with her ladyship, and she could not open one of them without meeting something that filled her mind with admiration of the probity, generosity, and elevation of character evinced by the unhappy writer. Still a tinge of romance ran through them all, and afforded perhaps a clew to the errors of his life. One passage, in a letter of rather recent date, most forcibly attracted her attention.
“ With the fortune which I have left sacredly in trust for her, and enter. ing life, her name, unsullied by the mildewing blight which must for ever be attached to mine, it is just possible my poor Geraldine may marry early and well. When her happiness and respectability have been thus secured, as far as human means can secure them, yet, at the same time, the gay illusions of youth have given place to life's severer duties, then to her matured reason let her father's unhappy story be submitted then, and not tilt then, I will put forth my claim to her affection : if, on the contrary, she should