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mistress to a sense of her indiscretion in avow
ing her indisposition at the same moment that she announced her husband's absence; and
she felt embarrassed as she remarked the
curiosity which she appeared to have excited.
Who has not experienced the misery of being compelled to assume an air of unconcern in the presence of importunate visitors or servants, when some painful contretems, which we are necessitated to conceal, has occurred ? In spite of, to adopt the expression of one of your poets, our matchless intrepidity of face,” even you and I, ma chère Caroline, have, ere now, endured this vexatious species of trial with something very like dis
composure, if not confusion.
Fancy, then, how such a sentimental creature as my heroine must have suffered under those circumstances; she who had hitherto been compelled to conceal her slightest emotion. Yet now, while undergoing the fiercest pangs of jealousy, which shook her frame and agonised her heart, she had the additional mortification of feeling that she and her husband would become the subject of the impertinent curiosity and remarks of their own menials; a bitter and humiliating thought, before which her pride and delicacy shrank
in sensitive alarm.
Do not accuse me of sentimentality, if I observe that it is almost incredible how painfully minor ills can make themselves felt, even in the very moment when we are enduring great and overwhelming afflictions. The power of weeping in entire secrecy, all access debarred to prying curiosity, or coarse sympathy which but aggravates the sorrow it would sooth, is in itself a source of alleviation ; but the necessity of wearing the semblance of tranquillity when the heart is breaking, to elude
the vigilant eye of plebeian inquisitiveness, is alone a heavy suffering.
Remember this remark is made in my métier of author; and you must not consider it as at all a representation of my own sentiments.
Every thing in the room when Alicia was seated reminded her of Jules. All that it
contained were his gifts, and endeared to her by a thousand fond recollections. The book he had been reading to her the day before, while she sat at her embroidery, was still on the table, with a mark upon it, to indicate the place where he had terminated; and the bouquet he had brought to her, was still fresh in the vase where he had placed it. As her eye rested on each object indicative of his tenderness, she asked herself, whether it was possible that he could always have been deceiving her; and that, while he seemed to be only occupied in lavishing tokens
of affection on her, he was in reality wholly devoted to another? Her heart answered, No! Her feelings became softened by the recollection of all his delicate and incessant attentions; and she wept with much less bitterness than before, as hope whispered, that he who had hitherto so loved her, could not, in a few brief hours, be permanently and irremediably changed.
A letter was brought to her; and, for an instant, her bosom throbbed with joy, as she thought it might come from Jules, who, repenting of his severity, had written to acquaint her with his altered feelings. But, alas! the characters were not his; and, with indifference, she then unfolded the sheet.
Soon, however, its contents engrossed her liveliest attention. It was anonymous ; and it stated that pity for her, and a desire of investing her with the power of reclaiming her
unfaithful husband, induced the writer to address her. The attachment of M. St. Armand for another had, the writer asserted, long been notorious to his friends, who were of opinion that his wife's ignorance on the subject stimulated him to continue his vicious course. But, were he once detected in his duplicity, repentance and shame might induce him to lead an altered life, and return to his domestic duties.
The anonymous writer added, that Mons. St. Armand was to meet the object of his affection that night, at the bal masqué at the Opera; and that the lady was to be dressed in a pink domino, and was to stand close to the orchestra, on the left side. At eleven o'clock, she was to hold up a bouquet, which was to be the signal, concerted between her and her lover, of her emancipation from all espionage, and that he was then immediately to join her.