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the lady praises me because I paint for her; and the daughter smiles upon me, because I fiddle to her. And when I am an astrologer and a conjuror, (which I mean to be), I shall be equally delightful for casting nativities' and raising devils.” This was an ingenious excuse for the multiplicity of his pursuits ; but it was made with a smile of melancholy which gave the lie to every word of it.
In the course of the morning, I found that the popularity of which he had boasted, was not overrated; for in our visits through the village, to which he was in haste to introduce me, no one could have been more welcome. He was at home every where—the young girls in particular, brightened up when he entered, and all of them had some grand secret, or some unfinished drawing, or new piece of music, to draw him into a little gossip in the corner. This was generally the discussion of some playful feud, arising out of broken engagements to ride, or take sketches, and so forth ; and, indeed, if all the charges were true, he had been much more forgetful than most men would have been under such temptation. "Pray what is the reason," said a gay little beauty, who was amongst the dissatisfied,” “ that you have ceased to be
my cavaliere servente?-You were once as regular as the postman.” “I was afraid to trust myself in such dangerous company." " And it was therefore, that you devoted your service to the wonder of Elm cottage ?” The young lady turned to me with an affectation of pique, and talked about the attraction of the place,
which she politely hoped, would have power to detaia me some time in the neighbourhood.—Amongst others
, there was one to which Mr. Araut would not fail to introduce me, she meant a particular friend of his, who unhappily for society, had contrived to estrange him from all the rest.—She was a lady of great beauty, and a complishments; and was, at present, making one of a series of periodical attacks upon the village.—At such times, Mr. Arnaut was apt to be a little forgetful. The infirmity, indeed, was growing upon him daily, to the great distress of some dozen young persons, herseli included." I thought this side wind put Amaut a little off his balance ; certainly he did not stand his ground so dexterously as he might have done, and his fair assailant followed up the attack till he was quite defenceless. She appeared to have touched upon a tender point; bis countenance had waned by degrees into silent pensive ness, which he vainly endeavoured to shake off. He seemed sensible that interpretations would be put upur it, and excused it as well as he could, upon the plea of a tuo prodigal expenditure of spirits ; “ an excess," be said, “which those villainous black eyes were alwaḥ leading him into.”
We were not suffered to leave the house without al cepting an invitation for the evening, which was to bring me in contact with all the beauty and peril of the place, ; and amongst the rest, with the interesting Mary bera şelf,
As I and my companion became better acquainted, we became better friends. It appeared to me, that at first, he had thought it necessary to wrap
, and he talked in a natural strain, sometimes gay,
s quite extravagant. It seemed there was not an idle
manners to steal.
As I and my companion became better acquainted, we became better friends. It appeared to me, that at first, he had thought it necessary to wrap himself up in the concealment of a character which did not altogether, belong to him, in the anticipation that we should not prove very congenial souls. This, however, soon wore off, and he talked in a natural strain, sometimes gay, and sometimes sad; but when he spoke of persons, there was a degree of irony, and, I may say, of bitterness in his manner, which is almost invariably the temper of high spirits to which the world has been unkind, Nevertheless, he was not one of those who could return unkindness;
and possessed a tenderness of heart which was quite extravagant. It seemed there was not an idle vagabond in the neighbourhood who was not supported by him, and I saw him let loose a fellow who had been put in the round-house for robbing him, with no excuse, excepting that he had begged of him till he was ashamed,
therefore, bound in good manners to steal. When he appeared at our evening party, the company were already assembled, and I was honoured by an introduction to some eight or ten village belles, who would have done honour to Almack's. The young lady, of whom such serious mention had been made in the morning, was a tall elegant creature, apparently about four or five and twenty.
Her face was strikingly handsome, and full of mild and melancholy character, as if like Arnaut, she had already had her taste of the world,
and found it bitter. Her voice was low and mournful; and her dancing, though grace itself, seemed rather the effect of a necessity to avoid singularity, than of choice. She regarded her partner with a kindness, and spoke to him with a confidence, which I could not help envy. ing him, and I soon perceived that he estimated her very differently from the rest of his pretty friends. He could not trifle with her, apply pet names, or commit any of those gay offences which used to supply him with little laughing quarrels and subjects of amusement. In short, he looked as if, considering his circumstances, he had suffered his heart to go considerably too far. The behaviour of Mary, however, was not such as to
attach any suspicion of this nature, for her good-will : was not breathed in whispers, nor conveyed in secret glances. She did not attempt to conceal it;
and feeling that she was above calumny, she knew that others felt it likewise.
After the dance, they retired to a remote corner of the room, where they continued conversing, apparently upon some topic deeply interesting to them
both, till the hurry of fresh partners, and introduction
to the old ladies, who were now retiring from the whist
then, Mrs. Brown had her shells to shew me, and Mrs. Smith had her garden to shew me, and Mrs. Green had her library to shew me. In short, there was not an old lady there who had not something to shew me. of course, much flattered at having excited such a sensation, and when Arnaut joined the throng of petitioners, was fain to say, that I would have the honour of waiting upon all and each of them. The truth of the case was, that Arnaut had taken rather a fancy to me, and wished to retain for which
purpose he had given out that I was a young gentleman with ten thousand a year, in search of a wife.
My first week passed rapidly away. I had become quite naturalized into the little simple society, and passed my mornings joyously in strolling from one house to another. Arnaut soon found that I was able to take care of myself, and followed his own pleasure without ceremony. The study was deserted, the dust was doing the work of time upon the pictures, and the banner of the spider was unfurled on the strings of the violin. All my companion's pursuits had given place to the paramount one of attending upon Mary. He rode with her, and walked with her, and sat with her, as if there had been no other being upon earth; and I could not help feeling that such an intimacy was likely to produce evil consequences. Arnaut, however, was blind to them; and, free and ingenuous as his character was, I was, as yet, too much a stranger to touch upon a subject of such delicacy. His