Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

on Captain Anstruther's lips found utterance at last, and Mr. Sandon was really pleased.

“She could not have done better; and if her father were alive he would have been, or, at all events, ought to have been, satisfied. Poor George's views had beer. 30 visionary and exacting on some subjects, that one could not say with certainty what he would have liked.”

Mr. Sandon had Georgy into his room for a few minutes' talk. Her aunt heartily approved, and was kinder than usual all the evening, not making any remarks on the subject till they went up to bed ; then she sat gossiping, seeming to treat her already with more respect and deference, as a person who was really to hold a position, have an opinion to give, and to become that dignified and responsible person, a married woman. Georgy felt, on bidding her aunt good-night, that she had somehow grown both taller and broader, and the flounces of her dress seemed to rustle consequentially along the passage as she went towards her own room.

Stephen proposed in his own proper person the next morning, and Georgy listened silently. It was soon done, without much demonstration or sentiment. She rather liked being liked-everybody does. To be honestly and heartily made love to always carries some weight with it, even though it be all on one side. And Georgy felt a certain degree of responsibility at being the recipient of such a store of deep feeling. She did not say much herself, and monosyllables were her refuge.

Stephen refused to stay for the Eastham ball, which was in prospect; and Georgy had rather looked forward to his doing so. He could have stayed, if his fidgetty punctilious love of order had not taken him to Portsmouth ten days earlier than a man who wished to strain a point need have gone. So Georgy at least thought, but she found her wish disregarded, and Stephen's energetic declaration, “ that all through life she might do what she liked with him," was in point of fact but a figure of speech. She was not in the least hurt: which would have been unreasonable; but the heights of responsibility upon which she dwelt the day before were somewhat lowered.

Stephen set calmly forth on his three years' devotion to his country, well pleased and well contented with his lot. He attached no idea of insecurity to a long engagement.

His brother and his two sisters had been betrothed—the one for two years, and the others for more than four, and the respective persons were on both sides of one mind at the end of their probations; and Stephen, who reasoned in all matters from analogy and had never yet embraced an original idea, thought that a three years' engagement fell into the natural course of things. Aunt Jane would have deemed a too hasty marriage absolutely indecorous ; and Mr. Sandon, who had settled all things without much consulting either of them, had no idea of a woman's not waiting three years, or thirty, if her parents or guardians wished it.

CHAPTER II.

GEORGY having read her letter, went hastily down to dinner, which passed over much as usual. Aunt Jane was a good deal occupied by an impartial and unprejudiced examination into the shortcomings of Miss Robson, who taught the children French, music, and all the rudiments of a polite education, and heard Charlie his declensions, though herself ignorant of the Latin tongue. Poor woman! she might no more hope to do right in the eyes of Mrs. Sandon than a Prime Minister or a Chancellor of the Exche. quer in those of the remainder of the political world. Uncle Robert never talked when he had nothing to say, and was therefore silent.

Aunt Jane was a thin woman, with a florid complexion. In her youth it had been often compared to lilies and roses ; but now, alas! the roses had usurped the principal place. In her girlhood, she had been proclaimed a beauty; and, at a distance, well dressed, still made a show. She would have bullied her husband if she could ; but, as it was, she fell back upon the children, servants, Miss Robson, and Georgy, who, as she grew older, was gradually losing the dread she had once felt for her aunt. Mrs. Sandon was called a kind-hearted woman; that is to say, she was kind when neither her self-love was touched nor her jealousy aroused: easily flattered, and jealous of the affections of others; very spiteful in a sanctimonious, self-righteous manner, if she conceived herself in anywise injured; eager for authority, and always insisting upon giving everybody else advice. She was in reality intensely limited; but possessed a simple, undoubting faith in her own capacity. Perhaps she was right, for she was often called amongst her acquaintance a most agreeable and superior woman.

“ There is an invitation for you to stay at Millthorpe Grange, dear Georgy. Mrs. Everett will be there; they are not my style of people : she is agreeable, I believe, but it is not the sort of agreeability I like.” Mrs. Sandon said this with the manner of so many people when they own to the cleverness of others: they assume an air of reluctant defiance, when it intrudes itself upon them, too evidently to be denied. Their manner seems to express,

66 Yeswell, So-and-so may be amusing, and I daresay isI could be amusing too, if I liked, but I don't like.”

In one of Balzac's stories, the advice given by a lady to the hero, bids him not be too brilliant, and never amuse the company too palpably: “Que votre

« ÎnapoiContinuați »