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they had concluded the last verse, the gong sounded the hour for tea.
“That gong makes the same impression on the music as the rain, this afternoon, has made upon my spirits,” said Fred—“ a damper in each instance.”
· Bell,” said Clara, looking out of the window, “there is no sign of clear weather.”
“It pours," remarked Fred, looking significantly at his sister. “Will you attend the party to-night?"
Mordaunt almost held his breath to hear Bell's answer to this question. Bell, fixing her eye upon Mordaunt, with a quiet but expressive smile, remarked
“I shall brave the Storm King's power, and do my best to shine at Miss Blackwood's. Mr. Mordaunt, if the weather is too severe for you, my father will attend to all my wants."
“By no means, Miss Mortimer. I cannot resign the privilege of accompanying you, as arranged,” replied Mordaunt, in an even tone of voice, which betrayed nothing of the whirling torrent of passion which had been set in motion by Bell's remark.
Mordaunt then recalled his words, before Mrs. Edgemonte had so inopportunely interrupted him. He saw that Bell had read his thoughts without listening to his words. He saw, too, that he had committed a serious error in policy, and awakened in Bell a contempt for himself. To any man not controlled by the Christian virtues, contempt breeds dislike. To a man of Mordaunt's pride and self-love, contempt awakens to life a hatred which knows not fatigue, and spares not expense; when foiled, rises stronger from the unwilling respite to mount the wild war steed of a more crafty policy; again and again to shun the
encounter, until the victim is within a sure grasp. Then it gives no quarter, unless it be to sip the sweets of revenge in the cup of lingering torment. Tea over, Fred sought Bell's apartment.
He learned from her all that had passed, and resolved to become himself his sister's attendant. Clara entered and asked him about the arrangements.
· Bell, Mr. Griswold, Mordaunt, and my humble self,” replied Fred, “will make one carriage load. Clara and Mr. Melville may form the second; though I don't exactly fancy giving Mr. Melville so much to be proud of as a ride solus with so much natural loveliness. But some men are born lucky; and this time the old saw applies to this youth collegiate. Stop! stop, Clara! Don't pull my ears, hair, whiskers; no, no! nor Well, if you don't like the arrangement, take that (stealing a kiss from his beautiful cousin) as your only consolation against being forced to ride alone with a young man who wears the impress of true American nobility. Hem! Can't you give me another kiss, Clara, for my eloquence ? It's due! Well, if you 'won't, you won't; and there's the end on't.'” And he left the young ladies to make their toilet.
Fred's arrangement was fully carried out. Notwithstanding the storm, Miss Blackwood's house was well filled. Bell Mortimer was decidedly the most beautiful woman in the room (we like that good old-fashioned title, and respect “Old Bullion's "* judgment about the term “lady,” the young lady, and the Bible, to the contrary, notwithstanding).
* Hon. Thomas H. Benton, of Missouri, better known by the title given him in the text, in a speech, once said, that the term "lady" was not in the Bible; giving it as a reason why he preferred the title
woman.” A young lady proved to him that it occurred in the Bille no less than twelve times,
The entrée into the parlors being successfully accomplished, as the dancing had not commenced, the hotel party became a little separated. Miss Blackwood, feeling that Mr. Mordaunt was one who demanded at her hands especial attention, as the intimate friend and travelling companion of a distinguished statesman, became somewhat excessive in her attentions to him. Some further trifling circumstances brought Mr. Melville and Miss Mortimer together. At this instant, the music began a quadrille, Mordaunt being still engaged by Miss Blackwood.
“I see Mr. Mordaunt will probably not claim you for this dance, Miss Mortimer. Will you accept so poor a partner as I am able to offer?" said Melville.
“ With pleasure, sir,” said Bell, gently lifting the folds of her dress, and placing her hand upon Melville's arm.
Melville was at that moment envied by half the gentlemen in the room.
“Excuse me, if you please, Miss Blackwood, Miss Mortimer will be waiting for me to go through this quadrille," said Mordaunt.
“ Certainly, Mr. Mordaunt,” replied Miss Blackwood, her lip curling slightly as, at the same instant, she recognized Bell's movements with Melville.
Before Mordaunt could turn and address Bell, the dance had commenced. Clara was also dancing, with Mr. Griswold in another set. Returning, therefore, to Miss Blackwood, Mordaunt endeavored to engage her in conversation. She was, in terse phrase, distantly polite: monosyllabic, with an occasional smile for him, and full of vivacity and attention for several other gentlemen who surrounded her. Her sentiments in regard to his position in the Mortimer family had undergone a sudden revolution, and she was not sufficiently practised to know that to act well her part as hostess, was to make everybody pleased with themselves. Neither of these results, at any other time, would have caused a ripple on Mr. Mordaunt's temper. Now they produced the calm before the storm. Where his revenge would point, he did not yet know.
“She shall learn and feel the power of James Mordaunt !” hissed between his teeth, as he watched Bell gracefully threading her way through the quadrille.
Various things material both to the Story and the Reader—The Cat
fish Railroad Scheme.
MORDAUNT, on returning to the hotel, wrote a long letter to his aunt before he slept. He gave her, in detail, all that had occurred. He added, also, what the reader has yet to learn, that he had made Mrs. Mortimer a confidant; that she furthered his plan; that through her he had learned that Mr. Mortimer would do all in his power to make the issue of his suit successful. In reply to this letter, three days after he received the following note :
No. — FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK, August 13th, 18, MY DEAR JAMES:
Your letters of the inst., from Aurora, and of the inst., from Niagara, are received. You are in trouble, and not by any fault of commission on your part that I can now perceive. Bell has evidently made her brother a confidant. You must get him out of your way. Clara Edgemonte is your bitter enemy, from some previous knowledge of you. Find out her secret if possible. You will then be able to countermine any efforts she may make to prejudice Bell against you. Melville may be attracted by your fawn. Neglect no opportunity to find his weak points, and show him up. Tom Griswold may be of use to you. Play the dear friend with him; draw him into your confidence until you can obtain from him the secret little misdeeds which often surround such gay young men as is Melville. I shall visit Aurora in due time. The real battle, I am satisfied, will be against George Melville. All are well at home.
In haste. Your affectionate aunt,
SARAH E. TRYON.