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coquetry is not inborn in men,-in with those dreadful school-friends of Englishmen, at all events. There hers, the Smithetts, and as I never are male coquets, as there are male can stand the cotton atmosphere for milliners and male dancers; but more than five minutes without a Nature asserts herself in every case. sensation of choking, I made my Just when the last perfection in art escape, and asked Esther to come out is required, they lack those finer with me here for a little purer air.' graces of the sex whose attributes It was not a refined thrust: Jane they are infringing, and become was the first to confess herself afterridiculous. Arthur Peel could wards that she had been positively carry on any number of flirtations unladylike. But it took the desired apart; could parry jealous question effect at the time. No fine shaft ings with a mixture of aplomb and could have pierced so tough a skin, indignant tenderness that belonged morally and physically, as Miss almost to the highest stage of Lynes's; but the slightest allusion science; but yet to the very highest to trade made her actually shiver. he could not reach. Meeting the She was so exultingly proud of her woman who loved him, in the com- money, so thoroughly ashamed of pany of the woman whose fifty the way in which her money had thousand pounds he desired to been made! possess, he looked more foolish, • Who are the Smithetts ? she more awkward, than any schoolgirl cried, in that quick familiar way with of fifteen would do if suddenly which people of her breeding always called into a position in which just try to throw off their confusion. 'I the same amount of tact should be never met them out-I never heard required of her.
of them. Are they in society?' But, whatever the feelings of the 'Some persons visit them,' said others, Mrs. Strangways, at least, Jane, in a frightfully clear, syllabic looked radiant, and would on no ac- manner. 'I believe old Mr. and count pass Jane and Esther with Mrs. Smithett belong to a highly remerely bowing. She stopped, she spectable class of persons.
The shook hands, she made playful sur- daughters, from being ashamed of mises as to the object of their early their parents and of their business, walk; finally she introduced Jane to are insufferable. Is that really one Miss Lynes. The heiress nodded with of Stone and Mason's horses, Mrs. the affability that her wealth and Strangways? It is a much more deher magnificent mount and her cent-looking creature than any papa groom behind her, and her present ever gets for Milly and me.' success with Arthur, warranted her Oh, I hope you won't get any to feel : Jane drew up her little hack-horses when you ride with me figure and inclined her head about again, Mrs. Strangways,' interrupted three-quarters of an inch with an Miss Lynes. They're such miseawfully supercilious ghost of a smile, rable screws, I don't care to be seen extending as much to Mr. Peel as with them; and you know you can to Miss Lynes.
always have one of mine, whenever * Have you walked far, Miss you like. I keep three, beside the Fleming?' Arthur inquired, bring
groom's.' ing his horse nearer to the path and Arthur Peel had always felt a farther from the heiress, but not mild chronic distaste for Miss Lynes's daring to address Jane herself. “We person; but at this moment it rose did not see you on the common. I into something very near strong resuppose-ah
pugnance. Her corpulent figure, He was assisted out of his dilemma her stunted features had never stood by Jane. That one word 'we' had out in such strong relief as they did sent all the angry blood from her now, with Jane Dashwood's delicate heart to her cheeks, and Mr. Peel form and proud little patrician face knew, before she spoke, the kind of straight before him. Her bragging answer he had to expect.
pride of wealth and innate vulgaWe haven't been far, Mr. Peel. rity of soul had never revolted him Milly has gone to spend the day as they did now, with Jane's mock
ing wit ready to call them out and she had only to speak,
and, whatever treasure them for his especial grati- the violence to his own feelings, he fication and benefit hereafter. would go at once in an opposite
How devoutly he wished Jane direction. Dashwood had Miss Lynes's money "You droll creature ! cried Miss -or half of it! He thought he Lynes in her loudest tone.
* As if would marry her to-morrow with I had ever taken the trouble to look half of it, and let Miss Lynes and what your horse was like! Nothing her three horses, besides the groom's, like the vanity of men I do believe go to the deuce. He almost thought, —and all the time, do you know you looking at the two young women are losing your flower? I shall take together, that he would marry Jane care how I waste one of my rare without a penny, and leave Miss winter
upon you another Lynes with all her wealth for some time.' one of stronger stomach than him- And she leant forward, and with self.
an air of the most perfect, recognised He almost thought so: but Arthur familiarity adjusted a flower that Peel was too old a hand ever to was nearly falling from Mr. Peel's act upon any foolish pulse. A buttonhole. delicate lithe figure and proud little It was more than Jane Dashwood's patrician face are very nice things strength could bear. She had indeed for a man who can afford to marked Arthur's low. tone; she inpay for them—which he could not. tercepted the look which passed He was over head and ears in debt; from his eyes to the heiress as she his family were bankrupts; his only stooped forward towards him now; hope of being able to save his com- and a feeling nearer akin to positive mission, or his position in life at all, anguish than any he had ever yet rested upon his being able to bring caused her, contracted her heart. his own handsome face to a good That he could never love Miss matrimonial market as speedily as Lynes, she knew; but, tempted by possible. As much love as it was his own need, might he not be in his nature to feel he felt at this brought in time,-might he not moment for Jane Dashwood; as already have brought himself, to the much disgust as any woman, young thought of marrying her ? and well-disposed towards himself, * Esther, it is time for us to go on. could fill him with he felt for Miss These November days are so short, Lynes; and for an instant, as I have and we have not got half through said, the desperate folly of being true our walk yet.' to the one and throwing up the And we were to have been at the other did enter his brain.
Crofton's at two, and it is now halfThat instant was enough to show past one,' said Mrs. Strangways, him the danger of allowing feeling looking at her watch. Thank you, ever to dally with principle. Young Jane dear, for reminding me of the women, however vulgar, with fifty time. I could not get those young thousand pounds to their portion, people on when we were in the are not readily met, and are quickly country. They persisted in calling lost. Already two or three men of it warm, and looking out for violets, family as high, and with position in spite of all my assertions about less desperate than his own, were its being the depth of winter. Miss steadily in pursuit of Miss Lynes. Fleming, I am to see you on ThursA little well-founded jealousy on her day, I hope? That is right. Come part, a slight suspicion as to the dis- early with Jane and Milly. You will interestedness of his motives, and have an opportunity of renewing his game might be up.
your acquaintance with a Weymouth Mr. Peel turned his eyes reso- friend, that is, if Miss Dashwood lutely from Jane Dashwood's face, will give you carte blanche for doing and fixing them upon Miss Lynes, asked her, in rather a low voice, if And then Mrs. Strangways' affecshe was ashamed of riding with him, tion for her young friends could not as he was on a hack-horse? If so, be satisfied without another warm
shake of the hand; and Jane had to quicker? the common is some dissubmit to another patronizing nod tance from us yet.' of triumph from Miss Lynes, as, But all Jane Dashwood's desire laughing and talking in an under for the country was gone. There tone to Arthur Peel, she rode off is no good in walking up that terrific by his side.
hill, Esther. It is quite as pleasant Well, what do you think of my here. Let us sit down for a few rival now?' she cried, after a minute, minutes and rest. I have yet someto Esther. Do you think there is thing I want particularly to say to imminent danger of Arthur Peel's
you.' falling in love with Miss Lynes ?' Esther knew that something par"With Miss Lynes, herself,—no!' ticular, with Jane Dashwood, must
But with her money, yes. You mean the only subject of real interest think her rare roses ih November, the to her in the world-her own lovethree “orses besides the groom's” affairs; accordingly, she was quite will tempt bim? I don't, Esther. prepared for another indignant outIt is not in Arthur's nature to sell burst about Arthur Peel's seeming himself to such a woman as that. flirtation with the heiress. When Look at them together! Did'you ever Jane began to speak, however, all see such a contrast? I can tell by indignation had left her voice, and the turn of Arthur's head, even at her face was as soft and gentle as this distance, that it is she who is though no tornado of fierce jealousy doing all the talking-just in the or quick repentance had just swept same forward way that she volun- across her heart. teered to button his coat for him. I *You think my love and my trust, suppose, however hideous a woman too, are unreasonable, Esther. I am is, men feel flattered at having love quite sure you do; but you don't made to them with such outrageous know what has made them both so warmth—but to return it by love! deep in my heart. You don't really Ah, that is another thing.'
know how long and how I have Through the long vista of leafless trusted Arthur Peel.' trees Miss Dashwood continued to . Three years, you told me, Jane. watch the riding-party as long as You must have been almost a child they were in sight. Just as they when your acquaintance with him turned into the town park, and when first began.' the archway across the road would 'I was never a child, Esther; we in another moment have shut them were not brought up to be children. out of sight, Mr. Peel turned, I was just as much a woman at sixchecked his horse for an instant, teen as I am, or as Milly is, now. and raised his hand to his hat. But I was not quite sixteen when I
The blood rushed up crimson into first met Arthur. I went to spend Miss Dashwood's face.
the Christmas holidays with my • Do you see him, poor fellow ?- aunt Robarts, papa's sister, in Esther, do you see him? He wants Leicestershire; and Arthur, who was me to know by that look that he going to stay in the house, too, trawishes he was here, and that his velled down in the same carriage companions are odious to him. How with me. He was quite a boy then, wrong I was to show such annoyance he had only just got his commission, before those women-as if it could and he was as simple as possible, matter to me Mrs. Strangways having much simpler than I was. Well, entrapped him, for once, into riding you know how such things go on! with her and Miss Lynes! I was We played battledore and shuttlevery wrong-wasn't I ?'
cock, and sang duets, and gave each You acted naturally, Jane,' said other flowers, and went through all Esther, who felt herself unable to the established stages of a boy-anddecipher such worlds of meaning in girl flirtation; and then, one evening Arthur's parting salutation. 'Mr. in the greenhouse, he made me an Peel seemed quite intimate enough offer. I don't think I cared very with Miss Lynes to justify your an- much about him, but I accepted him noyance. Shall we walk on a little because I always meant to accept one, then?
the first man who offered to me. him half through vanity, half The Robartses encouraged it all through worldliness; but at the first immensely, and papa wrote me the word of being false to him, under only affectionate letter I ever had his fallen prospects, something from him in my life, and everybody stronger seemed to rise up in my let me know, directly or indirectly, heart, and I have kept to it. Yes, how wonderfully clever I had been Esther, I have kept to it ever since.' at sixteen to get hold of such a catch *I am sorry for you, Jane. Whatas Arthur Peel.'
ever other people may think, I say • The engagement was a permitted you determined right.
*Sometimes I think so, too; but, • Permitted! I should think it you know, wrong is so mixed up was permitted. Arthur had an old with right, or so grows of it, that aunt living at that time, who was however one starts one seems forced expected to leave him the whole of into evil as one gets on. I may her money, something like twenty have been right in determining to or thirty thousand pounds, and we stand by Arthur, whether he was all felt sure we had got hold of this rich or poor, but I have been wrong money, and thought Arthur the a hundred, a thousand times, in all most delightful, promising, excellent the deceit and prevarication, and young man living. Well, the aunt sometimes the downright falsehoods, died, about six months after I was of the last three years. Just in the engaged, and left every shilling she same way wrong seems in time to had to her solicitor. When Arthur become right. Papa was worldly wrote and told me of his fallen and harsh in making me break with prospects, and said it need make no Arthur Peel as he was then; but I difference to us, and his profession believe, if I could judge dispassionin time would be enough for us to ately, I should consider any father marry on, I first really felt that I right, who held his daughter back loved him. Papa was in a great from marrying such a man as rage, and stormed about Arthur, as Arthur Peel is now.' if he had taken us in, instead of ‘Oh, Jane! can you say this? being disappointed himself. Не 'I can both say it and feel it. said the engagement shouldn't go If we had married early, if we had on a day, that it was a mockery for been openly engaged, he mighta penniless cornet to talk of marrying God knows if it be so, but I try to one of his daughters, that the Peels think it!-he might have been dif
a dissipated, ruined family ferent, for my sake. But only (I never heard of their bad morals bound as he has been to me (and before, you must know), and he such, even, as our engagement is, should have me back
his we have ourselves broken it off half hands in a twelvemonth, if he was a score of times), he has had nothing fool enough to consent to such a to hold him back from becoming beggarly marriage. If I was pretty like all the rest of his family. It is enough to get as good an offer as inborn in every one of the Peels to Mr. Peel's had been at sixteen, I be extravagant and dissipated, and a should be sure to have another as gambler. His two eldest brothers are good if I waited. As to love, he and outlawed, the third is following fast Mrs. Dashwood both knew very well on their steps, and Arthur himselfI had accepted the offer simply be- but here Miss Dashwood's voice cause it was an eligible one. Mrs. trembled, and she stopped short. Robarts had informed them my 'I wish you had married him manner showed that pretty plainly long ago,' cried Esther. It is not from the first, and so on.
very like me to counsel runaway 'I didn't make any opposition, marriages, but I do think a runfor I knew, if they chose, they could away marriage would have been hinder me from seeing Arthur; but better for you both than the sort of I swore in my heart I would never engagement that binds you now. give him up as long as he himself Marry Arthur Peel while you still wished to marry me. I had accepted love each other, and while there is &
hope of reclaiming him. I will be the idea that she could ever find your bridesmaid, Jane.'
pleasure either in dress, or in parMiss Dash wood laughed bitterly: ties, or in anything save letters from then the quick blood started to her Malta during Oliver Carew's abcheek again. "Your proposal might sence. have been worth listening to three As the evening approached, howyears ago, Esther. We were younger ever, on which she was again to and simpler, and more sentimental meet Paul, she could not hide from then than we are
Arthur herself that she was looking forward Peel, at two-and-twenty, is a great with an unusual amount of interest deal too old to commit an action of to the event; also that she made such surpassing folly as to add a more little rehearsals with flowers penniless wife to the heavy burthen and muslins and lace for several sucof his other encumbrances.'
cessive evenings than she had ever 'Jane, do you mean ?
done before in her whole simple life. 'I mean,' cried Miss Dashwood, Was she growing vain, avid of gestarting up suddenly, that Arthur neral admiration, or-and this quesand I thoroughly understand each tion gave her conscience a sharper other, and ourselves. We are en
were all these rehearsals gaged in our way, which, as I told proof of a desire to stand well with you, would never be yours, and if I one man, and that one another than talked to you for a hundred hours, Oliver ? instead of one, you would know no 'You look distinguished, Esther, more about us than you do now. said Mrs. Tudor, as her niece stood You would still be Esther Fleming, before her for approval on the evenand we should still be Arthur Peel ing of the party,' and it is the highest and Jane Dashwood. Oh, no,' she praise I could give you. The simadded, as Esther turned towards the ple unstudied style suits you. Little common which was to have been mignon persons require small friptheir destination—'oh, no, let us get peries; large dark women demand on home at once; we want a few few and flowing lines. Our styles turns in Milsom Street, to enliven are the same. I never wore more us after all this solitude. Country in my hair in my life than you have walks are very innocent and charm- now. Our cast of features can afford ing, and sentimental in theory, but to set fashion aside.' in practice-va!
Esther was dressed in a black lace What do you mean to wear on
that Mrs. Tudor's own cast-off stores Thursday? Papa and Mrs. Dash- had furnished forth. A single scarwood are so shamefully stingy that let flower was in her hair, a gold Milly and I will be obliged to go in bracelet, a loan also of Mrs. Tudor's, our washed muslins. How I wish was her only ornament. But that philanthropy occasionally bore fruits nameless something, which neither at home as well as abroad!
dress nor fashion, nor always birth, The tide had turned again : all can give; that fine grace which, that the fickle nature contained of lacking a better word, we call disseriousness had evaporated. Blue tinction, was Esther Fleming's inhegrenadines and white silks; gored rited portion, and Mrs. Tudor was skirts and plain ones; the advantages right when she added to her other of fair women over dark women in praise a prophecy that her niece possessing a wider range of becom- would be by far the most refined ing colours: these formed the staple and best-bred young woman in Mrs. of Miss Dashwood's conversation Strangways' rooms. during the remainder of the day,
“Some families take up every plebeian face that they have the mis
fortune to be allied with, Esther, CHAPTER XXII.
but we retain our own features,
excepting Joan, whom I regard as a RIVAL CHARMS.
mere accidental offset, the one When she first left Countisbury crooked branch you will see on the Miss Fleming would have scouted handsomest tree. We shall con