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She pitied poor Maria also deeply; but she felt that even if she had never come amongst them there would have existed no chance of this poor girl's being chosen by her handsome cousin, and she sighed as she contemplated Maria's cheerless lot, compelled to live in the same house with the object of her attachment, yet sedulously to conceal that attachment under a semblance of careless indifference. Teresa felt that this was a trial almost beyond mortal strength, a trial to which even she would scarce be equal. Gradually her thoughts reverted back to Sedley, and she felt that his image was not to be shaken from her heart. The look she had encountered from the young Enrico, had recalled Sedley's look on the day she had parted from him, and had betrayed so much emotion. A feeling of regret almost amounting to repining arose in her breast, as she reflected on what might have been her fate, had she encountered Sedley ere both their destinies were decided.
Teresa was gifted with great penetration, and she had seen enough of Sedley to feel how com
pletely he was fitted for domestic life. His refined taste, his love of quiet and retirement, his indifference to the “world” par excellence, and his unvarying gentleness and sweetness of temper, joined to an unbending firmness when duty was in question—all rendered him the most perfect character she had ever imagined.
But soon this repining spirit was quelled within her, and, rising from her seat in the window, she knelt by her bedside, and prayed for herself and those under whose roof she was ; she also prayed for Sedley, for his peace of mind, and even his forgetfulness of her, which she felt could alone ensure that peace.
Her mind became tranquil, and almost immediately on laying down she slept peacefully.
But there were two individuals under this lowly roof to whom sleep came not that night -Enrico and his cousin Maria. Enrico had been stunned and bewildered at first by Teresa's cold rejection of his hand, when he had ventured to take hers. He had never before seen such a haughty expression on her beautiful countenance,
as he had noted on this occasion; and when he left the porch, he walked far from the house, striving to quell the tumult of his feelings, and to recall the bright hopes of the morning. The calm light of the moon, and the softness of the air soothed his mind, and he returned home encouraged and comforted; but when he was about to enter the farm-house, a tremulous fear returned, and his spirits sank.
Who has not experienced that feeling of doubt and distrust when about to appear before those they love, and of whose sentiments they are still in ignorance? It appears to us that we have been presumptuous in nursing hopes of a happiness too great for earth, and the confidence which had sustained us when far away, then totally deserts us.
Enrico was relieved on finding that Teresa had retired for the night, and listened with more than usual attention to the portions of scripture which his uncle read out to them, since something whispered to his heart that he might need all their consolation soon.
The family separated for the night, and in an honr afterwards not a sound was heard in the
Enrico lay awake, drawing plans for the future, and building castles in the air, which a few hours were to dissipate.
It is a sweet and pleasant occupation, this same castle building, and we raise our fabrics with such surprising rapidity, and such symmetrical beauty, that we contemplate our own work with intense delight. All is sunshine, and perfume, and grace, and bright verdure!
“ Where are the fair dreams that made
Life so beautiful at first ?
Of affection deep and true ?
Maria also could find no rest, and she was more to be commiserated than either of the others, for she had staked everything and lost the game. She loved her cousin Enrico, and she had cheated herself into the hope, that his gentle kindness towards her meant more than a cousin's affection; for Enrico had ever been studiously attentive to poor Maria, and ever devising some amusement or pleasing surprise for her.
But latterly she had marked the thoughtfulness and gravity of her once light-hearted cousin ; his conversation began to teem with praises of Teresa's grace and beauty, and these praises would sometimes chase the blood from Maria's cheek, and bring the tears into her eyes; but a glance at her homely figure often caused him abruptly to change the subject, and