« PreviousContinue »
time, when only a few words of explanation were wanting to remove every impediment to her happiness. In society she strove to appear animated, but when alone, the deepest melancholy weighed on her spirit; it seemed as though she were doomed to a life of sorrow and suspense; she indulged in the most painful reveries, and felt that she herself, by her constrained and cold manner towards Sedley, was preventing the very explanation for which she so ardently longed. Yet, feeling this fully, she found it utterly impossible to shake off the reserve of her manner; and what rendered it still more distressing and apparent to him was, the sweetness and graciousness of her deportment towards every other individual in the house. Everything was painful and distasteful to Teresa, all her former occupations were neglected, her calm of mind and placidity of expression were wholly flown, giving place to a restless nervousness, and she avoided as much as she possibly could being in the drawing-rooms, or accompanying the rest of the party in their drives.
Mrs. Alexander saw with regret the failure of her schemes, and that the two people she considered formed for each other should apparently be actuated by a mutual dislike.
There was a family staying in the house at Rossfirth consisting of a father, mother, and two daughters. The father, Mr. Beverly, was a rich and eminent merchant, and a very quiet, good man. Mrs. Beverly had been pretty and was a scion of a noble house; she was, therefore, conceited and affected in proportion to her double claims; but provided people paid her a due share of attention, she was very good-tempered and amiable.
The eldest daughter, Charlotte Beverly, was à fine, dashing girl, who had the stamp of fashion on everything she said, looked, or did; and, from having lived so much in the great world, her conversation was diversified by a thousand amusing anecdotes ; she possessed a great flow of natural spirits, and was altogether a delightful companion for a ride, a dance, a party of plea
sure—but not exactly for life, since home and quiet were detestable to her.
Charlotte was fully aware of her own perfections, and exacted the tribute of admiration from every man with whom she was associated ; and, indeed, it was seldom denied her, for she had the most seducing smile in the world, the most brilliant eyes, and understood the management of them to perfection. Such a being 29 she was, naturally excited a great sensation wherever she went; and within a very few days of her arrival, Charlotte was pronounced a charming creature by the gentlemen, and a very haughty, disagreeable girl by the ladies. The fact was, that she never considered it worth her while to exhaust her energies in talking to ladies, much less country ladies, who, as she naturally observed, could not possess one single idea in common with herself; all her conversation was reserved for gentlemen, whilst with her own sex she was invariably silent or languid.
Charlotte Beverly was far more popular than Teresa with every one, and Mrs. Alexander saw with regret that, notwithstanding her surpassing beauty, her protegée was by no means so generally admired or liked in the country as she had fondly anticipated. Even the gaiety of manner Teresa had assumed in London was now thrown aside, and rather a cold, proud demeanour had replaced it.
But, with her lacerated feelings, how could she have endured or tolerated the unmeaning attentions which would have been lavished on her, had she not repelled them by her manner?
Yet Teresa was naturally gentle and cheerful, and shunned giving offence to the most insignificant being
Then her mind was at all times too superior to permit her to herd with the generality of Misses in the neighbourhood, and participate in all those low feelings of envy and petty rivalry which are so unfortunately common amongst
There are doubtless many exceptions to this,
odious character, but there were none of these within Teresa's reach. Besides these impediments to her popularity with her own sex, there were still greater drawbacks in her intercourse with the other.
There is a certain flippant, vulgar, trifling sort of Airting prattle adopted frequently by young ladies in the country towards all the single men of their acquaintance, which is equally devoid of heart and rationality.
Now Teresa's nature could not stoop to this ; she was ever courteous in her manner, but it required a being akin to herself in intellect to call forth the slumbering energies of her soul, and the little fluttering insects who infested Rossfirth, and its neighbourhood, and aped manhood were ill calculated to draw forth her rich and varied powers. She could not feel interested by them, and she knew not how to feign; she did all she could to appear attentive when they talked, she attempted most amiably to laugh at their witticisms, but beyond this she could not advance, and therefore remained silent,