« PreviousContinue »
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 flirting 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 Auttering 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 in. terested 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,
which was very astounding to these flutterers who were accustomed to find them. selves well-nigh devoured by kindred beings. Charlotte Beverly immediately distinguished Sir Herbert Sedley above all the young men who surrounded her; he was the handsomest, the most refined, the most accomplished.
She had an admirably-trained saddle horse, and she looked perfectly handsome in her hat and habit; she was consequently very fond of riding and soon established equestrian parties. Sir Herbert Sedley was always enlisted, and she managed to retain him by her side, seeking out the most beautiful views for her, and endeavouring to soothe her prettily affected fears at the badness of the roads and the tremendous steepness of the hills.
Sedley found it impossible to fulfil his first intention of tearing himself speedily away from Teresa's vicinity; though he seldom spoke to her, still to be near her and to see her daily was a painful happiness to him, and besides this he longed to fathom the cause of the gloom which
evidently hung over the spirits of his beloved.
He often watched Teresa's countenance when Charlotte Beverly was exerting all her powers to fascinate him, and he would have hailed with delight the slightest symptom of uneasiness in its expression; but no-all was unfathomable, and she appeared perfectly unobservant of his actions and indifferent to them.
She seemed indifferent, but her heart was far from such apathetic feelings. She marked with extreme uneasiness the persevering efforts of the lively and agreeable Charlotte to win Sedley's regard and attention. She thought it impossible that any man could long withstand the charms of her manner and conversation, and when she appeared most regardless of what was passing she was in reality most watchful. She fancied that she saw a gradual change in Sedley's conduct towards Charlotte ; he appeared to listen with more interest to her playful sallies, and to contemplate her beautiful face with more emotion.
Every evening when she retired to her room
she made a resolution to meet Sedley the following morning with smiles and cordiality, but when the morning arrived, and she entered the breakfast room, her courage failed, and her impenetrable reserve returned.
She strove vainly to recal her former happy frame of mind, when heaven engrossed all her love; she found that she had lost all power over her unruly affections. Some time back, when life had appeared to her divested of all hope and charm, her spirit had soared above it, and she had contemplated a calm, though cheerless, passage to the grave; but now she found how fallacious had been her expectations, and how much suffering the human heart can endure, before it is thoroughly tamed and subdued to resignation. She had trusted her happiness in a frail and treacherous bark, whose safety depended on the breath of man; and she trembled as she contemplated the impossibility of its recal.
A great annual fair was about to be held in the neighbourhood, and, as it was always attended