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Impossible ! your ears have deceived you.” “ My ears deceive me, indeed! what would they do that for ?--you surely don't think I'm deaf? and if I am, I'm sure I'm not blind. You lovers seem always to think other people have lost their senses as well as yourselves, but it's only love that's blind, my
“ Miss Pratt, I beg you will listen to me seriously, while I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that you are under a complete delusion. For myself, I can only be honoured by such a supposition—but it is injurious, it is insulting to Miss St Clair, to have it imagined, that she has already bestowed her regards upon me, who am, in fact, still almost a stranger to her.”
Mr Lyndsay spoke with an air of truth and sincerity, that would have carried conviction to any other mind.
“ As to that, it doesn't take a lifetime to fall in love, and your sudden love is always the strongest-many a one has been over head and ears before you could say Jack Robinson. I really don't see why you should take it so much to heart, when the lady puts up with it so quietly; but more than that, I happened to hear something last night-I may as well tell you what it was, if it was only to save you telling any more fibs to me about it. I happened to be taking a turn through the rooms last night, just to cool myself a little, after losing seven points, all owing to your good uncle's obstinacy—when I came to the-what-do-ye-call-it-room there—the door was open, and there I heard the Colonel say, in 'a voice like any lion,” raising hers in imitation, “ You love that that (no matter what)—that Edward Lyndsay, says he, and you've deceived and bamboozled me. I know that you've given your affections to him; but he shall answer for it—and so he went on like any madman. I didn't hear so well what she said, -for, you know, she doesn't speak very loud ; but I heard her say, that she couldn't and wouldn't endure such insolence, and that he had no right to speak to her in that way. But just then Lord Rossville was calling me to go and play the game over again with him -and, at any rate, you know, I wouldn't have staid to listen."
« All that is nothing to the purpose,” cried Mr Lyndsay, in some little emotion ; “ at least the only purpose is to shew how little dependence you ought to place on any of your senses, since they must all have beguiled you in this matter. You will, therefore, act a prudent part for yourself, and a more delicate one towards Miss St Clair, if you refrain from making any such comments in future-be assured you will only render yourself highly ridiculous”
“O! you needn't be afraid ; I'm not going to trouble my head about the matter,” returned Miss Pratt, reddening with anger ; “ but you'll not easily persuade me that I've lost my senses, because I happen to have a little more penetration than my neighbours.” And away pattered the offended fair, rather confirmed than shaken in her preconceived notions on the subject.
Disbelieving, as he certainly did, the greater part of Miss Pratt's communications, still it was not in nature that Mr Lyndsay should have felt altogether indifferent to them. Although not a person to yield his affections lightly, he certainly had been charmed with Miss St Clair's beauty and grace-with the mingled vivacity and softness of her manners, and with the open naïf cast of her character. There was all to captivate a mind and taste such as his ; but there was still something wanting to render the charm complete. Firm in his own religious principles, he vainly sought in Gertrude for any corresponding sentiments. Gertrude was religious—what mind of any excellence is not ? but hers was the religion of poetry-of taste-of feeling of impulse-of any and every thing but Christianity. He saw much of fine natural feeling—but in vain sought for any guiding principle of duty. Her mind seemed as a lovely, flowery, pathless waste, whose sweets exhaled in vain-all was graceful luxuriance—but all was transient and perishable in its loveliness. No plant of immortal growth grew there--no“flowers worthy of Paradise."
Mr Lyndsay had discernment to trace the leading features of his cousin's mind, even through the veil which was cast over it by Lord Rossville's tyranny and Mrs St Clair's artifice. He saw her ardent, enthusiastic, and susceptible—but rash, visionary, and unregulated—he feared she was in bad hands, even in her mother's ; but he dreaded still more lest Colonel Delmour should succeed in gaining her affections. He suspected his design ; and, from his previous knowledge of his habits and principles, was convinced that such an union would be the wreck of Gertrude’s peace and happiness.
Since that strange and mysterious adventure in the wood, he had felt a still deeper interest in her, and he wished, if possible, to gain her friendship and confidence, that he might endeavour to save her from the snares with which she was beset. In short, Lyndsay's feelings towards her were compounded into one which could not have been easily defined—it was neither love nor friendship, yet partook of the nature of both--for it had somewhat of the excitement of the one, with the disinterestedness of the other.
The mutual embarrassment of the cousins was not lessened when they next met, and they seemed, by a sort of tacit agreement, to avoid each other, which Miss Pratt set down as a proof positive that there was a perfect understanding between them—but she was highly provoked that, with all her watching and spying, she never could detect stolen glances, or soft whispers, or tête-àtête walks, or private meetings, or any of those various symptoms which so often enable single ladies to anticipate and settle a marriage before it