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how shall I know when I am right, since this has proved to be a crime !"
Mrs. Hartenfield was silent.
“My friend ! my dear, dear friend !” exclaimed Honoria, bursting into tears ; “ you have made me happy,--you have taught me to think, to feel, to live.”
“ Stay, Miss Conway ; remember I have been in the world for more than forty years. A child of three years old knows to what such protestations as these are the prologues.”
“No words ever came from the heart, if these did not,” exclaimed Honoria.
« From the heart! I have no doubt of it-from your heart of hearts ;--no one could mistake their origin.”
“ If you knew the wretchedness I am enduring at this moment, you would spare these taunts.”
“ They are not taunts, Miss Conway; they are grave, sober expressions of what I think. I believe, as I said, that your wish to renounce my friendship came from the heart.”
“ To renounce your friendship !"
“ What an admirable start! Mr. Vyvyan, the prince of actors, could not have surpassed it. No, Miss Conway, do not let us shock each other's delicate nerves. You did not mean to renounce
my friendship-far from it; you fully intended, when you met me in the street, to make a graceful inclination of the head, and, possibly, in some generous forgiving moment you would stretch out half a hand. Honoria,” she exclaimed, “there is nothing in this which surprises me, nothing that I ought not to have expected. What does surprise me, I own, is, that one whom I have been used to think the most open-hearted of human beings, whom I loved for that quality, before I knew the other virtues and failings, each of which has made her dearer to me—what does surprise and grieve me in her is, that she should think it necessary to profane the holy phrases "conscience and duty,' as worldlings use to do in order to disguise the truth from herself and me.”
“Oh! Mrs. Hartenfield, what less than conscience could lead me to the greatest sacrifice I shall ever make, if I have strength to make it!”
“ Nothing less, I own.” .“ You do believe this ?”
“ That it was something much greater, Honoria! I know at what a risk I am about to speak. There may be a spark of affection left for me in your heart. Heaven knows what I would give to keep that spark alive—and the words I am going to utter will destroy it. But my friendship for you has been disinterested from the first, and it shall be to the last. I will dare to tell you, that there are feelings in your heart stronger than conscience, stronger than duty, which have overcome your love for me! I will dare to tell you yet further, that if you are taking it from an unworthy object, you are about to bestow it upon one utterly worthless.”
“I know not what you mean, Mrs. Hartenfield. I spoke the simple truth, when I said _”.
“Answer me one question, Honoria ; has your resolution of to-night nothing to do with your conversation yesterday?”
Honoria was about to answer at once, and decidedly in the negative, but she remembered Captain Marryatt's remarks respecting the influence of sisters : she did not know how much they might have contributed to the effect which the words of Eustace left upon her mind. She was silent and turned pale.
"I ask no more !” cried her friend.
“ Mrs. Hartenfield, you are mistaken-mistaken utterly! I must explain.” Mrs. Hartenfield rang the bell.
“Will you not listen to me?” said Honoria.
“Bring up the tea, and tell the gentlemen it is ready," said she to the servant who appeared at the door.
“ The gentlemen are gone,” said the man.
" Gone! what do you mean—not all of them, I suppose ?”
“Yes, all, my lady."
“ You must be out of your senses-Has any thing happened ?”
The servant was silent. “Answer me directly!” said Mrs. Hartenfield.
“I believe there has been some news about a young lady, ma'am.”
“ News about what ?”
“A young lady that went away from here some time ago.”
“It must be Miss Duncan,” said Honoria.
“Why must it be?” said Mrs. Hartenfield, looking almost furiously at her.
“I fear so, because she is the only lady who has left the house this evening.”
“That is the lady's name, ma'am,” said the servant.
“I say it is not!” shrieked Mrs. Hartenfield. “Honoria, you have driven me mad.” Her eyes rolled wildly, and her countenance was dreadfully convulsed.
“My dear friend,” said Honoria, “ I have been very.cruel, but do not be unhappy. Nothing serious may have befallen Miss Duncan."
“I did not hear it was any thing serious, ma'am," said the servant; "only the carriage overturned.”
“What did you say ?” said Mrs. Hartenfield. “My poor Caroline's carriage overturned !" .
“The gentlemen have been gone some time, ma'am. I dare say they will soon bring her back.”
She left the room for a moment, with the servant.
“Oh! Honoria,” she exclaimed, when she returned, “ what shall I do? You will not hate the poor child now, I hope ?"
“Hate her! what do you mean?”
“She is such an innocent creature, you should not hate her.”
“I never did,” said Honoria, “ for a momenthow could you entertain such a notion ?”
“ Did not you? I do not know what I am saying. You are not angry with me now, are you?”
“ You have far more cause to be angry with me,” said Honoria. : “Oh, no, no ; I shall answer you a hundred things I do not mean-leave me at once.”
“ Not for the world, till I can hear something, and you are more calm !”
• Leave me, I say, Miss Conway, unless you wish me to abhor you.”
“Why do you speak so ?”