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qualifications.—The prudence of such a man as Mereworth in the Upper House, is worth all that the utmost brilliancy of talent or acquirement could compass in our own.”
“ That is to say, you think him dull enough for the lords," said I, peevishly.-—“ Well! I dare say you know best.-By the way, his son seems inclined to keep up the family predilections. Chippenham was amazingly struck yesterday with the beauty of Jane.”—
“ Indeed ?--It is to that, perhaps, I am indebted for Mereworth's visit to-day ;-for he inquired about my daughter, -and told me that if I intended to present her next spring, whenever Mrs. Herries was disinclined to act as her chaperon, Lady Mereworth would be happy to be Julia's substitute.—Let me seeMereworth's daughters are married, I think ?"
The idea of Theresa as a grandmother moved my choler so amazingly, that I swallowed a glass of Madeira at a mouthfull.
“ Mereworth has no daughters," said I. “ He has two boys at Eton; but Chippenham is the only one grown up.”—
And I proceeded to describe the noble heir of the house of Mereworth in terms which, at the close of my observations, induced my brother to observe, with a heavier sigh than I had ever heard him indulge in since the loss of poor little Arthur :-" The idea of Jane's marrying at all seems to me almost sacrilegious. I dare say the feeling has a selfish origin, for I scarcely know what will become of me when I have lost her!-Still less am I inclined to form ambitious projects on her account.
Let her only be happy, and I shall be content ! Yet I own to you, my dear Cecil, that could I have projected a conqnest for her, or could I now project a marriage, it would be with a young fellow such as you describe in Chippenham, and such as I know him to be in all particulars of fortune and connection.”
“To the good health of the happy couple, then !”—said I, gaily,—again filling my glass.
“Hush, hush !"-interrupted Danby, by way of moderating my enthusiasm, little suspecting its hollowness,-for the idea of Lady Mereworth's son as a father of a family ne me souriait pas le moins du monde. “I have always heard that the premature discussion of such matters was fatal to their success. Not another word therefore on the subject. I trust that Jane may never hear so much as the name of Lord Chippenham, till she is fairly in society, and able to decide upon his merits by comparison.-She sees no young men at Ormington. Our nearest approach to a Corydon is Sir Gerald Moseley, who is forty, and has the gout.-Jane is quite safe ;-and next season, should this lad's fancy dwell upon her in the interim, he will have the field before him !"
I was about to make some civil rejoinder; but was interrupted by the servant entering the room with one of those little delicate billets which, in former days, so infallibly followed me to every dinner party, that the moment I saw the butler enter the dining room with a small silver salver at dessert, I used mechanically to extend my hand.
I was now a little out of practice. Nevertheless, although the present little note was addressed
To the Hon ble
Cecil Danby, in a hand-writing which the French called fly legged, or à pattes de mouche,-it produced no emotion in my heart. It was from Lady Brettingham, (that eternal Lady Brettingham !) before opening whose letters, one was preassured they contained some interested petition.
On the present occasion, she affected, as usual, to want something for somebody-I forget what,-probably a coronation medal.But I felt convinced that what she really wanted,—and of course did not ask,—was to know whether I dined at my brother's, as I had that morning announced to her by way of excuse for avoiding a party at her house.
Lady Brettingham was the only person who had noticed the frequency of my visits to Grosvenor Square; the only person in whom they excited suspicion.—She detested the gentle Countess, the pure serenity of whose unobtrusive good breeding was harder to bear than the insolence of the Exclusives. Moreover a fallen angel is never perfectly at ease in presence of an angel, the brightness of whose auréole is unimpaired. - Lady Brettingham would have given worlds to find out any thing against Theresa.
“My compliments, and there is no answer,” said I, to the butler, whose attitude was one of expectation.
For I knew that the note was fully answered by the discovery that I really dined in Connaught Place.