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He, to be sure, might be suspected of having, in an evil hour, looked another way. Still, as Lady Helen had truly said, he was by no means blind; and all who know Constance Basinstoke, or who, not knowing her, have been pleased to attend to our description of her blue eyes, her tight nose, and her manifold other perfections, must rest satisfied that her accepted lover can have no cause to repine. As to Cécile, if we have mentioned her last, it is because all her wishes were evidently more completely gratified than those of any other party. Not only had she shaped out for herself that life-long repose for which she had so ardently sighed, but that which, as she has herself informed us, she had most anxiously longed and prayed for in regard to others, appeared also on the point of being accomplished. To be sure, the convent may seem to some a rather hazardous experiment for one of so ardent and aspiring a temperament. We, however, decidedly deem it a very fitting place for such a sententious and overexcitable young lady; and whether so wild a bird frets itself to death against the bars of its cage, or is lost, like many of its fellows, in the
trackless expanse of the ocean-clouds, its fate is, in neither case, very dissimilar.
Our conclusion being thus, decidedly, satisfactory to all in general, and to each in particular, we should be much inclined to let the curtain fall here, were it not for a critical inquiry which we imagine that we have just overheard : a Pervert is certainly alluded to in the title page, and who can this Pervert be? Not Lady Helen, no doubt, nor Sir Charles, nor the metaphysical Edward, nor Lady Templedale, nor Lord Tewkesbury. Perhaps, sapient reader, you may surmise that it was the lovely Conny herself, the more so that, since Cécile's departure, she certainly had been very repeatedly seen in long and earnest conversation with Father Athanasius. You would be mistaken, however, grievously mistaken. There is not, within the four seas of Britain, a stauncher or a safer Protestant than our littly Conny, and what is more, as the modern phrase runs, we believe, she knows why. Indeed, we esteem that the Lord Chancellor of England could not select a more appropriate partner for his long-promised polka upon the reluctant head of the Romish
Prelate. Constance Basinstoke then, we fearlessly assert, is not the expected Pervert, nor her accepted husband, either, which is more, so that this mysterious renegade must be sought for elsewhere.
We are to suppose that three months and a few days have elapsed since Cécile's flight from Redburn Hall. Sir Charles is still detained there, by a fit of the gout; Lady Helen is closely attending upon him ; while Conny and Edward have proceeded to London on a visit to their uncle, Lord Tewkesbury. The morning is fast advancing, and in that same little back study, where our not very eventful drama opened, the fair Constance is sitting, in evident expectation of some long wished-for incident. The day is an important one, in truth, for it is that which has been fixed for her first meeting with Saint Cecilia. Perhaps it may seem strange that this meeting should take place in London, and not at the very pleasant little nunnery of Clitheroe. All that we can say is, that this is through no fault of Conny's, who had repeatedly expressed her willingness to proceed to Lancashire ; but though this had been previously arranged, at first, Father Athanasius
had finally preferred that the recluse should come to London herself, for a day, a little change of air having been recommended to her, as her health and spirits had suffered by the too sudden transition.
A loud knock is heard without, the door of the room is cast open, and the two cousins are locked in each other's embrace. A moment of speechless but not tearless joy ensues, and the silence is first broken by Constance.
“This is a happy dream indeed, dearest Cécile."
“ Conny, it is.”
“Sit down now, and let me look at your darling face. You are very pale, dearest, and thinner too. I had heard that you were not very well.”
“I am a little tired with the journey, Conny, and too great joy always overpowers me. Besides, the change of life must always be felt a little, at first."
“So I should think, indeed,” replied her now smiling cousin. “It must be an awful undertaking for you. Don't you think sometimes of the free air of poor Redburn, of our walks, our drives, and our glorious liberty ?”
“ Often, Conny, very often.”
“But you have taken no fatal and irrevocable vows yet ?”
“No, dearest, none would be accepted for a year ; but my determination is all unaltered.”
“ Really? That is beyond my concep
“ Ah! Conny,” resumed the Saint, sadly, “there is many a bright hour, to be sure, in the noble world without, but many a cruel pang there withal. I have not forgotten, I never can forget, all that I have forfeited; but I can recollect, also, how deadly was the thrust of relentless irony, and how far deeper still the anguish of sympathy which might not be requited. These have done their worst by me now; but enough of myself. You are looking very well, Conny, and in the greatest beauty.”
“Well, I have not had time to be ill since we parted. I never was busier in my life, and, I might add, happier, had it not been for your absence, you good-for-nothing child.”
“All is-settled —quite settled, I understand.”
“Why, we have had much preparation and preliminary arrangement, to be sure, and we have