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brother—for Edward had a finger in the pie too, I must tell you—finally managed to throw that poor Helen. Both her children married to Papists, and what is more, each of them very likely to be respectively converted by the union ! Ha! ha! ha!”
So contagious was Lord Tewkesbury's laugh, that none present could forbear to join in it; but he soon resumed :
"Well, matters were thus brought to that pitch that almost any alternative seemed preferable to the long wished-for consummation ; and ultimately, the greatest comfort and relief were afforded when it was suggested that, after all, an arrangement might be devised which would leave both Edward and Constance unperverted and free. Another and most important point was still to be gained. I will not conceal from you, Cécile, that I was at first very much grieved and shocked when I ascertained how seriously St. Edmunds's Protestant convictions were shaken, and that I was most unwilling to sanction, in any way, the step which he is about to take. I trust that I resisted so long as resistance could be of any avail; nor did I yield until I was positively assured by this
same Conny, that otherwise I must expect to see my son become a Trappist, or something very extraordinary. With her, with you Cécile, and above all, with himself, as now fully arrived at years of discretion, this grave responsibility must rest.”
“I will not shrink from my share of it, at all events,” replied the smiling Conny. “I am very sorry that St. Edmunds should differ from us all, but I do think that such unsettled minds as his are as well away from us as with us; and he must excuse me for saying that I do not imagine our Church will fall, because she loses him and such as him.”
"I trust so, indeed,” resumed Lord Tewkesbury. “And now, dear Cécile, as we are never to hear the fell sound of controversy, either in Cavendish Square or at St. Edmunds, allow me to say one word to you on the subject, and then to dismiss it for ever. Wiser than we are in your own esteem, you unscrupulously condemn all who disagree with you, and mark what is the result. Here is Conny, your more than sister, as you truly call her—she wears no torturing bracelet round her arm; her hair is suffered to retain its natural length; her prayers are to
God alone; she believes the Redemption to be all efficient for her sins, and the Bible all sufficient for her instruction: and yet, she has emulated, nay, she has overcome you in your generous conflict of self-sacrifice. If there is justice in heaven, its gates will not be closed against such as her.”
“Oh! do not malign me by saying that I doubt it,” muttered the all-unnerved Cécile, whose tears had been flowing fast whilst the preceding explanations had been imparted to her. “I believe, I must believe, the truth to be fixed, uniform, and unchangeable ; but still more firmly do I cling to the hope that God is all merciful. If I am mistaken, may He pity and spare me; if she is, thus, thus I kneel to the sanctity of her error.”
“Darling Cécile, what can you mean? But all this has unhinged you a little.”
“It has, faltered the still weeping Saint, “you have all been, you are all so much too kind. How can I deserve it, how can I requite it !"
“By being henceforth as happy as it is possible to be,” replied Conny, embracing her
tenderly. “But, Uncle Tewkesbury, had not you and I better leave them alone now."
“Oh! one moment more, dear Conny,” said Cécile, arresting her. “I had understood that Edward was in town with you: am I not to see him, to thank him too ?”
"No," answered Conny, more gravely." He will do very well, as well as I shall, I am convinced, in the end—but he would rather not meet you at present, and I agree with him. Perhaps you do not know that he has resigned his seat, and that he is going abroad so soon as we can assure him that he is no more wanted for our now happily concluded arrangements. He is a good boy, after all, and has behaved very well in all this. By the bye, I have a wedding present for you from him.”
Thus speaking, the fair Constance opened a large writing-box, close at hand, and produced an écrin, bearing sundry coronets and ciphers.
“Do you know this ?” continued she, laughing. “Every long lock and tress of a certain fugitive's hair, which we found still suspended in her room after her departure, has been saved, with the tenderest care, and committed to the
skill of the renowned Monsieur Réséda. It is he who has mounted them upon all these curious clasps, springs, and double pins. With these he affirms that, after one hour's teaching, your maid will be able to secure the original hair on its original and very original little head, in such a manner as far to surpass anything that nature could achieve. Lest, however, the device should be detected in the broad daylight of the presentation, Edward has added these diamond appendages. I had not seen them since they have been mounted, and, upon my word, they are not so ugly."
“They are magnificent, dearest Connymuch too splendid for me."
“Not now, darling," replied Constance ; “ but I have better news for you, or rather for St. Edmunds yet. The same Monsieur Réséda informed me, yesterday evening, that within two years your own real hair will be quite itself again. He even pledges himself that, if it is not then full as long, and full as fine as ever it was before, he will publicly admit that Monsieur Jasmin's talent is superior to his own. Stop a moment,” continued Conny, as she was closing the writing-box, “I had actually for