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in her voice and manner. “Of course it is right and proper should know every thing, for who has a right to ask, if it isn't a gentleman who comes forward in such an honourable manner to offer to be her husband? But before I come to any particulars I should just wish to say, that there is not a person in the world that would be happier upon quite a small little income, than my sister Matilda. It stands to reason that I must know her if any body can, and I am quite certain sure that if she had a good husband she would not care the least bit in the world about money, whether it was a little more, or a little less.”

“ Charming, disinterested creature !” exclaimed Mr. Foxcroft, with great emotion. “ But do you not perceive, my dear madam, that the less care her noble nature bestows upon such subjects, the more incumbent it is upon the husband she honours with her love, to attend to them? Never should I forgive myself if I suffered the blind vehemence of passion to hurry me into a step that might bring privation and inconvenience upon her! No, Miss Louisa ; on that point, my mind is irrevocably made up. Nothing, not even the having to tear her lovely image from my bleeding heart, should induce me to commit an imprudence which, with my views upon the subject, must in my own conscience be classed as a crime. I beseech you, therefore, to end this terrible suspense by telling me, with all the openness you have promised, the exact amount of your sister's fortune.”

"I will, sir,” said Miss Louisa, gravely, and with evident embarrassment; “ but I am sorry to say that I fear it is not so much as you may think necessary. My sister Matilda has got very little fortune, sir.”

A certain relaxation of the muscles about the eyes and mouth of Mr. Foxcroft might have shown a keen observer that the ardour of his feelings was relaxing too; but ere bis words could make this manifest, the possibility occurred to him of his deeming a fortune sufficient under his present circumstances, which Miss Perkins might deem inadequate to the expectations of so dashing a personage as himself, and he therefore replied, not with a frown, but a smile, as he looked round upon the neat little apartment,

“ Perhaps, my dear lady, your ideas may be less moderate than mine. Your mode of living at Brighton, and your comfortable home here, prove that you must have each of you a sum of money at your disposal, by no means to be considered as contemptible."

Miss Louisa shook her head. “That notion has deceived other gentlemen before you, Captain Foxcroft,” said she ; “ but the fact is, that the chief part, by far, of what we live upon, belongs to me. I had three thousand pounds left to me by an uncle of my mother's, a very little time after I was born, and so it went on, you know, growing more and more, till I came to be one-and-twenty; and soon after that our father .and mother both died, leaving little or nothing behind them, because he was in an office, and that was what they lived upon.

Matilda had all, however, which I am sure was very right and proper ; but it did not come to above five hundred pounds altogether, and the interest of that is no very great matter.

But my money,

which is in the funds, as well as her little fortune, brings me in just two hundred pounds a year, and with that we contrive to live very comfortably, always going to the sea every year, and me doing every thing I can, every where, to set off Matilda to advantage.”

While Miss Louisa made this long speech, Mr. Foxcroft sat with his eyes steadily fixed upon her; his countenance during the time undergoing several alterations, of which, however, she was in no degree aware, for the kind-hearted lady greatly disliked the task she was thus obliged to perform, and instead of meeting the lover's varying eye, she kept her own steadily fixed upon the border of a nightcap that she was hemming with unbroken perseverance.

Just as she finished her oration, Mr. Foxcroft rose, and, somewhat to her surprise, placed himself close beside her on the sofa. In fact, he sat very close beside her, for the sofa was a small one, and she had seated herself, as before stated, precisely in the middle of it; so, to make more room, she withdrew herself as far as the dimensions of the seat would permit, expecting, with considerable anxiety, the answer which he had thus approached her to make.

Nor did she wait long for the sound of his voice, though its accents came not, in any way, like what she had either feared or hoped.

“Oh ! do not, admirable Louisa ! do not draw yourself away from me, as if you feared that I could do you injury by my too presumptuous approach! Alas! as yet, you have no reason to fear me. You know not, as yet, the wild tumult into which you have thrown my soul! Never, no never, did the tongue of woman or of angel recount a story so calculated to pierce to the very centre of a noble heart, and bind it in chains for ever !"

“Sir!" ejaculated the startled Miss Perkins, without, however, having the very slightest conception of what he meant.

“Ay—so it is I shall be treated by you ! I already see, and feel it all,” said Mr. Foxcroft, in a voice which seemed to indicate that his heart was nearly broken. “So it is I shall be treated ! How, alas! can I expect it should be otherwise ? How can I expect sympathy in feelings that can never be understood ?”

“What do you mean, sir?” cried Miss Louisa, squeezing herself up in the very furthest corner of the sofa, and looking at him very much, as if she thought he was going mad.

“ Mean, Louisa,—what do I mean?” he replied, but in a tone so meek and gentle, as in a great degree to remove the personal terror of murder, “ under the influence of temporary excitement,” which from some recent readings of newspapers had not unnaturally occurred to her. You ask me what I mean, my too, too charming friend ! Alas! I have no words to answer you! For how can I make known-how, by any language used by man, can I hope to explain the vehement revulsion of feeling which has taken place in my very heart of hearts since first I entered this fatal room ?”

“ Fatal, Mr. Foxcroft? Fatal !” exclaimed poor Miss Louisa, all her fears returning at hearing a word which she understood perfectly, and knew to mean something about death. “Indeed, sir, I must beg. that you will not speak to me in such a manner as that. you don't mean any thing,” she added, from a feeling of compunction, as she marked the exceedingly tame, not to say tender, expression of his eyes ; “ but I am rather nervous, and you almost frightened me. However, I am quite sure you did not mean any thing : so please to go on about Matilda, that I may let her know what you say."

“Not mean any thing? Gracious Heaven! what a fate is mine!" exclaimed the gentleman. “Oh, Miss Perkins ! cease, for pity's sake,

I dare say

fore you.

cease to believe that in what I now say to you, I mean nothing. Be patient with me,” he added, gently taking her hand. “Think not that I mean to offend, think not that I mean to frighten you ; but, oh! Louisa, there is that within my heart at this moment which must destroy me if I conceal it, and which may cause you to look unkindly on me were it to be revealed. I could not bear this, Louisa !” he continued, speaking rapidly, and as if to prevent her prematurely answering him; “I could not bear it. One frown, one angry look from you, would send me from you a raving maniac,-or stretch me at your feet a corpse !"

“Dear me, Mr. Foxcroft! I am afraid you are a very hasty man, and that isn't what makes the best husband. But after all, sir, it is for my sister Matilda to decide, and not me. If you'll be pleased to say at once whether your purpose is to go on with your offer now you have been told all particulars about her fortune, I will let her know it, and then my looks won't have any thing more to do with it.”

In truth, the looks of Miss Louisa, as she uttered these words, were by no means so civil and so sweet as he had been used to see them ; for she did not like the passionate way in which he talked, and could not help fearing that, determined as Matilda was to be married, it was not unlikely she might live to repent the not remaining single.

But Mr. Foxcroft either did not see, or did not heed her looks; for boldly passing his arm around her waist, he said, “I cannot leave you! I will not be banished thus harshly till at least I have made you know all that is passing in my heart. Let me tell you a story, sweet Louisa ! and let me hear your own judgment on the facts I will lay be

Will you listen to me, my gentle friend ? Is this too much to ask ?"

Miss Louisa was not used to being hugged, and she did not like it. She conceived it to be exceedingly coarse and ungenteel, even from a brother-in-law; but though very anxious to bring this puzzling interview to an end, she was so terrified at the idea that any rudeness on her part should send off Matilda's odd-tempered lover in a huff, that she very civilly said, “I will hear any story, Captain Foxcroft, that you will please to tell me; only you ought to recollect that my

sister Matilda must be in great suspense all this time, and so I think you ought to make it as short as you can: and besides, sir, I shall be much obliged if you will please to take your arm away, because it makes me sit very uncomfortable.”

Mr. Foxcroft withdrew his arm, while with the other he made a flourish in the air that ended by slapping his forehead in a manner which inferred great mental suffering, and then changing his place to a chair, which he drew to a point exactly opposite to the lady, he thus addressed her:

“There was once a man, doubtless with many faults, but formed by nature with a heart the most tender and the most true that ever beat within a human breast. This man was thrown by fate into the society of two lovely, graceful, intellectual women, whose manners, marked by that peculiar tone of delicacy which his soul most loved, had for him a degree of captivation which he found it impossible to resist.

He was a military man, and so wedded to his profession, that he long struggled against every thought of any other marriage, knowing, from having watched the same effect on others, that where the sword is not the only bride, the steel-braced panoply of war is apt to gall the wearer. How

ever,” continued the gentleman, with a deep sigh, “his fate was busy with him, and all his most steadfast purposes seemed melting into air

, Of these two enchanting sisters, there was one—the eldest—" and here another sigh impeded, for a moment, the fluent utterance, -"one

—the eldest,”, he resumed, “ who was formed in a mould which was the very model which nature had seemed to stamp on the imagination of this unhappy man as the pattern of all he was born to admire and to love. But he fancied he perceived a coldness towards him in her manner. He was not a presuming man; and this idea chilled all hope within him! He looked-he could have loved—but dared not—and turning for consolation to the softer-seeming younger sister, he met a degree of encouragement which led him to hope that if the ecstatic bliss of possessing her he adored was denied him, he might be woothed and lulled to peace and forgetfulness by one who in some degree resembled her. But woe to him who fancies he can play tricks with the mighty god of love, and juggle with him for felicity! "Just at the very hour when the unhappy man had made up his mind to marry the younger sister, such a glorious record of the heavenly-minded virtues and angelic highmindedness of the elder was disclosed to him, that all his idle efforts not to loye her fell, like the withered leaves from the sapless trees of autumn, and left him defenceless to endure the storm of irresistible passion that rushed upon his heart. A few agonizing moments of selfexamination followed, but when these were over, the manly firmness of his mind returned. He felt that if from a mistaken sense of honour he should persevere, and become the husband of the younger sister, his rebellious heart would cause her misery, as well as his own; whereas if he could succeed in obtaining the elder, their days would flow in an endless circle of unceasing bliss, that might teach the very gods to

Here the orator paused, and gazed earnestly on the face of the lady he addressed, but not all his acuteness could avail to discover what she thought of him.

"Say, Louisa! speak!" he passionately resumed; “was this man wrong in acknowledging his unconquerable love, ere it was yet too late to save the charming younger sister from the dreadful fate of throwing herself away upon one who could not love her? Say, was he

envy !"

wrong?"

“ Upon my word, Mr. Foxcroft, I am no very good judge of such matters, because they are quite out of my way,” replied Miss Louisa. “ But it seems to me, sir, that it was a pity the gentleman did not know his own mind sooner.”

“And who, think you, was this erring man?" replied Foxcroft; “who think you was the angelic woman who had this power over him? Oh, Louisa !” he added, throwing himself on his knees before her, determined, as it seemed, to stake all on this bold throw,—"oh, Louisa! it is yourself! Speak to me, adored Louisa ! Tell me my fate in one soulstirring word--Will you be my wife ?"

The lady rose from her seat, and extricating her hands by a sudden jerk from the grasp of her lover, she slipped her thin person round the corner of a table that seemed to fasten her in, and reaching the door, laid her hand upon the lock; but before she opened it, she deliberately turned round, and faced the still prostrate gentleman, saying in a very quiet voice,

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