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inclining his body from his very heels, in order to give the utmost stiffness to his bow, he said in his best sepulchral voice:
“Good night, Lady Eda.”
“What! you are surely not going to bed yet, are you ?”
He was 'nearly putting on a tragic air, and asking why he should stop; but he thought better of it, and simply replied that “ he was going.”
“Oh! do stop a little longer ; you had better wait till
“I don't want to hear it:” and again making use of the single hinge at his ankles, he looked bitter, and retired.
In reviewing this evening's incidents, as he afterwards did several hundred times over, there was nothing he could think of either remarkably encouraging, or remarkably the reverse. His impression at the time had certainly not been favourable. But,
when he recollected the nervous twitching of Lady Eda's lips, as, with a forced smile, she said—“Do stop a little longer”—he could not help thinking this twitching bespoke symptoms of annoyance at his going away in a huff. There were other lights in which the “Do stop," and the nervous lips, might be looked at, but they were, as he hoped, so improbable, and so particularly disagreeable, that he rejected them entirely.
When they met next morning, almost the first thing she said to him was:
“What made you go off in that sudden way last night? You astonished Miss Fitzbun tremendously. She chose that song expressly for you, I suspect.”
Pierce hoped imputing this curiosity to Miss Fitzbun Fitzbun was
feint to conceal her
interest. He replied honestly :
“ Because I inferred from your manner
that you were tired of my society; and you must know I would sacrifice the pleasure of your presence—the greatest of all sacrifices to me—if by so doing I pleased you.”
Lady Eda remarked rather severely, that some people took offence on the smallest occasions. He asked if she referred to him. She replied, she did.
At which answer he again felt and showed his annoyance; adding that, where manner varied so much as hers, it was impossible to know upon what terms they stood. He then let fall a general observation on the shaking of hands, as an indication of feeling.
“Some there are," said he, “who shake everybody by the hand as if all were equally liked. Such universal cordiality I hate as much as a perpetual smile: it means nothing. For myself I express more by the pressure of my hand than by anything I say.”
The next time they shook hands, he fancied it might have been only fancy that she
REVOLVING these matters in his mind, sometimes deriving hope from them, and sometimes trembling lest Lady Eda should, in the event of his proposing, remind him of the shortness of their acquaintance, Pierce, on coming in from the walk above described, repaired to the drawing-room ; there to await in restless anxiety, the decisive answer he had no longer the prudence or the patience to postpone. He was alone ; but she came not. Growing more and more restless,