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“Why, Charlotte,” he said to her, with admiration beaming in his eyes, “how you are grown! How well you look !"

Charlotte merely laughed, and told him she could return the compliment. It must not be imagined that there was the same warmth of expression in her manner there had been in young Harcourt's. He was certainly a very handsome, fine-grown fellow, with great amiability and intelligence in his countenance; but in speaking to him on his appearance she seemed rather actuated by the wish to return one civil expression for another. The young couple remained talking together for some few minutes, Mrs. Harcourt watching them attentively the while. Whether she was satisfied with her inspection, or whether love for her son so far blinded her as to imagine a young girl could not see him without being deeply interested in him, it is impossible to say.

To an acute, but less prejudiced observer than Mrs. Harcourt, it might have appeared that there was far more warmth in Giddy's admiration of his companion than in hers for the really handsome young man with whom she was conversing. Charlotte looked on him with the same expression of frank good feeling and affection she would have cast on a brother, but nothing more. The language she addressed to him was of the same free and unembarrassed description. That she was pleased with the expression of admiration she distinguished on his countenance was true, for a young girl likes to look well even in the eyes of her brother, but there was no warmer affection in her feeling for Giddy than if he had really stood in that relationship to her. On young Harcourt's part the contrary was the case, and he entertained a very different feeling towards bis fair companion. He had always liked, nay, even loved her, from a child, though, till their journey to Paris some two or three years before, it had never developed itself with any particular warmth, and even then in his love there was more of the boy than the man about it. True, during her absence he had pictured her in his mind as a very lovely girl, but as she stood then before him she appeared still more lovely than he had imagined even when he had painted her in the most pleasing colours.

By degrees Mrs. Harcourt and Christian joined in the conversation. Giddy was told of Mr. Gourlay's intention shortly to leave London to inspect some houses offered him for sale in the country, his wish being to reside there.

"But do not imagine, Giddy,” said Christian, " that, although I may be living some distance from you, I shall not entertain the same warm feeling as if we were together. And, beyond that, I hope whenever you have a week to spare, you will come down and see us, and always consider my house as your own. Your father and mother have promised to do so, and you must also.”

Giddy gave the promise, and evidently meant what he said, that

case.

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whenever he had the opportunity he would certainly pay them a visit. He then inquired of Christian when he intended to leave London.

“Now I have seen you, Giddy,” was Christian's reply, “I shall leave the day after to-morrow. I did not like to go without first shaking hands with you, but now the sooner I start the better.”

“I have been trying, my dear," put in Mrs. Harcourt, “to induce Mr. Gourlay to delay his departure till after the ball we are going to next week. Both Charlotte and myself would have been so much pleased had he accompanied us, but he will not listen to it. Now try what you can do, Giddy.”

“No, no!” said Christian,“ do not make any attempt, for I should be sorry to refuse you anything, and yet I certainly must in this

I should be out of place at a ball, and you young people will be quite as happy without me.”

No, papa, do not say that,” said Charlotte, “because it is not true. Although I should be sorry to interfere in any manner with your wishes, it would give me much greater pleasure if you were with us.”

Of that I am certain,” said Christian, kissing her. we will not say any more about it, for my arrangements are made for leaving town the day after to-morrow, and it is just as well for me to keep to them.”

No further objection was made by any of the party, and they conversed on other subjects.

Christian left London on the day proposed, taking with him the sketch of a tour Harcourt had prepared for him. The house seemed dull without him, for he was a favourite with all. Giddy had conceived for him a great friendship, and often spoke of him in terms of high admiration-a feeling which Mrs. Harcourt endeavoured to encourage.

Although conscientiously acting the part of chaperone to Charlotte during Miss Turner's absence, the surveillance Mrs. Harcourt maintained over her was hardly as severe as that lady's would have been. True, she seldom allowed the young people to be alone together, still she found them ample opportunity of seeing each other. Habitually of a very domesticated disposition, one of the principal pleasures of her life was to remain at home in the evening with her husband, and cheer him after the labours and anxieties of the day were over. She now took an extraordinary delight in attending the theatres, accompanied, of course, by her son and Charlotte. There was hardly an exhibition in London, too, which they did not visit.

In this manner the time passed till the evening of the ball. It had been arranged that Giddy should escort his mother and Charlotte, and Mr. Harcourt was to join them in the evening. Giddy was the first to be ready, his mother soon afterwards came to him in the drawing-room, and Charlotte was the last to make her appearance. She was dressed in exquisite taste, and really looked, as she entered the room, exceedingly lovely—a fact both mother and son tacitly acknowledged by the admiration expressed on their countenances. The carriage was now announced, and the party left the house.

When they arrived at Willis's Rooms the ball was at its height. Giddy, of course, danced the first set of quadrilles with Charlotte, while Mrs. Harcourt seated herself on one of the side benches, and played what the French call tapisserie. After the first dance Giddy conducted Charlotte to his mother. She soon, however, received another invitation, and in fact not a dance occurred in which she did not take part. Giddy had already been her (partner three times, and was on the point of inviting her for a fourth dance, when a very gentlemanly and handsome man advanced before him, and requested the honour of her hand for the next set of quadrilles. . Charlotte, as she accepted him, coloured deeply, which Mrs. Harcourt noticed with some anxiety. So much indeed was she struck by Charlotte's behaviour, that she changed her place in order to keep her eye on her during the dance. She noticed that in the pauses of the quadrille Charlotte and her cavalier conversed fluently together, nay more, it struck her that when Charlotte had first taken her place in the quadrille, and her partner had addressed her, there was a little confusion in her manner, but this rapidly disappeared, and she afterwards talked with considerable animation.

When the dance was over, Charlotte's partner kled her back to Mrs. Harcourt. As he quitted her he said : “Pray do not forget you are engaged to me for the next waltz.”

Certainly,” replied Charlotte; and the gentleman then left her. “Who is he, my dear ?" inquired Mrs. Harcourt, as soon as they were alone.

"That is the gentleman you heard Miss Turner speak of as having travelled with us in Belgium."

“ Do you mean the same you found with his carriage overturned in the road from Waterloo ?”

Yes, the same,” said Charlotte, with the slightest tone of embarrassment in her voice.

“He seems a very gentlemanly man, and is very good-looking," said Mrs. Harcourt, wishing to draw out her companion.

“Yes,” replied Charlotte; "at least, Miss Turner thought him so."

Mrs. Harcourt continued the conversation till a gentleman invited Charlotte to take her place in another dance which was about to commence. As soon as she had left, Giddy seated himself by his mother.

“Are you not going to dance, Giddy?" she asked. “Oh no, I shall not dance this time,” he replied. “I was engaged, but I don't feel in the humour, so I want to get out of sight of my partner if I can.”

“But that is not very amiable of you, my dear,” said his mother.

“I cannot help it,” he replied, testily. “I don't feel in the humour, and it's horrible drudgery to dance when you do not ;” and he remained silently seated by his mother for some time, who also seemed somewhat deeply absorbed in thought.

After a silence of several minutes, Giddy said, “Who is that fellow Charlotte danced with the last time?"

“He was the gentleman they met in Brussels, and who travelled with them to England.”

“I heard nothing about it, mamma," said Giddy. Why was it kept a secret from me ?”

Kept a secret from you, my dear !” said Mrs. Harcourt in a tone of astonishment. “No one intended doing so."

Why was I not told of it, then ?” “ But, Giddy, the only reason you were not told of it was, that being a subject of so little importance, it had slipped the memory of us all."

“ It could hardly have slipped Charlotte's memory,” he replied, " judging from the manner she talked with him. She seemed pleased enough to see him, at any rate.”

“My dear boy, don't think or worry yourself about anything of the kind; Charlotte thinks nothing of him."

“Why then did she talk in so free a manner with him," said Giddy, testily.

* It is no use my arguing the matter with you, Giddy, if you choose to entertain it with that angry feeling," said Mrs. Harcourt. “Now go and select a partner for the next dance, there's a good fellow !”

“Charlotte is to be my partner in the next dance."

“Well then, my dear,” said Mrs. Harcourt, “put all further questions concerning her late partner to her yourself, and I have no doubt you will find she knows nothing more of him than what I have already told you.

Mrs. Harcourt and her son now remained silent till Charlotte returned to them. She next danced with Giddy, who brought her back to his mother when it was over. Judging from the expression of his countenance, the explanation Charlotte had given him-assuming that he had spoken to her on the subject—did not appear to have been altogether a satisfactory one. He made no remark, and quitted them again to find another partner for the next dance, which was to be a waltz, and for which Charlotte had already informed him she was engaged, but without saying to whom.

When the orchestra had sounded the prelude to the waltz, the

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stranger came forward to claim Charlotte's hand as his partner. Although Mrs. Harcourt kept her eye carefully fixed on them, she had no reason to suspect any very interesting subject of conversation was taking place, for during the pauses Charlotte seemed too much overcome by the exertion she had made to be able to converse fluently. When the waltz was over, and Charlotte was conducted by her cavalier to a seat beside Mrs. Harcourt, he requested he might be her partner in the next dance. Here, however, Mrs. Harcourt interposed :

"Take care, my dear,” she said, “ you do not over exert yourself. Your papa would be very angry with me if I allowed you to do so.

“Oh, I am sure Mr. Gourlay will not be angry if I were allowed one more dance with his daughter."

Charlotte had taken Mrs. Harcourt's hint, and politely told him she was much obliged, but would accept no other dances that evening than those for which she was already engaged.

Shortly afterwards Mr. Harcourt arrived, and remained in the room for perhaps half an hour, evidently thoroughly ennuyé with all that was passing around him. As his wife also seemed to have lost interest in the ball, and appeared anxious, and Charlotte fatigued, it was proposed they should return home. On their road little conversation passed between them, nor did they appear more animated when they entered the house. In fact, since Charlotte had been in England, a gloom had never hung over them so deep as that they felt after their return from the ball, at which, at any rate three of the party had promised themselves so much pleasure.

CHAPTER XXVII.

AFTER THE BALL.

The morning after the ball, Mr. Harcourt having to attend in court, breakfasted alone at an early hour, and then, without delay proceeded to his chambers. His wife, Charlotte, and Giddy did not meet at the breakfast-table before eleven o'clock, an hour quite at variance with the habitual regularity of the household. All three pleaded fatigue as the cause of their delay; but, perhaps, with the exception of Charlotte, the cause was hardly a true one, Giddy having danced but little, and his mother had remained seated the whole of the evening. The pallid tint on Charlotte's face, and lustreless look in her generally bright eye, told of the unusual exertion she had gone through the evening before, while the expression of Mrs. Harcourt's countenance was that of anxiety, and her son's, positive ill-humour. Their usual warmth of greeting, and lively conversation during their meal, was, on the present occasion, wanting. They were silent-if not moody, and the few remarks uttered were couched in most laconic phraseology,

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