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“ Which story you believed, and which means you meditated furnishing,” replied the other, with a sneer.
“ Well, I'm not ashamed to avow that it would give me heartfelt pleasure to place Miss Melton beyond the reach of
“ And Lady Caroline Belvoir, think of Frank's engagement to her.”
“ O hang it! how you do pester one-and just after dinner too, it's really not fair."
“ Well, why let Farley go to the theatre to-night?"
“ Why Fanny is to play Juliet, and displays much talent in the part. I am very partial to the play, and her acting tends to elucidate it much.”
“ Ahem !" quoth Principle, looking very archly. “Very rational, indeed. I suppose you contemplate making me believe these to be your motives. And pray, do you recollect that Frank's invitation to Lady Darrington's is special, and that his absence will be marked ? Nay, that he promised Lady Caroline to be there, and made quite a point of the matter. O you sad dog!”
“ Well, my dear Principle, just allow me to take him in for a few moments; it can do him no harm just to permit him a peep as he goes by."
« There would not, perhaps, be much harm; but I think it's better to abandon the idea altogether.”
“ I assure you, my excellent adviser, I respect your opinions much, and would comply with them ; but Frank has a bet to decide as to Miss Melton's dress; he can just run in and satisfy himself. Besides, you can accompany him into the box, and take care of him.”
“ That's what I intend doing; but why make the man leap out of his cab in such an infernally boisterous manner? I declare I am really killed-every bone is fractured. Bless me, how fast you drag one along. Frank, Frank, don't hurry so. Hang the fellow, he won't hear me."
« Come along," whispered Inclination into Frank's other ear, “ let us make haste, and leave old twaddle in the rear; I dare say she is speaking at this moment. And now,” continued this impertinent fellow, turning round to poor Principle, who, out of breath and spirits, was sneaking into the box behind them, “ you may just take that and be off;" and with that he administered a kick to the unfortunate, which sent him flying through the closing door. To seek refuge with the box-keeper was out of the question, and Principle got a cuff from almost every body he met in the lobby and on the staircase, all declaring “ he had nothing to do there,” until he was fairly turned out into the street, and fain to creep behind the counter of an honest fruiterer's shop close by.
Meanwhile, Inclination and Miss Melton had poor Farley all to themselves, and the former kept close to the poor fellow's ear and gave him not a moment's respite. The second act had begun but a short time, and Juliet appeared in simple loveliness in the balcony.
« What a splendid girl, Frank !” began the rascal. “Do but mark the expression of her countenance : what intellect, what modesty, what a sweet smile! to say nothing of her figure: what a symmetrical bust; and look at that waist, you might span it with your hands, and
then--but stop—by George, she has seen you,—that was the look of recognition, never doubt it-she knows you, depend upon it-now listen
“Deny thy father and refuse thy name,
Or if thou wilt not-' “ See, see, she's looking at you again.”
• Be but sworn my love, And I'll no longer be a Capulet.”
“ Well, if that was not pointed at you, I'll submit to reformation : she's over head and ears with you—poor creature—and not a soul in the theatre but yourself either sees or interprets those glances. You doubt it, do you? Listen again."
“ In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond;
And, therefore, thou may'st think my 'haviour light." “ Did you notice that glance ?-it spoke volumes.”
“ But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange." “ There was a look of sincerity :- believe her, Frank.”
“ I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard'st, ere I was 'ware,
“ Didn't you find her with your miniature the other day in tears, my dear boy ? Come, it's very evident she's deeply in love with you ; but poor, retiring, gentle, ladylike creature, she is ashamed to confess it, though she cannot elude my penetration—nay, don't colour so, or, if you must, why ensconce yourself behind the curtain ?"
At length the tragedy was concluded, and Frank left the theatre, but only to order his cab round to the other door, and to prevail on the reluctant Miss Melton to accept a seat in it to her lodgings.
“ Really, Fanny, you even outdid yourself to-night: I protest I never was so completely overpowered."
“I am very glad I succeeded in pleasing you, Mr. Farley." “ You don't mean to say you endeavoured to do so ?”
“ You are very hasty in your interpretations : but, really-I-to say the truth, I did try to-to-I saw you in your box, and-1-".
“ I know it-I know you did you did see me, Fanny-I could tell it directly."
“ I am very sorry my conduct was so marked.”
“My dear Fanny, none but myself could have seen it; and perhaps, after all, I am wrong in supposing you to have any preference towards
“Oh, indeed, Mr. Farley, indeed, you are not-but you approved, then, of my conception of the character."
“Entirely. You have certainly caught the spirit of the poet in
every particular, most admirably. In fact, during the whole piece, I seemed to be led along by some unseen irresistible impulse to follow your ideas. I felt dragged, sometimes against my former notionspulled along and borne down on the tide of your eloquence: I seemed on the point once or twice of saying so aloud—”
“ I say, young chap, just pull over your crinkum-crankum bit of a cab to your own side; I wants to go my shay along,” bawled a coarse voice on the right, just in time to prevent a collision.
“ You will certainly upset me, Mr. Farley,” said the actress. « Well, I will be more sober, but the blame attaches to you.”
Miss Melton, with a delightfully embarrassed air, “ Hoped," as the cab-wheel grazed the curbstone before her door, “ that Mr. Farley would do her the honour to come in and partake of her slight repast." An invitation Frank felt by no means reluctant to accept ; and he was soon in the (now well known) little drawing-room chatting with the interesting actress and her drowsy chaperon. How the evening terminated will be best understood by accompanying Frank to his room when he arrived at home, an event taking place about half-past one in the morning. His valet had been dismissed, and, in an easy gown and uneasy reverie, he sat over the fire. Principle and Conscience now clubbed their forces, and so unmercifully belaboured the unfortunate wight, that he sighed many times a deep and doleful sigh, and finally sinking a throbbing forehead into a pair of burning hands, he groaned out
« Oh, fool! fool !-what a fool I am !-what have I done ?-proposed to an actress, and under an engagement to Lady Belvoir. Oh, Caroline, you are much wronged :an actress-ay, but Fanny is no actress-she is a child of nature—full of naïveté, simplicity-twould be a cursed shame, indeed, to let such a flower be poisoned by the filthy hot-bed of the stage. No, no! Fanny is no longer the public's, she is mine--from her own lips-mine, ay, mine."
“ Well, are you to have both of them ?" growled Conscience. “ I'll not allow it on any consideration whatever," said Principle.
“ My God! what a dilemma I am in !—what can I do?-I shall go mad"
“ Cut the actress," observed Principle. “0- -0-0-h,” groaned Frank.
“ Come, come,” said Inclination coaxingly, “ don't listen to these old simpletons, or they will keep you up all night: the best place for you after your evening's excitement would be bed-allons. Sleep will restore you to the full enjoyment of your faculties," added he, gently urging Frank towards the bed, where he was soon dreaming alternately of Lady Caroline Belvoir and the blushing, hesitating, modest Fanny Melton. The fact was, that overcome by the ardour of the moment, he had, during the absence of Fanny's aunt for five minutes, thrown himself, his fortune, and very nearly the whole tray of eatables at the feet of the fascinating actress; they had been, after a due proportion of maidenly embarrassment, accepted, with the exception of the tray, in wonder and gratitude -voila Frank “ well in for it."
Frank and sleep were at daggers drawn that night, and he had scarcely lounged into his dressing-room on the following morning ere Captain Stewart (who had the entrée of the house at all manner of hours,) knocked at the door, and banging it open, was arrested in mid-rush by observing the worn and pale countenance of his friend, who was measuring his length on a sofa enveloped in a rich morninggown.
“ Why, what the deuce have you been about last night? You look like the moon in a fog, or the pipe-clay on a dragoon's indispensables. Which way did you lead your forces ? By the way, I have a right to demand satisfaction—what do you mean by cutting me so unceremoniously?—nay, moreover, you trod on my third left toe in your retreat, and compelled me to drive myself to Belgrave Square.”
“ Why didn't you make Shenston take the reins ?".
“ Yes, and have been capsized before I got twenty yards—why Shenston was as drunk as-as--as I believe his master was.”
“ Harry, I won't allow any impertinence either to Shenston or myself.”
“ Love me, love my tiger, heh?”.
“ I don't believe you were sufficiently awake to comprehend whether he was or not, but if you really are of opinion
“ Come, come, I didn't beat the reveillez at eight o'clock this morning and make a forced march upon your position for the purpose of discussing the ebriety of your (or rather of your cab's) adherent:to the breach, man. I intend to know what you did with your precious person last night-now, no evasions—no quibblings--"
“ Nor answers either shall you get, you model of effrontery; where is your commission ?”
“ Safe locked up, I hope, in the only bureau I possess, in company with half a dozen bottles of “ peculiar" Madeira, my will, half a box of private cigars, four drafts of proposals, and seventeen hundred and fifty-six billets doux; and, as to my right to examine witnesses, why, haven't I a right to demand three several satisfactions,-one for cutting me, one for treading on my toe, and one for making me drive myself?-now, I'll forego them all on condition you answer me as many questions,"
“Oh, no-contrary to the rules of war—an unconditional surrender."
“ Then you shall have neither answers nor satisfaction. I love myself too much to take the trouble of doing the first, and the ladies too well to deprive them of so efficient a beau by doing the second.”
“Well, but seriously, Frank, did you see Fanny Melton last night ?” and the inquiring glance of the captain caused a faint tinge of colour on the sallow features of Frank.
“ I saw her on the stage,” said he with a faint smile. “ And in the cab—in your cab—and home—and at home-hey? -and there you stayed till one o'clock gossipping and getting deeper and deeper in love every minute.”
Frank looked amazed and alarmed, and the laughing captain was startled by the loud vehement tone in which the young man addressed “ How came you by that information, sir--answer me ?"
“ Stand at ease, my good boy; it is not the first time I have dodged a wild friend, tipped a communicative tiger, or kissed an inquisitive abigail."
• Did you hear any more damned fabrications, sir? Was that all your information ?" roared Frank, in an agony of apprehension.
“ Whew, whew—steady, boy-halt, halt—here's a volley of artillery. So there is something discoverable here. Frank, mon camarade, you are by no means an adept at keeping your own counsel :-why, you should be as cool as the Serpentine in January,—that amazing burst of yours has begun to make me sensible-'
“ What a beatific reformation !" mumbled Frank, unable to forego the joke.
“ Sensible of some underplot or other. Surely, my dear fellow, you have not been such a fool as to make any serious proposition to the girl."
“ Fool, or no fool, I proposed, and was accepted, so there you have my whole secret,” said the other hurriedly, and he rose and paced up and down the room in deep thought. Captain Stewart looked about as much astonished as a thorough man of the world conveniently may, stroaked one whisker, then the other, pulled his moustachios, hemmed thrice, and began
“ Frank, excuse the personality of the following observation, but you are certainly about as huge a blockhead as a man could desire to behold between Hyde Park and Charing Cross, or between Spitzbergen and the Cape of Good Hope—why, what the devil's to become of Lady — ?"
« Don't, for Heaven's sake, mention her name. Oh, Harry, I scarcely know what to do or to think-my brain is absolutely burning -do act my friend, and give me some notion of how or what I am to do."
« Frank, I will be candid with you. I consider your conduct worse than foolish—you have acted basely-ay, basely, Frank. I grieve much to be obliged to use the word, but it is too true.” (Farley groaned.) “ I acknowledge that there is much excuse to be made for you. I have no doubt that pains were not wanting, nor allurements untried, to entrap a rich young—".
“ Captain Stewart, beware what you say: I will endure anything which relates to myself—I deserve it—but not one word against her, not a syllable, if you value my friendship."
“ Eh bien, qu'il soitmas to your present line of conduct, how do you meditate extricating yourself?_by dissolving your engagement with the peeress or the actress ?"
“ The former," said Farley, with a deep sigh. “ Consider well, my dear friend.”
“ Harry, I have spent this night in doing so, and have made up my mind to this course. I did think I loved Caroline, but it was a dream -a short and pleasant one-I woke to the reality of my attachment to Fanny. I would to God I could live over yesterday; but it is gone, never to be recalled ; and I must disengage myself from Lady Belvoir. Harry, were I not engaged to Fanny, do you suppose Lady