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SIR FREDERICK DERWENT.
showed that he was obtaining his point, and shortening the period of abstinence from his favourite sport. Laura ventured to touch her uncle's arm to remind him to drive
He saw that her eyes were full of tears, when he looked round, and shocked at his forgetfulness, hurriedly accepted Mrs. Holcombe's excuses, and actually passed through the remainder of the long village street, in absolute silence.
Laura's drive had tired her, and she was forced, in obedience to her uncle, to rest herself upon the sofa during most of the evening. Sir Frederick did his best to amuse her. He feared that his indiscreet invitation to their neighbours had given her pain; and, as he very sincerely shared in her grief, and was thoroughly goodnatured, he was extremely sorry to have wounded her sensitive feelings.
Holcombe and his wife are excellent people :” he said, willing to excuse himself in his niece's eyes, for his inconsiderateness, by
detailing their merits. " I never did a better thing than making him the clergyman of this parish. You will find them an inestimable comfort, my dear Laura, and the sooner you become intimate, the better. Mrs. Holcombe is just the clever, experienced person who will be useful to you; for I am afraid I have lived too long alone to understand every thing you may require to make you feel happy and comfortable; and you seem too modest to tell me your wishes. They are both people of the world, and know how to be universally agreeable."
“Mrs. Holcombe has an intelligent, animated countenance : said Clarice, seeing that Laura did not reply.
“ She must have been very handsome once, and has the manner of a person who has been much in society. Her husband seems good-tempered, certainly, but hardly dignified enough for a clergyman. Is he liked in the village ?”
Well, I can't exactly tell you :" answered
Sir Frederick, carelessly. “I think Mrs. Holcombe has a good deal of her own way, but they are all the happier for it, and my worthy friend has not a suspicion that his wife manages him. As for the people in the village, half of them are dissenters, and nine tenths of the rest thorough rascals. I believe they like Holcombe tolerably well. He is a capital fellow, and does his duty like a gentleman, without any parade or nonsense. He would not suit me, if he were a party man in either politics or religion."
Neither of his pretty companions answered him immediately.
For no sufficient reason that she could assign, Laura had taken a dislike to the good-looking Rector and his wife, since their colloquy in front of the Parsonage. The dejected girl felt no sympathy with these seemingly prosperous people. The grey shadowy walls of the chapel on the hill,--the sombre hue of the dark gables of Languard,-suited the tone of her spirits, at this time, better than the gay-looking parterre, cheerful dwelling, and animated faces of the clergyman of Maydwell and his blooming partner.
Sir Frederick went up to the sofa, and sat down beside his niece.
“I cannot bear to see you look so pale and sad, Laura. I am afraid your drive fatigued you more than you would own. You must rouse yourself, or I shall fancy that you have some cause for sorrow at leaving Italy, which you have not confessed to me. Tell
Miss Le Sage,” he went on jestingly," I see you have no secrets from each other ;-is my pretty Laura in love ? Am I to expect some mustachioed Italian Count to come over and take her
when I have learned that I cannot do without her and your pleasant society ?"
Laura's pale face flushed indignantly.
“How lightly you speak of these things, Uncle Frederick !" she exclaimed. sure you have never been in love, as you call it, in the whole course of your
6 I am
“You are quite mistaken, pretty one !” said Sir Frederick, stroking her hand, which he had taken affectionately, and glad to see her roused even
“I have been falling in love all my life. It is the barbarity and coquetry of your sex which has kept me single. I was engaged to at least half-a-dozen young ladies at the period of my uncle's death; but, in the twenty years that elapsed before I came into the property, of which I then counted upon the speedy reversion, they all found time to jilt me, and are long since married and settled. Even now, old as you think me, I might possibly find favour in the sight of some comely widow, or somewhat passée spinster; and I never see a pair of bright eyes, like yours, without wishing to merit a kind glance from them, and doing my best to obtain one.”
"That is not in the least like being in love !” said Laura. “ You would not care for all the bright eyes in creation, except those of the woman you preferred above the rest of her