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thoughts, and hey for all frolicsome and
merry fancies ! I have forgotten one thing. I had intended to ask you, until my own volubility put it out of my head, how you became acquainted with Lord Sunderland ?"
Partly by a letter from my father, and partly through my friend Captain Seagrave.”
“ Captain Seagrave! Is he your friend ?” exclaimed the Countess in evident surprise, exchanging at the same time significant looks with Mrs. Morlay.
“Our family became acquainted with him when he was quartered at Bridgwater, and I accidentally encountered him in London. He has conferred upon me a favour that I value still more highly; for, on accompanying me to the Play, he pointed out to me a gentleman whose sprightly writings I have ever highly admired, and whose person I have long been anxious to know."
“ Indeed! who might this be?”
“No other than your Ladyship's witty and celebrated father, Sir Charles Sedley."
A cloud instantly darkened the Countess's brow, and a blush tinged her cheek as she bowed silently to Walter, and, in order to conceal her conscious embarrassment, began to play with a pet spaniel, which just then made its appearance from under the sofa. Sir Charles, with an honourable feeling that few of his contemporaries would have shared, considering himself degraded by the ennoblement of his daughter, broke off all intercourse with her when she assumed the title that confessed her ignominy, and estranged himself from the Court, a circumstance which, in spite of her apparent levity, had implanted a remorseful sense of her humiliation in the heart of Catherine, who was at once proud of her father as a distinguished author, and tenderly attached to him as a parent. Any allusion to him therefore seldom failed to produce a sudden depression of her spirits. It affected her thus in the present instance; and Walter, knowing nothing of this alienation, and receiving her altered manner as a hint that his stay had been sufficiently prolonged, hastened
his departure, declaring that he should soon avail himself of the permission to repeat his visit.
Continuing unconsciously to caress her dog, while her eyes were fixed upon the floor, and her thoughts plunged in a self-accusing retrospect, the Countess sunk rapidly into a prostration of mind, which, as usual in such cases, was commensurate with her previous elation of spirits. Her parasitical companion, knowing the cause of this melancholy mood, and being moreover aware that neither her cajoleries nor her wheedling reproaches would have power to dissipate it, prudently withdrew from the apartment ; and the solitary Countess, the King's favourite, and the envy of half the court, after wandering up and down her magnificent saloon in a still increasing dejection of heart, retired at length into her boudoir, that theme of universal admiration and heart-burning among her female contemporaries, where she at length found relief in a burst of tears. · As pride, however, and an elastic temperament would not permit her to
submit to these fits of melancholy without a struggle, she previously washed her eyes with a preparation of Hungary water, renewed the rouge upon her cheeks, arrayed herself in a still more splendid dress, stepped into her chair, which with its gilt mouldings and glittering followers imparted a look of grandeur even to the streets through which it passed, and paying a long round of morning visits, was everywhere complimented upon those inexhaustible spirits which to the delighted witnesses appeared to be the emanations of a natural and spontaneous vivacity, although, as she herself had declared to her friend at Westbury, they were in many instances nothing more than a vehement effort to shake off melancholy.
“Patronized by the prime minister, and in fayour with the King's mistress !” exclaimed Walter to himself as he paced with an erect head and elastic step the pavement of Pall-Mall.
Really this is a most auspicious commencement of
my career !". An excusable, or at least a natural vanity fluttered about his heart at the
thought; for although our failures be invariably assigned to the malice of fortune, few of us can divest ourselves of the impression that our success is the direct consequence of our personal merit. A reverie scarcely less sanguine and visionary than that of Alnaschar filled the head and agitated the bosom of the pedestrian as he sauntered, for he was too much absorbed to be expeditious, towards Clarendon-House. A Captain in the Guards, as all the world knew, was but a gilded pauper, whose pay would hardly purchase his appointments; but when, in addition to the honours and emoluments of a higher rank, he should possess some of those lucrative posts which were never grudgingly showered upon the favourites of royal mistresses and ministers, he would astound his family at Weston by visiting them in all the glory of his appointments, delight the grateful Hetty Chervil by proclaiming his undiminished constancy, notwithstanding the great and sudden advancement of his fortunes, and secure his own permanent happiness, as well as hers, by making her his bride.