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neither avoiding nor seeking his society. Her pre-occupied heart never dreamed of his selection of her company being the impulse of love
a sentiment she no longer had at her disposal. She was therefore equally surprised and chagrined, when Agnes hinted the circumstance to her one day when they were enjoying a téteà-tête. They had spent the morning together at the Parsonage, and Agnes had been pressing her friend to prolong her stay until the evening, to which Emily replied, by saying, —"No, dear Agnes, I cannot to-day, because Frank Mason promised to be here at three o'clock to walk home with me.”
“ Oh, is he returned ?” said Agnes, laughing archly; “ then I am sure I must withdraw my request. Frank Mason is all powerful with
Why do you say so, Agnes ? he is nothing to me but a friend. As he is so kind as to escort me home, I do not like to disappoint him."
Certainly not,” said Agnes, in the same tone, “particularly as you think it would give him pain.”
“ Nay, Agnes, I did not say so, nor is such
my opinion: I really do not understand your meaning. Surely, my dearest friend, you do not think I have any desire for his company?
if you do, I must undeceive you; for I cannot bear you to suppose
he has any thing to recommend him in my eyes, and from no other would I have listened to the insinuation you have ventured to drop : no, Agnes, you know, or ought to know, my sentiments, and to be aware that my first and only love will never, never be erased from my thoughts.” Her eyes filled with tears, and her voice trembled as she spoke ; and Agnes threw her arms around her, exclaiming, -" Pardon me, dearest Emily, I was thoughtless, inconsiderate, unkind, to vex you so, but I will do so no more."
Emily kissed her friend kindly, while the tears of awakened sensibility for a few moments quickly chased each other down her cheek. This little incident caused her to look more sedulously to her own and Frank Mason's actions, and she soon discovered the danger of her position.
She could perceive that, unknowingly, she had encouraged those attentions which he had fancied were accepted, from a reciprocity of the feeling which prompted him to offer them. Shocked at her own blindness, she resolved for the future to guard against a danger she considered as threatening the sanctity of her own and Ernest's love. “ No," she said to herself, “never will I harbour one thought derogatory to the vow I made to my Ernest ! never shall this fluttering heart be tenanted by the image of another !” Thus determined, she discontinued her former affability towards Frank, who, ignorant of her preference for another, thought that he had inadvertently offended, and by redoubled assiduity sought to obliterate his error; but in vain. As he struggled to re-instate himself in her favour she drew back, and the most chilling reserve met his attention, repugnant alike to his feelings and pretensions. Mr. Yorke, alarmed for the success of his scheme, took an occasion to interrogate the young man on the nature of his sentiments; when Frank avowed his admiration for his fair friend, but at the same time expressed his apprehensions that his suit was not agreeable to her. His joy and surprise may therefore be conceived, when Mr. Yorke assured him that he had no doubt Emily, when she knew, would appreciate his opinion, and that his own desire was in perfect accordance with the young lover's most sanguine wishes.
With what warmth did not the enraptured, the deluded Mason, thank Mr. Yorke for this renewal, this sanction to his hopes : he fancied he already beheld the young, the beautiful, the gifted, but distant and frigid Emily his wife !
He attributed her reserve to maiden modesty, and flattered himself true love for him lurked beneath the iciness of her bearing. In impassioned language he acquainted his father with his prospects, and from that day saw every thing in the most favourable point of view. He doubted not he was irresistible; that his person, his manners, his erudition, his wealth were omnipotent, and his self-satisfaction was less carefully guarded than hitherto.
With Emily Mr. Yorke knew he should have a more difficult task; yet he resolved boldly to urge the expediency of the alliance he proposed, and in case of her opposition to resort to the influence he possessed over her future destiny as a patron. With this design he had no sooner dismissed young Mason than he sought an opportunity of communing with
Emily, but various little circumstances prevented his doing so on that day.
The succeeding one, however, proved more fortunate, for he found her alone in the music
“ Emily, my dear," said he, as he took a seat near the harp upon which she practising, “ I wish to have a few minutes' conversation with you on the subject of a circumstance with which I became acquainted yesterday.” Emily turned pale as she faltered, 6. What circumstance, sir ? Nothing, I hope, alarming of my brother --- or perhaps of——”
“ No, my love, not any thing to excite your fears, but rather your gratitude and affection.”
“Can it be possible?” she replied, in a hesitating voice; "any tidings of -- of - Mr.Bonner ?" A shade of displeasure passed over Mr. Yorke's brow at these words, which Emily perceiving, she continued hastily, -" But pardon me, sir, I am too impatient, although perhaps you will make allowance for it.”
“I can make allowance for many things, Emily, but disobedience is not among the number,” replied he, gravely; " and, therefore, listen attentively to what I am about to inform