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him at rest. But, on such occasions, he guarded his looks and manner so well, that she believed he had observed nothing; and she did not like to disturb his supposed tranquillity—and possibly also the pleasing harmony and friendly understanding, reigning apparently among all parties—by needlessly open his eyes.
But this reserve on his part was attended by the usual consequence of reserve between those that love an increase of the evil from which it originally sprung. Walter -having no natural vent for the ideas that were oppressing him ; brooding on them always; observing in silence every incident, while the most trifling of these, the most really indifferent and extraneous, assumed in consequence a meaning in his eye which did not truly belong to themWalter, by degrees, worked himself up
into a state of mind far more agitated and less trustful still, than that we have just described. He asked himself why Agnes
did not tell him that Lord Charles loved
her. She had done so in the case of all
the others—why did she keep his secret
Then, he saw her sometimes when
Lord Charles was so placed that he could not observe her look at him with an expression on her features of feeling, sympathy and regret, which, however natural and easily to be explained, were daggers to him; and which at last he came to suspect might have their birth in sentiments tenderer and warmer than she would acknowledge, even to her own heart.
While things were in this state, he heard Lord Charles go up to Agnes just before dinner, and say, with an effort at
lightness and carelessness of manner, very transparent to Walter's penetrating eye
.“ Is there any law of the Medes and Persians, Lady Valmar, affecting the disposal of
your hospitable board ? Am I never to have the happiness of sitting next you at it, as in the days of happy memory at Carnbury ? Surely it is unconscionable, that your own ward, who can be with you always, should monopolise a place which must be comparatively indifferent to him, and which I should prize so highly. You must, indeed, suffer me to take it to-day. I cannot allow such an unreasonable arrangement as that which has prevailed hitherto, to be persevered in any longer.”
Oh indeed," answered Lady Valmar, quite frightened—“my laws are immutable. You know it is precedence settles all this; and if you do not care to maintain your own, your partner, Lady Henry Courtown, cannot be made to relinquish hers. It cannot be heard of, indeed, Lord
Walter had caught a quick glance of Agnes's, directed towards him, as she began this answer; but he did not attribute it to the feeling from which it really sprung. He thought it might be merely fear of him, and of the manner in which he might take the threatened intrusion, that moved her; and he carefully avoided giving any indication in his countenance which might influence her in any way.
“Ah, you will not deliberately consent,' returned Lord Charles; “Lady Henry Courtown prevents you ;—but I will settle all that.” And before Agnes could reply a syllable, he had darted from her side, and was already enticing Lady Henry Courtown away to the far end of the library, in eager search of a passage in a new play which had been the subject of previous conversation between them.
At that moment, dinner was announced.
Lady Valmar. summoned them: but they replied, that they would follow,' and begged that the remainder of the party would go on.
The other ladies were all standingLady Valmar could not keep them thusSo, on the party went. But just as Walter and his partner had moved forward, Lord Charles, with his, hurrying back, slipped into the line, immediately behind them,Lady Valmar, who was as usual on Lord Ashborough's arm, of course necessitated to make way for Lady Henry Courtown's passage before her. The pairs were thus