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Lady Frances bends her head while he is arranging her diamond aigrette, which she has just dropped.
Disgraceful!" muttered Lord Bellamont in her ear, thrown off his guard by jealousy.
“My dear friend, you are irritable to-night,” was her reply. “To-morrow we will talk quietly, trust me; but do not show this temper of mind to the world; it will be too happy to have you for a laughing stock.”
From this fatal night, the web was drawn close around Lord Bellamont which was to entangle him to his undoing. It were fruitless, it were degrading, to go through all the art Lady Dashwood too successfully planned and practised to win him to her purposes. She explained in a mysterious way why she had not invited him to her supper; and at last insinuated that his company was so dangerous to her peace, that she had avoided him as carefully as his society was sought by every other woman. Now, however, when she saw himn unhappy, she could not think of herself; she could only endeavour
to mitigate his sufferings. When he spoke to her of the views of domestic happiness which he had entertained, and of their total overthrow, she pretended to be exceedingly shocked. “ To be sure," Lady Dashwood said, “ Lady Frances was a woman who always seemed made for the world, and one might have expected that she would not exactly filer le parfait amour by the fireside-but then with such an inamorato ! She might at least have"
“ Oh!” interrupted Lord Bellamont, “ I did not expect her to be a recluse-but never, never to be happy at home!"
“ It is, to be sure, rather too bad,” said Lady Dashwood. “ Ah! if she only knew what a treasure she possesses.
But “ You are very kind, my dear friend,” said Lord Bellamont.
And now followed a long course of instruction as to the means he should pursue to reclaim her, and the methods he should adopt to rescue his own mind from painful contemplations. As to the first, she assured him, that all attempts to
assert his right as a husband to forbid her leading the life she did, could only draw down upon himself the ridicule of the world.
“ It is always better,” she said, " to leave these things to correct themselves. As to the latter," she added, “I, you know, am a sort of Mentor from which
must endure to hear harsh truths.” Among other specious advice, she warned him of the dangers of play, an excitement to which, though originally averse, and long indifferent, he had recourse, as people swallow spirits or opium to silence their conscience.
“ A little harmless ombre or basette in good society,” she would say, “cannot tend to any derangement of fortune. But that horrid club! —those black legs—those sharpers. Do not, my dear Lord, trust yourself to their maneuvres. At my house, you will always find a party ready to while away a few hours, where you will at the same time be safe."
Thus the whole iniquitous train was laid, and took effect, which was to plunge Lord Bellamont in disgrace and ruin ; and his own wife
was the original promoter of the scheme, not perhaps with a full insight into its ultimate issue, but from the wicked and weak intention of running herself a career of thoughtless and unchecked dissipation.
“O Nature ! a'thy shews and forms
To feeling, pensive hearts have charms,
Wi' life an' light,
How differently had the winter months passed over Lady Emily and General Montgomery in their retirement, and with what a contrast of feelings did they hail the return of spring ! Even during the intense rigours of a severe winter, Lady Emily still found a beauty in the landscape; for Nature is never dead to eyes accustomed to read her aright; and the dashing through the spray of a snowy path, the delicate fretwork of frost on the fibres of trees and plants, the pureness of the air, and the cerulean