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of pleasant feelings rushed tumultuously to her heart. Her transparent cheek, usually pale as alabaster, became tinged with a glowing pink, that deepened into the hue of the pomegranate blossom, and she felt as if at this moment all the troubles of her past life had ended. The change in Lady Anne's whole feelings now was as sudden as a spring in Russia, where the inhabitants retire for the night with deep snow on the ground, and awake with flowers blooming before their eyes. “ To
you, Lady Anne, with whom is associated now in my heart whatever on earth is beautiful, happy, or desirable, what a delight it would be if I might hereafter disclose all I have ever felt, thought, dreamed, or suffered !” continued Sir Allan in low earnest accents. “ Father Eustace, with his grand inquisitorial aspect, has long guessed and tried to undermine my increasing wish for domestic happiness, but in vain. He says that my estates were once church lands, which ought to be restored to his order, as no family thrives who has ever kept such property. But I could mention quite as many such proprietors who have thriven remarkably well with similar possessions. My endeavours must be to return all I enjoy an hundred fold, by becoming, as Sir Evan was formerly, a steward of all I possess, faithfully devoted to the real good of those around."
“How easily such sweeping assertions are made as that of Father Eustace!” said Lady Anne indignantly. “A friend of mine is fully convinced that no individual ever thrives who has injured him.
He takes no steps to produce this result, but from the moment any one treats him ill, he says to me with perfect confidence, Mark that man, for you will see some misfortune happen to him soon;' and true enough, at least twenty times such a result has occurred.”
"Exactly! For instance, there is an old antediluvian superstition, that the M°Alpines must not wear green. It would break the hearts of
clan if they saw me do so. There is no denying that if my purse is green I always lose it; and once, when I ate a green pea, I became ill !”
Then,” answered Lady Anne, laughing, “if it were against the Papal interests for you to wear green, they would persuade you that there was a special judgment on your ever doing so. You must have been in a grass-green coat when you first met Father Eustace!”
“The Highlanders have a superstition, that any one passing a pin on the floor without picking it up, brings down a misfortune on himself; and there are frightful instances told. I suppose the calamity is great in proportion to the size of the pin; but, positively, it is quite tiresome to me when walking with Lady Eaglescairn, for in the midst of our most interesting discussions, when I think her whole attention absorbed in something I am relating, she suddenly dives down, and hurriedly takes one up, laying great stress in her remarks
whether the head or the point were turned towards her. How morbidly superstitious we do at last make ourselves by cultivating and
promulgating such fancies about either estates or pins.”
Long and secretly had Lady Anne, the admired of all admirers, once observed the attachment of Sir Allan to Beatrice, with hopeless sorrow on her own account, as she felt that with the young Chief of M°Alpine, her greatest felicity in life might have been found. There was a similarity of tastes and of principles between them that seemed almost inevitably to point out how perfectly they might have been suited; and it was the secret consciousness of Sir Allan's previous attachment which had rendered Lady Anne so ready and anxious, like most other recluses, to give up the world, because the world did not bestow on her exactly what she wished. Some persons, with despairing impatience, throw up the cards at once, when not dealt the best hand, while others build and rebuild their castle in a new school of architecture, with ceaseless good-humour and patience. The mere effort brings its own reward. Lady Anne had from the first despaired of ever finding any reciprocal feelings in the object of her long and deeply cherished preference; but she little guessed that when her beautiful rival in Sir Allan's affections had brought him to the unwilling conviction of her own indifference, she had at the same time made an impression on him never to be erased, by the warm terms of panegyric in which she spoke of Lady Anne herself, and by the belief she had more than hinted, that with her he might yet enjoy every refined and rational felicity.
Sir Allan had, in their long continued hourly intercourse at Heatherbrae, learned more and more to estimate the brilliant accomplishments and unaffected gentleness of Lady Anne; but with his increasing estimate of her attractions, there arose a greater and greater diffidence of himself, so that from day to day he postponed a declaration of his sentiments till now, when with glowing eloquence he proceeded frankly to tell Lady Anne the whole history of his own heart, and the conclusion at which he had at last arrived. “Did your quickness never discover my secret?” asked he. “That unworthy as I am to become the happiest of men; I should certainly be the most miserable if you rejected me.”
“Do you really think so ?” said Lady Anne; at length with pleasurable nervousness, an arch pretty smile quivering round her mouth, and dimpling her crimson cheek, “I have a great mind to try how wretched you could be made for life, if I accepted you.”
“Then pray do, and the sooner you begin to be my torment the better. We must marry in haste, that we may have plenty of leisure to repent! You know happiness cannot begin too soon, and we must determine that ours shall be perfect. I could attempt any impossibilities now.
I am ready to mount the breach of a forlorn hope, or to accept any utterly desperate wager; but I cannot long endure a hopeless love."
Perhaps,” said Lady Anne, colouring deeply and smiling, “your love is not hopeless. Now
that Father Eustace has melted away like an evil spirit when the conjuration is over, we may think and feel as we please.”
“ Dear Lady Anne," exclaimed Sir Allan, rightly interpreting her agitated manner, “language has not words to express the delight, or if ecstacy be a more expressive word, the ecstacy of this moment. In the folly of my joy I feel almost inclined to declare that you are a thousand times beyond perfection,-an assemblage of every excellence under the sun, and a great many more.”
“I do not quite agree with the last speaker, but the longer you think so the better; and I am quite willing to be convinced, as well as to think as favourably of you in return."
“ Then the reciprocity is not all on one side,' said Sir Allan, with such a smile of pleasure in his eyes as had not lighted them up since his boyhood. “We can read each other's hearts, and measure our happiness or grief by the degree in which our affections are united in the enjoyments of this life and in the hopes belonging to another and a better. There is no use in my promising to love you, for I cannot help doing so. I am at present quite giddy with standing on the highest pinnacle of happiness. It must be a pleasure to the sun itself being allowed to shine on two such happy people.”
“Yes," replied Lady Anne, smiling, “ours will not be a happy valley, but Cairngorum must leave off his clouds and become a mountain of sunshine and happiness.”