Put Yourself in His Place - novelonlinefull.com
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He was in the full career of fortune again, and sanguine of success, before they met. One day, having ascertained from Jael what day she would be at home, he called and was admitted. The room was empty, but Miss Carden soon came into it, accompanied by Jael carrying the bust.
"Ah, Mr. Little," said she, before he could possibly utter a word, "this is fortunate. There is a party here on Thursday, and I want to show the bust complete, if you don't mind."
Henry said he would finish it for her. He accordingly set to work, and waited quietly till Jael should leave the room, to have it out with Grace.
She, for her part, seemed to have forgotten his strange manner to her the other day; perhaps she chose to forget it, or overlook it. But Henry observed that Jael was not allowed to quit the room. Whatever Miss Carden wanted she fetched herself, and came back softly, and rather suddenly, as if she had a mind to surprise Jeel and the other too.
Female subtlety was clearly at work.
"What do you advise me?" said Henry to Jael, during one of these intervals.
Jael never lifted her eyes from her work, and spoke under her breath, "I think I'd be patient to-day. She must give you a chance to speak some day. Talk to me, when she comes back--about the Cairnhope folk, or anything."
Henry followed this advice, and Grace, for the first time, found herself a little ignored in the conversation. She was astonished at this and I don't think she quite liked it.
Henry was still going on with warmth and volubility about the Cairnhope folk, their good hearts, and their superst.i.tions, when a visitor was announced.
Henry stopped in the middle of a sentence.
Grace brightened up, and said she was at home.
Mr. Coventry entered the room; a tall, well-made man, with an aquiline nose, and handsome face, only perhaps there were more lines in it than he was ent.i.tled to at his age, for he was barely thirty. He greeted Miss Carden with easy grace, and took no more notice of the other two, than if they were chairs and tables.
Mr. Frederick Coventry had studied the great art of pleasing, and had mastered it wonderfully; but he was not the man to waste it indiscriminately.
He was there to please a young lady, to whom he was attached, not to diffuse his sunshine indiscriminately.
He courted her openly, not indelicately, but with a happy air of respect and self-a.s.surance.
Henry sat, sick with jealousy, and tried to work and watch; but he could only watch: his hand trembled too much to work.
What may be called oblique flattery is very pleasing to those quick-witted girls, who have had a surfeit of direct compliments: and it is oblique flattery, when a man is supercilious and distant to others, as well as tender and a little obsequious to her he would please.
Grace Carden enjoyed this oblique flattery of Mr. Coventry's all the more that it came to her just at a moment when her companions seemed disposed to ignore her. She rewarded Mr. Coventry accordingly, and made Henry Little's heart die within him. His agony became intolerable. What a position was his! Set there, with a chisel in his hand, to copy the woman he loved, while another wooed her before his face, and she smiled at his wooing!
At last his chisel fell out of his hand, and startled everybody: and then he rose up with pale cheek, and glittering eyes, and Heaven only knows what he was going to do or say. But at that moment another visitor was announced, to whom indeed the door was never closed. He entered the next moment, and Grace ran to meet him, crying, "Oh, Mr. Raby! this IS a surprise."
Mr. Raby kissed her, and shook hands with Mr. Coventry. He then said a kind word to Jael Dence, who got up and courtesied to him. He cast a careless glance on Henry and the bust, but said nothing. He was in a hurry, and soon came to the object of his visit.
"My dear," said he, "the last time I saw you, you said you were sorry that Christmas was no longer kept in Hillsborough as it used to be."
"And so I am."
"Well, it is kept in Cairnhope, thank Heaven, pretty much as it was three centuries ago. Your father will be in London, I hear; will you honor my place and me with a visit during the Christmas holidays?"
Grace opened her eyes with astonishment. "Oh, that I will," said she, warmly.
"You will take your chance of being snowed up?"
"I am afraid I shall not be so fortunate," was the charming reply.
The Squire turned to Coventry, and said slyly, "I would ask you to join us, sir; but it is rather a dull place for a gentleman who keeps such good company."
"I never heard it spoken of as a dull place before," said the young man; "and, if it was, you have taken a sure means to make it attractive."
"That is true. Well, then, I have no scruple in asking you to join us;"
and he gave Grace a look, as much as to say, "Am I not a considerate person?"
"I am infinitely obliged to you, Mr. Raby," said Coventry, seriously; "I will come."
"You will stay to luncheon, G.o.dpapa?"
"Never touch it. Good-by. Well, then, Christmas-eve I shall expect you both. Dinner at six. But come an hour or two before it, if you can: and Jael, my girl, you know you must dine at the hall on Christmas-eve, and old Christmas-eve as usual, you and your sister and the old man."
Jael courtesied, and said with homely cordiality, "We shall be there, sir, please G.o.d we are alive."
"Bring your gun, Coventry. There's a good sprinkling of pheasants left.
By-the-bye, what about that pedigree of yours; does it prove the point?"
"Completely. Dorothy Raby, Sir Richard's youngest sister, married Thomas Coventry, who was out in the forty-five. I'm having the pedigree copied for you, at a stationer's near."
"I should like to see it."
"I'll go with you, and show it to you, if you like."
Mr. Raby was evidently pleased at this attention, and they went off together.
Grace accompanied them to the door. On her return she was startled by the condition of young Little.
This sudden appearance of his uncle, whom he hated, had agitated him not a little, and that uncle's interference had blasted his last hope. He recognized this lover, and had sided with him: was going to shut the pair up, in a country house, together. It was too much. He groaned, and sank back in his chair, almost fainting, and his hands began to shake in the air, as if he was in an ague.
Both the women darted simultaneously toward him. "Oh! he's fainting!"
cried Grace. "Wine! wine! Fly." Jael ran out to fetch some, in spite of a despairing gesture, by which the young man tried to convey to her it was no use.
"Wine can do me no good, nor death no harm. Why did I ever enter this house?"
"Oh, Mr. Little, don't look so; don't talk so," said Grace, turning pale, in her turn. "Are you ill? What is the matter?"
"Oh, nothing. What should ail me? I'm only a workman. What business have I with a heart? I loved you dearly. I was working for you, fighting for you, thinking for you, living for you. And you love that Coventry, and never showed it."
Jael came in with a gla.s.s of wine for him, but he waved her off with all the grandeur of despair.
"You tell me this to my face!" said Grace, haughtily; but her bosom panted.
"Yes; I tell you so to your face. I love you, with all my soul."
"How dare you? What have I ever done, to justify--Oh, if you weren't so pale, I'd give you a lesson. What could possess you? It's not my fault, thank heaven. You have insulted me, sir. No; why should I? You must be unhappy enough. There, I'll say but one word, and that, of course, is 'good morning.'"