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firm determination so to “play her cards” as regarded Hugh, that on her departure she might have the certainty of one day revisiting Summerwood as its future mistress.
Let us—thinking of the fearful number of her class who sully and degrade the pure ideal of womanhood-look mournfully on this girl. She had grown wise too soon ; wise in the world's evil
With her, love had been regarded alternately as a light jest and as a sentimental pretence, at an age when she could not understand its character and ought scarcely to have heard its name; and when the time came for the full heart of womanhood to respond to the mystic, universal touch, there was no answer. The one holy feeling had been frittered away into a number of small fancies, until Isabella
, now fully emerged from her boadingschool romance, believed what her mother told her, that “a girl should never fall in love till she is asked to marry, and then make the best match she can." And until this desirable event should happen,—which, at five-and-twenty, seemed farther than ever from her earnest longings, Miss Worsley amused herself by carrying on passing flirtations with every agreeable young man she met.
But while Isabella's vain and worldly mind was thus judging by its own baser motives the very different nature of Katharine Ogilvie, the latter sat calmly by Hugh's side, enjoying the dreamy motion of the carriage, and not disposed to murmur at the silence of its occupants; which gave her full liberty to indulge in thought.
It is very cold,” at last observed Mrs. Ogilvie; trying to make the most original observation she could, in order to rouse her husband, who was always exceedingly cross after a doze--a cir cumstance which she naturally wished to prevent if possible. A "humph" answered her observation. “Don't
will get colder still if you go to sleep, Mr. Ogilvie ?” pursued the lady.
“Pray suffer me to decide that. It was very foolish of us to go to this party, all the way to London, on such a wintry night."
“But, my dear, you know Katharine must be brought out some time or other,—and Mrs. Lancaster's soirée was such an excel. lent opportunity for her, since we cannot have a ball at home on account of poor Sir James. Mrs. Lancaster knows all the scientific and literary world-her parties are most brilliant-it is a first-rate introduction for any young girl.
Poor Katharine felt her timidity come over her with added painfulness; and heartily wished herself on the ottoman at her grandfather's feet, instead of on her way to this terrible ordeal. But Hugh gave her hand an encouraging pressure, and she felt pomforted. So, she listened patiently to her mother's enumera
tion of all the celebrated people whom she would be sure to meet. After which the good lady, oppressed by her somnolent husband's example, leaned her head back so as not to disarrange her elegant cap, and fell asleep in a few minutes.
The carriage rolled through the unfrequented roads that mark the environs of the metropolis. Katharine sat watching the light which the carriage-lamps threw as they passed, -illumining for a moment the formal, leafless hedges, until every trace of rurality was lost in the purely suburban character of the villa-studded road. The young girl's vision and the most outward fold of her thoughts received all these things; but her inner mind was all the while revolving widely different matters, and chiefly, this unseen world of society,-about which she had formed various romantic ideas, the predominant one being, that it was a brilliant dazzling compound of the scenes described in Bulwer's “Godolphin," and Mrs. Gore's novels, passim.
It is scarcely possible to imagine a girl more utterly ignorant of the realities of life than was Katharine Ogilvie at sixteen. Delicate health had made her childhood solitary; and though fortune had bestowed on her troops of cousin-playfellows, she had known little of any of them excepting Hugh and his sister. She had seen nothing of society, or of the amusements of life, for her rather elderly parents rarely mingled in the world. Mr. and Mrs. Ogilvie were a pattern couple for individual excellence and mutual observance of matrimonial proprieties. United in middle life, their existence flowed on in a placid stream, deep, silent, untroubled; their affection towards each other and towards their only child being rather passive than active,—though steady, very undemonstrative. So, Katharine, whom nature had cast in a different mould, became, as the confiding and clinging helplessness of childhood departed, more and more shut up within herself - looking to no other for amusement, seeking no sharer either in her pleasures or in her cares. A life like this sometimes educes strength and originality of character; but more often causes a morbidness of feeling which contents itself throughout existence with dreaming, not acting. Or if, at length, long-restrained emotions do break out, it is with a terrible flood that sweeps away all before it.
Katharine was by no means sentimental; for the term implies affectation, of which no stain had ever marred her nature. But her whole character was imbued with the wildest, deepest ro mance: the romance which comes instinctively to a finely-consti tuted mind left to form its own ideal of what is good and true. Her solitary childhood had created an imaginary world in which she lived and moved side by side with its inhabitants. These were the heroes and heroines of the books which she had read,
a most heterogeneous mass of literature, -and the beings who peopled her own fanciful dreams.
One thing only was wanting to crown her romance. Though she had actually counted sixteen years, Katharine had never even fancied herself" in love”—except, perhaps, with “Zanoni.” A few vague day-dreams and nightly fancies had of late floated over her spirit, causing her to yearn for some companionship, higher and nobler than any she had yet known,-something on which she might expend not merely her warm home-affections, already fully bestowed on her parents and on Hugh, but the love of her sous, the worship of her heart and intellect combined. This longing she had of late tried to satisfy by changing her ideal hero, on whom she had hung every possible and impossible perfection, for a real human being,—that young poet whose life was itself a poem, Keats. His likeness, which Katharine had hung up in her room, haunted her perpetually; and many a time she sat watching it until she felt for this dead and buried poet a sensation very like the love of which she had read,—the strange delicious secret which was to her as yet only a name.
And thus, half a woman and half a child, Katharine Ogilvie was about to pass out of her ideal world, so familiar and so dear, into the real world, of which she knew nothing. No wonder that she was silent and disposed to muse ! Wake
what are you thinking about P” said Hugh, suddenly.
Katharine started, -and her reverie was broken. The painful consciousness that Hugh might smile at her for having been “in the clouds," as he called these fits of abstraction, caused the colour to rise rapidly in her cheek.
“What made you imagine I was thinking at all P”
“Merely because you have bcen perfectly silent for the last hour. Your papa and mamma liave had time to fall comfortably asleep, and I have grown quite weary and cross through not having the pleasant talk that we promised ourselves this morning.' “Dear Hugh! it was very stupid of me.”
“Not at all, dear Katharine," Hugh answered, echoing the adjective with an emphasis that deepened its meaning considerably.
“Not at all-if you will now tell me what occupied your thoughts so much."
But Katharine, sincere as was her affection for her cousin, felt conscious that he would not understand one-half of the fanciful ideas which had passed through her brain during that long interval of silence. So her reply was the usual compromise which people adopt in such cases.
I was thinking of several things :-amongst others, of Mrs. Lancaster's party."
Hugh looked rather annoyed. “I thought you did not wish to go, and would much rather have been left at home ?”
“Yes, at the last, and yet all this fortnight I have been longing for the day, Hugh, did you ever feel what it is to wish for anything, and dream of it, and wonder about it, until when the time came you grew positively frightened, and almost wished that something would happen to frustrate your first desire ?”
“Was this what you have been feeling, Katharine ?”
“Perhaps so- I hardly know. I enjoyed the anticipation very much until, from thinking of all the wonderful people I should meet, I began to think about myself. It is a bad thing to think too much about oneself, Hugh-is it not po
Hugh assented abstractedly. It always gave him much more pleasure to hear Katharine talk than to talk himself; and besides, his conversation was rarely either rapid or brilliant.
Katharine went on.
“It was, after all, very vain and foolish in me to fancy that any one I should meet to-night would notice me in the least. And so I have now come to the determination not to think about myself or my imperfections, but to enjoy this evening as much as possible. Tell me, what great people are we likely to see ?”
- There is the Countess of A- and Lord William B, and Sir Vivian C- said Hugh, naming a few of the minor lights of the aristocracy who lend their feeble radiance to middleclass reunions.
“I do not call these 'great people," "answered Katharine, in a tone of disappointment. They are not my heroes and heroines. I want to see great writers, great poets, great painters,' she continued, with an energy that made Hugh open his eyes to their utmost width.
“Well, well, you little enthusiast, you will see plenty of that sort of people too.”
“ That sort of people,” repeated Katharine, in a low tone; and she shrank into herself, and was silent for five minutes. A feeling of passing vexation even towards Hugh oppressed her; until a chance movement wafted towards her the perfume of her flowers -the flowers to procure which he had ridden for miles over the country that rainy morning. A trifle sways one's feelings sometimes : and Katharine’s at once turned towards Hugh with an almost contrite acknowledgment. She sought an opportunity to remove any painful impression that her sudden silence might have given him. Well, here we are almost at our journey's end, and papa
and mamma are still asleep. We shall have very little more time for our talk, Hugh; so make haste and tell me what occupied your thoughts during that long hour of silence ?"
“Not now, dear Katharine-not now !"
He spoke-at once more gently and more hurriedly than Hugh Ogilvie was used to speak. Katharine was about to repeat bor question, when the carriage stopped.
How many meet who never yet have met,
BEFORE Katharine had time once more to grow terrified at the sudden realisation of her dreams of the world, she found herself in the brilliant drawing-rooms of Mrs. Lancaster,-following in the wake of her stately parents, and clinging with desperate energy to the arm of her cousin Hugh. Her eyes, dazzled and pained by the sudden transition from darkness to light, saw only a moving mass of gay attire which she was utterly unable to individualise. Her ear was bewildered by that scarcely subdued din of many voices which makes literary conversazioni in general a sort of polite Babel. Indeed, the young girl's outward organs of observa. tion were for the time quite dazzled; and she recovered herself only on hearing her mother say:
" Mrs. Lancaster, allow me to introduce to you my daughter Katharine.”
Now, ever since Mrs. Ogilvie had discovered an old schoolfellow in the celebrated Mrs.
Lancaster, Katharine had heard continually of the lady in question. Every one talked of her as a “clever woman”—“a blue”—“an extraordinary creature”woman of mind;" and somehow the girl had pictured to herself a tall, masculine, loud-voiced dame. Therefore, she was agreeably surprised at seeing before her a lady-certainly not pretty, nor young except in her attire—but, nevertheless, graceful, from her extreme smallness and delicacy of figure; there was nothing outré in her appearance except a peculiar style of head-dress, which set off the shape of her face to much advantage. This face was not remark