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is not exactly what vous autres park-peoplecall being a horse-woman, is it?"

"I dare say the pony knows the mountain paths well enough to set an excellent example to your ladyship's horse," replied Fitzosborne. "When shall we try the experiment, Miss Ridley ?"

"I am always ready to ride," returned Constance; "but I doubt, Margaretta, if your gay steed could safely follow my pony in the mountain-paths Mr. Fitzosborne talks of."

"There can be no need of scrambling through mountain-paths, as long as there is a high road within reach. Let us ride to Ilfracombe to-day. I suppose, ma'am, you will have no objection to put off your dinner for an hour or so?" said her ladyship, addressing Mrs. Ridley.

The old lady looked at her very much as if she intended to answer tartly, but she answered not at all for a moment, and having fortunately turned her eyes towards Fitzosborne during the interval, the expression of her countenance underwent a favourable change, and she said, "If Mr. Fitzosborne will consent to dine with us, he shall name whatever hour he pleases."

"I accept your invitation with the greatest pleasure, my dear madam," he replied; "but it must be on condition of not keeping you waiting a moment. Lady Ridley's very delightful proposal of visiting Ilfracombe might be accompanied at some future time without any inconvenience, by setting off an hour or two earlier. I arrived only last night, and felt well disposed to pay my compliments at the earliest moment possible, but dared not venture to break in upon you before mid-day. We are too late, therefore, I think, for so long an expedition this morning."

"O, just as you please. I do not care a farthing whether I ride or not," said Lady Ridley pettishly.

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Nay, ride somewhere by all means," returned Fitzorborne. "What say you to a canter on the beautiful down opposite Markham's little paradise ?"

The proposal being agreed to promptly by Sir James, silently by Constance, and rather sullenly by her elegant ladyship, the party separated to prepare for it; but though Fitzosborne had to return to his house on foot, and come back again on horseback, he, as well as Constance and her brother, waited a considerable time before Lady Ridley made her appearance. At length, however, she came, and rewarded them for their patience by displaying the last and most finished pattern of Hyde Park equestrian costume. Constance, in a habit of two years' standing, and a large straw bonnet, more calculated to shade her fair face from the sun than to produce a stylish effect on horseback, fortunately appeared to Lady Ridley, as she entered the room, to be so admirable a foil, that the sight of her instantly restored the smiles and good-humour which very tight buttoning and hooking had pretty nearly banished.

"Come along, good people," she cried; "do not keep me waiting. One of my laws is, that I never wait for any one. But, mercy on me Constance! what an object you are! If Mortimer could see you in that bonnet, whatever hope you may still have of recovering him

must, I am quite sure, be abandoned for ever. O ciel! what a coiffure !"

Constance was standing at the window, and Fitzosborne was beside her. His eyes were fixed on her face. How utterly impossible was it for him to read aright the strong emotion he saw there as these words reached her ear! And how little could his acuteness be blamed if, in the increased coldness of her manner towards himself, he failed to perceive the real feeling that fluttered at her heart, and which would have led her to prefer eternal solitude, rather than the companionship of one, (whose companionship nevertheless she had long felt to be the most precious gift that Heaven could bestow,) if it must be purchased by the avowal that the love she had once so lightly given she was now ready to give again. The cruel words of Margaretta brought her back in an instant to the consciousness of what she considered to be her real situation, and which, for a few happy moments, she had actually forgotten.

"She cannot hear him named without emotion," thought the miserable Fitzosborne. "How I have throughout deceived myself!"

The anguish which this thought suggested was very nearly akin to that of poor Constance, for it had in it a large mixture of selfreproach, and of that most galling kind too, which is accompanied by self-contempt. And they walked out once more, side by side, to mount their horses, with feelings as completely wretched as ever weighed upon the hearts of two lovers, devotedly attached to each other, and without the shadow of an obstacle to prevent their mutual happiness.

Lady Ridley's groom was leading about Lady Ridley's horse, while that of her husband was held by a stable-boy, as its well-drilled and obsequious owner respectfully offered his hand to receive his lady's foot as she mounted. This attention did not, however, meet with the gracious acceptance it might be thought to deserve.

"For goodness sake, Sir James!" she explained, "do not take hold of my elbow in that way! Good Heavens! how awkward you are ! Will you have the kindness, Mr. Fitzosborne, to put me up?"

Did any gentleman ever say nay to such a request? Certainly not, unless he had been married above a year to the maker of it. So Fitzosborne left the side of the silent Constance, and performed the service required of him; after which he again turned towards her with the intention of offering the like assistance to her; but she was already mounted. Nothing could be much less successful than this first attempt at enjoying the scenery round his new residence. Everything seemed to conspire on that unlucky morning to vex and torment the unfortunate tenant of Laurel Hill. The very beauty of the country through which they rode added to his mortification, for Lady Ridley, who contrived, by a multitude of little lady-like devices, to keep him by her side, endeavouring to recreate his spirit the while by vivid reminiscences of London life, and despite the bold and beauful scenery spread before his eyes with all the rich effects of its autumnal brightness, his thoughts were tyrannically chained to the fiddle-faddle talk of her ladyship. Fitzosborne felt sick at heart as he looked at and listened to her; nor was the matter mended when,

venturing to turn his head round, he saw the earnest, melancholy eye of the silent Constance fixed on the wild mixture of rocks, wood, and water, amongst which their path led them.

"O, why is she so beautiful?" thought the unhappy owner of what the world believes to be the principal materials of happiness, "and why is her mind so clearly legible in her lovely face, while the feelings of her heart remain a mystery ?"

Once, and once only, during this very painful excursion, did Fitzosborne venture to break the order of march, for the sake of finding himself within speaking distance of Constance; but, to use a lawyer's phrase, "he gained nothing by the motion," for Lady Ridley instantly brought her horse's head between them, and for the first time since they had left the house condescended to address her sister-inlaw, which she now did by saying, "Now do tell me, Constance, without any evasion or reserve, did you ever carry your grandmother's eggs and butter to market on that pony ?"

But the thoughts of Constance were too intently occupied within to be immediately recalled, and her ladyship's witty words not reaching her understanding, she turned her pale face towards her, and gravely replied, "What do you say, Margaretta ?"

I

"Ah, par exemple! Behold the effect of disapointed love! My poor dear girl, you must really try to rouse yourself out of this deplorable condition. There is something positively shocking in seeing a young woman, not yet twenty-two years old, losing her hearing, or her comprehension, or both, because a man has proved inconstant. believe you have been exceedingly ill-used, and all that. I am the last person in the world to deny it, or to attempt finding the shadow of an excuse for Mr. Mortimer. A man has no business to propose first, and then discover want of tournure, or any other defect afterwards. Don't fancy that I intend to take his part. O, no! very far from it indeed. But you may depend upon it, dear, that I shall never suffer you to show off your low spirits before company, without trying to rattle you out of them. Don't you think I am right, Mr. Fitz

osborne ?"

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Upon my word, Lady Ridley, you must excuse my passing any judgment on the subject," replied Fitzosborne, stiffly.

"O, I will prove it to you in a minute. You see she is looking as pale as ashes, and so solemn that, upon my honour, if she does not take care, she will grow into the very image of her brother. Now tell me, Constance dear, and do look up while you answer me, were you not thinking of the faithless Mortimer when I spoke to you just now, without being able to make you understand a word I said? Were you not thinking of Mr. Mortimer?"

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Yes, Lady Ridley, I was," replied Constance, very distinctly; but her kind sister's wish to improve her complexion failed, for the object of her lively raillery became rather paler than before.

It would be difficult to describe what passed in the mind of Fitzosborne at that moment, so many conflicting thoughts and feelings beset him. Perhaps the most prevalent and decided of all was what produced the sudden wish to see her lively ladyship roll down the cliff beside which they were riding. But all anger against her was

speedily forgotten in the deep desire of understanding aright the deeided but seemingly placid answer of Constance. She was thinking of Mortimer, of him whose offered hand she had accepted a few short months before. Was it with regret? Yes, it was regret, or rather it was deep and settled sorrow which her features expressed when thus brutally challenged to yield up her thoughts; and yet, despite all the schooling he had been recently bestowing upon what he was pleased to call his coxcomb vanity, he could not, for the life of him, help remembering that this regret, this sorrow, might be as likely to arise from her having accepted Mr. Mortimer, as from her having lost him. About ten minutes before he had made up his mind to believe that the air of Laurel Hill did not suit him, that it would be far wiser to return to the continent, and that he would speak to Markham about getting rid of the place again at the very earliest opportunity. But now this very superior-minded and accomplished young man could have found reasons as plenty as blackberries to prove that such a step would be premature, and, in fact, altogether absurd.

The party rode on, and as Constance, who had been commissioned to guide them, knew by rote every spot of vantage from which a brawling rapid or a towering rock could be seen, Fitzosborne, if he could in any degree have remembered where he was, must have returned with the conviction that, however doubtful as to other particulars the eligibility of his new residence might be, it was at least situated amidst the most beautiful scenery of England.

Whether on the present occasion either one of the party cared one single straw for this may be doubted. Lady Ridley, when she had shown off all the pretty little equestrian tricks she had been taught by her riding-master, began to think it was time to turn round and ride home; an intimation which she had no sooner conveyed to Constance than it was obeyed. She quietly wheeled her pony round, and though the crowning glory of the excursion was less than a quarter of a mile distant, said not a word about it, but leading the party into a bridle-path that took them home by a shorter route, breathed one heavy sigh as she thought how happy she might have been, had she found herself the cicerone of Fitzosborne through such scenery, under happier circumstances.

CHAPTER XXXVI.

NATURAL CONSEQUENCES OF A YOUNG LADY'S FANCYING HERSELF IN LOVE BEFORE SHE KNOWS HER OWN MIND-A DECISIVE INTERVIEW.

Fitzosborne dined on that day at Mrs. Ridley's, but the hours of the long evening turned out anything rather than pleasant to him, and passed without a single glimmer of that "purple-light-of-love" sort of illumination which had cheered the termination of his last visit. Yet, despite the heavy inanity of Sir James, the minauderies of his wife, (made up of a patchwork texture of coquetry and fine-ladyism,) the troublesome efforts of the good old lady to make him talk, and the sedate tranquillity of manner which made every syllable that Constance spoke to him fall like an ice-bolt upon his heart-notwithstand

ing all this, he stayed longer than there was any sort of occasion for, and lingered over his farewell as if he hoped some tone, some look, might escape her, upon which to build up a new theory of hope.

But if the thoughts which accompanied Fitzosborne on his road home were melancholy, those which followed Constance to her pillow were worse still. That Lady Ridley had intended to plague her beautiful sister-in-law a little by alluding to the faithless Mortimer is tolerably certain, but most assuredly she guessed not how very perfect was her success. Restrained as had been the intercourse between Fitzosborne and Constance since they had met in Devonshire, she was not so devoid of feminine discernment as not to perceive that his manner indicated no symptom of indifference; and for herself, poor girl! there was not the shadow of a hope left, that she could persuade herself she was not once more desperately in love. The majority of young ladies, perhaps, might have been inclined to flatter themselves that these two facts might together bring about a very happy termination. But not so Constance. The severity with which she contemned her own conduct during the unfortunate commencement of her London campaign, increased in exact proportion to the time she devoted to meditation upon it; and the more she knew of Fitzosborne, and the longer she dwelt upon every trait of character he exhibited, the more she became persuaded that he could never-however his fancy might for a time beguile him-deem the woman who had so hastily loved and accepted Mortimer, a fitting wife for himself. The torture which this conviction brought with it was terrible, and the only feeling which supported her under it arose from the stedfast determination that nothing, no possible moment of weakness, either on his part or her own, should ever tempt her to forget the judgment which his cooler reason must eventually pass upon her, or permit him to act in contradiction to it. How often did she wish that Penelope and her husband had fixed upon some distant residence to which she could retreat, and find a shelter from all the painful scenes that were likely to occur. Lady Ridley's perpetual allusions to her faithless lover, and her disappointed love, she felt herself bound to endure patiently, as an appropriate punishment for the levity of her conduct; but that these should be uttered in the presence of Fitzosborne, was multiplying the misery to a degree that even her own morbid conscience did not deem necessary. Yet, how to escape it she knew not, and bitter were the tears which wetted her pillow ere she closed her eyes in sleep that night.

A fortnight passed away, during which many meetings of the same unsatisfactory kind occurred between the lovers-for such they were, notwithstanding the impassable barrier that seemed to separate them; and sometimes Fitzosborne went home with a renewed hope that Constance was not wholly indifferent to him, but far oftener with the conviction that all such hopes were vain, and that his only chance of recovering his peace of mind was by flying from her presence for ever. Again and again he determined to do so, and again and again a look, a blush, had suggested other thoughts, and made him think it would be best to take this decisive step more deliberately.

While thus tormenting himself by yielding to alternate fits of hope and despair, he received a letter from Mrs. Morley, telling him that

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