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who was contented to slumber away his days
on optimist fallacies and rose-water possibilities;
a man without nerve or muscle, weak,
amiable, and womanly. His temperament
was nervous; his habits shy; his manners
reserved. He had a dislike that was almost
abhorrence for society, and a desire that was
almost a mania for solitude and a rural life
of love.

Mrs. Fitzgerald was at breakfast at
Ormsby Green, when she received a letter
from her son, announcing his intended
marriage with Miss Chesterton, " the only child
of a deceased General Officer; a Lady as
remarkable for her Beauty as for her Virtue,"
he said, with a nervous flourish among the
capitals. The letter was written very
affectionately and respectfully; but gave not
the most distant hint of compliance with
the mother's views, should they be opposed
to the marriage. On the contrary, the
energetic determination expressed under
different forms throughout three pages and a
half  "of making his adored Eveline his own
at the earliest possible opportunity," showed
no present intention of reference to Mrs.
Fitzgerald in any way. He neither asked her
advice nor waited her concurrence; but in
every line that passionate doggedness of a
weak mind which admits no second opinion
and requires no aiding counsel. Mrs.
Fitzgerald's heart sank within her. She had
heard of the Chestertons, and dreaded them.

However, as Charles had asked her to the
wedding, and as Eveline had enclosed a short
note alsowritten on pink paper with violet-coloured
inkMrs. Fitzgerald determined on
seeing the bride herself before she allowed
presentiments to degenerate into prejudices.

"But Charles is so very very weak!" she
thought, "I have always dreaded his falling
into the snares of a family of schemers; and
few, none indeed, except some rare nature
like that of Agnes Crawford, which could
see and love his goodness in spite of his mental
defects, would marry him except for his money.
But such women," she further thought,
with a sigh, " do not write with violet ink on
pink paper scented with patchouli; and they
do not write such a hand as this."

Mrs. Fitzgerald determined to go to London,
where the Chestertons lived in a pretty
little cottage at Brompton, to judge for
herself, by knowledge rather than by fear;
anxious and willing to prove herself in the
wrong, and hoping to be self-convicted of
injustice. When she arrived, she was obliged
to confess that everything in the house was
arranged with consummate taste, and that
Mrs. Chesterton was a well-bred woman,
of the gay, worldly, party-giving kind;
of the well-fitting sick gown and family
lace cap kind; of the kind that delights
in veils; and revels in flounces, and wears
numerous ends of ribbon floating in all
directions; of a fashionable, talkative, and
clear-headed kind; a very different variety
of English gentlewoman to the grave
matron who came from her country seat
like some old chatelaine of romance, and
who looked on the modern world with her
deeply set grey eyesgrave with the wisdom
of natureas a sage might watch a
child's game beneath the trees. She was
struck with Eveline's extreme beauty. Yet
the shallow nature, vain, artificial, and
unloving, was evident as well. A dark
shadow spread out before her when she
saw standing before her eyes the future wife
of her beloved son. Long times of pain and
disappointment were woven in with every
breath and gesture of the girl. A small,
light, childish thing, with large blue eyes,
and long bright hair; a figure perfect in its
proportions and a complexion dazzling in
its waxen bloom; a damsel with false, fair
words, and with caressing ways. She knew
what the future must bring; she saw the
wreck beating against the treacherous sands,
and watched the precious freight of love and
trust scattered to the waves of despair. She
knew that Eveline would bring only anguish
to her home, and she set herself to endeavour
to avert it.

But remonstrances were useless. Charles
was bewitched, and his mother's warnings
only irritated him. He asked her coldly,
"What fault she found with Miss Chesterton,
that she should thus endeavour to make him
forfeit his plighted honour?"

"A want of stability of character," began
Mrs. Fitzgerald.

"How proved, Mother?"

"Too evident to require any proof. It is
proved by every word and look."

"You find it perhaps in her beauty?"
continued Charles. " Does this evident
instability of character, which you have seen at a
glance in your first short interview, lie in her
eyes, because they are blue and bright; or in
her hair, because it is fine and glossy? Is it
in her small hands or in her tiny feet? for I
don't think you know her well enough yet to
judge by anything but externals. You have
not probed her mind very deeply."

The young man's tone was hard and dry,
his manner defiant, and his eyes angry and
fixed. Mrs. Fitzgerald had never heard such
an accent from her son before. She was
shocked and wounded; but her tears fell on
desert sand.

She applied herself to Eveline. She spoke
of her son's virtues, but she spoke also of
his weakness; and asked the girl "if she had
weighed well the consequences of her choice
if she had reflected on her life with a
nervous and irritable man; self-willed and
unable to accept argument or persuasion?"
Eveline tossed her head and said, it was
"very odd, that Mrs. Fitzgerald, his mother,
should be the only one to speak ill of dear
Charles; that, indeed, he was not weaker
than other people; and as for being irritable,
nothing could be more amiable than he was

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