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Making Lovers After Stories

"You are a sly girl, Mary.""Not by general reputation, I believe, Mrs. Martindale.""Oh no. Every one thinks you a little paragon of propriety. But Ican see as deep as most people.""You might as well talk in High Dutch to me, Mrs. Martindale. Youwould be equally intelligible.""You are a very innocent girl, Mary.""I hope I am. Certainly I am not conscious of wishing harm to anyone. But pray, Mrs. Martindale, oblige me by coming a little nearerto the point.""You don't remember any thing about Mrs. Allenson's party--ofcourse?""It would be strange if I did not.""Oh yes. Now you begin to comprehend a little.""Do speak out plainly, Mrs. Martindale!""So innocent! Ah me, Mary! you are a sly girl. You didn't see anything of a young man there with dark eyes and hair, and a beautifulwhite, high forehead?""If there was an individual there, answering to your description, itis highly probable that I did see him. But what then?""Oh, nothing, of course!""You are trifling with me, Mrs. Martindale.""Seriously, then, Mary, I was very much pleased to notice theattentions shown you by Mr. Fenwick, and more pleased at seeing howmuch those attentions appeared to gratify you. He is a young man ina thousand.""I am sure I saw nothing very particular in his attentions to me;and I am very certain that I was also more gratified at theattentions shown by him, than I was by those of other young menpresent.""Of course not.""You seem to doubt my word?""Oh no--I don't doubt your word. But on these subjects young ladiesfeel themselves privileged to--to"----"To what, Mrs. Martindale?""Nothing--only. But don't you think Mr. Fenwick a charming youngman?""I didn't perceive any thing very remarkable about him.""He did about you. I saw that, clearly.""How can you talk so to me, Mrs. Martindale?""Oh la! Do hear the girl! Did you never have a beau, Mary?""Yes, many a one. What of it?""And a lover too?""I know nothing about lovers."As Mary Lester said this, her heart made a fluttering bound, and anemotion, new and strange, but sweet, swelled and trembled in herbosom."But you soon will, Mary, or I'm mistaken."Mrs. Martindale saw the cheek of the fair girl kindle, and her eyebrighten, and she said to herself, with an inward smile ofsatisfaction--"I'll make a match of it yet--see if I don't! What a beautifulcouple they will be!"Mrs. Martindale was one of that singular class of elderly ladieswhose chief delight consists in match-making. Many and many a couplehad she brought together in her time, and she lived in the pleasinghope of seeing many more united. It was a remarkable fact, however,that in nearly every instance where her kind offices had beeninterposed, the result had not been the very happiest in the world.This fact, however, never seemed to strike her. The one great end ofher life was to get people together--to pair them off. Whether theyjogged on harmoniously together, or pulled separate ways, was noconcern of hers. Her business was to make the matches. As to livingin harmony, or the opposite, that concerned the couples themselves,and to that they must look themselves. It was enough for her to makethe matches, without being obliged to accord the dispositions.As in every thing else, practice makes perfect, so in thisoccupation, practice gave to Mrs. Martindale great skill indiscerning character--at least, of such character as she couldoperate on. And she could, moreover, tell the progressive states ofmind of those upon whom she exercised her kind offices, almost astruly as if she heard them expressed in words. It was, therefore,clear to her, after her first essay, that Mary Lester's affectionsmight very easily be brought out and made to linger about the youngman whom she had, in her wisdom, chosen as her husband. As Mary wasa very sweet girl, and, moreover, had a father well to do in theworld, she had no fears about interesting Mr. Fenwick in her favour.Only a few days passed before Mrs. Martindale managed to throwherself into the company of the young man."How were you pleased with the party, Mr. Fenwick?" she began."At Mrs. Allenson's?""Yes.""Very much.""So I thought.""Did I seem, then, particularly pleased?""I thought so.""Indeed! Well, I can't say that I was interested a great deal morethan I usually am on such occasions.""Not a great deal more?""No, I certainly was not.""But a little more?""Perhaps I was; but I cannot be positive.""Oh yes. I know it. And I'm of the opinion that you were not theonly person there who was interested a little more than usual.""Ah, indeed! And who was the other, pray?""A dear little girl, whom I could mention.""Who was she?""The sweetest young lady in the room.""Well, what was her name?""Can't you guess?""I am not good at guessing.""Try.""Mary Lester?""Of course! Ha! ha! ha! I knew it.""Knew what?""Oh yes, Mr. Innocence! Knew what!""You are disposed to be quite merry, Mrs. Martindale.""I always feel merry when I see a young couple like you and MaryLester mutually pleased with each other.""Mutually pleased?""Of course, mutually pleased.""How do you know that, Mrs. Martindale?""Haven't I got a good pair of eyes in my head?""Very good, I should certainly think, to make such a wonderfuldiscovery.""Seriously, though, Mr. Fenwick, do you not think Mary Lester a verysweet girl?""Certainly I do.""And just such a one as you could love?""Any one, it seems to me, might love Mary Lester; but then, it isjust as apparent that she could not love any one who might chance tooffer.""Of course not. And I should be very sorry to think that she could.But of one thing I am certain, she cannot look upon you withunfavourable eyes.""Mrs. Martindale!""I am in earnest, Mr. Fenwick.""What reason have you for thinking so?""Very good reason. I had my eyes on you both at Mrs. Allenson'sparty, and I saw as plain as could be that Mary was deeplyinterested. Since then, I have met her, and observed her eyebrighten and her cheek kindle at the mention of your name. Mr.Fenwick, she is a prize well worth winning, and may be yours.""Are you, then, really serious?" the young man now said, his toneand manner changing."Assuredly I am, Mr. Fenwick.""Mary Lester, you know, moves in a circle above my own; that is, herfather is accounted rich, and I am known to have nothing but my ownenergies to depend upon.""All that is nothing. Win her affections, and she must be yours.""But I am not so certain that I can do that.""Nonsense! It is half done already.""You seem very positive about the matter.""Because I am never mistaken on these subjects. I can tell, themoment I see a young couple together, whether they will suit eachother or not.""And you think, then, that we will just suit?""Certainly I do.""I only wish that I could think so.""Do you, indeed? I am glad to hear you say that. I thought you couldnot be insensible to the charms of so sweet a girl.""Do you, then, really believe that if I offered myself to MaryLester, she would accept me?""If you went the right way about it, I am sure she would.""What do you mean by the right way?""The right way for you, of course, is to endeavour to win heraffections. She is already, I can see, strongly prepossessed in yourfavour, but is not herself aware to what extent her feelings areinterested. Throw yourself into her company as much as you can, andwhen in her company pay her the kindest attentions. But do not visither at her own house at present, or her father may crush the wholeaffair. When I see her again, I will drop a word in your favour.""I am certainly very much indebted to you, Mrs. Martindale, for yourkind hints and promised interference. I have often felt drawn towardMary, but always checked the feeling, because I had no idea that I,could make an impression on her mind.""Faint heart never won fair lady," was Mrs. Martindale's encouragingresponse."Well, Mary," said the lady to Miss Lester, a few days afterward,"have you seen Mr. Fenwick since?""Mr. Fenwick!" said she, in tones of affected surprise."Yes, Mr. Fenwick.""No--of course not. Why do you ask so strange a question? He doesnot visit me.""Don't he? Well, I have seen him.""Have you? Then I hope you were very much delighted with hiscompany, for he seems to be a favourite of yours.""He certainly is a favourite of mine, Mary. I have known him for agood many years, and have always esteemed him highly. There are fewyoung men who can claim to be his equal.""I doubt not but there are hundreds to be met with every day as goodas he.""Perhaps so, Mary. I have not, however, been so fortunate as to comeacross them.""No doubt he is a paragon!""Whether he be one or not, he at least thinks there is no one likeyou.""Like me!" ejaculated Mary, taken thus suddenly by surprise, whilethe colour mounted to her face, and deepened about her eyes andforehead."Yes, like you. The fact is, Mary, he thinks and speaks of you inthe kindest terms. You have evidently interested him very much.""I certainly never intended to do so, Mrs. Martindale.""Of course not, Mary. I never supposed for a moment that you had.Still he is interested, and deeply so."Having ventured thus far, Mrs. Martindale deemed it prudent to sayno more for the present, but to leave her insinuations to work uponMary's heart what they were designed to effect. She was satisfiedthat all was as she could wish--that both Fenwick and Mary wereinterested in each other; and she knew enough of the human heart,and of her own power over it, when exercised in a certain way, toknow that it would not be long before they were much more deeplyinterested.Like all the rest of Mrs. Martindale's selections of parties formatrimony, the present was a very injudicious one. Mary was onlyseventeen--too young, by three or four years, to be able properly tojudge of character; and Fenwick was by no means a suitable man forher husband. He was himself only about twenty-one, with a characternot yet fully decided, though the different constituents of his mindwere just ready to take their various positions, and fixed anddistinctive forms. Unfortunately, these mental and moral relationswere not truly balanced; there was an evident bias of selfishnessand evil over generous and true principles. As Mrs. Martindale wasno profound judge of character, she could not, of course, make atrue discrimination of Fenwick's moral fitness for the husband ofMary Lester. Indeed, she never attempted to analyze character, norhad she an idea of any thing beneath the surface. Personalappearance, an affable exterior, and a little flattery of herself,were the three things which, in her estimation, went to make up aperfect character--were enough to constitute the beau ideal of ahusband for any one.Mary's father was a merchant of considerable wealth and standing insociety, and possessing high-toned feelings and principles. Mary washis oldest child. He loved her tenderly, and, moreover, felt all aparent's pride in one so young, so lovely, and so innocent.Fenwick had, until within a few months, been a clerk in a retaildry-goods store, at a very small salary. A calculating, but not toohonest a wholesale dealer in the same line, desirous of getting ridof a large stock of unsaleable goods, proposed to the young man toset him up in business--a proposition which was instantly accepted.The credit thus furnished to Fenwick was an inducement for others tosell to him; and so, without a single dollar of capital, he obtaineda store full of goods. The scheme of the individual who had thusinduced him to venture upon a troubled and uncertain sea, was to getpaid fair prices for his own depreciated goods out of Fenwick'sfirst sales, and then gradually to withdraw his support, compellinghim to buy of other jobbing houses, until his indebtedness to himwould be but nominal. He was very well assured that the youngmerchant could not stand it over a year or two, and for that lengthof time only by a system of borrowing and accommodations; but as tothe result he cared nothing, so that he effected a good sale of abad stock.Notwithstanding such an unpromising condition of his affairs, evenif fully known to Mr. Lester, that gentleman would not have stronglyopposed a union of his daughter with Mr. Fenwick, had he been a manof strong mind, intelligence, energy, and high-toned principles--forhe was philosopher enough to know that these will elevate a manunder any circumstances. But Fenwick had no decided points in hischaracter. He had limited intelligence, and no energy arising fromclear perceptions and strong resolutions. He was a man fit tocaptivate a young and innocent girl, but not to hold the affectionof a generous-minded woman.In the natural order of events, such a circumstance as a marriageunion between the daughter of Mr. Lester, and an individual likeFenwick, was not at all likely to occur. But a meddlesome woman,who, by the accident of circumstances, had found free access to thefamily of Mr. Lester, set herself seriously at work to interferewith the orderly course of things, and effect a conjunction betweentwo in no way fitted for each other, either in externalcircumstances or similarity of character. But let us trace theprogress of this artificial passion, fanned into a blaze by theofficious Mrs. Martindale. After having agitated the heart of Marywith the idea of being beloved, while she coolly calculated itseffects upon her, the match-monger sought an early opportunity foranother interview with Fenwick."I have seen Mary since we last met," she said."Well, do you think I have any thing to hope?""Certainly I do. I mentioned your name to her on purpose, and Icould see that the heart of the dear little thing began to flutterat the very sound; and when I bantered her, she blushed, and was allconfusion.""When shall I be able to meet her again?""Next week, I think. There is to be a party at Mrs. Cameron's and asI am a particular friend of the family, I will endeavour to get youan invitation.""Mary is to be there, of course?""Certainly.""Are you sure that you can get me invited?""Yes, I think so. Mrs. Cameron, it is true, has some exclusivenotions of her own; but I have no doubt of being able to removethem.""Try, by all means.""You may depend on me for that," was Mrs. Martindale's encouragingreply.The evening of Mrs. Cameron's party soon came around. Mrs.Martindale had been as good as her word, and managed to get Fenwickinvited, although he had never in his life met either Mr. or Mrs.Cameron. But he had no delicate and manly scruples on the subject.All he desired was to get invited; the way in which it was done wasof no consequence to him.Mary Lester was seated by the side of her interested friend when theyoung man entered. Her heart gave a quick bound as she saw him comein, while a pleasant thrill pervaded her bosom. He at once advancedtoward them, while Mrs. Martindale rose, and after receiving himwith her blandest manner, presented him to Mary, so as to give himan opportunity for being in her society at once. Both were, as mightvery naturally be supposed, a good deal embarrassed, for each wasconscious that now a new relation existed between them. This theirvery kind friend observed, and with much tact introduced subjects ofconversation, until she had paved the way, for a freer intercourse,and then she left them alone for a brief period, not, however,without carefully observing them, to see how they "got alongtogether," as she mentally expressed it.She had little cause for further concern on this account, forFenwick had a smooth and ready tongue in his head, and five yearsbehind the counter of a retail dealer had taught him how to use it.Instead of finding it necessary to prompt them, the wily Mrs.Martindale soon discovered that her kind offices were needed torestrain them a little, lest the evidence of their being too wellpleased with each other should be discovered by the company.Two or three interviews more were all that were needed to bringabout a declaration from the young man. Previous to his taking thisstep, however, Mrs. Martindale had fully prepared Mary's mind forit."You own to me, Mary," said she, during one of the manyconversations now held with her on the subject of Fenwick'sattentions, "that you love him?""I do, Mrs. Martindale," the young lady replied, in a tone half sad,leaning at the same time upon the shoulder of her friend. "But I amconscious that I have been wrong in permitting my affections tobecome so much interested without having consulted my mother.""It will never do for you to consult her now, Mary, for she does notknow Mr. Fenwick as you and I know him. She will judge of him, aswill your father, from appearances, and forbid you to keep hiscompany.""I am sure that such will be the case, and you cannot tell how ittroubles me. From childhood up I have been taught to confide inthem, and, except in this thing, have never once deceived them. Theidea of doing so now, is one that gives me constant pain. I feelthat I have not acted wisely in this matter.""Nonsense, Mary! Parents never think with their children in thesematters. It would make no odds whom you happened to love, they wouldmost certainly oppose you. I never yet knew a young lady whoseparents fully approved her choice of a husband.""I feel very certain that mine will not approve my choice; and Icannot bear the idea of their displeasure. Sometimes I feel halfdetermined to tell them all, let the consequences be what they may.""Oh no, no, Mary! not for the world. They would no doubt take stepsto prevent your again meeting each other.""What, then, shall I do, Mrs. Martindale?""See Mr. Fenwick whenever an opportunity offers, and leave the restto me. I will advise you when and how to act."The almost involuntary admissions made by Mary in this conversation,were at once conveyed to the ears of Fenwick, who soon sought anopportunity openly to declare his love. Of course, his suit was notrejected. Thus, under the advice and direction of a most injudiciouswoman, who had betrayed the confidence placed in her, was a younggirl, unacquainted with life, innocent and unsuspicious, wooed andwon, and her parents wholly ignorant of the circumstance.Thoughts of marriage follow quickly a declaration of love. Once withthe prize in view, Fenwick was eager to have it wholly in hispossession. Mrs. Martindale was, of course, the mutual friend andadviser, and she urged an immediate clandestine marriage. For manyweeks Mary resisted the persuasions of both. Fenwick and Mrs.Martindale; but at last, in a state of half distraction of mind, sheconsented to secretly leave her father's house, and throw herselfupon the protection of one she had not known for six months, and ofwhose true character she had no certain knowledge."Mary is out a great deal of late, it seems to me," Mr. Lesterremarked, as he sat alone with his wife one evening about teno'clock."So I was just thinking. There is, scarcely an evening now in theweek that she has not an engagement somewhere.""I cannot say that I much approve of such a course myself. There isalways danger of a girl, just at Mary's age, forming injudiciouspreferences for young men, if she be thrown much into their company,unattended by a proper adviser.""Mrs. Martindale is very fond of Mary, and I believe is with her agood deal.""Mrs. Martindale? Humph! Do you know that I have no great confidencein that woman?""Why?""Have you forgotten the hand she had in bringing about that mostunfortunate marriage of Caroline Howell?""I had almost forgotten it. Or, rather, I never paid much attentionto the rumour in regard to her interference in the matter; because,you know, people will talk.""And to some purpose, often; at least, I am persuaded that there istruth in all that is alleged in this instance. And now that mythoughts begin to run in this way, I do really feel concerned lestthe reason of Mary's frequent absence of late, in company with Mrs.Martindale, has some reference to a matter of this kind. Have younot observed some change in her of late?""She has not been very cheerful for the last two or three months.""So I ha

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