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Sir Henry Delmé started at the sight that greeted him. The room was dimly lighted by a lamp, but the moon was up, and shed her full light through part of the chamber. On a small French bed, whose silken linings threw their rosy hue on the face of its fair occupant, lay as lovely a girl as ever eye reposed on.
The heat had already commenced to become oppressive; the jalousies and windows were thrown open. As the night breeze swept over the curtains, and the tint these gave, trembled on that youthful beauty ; Delmé might well be forgiven, for deeming it was very long since he had seen a countenance so exquisitely lovely. The face did indeed bear the stamp of youth. Delmé would have guessed that the being before him, had barely attained her fifteenth year, but that her bosom heaved like playful billows, as she breathed her sighs in a profound slumber. Her style of beauty for a girl was most rare. It had an almost infantine simplicity
of character, which in sleep was still more remarksigning able; for awake, those eyes, now so still, did not
throw unmeaning glances.
Such as these must Guarini have apostrophised, as he looked at his slumbering love.
“ Occhi! stelle mortale !
Or, as Clarendon Gage translated it.
“ Ye mortal stars ! ye eyes that, e'en in sleep,
Can thus my senses chain'd in wonder keep,
Her beauty owed not its peculiar charm to any regularity of feature ; but to an ineffable sweetness of expression, and to youth's freshest bloom. Hafiz would have compared that smooth cheek to the tulip's flower. Her eye-lashes, of the deepest jet, and silken gloss, were of uncommon length. Her lips were apart, and disclosed small but exquisitely formed teeth. Their hue was not that of ivory, but the more delicate though more transient one of the pearl. One arm supported her headits hand tangled in the raven tressesmof the other, the snowy rounded elbow was alone visible.
She met the eye, like a vision conjured up by fervid youth ; when, ere our waking thoughts dare to run riot in beauty's contemplation-sleep, the tempter, gives to our disordered imaginations, forms and scenes, which in after life we pant for, but meet them-never!
George put his finger to his lips, as Delmé regarded her—kissed her silken cheek, and whis
“Acmé, carissima mia!”
The slumberer started—the envious eye-lid shrouded no more its lustrous jewel—the wondering eyes dilated, as they met her lover's—and she murmured something with that sweet Venetian lisp, in which the Greek women breathe their Italian. But, as she saw the stranger, her face and neck became suffused with crimson, and her small hand wrapped the snowy sheet round her beauteous form.
Sir Henry, who felt equally embarrassed, returned to the room they had left; whilst George lingered by the bedside of his mistress, and told her it was his brother. Once more together, Sir TIenry turned towards George.
“For God's sake,” said he, “unravel this mystery! Who is this young creature ?"
“Not now!” said his brother, “ let us reserve it for tomorrow, and talk only of home. Acmé has retired earlier than usual—she has been complaining." And he commenced with a flushed brow and rapid voice, to ask after those he loved.
“And so, dearest Emily will soon be married. I am glad of it; you speak so well of Gage! I wish I had stayed three weeks longer in England, and I should have seen him. We shall miss her in the flower garden, Henry! Yes! and every where else! And how is my kind aunt? I forgot to thank her when I last wrote to Delmé, for making Fidèle a parlour inmate !—and I don't think she likes dogs generally either! And Mrs. Wilcox ! as demure as ever?-Do you recollect the trick I played her the last April I was at home ?-And my favourite pony! does he still adorn the paddock, or is he gone at last ? Emily wrote me he could hardly support himself out of the shed. And the old oak-have you railed it round as I advised? And the deer-is my aunt still as tenacious of killing them? I suppose Emily's pet fawn is a fine antlered gentleman by this time. And your charger, Henry-how is he? And Mr. Sims? and the new green house? Does the aviary succeed? did you get my slips of the blood orange ? have the Zante melon seeds answered? And the daisy of Delmé, Fanny Porter-is she married ? I stole a kiss the day I left. And so the coachman is dead ? and you have given the reins to Jenkins, and have taken my little fellow on your own establishment? And Ponto? and Ranger? and my friend Guess ?”
Here George paused, quite out of breath; and his brother, viewing with some alarm his nervous agitation, attempted to answer his many queries ; determined in his own mind, not to seek the explanation he so much longed for, until a more favourable period for demanding it arrived. The brothers continued conversing on English topics till a late hour, when Henry rose to retire.
"I cannot,” said George, "give you a bed here to-night; but my servant shall show you the way to an hotel; and in the course of to-morrow, we