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tensions was still more so; and the natural desire to humble the proud, and to exalt the lowly, produced an almost universal, though uncommunicated purpose, to uphold Isabella.
In an instant she found herself surrounded by numerous claimants for her hand in the dance, by a company of well-reputationed matrons, emulous to testify, by the attention to the wife, their disapprobation of the husband; and by crowds of good-natured young ladies, who held flirtation in a married woman, as one of the seven deadly sins, and “that odious Lady Charlotte”- and “poor dear sweet Mrs. Willoughby" —passed from one pair of ruby lips to another, until it might have been thought that their generous souls had only been alive to the detestation of the one and compassion for the other. Happily for the amusement of the night, this was not the
exact state of the case; the words were scarcely uttered, when the tenderhearted utterers were as busily occupied in advancing each their own particular interest or pleasure, as if there had not been a Lady Charlotte or a Mrs. Willoughby in the world. Isabella, however, felt the encouragement which the interest generally manifested for her was so well calculated to give, and again remembering the standard maxim of Lady Jane not“ to be wanting to herself,” she overcame, as well as she could, the feeling of mortification and inferiority which Lady Charlotte had so well succeeded in producing, and resolved to give herself up to the only pleasure that she could now promise herself from an entertainment so studiously prepared, and from which she had been taught to expect such important effects.
Isabella could not but see the admiration which she excited : Mrs. Nesbitt's words recurred to her remembrance, “let him see that others can fall in love with you, and he will fall in love with you too.” There may be more gợod sense in this advice, thought Isabella, than I was at first inclined to allow the form upon which many eyes are fixed, may, in the end, not be thought unworthy of even Willoughby's preference. Married almost before I was seen, he does not know the competition that he might have had to contend with, had I been a little longer in the world before he asked me of my mother. Lady Charlotte, at least, shall not again triumph over my grave looks. Willoughby shall see one happy face, and see it perhaps where he least expects it; nor shall Lady Charlotte have reason to think that I fear her.
Actuated by this dangerous mode of reasoning, she resolved to affect the gaiety that she did not feel ; but finding her spirits rise with the adulation which was poured upon her from all sides, she became in reality the most joyous of the joyous group.
Dancing was Isabella's favourite amusement; it was also the art in which she excelled most of her companions, and particularly so Lady Charlotte. Stimulated by the desire of displaying her superiority, and animated by flattery, Isabella this evening excelled herself; the murmur of applause reached the ears of Mr. Willoughby, where he still sat by the side of Lady Charlotte - he stepped forward to ob
the dance had ceased, but Isabella was engaged in a lively conversation with her partner.
“How beautiful Isabella looks to night!” said Mr. Willoughby, looking on her with a pleased surprise, as she raised her beautiful eyes with a look of
gay intelligence to Sir Charles Sey
“I always told you she was handsome, said Lady Charlotte-very handsome
handsomer than I am a great deal, but you never looked as if
you believed me."
"I never saw her so animated !so all soul! before,” said Mr. Willoughby.
“ Oh how should you?" returned Lady Charlotte. “I doubt, my good friend, if Mr. Dunstan would see either animation or soul in my eyes — the conversation of a husband has no Promethean powers !"
Mr. Willoughby's vanity was wounded. I am not a Dunstan, thought he.
“ I do not believe," returned he, very seriously, " that Sir Charles has any such powers for Isabella; her animation is as innocent as it is engaging."
“ Bless me! who ever thought other