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a “pis aller"- a flat acknowledgment that Lady Charlotte had been rejected, and Isabella taken. Lady Charlotte was not so destitute of friends as to be left in ignorance that such unpleasant truths were abroad. She tossed her lofty head on high, and affected to despise them, but they shed fresh venom upon the already rankling wounds of mortified vanity; and while she felt herself compelled to rebut such de grading insinuations, by putting a strong rein on the contempt and dislike that she felt for Mr. Dunstan, her hatred to Isabella, and her desire of vengeance upon Mr. Willoughby, were multiplied tenfold. To shew him how ill he had chosen, and to sting him to the heart, became the master movement of her soul, and provided that he was miserable, and Isabella de. graded, she cared not at what price or evil to herself.
Living in the same society, and associating with the familiarity of relations, there was scarcely a day in which Lady Charlotte had not the means to mortify Isabella, or to spread her' allurements before Mr. Willoughby. Isabella felt that she was held down in her presence; yet all was done with so much apparent carelessness and freedom from design, that she knew not of what to complain — all seemed to proceed from her rival's superiority in the art of charming and this superiority seemed to be hourly establishing itself more firmly in the only place where it would have given Isabella much pain to have allowed it. This was, however, a new feeling. Isabella had hitherto felt herself strong in the preference that had been given to her over Lady Charlotte by Mr. Willoughby, and it was not likely that she would, in the present circumstances, yield to her
whatever she might have done to another, without a struggle.
Something beyond the general satisfaction that her self-love had experienced on being chosen by so distinguished a personas Mr. Willoughby, had been felt by Isabella, from believing that she had been deliberately and particularly preferred to Lady Charlotte-her flatterers had not left her ignorant of the fact, and the triumph had been boasted of by others, until poor Isabella had been too much a partaker of it. On this weak side, her boasted education had not only left her vulnerable, but had even been calculated to lay low all those defences that the natural rectitude of her mind might have furnished her with. To excel Lady Charlotte was a precept: - to take pleasure in seeing her humbled was a natural consequence which had not been guarded against.
She knew that she had always excelled her in all their youthful competitions, and she considered her own superiority as no longer to be disputed, when, in the question who was most worthy to charm a man of taste and refinement, Mr. Willoughby had decided in her favour. Of all her acquaintance Lady Charlotte was perhaps the last of whom Isabella could have been persuaded that she should have become jealous. How acute was then the
that wrung her heart, when from wondering, doubting, fearing - she could no longer withstand the conviction, that although the conversation of other females might be preferred to her own, that of Lady Charlotte was preferred to all the rest ?
The vanity, the pride, the ambition, and the selfishness, that the mode of education to which Isabella had been
subjected is so peculiarly fitted to engender, were on this conviction called into action in a moment; quickly did the injunction, which she had so often received, “not to be wanting to herself,” occur to her recollection.
“What is this potent charm, thought she, that is to sink me into nothingness ? Lady Charlotte has known my superiority, and she shall again know it! It shall be seen whether I cannot rival her in all that seems to make her so charming in the eyes of him who no longer sees any charms in me.
- My dress may be as studied
my taste as fastidious as hers;- like her I can be capricious - and like her I can prove my right to homage by encouraging numerous worshippers. Oh Willoughby!-and can this be the woman you prefer ? — as a wife you rejected her ; for what do you now seek her ?”