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Edward Bulwer Lytton
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TOUT notre raisonnement se reduit a ceder au sentiment.*--PASCAL.
* "All our reasoning reduces itself to yielding to sentiment."
LORD VARGRAVE, who had no desire to remain alone with the widow when the guests were gone, arranged his departure for the same day as that fixed for Mrs. Merton's; and as their road lay together for several miles, it was settled that they should all dine at-----, whence Lord Vargrave would proceed to London. Failing to procure a second chance-interview with Evelyn, and afraid to demand a formal one--for he felt the insecurity of the ground he stood on--Lord Vargrave, irritated and somewhat mortified, sought, as was his habit, whatever amusement was in his reach. In the conversation of Caroline Merton--shrewd, worldly, and ambitious--he found the sort of plaything that he desired. They were thrown much together; but to Vargrave, at least, there appeared no danger in the intercourse; and perhaps his chief object was to pique Evelyn, as well as to gratify his own spleen.
It was the evening before Evelyn's departure; the little party had been for the last hour dispersed; Mrs. Merton was in her own room, making to herself gratuitous and unnecessary occupation in seeing her woman pack up. It was just the kind of task that delighted her. To sit in a large chair and see somebody else at work--to say languidly, "Don't crumple that scarf, Jane; and where shall we put Miss Caroline's blue bonnet?"--gave her a very comfortable notion of her own importance and habits of business,--a sort of title to be the superintendent of a family and the wife of a rector. Caroline had disappeared, so had Lord Vargrave; but the first was supposed to be with Evelyn, the second, employed in writing letters,--at least, it was so when they had been last observed. Mrs. Leslie was alone in the drawing-room, and absorbed in anxious and benevolent thoughts on the critical situation of her young favourite, about to enter an age and a world the perils of which Mrs. Leslie had not forgotten.