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room, calling to Eleanore, and asking her, with less ceremony than a man usually so polite might be supposed to use, if she had repaired his glove. At the sight, however, of Antoinette, he changed his tone, bowed, and, taking her hand, expressed a hope that she had recovered her fatigue.
While he was speaking to her, Eleanore threw the glove at the young garde du corps, using some lively expression which her sister did not exactly hear. In reply to which, he took up the glove, and, gently patting his cousin's cheek with it, pressed it to his lips, and added, “Ilenceforward this glove will be inestimable to me." So saying, he hastened out of the room, bowing to Antoinette, and adding, that he was already an hour too late.
In the mean time, the old lady had entered into discussions, of high importance in her own opinion, with the various work-people around her, on the subject of corsets, bonnets, pelisses, artificial flowers, elegant dishabilles, and the best way of rendering sables becoming. Antoinette had been accustomed to hear her mother lay a great emphasis on matters of this kind; she was, therefore, the less astonished at the vivacity displayed by the comptesse on the present occasion: and though at first she certainly felt the latter part of the discourse sadly grating to her feelings, yet, almost before she had time to recollect herself, she was interested in what was going forward; and shared in the anxiety of the various artisans, in their efforts to give to her and to her sister that air of fashion, which every person present agreed was all that was necessary to render them truly engaging
These important matters were not arranged till a late hour. It was then time to dress for dinner; for, although the old lady was supposed to be in grief, and could not, with any decency, be seen abroad at present, yet she was at home with her intimate friends; so that the hotel was by no means such a scene of retirement as might have been supposed, when the circumstances of the family were considered; and Antoinette was perfectly amazed, when she entered the saloon in the evening, to find it full of her grandmother's friends, and to be ac
costed on all sides with the most extravagant expressions of esteem and admiration.
Antoinette was inclined to smile when first she heard the praise of her beauty and elegance, and heard the compliments paid to her grandmother as having two such daughters. But these flatteries, which at first only amused her, at length glided into the most secret recesses of her heart, and had a pernicious effect on all her feelings. Her spirits gradually rose; the melancholy and serious scenes which had taken place in the valley of Anzasca were obliterated from her recollection; while the re-appearance of the young comte, also, late in the evening, and his nearness to her at the supper-table, with the entire devotion of his attention to her, completed the fascination of the scene; and she withdrew to rest in such a state of mind, that she was glad to be relieved from her reflections by sleep. During this time, she had only seen her sister in company; but, as a degree of indifference had long been increasing between herself and Eleanore, she now felt her estrangement much less than she would otherwise have done.
The next and the next day passed much as the former had done. Antoinette saw the young comte frequently during this period; and was always treated by him with such marked attention, that she thought it was impossible his regard for her could pass unobserved; but she was increasingly reluctant to ask her own heart what she felt for him; for, amiable as he appeared, she was but too well convinced of his utter contempt of religion to be able to deceive herself respecting the propriety of encouraging his affection.
In the mean time, there was much in the conduct of the comtesse and Eleanore which was impenetrable as it regarded Antoinette. The comtesse treated her with apparent kindness, but with a reserve which she could not comprehend. The old lady had at first proposed taking her granddaughters into public, or, as we should say, introducing them into the world, as soon as a decent time should have elapsed from the death of tiieir mother; but, before that period arrived, these plans were disconcerted by a violent attack of gout, which confined her to her bed, and so considerably affected her
spirits, that she suddenly transferred all her anxieties regarding the worldly concerns of her granddaughters to the state of their souls; and then the inquiry was set on foot respecting the kind of faith in which they had been brought up: and when the awful truth was brought to light that they had both been educated in the Reformed Church, such a scene of confusion ensued, on this discovery, as could not be easily conceived. The abbe was called in, and the two young ladies subjected to various exhortations and arguments; in which the abbe displayed more zeal than knowledge, and more perseverance than charity.
The comtesse had supposed that her relatives would have given way at once, under the superior and enlightened instructions of the abbe; but when she found that Eleanore dared to dispute with him, and that Antoinette was determinately silent, she became furious, as her countrywomen would say, and had recourse to threatenings and denunciations of banishment; which had such an effect on Eleanore, that, in a short time, she gave way, acknowledging herself convinced; and, to the grief and amazement of her sister, professed herself
, in the most decided manner, a member of the Roman Catholic Church. Thus ended all the lofty professions of Eleanore; and thus the last tie was dissolved which united these children of one parent.
The young comte had been absent with the court at St. Cloud during the illness of his grandmother, and he was, therefore, not made acquainted with all which was passing at Paris; otherwise, he would, no doubt, have resisted the sort of spiritual tyranny which was exercised over his cousins. Antoinette fully expected that, after her sister had recanted, more violent measures would have been resorted to with herself; but, on the contrary, her grandmother suddenly ceased to speak to her on the subject of religion, and treated her generally with more coolness and reserve; while the abbe, though he did not relax his attentions, altered his manner, and affected a sort of pity and regard for her, as for one who, though in error, was nevertheless truly amiable; and thus he used every means of rendering himself agreeable and acceptable to her. He undertook
the office of teach
ing her Italian, and making her acquainted with the more elegant parts of French literature.
In this new character, he rendered himself so interesting, that his pupil began to love her lessons, and esteem her tutor; and that to such a degree, that when he began, after awhile, to insinuate his erroneous doctrines, and to aim at the object of his design, she endeavoured not to see that object, or, at least, not to appear to see it; being desirous of exercising the same charity towards him as she trusted he felt towards her.
In this situation, so dangerous in every respect, she saw her cousin only at intervals, and for a few minutes at a time. She supposed that he was entirely ignorant of the contest between herself and their grandmother on the subject of religion: but in this she was mistaken; for he had lately been made acquainted with some particulars respecting it; and he was, indeed, much more interested in the issue of this contest than she had any idea of. From the first moment he had seen Antoinette, he had admired and loved her; and she had by no means lost at Paris that interest in his heart which she had obtained in the valley of Anzasca. He had not yet, indeed, succeeded in winning her confidence, or bringing her to acknowledge any preference; but, as he had no doubt of his own powers of pleasing, he could attribute her reserve to no other cause than to the obstacles raised by religion; for he was himself nominally a Papist; and he well knew the prepossessions of such as belonged to the Reformed Church against those of the Roman Catholic Communion. He therefore entered, with his whole heart, into the plans of his mother for the conversion of Antoinette through the means of the abbe, and waited impatiently the result of the schemes of the wily priest.
In the mean time, winter passed away; the comtesse's health was restored; Eleanore and Antoinette were divested of their mourning garments; and the old lady was fully prepared to introduce her daughters into the splendid circles of the capital.
The abbe had advised her not again to agitate the subject of religion before she had engaged her younger grandchild in the gaieties of Paris, hinting, that the
young lady might probably be less decided on the subject of religion when her mind was more occupied by the pleasures of the world; and such advice, undoubtedly, proved the abbe to be not unacquainted with the nature of the human heart; and the comtesse had actually resolved to follow this advice, and would have done so, had she not been disconcerted by an unforeseen circumstance.
It was by Eleanore that she was thus diverted from her plans; for that young lady reported a conversation which had passed between her and her sister; a conversation in which Antoinette had pleaded strongly with her sister on the inconsistency of her change. Antoinette would perhaps have acted prudently in not mentioning the subject to Eleanore; yet we can hardly blame her: nay, some might think that she ought to have opposed more decidedly the apostacy of her sister. But, be this as it may, it was the mention of the arguments used by one sister with the other, which threw the old lady off her guard, and caused her, at this time, to summon Antoinette into her august presence. There she broke forth in all the violence of her natural temper; and, after having uttered several vehement reproaches on her obstinacy, she abruptly put the following question :-whether she was willing to obtain her highest favour by adopting the true Catholic faith ; or, by perseverance in heresy, to risk the loss of her protection, and that of her family, for ever.
Antoinette was wholly unprepared for an attack of this nature, and dreadful was the contest it excited in her breast. On the side of error, all that was pleasant and dear to worldly hopes was arranged to invite her: on the other, she saw nothing but deprivations and perplexities. Among the former, arose the beloved image of Theodore, now first forcibly presenting himself as an object of affection; and, among the latter, a long and hopeless estrangement and absence from this object now felt to be dear to her heart.
It is to be feared, that, had the comtesse insisted on an immediate decision, the temptation would have proved too great, and Antoinette would have sunk beneath the trial. But the old lady seeing her hesitate, and inter