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Simmons—besides, I cannot tell him myself. Oh, Millicent, Millicent—foolish, headstrong girl!"'
"Susan, of course, obeyed her mistress's commands, although the mission to which she was appointed was, in fact, one of considerable delicacy and no little difficulty. Susan, who was an extremely pretty black-eyed girl, took the precaution, before she proceeded to the interview with the Lieutenant, to run into Miss Pennefather's dressing-room in order to give her jetty ringlets a fresh twirl round her finger, and settle the little fanciful cap which she wore on her head. It is impossible to trace the exact current of female minds; but, however absurd it may appear, Susan, at the moment, felt the possibility of such a thing happening as the Lieutenant, being in the extremity of his despair for the loss of the mistress, drawn suddenly into a violent admiration of the maid.
"Susan's heart fluttered terribly as she approached the dining-parlour in which Merman had been "left alone in his glory;" Simmons having taken the precaution of having the 'soup and fish' taken back to the kitchen to wait for further orders. Susan tapped at the door—a precautionary habit sedulously inculcated in all decent families—the "come in" of Lieutenant Merman brought her face to face with that distinguished officer.
"When the door was opened, Merman was discovered standing with his back to the fire munching the piece of bread which had been deposited on the side of his plate, and which, in the then ravenous state of his appetite, he could no longer resist.
"' I beg your pardon, Sir,' said Susan, dropping a sort of theatrical half-curtsey, ' but my mistress begs you will not wait dinner for her. She will come down in the evening, when she hopes to be better.'
"' And Miss Maloney?' said Merman, inquiringly.
"' Why, Sir,' said Susan, colouring deeply,
'Miss Maloney, Sir,—is—that's it, Sir'
"' It!—what?' said the Lieutenant.
"t Why, Sir,' said Susan, 'that's the reason my mistress is not well enough to come down.'
"' What?' again said the soldier.
"' Miss Millicent, Sir, is gone out'
"' Gone out!' said Merman.
'' ' Yes, Sir.'
"' What, in the snow?'
"5 I don't know, I'm sure, Sir,' said Susan; 'but—she is gone.'
"' Alone?' said Merman.
"' I can't say, Sir,' said Susan; 'but my mistress seems to think not.'
"' Are we to wait till she returns?' asked Merman.
"' Oh dear no!' said the maiden. * I believe, if you were, you'd have to wait a long time.'
"' What do you mean?' said Merman. 'Come here: tell me—is Miss Maloney gone on a visit, or'
"' No, Sir,' said Susan: 'don't be angry, Sir; we all know what you are come here for, and so did Miss Millicent, and so, Sir,—don't tell my mistress that I told you all,—Miss Millicent has run away with somebody else;—don't be in a passion, don't.'
"' Passion!' exclaimed the Lieutenant. 'I don't see why I should be in a passion. I never saw her, and therefore couldn't care much for her. Now, I am free to choose whom I like.'
"' That's very true, Sir,' said Susan, biting her lips to make them redder than usual. The look which the pretty girl put on immediately reminded the Lieutenant that he was treating her more confidentially than, considering their relative positions, was either necessary or becoming, by expressing in so unreserved a manner the satisfaction which he felt at the defection of his intended wife.
"' My mistress begs you will eat your dinner, Sir,' said Susan.
"' I'll endeavour,' said Merman; 'but give my love to her, and ask her if I may send her something; and—will you tell the butler that I'm ready.'"
"Susan bobbed an assenting curtsey, and left
VOL. II. C
the room perfectly satisfied that her mistress's nephew was not likely to die for love, at least upon the present occasion."
It turned out in the sequel that Miss Millicent Maloney had left her heart in the Emerald Isle, and that the gentleman who had it in his keeping had been summoned to England as soon as Miss Laura Pennefather had expressed her determination with regard to Merman. There was nothing objectionable about the lady's favourite, except that worldly blemish— a want of fortune. And all Merman's present anxieties were directed to the immediate conclusion of his affair with Fanny Wells, while his aunt's irritation of feeling towards Millicent continued, fearing, naturally enough, that time and her natural affections would soften her anger and relax the resolution which she had in her rage announced to him, of cutting her off entirely. Here, however, the light infantry officer was defeated: Laura could forget and forgive, or rather it may be said she forgave because she could not forget; and, at the termi