Page:Pierre.djvu/319

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THE COUSINS 305

attractive spirit of Pierre. To this, the less earnest and now Europeanised Glen had replied in a letter all sudden suavity ; and in a strain of artistic artlessness, mourned the apparent decline of their friendship ; yet fondly trusted that now, notwithstanding their long separation, it would revive with added sincerity. Yet upon accidentally fixing his glance upon the opening salutation of this delicate missive, Pierre thought he perceived certain, not wholly disguisable chirographic tokens, that the 'My very dear Pierre,' with which the letter seemed to have been begun, had originally been written ' Dear Pierre ' ; but that when all was concluded, and Glen's signature put to it, then the ardent words ' My very ' had been prefixed to the reconsidered ' Dear Pierre ' ; a casual supposition, which possibly, however unfounded, materially retarded any answering warmth in Pierre, lest his generous flame should only embrace a flaunted feather. Nor was this idea altogether unreinforced, when on the reception of a second, and now half-business letter (of which mixed sort nearly all the subsequent ones were), from Glen, he found that the ' My very dear Pierre ' had already retreated into ' My dear Pierre ' ; and on a third occasion, into ' Dear Pierre ' ; and on a fourth, had made a forced and very spirited advanced march up to ' My dearest Pierre.' All of which fluctuations augured ill for the determinateness of that love, which, however immensely devoted to one cause, could yet hoist and sail under the flags of all nations. Nor could he but now applaud a still subsequent letter from Glen, which abruptly, and almost with apparent indecorousness, under the circumstances, commenced the strain of friendship without any overture of salutation whatever ; as if at last, owing to its infinite delicateness, entirely hopeless of precisely defining the nature of their mystical love, Glen chose rather to leave that precise definition to the sympa--