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Constancy in the Nineteenth Century.

he arrived at Mr. Alford’s house. The first object that caught his attention was Laura looking, as the Americans say, "dreadful beautiful." She had on a pink dress direct from Paris, that flung around its own atmosphere de rose, and nothing could be more finished than her whole ensemble. Not that Edward noted the exquisite perfection of all the feminine and Parisian items which completed her attire, but he was struck by the general effect. He soon found himself, he scarcely knew how, quite devoted to her; and his vanity was flattered, for she was the belle of the evening.

It is amazing how much our admiration takes its tone from the admiration of others; and when to that is added an obvious admiration of ourselves, the charm is irresistible. "Be sure," said Laura, in that low, confidential whisper, which implies that only to one could it be addressed, "if you see me bored by that weariful Sir John Belmore, to come and make me waltz. Really, papa’s old friends make me quite undutiful!" There was a smile accompanying the words which seemed to say, that it was not only to avoid Sir John that she desired to dance with himself.

The evening went off most brilliantly; and Edward went home with the full intention of throwing himself at the fascinating Laura’s feet the following morning; and, what is much more, he got up with the same resolution. He hurried to Harley-street, and—how propitious the fates are sometimes!—found the dame de ses pensées alone. An offer is certainly a desperate act. The cavalier—

"Longs to speak, and yet shrinks back,
As from a stream in winter, though the chill
Be but a moment."

Edward certainly felt as little fear as a gentleman well could do, under the circumstances. He, therefore, lost no time in telling Miss Alford, that his happiness was in her hands. She received the intelligence with a very pretty look of surprise.

"Really," exclaimed she, "I never thought of you but as a friend; and last night I accepted Sir John Belmore! As that is his cabriolet, I must go down to the library to receive him; we should be so interrupted here with morning visiters!"

She disappeared, and at that moment Edward heard Julia’s voice singing on the stairs. It was the last duet that they had sung together.

"Who shall school the heart’s affection?
    Who shall banish its regret?
If you blame my deep dejection,
    Teach, oh, teach me to forget!"

She entered, looking very pretty, but pale. "Ah," thought Edward, "she is vexed that I allowed myself to be so engrossed by her sister last night."

"So you are alone," exclaimed she. "I have such a piece of news to tell you! Laura is going to be married to Sir John Belmore. How can she marry a man she positively despises?"

"It is very heartless," replied Edward, with great emphasis.

"Nay," replied Julia, "but Laura could not live without gaiety. Moreover, she is ambitious. I cannot pretend to judge for her; we never had a taste in common."

"You," said Edward, "would not have so thrown yourself away!"

"Ah! no," answered she, looking down, "the heart is my world."