A Strange Story, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Chapter 30.

I called that day on Mrs. Poyntz, and communicated to her the purport of the glad news I had received.

She was still at work on the everlasting knitting, her firm fingers linking mesh into mesh as she listened; and when I had done, she laid her skein deliberately down, and said, in her favourite characteristic formula —

“So at last? — that is settled!”

She rose and paced the room as men are apt to do in reflection, women rarely need such movement to aid their thoughts; her eyes were fixed on the floor, and one hand was lightly pressed on the palm of the other — the gesture of a musing reasoner who is approaching the close of a difficult calculation.

At length she paused, fronting me, and said dryly —

“Accept my congratulations. Life smiles on you now; guard that smile, and when we meet next, may we be even firmer friends than we are now!”

“When we meet next — that will be to-night — you surely go to the mayor’s great ball? All the Hill descends to Low Town to-night.”

“No; we are obliged to leave L—— this afternoon; in less than two hours we shall be gone — a family engagement. We may be weeks away; you will excuse me, then, if I take leave of you so unceremoniously. Stay, a motherly word of caution. That friend of yours, Mr. Margrave! Moderate your intimacy with him; and especially after you are married. There is in that stranger, of whom so little is known, a something which I cannot comprehend — a something that captivates and yet revolts. I find him disturbing my thoughts, perplexing my conjectures, haunting my fancies — I, plain woman of the world! Lilian is imaginative; beware of her imagination, even when sure of her heart. Beware of Margrave. The sooner he quits L—— the better, believe me, for your peace of mind. Adieu! I must prepare for our journey.”

“That woman,” muttered I, on quitting her house, “seems to have some strange spite against my poor Lilian, ever seeking to rouse my own distrust of that exquisite nature which has just given me such proof of its truth. And yet — and yet — is that woman so wrong here? True! Margrave with his wild notions, his strange beauty! — true — true — he might dangerously encourage that turn for the mystic and visionary which distresses me in Lilian. Lilian should not know him. How induce him to leave L——? Ah, those experiments on which he asks my assistance! I might commence them when he comes again, and then invent some excuse tosend him for completer tests to the famous chemists of Paris or Berlin.”

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31