And before that evening I had looked on Mr. Vigors with supreme indifference! What importance he now assumed in my eyes! The lady with whom I had seen him was doubtless the new tenant of that house in which the young creature by whom my heart was so strangely moved evidently had her home. Most probably the relation between the two ladies was that of mother and daughter. Mr. Vigors, the friend of one, might himself be related to both, might prejudice them against me, might — Here, starting up, I snapped the thread of conjecture, for right before my eyes, on the table beside which I had seated myself on entering my room, lay a card of invitation:—
Wednesday, May 15th.
Mrs. Poyntz — Mrs. Colonel Poyntz, the Queen of the Hill? There, at her house, I could not fail to learn all about the new comers, who could never without her sanction have settled on her domain.
I hastily changed my dress, and, with beating heart, wound my way up the venerable eminence.
I did not pass through the lane which led direct to Abbots’ House (for that old building stood solitary amidst its grounds a little apart from the spacious platform on which the society of the Hill was concentrated), but up the broad causeway, with vistaed gaslamps; the gayer shops still-unclosed, the tide of busy life only slowly ebbing from the still-animated street, on to a square, in which the four main thoroughfares of the city converged, and which formed the boundary of Low Town. A huge dark archway, popularly called Monk’s Gate, at the angle of this square, made the entrance to Abbey Hill. When the arch was passed, one felt at once that one was in the town of a former day. The pavement was narrow and rugged; the shops small, their upper stories projecting, with here and there plastered fronts, quaintly arabesque. An ascent, short, but steep and tortuous, conducted at once to the old Abbey Church, nobly situated in a vast quadrangle, round which were the genteel and gloomy dwellings of the Areopagites of the Hill. More genteel and less gloomy than the rest — lights at the windows and flowers on the balcony — stood forth, flanked by a garden wall at either side, the mansion of Mrs. Colonel Poyntz.
As I entered the drawing-room, I heard the voice of the hostess; it was a voice clear, decided, metallic, bell-like, uttering these words: “Taken Abbots’ House? I will tell you.”
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