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The Bramleighs of Bishop's Folly.
ND here is the letter, Julia," said L'Estrange, as they sat at tea together that same evening. "Here is the letter; and if I were as clever & casuist as Colonel Bramleigh thought me, I should perhaps know whether I have the right to read it or not.”
“ Once I have begun to discuss such a point, I distrust my judgment; but when I pronounce promptly, suddenly, out of mere woman's instinct, I have great faith in myself."
“ And how does your woman's instinct incline here?”
"Not to read it. It may or may not have been the writer's intention to have sealed it; the omission
was possibly a mere accident. At all events, to have shown you the contents would have been a courtesy at the writer's option. He was not so inclined"
“Stop a bit, Julia,” cried he, laughing. “Here you are arguing the case, after having given me the instinctive impulse that would not wait for logic. Now, I'll not stand · floggee and preachee' too."
"Don't you see, sir," said she, with a mock air of being offended, VOL. XVI.—NO. 96.
“ that the very essence of this female instinct is its being the perception of an inspired process of reasoning, an instinctive sense of right, that did not require a mental effort to arrive at.”
“ And this instinctive sense of right says, Don't read ? " "Exactly so."
“ Well, I don't agree with you,” said he, with a sigh. “I don't know, and I want to know, in what light Colonel Bramleigh puts me forward. Am I a friend ? am I a dependant ? am I a man worth taking some trouble about ? or am I merely, as I overheard him saying to Lord Culduff, ' a young fellow my boys are very fond of ?'”
“Oh, George. You never told me this.”
“ Because it's not safe to tell you anything. You are sure to resent things you ought never to show you have known. I'd lay my life on it that had you heard that speech, you'd have contrived to introduce it into some narrative or some description before a week went over.”
Well, it's a rule of war, if the enemy fire unfair ammunition, you may send it back to him."
“And then," said L'Estrange, reverting to his own channel of thought, " and then it's not impossible that it might be such a letter as I would not have stooped to present."
“If I were a man, nothing would induce me to accept a letter of introduction to any one,” said she, boldly. “It puts every one concerned in a false position. "Give the bearer ten pounds' is intelligible ; but when the request is, 'Be polite to the gentleman who shall deliver this ; invite him to dine; present him to your wife and daughters ; give him currency amongst your friends ; ' all because of certain qualities which have met favour with some one else ; why, this subverts every principle of social intercourse ; this strikes at the root of all that lends a charm to intimacy. I want to find out the people who suit me in life, just as I want to display the traits that may attract others to me.”
“I'd like to know what's inside this,” said L'Estrange, who only half followed what she was saying.
“Shall I tell you ?" said she, gravely.
Do, if you can.”
“Here it is :—The bearer of this is a young fellow who has been our parson for some time back, and now wants to be yours at Albano. There's not much harm in him ; he is well-born, well-mannered, preaches but twelve minutes, and rides admirably to hounds. Do what you can for him; and believe me yours truly.'”
“If I thought"
“Of course you'd put it in the fire,” said she, finishing his speech ; "and I'd have put it there though it should contain something exactly the reverse of all this."
“The doctor told me that Bramleigh said something about a reparation that he owed me; and although the phrase, coming from a man in his state, might mean nothing, or next to nothing, it still keeps recurring