CHAPTER X. The mystery of the suspicious letter cleared up. Meet Georgiana De Lancey at a tea-table.
[figure description] Page 109.[end figure description]
I had studiously avoided prying into the private
relations of Mr. Marisett, and I knew nothing
more about him than that he was a bachelor. I
was afraid to ask, or even to listen to, any thing
concerning his family affairs, lest it should turn
out that the letter “from Georgiana” had some
reference to her, whom I fondly, but foolishly,
called my Georgiana. It was true, there was a
great disparity in the agès of Mr. Marisett and
Miss De Lancey, but I knew that the cupidity of
parents and guardians, had often caused youth
and loveliness to be bound to old age. But I was
not long left in doubt on the subject.
Mr. Marisett had remained at the office unusually
late one afternoon, and when his carriage
came for him, he told me he wanted me to ride
home with him, as he had some papers which he
wanted me to copy at his house.
Mr. Marisett's coachman wore no gold lace -- 110 --
nor yellow gauntlets, like Mr. Dooitt's, but on the
contrary he was dressed very plain, although his
[figure description] Page 110.[end figure description]
clothes fitted him. The carriage also was very
plain, and it bore no coat of arms, neither upon
the panels, nor embroidered upon the hammer-cloth.
Mr. Marisett made no pretensions to high
descent, but rested all his claims to distinction
upon his own merits. But it would have been
better for him to have followed the way of the
world, for his simple habits only gained him the
title of an aristocrat.
It was dark when we reached Mr. Marisett's
house, and when we alighted, he asked me to take
a cup of tea with him before I commenced writing.
Of course, I did not refuse, and very shortly after
I had entered the parlor, tea was announced, and
I followed him out into the tea-room, and took a
seat at the table.
There was no one at the table but Mr. Marisett,
and Mrs. Butler, the housekeeper, but I observed
there was a cup and a plate for another. I heard
a light step in the hall, the door of the tea-room
opened, and a young lady glided gently in; she
turned her face towards me. It was Georgiana
“My niece, Miss De Lancey, Mr. Franco,” said
Miss De Lancey made a very slight curtesy, -- 111 --
scarce perceptible, and sat down at the table,
[figure description] Page 111.[end figure description]
opposite to me. I had just taken a cup of tea in my
hand, and was in the act of raising it to my lips,
when she came in, but her sudden appearance
operated on my nerves like an electric shock,
and my cup and saucer slipped from my fingers,
but fortunately without scalding me.
I did not dare either to lift up my eyes or my
saucer again, but employed myself the remainder
of the time that I sat at the table, in picking a
piece of dry toast to pieces. Knowing that Miss
De Lancey could not but take notice of my confusion,
and feeling certain that I made a very
ridiculous appearance in her eyes, by no means
tended to allay my trepidation.
“Mr. Franco,” said Mr. Marisett, “be so good
as to reach the cake to Miss De Lancey.”
I made an attempt to take hold of the cake
basket, but my hand trembled so violently, I was
obliged to withdraw it.
“Never mind me, uncle,” said Miss De Lancey,
“you know I can always take care of myself.”
She smiled gently as she spoke, and
Mr. Marisett smiled also, and the old housekeeper -- 112 --
pursed up her lips, and fumbled about her
keys, as if she had suddenly thought of something
of great importance, and then jumped up from
[figure description] Page 112.[end figure description]
the table and whisked out of the room, and returned
again in a few minutes, the end of her nose
looking very red; she sat down, and poured out
a cup of tea for Mr. Marisett, and then bustled
out of the room again. I had the satisfaction of
thinking that she was indulging in a good hearty
laugh at my expense.
I was relieved from my uncomfortable situation
by Mr. Marisett, who told his niece she must
excuse us, as we had some writing to attend to.
I followed him into his private office, and when
he had given me directions about the writing, he
left me alone.
But I tried in vain to write; I could neither
hold a pen in my hand, nor fix my mind upon my
work. I could think of nothing but Georgiana
De Lancey, and as I recalled to mind the ludicrous
situation in which she beheld me, I felt sick
at heart. Whether to be rejoiced or cast down
at finding her the niece of my benefactor, I could
not determine; but there was one healing reflection,
I had no longer any suspicions of finding a
rival in my employer.
“But why should I waste a thought upon one -- 113 --
to whom I had never spoken but once, and then
y accident? Why should I be guilty of the
monstrous folly of indulging in the thought that I
[figure description] Page 113.[end figure description]
-- 114 --
loved one, who, I had no reason to believe, had
ever bestowed a thought upon me at all, either
for love or hate. It was probable that she had no
recollection of ever having seen me before she
met me at the tea table, and if she had, what had
I ever said or done to give her a favorable impression
of me? clearly nothing; but, on the
contrary, much to give her an unfavorable impression.
What had we in common? she was
beautiful, oh, how beautiful! and I, I could not
flatter myself with the thought that I was possessed
of even ordinary comeliness; would she
then bestow her loveliness upon my deformity?
She was the niece of the wealthy Mr. Marisett,
and I was his humble clerk; would she bestow
her wealth upon my poverty? But above all,
she was good, pious, holy; and what had I of
holiness, or even akin to goodness? Could I
hope that she would link her purity with my corruption?
What madness, what wickedness, what
worse than wickedness, what foolishness, then, to
think, for one moment, of Georgiana De Lancey,
with any other feelings than such with which we
gaze upon night's white robed queen. As well
might I pine for the lost Pleiad. As well might I
look for popular favor as the reward of virtuous
actions, or hope for any other impossible thing.”
[figure description] Page 114.[end figure description]
I thus reasoned with myself, and although I
made out a very strong case against myself, and
set forth a dozen good reasons, the least of which
was all-sufficient, why I should not love Miss De
Lancey—I still felt that I did love her, and that
Mr. Marisett came in, and finding me with my
face buried in my hands, he asked me if I felt
I replied, that I felt badly, which was true
Whatever his thoughts might have been about
my ill feelings, he asked me no more questions,
but told me to lay aside my paper, and wait
until the next evening before I finished my writing.
I was glad enough to be relieved, and made
the best of my way back to my boarding house,
where I shut myself up in my chamber, and tormented
myself the remainder of the night, in trying
to dismiss Georgiana De Lancey from my
In the morning, I dressed myself with unusual -- 115 --
care, and thought, when my toilet was made, that
I never looked half as bad before. At night, I
rode home with Mr. Marisett again, and on entering
the parlor, I found Miss De Lancey sitting
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by the fireside. I succeeded in saying, `good evening,
' and in taking a seat without any accident;
but I felt so dreadfully embarrassed, I was at a
loss what disposition to make of my legs or my
hands. As I was not a visiter, I supposed it was
not expected of me to join in the conversation;
so I remained at a respectful distance, silently enjoying
the music of Miss De Lancey's voice, as
she replied to the playful sallies of her uncle.
She was dressed very plain, as if jealous of an
ornament, lest it should divide the attention which
her loveliness had a right wholly to claim. As I
gazed upon her, and my ear drank in the soft
tones of her voice, I wondered at my stupidity in
not having discovered before, how beautiful she
At the tea table I had command over myself,
and drank two cups of tea without giving Mrs.
Butler occasion to leave the table once. I even
ventured to leave the table before Mr. Marisett,
and made a bow to Miss De Lancey as I went
out of the room. I went directly into the private
office, and commenced upon the writing which
Mr. Marisett had given me to do the night before,
and I wrote so steadily, that before he came in, I
had finished it.
He appeared well pleased with my -- 116 --
[figure description] Page 116.[end figure description]
performance, and said he had no farther use for me
then. I took my hat, and was about to withdraw,
when he called me to him.
“Harry,” he said, “have you got a good
“It is a cheap one,” I replied.
“Are you much attached to the people?”
“Not much,” I replied; “Mrs. Mixen and her
daughters have been very kind to me.”
“Ah, widows and their daughters are sometimes
very pleasant; it would not be at all surprising,
if you were attached to them. I was going to
propose to you to take a room in my house, as I
shall have frequent occasion for you during these
long evenings; if you choose to do so, it will save
you the price of your board, and add to your usefulness
to me. Mrs. Butler will see that you are
well taken care of, and it will be your own fault if
you do not feel yourself at home. There is my
library which you will find always open, and you
may amuse yourself there when you are at liberty.”
If I had been asked to name the thing which
I should esteem above all others, it would have
been that I might be allowed to live under the
same roof, and eat at the same table, with Georgiana
But I restrained my joy as well as I could, and -- 117 --
[figure description] Page 117.[end figure description]
thanked Mr. Marisett with dissembled moderation,
for his kind offer. I told him I would consider of
the matter, and give him an answer in the morning.
“Oh, very well,” he replied, “you are at liberty
to act as you please, and I would not have
you to make any sacrifices on my account.”
I thanked him again for his kindness, and bade
him good night.
When I got into the street, I ran with all my
might, until I reached my boarding house, when
as soon as I recovered my breath, I gave my landlady
notice that I should leave her house the next
day, and proceeded immediately to pack up my
clothes, an operation which required but a short
space of time.
In the morning, I told Mr. Marisett, as soon as
-- 118 --
he came down, that I had concluded to accept his
offer, and would remove my trunk to his house
immediately. I was afraid to delay a day, lest
some accident might interfere, to prevent what I
wished for so anxiously.
Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 , The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 2 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v2].