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Mrs. Stanhope, notwithstanding the littleness of a mind warped with prejudice, and a mean partiality in favor of grandeur and riches only, added to a tincture of jealousy at the superior attractions of Amelrosa to her daughter;. Catherine having made her believe, that by her arts she had seduced Lord Conrade from her: yet could not instantly credit that Miss de Merida was so lost to virtue and decency, as privately to intrigue with one man when engaged to another--for in this light had her daughter represented the affair to her.
Mrs. Stanhope, therefore, replied in answer to this accusation, that Lord Conrade and Amelrosa might by accident go into the same house; nor could she decide against her till she had endeavored to make her acknowledge where she visited ; and if she did not confess, she would then certainly pronounce her guilty.
With this intention, accompanied by her :
daughter, she had accosted Amelrosa in the abrupt manner before mentioned, taxing her with the imprudence of her conduct; and from her not saying any thing to develop where she went, had the illiberality and weakness of understanding to conclude, all that she had heard to her disadvantage was true.
In fact, it was exceedingly impertinent to concern herself where Amelrosa went, who was authorised to go wherever she pleased, without being questioned on the subject. The purity of her minners and universal correctness of her behavior, would have been sufficient with any liberal mind, to have exculpated her from blame, unless they had received convincing proofs of error; and Catherine, with the hope of discovering farther evidence of guilt, privately investigated her visits at the house with the strictest scrutiny; and learned, to her complete discomfiture, that it was to a Mrs. Belmont, Amelrosa's visits were intended.
Cautiously, however, she concealed this vindication, only known to Smith and herself, from her mother; and contrived one day when she was with her, to drive through the street where Minette resided, and pointing out the house, its mean appearance was sufficient to convince Mrs. Stanhope, in whose mind pride was a predominant sentiment, that no person creditable would dwell there; and entirely decided against Amelrosa—more especially as the fat woman was standing at the door, whose unprepossessing exteriorand slovenly dress, though an honest woman, was similar to that of women in general who keep inferior houses of ill fame.
When they heard that Montague was below, Catherine with the utmost perturbation addressed her mother,
Surely, my dear madam, you will not suffer this gentleman to be deceived respecting Amelrosa? It will be doing the
greatest kindness to both, to let him be acquainted with her attachment to another, as their union will otherwise be productive of misery to themselves, when he finds after marriage her regard is alienated and she is pining for Lord Conrade. --At all events, I would slightly mention our confirmed suspicions; and Smith and myself strongly suspect she is now gone to the house where she meets his lordship, as Smith is certain from the direction she took, as she watched her when she went out, that she is going there."
“ Unworthy girl !” exclaimed Mrs. Stanhope, “ she has quite exhausted my patience.” And with an idea that it was doing an act of justice, and naturally of a severe disposition, she desired in consequence of Catherine's representations, that Captain Glenholme should be shewn up,
The striking elegance and noble grandeur of his air, which bespoke the polished soldier, inspired them with admiration, and
added new poignancy to the rancour of Catherine. The rapture that filled his soul at the prospect of seeing Amelrosa, gave the most speaking animation to his eyes, and enlivened his whole countenance. Being always exposed to the weather and the heat of the climate in Portugal, the scorching rays had sun-burnt his face ; yet it had, in consequence, acquired a more manly look; while the fairness of his forehead denoted the natural fineness of his complexion : his mouth was a model of perfection, and when he smiled, as he gracefully addressed Mrs. Stanhope and her daughter, the most fascinating expression dwelt on his lips; and he displayed teeth delicately regular, whose whiteness were forcibly contrasted by the embrowned hue of his countenance. His eyes, however, wandered about the room, as if he expected to have seen Amelrosa ; and eagerly asking after her, the expression of joy that illumed them, disappeared when he found she was not at home.