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Miscellany: The Coral Ring; Or, The Temperance Pledge

Miscellany: The Coral Ring; Or, The Temperance Pledge image
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(Concluded.) Florence Klmore was. at the time we speak of, in her twentieth year. Bom in one of the wenithiest 'famlies in hicly educated nnd accomplished, idolizd by her pnrents and brothcrs. pIic liad entered society as one bom to com mand With niuch native noblenens. magnanim ity of character. with warm and inipulsive foei inga, anda capability of everythinsr high or grent. she had hitherto lived solely (or lipr own amusement, and looked on ihr: wíiole brillinnt circle by which she "vos surrounded with uil its varioiis actors ns somethins cot np for her special diversion. The idea of influencing any one. for letter or worse by nnything she ever snid or did. had neveroccured to her The crowd ofndmirer?, of the other sex. who as a mniter of course. were alwavs about her, she rfcarded os po many sourres of diversion; but the den of feelins any svmpathy with them ns human bemsrs, or of making use of her power over theni for their ïmnrovement, was one that had never entered lier head.Edward Ashton wns nn ol() bncheior cousin of Florencf's who hoving enrned the liile ofoldify. in genernl society, avniled himself of it 10 exercise a Mirn for telling ihc truth. to the virious voung ladies of liis acquaintnnce, eppecially to h 8 fair cousin Florence. VVo remark.hy the by. thnt these privilegpd trinh-iellers nrc fiiitf'n nfCCïsity o{ lifc to yoiina Indie.o, in the fuü tide of society, and we renlly think t woulH bc worth n while for overv dozen of them to nnite to keep n perpon of ihis kind.on a snlary.forthe benefi' of the whole: however. thnt is nothinz to our present purpose: we must return to our fiir lieroine, whom welflft at the close of the last conversation. tnndinp in a dvp rêverie. ly the window. 'It's more ihan hn)f truc. ehe snid to hcrself. mot thnn hnlf. Hcre nm T. iwenty yearso'd, nnd 1 neverhavc thonght ofany thing, never have done nnyihinc. or.cept to amuse nnd erntify mysclt;no purDose - nn object - notliinghieh - notlr= iiiíí dicnified - nolhinc wortlt üvinj: fir! - only a pí.rlor'-ornaracnt, hcigh lio! Well. I rcally do Iand í COU'r'1 líf WW-.. Üiíb JÜlio. and yct how I drend to try.' Now my good rea Ier?, f you arc anticating a lovestory, we must basten to pin in our üL oTiï }TT qT mislnken in the - Our fair, bn l.ant heroinc was at .bis lime oí epenking , as heari-wholo as the diamond on her bosoro, reílecied the ífght n.o too many sparkhng rays even to alworb t. She hnd to be ure. halfin enrnest, holfin jest, mnintnincd a bnntenng p atóme sart of friendish with George Elliot; eho liad danced, ridden.aung. and sketrt)ed wnh h.m; but so had Phe with twen-y other young men, and as to coming to anything tendcrw.thsucl. aquick; brilliant, -resilcss creature, Llliot would jis soon have undertakcn to sontimeiiin ize overa g!!lss of soda water. No, Hiero was deeidcdly no love in the case VVhat a cunous ring tial is!' snid Elliot to her. a day (.r iwo after. as tliey were readinc together. b 'It's aknighfs ring,' enid she, playfuüy, as she draw it oír, and pointed to a coral cross set in the gold.- 'a rinar oí ihe red-croeaed knighis.- Come. now? I v a great niind to bind you to my services with it.' 'Do. lady lair!' eaid Elliot, streching out hia hand í jr the ring. 'Know, then.'said she, 'if you take this pledge, ! that you must obey whatever coniands I lay I on you in ils name.' i 'I Bweor!' snid Elliof, in the mock heroic and placed the ring on his finger. An eveningortwo after. Klüot attended i ence to a pnrty at Mra. B 's. Everything wns gay and brilliant, and there was no lack ; er oí wit or wine. Eiliot was standing ji a littlo alcove, spread witli refrcshments. with a glass of wine in his ! hand. ;I forbid it: the cup is" poisoned.' scil a voice in his car. He turned quickly. and Ibrence was at his eide. Kery one was busy.with ! laughing and talking, aroiind, and hóbódysaw thesuddent siart and ílush that those words produced, as Elliot lookcd e.irncsiiy in the lady's lace. She smilod, iind pointed playfuJly to (he ring; but after all there was in her face an í pression of agitation and intereat which she could not repress. and Elliot felt, howcver nlavfultlie'manner, thnt she wns in earnest.- and ns she glided away in the crowd. he stood with hisarms folded, nnd his cycs fixcd on the spot where she disappeared. 'Is it possiMe thnt I ntn suspected - thnt there are things enid of nié,' as ifl were in danger?' were ilie first thoughta thnt ilashed tlirough his inind. IIow stannge that a ninn may appear dpurrfed, given up, and lost. to ihe eye ofevcry looker-on. hefore he begins to suspect himseli! This was the fin=t time that any difiied apprehension of loss of character had occured to Elliot. and he was stnrtled as if froin a dreani. 'What the deuce is the matter wiih you. Elliot? j-on look ns solemn as a heaise!' suid n yonng man near by. 'ilas Miss Elmorc cut ytuV said anotlier. 'Come, man. have a glaps.' snid a third. Let him alone - he'- bewiirlicd.' said n lounh; I siw the spell laid on him. None of us can say but otsrturn mny come nrxt.' An hour later, that eveninji, Florence was tnlking with her usunl spirit, to a gro-ip who were collecied around her, when, udrlenlv looking up, she snw Elliot, standing in an abstractcd t.ianner. at onc of the windows that looked out pto the balcony. 'He is ofiifudeu'. I dnre say.' shc thougiit: 'but why shotilc! 1 enre? FW once in my life. 1 have ried to do a right thjng; Í have risked giving ofoncts for less than this. mnny a linie.' Stil!. Florence could not hut ieel tremulous when, a f:w inoments after, Elliot approachcd her, nnd (ffered hïu arm lor a promenade. Tfiey walke ) up and down the roorr. she talking volubly, and ie answering yes and no, and anything else, nt ross purposrs. till at length, as if by accident. 12 drew her into the balcony which oveihnnff the 'iiden. The moon was shilling brightly,%ndvery thmg without, in its pincid quietness. eonrastcd strangely with the üusy. hurrying scène widiin. 'Miss Elmorc.' snid Elliot. abruptly, 'mny I nsfc you, sincerely. kad you any design in a remark yon made to me in the early part of the evening?' Florence pnused. nnd though hihitunlly tlio most practised and self-posscssed of women, the color actually receded f'rom her cheek. as she' nnswered - Yes. Mr. Eliiot- I must confess that I had.' j 'And is it possible, then, that you havo heaid anything?' '1 have heard, Mr. Elliot, ihnt which makes me treinble for you, and l'or those whose lile I i kríovv islxiund up in you; and, !e!l me. were h vvell. or friendly in me. to know that such danger fixisted, and not towarn you of it?' Elliot stood for a few moincnts in silence. 'Have I offer.ded? Have I taken too great a iberiy?' said Florence, gently. Hitherto Elliot had only senn in Florence the se!f-possessed. aesured, light-hearted woman of Fashion; hut there was a reality and depth of fecling in the few worda anchad spoken to him, in his interview, that opencd to him cntirely a new ► iew in her lUiss j'.imorr, saiü ñftcnrnestly. nitor some pause; '1 may bepzmed, off nded I cannot be. - To teil the truth. 1 have heen thoughtless, excited, dnzzled; my spirits, naturally buuyant.have j cnrried me, often, too lar. and lntely 1 have o fien j painlully suspected mvown powersof resistancc; I I have really feit ihat j needed help. hut hnvc been too proud to confess.even to niysclf.that I needed it. You Miss Elnvore, hnve done whnt. perlinps, nooneelse could have done, f am overwhelmed with graiitude. and I shall blcss you (or it to the latest day of my life. I am ready to pledffe myself to any ihing youmay ask on this suhjent.' Then.' said Florence, do not shrink from doing what it is safe and necessnry and right for yon to do, because yon hnve once said yon vvould not do it. You nnderstnnd me.' 'Pr-cisely,' replied Elliot; and you shall be obeyed. ' It was not more than a week hefore the nows was circulated, (hut even George Elliot had signed the plcdge of tenporance. There was much wondering at this audden turn among those ivho had known his utter repugnance to any mensure ofihe kind, an.i theextent to which hc hid yielded to teuiptntion: but few knew how fino and delicate had been the touch, to which his pride liad yiflded.


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