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My Lady's Money

Chapter 19
THE narrative returns to South Morden, and follows the events which attended
Isabel's marriage engagement.
To say that Miss Pink, inflated by the triumph, rose, morally speaking, from the
earth and floated among the clouds, is to indicate faintly the effect produced on
the ex-schoolmistress when her niece first informed her of what had happened at
the farm. Attacked on one side by her aunt, and on the other by Hardyman, and
feebly defended, at the best, by her own doubts and misgivings, Isabel ended by
surrendering at discretion. Like thousands of other women in a similar position,
she was in the last degree uncertain as to the state of her own heart. To what
extent she was insensibly influenced by Hardyman's commanding position in
believing herself to be sincerely attached to him, it was beyond her power of self-
examination to discover. He doubly dazzled her by his birth and by his celebrity.
Not in England only, but throughout Europe, he was a recognized authority on his
own subject. How could she-- how could any woman--resist the influence of his
steady mind, his firmness of purpose, his manly resolution to owe everything to
himself and nothing to his rank, set off as these attractive qualities were by the
outward and personal advantages which exercise an ascendancy of their own?
Isabel was fascinated, and yet Isabel was not at ease. In her lonely moments she
was troubled by regretful thoughts of Moody, which perplexed and irritated her.
She had always behaved honestly to him; she had never encouraged him to
hope that his love for her had the faintest prospect of being returned. Yet,
knowing, as she did, that her conduct was blameless so far, there were
nevertheless perverse sympathies in her which took his part. In the wakeful
hours of the night there were whispering voices in her which said: "Think of
Moody!" Had there been a growing kindness towards this good friend in her
heart, of which she herself was not aware? She tried to detect it--to weigh it for
what it was really worth. But it lay too deep to be discovered and estimated, if it
did really exist--if it had any sounder origin than her own morbid fancy. In the