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The Bride of Lammermoor

Chapter 29
It was the copy of our conference.
In bed she slept not, for my urging it;
At board she fed not, for my urging it;
Alone, it was the subject of my theme;
In company I often glanced at it.
Comedy of Errors.
THE next morning saw Bucklaw and his faithful Achates, Craigengelt, at
Ravenswood Castle. They were most courteously received by the knight and his
lady, as well, as by their son and heir, Colonel Ashton. After a good deal of
stammering and blushing--for Bucklaw, notwithstanding his audacity in other
matters, had all the sheepish bashfulness common to those who have lived little
in respectable society--he contrived at length to explain his wish to be admitted to
a conference with Miss Ashton upon the subject of their approaching union. Sir
William and his son looked at Lady Ashton, who replied with the greatest
composure, "That Lucy would wait upon Mr. Hayston directly. I hope," she added
with a smile, "that as Lucy is very young, and has been lately trepanned into an
engagement of which she is now heartily ashamed, our dear Bucklaw will excuse
her wish that I should be present at their interview?"
"In truth, my dear lady," said Bucklaw, "it is the very thing that I would have
desired on my own account; for I have been so little accustomed to what is called
gallantry, that I shall certainly fall into some cursed mistake unless I have the
advantage of your ladyship as an interpreter."
It was thus that Bucklaw, in the perturbation of his embarrassment upon this
critical occasion, forgot the just apprehensions he had entertained of Lady
Ashton's overbearing ascendency over her daughter's mind, and lost an
opportunity of ascertaining, by his own investigation, the real state of Lucy's
feelings.
The other gentlemen left the room, and in a shrot time Lady Ashton, followed by
her daughter, entered the apartment. She appeared, as he had seen her on
former occasions, rather composed than agitated; but a nicer judge than he could
scarce have determined whether her calmness was that of despair or of
indifference. Bucklaw was too much agitated by his own feelings minutely to
scrutinise those of the lady. He stammered out an unconnected address,
confounding together the two or three topics to which it related, and stopt short
before he brought it to any regular conclusion. Miss Ashton listened, or looked as
if she listened, but returned not a single word in answer, continuing to fix her
eyes on a small piece of embroidery on which, as if by instinct or habit, her
fingers were busily employed. Lady Ashton sat at some distance, almost
screened from notice by the deep embrasure of the window in which she had
placed her chair. From this she whispered, in a tone of voice which, though soft
and sweet, had something in it of admonition, if not command: "Lucy, my dear,
remember--have you heard what Bucklaw has been saying?"
 
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