chapter  25
12 Pages

‘A Happy New Year to you.’

Bernard Aglionby’s frame of mind was not a happy one on that evening of the 31st of December; it had been anything but cheerful all day; it waxed drearier and drearier during his ten-mile drive to Danesdale Castle with his aunt, Mrs. Bryce, and Lizzie, his betrothed. He had brought Miss Vane from Irkford, and introduced her into the halls of his ancestors, and the presence of his mother’s sister, last night. The result, he was obliged to own, had hardly been successful. Miss Vane had done little else but shiver since her arrival. She had failed to make a good impression on Mrs. Bryce, whose home was in London, and who had never met her before. She had treated Mrs. Aveson with a vulgar haughtiness, which had galled the feelings of the good woman beyond description. But she had been very amiable to Bernard, and had confided to him that she looked upon this ball as the turning point in her destiny. Perhaps it was; it was not for him to gainsay it. His moodiness arose from mental indecision. He had not got to the stage of absolute confession, even to himself, that his engagement was a failure. He would not confess it. Much less had he allowed even the idea distinctly to shape itself in his mind, that he was, to put it mildly, thinking with deep interest of another woman. Yet the savage discontent and irritation which he experienced were due, could he but have known it, to these two very facts, that his engagement was a failure and he was beginning to find it out, and that his thoughts, whenever he allowed them free course, were engrossed with another woman. He felt all the miserable unrest and irritation which accompanies mental transition periods, whether they be of transition from good to bad, or from bad to good.