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CHAPTER XIV.

THE LONDON SEASON.

“Half the misery of human life consists in our making a wrong estimate of it, and on being disappointed when we find out our fault. We do not often begin it at the right end. We put a much higher figure in the sum than it will bear, and we cry like a school-boy when the addition is wrong.”

We should surely find it a profitable habit -profitable, I mean, merely in the way of personal enjoyment—to keep the scale of our expectations invariably low; for they are then as certainly met with a rebound in the reality, as confident hopes find their sure depression.

Lady Carew's visions of the enjoyment to be derived from the London season had recently become contracted into the expectation of a repetition of Lea experiences, removed to a town house. She had not calculated on the effects, on one of Sir Harry's volatile mind, of the constant change of thought and diversion of feeling, produced by the perpetual sight of different faces, and the fulfilment of many

and varying engagements.

It was inevitable that Sir Harry and Lady Carew should be much asked out, and that the society of the beautiful young bride should be greatly courted; while she herself received the attentions and adulation which her appearance, her position, and her novelty alike demanded. Sir Harry possessed a large circle of unexceptional visiting acquaintance, with whom he seemed to be fairly popular ; as they wisely overlooked his peculiarities, in the fact of his personating one of the oldest baronetcies in Great Britain—which is in itself a kind of moral worth, and is therefore frequently, and rightly, held to be a passport for every virtue. Nor were his peculiarities (on which I am truly sorry to be obliged to touch at all) so glaringly apparent in the constantly-shifting kaleidoscope of a crowded London season, as they had been when he formed the central figure in the focus of the regards of a country neighbourhood ; and Zara ceased to wonder (a dangerous habit into which she had recently fallen) how she could so entirely have overlooked them in her pre-nuptial acquaintance with her husband, brief though it had been.

She herself became unexpectedly aware of

many dear friends, whose warm regards, she had not before known herself to possess; family connections, hereditary acquaintances, and many others—whom she

— knew at least by name, and who appeared to have always taken a silent interest in her welfare, which now became a loudly open one in her prosperity.

There were some few, also, who had shown her kindness in her school-girl days, and to whom she was now anxious to display every grateful attention ; for with her many faults of character and education, Zara was not one of those whom worldly success deprives of eyes and memory; her natural disposition would never allow her to be guilty of meanness. Perhaps it was partly the reaction from her winter of seclusion and restraint which made Lady Carew plunge with more than characteristic ardour of enjoyment into all the gaieties which were now at her command ; and if

; she did not find them satisfying, they served at least to fill her time and divert her thoughts successfully. When one is at two or three parties at night, breakfasting late the next morning in consequence, driving or riding in the park, entertaining visitors at home, and shopping or paying calls in any spare minutes—there is not much time left for consideration as to the happiness or unhappiness of one's own individual lot, apart from the rushing torrent of excited life in which it is now blended. And Lady Carew did find London life exciting. She possessed a temperament peculiarly susceptible to exterior impressions and physical influences ; lights, and the sweet odour of hot-house flowers, always stirred her senses, and raised her to an undefined elation—while music held her like a spell.

“If I did not dance when I hear certain airs, I must sit and cry—for they move my whole being," was what she said one day; and it described her feelings pretty accurately.

She was such a mere girl in years; and the atmosphere of perpetual admiration which surrounded her seemed a natural part of that reigning as one of Society's Queens to which she had always looked

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