the keyboard, on a principle which her governess had taught her; she thus added life and interest to an air which everyone-so she said-must feel to be rather heavy in the form in which Handel left it. As for her governess, she indeed had been a rarely accomplished musician; she was a pupil of the famous Dr Clarke of Cambridge, and used to play the overture to Atalanta, arranged by Mazzinghi. Nevertheless, it was some time before Theobald could bring his courage to the sticking point of actually proposing. He made it quite clear that he believed himself to be much smitten, but month after month went by, during which there was still so much hope in Theobald that Mr Allaby dared not discover that he was able to do his duty for himself, and was getting impatient at the number of half-guineas he was disbursing-and yet there was no proposal. Christina's mother assured him that she was the best daughter in the whole world, and would be a priceless treasure to the man who married her. Theobald echoed Mrs Allaby's sentiments with warmth, but still, though he visited the Rectory two or three times a week, besides coming over on Sundays-he did not propose. `She is heartwhole yet, dear Mr Pontifex,' said Mrs Allaby, one day, `at least I believe she is. It is not for want of admirers-oh! no-she has had her full share of these, but she is too, too difficult to please. I think, however, she would fall before a great and good man.' And she looked hard at Theobald, who blushed; but the days went by and still he did not propose.

Another time Theobald actually took Mrs Cowey into his confidence, and the reader may guess what account of Christina he got from her. Mrs Cowey tried the jealousy manoeuvre and hinted at a possible rival. Theobald was, or pretended to be, very much alarmed; a little rudimentary pang of jealousy shot across his bosom and he began to believe with pride that he was not only in love, but desperately in love or he would never feel so jealous. Nevertheless, day after day still went by and he did not propose.

The Allabys behaved with great judgment. They humoured him till his retreat was practically cut off, though he still flattered himself that it was open. One day about six months after Theobald had become an almost daily visitor at the Rectory the conversation happened to turn upon long engagements. `I don't like long engagements, Mr Allaby, do you?' said Theobald imprudently. `No,' said Mr Allaby in appointed tone, `nor long courtships,' and he gave Theobald a look which he could not pretend to misunderstand. He went back to Cambridge as fast as he could go, and in dread of the conversation with Mr Allaby which he felt to be impending, composed the following letter which he despatched that same afternoon by a private messenger to Crampsford. The letter was as follows:


I do not know whether you have guessed the feelings that I have long entertained for you-feelings which I have concealed as much as I could through fear of drawing you into an engagement which, if you enter into it, must be prolonged for a considerable time, but, however this may be, it is out of my power to conceal them longer; I love you, ardently, devotedly, and send these few lines asking you to be my wife, because I dare not trust my tongue to give adequate expression to the magnitude of my affection for you.

I cannot pretend to offer you a heart which has never known either love or disappointment. I have loved already, and my heart was years in recovering from the grief I felt at seeing her become another's. That, however, is over, and having seen yourself I rejoice over a disappointment which I thought at one time would have been fatal to me! It has left me a less ardent lover than I should perhaps otherwise have been, but it has increased tenfold my power of appreciating your many charms and my desire that you should become my wife. Please let me have a few lines of answer by the bearer to let me know whether or not my suit is accepted. If you accept me I will at once come and talk the matter over with Mr and Mrs Allaby, whom I shall hope one day to be allowed to call father and mother.

I ought to warn you that in the event of your consenting to be my wife it may be years before our union can be consummated, for I cannot marry till a college living is offered me. If, therefore, you see fit to reject me, I shall be grieved rather than surprised.

Ever most devotedly yours,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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