Then, leaning back in his chair, he reflected a few minutes in silence, complacently smiling to himself, and, while I was concocting some cutting speech wherewith to check his gratification, he rose, and passing over to where Annabella Wilmot sat vehemently coquetting with Lord Lowborough, seated himself on the sofa beside her, and attached himself to her for the rest of the evening.
`So then!' thought I--`he despises me, because he knows I love him.'
And the reflection made me so miserable I knew not what to do. Milicent came and began to admire my drawings and make remarks upon them; but I could not talk to her--I could talk to no one; and upon the introduction of tea, I took advantage of the open door and the slight diversion caused by its entrance, to slip out--for I was sure I could not take any--and take refuge in the library. My aunt sent Thomas in quest of me, to ask if I were not coming to tea; but I bade him say I should not take any tonight; and happily she was too much occupied with her guests to make any further enquiries at the time.
As most of the company had travelled far that day, they retired early to rest; and having heard them all, as I thought, go upstairs, I ventured out, to get my candlestick from the drawing-room sideboard. But Mr Huntingdon had lingered behind the rest: he was just at the foot of the stairs when I opened the door; and hearing my step in the hall--though I could hardly hear it myself--he instantly turned back.
`Helen, is that you?' said he; `why did you run away from us?'
`Good night, Mr Huntingdon,' said I, coldly, not choosing to answer the question. And I turned away to enter the drawing. room.
`But you'll shake hands, won't you?' said he, placing himself in the doorway before me. And he seized my hand, and held it much against my will.
`Let me go, Mr Huntingdon!' said I--`I want to get a candle.'
`The candle will keep,' returned he.
I made a desperate effort to free my hand from his grasp
`Why are you in such a hurry to leave me, Helen?' he said, with a smile of the most provoking self-sufficiency-- `you don't hate me, you know.'
`Yes, I do--at this moment.'
`Not you! It is Annabella Wilmot you hate, not me.'
`I have nothing to do with Annabella Wilmot,' said I, burning with indignation.
`But I have, you know,' returned he, with peculiar emphasis,
`That is nothing to me, sir!' I retorted.
`Is it nothing to you, Helen?--Will you swear it?--Will you?'
`No, I won:t, Mr Huntingdon! and I will go!' cried I, not knowing whether to laugh or to cry, or to break out into a tempest of fury.
`Go then, you vixen!' he said; but the instant he released my hand, he had the audacity to put his arm round my neck and kiss me.
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