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Art And Nature
by [?]

“Really, Miss Fanny,” said Mr. Somers, “you are very sparing of the favor of your company to us this evening.”

“O, I presume my company is not much missed,” said Fanny, with a smile.

“You must have a poor opinion of our taste, then,” said Mr. Somers.

“Come, come, Mr. Somers,” replied Fanny, “you forget the person you are talking to; it is not at all necessary for you to compliment me; nobody ever does–so you may feel relieved of that trouble.”

“Nobody ever does, Miss Fanny; pray, how is that?”

“Because I’m not the sort of person to say such things to.”

“And pray, what sort of person ought one to be, in order to have such things said?” replied Mr. Somers.

“Why, like Sister Isabella, or like Emma. You understand I am a sort of little nobody; if any one wastes fine words on me, I never know what to make of them.”

“And pray, what must one say to you?” said Mr. Somers, quite amused.

“Why, what they really think and really feel; and I am always puzzled by any thing else.”

Accordingly, about a half an hour afterwards, you might have seen the much admired Mr. Somers once more transformed into the Cousin George, and he and Fanny engaged in a very interesting tete-a-tete about old times and things.

Now, you may skip across a fortnight from this evening, and then look in at the same old library, just as the setting sun is looking in at its western window, and you will see Fanny sitting back a little in the shadow, with one straggling ray of light illuminating her pure childish face, and she is looking up at Mr. George Somers, as if in some sudden perplexity; and, dear me, if we are not mistaken, our young gentleman is blushing.

“Why, Cousin George,” says the lady, “what do you mean?”

“I thought I spoke plainly enough, Fanny,” replied Cousin George, in a tone that might have made the matter plain enough, to be sure.

Fanny laughed outright, and the gentleman looked terribly serious.

“Indeed, now, don’t be angry,” said she, as he turned away with a vexed and mortified air; “indeed, now, I can’t help laughing, it seems to me so odd; what will they all think of you?”

“It’s of no consequence to me what they think,” said Mr. Somers. “I think, Fanny, if you had the heart I gave you credit for, you might have seen my feelings before now.”

“Now, do sit down, my dear cousin,” said Fanny, earnestly, drawing him into a chair, “and tell me, how could I, poor little Miss Fanny Nobody, how could I have thought any such thing with such sisters as I have? I did think that you liked me, that you knew more of my real feelings than mamma and sisters; but that you should–that you ever should–why, I am astonished that you did not fall in love with Isabella.”

“That would have met your feelings, then?” said George, eagerly, and looking as if he would have looked through her, eyes, soul, and all.

“No, no, indeed,” she said, turning away her head; “but,” added she, quickly, “you’ll lose all your credit for good taste. Now, tell me, seriously, what do you like me for?”

“Well, then, Fanny, I can give you the best reason. I like you for being a real, sincere, natural girl–for being simple in your tastes, and simple in your appearance, and simple in your manners, and for having heart enough left, as I hope, to love plain George Somers, with all his faults, and not Mr. Somers’s reputation, or Mr. Somers’s establishment.”

“Well, this is all very reasonable to me, of course,” said Fanny, “but it will be so much Greek to poor mamma.”

“I dare say your mother could never understand how seeing the very acme of cultivation in all countries should have really made my eyes ache, and long for something as simple as green grass or pure water, to rest them on. I came down here to find it among my cousins, and I found in your sisters only just such women as I have seen and admired all over Europe, till I was tired of admiring. Your mother has achieved what she aimed at, perfectly; I know of no circle that could produce higher specimens; but it is all art, triumphant art, after all, and I have so strong a current of natural feeling running through my heart that I could never be happy except with a fresh, simple, impulsive character.”

“Like me, you are going to say,” said Fanny, laughing. “Well, I’ll admit that you are right. It would be a pity that you should not have one vote, at least.”