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- He Knew He Was Right - 30/179 -
'You mean that it is bad for her to come and live here without society.'
'Not exactly that though of course it would be better for her to go out. And I don't know how a girl is ever to get settled in the world unless she goes out. But it is always an injury to be connected in any way with a woman who is separated from her husband. It must be bad for you.'
'It won't hurt me,' said Priscilla. 'Nothing of that kind can hurt me.'
'I mean that people say such ill-natured things.'
'I stand alone, and can take care of myself,' said Priscilla. 'I defy the evil tongues of all the world to hurt me. My personal cares are limited to an old gown and bread and cheese. I like a pair of gloves to go to church with, but that is only the remnant of a prejudice. The world has so very little to give me, that I am pretty nearly sure that it will take nothing away.'
'And you are contented?'
'Well, no; I can't say that I am contented. I hardly think that anybody ought to be contented. Should my mother die and Dorothy remain with my aunt, or get married, I should be utterly alone in the world. Providence, or whatever you call it, has made me a lady after a fashion, so that I can't live with the ploughmen's wives, and at the same time has so used me in other respects, that I can't live with anybody else.'
'Why should not you get married, as well as Dorothy?'
'Who would have me? And if I had a husband I should want a good one, a man with a head on his shoulders, and a heart. Even if I were young and good-looking, or rich, I doubt whether I could please myself. As it is, I am as likely to be taken bodily to heaven, as to become any man's wife.'
'I suppose most women think so of themselves at some time, and yet they are married.'
'I am not fit to marry. I am often cross, and I like my own way, and I have a distaste for men. I never in my life saw a man whom I wished even to make my intimate friend. I should think any man an idiot who to make soft speeches to me, and I should tell him so.'
'Ah; you might find it different when he went on with it.'
'But I think,' said Priscilla, 'that when a woman is married there is nothing to which she should not submit on behalf of her husband.'
'You mean that for me.'
'Of course I mean it for you. How should I not be thinking of you, living as you are under the same roof with us? And I am thinking of Louey.' Louey was the baby. 'What are you to do when after a year or two his father shall send for him to have him under his own care?'
'Nothing shall separate me from my child,' said Mrs Trevelyan eagerly.
'That is easily said; but I suppose the power of doing as he pleased would be with him.'
'Why should it be with him? I do not at all know that it would be with him. I have not left his house. It is he that has turned me out.'
'There can, I think, be very little doubt what you should do,' said Priscilla, after a pause, during which she had got up from her seat under the thorn bush.
'What should I do?' asked Mrs Trevelyan.
'Go back to him.'
'I will to-morrow if he will write and ask me. Nay; how could I help myself? I am his creature, and must go or come as he bids me. I am here only because he has sent me.'
'You should write and ask him to take you.'
'Ask him to forgive me because he has ill-treated me?'
'Never mind about that,' said Priscilla, standing over her companion, who was still lying under the bush. 'All that is twopenny-halfpenny pride, which should be thrown to the winds. The more right you have been hitherto the better you can afford to go on being right. What is it that we all live upon but self-esteem? When we want praise it is only because praise enables us to think well of ourselves. Every one to himself is the centre and pivot of all the world.'
'It's a very poor world that goes round upon my pivot,' said Mrs Trevelyan.
'I don't know how this quarrel came up,' exclaimed Priscilla, 'and I don't care to know. But it seems a trumpery quarrel as to who should beg each other's pardon first, and all that kind of thing. Sheer and simple nonsense! Ask him to let it all be forgotten. I suppose he loves you?'
'How can I know? He did once.'
'And you love him?'
'Yes. I love him certainly.'
'I don't see how you can have a doubt. Here is Jack with the carriage, and if we don't mind he'll pass us by without seeing us.'
Then Mrs Trevelyan got up, and when they had succeeded in diverting Jack's attention for a moment from the horse, they called to Nora, who was still moving about from one knoll to another, and who showed no desire to abandon the contemplations in which she had been engaged.
It had been mid-day before they left home in the morning, and they were due to be at home in time for tea, which is an epoch in the day generally allowed to be more elastic than some others. When Mrs Stanbury lived in the cottage her hour for tea had been six; this had been stretched to half-past seven when she received Mrs Trevelyan at the Clock House; and it was half-past eight before Jack landed them at their door. It was manifest to them all as they entered the house that there was an air of mystery in the face of the girl who had opened the door for them. She did not speak, however, till they were all within the passage. Then she uttered a few words very solemnly. 'There be a gentleman come,' she said.
'A gentleman!' said Mrs Trevelyan, thinking in the first moment of her husband, and in the second of Colonel Osborne.
'He be for you, miss,' said the girl, bobbing her head at Nora.
Upon hearing this Nora sank speechless into the chair which stood in the passage.
A GENTLEMAN COMES TO NUNCOMBE PUTNEY
It soon became known to them all as they remained clustered in the hall that Mr Glascock was in the house. Mrs Stanbury came out to them and informed them that he had been at Nuncombe Putney for the last hours, and that he had asked for Mrs Trevelyan when he called. It became evident as the affairs of the evening went on, that Mrs Stanbury had for a few minutes been thrown into a terrible state of amazement, thinking that 'the Colonel' had appeared. The strange gentleman, however, having obtained admittance, explained who he was, saying that he was very desirous of seeing Mrs Trevelyan and Miss Rowley. It may be presumed that a glimmer of light did make its way into Mrs Stanbury's mind on the subject; but up to the moment at which the three travellers arrived, she had been in doubt on the subject. Mr Glascock had declared that he would take a walk, and in the course of the afternoon had expressed high approval of Mrs Crocket's culinary skill. When Mrs Crocket heard that she had entertained the son of a lord, she was very loud in her praise of the manner in which he had eaten two mutton chops and called for a third. He had thought it no disgrace to apply himself to the second half of an apple pie, and had professed himself to be an ardent admirer of Devonshire cream. 'It's them counter-skippers as turns up their little noses at the victuals as is set before them,' said Mrs Crocket.
After his dinner Mr Glascock had returned to the Clock House, and had been sitting there for an hour with Mrs Stanbury, not much to her delight or to his, when the carriage was driven up to the door.
'He is to go back to Lessboro' to-night,' said Mrs Stanbury in a whisper.
'Of course you must see him before he goes,' said Mrs Trevelyan to her sister. There had, as was natural, been very much said between the two sisters about Mr Glascock. Nora had abstained from asserting in any decided way that she disliked the man, and had always absolutely refused to allow Hugh Stanbury's name to be mixed up with the question. 'Whatever might be her own thoughts about Hugh Stanbury she had kept them even from her sister. 'When her sister had told her that she had refused Mr Glascock because of Hugh, she had shown herself to be indignant, and had since that said one or two fine things as to her capacity to refuse a brilliant offer simply because the man who made it was indifferent to her. Mrs Trevelyan had learned from her that her Suitor had declared his intention to persevere; and here was perseverance with a vengeance! 'Of course you must see him at once,' said Mrs Trevelyan. Nora for a few seconds had remained silent, and then had run up to her room. Her sister followed her instantly.
'What is the meaning of it all?' said Priscilla to her mother.
'I suppose he is in love with Miss Rowley,' said Mrs Stanbury.
'But who is he?'
Then Mrs Stanbury told all that she knew, She had seen from his card that he was an Honourable Mr Glascock. She had collected from what he had said that he was an old friend of the two ladies. Her conviction was strong in Mr Glascock's favour thinking, as she expressed herself, that everything was right and proper but she could hardly explain why she thought so.
'I do wish that they had never come,' said Priscilla, who could not rid
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