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There was something unusual about the manner in which he descended the steps without giving an answer. She thought he was shaking with anger. When he spoke his voice sounded odd, almost as though he were drunk.

[pg 137]

Retief flipped over two pages.

I know you don't mean any harm; but if you make yourself conspicuous with other men you can't expect people not to talk and think the worst, and I can't bear that you should be a subject for scandal."

It has been seen that Mr. Creswell's marriage with Marian Ashurst was sufficiently popular amongst the farmer class at Helmingham, but it was by no means so warmly received in other grades of society. Up at the Park, for instance, the people could scarcely restrain their indignation. Sir Thomas Churchill had always been accustomed to speak of "my neighbour, Mr. Creswell," as a "highly respectable man, sprung, as he himself does not scruple to own, from the people," chirrupped the old Sir Thomas, whose great-grandfather had been a tanner in Brocksopp,--"but eminently sound in all his views, and a credit to the--ahem!--commercial classes of the community." They sat together on the magistrates' bench, met on committees of charitable associations, and suchlike, and twice a year solemnly had each other to dinner to meet a certain number of other county people on nights when there was a moon, or, at least, when the calendar showed that there ought to have been one. In the same spirit old Lady Churchill, kindliest of silly old women, had been in the habit of pitying Marian Ashurst. "That charmin' girl, so modest and quiet; none of your fly-away nonsense about her, and clever, ain't she? I don't know about these things myself, but they tell me so; and to have to go into lodgin's, and all that! father a clergyman of the Church of England too!"--staunch old lady, never moving about without the Honourable Miss Grimstone's Church-service, in two volumes, in her trunk--"it really does seem too bad!" But when the news of the forthcoming marriage began to be buzzed about, and penetrated to the Park, Sir Thomas did not scruple to stigmatise his neighbour as an old fool, while my lady had no better opinion of Miss Ashurst than that she was a "forward minx." What could have so disturbed these exemplary people? Not, surely, the low passions of envy and jealousy? Sir Thomas Churchill, a notorious roué in his day, who had married the plainest-headed woman in the county for her money, all the available capital of which he had spent, could not possibly be envious of the fresh young bride whom his old acquaintance was bringing home? And Lady Churchill, to whom the village gossips talked incessantly of the intended redecoration of Woolgreaves, the equipages and horses which were ordered, the establishment which was about to be kept up, the position in parliament which was to be fought for, and, above all, the worship with which the elderly bridegroom regarded the juvenile bride-elect--these rumours did not influence her in the bitter depreciation with which she henceforth spoke of the late schoolmaster's daughter? Of course not! The utterances of the baronet and his lady were prompted by a deep regard to the welfare of both parties, and a wholesome regret that they had been prompted to take a step which could not be for the future happiness of either, of course.

On the broad verandah at Government House, Retief settled himself comfortably in a lounge chair. He accepted a tall glass from a white-jacketed waiter and regarded the flamboyant Flamme sunset, a gorgeous blaze of vermillion and purple that reflected from a still lake, tinged the broad lawn with color, silhouetted tall poplars among flower beds.


She could hear him moving about in his dressing-room. Several times she was tempted to call him, but pride held her dumb, so convinced did she feel that he owed her amends for his conduct, that the first advances should come from him. But she waited in vain. George remained in his room; and Rafella, exhausted with tears and emotion, finally fell asleep.



Coventry to the last was more or less reluctant to leave her; but she ignored his hesitation, and when the hour of departure came she drove with him gaily to the railway station, and with a cheerful, smiling face saw him off by the night mail.

"We shall be here all night!" she cried, despairing.


Bre’r Washington’s Consolation




Then he said: ??And after that, Joan, after that??????


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