Everything has an end. Even young ladies in love cannot read their letters for ever. In course of time the packet was folded up, and it only remained to write the answer.
But as this promised to be a work of time likewise, Emma said she would put it off until after dinner, and that Dolly must dine with her. As Dolly had made up her mind to do so beforehand, she required very little pressing; and when they had settled this point, they went to walk in the garden.
They strolled up and down the terrace walks, talking incessantly at least, Dolly never left off onceand making that quarter of the sad and mournful house quite gay. Not that they talked loudly or laughed much, but they were both so very handsome, and it was such a breezy day, and their light dresses and dark curls appeared so free and joyous in their abandonment, and Emma was so fair, and Dolly so rosy, and Emma so delicately shaped, and Dolly so plump, andin short, there are no flowers for any garden like such flowers, let horticulturists say what they may, and both house and garden seemed to know it, and to brighten up sensibly.
After this, came the dinner and the letter writing, and some more talking, in the course of which Miss Haredale took occasion to charge upon Dolly certain flirtish and inconstant propensities, which accusations Dolly seemed to think very complimentary indeed, and to be mightily amused with. Finding her quite incorrigible in this respect, Emma suffered her to depart; but not before she had confided to her that important and never-sufficiently-to-be-taken- care-of answer, and endowed her moreover with a pretty little bracelet as a keepsake. Having clasped it on her arm, and again advised her half in jest and half in earnest to amend her roguish ways, for she knew she was fond of Joe at heart (which Dolly stoutly denied, with a great many haughty protestations that she hoped she could do better than that indeed! and so forth), she bade her farewell; and after calling her back to give her more supplementary messages for Edward, than anybody with tenfold the gravity of Dolly Varden could be reasonably expected to remember, at length dismissed her.
Dolly bade her good bye, and tripping lightly down the stairs arrived at the dreaded library door, and was about to pass it again on tiptoe, when it opened, and behold! there stood Mr Haredale. Now, Dolly had from her childhood associated with this gentleman the idea of something grim and ghostly, and being at the moment conscience-stricken besides, the sight of him threw her into such a flurry that she could neither acknowledge his presence nor run away, so she gave a great start, and then with downcast eyes stood still and trembled.
Come here, girl, said Mr Haredale, taking her by the hand. I want to speak to you.
If you please, sir, Im in a hurry, faltered Dolly, andyou have frightened me by coming so suddenly upon me, sirI would rather go, sir, if youll be so good as to let me.
Immediately, said Mr Haredale, who had by this time led her into the room and closed the door. You shall go directly. You have just left Emma?
Yes, sir, just this minute.Fathers waiting for me, sir, if youll please to have the goodness
I know. I know, said Mr Haredale. Answer me a question. What did you bring here to-day?
Bring here, sir? faltered Dolly.
You will tell me the truth, I am sure. Yes.
Dolly hesitated for a little while, and somewhat emboldened by his manner, said at last, Well then, sir. It was a letter.
From Mr Edward Chester, of course. And you are the bearer of the answer?
Dolly hesitated again, and not being able to decide upon any other course of action, burst into tears.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|