`Well, perhaps we are neither of us judges of that,' said Maggie, laughing, as she seated herself and tossed her long hair back. `You are not impartial, and I think any barrel organ splendid.'
`But tell me what you think of him, now. Tell me exactly - good and bad too.'
`O I think you should humiliate him a little. A lover should not be so much at ease and so self-confident. He ought to tremble more.'
`Nonsense, Maggie! As if any one could tremble at me!You think he is conceited - I see that. But you don't dislike him, do you?'
`Dislike him! No. Am I in the habit of seeing such charming people, that I should be very difficult to please? Besides how could I dislike any one that promised to make you happy, you dear thing!' Maggie pinched Lucy's dimpled chin.
`We shall have more music tomorrow evening,' said Lucy, looking happy already, `for Stephen will bring Philip Wakem with him.'
`O Lucy, I can't see him,' said Maggie, turning pale. `At least, I could not see him without Tom's leave.'
`Is Tom such a tyrant as that?' said Lucy, surprised. `I'll take the responsibility then - tell him it was my fault.'
`But, dear,' said Maggie, faltering, `I promised Tom very solemnly - before my father's death - I promised him I would not speak to Philip without his knowledge and consent. And I have a great dread of opening the subject with Tom - of getting into a quarrel with him again.'
`But I never heard of anything so strange and unreasonable. What harm can poor Philip have done? May I speak to Tom about it?'
`O no, pray don't, dear,' said Maggie. `I'll go to him myself tomorrow, and tell him that you wish Philip to come. I've thought before of asking him to absolve me from my promise, but I've not had the courage to determine on it.'
They were both silent for some moments, and then Lucy said,
`Maggie, you have secrets from me, and I have none from you.'
Maggie looked meditatively away from Lucy. Then she turned to her and said, `I should like to tell you about Philip. But, Lucy, you must not betray that you know it to any one - least of all to Philip himself, or to Mr Stephen Guest.'
The narrative lasted long, for Maggie had never before known the relief of such an outpouring: she had never before told Lucy anything of her inmost life; and the sweet face bent towards her with sympathetic interest, and the little hand pressing hers, encouraged her to speak on. On two points only she was not expansive. She did not betray fully what still rankled in her mind as Tom's great offence - the insults he had heaped on Philip. Angry as the remembrance still made her, she could not bear that any one else should know it all - both for Tom's sake and Philip's. And she could not bear to tell Lucy of the last scene between her father and Wakem - though it was this scene which she had ever since felt to be a new barrier between herself and Philip. She only told Lucy that she saw now, Tom was on the whole right in regarding any prospect of love and marriage between her and Philip as put out of the question by the relation of the two families. Of course Philip's father would never consent.
`There, Lucy, you have had my story,' said Maggie, smiling with the tears in her eyes. `You see I am like Sir Andrew Ague-cheek - I was adored once.'
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