“Perhaps I did wrong in yielding to his wish to have her called by such a romantic name. It may excite prejudice against her in some people; and, poor child! she will have enough to struggle with. A young daughter is a great charge, Mr. Gibson, especially when there is only one parent to look after her.”

“You are quite right,” said he, recalled to the remembrance of Molly; “though I should have thought that a girl who is so fortunate as to have a mother could not feel the loss of her father so acutely as one who is motherless must suffer from her deprivation.”

“You are thinking of your own daughter. It was careless of me to say what I did. Dear child! how well I remember her sweet little face, as she lay sleeping on my bed! I suppose she is nearly grown-up now. She must be near my Cynthia’s age. How I should like to see her!”

“I hope you will. I should like you to see her. I should like you to love my poor little Molly—to love her as your own”—He swallowed down something that rose in his throat, and was nearly choking him.

“Is he going to offer? Is he?” she wondered; and she began to tremble in the suspense before he next spoke.

“Could you love her as your daughter? Will you try? Will you give me the right of introducing you to her as her future mother; as my wife?”

There! he had done it—whether it was wise or foolish—he had done it! but he was aware that the question as to its wisdom came into his mind the instant that the words were said past recall.

She hid her face in her hands.

“Oh! Mr. Gibson,” she said; and then, a little to his surprise, and a great deal to her own, she burst into hysterical tears: it was such a wonderful relief to feel that she need not struggle any more for a livelihood.

“My dear—my dearest,” said he, trying to soothe her with word and caress, but, just at the moment, uncertain what name he ought to use. After her sobbing had abated a little, she said herself, as if understanding his difficulty—

“Call me Hyacinth—your own Hyacinth! I can’t bear ‘Clare,’ it does so remind me of being a governess; and those days are all past now.”

“Yes; but surely no one can have been more valued, more beloved, than you have been in this family at least.”

“Oh, yes! they have been very good. But still one has always had to remember one’s position.”

“We ought to tell Lady Cumnor,” said he; thinking, perhaps, more of the various duties which lay before him in consequence of the step he had just taken, than of what his future bride was saying.

“You’ll tell her, won’t you?” said she, looking up in his face with beseeching eyes. “I always like other people to tell her things, and then I can see how she takes them.”

“Certainly! I will do whatever you wish. Shall we go and see if she is awake now?”

“No! I think not. I had better prepare her. You will come to-morrow, won’t you? and you will tell her then.”

“Yes; that will be best. I ought to tell Molly first. She has the right to know. I do hope you and she will love each other dearly.”

“Oh, yes! I’m sure we shall. Then you’ll come tomorrow and tell Lady Cumnor? And I’ll prepare her.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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