Mrs. Gibson's Visitors
One day, to Mollys infinite surprise, Mr. Preston was announced as a caller. Mrs. Gibson and she were sitting together in the drawing-room; Cynthia was outgone into the town a-shoppingwhen the door was opened, the name given, and in walked the young man. His entrance seemed to cause more confusion than Molly could well account for. He came in with the same air of easy assurance with which he had received her and her father at Ashcombe Manorhouse. He looked remarkably handsome in his riding- dress, and with the open-air exercise he had just had. But Mrs. Gibsons smooth brows contracted a little at the sight of him, and her reception of him was much cooler than that which she usually gave to visitors. Yet there was a degree of agitation in it, which surprised Molly a little. Mrs. Gibson was at her everlasting worsted-work frame when he entered the room; but, somehow, in rising to receive him, she threw down her basket of crewels, and, declining Mollys offer to help her, she would pick up all the reels herself, before she asked her visitor to sit down. He stood there, hat in hand, affecting an interest in the recovery of the worsted which Molly was sure he did not feel; for all the time his eyes were glancing round the room, and taking note of the details in the arrangement.
At length they were seated, and conversation began.
It is the first time I have been in Hollingford since your marriage, Mrs. Gibson, or I should certainly have called to pay my respects sooner.
I know you are very busy at Ashcombe. I did not expect you to call. Is Lord Cumnor at the Towers? I have not heard from her ladyship for more than a week!
No! he seems still detained at Bath. But I had a letter from him giving me certain messages for Mr. Sheepshanks. Mr. Gibson is not at home, Im afraid?
No. He is a great deal outalmost constantly, I may say. I had no idea that I should see so little of him. A doctors wife leads a very solitary life, Mr. Preston!
You can hardly call it solitary, I should think, when you have such a companion as Miss Gibson always at hand, said he, bowing to Molly.
Oh, but I call it solitude for a wife when her husband is away. Poor Mr. Kirkpatrick was never happy, unless I always went with him;in all his walks, all his visits, he liked me to be with him. But, somehow, Mr. Gibson feels as if I should be rather in his way.
I dont think you could ride pillion behind him on Black Bess, mamma, said Molly. And unless you could do that, you could hardly go with him in his rounds up and down all the rough lanes.
Oh! but he might keep a brougham! Ive often said so. And then I could use it for visiting in the evenings. Really it was one reason why I didnt go to the Hollingford Charity Ball. I couldnt bring myself to use the dirty fly from the Angel. We really must stir papa up against next winter, Molly; it will never do for you and
She pulled herself up suddenly, and looked furtively at Mr. Preston, to see if he had taken any notice of her abruptness. Of course he had; but he was not going to show it. He turned to Molly, and said
Have you ever been to a public ball yet, Miss Gibson?
No! said Molly.
It will be a great pleasure to you, when the time comes.
Im not sure. I shall like it, if I have plenty of partners; but Im afraid I shant know many people.
And you suppose that young men havent their own ways and means of being introduced to pretty girls?
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