For some days after the ball Cynthia seemed languid, and was very silent. Molly, who had promised herself fully as much enjoyment in talking over the past gaiety with Cynthia as in the evening itself, was disappointed when she found that all conversation on the subject was rather evaded than encouraged. Mrs. Gibson, it is true, was ready to go over the ground as many times as any one liked; but her words were always like ready-made clothes, and never fitted individual thoughts. Anybody might have used them, and, with a change of proper names, they might have served to describe any ball. She repeatedly used the same language in speaking about it, till Molly knew the sentences and their sequence, even to irritation.
Ah! Mr. Osborne, you should have been there! I said to myself, many a time, how you really should have been thereyou and your brother, of course.
I thought of you very often during the evening!
Did you? Now, that I call very kind of you. Cynthia, darling! Do you hear what Mr. Osborne Hamley was saying? as Cynthia came into the room just then. He thought of us all on the evening of the ball.
He did better than merely remember us then, said Cynthia, with her soft, slow smile. We owe him thanks for those beautiful flowers, mamma.
Oh! said Osborne, you must not thank me exclusively. I believe it was my thought, but Roger took all the trouble of it.
I consider the thought as everything, said Mrs. Gibson. Thought is spiritual, while action is merely material.
This fine sentence took the speaker herself by surprise; but, in such conversation as was then going on, it is not necessary to accurately define the meaning of everything that is said.
Im afraid the flowers were too late to be of much use, though, continued Osborne. I met Preston the next morning, and of course we talked about the ball. I was sorry to find he had been beforehand with us.
He only sent one nosegay, and that was for Cynthia, said Molly, looking up from her work. And it did not come till after we had received the flowers from Hamley. Molly caught a sight of Cynthias face, before she bent down again to her sewing. It was scarlet in colour, and there was a flash of anger in her eyes. Both she and her mother hastened to speak as soon as Molly had finished; but Cynthias voice was choked with passion, and Mrs. Gibson had the word.
Mr. Prestons bouquet was just one of those formal affairs any one can buy at a nursery-garden, which always strike me as having no sentiment in them. I would far rather have two or three lilies of the valley gathered for me by a person I like than the most expensive bouquet that could be bought!
Mr. Preston had no business to speak as if he had forestalled you, said Cynthia. It came just as we were ready to go, and I put it into the fire directly.
Cynthia, my dear love! said Mrs. Gibson (who had never heard of the fate of the flowers until now), what an idea of yourself you will give to Mr. Osborne Hamley; but, to be sure, I can quite understand it. You inherit my feelingmy prejudicesentimental I grant, against bought flowers.
Cynthia was silent for a moment; then she said, I used some of your flowers, Mr. Hamley, to dress Mollys hair. It was a great temptation, for the colour so exactly matched her coral ornaments; but I believe she thought it treacherous to disturb the arrangement, so I ought to take all the blame on myself.
The arrangement was my brothers, as I told you; but I am sure he would have preferred seeing them in Miss Gibsons hair rather than in the blazing fire. Mr. Preston comes off far the worst. Osborne was
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