The Mother's Manoeuvre
Mr. Gibson was not at home at dinnerdetained by some patient, most probably. This was not an unusual occurrence; but it was rather an unusual occurrence for Mrs. Gibson to go down into the dining-room, and sit with him as he ate his deferred meal, when he came in an hour or two later. In general, she preferred her easy-chair, or her corner of the sofa, upstairs in the drawing-room; though it was very rarely that she would allow Molly to avail herself of her stepmothers neglected privilege. Molly would fain have gone down and kept her father company every night he had these solitary meals; but for peace and quietness she gave up her own wishes in the matter.
Mrs. Gibson took a seat by the fire in the dining-room, and patiently waited for the auspicious moment when Mr. Gibson, having satisfied his healthy appetite, turned from the table, and took his place by her side. She got up, and with unaccustomed attention moved the wine and glasses, so that he could help himself without moving from his chair.
There, now! are you comfortable? for I have a great piece of news to tell you! said she, when all was arranged.
I thought there was something on hand, said he, smiling. Now for it!
Roger Hamley has been here this afternoon to bid us good-bye.
Good-bye! Is he gone? I didnt know he was going so soon! exclaimed Mr. Gibson.
Yes; never mind, thats not it.
But tell me; has he left this neighbourhood? I wanted to have seen him.
Yes, yes. He left love and regret, and all that sort of thing for you. Now let me get on with my story: he found Cynthia alone, proposed to her, and was accepted.
Cynthia? Roger proposed to her, and she accepted him? repeated Mr. Gibson slowly.
Yes, to be sure. Why not? you speak as if it was something so very surprising.
Did I? But I am surprised. Hes a very fine young fellow, and I wish Cynthia joy; but do you like it? It will have to be a very long engagement.
Perhaps, said she, in a knowing manner.
At any rate, he will be away for two years, said Mr. Gibson.
A great deal may happen in two years, she replied.
Yes! he will have to run many risks, and go into many dangers, and will come back no nearer to the power of maintaining a wife than when he went out.
I dont know that, she replied, still in the arch manner of one possessing superior knowledge. A little bird did tell me that Osbornes life is not so very secure; and thenwhat will Roger be? Heir to the estate.
Who told you that about Osborne? said he, facing round upon her, and frightening her by his sudden sternness of voice and manner. It seemed as if absolute fire came out of his long dark, sombre eyes. Who told you, I say?
She made a faint rally back into her former playfulness.
Why? can you deny it? Is it not the truth?
|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.|