“Oh! is he changed?” asked Molly, a little disturbed by this account.

“No, not changed; and yet not the same. He’s as brown as a berry for one thing; caught a little of the negro tinge, and a beard as fine and sweeping as my bay-mare’s tail.”

“A beard! but go on, papa! Does he talk as he used to do? I should know his voice amongst ten thousand.”

“I didn’t catch any Hottentot twang, if that’s what you mean. Nor did he say, ‘Cæsar and Pompey berry much alike, ’specially Pompey,’ which is the only specimen of negro language I can remember just at this moment.”

“And which I never could see the wit of,” said Mrs. Gibson, who had come into the room after the conversation had begun, and did not understand what it was aiming at. Molly fidgeted; she wanted to go on with her questions and keep her father to definite and matter-of-fact answers, and she knew that, when his wife chimed into a conversation, Mr. Gibson was very apt to find out that he must go about some necessary piece of business.

“Tell me, how are they all getting on together?” It was an inquiry which she did not make in general before Mrs. Gibson, for Molly and her father had tacitly agreed to keep silence on what they knew, or had observed, respecting the three who formed the present family at the Hall.

“Oh!” said Mr. Gibson, “Roger is evidently putting everything to rights in his firm, quiet way.”

“ ‘Things to rights.’ Why, what’s wrong?” asked Mrs. Gibson quickly. “The Squire and the French daughter- in-law don’t get on well together, I suppose? I am always so glad Cynthia acted with the promptitude she did; it would have been very awkward for her to have been mixed up with all these complications. Poor Roger! to find himself supplanted by a child when he comes home!”

“You were not in the room, my dear, when I was telling Molly of the reasons for Roger’s return; it was to put his brother’s child at once into his rightful and legal place. So now, when he finds the work partly done to his hands, he is happy and gratified in proportion.”

“Then he is not much affected by Cynthia’s breaking off her engagement?” (Mrs. Gibson could afford to call it an “engagement” now.) “I never did give him credit for very deep feelings.”

“On the contrary, he feels it very acutely. He and I had a long talk about it, yesterday.”

Both Molly and Mrs. Gibson would have liked to have heard something more about this conversation; but Mr. Gibson did not choose to go on with the subject. The only point which he disclosed was, that Roger had insisted on his right to have a personal interview with Cynthia; and, on hearing that she was in London at present, had deferred any further explanation or expostulation by letter, preferring to await her return.

Molly went on with her questions on other subjects. “And Mrs. Osborne Hamley? How is she?”

“Wonderfully brightened-up by Roger’s presence. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile before; but she gives him the sweetest smiles from time to time. They are evidently good friends; and she loses her strange startled look when she speaks to him. I suspect she has been quite aware of the Squire’s wish that she should return to France, and has been hard put to it to decide whether to leave her child or not. The idea that she would have to make some such decision came upon her, when she was completely shattered by grief and illness; and she hasn’t had any one to consult as to her duty until Roger came, upon whom she has evidently firm reliance. He told me something of this himself.”

“You seem to have had quite a long conversation with him, papa!”

“Yes. I was going to see old Abraham, when the Squire called to me over the hedge, as I was jogging along. He told me the news; and there was no resisting his invitation to come back and lunch with them.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
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.