"Off with the Old Love, and on with the New"

The next morning saw Mrs. Gibson in a much more contented frame of mind. She had written and posted her letter, and the next thing was to keep Cynthia in what she called a reasonable state, or, in other words, to try and cajole her into docility. But it was so much labour lost. Cynthia had already received a letter from Mr. Henderson before she came down to breakfast—a declaration of love, a proposal of marriage as clear as words could make it; together with an intimation that, unable to wait for the slow delays of the post, he was going to follow her down to Hollingford, and would arrive at the same time that she had done herself on the previous day. Cynthia said nothing about this letter to any one. She came late into the breakfast-room, after Mr. and Mrs. Gibson had finished the actual business of the meal; but her unpunctuality was quite accounted for by the fact that she had been travelling all the last night but one. Molly was not as yet strong enough to get up so early. Cynthia hardly spoke, and did not touch her food. Mr. Gibson went about his daily business, and Cynthia and her mother were left alone.

“My dear,” said Mrs. Gibson, “you are not eating your breakfast as you should do. I am afraid our meals seem very plain and homely to you, after those in Hyde Park Street?”

“No,” said Cynthia; “I’m not hungry, that’s all.”

“If we were as rich as your uncle, I should feel it to be both a duty and a pleasure to keep an elegant table; but limited means are a sad clog to one’s wishes. I don’t suppose that, work as he will, Mr. Gibson can earn more than he does at present; while the capabilities of the law are boundless. Lord Chancellor! Titles, as well as fortune!”

Cynthia was almost too much absorbed in her own reflections to reply, but she did say—“Hundreds of briefless barristers. Take the other side, mamma.”

“Well; but I have noticed that many of these have private fortunes.”

“Perhaps. Mamma, I expect Mr. Henderson will come and call this morning.”

“Oh, my precious child! But how do you know? My darling Cynthia, am I to congratulate you?”

“No! I suppose I must tell you. I have had a letter this morning from him, and he’s coming down by the ‘Umpire’ to-day.”

“But he has offered? He surely must mean to offer, at any rate?”

Cynthia played with her tea-spoon before she replied; then she looked up, like one startled from a dream, and caught the echo of her mother’s question.

“Offered! yes, I suppose he has.”

“And you accept him? Say ‘yes,’ Cynthia, and make me happy!”

“I shan’t say ‘yes’ to make any one happy except myself, and the Russian scheme has great charms for me.” She said this, to plague her mother, and lessen Mrs. Gibson’s exuberance of joy, it must be confessed; for her mind was pretty well made up. But it did not affect Mrs. Gibson, who affixed even less truth to it than there really was. The idea of a residence in a new, strange country, among new, strange people, was not without allurement to Cynthia.

“You always look nice, dear; but don’t you think you had better put on that pretty lilac silk?”

“I shall not vary a thread or a shred from what I have got on now.”

“You dear, wilful creature! you know you always look lovely in whatever you put on.” So, kissing her daughter, Mrs. Gibson left the room, intent on the lunch which should impress Mr. Henderson at once with an idea of family refinement.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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