Suspicion - Fanny is sent for

Bathsheba said very little to her husband all that evening of their return from market, and he was not disposed to say much to her. He exhibited the unpleasant combination of a restless condition with a silent tongue. The next day, which was Sunday, passed nearly in the same manner as regarded their taciturnity, Bathsheba going to church both morning and afternoon. This was the day before the Budmouth races. In the evening Troy said, suddenly--

`Bathsheba, could you let me have twenty pounds?'

Her countenance instantly sank. `Twenty pounds?' she said.

`The fact is, I want it badly.' The anxiety upon Troy's face was unusual and very marked. It was a culmination of the mood he had been in all the day.

`Ah! for those races to-morrow.'

Troy for the moment made no reply. Her mistake had its advantages to a man who shrank from having his mind inspected as he did now. `Well, suppose I do want it for races?' he said, at last.

`O, Frank!' Bathsheba replied, and there was such a volume of entreaty in the words. `Only such a few weeks ago you said that I was far sweeter than all your other pleasures put together, and that you would give them all up for me; and now, won't you give up this one, which is more a worry than a pleasure? Do, Frank. Come, let me fascinate you by all I can do - by pretty words and pretty looks, and everything I can think of - to stay at home. Say yes to your wife - say yes!'

The tenderest and softest phases of Bathsheba's nature were prominent now - advanced impulsively for his acceptance, without any of the disguises and defences which the wariness of her character when she was cool too frequently threw over them. Few men could have resisted the arch yet dignified entreaty of the beautiful face, thrown a little back and sideways in the well-known attitude that expresses more than the words it accompanies, and which seems to have been designed for these special occasions. Had the woman not been his wife, Troy would have succumbed instantly; as it was, he thought he would not deceive her longer.

`The money is not wanted for racing debts at all,' he said.

`What is it for?' she asked. `You worry me a great deal by these mysterious responsibilities, Frank.'

Troy hesitated. He did not now love her enough to allow himself to be carried too far by her ways. Yet it was necessary to be civil. `You wrong me by such a suspicious manner, he said. `Such strait-waistcoating as you treat me to is not becoming in you at so early a date.'

`I think that I have a right to grumble a little if I pay,' she said with features between a smile and a pout.

`Exactly; and, the former being done, suppose we proceed to the latter. Bathsheba, fun is all very well, but don't go too far, or you may have cause to regret something.'

She reddened. `I do that already,' she said quickly. `What do you regret?'

`That my romance has come to an end.'

`All romances end at marriage.'

`I wish you wouldn't talk like that. You grieve me to my soul by being smart at my expense.

`You are dull enough at mine. I believe you hate me.'

`Not you - only your faults. I do hate them.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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