be remembered, in extenuation of this primitive young woman, that she held these opinions in an age of general darkness) - which she rarely had an occasion to hear, except on the hand-organ. She confessed that she was not particularly fond of literature. Morris Townsend agreed with her that books were tiresome things; only, as he said, you had to read a good many before you found it out. He had been to places that people had written books about, and they were not a bit like the descriptions. To see for yourself- that was the great thing; he always tried to see for himself. He had seen all the principal actors - he had been to all the best theatres in London and Paris. But the actors were always like the authors- they always exaggerated. He liked every- thing to be natural. Suddenly he stopped, looking at Catherine with his smile.

'That's what I like you for; you are so natural. Excuse me,' he added; 'you see I am natural myself.'

And before she had time to think whether she excused him or not - which afterward, at leisure, she became conscious that she did - he began to talk about music, and to say that it was his greatest pleasure in life. He had heard all the great singers in Paris and London - Pasta and Rubini and Lablache - and when you had done that, you could say that you knew what singing was.

'I sing a little myself,' he said; 'some day I will show you. Not to-day, but some other time.' And then he got up to go. He had omitted, by accident, to say that he would sing to her if she would play to him. He thought of this after he got into the street; but he might have spared his compunction, for Catherine had not noticed the lapse. She was thinking only that 'some other time' had a delightful sound; it seemed to spread itself over the future.

This was all the more reason, however, though she was ashamed and uncomfortable, why she should tell her father that Mr Morris Townsend had called again. She announced the fact abruptly, almost violently, as soon as the Doctor came into the house; and having done so - it was her duty - she took measures to leave the room. But she could not leave it fast enough; her father stopped her just as she reached the door . 'Well, my dear, did he propose to you to-day?' the Doctor asked.

This was just what she had been afraid he would say; and yet she had no answer ready. Of course she would have liked to take it as a joke - as her father must have meant it; and yet she would have liked also, in denying it, to be a little positive, a little sharp, so that he would perhaps not ask the question again. She didn't like it - it made her unhappy. But Catherine could never be sharp; and for a moment she only stood, with her hand on the doorknob, looking at her satiric parent, and giving a little laugh.

'Decidedly,' said the Doctor to himself, 'my daughter is not brilliant!'

But he had no sooner made this reflection than Catherine found something; she had decided, on the whole, to take the thing as a joke.

'Perhaps he will do it the next time,' she exclaimed, with a repetition of her laugh; and she quickly got out of the room.

The Doctor stood staring; he wondered whether his daughter were serious. Catherine went straight to her own room, and by the time she reached it she bethought herself that there was something else - something better - she might have said. She almost wished, now, that her father would ask his question again, so that she might reply, 'Oh yes, Mr Morris Townsend proposed to me, and I refused him.'

The Doctor, however, began to put his questions elsewhere; it naturally having occurred to him that he ought to inform himself properly about this handsome young man, who had formed the habit of running in and out of his house. He addressed himself to the elder of his sisters, Mrs Almond - not going to her for the purpose; there was no such hurry as that; but having made a note of the matter for the first opportunity. The Doctor was never eager, never impatient or nervous; but he made notes of everything, and he regularly consulted his notes. Among them the information he obtained from Mrs Almond about Morris Townsend took its place.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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