Catherine listened for her father when he came in that evening, and she heard him go to his study. She sat quiet, though her heart was beating fast, for nearly half an hour; then she went and knocked at his door - a ceremony without which she never crossed the threshold of this apartment. on entering it now, she found him in his chair beside the fire, entertaining himself with a cigar and the evening paper.
'I have something to say to you,' she began very gently; and she sat down in the first place that offered.
'I shall be very happy to hear it, my dear,' said her father. He waited - waited, looking at her - while she stared, in along silence, at the fire. He was curious and impatient, for he was sure she was going to speak of Morris Townsend; but he let her take her own time, for he was determined to be very mild.
'I am engaged to be married!' Catherine announced at last, still staring at the fire.
The Doctor was startled; the accomplished fact was more than he had expected; but he betrayed no surprise. 'You do right to tell me,' he simply said. ' And who is the happy mortal whom you have honored with your choice?'
'Mr Morris Townsend.' And as she pronounced her lover's name Catherine looked at him. What she saw was her father's still gray eye and his clear-cut, definite smile. She contemplated these objects for a moment, and then she looked back at the fire; it was much warmer.
'When was this arrangement made?' the Doctor asked. 'This afternoon - two hours ago.'
'Was Mr Townsend here?'
'Yes, father; in the front-parlor.' She was very glad that she was not obliged to tell him that the ceremony of their betrothal had taken place out there under the bare ailantus-trees.
'Is it serious?' said the Doctor.
'Very serious, father.' Her father was silent a moment.
'Mr Townsend ought to have told me.'
'He means to tell you to-morrow.'
'After I know all about it from you? He ought to have told me before. Does he think I didn't care, because I left you so much liberty?'
'Oh no,' said Catherine; 'he knew you would care. And we have been so much obliged to you for - for the liberty.'
The Doctor gave a short laugh. 'You might have made a better use of it, Catherine.'
'Please don't say that, father!' the girl urged, softly, fixing her dull and gentle eyes upon him.
He puffed his cigar awhile, meditatively. 'You have gone very fast,' he said, at last.
'Yes,' Catherine answered, simply; 'I think we have.'
Her father glanced at her an instant, removing his eyes from the fire. 'I don't wonder Mr Townsend likes you; you are so simple and so good.'
'I don't know why it is; but he does like me. I am sure of that.'
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