'So cold - so irresponsive.'
The girl turned very quickly. 'Did he say that?'
Mrs Penniman hesitated a moment. 'I will tell you what he said. He said he feared only one thing - that you would be afraid.'
'Afraid of what?'
'Afraid of your father.'
Catherine turned back to the fire again, and then, after a pause, she said, 'I am afraid of my father.'
Mrs Penniman got quickly up from her chair and approached her niece. 'Do you mean to give him up, then?'
Catherine for some time never moved; she kept her eyes on the coals. At last she raised her head and looked at her aunt. 'Why do you push me so?' she asked.
'I don't push you. When have I spoken to you before?'
'It seems to me that you have spoken to me several times.'
'I am afraid it is necessary, then, Catherine,' said Mrs Penniman, with a good deal of solemnity. 'I am afraid you don't feel the importance' -she paused a little; Catherine was looking at her - 'the importance of not disappointing that gallant young heart' And Mrs Penniman went back to her chair by the lamp, and, with a little jerk, picked up the evening paper again.
Catherine stood there before the fire, with her hands behind her, looking at her aunt, to whom it seemed that the girl had never had just this dark fixedness in her gaze. 'I don't think you understand or that you know me,' she said.
'If I don't, it is not wonderful; you trust me so little.' Catherine made no attempt to deny this charge, and for some
time more nothing was said. But Mrs Penniman's imagination was restless, and the evening paper failed on this occasion to enchain it.
'If you succumb to the dread of your father's wrath,' she said, 'I don't know what will become of us.'
'Did he tell you to say these things to me?' 'He told me to use my influence.'
'You must be mistaken,' said Catherine. 'He trusts me.'
'I hope he may never repent of it' And Mrs Penniman gave a little sharp slap to her newspaper. She knew not what to make of her niece, who had suddenly become stern and contradictious.
This tendency on Catherine's part was presently even more apparent. 'You had much better not make any more appointments with Mr Townsend,' she said. 'I don't think it is right.'
Mrs Penniman rose with considerable majesty. 'My poor child, are you jealous of me?' she inquired.
'Oh, Aunt Lavinia!' murmured Catherine, blushing.
'I don't think it is your place to teach me what is right.'
On this point Catherine made no concession. 'It can't be right to deceive.'
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