'You are a dear, faithful child,' he said, at last.'Come here to your father.' And he got up, holding out his hands toward her.
The words were a surprise, and they gave her an exquisite joy. She went to him, and he put his arm round her tenderly, soothingly; and then he kissed her. After this he said,
'Do you wish to make me very happy?'
'I should like to - but I am afraid I can't,' Catherine answered.'You can if you will. It all depends on your will.''Is it to give him up?' said Catherine.'Yes, it is to give him up.'
And he held her still, with the same tenderness, looking into her face and resting his eyes on her averted eyes. There was along silence; she wished he would release her.
'You are happier than I, father' she said, at last.
'I have no doubt you are unhappy just now. But it is better to be unhappy for three months and get over it, than for many years and never get over it.'
'Yes, if that were so,' said Catherine.
'It would be so; I am sure of that.' She answered nothing, and he went on:'Have you no faith in my wisdom, in my tenderness, in my solicitude for your future?'
'Oh, father!' murmured the girl.
'Don't you suppose that I know something of men - their vices, their follies, their falsities?'
She detached herself, and turned upon him.'He is not vicious - he is not false!'
Her father kept looking at her with his sharp, pure eye.'You make nothing of my judgment, then?'
'I can't believe that!'
'I don't ask you to believe it, but to take it on trust.'
'Catherine was far from saying to herself that this was an ingenious sophism; but she met the appeal none the less squarely.'What has he done - what do you know?'
'He has never done anything - he is a selfish idler.'
'Oh, father, don't abuse him!' she exclaimed, pleadingly.
'I don't mean to abuse him; it would be a great mistake. You may do as you choose,' he added, turning away.
'I may see him again?''Just as you choose.'
'Will you forgive me?''By no means.'
'It will only be for once.'
'I don't know what you mean by once. You must either give him up or continue the acquaintance.'
'I wish to explain - to tell him to wait.''To wait for what?'
'Till you know him better - till you consent.'
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