Chapter 20

Washington Square - Chapter 20

On the morrow, in the afternoon, she heard his voice at the door, and his step in the hall. She received him in the big, bright front-parlor, and she instructed the servant that, if anyone should call, she was particularly engaged. She was not afraid of her father's coming in, for at that hour he was always driving about town. When Morris stood there before her, the first thing that she was conscious of was that he was even more beautiful to look at than fond recollection had painted him; the next was that he had pressed her in his arms. When she was free again it appeared to her that she had now indeed thrown herself into the gulf of defiance, and even, for an instant, that she had been married to him.

He told her that she had been very cruel, and had made him very unhappy; and Catherine felt acutely the difficulty of her destiny, which forced her to give pain in such opposite quarters. But she wished that, instead of reproaches, however tender, he would give her help; he was certainly wise enough and clever enough to invent some issue from their troubles. She expressed this belief, and Morris received the assurance as if he thought it natural; but he interrogated at first - as was natural too - rather than committed himself to marking out a course.

'You should not have made me wait so long,' he said. 'I don't know how I have been living; every hour seemed like years. You should have decided sooner.'

'Decided?' Catherine asked.' Decided whether you would keep me or give me up.'

'Oh, Morris,' she cried, with along, tender murmur,' I never thought of giving you up!'

'What, then, were you waiting for?' The young man was ardently logical.

'I thought my father might - might - ' and she hesitated.

'Might see how unhappy you were?'

'Oh no. But that he might look at it differently.'

'And now you have sent for me to tell me that at last he does so. Is that it?'

This hypothetical optimism gave the poor girl a pang. 'No, Morris,' she said, solemnly, 'he looks at it still in the same way.'

'Then why have you sent for me?'

'Because I wanted to see you,' cried Catherine, piteously.'

'That's an excellent reason, surely. But did you want to look at me only? Have you nothing to tell me?'

His beautiful persuasive eyes were fixed upon her face, and she wondered what answer would be noble enough to make to such a gaze as that. For a moment her own eyes took it in, and then -' I did want to look at you,' she said, gently. But after this speech, most inconsistently, she hid her face.

Morris watched her for a moment attentively.' Will you marry me to-morrow?' he asked, suddenly.


'Next week, then - any time within a month?'

'Isn't it better to wait?' said Catherine.' To wait for what?'

She hardly knew for what; but this tremendous leap alarmed her.' Till we have thought about it a little more.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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