Chapter 23

Washington Square - Chapter 23

If Morris Townsend was not to be included in this journey, no more was Mrs Penniman, who would have been thankful for an invitation, but who (to do her justice) bore her disappointment in a perfectly lady- like manner.' I should enjoy seeing the works of Raphael and the ruins - the ruins of the Pantheon,' she said to Mrs Almond;' but, on the other hand, I shall not be sorry to be alone and at peace for the next few months in Washington Square. I want rest; I have been through so much in the last four months.' Mrs Almond thought it rather cruel that her brother should not take poor Lavinia abroad; but she easily understood that, if the purpose of his expedition was to make Catherine forget her lover, it was not in his interest to give his daughter this young man's best friend as a companion.' If Lavinia had not been so foolish, she might visit the ruins of the Pantheon,' she said to herself; and she continued to regret her sister's folly, even though the latter assured her that she had often heard the relics in question most satisfactorily described by Mr Penniman. Mrs Penniman was perfectly aware that her brother's motive in undertaking a foreign tour was to lay a trap for Catherine's constancy; and she imparted this conviction very frankly to her niece.

'He thinks it will make you forget Morris,' she said (she always called the young man' Morris' now):' out of sight, out of mind, you know. He thinks that all the things you will see over there will drive him out of your thoughts.'

Catherine looked greatly alarmed.' If he thinks that, I ought to tell him beforehand.'

Mrs Penniman shook her head.' Tell him afterward, my dear - after he has had all the trouble and expense. That's the way to serve him.' And she added, in a softer key, that it must be delightful to think of those who love us among the ruins of the Pantheon.

Her father's displeasure had cost the girl, as we know, a great deal of deep-welling sorrow - sorrow of the purest and most generous kind, without a touch of resentment or rancor; but for the first time, after he had dismissed with such contemptuous brevity her apology for being a charge upon him, there was a spark of anger in her grief. She had felt his contempt; it had scorched her; that speech about her bad taste had made her ears bum for three days. During this period she was less considerate; she had an idea - a rather vague one, but it was agreeable to her sense of injury - that now she was absolved from penance, and might do what she chose. She chose to write to Morris Townsend to meet her in the Square and take her to walk about the town. If she were going to Europe out of respect to her father, she might at least give herself this satisfaction. She felt in every way at present more free and more resolute; there was a force that urged her. Now at last, completely and unreservedly, her passion possessed her.

Morris met her at last, and they took a long walk. She told him immediately what had happened; that her father wished to take her away - it would be for six months - to Europe; she would do absolutely what Morris should think best. She hoped inexpressibly that he would think it best she should stay at home. It was some time before he said what he thought; he asked, as they walked along, a great many questions. There was one that especially struck her; it seemed so incongruous.

'Should you like to see all those celebrated things over there?'

'Oh no, Morris!' said Catherine, quite deprecatingly.

'Gracious Heaven, what a dull woman!' Morris exclaimed to himself.

'He thinks I will forget you,' said Catherine;' that all these things will drive you out of my mind.'

'Well, my dear, perhaps they will.'

'Please don't say that,' Catherine answered, gently, as they walked along.' Poor father will be disappointed.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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