We Quarrel

During the first days of my stay at the Terrace, Graham never took a seat near me, or in his frequent pacing of the room approached the quarter where I sat, or looked preoccupied, or more grave than usual, but I thought of Miss Fanshawe, and expected her name to leap from his lips. I kept my ear and mind in perpetual readiness for the tender theme; my patience was ordered to be permanently under arms, and my sympathy desired to keep its cornucopia replenished and ready for outpouring. At last, and after a little inward struggle which I saw and respected, he one day launched into the topic. It was introduced delicately, anonymously, as it were.

“Your friend is spending her vacation in travelling, I hear?”

“Friend, forsooth!” thought I to myself. But it would not do to contradict. He must have his own way. I must own the soft impeachment. Friend let it be. Still, by way of experiment, I could not help asking whom he meant.

He had taken a seat at my work-table. He now laid hands on a reel of thread, which he proceeded recklessly to unwind.

“Ginevra—Miss Fanshawe—has accompanied the Cholmondeleys on a tour through the south of France?”

“She has.”

“Do you and she correspond?”

“It will astonish you to hear that I never once thought of making application for that privilege.”

“You have seen letters of her writing?”

“Yes—several to her uncle.”

“They will not be deficient in wit and naïvete—there is so much sparkle and so little art in her soul.”

“She writes comprehensively enough when she writes to M. de Bassompierre. He who runs may read.” (In fact, Ginevra’s epistles to her wealthy kinsman were commonly business documents, unequivocal applications for cash.)

“And her handwriting? It must be pretty, light, ladylike, I should think?”

It was, and I said so.

“I verily believe that all she does is well done,” said Dr. John; and as I seemed in no hurry to chime in with this remark, he added, “You, who know her—could you name a point in which she is deficient?”

“She does several things very well.” (“Flirtation amongst the rest,” subjoined I, in thought.)

“When do you suppose she will return to town?” he soon inquired.

“Pardon me, Dr. John; I must explain. You honour me too much in ascribing to me a degree of intimacy with Miss Fanshawe I have not the felicity to enjoy. I have never been the depositary of her plans and secrets. You will find her particular friends in another sphere than mine—amongst the Cholmondeleys, for instance.”

He actually thought I was stung with a kind of jealous pain similar to his own! “Excuse her,” he said. “Judge her indulgently. The glitter of fashion misleads her; but she will soon find out that these people are hollow, and will return to you with augmented attachment and confirmed trust. I know something of the Cholmondeleys—superficial, showy, selfish people. Depend on it, at heart Ginevra values you beyond a score of such.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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