“Your cousin is still there. You must be longing to see her.”

“No—not much.”

“You want to invite her to spend another evening?”

“No. I suppose she still talks about being married?”

“Not to any one you care for.”

“But of course she still thinks of Dr. Bretton? She cannot have changed her mind on that point, because it was so fixed two months ago.”

“Why, you know, it does not matter. You saw the terms on which they stood.”

“There was a little misunderstanding that evening certainly. Does she seem unhappy?”

“Not she. To change the subject—have you heard or seen nothing of or from Graham during your absence?”

“Papa had letters from him once or twice about business, I think. He undertook the management of some affair which required attention, while we were away. Dr. Bretton seems to respect papa, and to have pleasure in obliging him.”

“Yes. You met him yesterday on the boulevard. You would be able to judge from his aspect that his friends need not be painfully anxious about his health?”

“Papa seems to have thought with you. I could not help smiling. He is not particularly observant, you know, because he is often thinking of other things than what pass before his eyes; but he said, as Dr. Bretton rode away, ‘Really it does a man good to see the spirit and energy of that boy.’ He called Dr. Bretton a boy. I believe he almost thinks him so, just as he thinks me a little girl. He was not speaking to me, but dropped that remark to himself. Lucy——”

Again fell the appealing accent, and at the same instant she left her chair, and came and sat on the stool at my feet.

I liked her. It is not a declaration I have often made concerning my acquaintance in the course of this book; the reader will bear with it for once. Intimate intercourse, close inspection, disclosed in Paulina only what was delicate, intelligent, and sincere; therefore my regard for her lay deep. An admiration more superficial might have been more demonstrative; mine, however, was quiet.

“What have you to ask of Lucy?” said I. “Be brave, and speak out.”

But there was no courage in her eye. As it met mine, it fell. And there was no coolness on her cheek, not a transient surface-blush, but a gathering inward excitement raised its tint and its temperature.

“Lucy, I do wish to know your thoughts of Dr. Bretton. Do—do give me your real opinion of his character, his disposition.”

“His character stands high, and deservedly high.”

“And his disposition? Tell me about his disposition,” she urged; “you know him well.”

“I know him pretty well.”

“You know his home side. You have seen him with his mother. Speak of him as a son.”

“He is a fine-hearted son, his mother’s comfort and hope, her pride and pleasure.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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