“I have spoken to her about it,” she said, “and although she blazed up at first, so that I thought I should be burned alive, I made her understand just how matters really are, and she has agreed to let you stay here as a boarder.”
“You are extremely good,” said Lawrence, “and must be a most admirable manager. This arrangement makes me feel much better satisfied than I could have been, otherwise.” Then leaning a little further out of the window, he asked: “But what am I to do for company, while I am shut up here?”
“Oh, you will have Uncle Isham, and Aunt Keswick, and sometimes me. But I hope that you will soon be able to come into the house, and take your meals, and spend your evenings with us.”
“You have nothing but good wishes for me,” he said, “and I believe, if you could manage it, you would have me cured by magic, and sent off, well and whole, to-morrow.”
“Of course,” said Miss Annie, very promptly. “Good night.”
Just before supper, Mrs Keswick came in to see Lawrence. She was very grave, almost severe, and her conversation was confined to inquiries as to the state of his ankle, and his general comfort. But Lawrence took no offence at her manner, and was very gracious, saying some exceedingly neat things about the way he had been treated; and, after a little, her manner slightly mollified, and she remarked: “And so you let Miss March go away, without settling anything.”
Now Lawrence considered this a very incorrect statement, but he had no wish to set the old lady right. He knew it would joy her heart, and make her more his friend than, ever if he should tell her that Miss March had accepted him, but this would be a very dangerous piece of information to put in her hands. He did not know what use she would make of it, or what damage she might unwittingly do to his prospects. And so he merely answered: “I had no idea she would leave so soon.”
“Well,” said the old lady, “I suppose, after all, that you needn’t give it up yet. I understand that she is not going to New York before the end of the month, and you may be well enough before that to ride over to Midbranch.”
“I hope so, most assuredly,” said he.
Lawrence devoted that evening to his letter. It was a long one, and was written with a most earnest desire to embrace all the merits of each of the two kinds of letters, which have before been alluded to, and to avoid all their faults. When it was finished, he read it, tore it up, and threw it in the fire.