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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 617 pages of information about John Caldigate.
of this young man; and when he spoke of his desire to be explicit, she thought that he had better be explicit anywhere rather than in her drawing-room.  ’You may remember,’ he said, ’that I had the pleasure of meeting your daughter here before I left the country five years ago.’  Then she listened with all her ears.  There were not many things in this empty, vain, hard unattractive world which excited her.  But the one thing in regard to which she had hopes and fears, doubts and resolutions,—­the one matter as to which she knew that she must ever be on her guard, and yet as to which she hardly knew how she was to exercise her care,—­was her child.  ’And once I have seen her since I have been back, though only for a moment.’  Then he paused as though expecting that she should say something;—­but what was it possible that she should say?  She only looked at him with all her eyes, and retreated a little from him with her body, as anxious to get away from a man of his class who should dare even to speak to her of her girl.  ’The truth is, Mrs. Bolton, that her image has been present to me through all my wanderings, and I am here to ask her to be my wife.’  She rose from her chair as though to fly from him,—­and then sitting down again stared at him with her mouth open and her eyes fixed upon him.  His wife!  Her Hester to become the wife of such a one as that!  Her girl, as to whom, when thinking of the future life of her darling, she had come to tell herself that there could be no man good enough, pure enough, true enough, firm enough in his faith and life, to have so tender, so inestimable a treasure committed to his charge!

Chapter XVIII

Robert Bolton

Caldigate felt at the moment that he had been very abrupt,—­so abrupt as to have caused infinite dismay.  But then it had been necessary that he should be abrupt in order that he might get the matter understood.  The ordinary approaches were not open to him, and unless he had taken a more than usually rapid advantage of the occasion which he had made for himself, he would have had to leave the house without having been able to give any of its inmates the least idea of his purpose.  And then,—­as he said to himself,—­matrimony is honest.  He was in all worldly respects a fit match for the young lady.  To his own thinking there was nothing preposterous in the nature of his request, though it might have been made with some precipitate informality.  He did not regard himself exactly as the lady regarded him, and therefore, though he saw her surprise, he still hoped that he might be able to convince her that in all that he was doing he was as anxious for the welfare of her child as she could be herself.

She sat there so long without saying a word that he found himself obliged to renew his suit.  ’Of course, Mrs. Bolton, I am aware how very little you know of me.’

‘Nothing at all,’ she answered, hurriedly;—­’or rather too much.’

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