Fated to Be Free eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 584 pages of information about Fated to Be Free.

“It appears that he did, some time ago” said Brandon, rather pointedly.

“Does any one else know,” Laura asked, “but you?”

“Yes; John Mortimer does.”

Laura blushed deeply.

“Joseph told him first about this affair, but did not divulge the lady’s name.  After all was settled, he acknowledged to us both that you were the lady.  John was very glad that I was willing personally to give the letters into your own hands again.”

“I suppose he thought I had been very imprudent?”

Brandon recalled the scene.  John had in fact expressed himself to that effect in no measured terms; but he had been pleasant and even cordial to Joseph, partly because the young man declared the thing to be quite over, partly because he did him the justice to remember that such an acquaintance must always have been begun by the woman.  It could not possibly be Joe’s doing that he had corresponded with Laura Melcombe.

Laura repeated her words.

“I suppose he thought I had been very imprudent?”

“Perhaps he did.”

“Perhaps he thought I had been heartless too?”

“Not to bring the thing to a decided and honourable termination?—­yes, probably.  He remarked that it certainly was most unnecessary to have behaved as you have done.”

“How so, Mr. Brandon?”

“I believe, indeed I am sure, that you are of age?”

“Yes, I am.  He meant that no one can really prevent my doing as I please; but Amelia wanted me to ignore the whole thing because she was so ashamed of him and his people.”

“He told John so.”

“And what did he answer?”

“Among other things, he said he was glad it was all over.”

“Yes,” said Laura, not in the least impressed by this hint, “but what else?”

“He said, ’Joe, you ought to have been above wanting to marry any woman who was ashamed of you.  I wouldn’t do such a thing on any account.’”

“He said that?” cried Laura, rather startled.

“Yes, and I quite agreed with him—­I told Joe that I did.”

“Did he say anything more?”

Brandon hesitated, and at length, finding that she would wait till he spoke, he said—­

“He told Joe he ought to be thankful to have the thing over, and said that he had come out of it well, and the lady had not.”

“Amelia is not half so unkind as you are,” said Laura, when she had made him say this, and a quiet tear stole down her cheek and dropped on her hand.

“Pardon me!  I think that for myself I have expressed no opinion but this one, that Joe Swan deserves your respect for the manly care he has taken to shield you from blame, spare you anxiety, and terminate the matter properly.”

“Terminate!” repeated Laura; “yes, that is where you are so unkind.”

“Am I expected to help her to bring it on again?” thought Brandon.  “No; I have a great respect for fools, and they must marry like other people; but oh, Joey, Joey Swan, if you are one, which I thought you the other day (and the soul of honour too!), I think if you still cared about it, you could soon get yourself mated with a greater one still!  Laura Melcombe would be at least a fair match for you in that particular.  But no, Joey, I decline to interfere any further.”

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Fated to Be Free from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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