The Claverings eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about The Claverings.

Chapter XLVI

Showing How Mrs. Burton Fought Her Battle

“Florence, I have been to Bolton Street, and I have seen Lady Ongar.”  Those were the first words which Cecilia Burton spoke to her sister-in-law, when she found Florence in the drawing-room on her return from the visit which she had made to the countess.  Florence had still before her the desk on which she had been writing; and the letter in its envelope, addressed to Mrs. Clavering, but as yet unclosed, was lying beneath her blotting-paper.  Florence, who had never dreamed of such an undertaking on Cecilia’s part, was astounded at the tidings which she heard.  Of course her first effort was made to learn from her sister’s tone and countenance what had been the result of this interview; but she could learn nothing from either.  There was no radiance as of joy in Mrs. Burton’s face, nor was there written there anything of despair.  Her voice was serious and almost solemn, and her manner was very grave, but that was all.  “You have seen her?” said Florence, rising up from her chair.

“Yes, dear, I may have done wrong.  Theodore, I know, will say so.  But I thought it best to try to learn the truth before you wrote to Mrs. Clavering.”

“And what is the truth?  But perhaps you have not learned it.”

“I think I have learned all that she could tell me.  She has been very frank.”

“Well, what is the truth?  Do not suppose, dearest, that I can not bear it.  I hope for nothing now.  I only want to have this settled, that I may be at rest.”

Upon this Mrs. Burton took the suffering girl in her arms and caressed her tenderly.  “My love,” said she, “it is not easy for us to be at rest.  You can not be at rest as yet.”

“I can.  I will be so, when I know that this is settled.  I do not wish to interfere with his fortune.  There is my letter to his mother, and now I will go back to Stratton.”

“Not yet, dearest, not yet,” said Mrs. Burton, taking the letter in her hand, but refraining from withdrawing it at once from the envelope.  “You must hear what I have heard to-day.”

“Does she say that she loves him?”

“Ah! yes—­she loves him.  We must not doubt that.”

“And he—­what does she say of him?”

“She says what you also must say, Florence, though it is hard that it should be so.  It must be as he shall decide.”

“No.” said Florence, withdrawing herself from the arm that was still around her, “no, it shall not be as he may choose to decide.  I will not so submit myself to him.  It is enough as it is.  I will never see him more—­never.  To say that I do not love him would be untrue, but I will never see him again.”

“Stop, dear, stop.  What if it be no fault of his?”

“No fault of his that he went to her when we—­we—­we—­he and I—­were, as we were, together!”

“Of course there has been some fault; but Flo, dearest, listen to me.  You know that I would ask you to do nothing from which a woman should shrink.”

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The Claverings from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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