“’From some words you have dropped, I fancy you are not quite satisfied with brother’s choice—that Miss Worthington does not suit you in all respects, and you wish me to see her. Dear mother, John marries for himself, not for us. I have got so I can drive myself out in the little pony phaeton which Miss Johnson was so kind as to leave for my benefit. Darling Alice, how much I miss her. She always did me good in more ways than one. She found the germ of faith which I did not know I possessed. She encouraged me to go on. She told me of Him who will not break the bruised reed. She left me, as I trust, a better woman than she found me. Precious Alice! how I loved her. Oh, if she could have fancied John, as at one time I hoped she would.’
(Second note by ’Lina.) “How
that made me gnash my teeth, for I had
suspected that I was only playing second fiddle for Alice Johnson,
‘darling, precious Alice,’ as Anna calls her.”
“Oh, I am so glad Alice didn’t read this letter,” Mrs. Worthington cried, while something which sounded much like a bit of an oath dropped from Hugh’s white lips, and then he continued:
“’When will you come? Asenath has sent the curtains in the north chamber to the laundress, but will go no farther until we hear for certain that Miss Worthington is to be our guest. Write immediately.
“’Remember me to John and Miss W——.
“’P.S.—I still continue to be annoyed with women answering that advertisement. Sometimes I’m half sorry I put it in the paper, though if the right one ever comes, I shall think there was a Providence in it.’
“Mother, I am resolved now to win Dr. Richards at all hazards. Only let me keep up the appearance of wealth, and the thing is easily accomplished; but I can’t go to Terrace Hill yet, cannot meet this Anna, for, kindly as she spoke of me, I dread her decision more than all the rest, inasmuch as I know it would have more weight with the doctor.
“But to come back to the madam, showing her point-lace cap at dinner, and telling Mrs. ex-Governor Somebody how Miss Worthington had a severe headache. I was fast asleep when she returned. Had not read Anna’s letter, nor anything! You should have seen her face when I told her I had changed my mind, that I could not go to Terrace Hill, that mamma (that’s you!) did not think it would be proper, inasmuch as I had no claim upon them. You see, I made her believe I had written to you on the subject, receiving a reply that you disapproved of my going, and Brother Hugh, too, I quote him a heap, making madam laugh till she cried with repeating his odd speeches, she does so want to see that eccentric Hugh, she says.”
Another groan from Mrs. Worthington, another something like an oath from that eccentric Hugh, and he went on: