The whole of the following day was at his service to walk and talk with Bessie if he and she pleased, but Bessie invited Miss Burleigh into her private parlor and went into seclusion. That was after breakfast, and Mr. Cecil made a tour of the stables with the squire, and saw Janey take her morning gallop. Then he spoke in praise of Janey’s mistress while on board the Foam, and with all the enthusiasm at his command of his own hopes. They had not become expectations yet.
“It is uphill work with Elizabeth,” said her grandfather. “She cares for none of us here.”
“The harder to win the more constant to keep,” replied the aspirant suitor cheerfully.
“I shall put no pressure on her. Here is your opportunity, and you must rely on yourself. She has a heart for those who can reach it, but my efforts have fallen short thus far.” This was not what the squire had once thought to say.
Mr. Cecil Burleigh did not admire gushing, demonstrative women, and a gushing wife would have wearied him inexpressibly. He felt an attraction in Bessie’s aloofness, and said again, “She is worth the pains she will cost to win: a few years will mature her fine intelligence and make of her a perfect companion. I admire her courageous simplicity; there is a great deal in her character to work upon.”
“She is no cipher, certainly; if you are satisfied, I am,” said Mr. Fairfax resignedly. “Yet it is not flattering to think that she would toss up her cap to go back to the Forest to-morrow.”
“Then she is loyal in affection to very worthy people. I have heard of her Forest friends from Lady Latimer.”
“Lady Latimer has a great hold on Elizabeth’s imagination. It would be a good thing if she were to pay a visit to Hartwell; she might give her young devotee some valuable instructions. Elizabeth is prejudiced against me, and does not fall into her new condition so happily as I was led to anticipate that she might.”
“She will wear to it. My sister Mary has an art of taming, and will help her. I prefer her indifference to an undue elation: that would argue a commonness of mind from which I imagine her to be quite free.”
“She has her own way of estimating us, and treats the state and luxury of Abbotsmead as quite external to her. In her private thoughts, I fear, she treats them as cumbrous lendings that she will throw off after a season, and be gladly quit of their burden.”