“Oh, Nellie, I wish you would marry Mr. Brotherton yourself. Your appreciation of his merits is far higher than mine.”
“If I were in your place I would not use him as you do: it is a shame, Julia.”
“It is not you who are sentenced to be buried alive, Nellie. I dare not look forward: I dread it more and more—”
“Of course. That is the effect of Cecil’s ill-judged visit and Mary Burleigh’s foolish letter. Pray, don’t say so to mamma; it would be enough to lay her up for a week.”
Julia shut her eyes and sighed greatly. “Fashionable marriages are advertised with the tag of ‘no cards;’ you will have to announce mine as ‘under chloroform.’ Nellie, I never can go through with it,” was her cry.
“Oh, Julia,” remonstrated her sister, “don’t say that. If you throw over Mr. Brotherton, half our friends will turn their backs upon us. We have been wretchedly poor, but we have always been well thought of.”
Miss Julia Gardiner’s brief joy passed in a thunder-shower of passionate tears.
It was not intended that the rebuff Mr. Cecil Burleigh had received from Miss Fairfax should be generally known even by his friends, but it transpired nevertheless, and was whispered as a secret in various Norminster circles. Buller heard it, but was incredulous when he saw the new member in his visual spirits; Mrs. Stokes guessed it, and was astonished; Lady Angleby wrote about it to Lady Latimer with a petition for advice, though why Lady Latimer should be regarded as specially qualified to advise in affairs of the heart was a mystery. She was not backward, however, in responding to the request: Let Mr. Cecil Burleigh hold himself in reserve until Miss Julia Gardiner’s marriage was an accomplished fact, and then let him come forward again. Miss Fairfax had behaved naturally under the circumstances, and Lady Latimer could not blame her. When the young lady came to Fairfield in the spring, according to her grandfather’s pledge, Mr. Cecil Burleigh should have the opportunity of meeting her there, but meanwhile he ought not entirely to give up calling at Abbotsmead. This Mr. Cecil Burleigh could not do without affronting his generous old friend—to whom Bessie gave no confidence, none being sought—but he timed his first visit during her temporary absence, and she heard of it as ordinary news on her return.
A VISIT TO CASTLEMOUNT.
Bessie Fairfax had been but a few days at home after the Brentwood rejoicings when there came for her an invitation from Mrs. Chiverton to spend a week at Castlemount. She was perfectly ready to go—more ready to go than her grandfather was to part with her. She read him the letter at breakfast; he said he would think about it, and at luncheon he had not yet made up his mind. Before post-time, however, he supposed he must let her choose her own associates, and if she chose Mrs. Chiverton for old acquaintance’ sake, he would not refuse his consent, but Mr. Chiverton and he were not on intimate terms.