“Look at those ladies,” said Mr. Cecil Burleigh, suddenly breaking off his talk with Julia to speak to Bessie; “that is the proper yachting costume. You must have one before you come to Ryde in the Foam again.”
Bessie blushed; perhaps he had been ashamed of her. This was a most afflicting, humiliating notion. She was delighted to see the boat from the yacht waiting to take her off. She had imagined her own dress both pretty and becoming—she knew that it had cost her months of patient embroidering. Poor Bessie! she had much to learn yet of the fitness of things, and of things in their right places. Miss Gardiner treated her as very young, and only spoke to her of her school, from which she was newly but fully and for ever emancipated. Incidentally, Bessie learned a bit of news concerning one of her early comrades there. “Ada Hiloe was at Madame Fournier’s at Caen. Was it in your time? Did you know her?” she was asked, and when she said that she did, Mr. Cecil Burleigh added for information that the young lady was going to be married; so he had heard in Paris from Mr. Chiverton. Julia instantly cried out, “Indeed! to whom?”
“To Mr. Chiverton himself.”
“That horrid old man! Oh, can it be true?”
“He is very rich,” was the quiet rejoinder, and both lapsed into silence, until they had parted with their young companion.
Mr. Cecil Burleigh carefully enveloped Bessie in a cloak, Miss Gardiner watching them. Then he bade her good-bye, with a reference to the probability of his seeing her again soon at Abbotsmead. It was a gracious good-bye, and effaced her slight discomfiture about her dress. It even left her under the agreeable impression that he liked her in a friendly way, his abrupt dicta on costume notwithstanding. A certain amount of approbation from without was essential to Bessie’s inner peace. As the boat rowed off she waved her hand with rosy benignity to the two looking after her departure. Mr. Cecil Burleigh raised his hat, and they moved away.
A LITTLE CHAPTER BY THE WAY.
It must not be dissimulated what very dear friends Mr. Cecil Burleigh and Miss Julia Gardiner were. They had known and loved one another for six years as neither was ever likely to love again. They had been long of convincing that a marriage was impossible between two such poor young people—the one ambitious, the other fond of pleasure. They suited to a nicety in character, in tastes, but they were agreed, at last, that there must be an end to their philandering. No engagement had ever been acknowledged. The young lady’s parents had been indulgent to their constant affection so long as there was hope, and it was a fact generally recognized by Miss Julia Gardiner’s friends that she cared very much for Mr. Cecil Burleigh, because she had refused two eligible offers—splendid offers for a girl in her position. A third was now open to her, and without being urgent or unkind her mother sincerely wished that she would accept it. Since the morning she had made up her mind to do so.