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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 77 pages of information about On the Church Steps.

“Yes, but this time I mean to carry you away.”

A dead pause, which I improved by drawing her hand under my arm and imprisoning her little gray glove with my other hand.  As she did not speak, I went on fatuously:  “You don’t need any preparation of gowns and shawls; you can buy your trousseau in London, if need be; and we’ll settle on the ship, coming over, how and where we are to live in New York.”

“You think, then, that I am all ready to be married?”

“I think that my darling is superior to the nonsense of other girls—­that she will be herself always, and doesn’t need any masquerade of wedding finery.”

“You think, then,” coldly and drawing her hand away, “that I am different from other girls?” and the scarlet deepened on her cheek.  “You think I say and do things other girls would not?”

“My darling, what nonsense!  You say and do things that other girls cannot, nor could if they tried a thousand years.”

“Thanks for the compliment!  It has at least the merit of dubiousness.  Now, Charlie, if you mention Europe once in this walk I shall be seriously offended.  Do let us have a little peace and a quiet talk.”

“Why, what on earth can we talk about until this is settled?  I can’t go back to New York, and engage our passage, and go to see Judge Hubbard—­I suppose you were writing to him this morning?”

She did not answer, but seemed bent on making the dainty print of her foot in the moist earth of the road, taking each step carefully, as though it were the one important and engrossing thing in life.

“—­Unless,” I went on, “you tell me you will be ready to go back with me this day week.  You see, Bessie dear, I must sail on the fixed day.  And if we talk it over now and settle it all, it will save no end of writing to and fro.”

“Good-morning!” said a gay voice behind us—­Fanny Meyrick’s voice.  She was just coming out of one of the small houses on the roadside.  “Don’t you want some company?  I’ve been to call on my washerwoman, and I’m so glad I’ve met you.  Such an English morning!  Shall I walk with you?”

CHAPTER V

If I could have changed places with Fidget, I could scarce have expressed my disapproval of the new-comer more vehemently than he.  Miss Meyrick seemed quite annoyed at the little dog’s uncalled-for snapping and barking, and shook her umbrella at him in vain.  I was obliged to take him in hand myself at last, and to stand in the road and order him to “Go home!” while the two young ladies walked on, apparently the best of friends.

When I rejoined them Fanny Meyrick was talking fast and unconnectedly, as was her habit:  “Yes, lodgings in London—­the dearest old house in Clarges street.  Such a butler!  He looks like a member of Parliament.  We stayed there once before for three days.  I am just going to settle into an English girl.  Had enough of the Continent.  Never do see England now-a-days, nobody.  All rush off.  So papa is going to have a comfortable time.  Embassy?  Oh, I know the general well.”

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