Scenes of Clerical Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 425 pages of information about Scenes of Clerical Life.
the Baronet, of whom every one at the Manor stood in awe, frightened her so much that she thought it would be impossible to resist his wish.  He believed that she loved Maynard; he had always spoken as if he were quite sure of it.  How could she tell him he was deceived—­and what if he were to ask her whether she loved anybody else?  To have Sir Christopher looking angrily at her, was more than she could bear, even in imagination.  He had always been so good to her!  Then she began to think of the pain she might give him, and the more selfish distress of fear gave way to the distress of affection.  Unselfish tears began to flow, and sorrowful gratitude to Sir Christopher helped to awaken her sensibility to Mr. Gilfil’s tenderness and generosity.

’Dear, good Maynard!—­what a poor return I make him!  If I could but have loved him instead—­but I can never love or care for anything again.  My heart is broken.’

Chapter 13

The next morning the dreaded moment came.  Caterina, stupified by the suffering of the previous night, with that dull mental aching which follows on acute anguish, was in Lady Cheverel’s sitting-room, copying out some charity lists, when her ladyship came in, and said,—­’Tina, Sir Christopher wants you; go down into the library.’

She went down trembling.  As soon as she entered, Sir Christopher, who was seated near his writing-table, said, ’Now, little monkey, come and sit down by me; I have something to tell you.’

Caterina took a footstool, and seated herself on it at the Baronet’s feet.  It was her habit to sit on these low stools, and in this way she could hide her face better.  She put her little arm round his leg, and leaned her cheek against his knee.

‘Why, you seem out of spirits this morning, Tina.  What’s the matter, eh?’

‘Nothing, Padroncello; only my head is bad.’

’Poor monkey!  Well, now, wouldn’t it do the head good if I were to promise you a good husband, and smart little wedding-gowns, and by-and-by a house of your own, where you would be a little mistress, and Padroncello would come and see you sometimes?’

’O no, no!  I shouldn’t like ever to be married.  Let me always stay with you!’

’Pooh, pooh, little simpleton.  I shall get old and tiresome, and there will be Anthony’s children putting your nose out of joint.  You will want some one to love you best of all, and you must have children of your own to love.  I can’t have you withering away into an old maid.  I hate old maids:  they make me dismal to look at them.  I never see Sharp without shuddering.  My little black-eyed monkey was never meant for anything so ugly.  And there’s Maynard Gilfil the best man in the county, worth his weight in gold, heavy as he is; he loves you better than his eyes.  And you love him too, you silly monkey, whatever you may say about not being married.’

‘No, no, dear Padroncello, do not say so; I could not marry him.’

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Scenes of Clerical Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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