“Is it because—?” He paused, hardly knowing what the question was which he proposed to himself to ask.
“It is for no because,—for no cause except that simple one which should make any girl refuse any man whom she did not love. Mr. Finn, I could say pleasant things to you on any other subject than this,—because I like you.”
“I know that I have nothing to justify my suit.”
“You have everything to justify it;—at least I am bound to presume that you have. If you love me,—you are justified.”
“You know that I love you.”
“I am sorry that it should ever have been so,—very sorry. I can only hope that I have not been in fault.”
“Will you try to love me?”
“No;—why should I try? If any trying were necessary, I would try rather not to love you. Why should I try to do that which would displease everybody belonging to me? For yourself, I admit your right to address me,—and tell you frankly that it would not be in vain, if I loved you. But I tell you as frankly that such a marriage would not please those whom I am bound to try to please.”
He paused a moment before he spoke further. “I shall wait,” he said, “and come again.”
“What am I to say to that? Do not tease me, so that I be driven to treat you with lack of courtesy. Lady Laura is so much attached to you, and Mr. Kennedy, and Lord Brentford,—and indeed I may say, I myself also, that I trust there may be nothing to mar our good fellowship. Come, Mr. Finn,—say that you will take an answer, and I will give you my hand.”
“Give it me,” said he. She gave him her hand, and he put it up to his lips and pressed it. “I will wait and come again,” he said. “I will assuredly come again.” Then he turned from her and went out of the house. At the corner of the square he saw Lady Laura’s carriage, but did not stop to speak to her. And she also saw him.
“So you have had a visitor here,” said Lady Laura to Violet.
“Yes;—I have been caught in the trap.”
“Poor mouse! And has the cat made a meal of you?”
“I fancy he has, after his fashion. There be cats that eat their mice without playing,—and cats that play with their mice, and then eat them; and cats again which only play with their mice, and don’t care to eat them. Mr. Finn is a cat of the latter kind, and has had his afternoon’s diversion.”
“You wrong him there.”
“I think not, Laura. I do not mean to say that he would not have liked me to accept him. But, if I can see inside his bosom, such a little job as that he has now done will be looked back upon as one of the past pleasures of his life;—not as a pain.”
Mr. Mildmay’s Bill