And this was what Miss Miller was perpetually repeating to herself during the months of August and September. Beatrice, in these days, was a thoroughly miserable young woman. She was more utterly separated than ever from her lover, and that entirely by her own fault. That foolish escapade of hers to the Temple had been fatal to her; her father, who had been inclined to become her lover’s friend, had now peremptorily forbidden her ever to mention his name again, and her own lips were sealed as to the unlucky incident in which she had played so prominent a part.
Beatrice knew that, in going alone and on the sly to her lover’s chambers, she had undoubtedly compromised her own good name. To confess to her own folly and imprudence was almost beyond her power, and to clear her lover’s name at the expense of her own was what she felt he himself would scarcely thank her for.
Mr. Miller had, of course, said something of what he had discovered at Mr. Pryme’s chambers to the wife of his bosom.
“The young man is not fit for her,” he had said; “his private life will not bear investigation. You must tell Beatrice to put him out of her head.”
Mrs. Miller had, of course, been virtuously indignant over Mr. Pryme’s offences, but she had also been triumphantly elated over her own sagacity.
“Did I not tell you he was not a proper husband for her? Another time, Andrew, you will, I hope, allow that I am the best judge in these matters.”
“My dear, you are always right,” was the meekly conjugal reply, and then Mrs. Miller went her way and talked to Beatrice for half-an-hour over the sinful lives which are frequently led by young men of no family residing in the Temple, and the shame and disgrace which must necessarily accrue to any well-brought-up young woman who, in an ill-advised moment, shall allow her affections to rove towards such unsanctified Pariahs of society.
And Beatrice, listening to her blushingly, knew what she meant, and yet had no words wherewith to clear her lover’s character from the defamatory evidence furnished against him by her own sunshade and gloves.
“Your father has seen with his own eyes, my dear, that which makes it impossible for us ever to consent to your marrying that young man.”
How was Beatrice to say to her mother, “It was I—your daughter—who was there, shut up in Mr. Pryme’s bedroom.” She could not speak the words.
The sunshine twinkled in Shadonake’s many windows, and flooded its velvet lawns. Below, the Bath slumbered darkly in the shadow of its ancient steps and its encircling belt of fir-trees; and beyond the flower-gardens, half-an-acre of pineries, and vineries, and orchard-houses glittered in a dazzling parterre of glass-roofs and white paint. Something new—it was an orchard-house—was being built. There was always something new, and Mr. Miller was superintending the building of it. He stood over