’I have thought a great deal about it, mother, and I believe I am right. Whether I am right or wrong, I shall do it. I will not ask you now for any promise or pledge; but should Miss Crawley become my wife, I hope that you at least will not refuse to see her as your daughter.’ Having so spoken, he kissed his mother, and was about to leave the room; but she held him by his arm, and he saw that her eyes were full of tears. ‘Dearest mother, if I grieve you I am sorry indeed.’
‘Not me, not me, not me,’ she said.
’For my father, I cannot help it. Had he not threatened me I should have told him also. As he has done so, you must tell him. But give him my kindest love.’
’Oh, Henry; you will be ruined. You will, indeed. Can you not wait? Remember how headstrong your father is, and how good;—and how he loves you! Think of all he that he has done for you. When did he refuse you anything?’
’He has been good to me, but in this I cannot obey him. He should not ask me.’
’You are wrong. You are indeed. He has a right to expect that you will not bring disgrace upon the family.’
’Nor will I;—except such disgrace as shall attend upon poverty. Good-bye, mother. I wish you could have said one kind word to me.’
‘Have I not said a kind word?’
‘Not as yet, mother.’
’I would not for the world speak unkindly to you. If it were not for your father I would bid you bring whom you pleased home to me as your wife; and I would be as a mother to her. And if this girl should become your wife—’
‘It shall not be my fault if she does not.’
‘I will try to love her—some day.’
Then the major went, leaving Edith at the rectory, as requested by his mother. His own dog-cart and servant were at Plumstead, and he drove himself home to Cosby Lodge.
When the archdeacon returned the news was told to him at once. ’Henry has gone to Allington to propose to Miss Crawley,’ said Mrs Grantly.
‘Gone—without speaking to me!’
’He left his love, and said that it was useless remaining, as he knew he should only offend you.’
‘He has made his bed, and he must lie upon it,’ said the archdeacon. And then there was not another word said about Grace Crawley on that occasion.
MISS LILY DALE’S RESOLUTION
The ladies at the Small House at Allington breakfasted always at nine—a liberal nine; and the postman whose duty it was to deliver letters in that village at half-past eight, being also liberal in his ideas as to time, always arrived punctually in the middle of breakfast, so that Mrs Dale expected her letters, and Lily hers, just before the second cup of tea, as though the letters formed a part of the morning meal. Jane, the maidservant, always brought them in, and handed them to Mrs Dale—for