As he returned home today from Mrs Broughton’s house to his own lodgings he rambled out for a while into Kensington Gardens, and thought of his position seriously. ‘I don’t see why I should not marry her,’ he said to himself, thinking of course of Miss Van Siever. ’If Maria is not in earnest it is not my fault. And it would be my wish that she should be in earnest. If I suppose her to be so, and take her at her word, she can have no right to quarrel with me. Poor Maria! At any rate it will be better for her, for no good can come of this kind of thing. And, by heavens, with a woman like that, of strong feelings, one never knows what may happen.’ And then he thought of the condition he would be in, if he were to find her some fine day in his own rooms, and if she were to tell him that she could not go home again, and that she meant to remain with him!
In the meantime Mrs Dobbs Broughton has gone down into her own drawing-room, had tucked herself up on the sofa, and had fallen fast asleep.
A NEW FLIRTATION
John Eames sat at his office on the day after his return to London, and answered the various letters which he had found waiting for him at his lodgings on the previous evening. To Miss Demolines he had already written from his club, a single line, which he considered to be appropriate to the mysterious necessities of the occasion. ’I will be with you at a quarter to six tomorrow.—J E. Just returned.’ There was not another word; and as he scrawled it at one of the club tables while two or three other men were talking to him, he felt rather proud of his correspondence. ‘It was capital fun,’ he said; ’and after all’—the ‘all’ on this occasion being Lily Dale, and the sadness of his disappointment at Allington—’after all, let a fellow be ever so down in the mouth, a little amusement should do him good.’ And he reflected further that the more a fellow be ‘down in the mouth’, the more good the amusement would do him. He sent off his note, therefore, with some little inward rejoicing—and a word of two also of spoken rejoicing. ‘What fun women are sometimes,’ he said to one of his friends—a friend with whom he was very intimate, calling him always Fred, and slapping his back, but whom he never by any chance saw out of his club.