Mr Dale as he got up to go away felt that he was beaten, but he did not know how to carry the battle any further on that occasion. He could not take out his purse and put down the cost of the horse on the table. ’I will then speak to my nephew about it,’ he said, very gravely, as he went away. And he did speak to his nephew about it, and even wrote to him more than once. But it was all to no purpose. Mr Potts could not be induced to give a separate bill, and—so said Bernard—swore at last that he would furnish no account to anybody for horses that went to Mrs Thorne’s door except to Mrs Thorne herself.
That night Lily took leave of her uncle and remained at Mrs Thorne’s house. As things were now arranged she would, no doubt, be in London when John Eames returned. If he should find her in town—and she told herself that is she was in town he certainly would find her—he would, doubtless, repeat to her the offer he had so often made before. She never ventured to tell herself that she doubted as to the answer to be made to him. The two letters were written in the book, and must remain there. But she felt that she would have had more courage for persistency down at Allington than she would be able to summon to her assistance up in London. She knew she would be weak, should she be found by him alone in Mrs Thorne’s drawing-room. It would be better for her to make some excuse and go home. She was resolved that she would not become his wife. She could not extricate herself from the dominion of a feeling which she believed to be love for another man. She had given a solemn promise both to her mother and to John Eames that she would not marry that other man; but in doing so she had made a solemn promise to herself that she would not marry John Eames. She had sworn it and would keep her oath. And yet she regretted it! In writing home to her mother the next day, she told Mrs Dale that all the world was speaking well of John Eames—that John had won for himself a reputation of his own, and was known far and wide to be a noble fellow. She could not keep herself from praising John Eames, though she knew that such praise might, and would, be used against her at some future time. ’Though I cannot love him I will give him his due,’ she said to herself.
‘I wish you would make up your mind to have an “it” for yourself,’ Emily Dunstable said to her again that night; ’a nice “it”, so that I could make a friend, perhaps a brother, of him.’
‘I shall never have an “it” if I live to be a hundred,’ said Lily Dale.