‘Poor dear, I’m sure I’m sorry as though she were my own sister,’ said Anne. ‘But, Annabella, I want to speak to you especially.’
‘To me, in private?’
‘Yes, to you; in private, if Grace won’t mind?’
Then Grace prepared to go. But as she was going, Miss Anne, upon whose brow a heavy burden of thought was lying, stopped her suddenly. ’Grace, my dear,’ she said, ’go upstairs to your room, will you?—not across the hall to the school.’
‘And why shouldn’t she go to the school?’ said Miss Prettyman.
Miss Anne paused for a moment, and then answered—unwillingly, as though driven to make a reply which she knew to be indiscreet. ’Because there is somebody in the hall.’
‘Go to your room, dear,’ said Miss Prettyman. And Grace went to her room, never turning an eye down towards the hall. ‘Who is it?’ said Miss Prettyman.
‘Major Grantly is here, asking to see you,’ said Miss Anne.
MISS PRETTYMAN’S PRIVATE ROOM
Major Grantly, when threatened by his father with pecuniary punishment, should he demean himself by such a marriage as that he had proposed to himself, had declared that he would offer his hand to Miss Crawley on the next morning. This, however, he had not done. He had not done it, partly because he did not quite believe his father’s threat, and partly because he felt that that threat was almost justified—for the present moment—by the circumstances in which Grace Crawley’s father had placed himself.
Henry Grantly acknowledged, as he drove himself home on the morning after his dinner at the rectory, that in this matter of his marriage he did owe much to his family. Should he marry at all, he owed it to them to marry a lady. And Grace Crawley—so he told himself—was a lady. And he owed it to them to bring among them as his wife a woman who should not disgrace him or them by her education, manners, or even by her personal appearance. In all these respects Grace Crawley was, in his judgment, quite as good as they had a right to expect her to be, and in some respects a great deal superior to that type of womanhood with which they had been most generally conversant. ’If everybody had her due, my sister isn’t fit to hold a candle to her,’ he said to himself. It must be acknowledged, therefore, that he was really in love with Grace Crawley; and he declared to himself over and over again, that his family had no right to demand that he should marry a woman with money. The archdeacon’s son by no means despised money. How could he, having come forth as a bird fledged from such a nest as the rectory at Plumstead Episcopi? Before he had been brought by his better nature and true judgment to see that Grace Crawley was the greater woman of the two, he had nearly submitted himself to the twenty thousand pounds of Miss Emily Dunstable—to that, and her good-humour and rosy freshness combined. But he regarded himself as the well-to-do son of a very rich father. His only child was amply provided for; and he felt that, as regarded money, he had a right to do as he pleased. He felt this with double strength after his father’s threat.