Miss Corny’s answer was to stalk from the room. Isabel rose from her chair, like a bird released from its cage, and stood by his side. “Have you finished, Archibald?”
“I think I have, dear. Oh! Here’s my coffee. There; I have finished now.”
“Let us go around the grounds.”
He rose, laid his hands playfully on her slender waist, and looked at her. “You may as well ask me to take a journey to the moon. It is past nine, and I have not been to the office for a month.”
The tears rose in her eyes. “I wish you would be always with me! East Lynne will not be East Lynne without you.”
“I will be with you as much as ever I can, my dearest,” he whispered. “Come and walk with me through the park.”
She ran for her bonnet, gloves and parasol. Mr. Carlyle waited for her in the hall, and they went out together.
He thought it a good opportunity to speak about his sister. “She wishes to remain with us,” he said. “I do not know what to decide. On the one hand I think she might save you the worry of household management; on the other, I fancy we shall be happier by ourselves.”
Isabel’s heart sank within her at the idea of that stern Miss Corny, mounted over her as resident guard; but, refined and sensitive, almost painfully considerate of the feelings of others, she raised no word of objection. “As you and Miss Carlyle please,” she answered.
“Isabel,” he said, “I wish it to be as you please; I wish matters to be arranged as may best please you: and I will have them so arranged. My chief object in life now is your happiness.”
He spoke in all the sincerity of truth, and Isabel knew it: and the thought came across her that with him by her side, her loving protector, Miss Carlyle could not mar her life’s peace. “Let her stay, Archibald; she will not incommode us.”
“At any rate it can be tried for a month or two, and we shall see how it works,” he musingly observed.
They reached the park gates. “I wish I could go with you and be your clerk,” she cried, unwilling to release his hand. “I should not have all that long way to go back by myself.”
He laughed and shook his head, telling her that she wanted to bribe him into taking her back, but it could not be. And away he went, after saying farewell.
Isabel wandered back, and then wandered through the rooms; they looked lovely; not as they had seemed to look in her father’s time. In her dressing-room knelt Marvel, unpacking. She rose when Lady Isabel entered.
“Can I speak to you a moment, if you please my lady?”
“What is it?”
Then Marvel poured forth her tale. That she feared so small an establishment would not suit her, and if my lady pleased, she would like to leave at once—that day. Anticipating it, she had not unpacked her things.