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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 214 pages of information about Abbeychurch.

‘I wish I had known it before,’ said Mr. Woodbourne, ’I could at least have spoken to Mr. Turner on Saturday, and prevented the Mertons’ name from appearing.’

‘I did not tell you because I had no opportunity,’ said Mrs. Woodbourne; ’Lizzie came and told me all, the instant she knew that she had done wrong; but I thought it would harass you, and you were so much occupied that I had better wait till all this bustle was over, but she told me everything most candidly, and would have come to you, but that Mr. Roberts was with you at the time.—­My dear Lizzie, do not distress yourself so much, I am sure you have suffered a great deal.’

‘O Mamma,’ said Elizabeth, ’how can I ever suffer enough for such a tissue of ill-conduct? you never will see how wrong it was in me.’

‘Yet, Lizzie,’ said her father kindly, ’we may yet rejoice over the remembrance of this unpleasant affair, if it has made you reflect upon the faults that have led to it.’

’But what is any small advantage to my own character compared with the injury I have done?’ said Elizabeth; ’I have made it appear as if you had granted the very last thing you would ever have thought of; I have led Kate and Anne into disobedience.  Oh!  I have done more wrongly than I ever thought I could.’

At this moment Katherine came into the room with some message for Mrs. Woodbourne.

‘Come here, Kate,’ said her father; ‘read this.’

Katherine cast a frightened glance upon Elizabeth, who turned away from her.  She read on, and presently exclaimed, ’Fair and accomplished daughters! dear me! that is ourselves.’  Then catching Elizabeth by the arm, she whispered, ‘Does he know it?’

‘Yes, Katherine,’ said Mr. Woodbourne sternly; ’your sister has shewn a full conviction that she has done wrong, a feeling of which I am sorry to see that you do not partake.’

‘Indeed, indeed, Papa,’ cried Katherine, bursting into tears, ’I am very sorry; I should never have gone if it had not been for the others.’

‘No excuses, if you please, Katherine,’ said Mr. Woodbourne; ’I wish to hear exactly how it happened.’

‘First, Papa,’ said Elizabeth, ’let me beg one thing of you, do not tell Mrs. Hazleby that Harriet went with us, for she could not know that it was wrong of us to go, and she is very much afraid of her mother’s anger.’

Mr. Woodbourne made a sign of assent; and Elizabeth proceeded to give a full account of the indiscreet expedition, taking the blame so entirely upon herself, that although Katherine was on the watch to contradict anything that might tell unfavourably for her, she could not find a word to gainsay—­speaking very highly of Helen, not attempting to make the slightest excuse, or to plead her sorrow for what had happened as a means of averting her father’s displeasure, and ending by asking permission to go to Mrs. Turner the instant the Hazlebys had left Abbeychurch, to tell her that the excursion had been entirely without Mr. Woodbourne’s knowledge or consent.  ‘For,’ said she, ’that is the least I can do towards repairing what can never be repaired.’

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