Wives and Daughters eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,021 pages of information about Wives and Daughters.
father, which Molly felt sure was assumed; but it was not conciliatory, for all that.  Roger, quiet, steady, and natural, talked more than all the others; but he too was uneasy, and in distress on many accounts.  To-day he principally addressed himself to Molly; entering into rather long narrations of late discoveries in natural history, which kept up the current of talk without requiring much reply from any one, Molly had expected Osborne to look something different from usual—­conscious, or ashamed, or resentful, or even ’married’—­but he was exactly the Osborne of the morning—­handsome, elegant, languid in manner and in look; cordial with his brother, polite towards her, secretly uneasy at the state of things between his father and himself.  She would never have guessed the concealed romance which lay perdu under that every-day behaviour.  She had always wished to come into direct contact with a love-story:  here she was, and she only found it very uncomfortable; there was a sense of concealment and uncertainty about it all; and her honest straightforward father, her quiet life at Hollingford, which, even with all its drawbacks, was above-board, and where everybody knew what everybody was doing, seemed secure and pleasant in comparison.  Of course she felt great pain at quitting the Hall, and at the mute farewell she had taken of her sleeping and unconscious friend.  But leaving Mrs. Hamley now was a different thing to what it had been a fortnight ago.  Then she was wanted at any moment, and felt herself to be of comfort.  Now her very existence seemed forgotten by the poor lady whose body appeared to be living so long after her soul.

She was sent home in the carriage, loaded with true thanks from every one of the family.  Osborne ransacked the houses for flowers for her; Roger had chosen her out books of every kind.  The squire himself kept shaking her hand, without being able to speak his gratitude, till at last he had taken her in his arms, and kissed her as he would have done a daughter.



Molly’s father was not at home when she returned; and there was no one to give her a welcome.  Mrs. Gibson was out paying calls, the servants told Molly.  She went upstairs to her own room, meaning to unpack and arrange her borrowed books, Rather to her surprise she saw the chamber, corresponding to her own, being dusted; water and towels too were being carried in.

‘Is any one coming?’ she asked of the housemaid.

‘Missus’s daughter from France.  Miss Kirkpatrick is coming to-morrow.’

Was Cynthia coming at last?  Oh, what a pleasure it would be to have a companion, a girl, a sister of her own age!  Molly’s depressed spirits sprang up again with bright elasticity.  She longed for Mrs Gibson’s return, to ask her all about it:  it must be very sudden, for Mr. Gibson had said nothing of it at the Hall the day before.  No quiet reading now; the books were hardly put away with Molly’s usual neatness.  She went down into the drawing-room, and could not settle to anything.  At last Mrs. Gibson came home, tired out with her walk and her heavy velvet cloak.  Until that was taken off, and she had rested herself for a few minutes, she seemed quite unable to attend to Molly’s questions.

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Wives and Daughters from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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