Wives and Daughters eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 796 pages of information about Wives and Daughters.

’I fancy if you could come it would put us a little to rights.  You know, as I think I once told you, Osborne has behaved differently to what I should have done, though not wrongly,—­only what I call an error of judgment.  But my father, I’m sure, has taken up some notion of—­ never mind; only the end of it is that he holds Osborne still in tacit disgrace, and is miserable himself all the time.  Osborne, too, is sore and unhappy, and estranged from my father.  It is just what my mother would have put right very soon, and perhaps you could have done it—­ unconsciously, I mean—­for this wretched mystery that Osborne preserves about his affairs is at the root of it all.  But there’s no use talking about it; I don’t know why I began.’  Then, with a wrench, changing the subject, while Molly still thought of what he had been telling her, he broke out,—­’I can’t tell you how much I like Miss Kirkpatrick, Molly.  It must be a great pleasure to you having such a companion!’

‘Yes,’ said Molly, half smiling.  ’I’m very fond of her; and I think I like her better every day I know her.  But how quickly you have found out her virtues!’

‘I didn’t say “virtues,” did I?’ asked he, reddening, but putting the question in all good faith.  ’Yet I don’t think one could be deceived in that face.  And Mrs. Gibson appears to be a very friendly person,—­she has asked Osborne and me to dine here on Friday.’

‘Bitter beer’ came into Molly’s mind; but what she said was, ’And are you coming?’

’Certainly, I am, unless my father wants me; and I’ve given Mrs Gibson a conditional promise for Osborne too.  So I shall see you all very soon again.  But I must go now.  I have to keep an appointment seven miles from here in half an hour’s time.  Good luck to your flower-garden, Molly.’

CHAPTER XXII

THE OLD SQUIRE’S TROUBLES

Affairs were going on worse at the Hall than Roger had liked to tell.  Moreover, very much of the discomfort there arose from ‘mere manner,’ as people express it, which is always indescribable and indefinable.  Quiet and passive as Mrs. Hamley had always been in appearance, she was the ruling spirit of the house as long as she lived.  The directions to the servants, down to the most minute particulars, came from her sitting-room, or from the sofa on which she lay.  Her children always knew where to find her; and to find her, was to find love and sympathy.  Her husband, who was often restless and angry from one cause or another, always came to her to be smoothed down and put right.  He was conscious of her pleasant influence over him, and became at peace with himself when in her presence; just as a child is at ease when with some one who is both firm and gentle.  But the keystone of the family arch was gone, and the stones of which it was composed began to fall apart.  It is always sad when a sorrow of this kind seems to injure the character

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Wives and Daughters from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.