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

‘We will hope she does in this instance,’ said Cynthia, shortly.  ’They are in London now, and Lady Cumnor has not suffered from the journey.’

‘They say so,’ said Mrs. Gibson, shaking her head, and laying an emphasis on the word ‘say.’  ’I am perhaps over-anxious, but I wish—­I wish I could see and judge for myself.  It would be the only way of calming my anxiety.  I almost think I shall go up with you, Cynthia, for a day or two, just to see her with my own eyes.  I don’t quite like your travelling alone either.  We will think about it, and you shall write to Mr. Kirkpatrick, and propose it, if we determine upon it.  You can tell him of my anxiety; and it will be only sharing your bed for a couple of nights.’

CHAPTER XL

MOLLY GIBSON BREATHES FREELY

That was the way in which Mrs. Gibson first broached her intention of accompanying Cynthia up to London for a few days’ visit.  She had a trick of producing the first sketch of any new plan before an outsider to the family circle; so that the first emotions of others, if they disapproved of her projects, had to be repressed, until the idea had become familiar to them.  To Molly it seemed too charming a proposal ever to come to pass.  She had never allowed herself to recognize the restraint she was under in her stepmother’s presence; but all at once she found it out when her heart danced at the idea of three whole days —­for that it would be at the least—­of perfect freedom of intercourse with her father; of old times come back again; of meals without perpetual fidgetiness after details of ceremony and correctness of attendance.

’We’ll have bread and cheese for dinner, and eat it on our knees; we’ll make up for having had to eat sloppy puddings with a fork instead of a spoon all this time, by putting our knives in our mouths till we cut ourselves.  Papa shall pour his tea into his saucer if he is in a hurry; and if I’m thirsty, I’ll take the slop-basin.  And oh, if I could but get, buy, borrow, or steal any kind of an old horse; my grey skirt is not new, but it will do;—­that would be too delightful.  After all, I think I can be happy again; for months and months it has seemed as if I had got too old ever to feel pleasure, much less happiness again.’

So thought Molly.  Yet she blushed, as if with guilt, when Cynthia, reading her thought, said to her one day,—­

‘Molly, you are very glad to get rid of us, are not you?’

’Not of you, Cynthia; at least, I don’t think I am.  Only, if you only knew how I love papa, and how I used to see a great deal more of him than I ever do now—–­’

‘Ah!  I often think what interlopers we must seem, and are in fact—­’

’I don’t feel you as such.  You, at any rate, have been a new delight to me, a sister; and I never knew how charming such a relationship could be.’

‘But mamma?’ said Cynthia, half-suspiciously, half-sorrowfully.

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