’Well, but it seems people consider you as a young woman now, and so I suppose you must run up milliners’ bills like the rest of your kind. Not that you are to get anything anywhere that you can’t pay for down in ready money. Here’s a ten-pound note; go to Miss Rose’s, or Miss anybody’s, and get what you want at once. The Hamley carriage is to come for you at two, and anything that is not quite ready, can easily be sent by their cart on Saturday, when some of their people always come to market. Nay, don’t thank me! I don’t want to have the money spent, and I don’t want you to go and leave me: I shall miss you, I know; it’s only hard necessity that drives me to send you a-visiting, and to throw away ten pounds on your clothes. There, go away; you’re a plague, and I mean to leave off loving you as fast as I can.’
‘Papa!’ holding up her finger as in warning, ’you are getting mysterious again; and though my honourableness is very strong, I won’t promise that it shall not yield to my curiosity if you go on hinting at untold secrets.’
’Go away and spend your ten pounds. What did I give it you for but to keep you quiet?’
Miss Rose’s ready-made resources and Molly’s taste combined, did not arrive at a very great success. She bought a lilac print, because it would wash, and would be cool and pleasant for the mornings; and this Betty could make at home before Saturday. And for high-days and holidays—by which was understood afternoons and Sundays—Miss Rose persuaded her to order a gay-coloured, flimsy plaid silk, which she assured her was quite the latest fashion in London, and which Molly thought would please her father’s Scotch blood. But when he saw the scrap which she had brought home as a pattern, he cried out that the plaid belonged to no clan in existence, and that Molly ought to have known this by instinct. It was too late to change it, however, for Miss Rose had promised to cut the dress out as soon as Molly had left her shop.
Mr. Gibson had hung about the town all the morning instead of going away on his usual distant rides. He passed his daughter once or twice in the street, but he did not cross over the way when he was on the opposite side—only gave her a look or a nod, and went on his way, scolding himself for his weakness in feeling so much pain at the thought of her absence for a fortnight or so.
‘And, after all,’ thought he, ’I am only where I was when she comes back; at least, if that foolish fellow goes on with his imaginary fancy. She’ll have to come back some time, and if he chooses to imagine himself constant, there’s still the devil to pay.’ Presently he began to hum the air out of the ’Beggar’s Opera’—
’I wonder any man alive
Should ever rear a daughter.’
A VISIT TO THE HAMLEYS