’I was in hopes he would have left the neighbourhood by this time. Mamma said he was going to travel again.’
‘I can’t tell,’ said Molly. ‘I suppose you know,’ she continued, but hesitating a little before she spoke, ‘that he wishes to see you.’
’No! I never heard. I wish he would have been satisfied with my letter. It was as decided as I could make it. If I say I won’t see him, I wonder if his will or mine will be the strongest?’
‘His,’ said Molly. ’But you must see him, you owe it to him. He will never be satisfied without it.’
’Suppose he talks me round into resuming the engagement? I should only break it off again.’
’Surely you can’t be “talked round” if your mind is made up. But perhaps it is not really, Cynthia?’ asked she, with a little wistful anxiety betraying itself in her face.
’It is quite made up. I am going to teach little Russian girls; and am never going to marry nobody.’
‘You are not serious, Cynthia. And yet it is a very serious thing.’
But Cynthia went into one of her wild moods, and no more reason or sensible meaning was to be got out of her at the time.
‘OFF WITH THE OLD LOVE, AND ON WITH THE NEW.’
The next morning saw Mrs. Gibson in a much more contented frame of mind. She had written and posted her letter, and the next thing was to keep Cynthia in what she called a reasonable state, or, in other words, to try and cajole her into docility. But it was so much labour lost. Cynthia had already received a letter from Mr. Henderson before she came down to breakfast,—a declaration of love, a proposal of marriage as clear as words could make it; together with an intimation that, unable to wait for the slow delays of the post, he was going to follow her down to Hollingford, and would arrive at the same time that she had done herself on the previous day. Cynthia said nothing about this letter to any one. She came late into the breakfast-room, after Mr. and Mrs. Gibson had finished the actual business of the meal; but her unpunctuality was quite accounted for by the fact that she had been travelling all the night before. Molly was not as yet strong enough to get up so early. Cynthia hardly spoke, and did not touch her food. Mr. Gibson went about his daily business, and Cynthia and her mother were left alone.
‘My dear,’ said Mrs. Gibson, ’you are not eating your breakfast as you should do. I am afraid our meals seem very plain and homely to you after those in Hyde Park Street?’
‘No,’ said Cynthia; ‘I am not hungry, that’s all.’
’If we were as rich as your uncle, I should feel it to be both a duty and a pleasure to keep an elegant table; but limited means are a sad clog to one’s wishes. I don’t suppose that, work as he will, Mr. Gibson can earn more than he does at present; while the capabilities of the law are boundless. Lord Chancellor! Titles as well as fortune!’