ROGER HAMLEY’S CONFESSION
Roger had a great deal to think of as he turned away from looking after the carriage as long as it could be seen. The day before, he had believed that Molly had come to view all the symptoms of his growing love for her,—symptoms which he thought had been so patent,—as disgusting inconstancy to the inconstant Cynthia; that she had felt that an attachment which could be so soon transferred to another was not worth having; and that she had desired to mark all this by her changed treatment of him, and so to nip it in the bud. But this morning her old sweet, frank manner had returned—in their last interview, at any rate. He puzzled himself hard to find out what could have distressed her at breakfast-time. He even went so far as to ask Robinson whether Miss Gibson had received any letters that morning; and when he heard that she had had one, he tried to believe that the letter was in some way the cause of her sorrow. So far so good. They were friends again after their unspoken difference; but that was not enough for Roger. He felt every day more and more certain that she, and she alone, could make him happy. He had felt this, and had partly given up all hope, while his father had been urging upon him the very course he most desired to take. No need for ‘trying’ to love her, he said to himself,—that was already done. And yet he was very jealous on her behalf. Was that love worthy of her which had once been given to Cynthia? Was not this affair too much a mocking mimicry of the last? Again just on the point of leaving England for a considerable time! If he followed her now to her own home,—in the very drawing-room where he had once offered to Cynthia! And then by a strong resolve he determined on this course. They were friends now, and he kissed the rose that was her pledge of friendship. If he went to Africa, he ran some deadly chances; he knew better what they were now than he had done when he went before. Until his return he would not even attempt to win more of her love than he already had. But once safe home again, no weak fancies as to what might or might not be her answer should prevent his running all chances to gain the woman who was to him the one who excelled all. His was not the poor vanity that thinks more of the possible mortification of a refusal than of the precious jewel of a bride that may be won. Somehow or another, please God to send him back safe, he would put his fate to the touch. And till then he would be patient. He was no longer a boy to rush at the coveted object; he was a man capable of judging and abiding.
Molly sent her father, as soon as she could find him, to the Hall; and then sate down to the old life in the home drawing-room, where she missed Cynthia’s bright presence at every turn. Mrs. Gibson was in rather a querulous mood, which fastened itself upon the injury of Cynthia’s letter being addressed to Molly, and not to herself.