‘Absurd! How can I do such a thing?’
’You will do it. We spoke of going to Scotland with the Scalpers. Instead of that, you accompany me to Manchester when Parliament rises, and you live with me there in retirement whilst I am occupied with my study of the factory questions which immediately interest me.’
Paula was silent.
’These are my commands. The alternative to obedience is—you know what. Pray let me know your decision.’
’Why do you behave to me in this way? What have I done to be treated like this?’
‘Pray do not ask me. I wait for your answer.’
’I can only give in to you, and you’re coward enough to take advantage of it.’
‘You undertake to obey me?’
‘I want to go to my room. Can I do so without asking?’
’You are mistress of my house, Paula, as long as you obey me in essential matters.’
Paula disappeared, and Mr. Dalmaine sat reflecting with much self-approbation on the firmness and suavity he had displayed.
AN OLD MAN’S REST
It was not without much reluctance, much debate with conscience, that Bunce allowed his child to remain at Eastbourne. He could not, of course, have finally refused consent to a plan which might be the means of saving Bessie’s life, and to be relieved of the cost of her support, receiving into the bargain a small monthly sum which Mrs. Ormonde represented as the value to her of Bessie’s services at The Chestnuts, was a great consideration to a man in his perpetual state of struggle to make ends meet. But he had a suspicion that Mrs. Ormonde desired to get the girl away from him that Bessie might be, as he would have phrased it, perverted to the debasing superstition of Christianity.
Mrs. Ormonde had interviews with him, and it helped her to understand the man. She soon found out what it was that troubled him, and went directly to the point with an assurance that no attempt whatever should be made to prejudice Bessie against her father’s views. Any printed matter he chose to send her would be uninterfered with. Another woman would have thought Bunce a mere bear when she parted with him, but Mrs. Ormonde had that blessed gift of divination which comes of vast charity; she did not misjudge him. And he in turn, though he went away with his face still set in the look of half-aggressive pride which it had assumed when he entered, found in a day or two that Mrs. Ormonde’s tones made a memory as pleasant as any he had. He felt a little uncomfortable in remembering how ungraciously he had borne himself.