Dora could make out more to herself in a book than she could read aloud, and one day I saw her spelling over the table of degrees of marriage in a great folio Prayer-Book, which she had taken down in quest of pictures. Some time later in the day, she said, “Lucy, are you Harry’s father’s sister?” and when I said yes, she added, with a look of discovery, “A man cannot marry his father’s sister.”
It was no time to protest against the marriage of first cousins. I was glad enough that from that time the strange child laid aside her jealousy of me; and that thenceforth her resistance was simply the repugnance of a wild creature to be taught and tamed. Ultimately she let me into the recesses of that passionate heart, and, as I think, loved me better than anybody else, except Harold; but even so, at an infinite distance from that which seemed the chief part of her whole being.
The work was done. The sixteen pages of large-type story book were stumbled through; and there was a triumphant exhibition when the cousins came home—Eustace delighted; Harold, half-stifled by London, insisting on walking home from the station to stretch his legs, and going all the way round over Kalydon Moor for a whiff of air!
If we had not had a few moors and heaths where he could breathe, I don’t know whether he could have stayed in England; and as for London, the din, the dinginess, the squalor of houses and people, sat like a weight on his heart.
“They told me a great deal had been done for England. It is just nothing,” he said, and hardly anything else that whole evening; while Eustace, accoutred point-device by a London tailor, poured forth volumes of what he had seen and done. Mr. Prosser made up a dinner party for them, and had taken them to an evening party or two—at least, Eustace; for after the first Harold had declined, and had spent his time in wandering about London by gas-light, and standing on the bridges, or trying how far it was on each side to green fields, and how much misery lay between.
Eustace had evidently been made much of, and had enjoyed himself greatly. It grieved me that his first entrance into society should be under no better auspices than those of the family solicitor; but he did not yet perceive this, and was much elated. “I flatter myself it was rather a success,” was the phrase he had brought home, apropos to everything he had worn or done, from his tie to his shoe-buckles. He told me the price of everything, all the discussions with his tradesmen, and all the gazes fixed on him, with such simplicity that I could not help caring, and there sat Harold in his corner, apparently asleep, but his eye now and then showing that he was thinking deeply.
“Lucy,” he said, as we bade one another good-night, “is nothing being done?”