Emilia was lifted to her seat. Lady Charlotte sprang unassisted to hers. “Ta-ta!” she waved her fingers from her lips. The pairs then separated; one couple turning into green lanes, the other dipping to blue hills.
Gossip of course was excited on the subject of the choice of a partner made by the member for the county. Cornelia placed her sisters in one of their most pleasing of difficulties. She had not as yet pledged her word. It was supposed that she considered it due to herself to withhold her word for a term. The rumour in the family was, that Sir Twickenham appreciated her hesitation, and desired that he might be intimately known before he was finally accepted. When the Tinleys called, they heard that Cornelia’s acceptance of the baronet was doubtful. The Copleys, on the other hand, distinctly understood that she had decided in his favour. Owing to the amiable dissension between the Copleys and the Tinleys, each party called again; giving the ladies of Brookfield further opportunity for studying one of the levels from which they had risen. Arabella did almost all the fencing with Laura Tinley, contemptuously as a youth of station returned from college will turn and foil an ill-conditioned villager, whom formerly he has encountered on the green.
“Had they often met, previous to the...the proposal?” inquired Laura; and laughed: “I was going to say ‘popping.’”
“Pray do not check yourself, if a phrase appears to suit you,” returned Arabella.
“But it was in the neighbourhood, was it not?”
“They have met in the neighbourhood.”
“Also at Richford.”
“We thought it was sudden, dear; that’s all.”
“Why should it not be?”
“Perhaps the best things are, it is true.”
“You congratulate us upon a benefit?”
“He is to be congratulated seriously. Naturally. When she decides, let me know early, I do entreat you, because...well, I am of a different opinion from some people, who talk of another attachment, or engagement, and I do not believe in it, and have said so.”
Rising to depart, Laura Tinley resumed: “Most singular! You are aware, of course, that poor creature, our organist—I ought to say yours—who looked (it was Mr. Sumner I heard say it—such a good thing!)” as if he had been a gentleman in another world, and was the ghost of one in this:” really one of the cleverest things! but he is clever!—Barrett’s his name: Barrett and some: musical name before it, like Handel. I mean one that we are used to. Well, the man has totally and unexpectedly thrown up his situation.”
“His appointment,” said Arabella. Permitting no surprise to be visible, she paused: “Yes. I don’t think we shall give our consent to her filling the post.”
Laura let it be seen that her adversary was here a sentence too quick for her.