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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 350 pages of information about Basil.

“I beg yours—­so we are.  Well, my dear Sir, I must be allowed a day or two—­say two days—­to ascertain what my daughter’s feelings are, and to consider your proposals, which have taken me very much by surprise, as you may in fact see.  But I assure you I am most flattered, most honoured, most anxious—­“.

“I hope you will consider my anxieties, Mr. Sherwin, and let me know the result of your deliberations as soon as possible.”

“Without fail, depend upon it.  Let me see:  shall we say the second day from this, at the same time, if you can favour me with a visit?”

“Certainly.”

“And between that time and this, you will engage not to hold any communication with my daughter?”

“I promise not, Mr. Sherwin—­because I believe that your answer will be favourable.”

“Ah, well—­well! lovers, they say, should never despair.  A little consideration, and a little talk with my dear girl—­really now, won’t you change your mind and have a glass of sherry? (No again?) Very well, then, the day after tomorrow, at five o’clock.”

With a louder crack than ever, the brand-new drawing-room door was opened to let me out.  The noise was instantly succeeded by the rustling of a silk dress, and the banging of another door, at the opposite end of the passage.  Had anybody been listening?  Where was Margaret?

Mr. Sherwin stood at the garden-gate to watch my departure, and to make his farewell bow.  Thick as was the atmosphere of illusion in which I now lived, I shuddered involuntarily as I returned his parting salute, and thought of him as my father-in-law!

XI.

The nearer I approached to our own door, the more reluctance I felt to pass the short interval between my first and second interview with Mr. Sherwin, at home.  When I entered the house, this reluctance increased to something almost like dread.  I felt unwilling and unfit to meet the eyes of my nearest and dearest relatives.  It was a relief to me to hear that my father was not at home.  My sister was in the house:  the servant said she had just gone into the library, and inquired whether he should tell her that I had come in.  I desired him not to disturb her, as it was my intention to go out again immediately.

I went into my study, and wrote a short note there to Clara; merely telling her that I should be absent in the country for two days.  I had sealed and laid it on the table for the servant to deliver, and was about to leave the room, when I heard the library door open.  I instantly drew back, and half-closed my own door again.  Clara had got the book she wanted, and was taking it up to her own sitting-room.  I waited till she was out of sight, and then left the house.  It was the first time I had ever avoided my sister—­my sister, who had never in her life asked a question, or uttered a word that could annoy me; my sister, who had confided all her own little secrets to my keeping, ever since we had been children.  As I thought on what I had done, I felt a sense of humiliation which was almost punishment enough for the meanness of which I had been guilty.

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