I suppose I had better tell what we had been doing all this time. Adela and I had come out, and had a season or two in London, and my father had enjoyed our pleasure in it, and paid a good deal of court to our pretty Adela, because there was no driving Torwood into anything warmer than easy brotherly companionship.
In fact, Torwood had never cared for anyone but little Emily Deerhurst. Once he had come to her rescue, when she was only nine or ten years old, and her schoolboy cousins were teasing her, and at every Twelfth-day party since she and he had come together as by right. There was something irresistible in her great soft plaintive brown eyes, though she was scarcely pretty otherwise, and we used to call her the White Doe of Rylstone. Torwood was six or seven years older, and no one supposed that he seriously cared for her, till she was sixteen. Then, when my father spoke point blank to him about Adela, he was driven into owning what he wished.
My father thought it utter absurdity. The connection was not pleasant to him; Mrs. Deerhurst was always looked on as a designing widow, who managed to marry off her daughters cleverly, and he could believe no good of Emily.
Now Adela always had more power with papa than any of us. She had a coaxing way, which his stately old-school courtesy never could resist. She used when we were children to beg for holidays, and get treats for us; and even now, many a request which we should never have dared to utter, she could, with her droll arch way, make him think the most sensible thing in the world.
What odd things people can do who have lived together like brothers and sisters! I can hardly help laughing when I think of Torwood coming disconsolately up from the library, and replying, in answer to our vigorous demands, that his lordship had some besotted notion past all reason.
Then we pressed him harder—Adela with indignation, and I with sympathy—till we forced out of him that he had been forbidden ever to think or speak again of Emily, and all his faith in her laughed to scorn, as delusions induced by Mrs. Deerhurst.
“I’m sure I hope you’ll take Ormerod, Adela,” I remember he ended; “then at least you would be out of the way.”