‘I’ll tell you what it is,’ continued Miss Stanbury; ’I hate all mysteries, especially with those I love. I’ve saved two thousand pounds, which I’ve put you down for in my will. Now, if you and he can make it up together, I’ll give you the money at once. There’s no knowing how often an old woman may alter her will; but when you’ve got a thing, you’ve got it. Mr Gibson would know the meaning of a bird in the hand as well as anybody. Now those girls at Heavitree will never have above a few hundreds each, and not that while their mother lives.’ Dorothy made one little attempt at squeezing her aunt’s hand, wishing to thank her aunt for this affectionate generosity; but she had hardly accomplished the squeeze, when she desisted, feeling strangely averse to any acknowledgment of such a boon as that which had been offered to her. ’And now, good night, my dear. If I did not think you a very sensible young woman, I should not trust you by saying all this.’ Then they parted, and Dorothy soon found herself alone in her bedroom.
To have a husband of her own, a perfect gentleman too, and a clergyman and to go to him with a fortune! She believed that two thousand pounds represented nearly a hundred a year. It was a large fortune in those parts according to her understanding of ladies’ fortunes. And that she, the humblest of the humble, should be selected for so honourable a position! She had never quite known, quite understood as yet, whether she had made good her footing in her aunt’s house in a manner pleasant to her aunt. More than once or twice she had spoken even of going back to her mother, and things had been said which had almost made her think that her aunt had been angry with her. But now, after a month or two of joint residence, her aunt was offering to her two thousand pounds and a husband!
But was it within her aunt’s power to offer to her the husband? Mr Gibson had always been very civil to her. She had spoken more to Mr Gibson than to any other man in Exeter. But it had never occurred to her for a moment that Mr Gibson had any special liking for her. Was it probable that he would ever entertain any feeling of that kind for her? It certainly had occurred to her before now that Mr Gibson was sometimes bored by the Miss Frenches but then gentlemen do get bored by ladies.
And at last she asked herself another question: had she any special liking for Mr Gibson? As far as she understood such matters everything was blank there. Thinking of that other question, she went to sleep.
COLONEL OSBORNE AND MR BOZZLE RETURN TO LONDON