‘Then you do know what to say to him.’
‘No, I don’t, Priscilla. I don’t know at all.’
’Look here, dearest. What my aunt offers to you is a very great step in life. If you can accept this gentleman I think you would be happy and I think, also, which should be of more importance for your consideration, that you would make him happy. It is a brighter prospect, dear Dolly, than to live either with us at Nuncombe, or even with Aunt Stanbury as her niece.’
‘But if I don’t love him, Priscilla?’
‘Then give it up, and be as you are, my own, own, dearest sister.’
‘So I will,’ said Dorothy, and at that time her mind was made up.
MR BROOKE BURGESS
The hour at which Mr Brooke Burgess was to arrive had come round, and Miss Stanbury was in a twitter, partly of expectation, and partly, it must be confessed, of fear. Why there should be any fear she did not herself know, as she had much to give and nothing to expect. But she was afraid, and was conscious of it, and was out of temper because she was ashamed of herself. Although it would be necessary that she should again dress for dinner at six, she had put on a clean cap at four, and appeared at that early hour in one of her gowns which was not customarily in use for home purposes at that early hour. She felt that she was ‘an old fool’ for her pains, and was consequently cross to poor Dorothy. And there were other reasons for some display of harshness to her niece. Mr Gibson had been at the house that very morning, and Dorothy had given herself airs. At least, so Miss Stanbury thought. And during the last three or four days, whenever Mr Gibson’s name had been mentioned, Dorothy had become silent, glum, and almost obstructive. Miss Stanbury had been at the trouble of explaining that she was specially anxious to have that little matter of the engagement settled at once. She knew that she was going to behave with great generosity, that she was going to sacrifice, not her money only, of which she did not think much, but a considerable portion of her authority, of which she did think a great deal; and that she was about to behave in a manner which demanded much gratitude. But it seemed to her that Dorothy was not in the least grateful. Hugh had proved himself to be ’a mass of ingratitude,’ as she was in the habit of saying. None of the Burgesses had ever shewn to her any gratitude for promises made to them, or, indeed, for any substantial favours conferred upon them. And now Dorothy, to whom a very seventh heaven of happiness had been opened—a seventh heaven, as it must be computed in comparison with her low expectations—now Dorothy was already shewing how thankless she could become. Mr Gibson had not yet declared his passion, but he had freely admitted to Miss Stanbury that he was prepared to do so. Priscilla had been quite right in her suggestion that there was a clear understanding between the clergyman and her aunt.