Such intolerable ill-usage Mr Gibson had never suffered in his life. Had he been untrue, or very nearly untrue, to those dear girls at Heavitree for this? ‘I never treated her as anything beneath me,’ he said at last.
’Yes, you did. Do you think that I don’t understand? Haven’t I eyes in my head, and ears? I’m not deaf yet, nor blind. But there’s an end of it. If any young woman ever meant anything, she means it. The truth is, she don’t like you.’
Was ever a lover despatched in so uncourteous a way! Then, too, he had been summoned thither as a lover, had been specially encouraged to come there as a lover, had been assured of success in a peculiar way, had had the plum actually offered to him! He had done all that this old woman had bidden him—something, indeed, to the prejudice of his own heart; he had been told that the wife was ready for him; and now, because this foolish young woman didn’t know her own mind—this was Mr Gibson’s view of the matter—he was reviled and abused, and told that he had behaved badly to the lady. ‘Miss Stanbury,’ he said, ’I think that you are forgetting yourself.’
‘Highty, tighty!’ said Miss Stanbury. ’Forgetting myself! I shan’t forget you in a hurry, Mr Gibson.’
‘Nor I you, Miss Stanbury. Good morning, Miss Stanbury.’ Mr Gibson, as he went from the hall-door into the street, shook the dust off his feet, and resolved that for the future he and Miss Stanbury should be two. There would arise great trouble in Exeter; but, nevertheless, he and Miss Stanbury must be two. He could justify himself in no other purpose after such conduct as he had received.
There had been various letters passing, during the last six weeks, between Priscilla Stanbury and her brother, respecting the Clock House at Nuncombe Putney. The ladies at Nuncombe had, certainly, gone into the Clock House on the clear understanding that the expenses of the establishment were to be incurred on behalf of Mrs Trevelyan. Priscilla had assented to the movement most doubtingly. She had disliked the idea of taking the charge of a young married woman who was separated from her husband, and she had felt that a going down after such an uprising, a fall from the Clock House back to a cottage, would be very disagreeable. She had, however, allowed her brother’s arguments to prevail, and there they were. The annoyance which she had anticipated from the position of their late guest had fallen upon them: it had been felt grievously, from the moment in which Colonel Osborne called at the house; and now that going back to the cottage must be endured. Priscilla understood that there had been a settlement between Trevelyan and Stanbury as to the cost of the establishment so far, but that must now be at an end. In their present circumstances, she would not continue to live there, and had already made inquiries as to some humble