But Dorothy did not go to bed for an hour after that. When Brooke came down into the parlour with his message she intended to go at once, and put up her work, and lit her candle, and put out her hand to him, and said good-bye to him. But, for all that, she remained there for an hour with him. At first she said very little, but by degrees her tongue was loosened, and she found herself talking with a freedom which she could hardly herself understand. She told him how thoroughly she believed her aunt to be a good woman, how sure she was that her aunt was at any rate honest. ‘As for me,’ said Dorothy, ’I know that I have displeased her about Mr Gibson and I would go away, only that I think she would be so desolate.’ Then Brooke begged her never to allow the idea of leaving Miss Stanbury to enter her head. Because Miss Stanbury was capricious, he said, not on that account should her caprices either be indulged or permitted. That was his doctrine respecting Miss Stanbury, and he declared that, as regarded himself, he would never be either disrespectful to her or submissive. ‘It is a great mistake,’ he said, ‘to think that anybody is either an angel or a devil.’ When Dorothy expressed an opinion that with some people angelic tendencies were predominant, and with others diabolic tendencies, he assented; but declared that it was not always easy to tell the one tendency from the other. At last, when Dorothy had made about five attempts to go, Mr Gibson’s name was mentioned. ’I am very glad that you are not going to be Mrs Gibson,’ said he.
‘I don’t know why you should be glad.’
‘Because I should not have liked your husband—not as your husband.’
‘He is an excellent man, I’m sure,’ said Dorothy.
’Nevertheless I am very glad. But I did not think you would accept him, and I congratulate you on your escape. You would have been nothing to me as Mrs Gibson.’
‘Shouldn’t I?’ said Dorothy, not knowing what else to say.
‘But now I think we shall always be friends.’
’I’m sure I hope so, Mr Burgess. But indeed I must go now. It is ever so late, and you will hardly get any sleep. Good night.’ Then he took her hand, and pressed it very warmly, and referring to a promise before made to her, he assured her that he would certainly make acquaintance with her brother as soon as he was back in London. Dorothy, as she went up to bed, was more than ever satisfied with herself, in that she had not yielded in reference to Mr Gibson.
TREVELYAN AT VENICE