‘But she wouldn’t yield about Gibson,’ said Brooke.
‘How did she and my aunt manage?’
’Your sister simply said she couldn’t and then that she wouldn’t. I never thought from the first moment that she’d take that fellow. In the first place he can’t say boo to a goose.’
‘But Dolly wouldn’t want a man to say boo.’
’I’m not so sure of that, old fellow. At any rate I mean to try myself. Now what’ll the old woman say?’
‘She’ll be pleased as Punch, I should think,’ said Stanbury.
’Either that or else she’ll swear that she’ll never speak another word to either of us. However, I shall go on with it.’
‘Does Dorothy know anything of this?’ asked Stanbury.
‘Not a word,’ said Brooke. ’I came away a day or so after Gibson was settled; and as I had been talked to all through the affair by both of them, I couldn’t turn round and offer myself the moment he was gone. You won’t object will you?’
‘Who; I?’ said Stanbury. ’I shall have no objection as long as Dolly pleases herself. Of course you know that we haven’t as much as a brass farthing among us?’
‘That won’t matter if the old lady takes it kindly,’ said Brooke. Then they parted, at the corner of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and Hugh as he went up to his own rooms, reflected with something of wonderment on the success of Dorothy’s charms. She had always been the poor one of the family, the chick out of the nest which would most require assistance from the stronger birds; but it now appeared that she would become the first among all the Stanburys. Wealth had first flowed down upon the Stanbury family from the will of old Brooke Burgess; and it now seemed probable that poor Dolly would ultimately have the enjoyment of it all.
It was now New Year’s day, and there was some grief and perhaps more excitement in Exeter for it was rumoured that Miss Stanbury lay very ill at her house in the Close. But in order that our somewhat uneven story may run as smoothly as it may be made to do, the little history of the French family for the intervening months shall be told in this chapter, in order that it may be understood how matters were with them when the tidings of Miss Stanbury’s severe illness first reached their house at Heavitree.
After that terrible scene in which Miss Stanbury had so dreadfully confounded Mr Gibson by declaring the manner in which he had been rebuffed by Dorothy, the unfortunate clergyman had endeavoured to make his peace with the French family by assuring the mother that in very truth it was the dearest wish of his heart to make her daughter Camilla his wife. Mrs French, who had ever been disposed to favour Arabella’s ambition, well knowing its priority and ancient right, and who of late had been taught to consider that even Camilla had consented to waive any claim that she