‘I think this is the cruellest, cruellest thing I ever heard,’ said Mr Gibson.
‘It is you that are cruel, sir.’
Then the wretched man turned at bay. ’I tell you what it is, Mrs French if I am treated in this way, I won’t stand it. I won’t, indeed. I’ll go away. I’m not going to be suspected, nor yet blown up. I think I’ve behaved handsomely, at any rate to Camilla.’
‘Quite so, Mr Gibson, if you would come and see her on evenings,’ said Mrs French, who was falling back into her usual state of timidity.
’But, if I’m to be treated in this way, I will go away. I’ve thoughts of it as it is. I’ve been already invited to go to Natal, and if I hear anything more of these accusations, I shall certainly make up my mind to go.’ Then he left the house, before Camilla could be down upon him from her perch on the landing-place.
THE REPUBLICAN BROWNING
Mr Glascock had returned to Naples after his sufferings in the dining-room of the American Minister, and by the middle of February was back again in Florence. His father was still alive, and it was said that the old lord would now probably live through the winter. And it was understood that Mr Glascock would remain in Italy. He had declared that he would pass his time between Naples, Rome, and Florence; but it seemed to his friends that Florence was, of the three, the most to his taste. He liked his room, he said; at the York Hotel, and he liked being in the capital. That was his own statement. His friends said that he liked being with Carry Spalding, the daughter of the American Minister; but none of them, then in Italy, were sufficiently intimate with him to express that opinion to himself.
It had been expressed more than once to Carry Spalding. The world in general says such things to ladies more openly than it does to men, and the probability of a girl’s success in matrimony is canvassed in her hearing by those who are nearest to her with a freedom which can seldom be used in regard to a man. A man’s most intimate friend hardly speaks to him of the prospect of his marriage till he himself has told that the engagement exists. The lips of no living person had suggested to Mr Glascock that the American girl was to become his wife; but a great deal had been said to Carry Spalding about the conquest she had made. Her uncle, her aunt, her sister, and her great friend Miss Petrie, the poetess—the Republican Browning as she was called—had all spoken to her about it frequently. Olivia had declared her conviction that the thing was to be. Miss Petrie had, with considerable eloquence, explained to her friend that that English title, which was but the clatter of a sounding brass, should be regarded as a drawback rather than as an advantage. Mrs Spalding, who was no poetess, would undoubtedly have welcomed Mr Glascock as her niece’s husband