Mr Gibson, as he walked into Exeter, endeavoured to justify his own conduct to himself. There was no moment, he declared to himself, in which he had not endeavoured to do right. Seeing the manner in which he had been placed among these two young women, both of whom had fallen in love with him, how could he have saved himself from vacillation? And by what untoward chance had it come to pass that he had now learned to dislike so vigorously, almost to hate, the one with whom he had been for a moment sufficiently infatuated to think that he loved?
But with all his arguments he did not succeed in justifying to himself his own conduct, and he hated himself.
OF A QUARTER OF LAMB
Miss Stanbury, looking out of her parlour window, saw Mr Gibson hurrying towards the cathedral, down the passage which leads from Southernhay into the Close. ’He’s just come from Heavitree, I’ll be bound,’ said Miss Stanbury to Martha, who was behind her.
‘Like enough, ma’am.’
’Though they do say that the poor fool of a man has become quite sick of his bargain already.’
‘He’ll have to be sicker yet, ma’am,’ said Martha.
’They were to have been married last week, and nobody ever knew why it was put off. It’s my belief he’ll never marry her. And she’ll be served right, quite right.’
’He must marry her now, ma’am. She’s been buying things all over Exeter, as though there was no end of their money.’
‘They haven’t more than enough to keep body and soul together,’ said Miss Stanbury. ’I don’t see why I mightn’t have gone to service this morning, Martha. It’s quite warm now out in the Close.’
’You’d better wait, ma’am, till the east winds is over. She was at Puddock’s only the day before yesterday, buying bed-linen, the finest they had, and that wasn’t good enough.’
‘Psha!’ said Miss Stanbury.
‘As though Mr Gibson hadn’t things of that kind good enough for her,’ said Martha.
Then there was silence in the room for awhile. Miss Stanbury was standing at one window, and Martha at the other, watching the people as they passed backwards and forwards, in and out of the Close. Dorothy had now been away at Nuncombe Putney for some weeks, and her aunt felt her loneliness with a heavy sense of weakness. Never had she entertained a companion in the house who had suited her as well as her niece, Dorothy. Dorothy would always listen to her, would always talk to her, would always bear with her. Since Dorothy had gone, various letters had been interchanged between them. Though there had been anger about Brooke Burgess, there had been no absolute rupture; but Miss Stanbury had felt that she could not write and beg her niece to come back to her. She had not sent Dorothy away. Dorothy had chosen to go, because her aunt had bad an opinion of her own as to