’Of course I cannot. I am not such a child as to suppose that there are many Mr Glascocks to come and run after me. And if there were ever so many, papa, it would be no good. As you say, I have chosen for myself, and I must put up with it. When I see the carriages going about in the streets, and remember how often shall have to go home in an omnibus, I do think about it a good deal.’
‘I’m afraid you will think when it is too late.’
’It isn’t that I don’t like carriages, papa. I do like them; and pretty dresses, and brooches, and men and women who have nothing to do, and balls, and the opera; but I love this man, and that is more to me than all the rest. I cannot help myself if it were ever so. Papa, you mustn’t be angry with me. Pray, pray, pray do not say that horrid word again.’
This was the end of the interview. Sir Marmaduke found that he had nothing further to say. Nora, when she reached her last prayer to her father, referring to that curse with which he had threatened her, was herself in tears, and was leaning on him with her head against his shoulder. Of course he did not say a word which could be understood as sanctioning her engagement with Stanbury. He was as strongly determined as ever that it was his duty to save her from the perils of such a marriage as that. But, nevertheless, he was so far overcome by her as to be softened in his manners towards her. He kissed her as he left her, and told her to go to her mother. Then he went out and thought of it all, and felt as though Paradise had been opened to his child and she had refused to enter the gate.
SHEWING WHAT HUGH STANBURY THOUGHT ABOUT THE DUTY OF MAN
In the conference which took place between Sir Marmaduke and his wife after the interview between him and Nora, it was his idea that nothing further should be done at all. ’I don’t suppose the man will come here if he be told not,’ said Sir Marmaduke, ’and if he does, Nora of course will not see him.’ He then suggested that Nora would of course go back with them to the Mandarins, and that when once there she would not be able to see Stanbury any more. ’There must be no correspondence or anything of that sort, and so the thing will die away.’ But Lady Rowley declared that this would not quite suffice. Mr Stanbury had made his offer in due form, and must be held to be entitled to an answer. Sir Marmaduke, therefore, wrote the following letter to the ‘penny-a-liner,’ mitigating the asperity of his language in compliance with his wife’s counsels.
’Manchester Street, April 20th, 186-.
My Dear Sir,
Lady Rowley has told me of your proposal to my daughter Nora; and she has told me also what she learned from you as to your circumstances in life. I need hardly point out to you that no father would be justified in giving his daughter to a gentleman upon so small an income, and upon an income so very insecure.