’That is what puzzles me. Alexis thinks Mr. White has a right to expect me to improve myself, and not go on for ever making white jessamines with malachite leaves, and that he can look after Maura and Petros. I see, too, that I ought to try to recover, or I might be a burthen on Alexis for ever, and hinder all his better hopes. Then, there’s the not liking to accept a favour after Mr. White said such things, though I ought not to think about it since he made that apology; but it is a horrid feeling that I ought not to affront him for the sake of the others. Altogether I do feel so tossed. I can’t get back the feeling I had when I was ill that I need not worry, for that God will decide.’
And there were tears in her eyes.
‘Can’t you ask some one’s advice?’ said Gillian.
’If I were sure they quite understood! My head is quite tired with thinking about it.’
Not many moments had passed before there were steps that made Kalliope start painfully, and Maura appeared, piloting another visitor. It was Miss Mohun, who had escaped from the survey of the rooms,—–so far uneasy at what she had gathered from Mr. White, that she was the more anxious to make the offer previously agreed to.
‘My dear,’ she said, ‘I am afraid you look tired.’
‘They have worried her and knocked her up,’ said Gillian indignantly.
’I see! Kally, my dear, we are connections now, you know, and I have heard of Mr. White’s plan. It made me think whether you would find the matter easier if you let me have Maura while you are away to cheer my solitude. Then I could see that she did her lessons, and, between all Gillian’s brothers, we could see that Petros was happy in the holidays.’
’Oh, Miss Mohun! how can I be grateful enough? There is an end of all difficulties.’
And when the inspecting party came round, and Adeline bent to kiss the white, weary, but no longer distressed face, and kindly said, ’We shall see a great deal of each other, I hope,’ she replied, with an earnest ‘thank you,’ and added to Mr. White, ’Miss Mohun has made it all easy to me, sir, and I am very grateful!’
‘Ay, ay! You’re a good girl at the bottom, and have some sense!’
Events came on rapidly that spring. Mr. White was anxious that his marriage should take place quickly—–afraid, perhaps, that his prize would escape him, and be daunted by the passive disapproval of her family, though this was only manifested to him in a want of cordiality. This, being sincere people, they could not help; and that outbreak to Kalliope had made the sisters so uneasy, that they would have willingly endured the ridicule of a broken engagement to secure Adeline from the risks of a rough temper where gentlemanly instincts were not inbred.