‘Why didn’t he go, Lord Nidderdale?’ She asked the question with an altered tone and an altered face. ’If you really know, you might as well tell me.’
’No, Marie;—that’s just what I ought not to do. But he ought to tell you. Do you really in your heart believe that he means to come back to you?’
‘I don’t know,’ she said, sobbing. ’I do love him;—I do indeed. I know that you are good-natured. You are more good-natured than he is. But he did like me. You never did;—no; not a bit. It isn’t true. I ain’t a fool. I know. No;—go away. I won’t let you now. I don’t care what he is; I’ll be true to him. Go away, Lord Nidderdale. You oughtn’t to go on like that because papa and mamma let you come here. I didn’t let you come. I don’t want you to come. No;—I won’t say any kind word to you. I love Sir Felix Carbury better—than any person—in all the world. There! I don’t know whether you call that kind, but it’s true.’
‘Say good-bye to me, Marie.’
’Oh, I don’t mind saying good-bye. Good-bye, my lord; and don’t come any more.’
’Yes, I shall. Good-bye, Marie. You’ll find the difference between me and him yet.’ So he took his leave, and as he sauntered away he thought that upon the whole he had prospered, considering the extreme difficulties under which he had laboured in carrying on his suit. ’She’s quite a different sort of girl from what I took her to be,’ he said to himself ‘Upon my word, she’s awfully jolly.’
Marie, when the interview was over, walked about the room almost in dismay. It was borne in upon her by degrees that Sir Felix Carbury was not at all points quite as nice as she had thought him. Of his beauty there was no doubt; but then she could trust him for no other good quality. Why did he not come to her? Why did he not show some pluck? Why did he not tell her the truth? She had quite believed Lord Nidderdale when he said that he knew the cause that had kept Sir Felix from going to Liverpool. And she had believed him, too, when he said that it was not his business to tell her. But the reason, let it be what it might, must, if known, be prejudicial to her love. Lord Nidderdale was, she thought, not at all beautiful. He had a commonplace, rough face, with a turn-up nose, high cheek bones, no especial complexion, sandy-coloured whiskers, and bright laughing eyes,—not at all an Adonis such as her imagination had painted. But if he had only made love at first as he had attempted to do it now, she thought that she would have submitted herself to be cut in pieces for him.
While these things were being done in Bruton Street and Grosvenor Square horrid rumours were prevailing in the City and spreading from the City westwards to the House of Commons, which was sitting this Monday afternoon with a prospect of an adjournment at seven o’clock in consequence of the banquet to be given to the Emperor. It is difficult to explain the exact nature of this rumour, as it was not thoroughly understood by those who propagated it. But it is certainly the case that the word forgery was whispered by more than one pair of lips.