Poor Maura, she had none of the reticent pride and shame of an English gentlewoman. She believed herself cruelly treated, and rushing away, fell on Anna, who was hovering near, watching to prevent any arrival such as was always probable.
It would not be well to relate the angry, foolish words that Anna had to hear, nor how Maura betrayed herself and her own manoeuvre. It is enough to say that she went home, weeping demonstratively, perhaps uncontrollably; and that Anna, after her trying scene, was able to exalt more than ever Ivinghoe’s generosity towards the absent Gerald, and forbearance towards Franceska. If he had ever passed the line, it was more Maura’s doing than his own.
CHAPTER XXXI. THE COLD SHOULDER
Loath to depose the child, your brother’s son.-SHAKESPEARE.
A telegram early the next day announced that the Rotherwood family were on their way, and they came in due time, the kind embrace that Francie received from each in turn being such as to set doubts at rest.
In fact, the dread, first of Monte Carlo, and secondly of Maura White, had done much to prepare the way with Lady Rotherwood. If she had first heard of her son’s attachment to the pretty child who acted Mona, daughter to the upstart Vanderkists, and with a ruined father of no good repute, she would have held it a foolish delusion to be crushed without delay; but when this same attachment had lasted eight or nine months, and had only found avowal on the removal of a supposed rival; when, moreover, her darling had been ill, had revived at the aspect of the young lady, and had conducted himself in a place of temptation so as to calm an anxious mother’s heart, she could see with his eyes, not only that Franceska was really beautiful, graceful, and a true lady, but likely to develop still more under favourable circumstances; that she had improved in looks, air, and manner on her travels, also that she had never been injured by any contact with undesirable persons, but had been trained by the excellent Underwoods, whose gentle blood and breeding were undeniable. Nor would “the daughter of the late Sir Adrian Vanderkist, Baronet, of Ironbeam Park,” sound much amiss. He was so late, that his racing doings might be forgotten.
Indeed, as the Marchioness looked up to the castle, she felt that she could forgive a good deal to the damsel who had saved the family from the “sorry Rebecca,” who had cried all night, and was still crying, whenever any more tears would come, and not getting much pity from any of her relatives. Mr. White told her that she was a little fool to have expected anything from a young swell; her brother said she might have known that it was absurd to expect that any one could look at her when Miss Franceska was by; and Mrs. White observed that it was wonderful to her to see so little respect shown for maiden dignity, as to endure to manifest disappointment. Adeline might speak from ample experience, and certainly her words had a salutary effect.