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The Young Step-Mother eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 626 pages of information about The Young Step-Mother.

’And do you think Captain Ferrars was laughing at her?  I wish you would tell her, mamma.  Gilbert says he is a fine, flourishing officer in moustaches, who, he is sure, flirts with and breaks the heart of every girl he meets.  If he is right, mamma, it would cure Genevieve to tell her so, and you would not mind it, though he is your cousin.’

‘Poor Fred!’ said Albinia.  ’I am sorry Gilbert conceived such a notion.  But Genevieve’s heart is too sensible to break in that way, even if Fred wished it, and I can acquit him of such savage intentions.  I never should have seen any harm in all that Genevieve did last night if she had not talked us to death coming home!  Still I think she was off her balance, and I own I am disappointed.  But we don’t know what it is to be born French!’

CHAPTER XVI.

’Mrs. Kendal, dear Madame, a great favour, could you spare me a few moments?’

A blushing face was raised with such an expression of contrite timidity, that Albinia felt sure that the poor little Frenchwoman had recovered from her brief intoxication, and wanted to apologize and be comforted, so she said kindly,

’I was wishing to see you, my dear; I was afraid the day had been too much for you; I was certain you were feverish.’

’Ah! you were so good to make excuses for me.  I am so ashamed when I think how tedious, how disagreeable I must have been.  It was why I wished to speak to you.’

’Never mind apologies, my dear; I have felt and done the like many a time—­it is the worst of enjoying oneself.’

‘Oh! that was not all—­I could not help it—­enjoyment—­no!’ stammered Genevieve.  ‘If you would be kind enough to come this way.’

She opened her grandmother’s back gate, the entrance to a slip of garden smothered in laurels, and led the way to a small green arbour, containing a round table, transformed by calico hangings into what the embroidered inscription called ’Autel a l’Amour filial et maternel,’ bearing a plaster vase full of fresh flowers, but ere Albinia had time to admire this achievement of French sentiment, Genevieve exclaimed, clasping her hands, ’Oh, madame, pardon me, you who are so good!  You will tell no one, you will bring on him no trouble, but you will tell him it is too foolish—­you will give him back his billet, and forbid him ever to send another.’

Spite of the confidence about Emily, spite of all unreason, such was the family opinion of Fred’s propensity to fall in love, that Albinia’s first suspicion lighted upon him, but as her eye fell on the pink envelope the handwriting concerned her even more nearly.

‘Gilbert!’ she cried.  ’My dear, what is this?  Do you wish me to read it?’

‘Yes, for I cannot.’  Genevieve turned away, as in his best hand, and bad it was, Albinia read the commencement—­

“My hope, my joy, my Genevieve!”

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