The Young Step-Mother eBook

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

In mute astonishment Albinia looked up, and met Genevieve’s eyes.  ‘Oh, madame, you are displeased with me!’ she cried in despair, misinterpreting the look, ‘but indeed I could not help it.’

‘My dear child,’ said Albinia, affectionately putting her arm round her waist, and drawing her down on the seat beside her, ’indeed I am not displeased with you; you are doing the very best thing possible by us all.  Think I am your sister, and tell me what is the meaning of all this, and then I will try to help you.’

‘Oh, madame, you are too good,’ said Genevieve, weeping; and kindly holding the trembling hand, Albinia finished the letter, herself.  ’Silly boy!  Genevieve, dear girl, you must set my mind at rest; this is too childish—­this is not the kind of thing that would touch your affections, I am sure.’

‘Oh! pour cela non,’ said Genevieve.  ’Oh! no; I am grateful to Mr. Gilbert Kendal, for, even as a little boy, he was always kind to me, but for the rest—­he is so young, madame, even if I could forget—­’

‘I see,’ said Albinia.  ’I am sure that you are much too good and sensible at your age to waste a moment’s thought or pain on such a foolish boy, as he certainly is, Genevieve, though not so foolish in liking you, whatever he may be in the way of expressing it.  Though of course—­’ Albinia had floundered into a dreadful bewilderment between her sense of Genevieve’s merits and of the incompatibility of their station, and she plunged out by asking, ’And how long has this been going on?’

Genevieve hesitated.  ’To speak the truth, madame, I have long seen that, like many other youths, he would be—­very attentive if one were not guarded; but I had known him so long, that perhaps I did not soon enough begin, to treat him en jeune homme.

‘And this is his first letter?’

‘Oh! yes, madame.’

’He complains that you will not hear him?  Do you dislike to tell me if anything had passed previously?’

‘Thursday,’ was slightly whispered.

’Thursday! ah! now I begin to understand the cause of your being suddenly moon-struck.’

‘Ah! madame, pardon me!’

‘I see—­it was the only way to avoid a tete-a-tete!’ said Albinia.  ‘Well done, Genevieve.  What had he been saying to you, my dear?’

Poor Genevieve cast about for a word, and finally faltered out, ’Des sottises, Madame.’

‘That I can well believe,’ said Albinia.  ‘Well, my dear—­’

‘I think,’ pursued Genevieve, ’that he was vexed because I would not let him absorb me exclusively at Fairmead; and began to reproach me, and protest—­’

‘And like a wise woman you waked the sleeping dragon,’ said Albinia.  ‘Was this all?’

’No, madame; so little had passed, that I hoped it was only the excitement, and that he would forget; but on Saturday he met me in the flagged path, and oh! he said a great deal, though I did my best to convince him that he could only make himself be laughed at.  I hoped even then that he was silenced, and that I need not mention it, but I see he has been watching me, and I dare not go out alone lest I should meet him.  He called this morning, and not seeing me left this note.’

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The Young Step-Mother from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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