The Young Step-Mother eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 787 pages of information about The Young Step-Mother.

‘What did Lucy tell you about him?  She did not meet him!’ cried Albinia, endeavouring not to betray her alarm.  ’I mean, did she meet him?’

‘Indeed,’ said Miss Ferrars, ’you should have warned us if you had any objection, my dear.’

‘Well, but what did happen?’

’Oh, nothing alarming, I assure you.  They met at a ball at Brighton; Lucy introduced him, and said he was your vicar’s nephew; they danced together.  I think only once.’

‘I wish you had mentioned it.  When did it happen?’

’I can hardly tell.  I think she had been about a fortnight with us, but she seemed so indifferent that I should never have thought it worth mentioning.  I remember my sister thought of asking him to a little evening party of ours, and Lucy dissuading her.  Now, really, Albinia, don’t look as if we had been betraying our trust.  You never gave us any reason to think—­’

’No, no.  I beg your pardon, dear aunt.  I hope there’s no harm done.  If I could have thought of his turning up, I would—­But I hope it is all right.’

Such good accounts came from both homes, and the General was so unwilling to part with his brother and sister, that he persuaded them to accompany him to Southampton for embarkation.  They all felt that these last days, precious now, might be doubly precious by-and-by, and alone with them and free from the kindly scrutiny of the good aunts, William expanded and evinced more warm fraternal feeling than he had ever manifested.  He surprised his sister by thanking her warmly for having come to meet him.  ’I am glad to have been with you, Albinia; I am glad to have seen your husband.  I have told Maurice that I am heartily rejoiced to see you in such excellent hands.’

‘You must come and see the children, and know him better.’

’I hope so, when this affair is over, and I expect it will be soon settled.  Anyway, I am glad we have been together.  If we meet again, we will try to see more of one another.’

He had said much more to his brother, expressing regret that he had been so much separated from his sister.  Thorough soldier as he was, and ardent for active service, the sight of her and her husband had renewed gentler thoughts, and he was so far growing old that the idea of home and rest came invitingly before him.  He was softened at the parting, and when he wrung their hands for the last time on the deck of the steamer, they were glad that his last words were, ’God bless you.’

There had been some uncertainty as to the time of his sailing, and Fairmead and Bayford had been told that unless their travellers arrived by the last reasonable train on Friday, they were not to be expected till the same time on Saturday, Maurice having concocted a scheme for crossing by several junction lines, so as to save waiting; but they had not reckoned on the discourtesies of two rival companies whose lines met at the same station, and the southern train was only in time to hear the parting snort of the engine that it professed to catch.

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