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for though it was a long time ago, she could not get the idea out of her head that he must have said something to Lucilla before he went off to India; and he had a way of asking about his cousin in his letters; and though she would have done anything to secure her boy's happiness, and was on the whole rather fond of her niece, yet the idea of the objections her brotherin-law would have to such a match, excited to the uttermost the smouldering pride which existed in aunt Jemima's heart. He was better off, and had always been better off, than her poor John — and he had robust health and an awful scorn of the coddling, to which, as he said, she had subjected his brother; and he had money enough to keep his child luxuriously, and make her the leader of Carlingford society, while her poor boy had to go to India and put himself in the way of all kinds of unknown diseases and troubles. Mrs John was profoundly anxious to promote her son's happiness, and would gladly have given every penny she had to get him married to Lucilla, "if that was what he wanted," as she justly said; but to have her brother-in-law object to him, and suggest that he was not good enough, was the one thing she could not bear. She was thinking about this, and whether Tom really had not said anything, and whether Lucilla cared for him, and what amid all these perplexities she should do, while she dressed for dinner; and, at the same time, she felt her palpitation worse than usual, and knew Dr Marjoribanks would smile his grim smile if she complained, so that her visit to Grange Lane, though Lucilla meant to take such care of her, was not altogether unmingled delight to Mrs John.
But, nevertheless, Dr Marjoribanks's dinner-table was always a cheerful sight, even when it was only a dinner-party of three; for then naturally they used the round table, and were as snug as possible. Lucilla wore her knot of green and violet ribbons on her white dress, to her aunt's great amazement, and the Doctor had all the air of a man who had been out in the world all day and returned in the evening with something to tell—which is a thing which gives great animation to a family party. Mrs John Marjoribanks had been out of all that sort of thing for a long time. She had been living quite alone in a widowed forlorn way, and had half forgotten how pleasant it was to have somebody coming in with a breath of fresh air about him and the day's budget of news—and it had an animating effect upon her, even though she was not fond of her brother-in-law. Dr Marjoribanks inquired about Tom in the most fatherly way, and what he was about, and how things were looking for him, and whether he intended to come home. "Much better not," the Doctor said, — "I should certainly advise him not, if he asked me. He has got over all the
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worst of it, and now is his time to do something worth while."
"Tom is not one to think merely of worldly advantages," said his mother, with a fine instinct of opposition- "I don't think he would care to waste all the best part of his life making money. I'd rather see him come home and be happy, for my part, even if he were not so rich"
"If all men were happy that came home," said the Doctor, and then he gave a rather grim chuckle. "Somebody has come home that you did not reckon on, Lucilla. I am sorry to spoil sport; but I don't see how you are to get out of it. There is another address on the walls to-day besides that one of yours"
"Oh, I hope there will be six addresses!" cried Miss Marjoribanks; "if we had it all our own way it would be no fun ;—a Tory, and a Whig, and a—did you say Eadical, aunt Jemima? And then, what is a Conservative?" asked Lucilla, though certainly she had a very much better notion of political matters than aunt Jemima had, to say the least.
"I wonder how you can encourage any poor man to go into Parliament," said Mrs John; "so trying for the health as it must be, and an end to everything like domestic life. If it was my Tom I would almost rather he stayed in India. He looks strong, but there is never any confidence to be put in young men looking strong. Oh, I know you do not agree with me, Doctor; but I have had sad reason for my way of thinking," said the poor lady. As for the Doctor, he did not accept the challenge thus thrown to him. Tom Marjoribanks was not the foremost figure in the world in his eyes, as the absent wanderer was in that of his mother; and he had not yet unburdened himself of what he had to say.
"I am not saying anything in favour of going into Parliament," said the Doctor. "I'd sooner be a bargeman on the canal, if it was me. I am only telling Lucilla what she has before her. I don't know when I have been more surprised. Of course you were not looking for that" said Dr Marjoribanks. He had kept back until the things were taken off the table, for he had a benevolent disinclination to spoil anybody's dinner. Now, when all the serious part of the meal was over, he tossed the 'Carlingford Gazette' across the table, folded so that she could not miss what he wanted her to see. Lucilla took it up lightly between her finger and thumb; for the Carlingford papers were inky and badly printed, and soiled a lady's hand. She took it up delicately without either alarm or surprise, knowing very well that the Blues and the Yellows were not likely without a struggle to give up to the new standard, which was violet and green. But what she saw on that inky broadsheet overwhelmed in an
instant Miss Marjoribanks's self-possession. She turned pale, though her complexion was, if possible, fresher than ever, and even shivered in her chair, though her nerves were so steady. Could it be a trick to thwart and startle her? or could it be true? She lifted her eyes to her father with a look of horrorstricken inquiry, but all that she met in return was a certain air of amusement and triumph, which struck her at the tenderest point. He was not sorry nor sympathetic, nor did he care at all for the sudden shock she had sustained. On the contrary, he was laughing within himself at the utterly unexpected complication. It was cruel, but it was salutary, and restored her self-command in a moment. She might have given way under kindness, but this look of satisfaction over her discomfiture brought Lucilla to herself.
"Yes, I thought you would be surprised," said Dr Marjoribanks, dryly; and he took his first glass of claret with a slow relish and enjoyment, which roused every sentiment of self-respect and spark of temper existing in his daughter's mind. "If you had kept your own place it would not have mattered; but I don't see how you are to get out of it. You see young ladies should let these sort of things alone, Lucilla." This was all the feeling he showed for her in her unexpected dilemma. Miss Marjoribanks's heart gave one