« ForrigeFortsett »
consequence to Lucilla? Mrs John was considerably alarmed and startled, and began to think in earnest that Tom was fond of his cousin, and would never forgive his mother for letting Lucilla perhaps marry some one else, and settle down before her very eyes.
"If it is a very particular friend, I can understand it," Mrs John said, with a little asperity; but that was after she had made a great many attempts, which were only partially successful, to find it all out .
"Dear aunt Jemima," said Lucilla, "we are all particular friends in Carlingford-society is so limited, you know;-and Mr Cavendish has been a very loner time away. He used to be of such use to me, and I am so fond of him," Miss Marjoribanks said, with a «gh; and it may be supposed that Mrs John's curiosity was not lessened by such a response.
"K y°u «■ engflfefed to any one, Lucilla, I must say I think I ought to have been told," said Tom's mother with natural indignation. "Though I ought not to blame you for it, perhaps. It is a sad thin, when a fprf is deprived of a mother's care; but still I am your nearest relation-"
"My dear aunt, it is something about the election" «ad Minn Marjoribanks. "How could I be engaged to a man who has been away ten years?"
been away ten years," said Mrs John, udy; and then she blushed, though she was past the age of blushing, and made haste to cover her imprudence. "I don't see what you can have to do with the election," she said, with suspicion, but some justice; "and I don't feel, Lucilla, as if you were telling me all."
"I have the favours to make, aunt Jemima," said Lucilla—" green and violet. You used to be so clever at making bows, and I hope you will help me ;—papa, you know, will have to be on Mr Ashburton's committee," Miss Marjoribanks added; and then, in spite of herself, a sigh of doubt and anxiety escaped her bosom. It was easy to say that "papa would be on Mr Ashburton's committee, you know," but nobody had known that Mr Cavendish was coming to drive everything topsy-turvy; and Lucilla, though she professed to know only who was the man for Carlingford, had at the same time sufficient political information to be aware that the sentiments propounded in Mr Cavendish's address were also Dr Marjoribanks's sentiments; and she did not know the tricks which some green-andviolet spirit in the dining-room was playing with the Doctor's fancy. Perhaps it might turn out to be Mr Cavendish's committee which her father would be on; and after she had pledged herself that the other was the man for Carlingford! Lucilla felt that she could not be disloyal and go back from her word, neither could she forget the intimation which had so plainly indicated to her that Mr Ashburton was the man; and yet, at the same time, she could not but sigh as she thought of Mr Cavendish. Perhaps he had grown coarse, as men do at that age, just as Lucilla herself was conscious that he would find her stouter. Perhaps he had ceased to flirt, or be of any particular use of an evening; possibly even he might have forgotten Miss Marjoribanks—but naturally that was a thing that seemed unlikely to Lucilla. And oh! if he had but come a little earlier, or for ever stayed away!
But while all these thoughts were going through her mind, her fingers were still busy with the violetand-green cockades which aunt Jemima, after making sure that Mr Ashburton was not a Eadical, had begun to help her with. And they sat and talked about Mrs John's breathing, which was so bad, and about her headaches, while Lucilla by snatches discussed the situation in her mind. Perhaps, on the whole, embarrassment and perplexity are a kind of natural accompaniment to life and movement; and it is better to be driven out of your senses with thinking which of two things you ought to do than to do nothing whatever, and be utterly uninteresting to all the world. This at least was how Lucilla reasoned to herself in her dilemma; and while she reasoned she used up yard upon yard of her green ribbon (for naturally the violet bore but a small proportion to the green). Whatever she might have to do or to suffer—however her thoughts might be disturbed or her heart distracted—it is unnecessary to add that it was impossible to Lucilla either to betray or to yield.
It was a very good thing for Lucilla that Mrs John was so much of an invalid, notwithstanding that the Doctor made little of her complaints. All that Dr Marjoribanks said was — with that remnant of Scotch which was often perceptible in his speech — that her illnesses were a fine thing to occupy her, and he did not know what she would do without them — a manner of speaking which naturally lessened his daughter's anxiety, though her sympathetic care and solicitude were undiminished. And no doubt, when she had been once assured that there was nothing dangerous in her aunt's case, it was a relief to Miss Marjoribanks at the present juncture that Mrs John got up late and always breakfasted in her own room. Lucilla went into that sanctuary after she had given her father his breakfast, and heard all about the palpitation and the bad night aunt Jemima had passed; and