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withdrawn, in justice to her own sense of propriety; but then she thought it was not impossible that he might propose to Lucilla on the spot, or take her hand or something, and for propriety's sake she stayed.
"Yes," said Lucilla—and her heart did for one little moment give a faint thump against her breast. She could not help thinking what a difference it might have made to him, poor fellow, had he been under her lawful and righteous sway these ten years. But as she looked at him it became more and more apparent to Miss Marjoribanks that Mr Cavendish had gone off, whatever she herself might have done. The outlines of his fine figure had changed considerably, and his face was a little red, and he had the look of a man whose circumstances, spiritual and temporal, would not quite bear a rigid examination. As she looked at him her pity became tinged by a certain shade of resentment, to think that after all it was his own fault. She could not, notwithstanding her natural frankness of expression, say to him—" You foolish soul, why didn't you marry me somehow, and make a man of yourself?" Lucilla carried honesty very far, but she could not go as far as that. "Yes," she said, turning her eyes upon him with a sort of abstract sympathy, and then she added softly—" Have you ever seen Her again?" with a lowering of her voice.
This interesting question, which utterly bewildered aunt Jemima, drove Mr Cavendish wild with rage. Mrs John said afterwards that she felt a shiver go through her as he took up the carving-knife, though it was only to cut some cold beef. He grew white all at once, and pressed his lips tightly together, and fixed his eyes on the wall straight before him. "I did not think, after what I once said to you, Miss Marjoribanks, that you would continue to insult my judgment in that way/' he said, with a chill which fell upon the whole table, and took the life out of everything, and dimmed the very fire in the chimney. And after that the conversation was of a sufficiently ordinary description until they went back again into the drawing-room, by which time Mr Cavendish seemed to have concluded that it was best to pocket the affront.
"I am going to begin my canvass to-morrow," he said. "I have not seen anybody yet. I have nobody but my sister to take me in hand, you know. There was once a time when it might have been different"— and he gave Lucilla a look which she thought on the whole it was best to meet.
"Yes," said Miss Marjoribanks, with cruel distinctness, "there was a time when you were the most popular man in Grange Lane—everybody was fond of you. I remember it as if it had been yesterday," said Lucilla, with a sigh.
"You don't give a man much encouragement, by Jove!" said the unlucky candidate. "You remember it like yesterday! It may be vanity, but I flatter myself I shall still be found the most popular man in Grange Lane."
Miss Marjoribanks sighed again, but she did not say anything. On the contrary she turned to aunt Jemima, who kept in the background an alarmed and alert spectator, to consult her about a shade of wool; and just then Mr Cavendish, looking out of the window, saw Major Brown conducting his rival through his garden, and shaking hands with him cordially at the door. This was more than the patience of the other candidate could bear. A sudden resolution, hot and angry, as are the resolutions of men who feel themselves to have a failing cause, came into his mind. He had been badgered and baited to such an extent (as he thought) that he had not time to consider if it was wise or not. He, too, had sat to Maria Brown, and commanded once the warmest admiration of the household. He thought he would put it to the test, and see if after all his popularity was only a thing to be remembered like yesterday;—and it was with this intention that he bade a hurried good-bye to Lucilla, and, rushing out, threw himself at once upon the troubled waves of society, which had once been as smooth as glass to the most popular man in Grange Lane.
Me Cavendish thought he had been an object of admiration to Maria Brown, as we have said. He thought of it with a little middle-aged complacency, and a confidence that this vague sentiment would stand the test he was about to apply to it, which did honour to the freshness of his heart. With this idea it was Miss Brown he asked for as he knocked at the Major's door; and he found them both in the drawing-room, Maria with gloves on to hide the honourable stains of her photography, which made her comparatively useless when she was out of her "studio "—and her father walking about in a state of excitement, which was, indeed, what Mr Cavendish expected. The two exchanged a guilty look when they saw who their visitor was. They looked as people might well look who had been caught in the fact and did not know how to get over it. They came forward, both of them, with a cowardly cordiality and eagerness to welcome