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taken up a book. Margaret was a straightforward girl: she liked to know the worst of things: it was better to bear than uncertainty. If her father did not speak presently, she would.
'Papa-was not that Mr. Grainger who went out ?"
"It was. Mr. Grainger is not the only visitor I have had this morning," added Dr. Channing, looking at Margaret's back, for her face was turned away. "Colonel Hoare has been here."
More perplexity for Margaret. Colonel the Honourable Gregory Hoare was the father of Captain Hoare; and Captain Hoare was the most inveterate admirer she had, next to Mr. Grainger. A suspicion had more than once crossed Margaret's mind that he was the one for whom she should sometime discard Adam Grainger.
"Come, Margaret, it is of no use beating about the bush," said Dr. Channing. "Did you know of these visits? Let us begin with Mr. Grainger. Were you aware of the purport ?"
"That is no answer. Did you send Adam Grainger to me with a demand that I should allow you to become his wife ?"
"No," said Margaret.
"I thought so. I informed him that he must be labouring under a mistake. He said there was an attachment between you, and that it had existed some time."
66 Oh, papa !" stammered the confused girl, " gentlemen do assert such strange things!"
"The very remark I made to him-that it was the strangest piece of rigmarole I ever heard. He persisted in it."
"How did it end? what was the result?" she inquired, still staring from the window and seeing nothing. "I suppose you refused him, papa?" "There was nothing else to do. You don't want to marry a tradesman, I conclude-and really those insurance-office people are little better than tradesmen," added the reverend divine.
Margaret's cheek burnt, and Margaret's heart rebelled; and she winced, for his sake, at those slighting words, as she would have winced at an insult to herself.
"Did you quarrel?" she inquired, drawing a deep breath. "What did you say? Quarrel? I never quarrel with any one. was especially civil to the young man. He harped upon the former intiof the families-as if that gave him the right to ask for you." cut that argument short by reminding him that the intimacy, as he persisted in terming it, arose from nothing but a school-girl acquaintanceship. I also took pains to point out to him that Miss Channing, as the daughter of a country rector, and Miss Channing in her present sphere, were two people entirely distinct and different. And I suggested to him that his visits might cease, as they would not be pleasant here, after so singular a misapprehension."
A spasm of pain flitted over Margaret's features. Dr. Channing
"Margaret!" he hastily said, in a sharper accent than was common for the equable Dr. Channing, "are not these your own sentiments? Do you regret my dismissal of this young man ?"
"No, no, papa," she replied, rousing herself. would not have married him."
"It is best as it is. I
"Captain Hoare would be more agreeable to you, perhaps?" "Captain Hoare?"
"I observed to you that Colonel Hoare had called. The first time he has done me the honour, although they attend my chapel. If ever there was a proud family, it is those Hoares. However I have nothing to say against becoming pride. Colonel Hoare believes that his son and Miss Channing look on each other with a favourable eye. Is it so, Margaret?"
"Did he-for Captain Hoare-make me an offer of marriage ?" rejoined Margaret, in a low tone, evading the question and asking another.
"It was coming to it as I believe when that young Grainger interrupted us, and Spilson was such a marplot as to usher him into the same room. The next time Spilson does such a stupid thing he may take his wages. Upjumped the colonel, and said he would call in later. I should like Captain Hoare to be my son-in-law, Margaret. There's not a better family in England than the Hoares, and the mother, Lady Sophia, looks a charming woman. That will be a desirable connexion if you like!" So Margaret thought. Vain ambition rose up in her heart, overshadowing, for the moment, all unpleasant regrets.
"We appointed half-past three this afternoon, therefore Colonel Hoare will be here then. The conference is to relate to money and settlements. It would be proper, he said, for us to agree upon that score before matters went on further."
"Papa," asked Margaret, "had Mr. Grainger been in the position of Captain Hoare, possessing wealth and family, would you have objected to him ?"
"No. I like the young man exceedingly. But your interests must be paramount. Where was the use of your asking that ?"
"Indeed where! It was only a sudden thought."
A friend called to take Miss Channing for a drive. It was late when she returned, and then her father, as she expected, had gone out to dine with a brother clergyman. She was anxious to know what arrangements had been concluded with Colonel Hoare. She pictured herself the future bride of his distinguished son, she held her head an inch higher as she dwelt on it, and kept repeating to herself that she would like him, she would forget Adam Grainger.
Easier said than done, Miss Channing.
She dined alone, and then went up to dress, for she was engaged to an evening party, where she would be joined by her father. Captain Hoare was to be there too-oh! let her look her best. And she did so. Entering the dining-room for a moment, as she descended, who should be in it but Mr. Grainger. She quite started back. Though her heart, true to itself, beat with pleasure, her conscience dreaded the interview; and could he or she have vanished into air, after the fashion of an apparition, it had been welcome to Margaret.
"Margaret," he exclaimed, seizing her hand, "I have waited here a whole half hour; it has seemed to me like a day."
"I did not expect you," she faltered.
"You must have expected me," was the impatient rejoinder. "Margaret! the answer your father gave me this morning was not your answer!"
"How can I go against my father ?"
"The question was not mooted of whether I should call you wife," he continued, more and more impetuously, "we did not get so far; that-if will-must come later; but he said there was no attachment between us-said it, as I understood, from you. What does that mean ?"
"Not from me," she replied, in a timid tone; "I had not then spoken with him. But--Adam-my father says that what has been between us must be so no longer."
"Do you dare to tell me to my face that our long love is wasted? A thing to be forgotten from henceforth-thrown away as worthless ?" "You terrify me," she said, bursting into tears, for indeed she was in a confused state of perplexity. And serve her right!
Margaret, my love," he whispered, changing his angry tone for one of sweet tenderness, "terrify' is a strange word for you to use to me. Perhaps we are mistaking each other: will you give me leave to ask for you of your father ?"
Her heart hesitated then, her deep love shone out prominently before her, her spirit told her that her life's happiness was bound up in him: should she wilfully throw it away for ever? It was a heavy responsibility to be decided in that hurried moment. A belief, bearing its own conviction, was within her, that if she wished to marry Adam Grainger, her father would not hold out against it, for she was very dear to him. But, in their turn, arose other visions: of the pomps and pride of the world, and the lust and luxury of high life: all very attractive vanities, and in which she would revel to the full, should she become the envied daughterin-law of the Honourable Colonel and Lady Sophia Hoare. Her resolve was taken, and she steeled her heart to him who stood there.
Margaret," he panted, "what is it that has come between us? To you I will not repeat what Dr. Channing said—and I have thought, since, that I may have mistaken him when he seemed to insinuate that I was not your equal. Surely you cannot doubt my ability to afford you a suitable home ?"
“Adam-I fear-there is no help for it. We must part.'
He folded his arms and looked at her, breathing heavily. "It appears that I must be also mistaking you. Say that again."
"I am very sorry, Adam. I shall always think of you with regret. I hope" hope
Stop!" he thundered, "do not let us bandy compliments in a moment like this. Give me an unvarnished answer. Is it your wish that we part, and become as strangers?"
"The wish is urged by necessity," she murmured, "not choice." "What necessity?"
My father's will. He says he does say, Adam—that I must marry
in a higher sphere."
It must not be."
"We will not speak now of your father's will," he hoarsely repeated ; "I demand whether it is your will that I ask for you ?" "No," she was obliged to reply; "it is too late. He snapped at the words "too late," chafing with passion. "Too late! what folly are you talking? In what way is it too late? Are you promised to another?"
A desperate resolution came over her-that she would tell him the
truth. It would serve to put an end to this scene, which was becoming too painful. "I believe I am," she said, scarcely above a whisper.
A sudden paleness overspread his heated face, and he drew his hand across his brow. Heavy drops of emotion had gathered there.
"God forgive you!" he breathed. "As true as that you are a false woman, Margaret Channing, you will live to repent of this."
"I hope that-after a while-you will forgive me. I hope when our feelings yes, ours-have softened down, that we shall renew our friendship. Why should we not? It would be valuable to have you for a friend through life."
"Who is it?" he rejoined, with unnatural calmness.
Captain Hoare. But, oh, Adam!" she added, with a burst of irrepressible feeling that ought to have been kept in, and she laid her hand upon his arm, as in the days of their affection, "do not think I love him! In one sense I am not false to you, for I can never love him, or any one, as I have loved you. The marriage is suitable, and I have fallen into it from worldly motives. It will take me years-it will-even of my marriage life to forget you. Give me your forgiveness now, before we part."
For answer, he cast upon her a long look of withering contempt, shook her hand from his arm as if it had been a loathsome thing, and flung himself out at the door.
She sank down on a chair and gave vent to a passionate burst of tears; loud, heavy cries, as one hears from a child. Now that it was done, she would have given the whole world to recal him, and she thought her heart was breaking. She took no heed of the minutes as they passed; those shrieking sobs only grew more hysterical. When she became calmer she dragged herself up-stairs and shut herself in her room, proceeding to bathe her eyes and obliterate the signs of her emotion. Then she descended to the carriage, which had long waited for her.
With the lighted rooms, the music, and the gay crowd she was soon mixing in, Margaret's spirits returned. "I will strive-I will thrust regret and care from me," she murmured; "the anguish will not be so great if I make a resolute effort against it. How late Captain Hoare is!” If Margaret had but known what was detaining him!
Captain Hoare dined that day with some young men at their club, and only went home afterwards to dress. His father and mother were sitting alone the colonel over his wine.
"What's the news?" cried the captain, as he sat down. "No, thank you: it is too hot for port. I don't mind a glass of claret."
He had asked the question in a listless sort of manner, as if not very much caring whether he received an answer or not. Consequently he was scarcely prepared for the sharp way in which his mother, arousing herself from her after-dinner drowsiness, took him
"The news is this, sir, that you ought to have inquired further, before despatching your father on a fool's errand. Twice he went."
"A fool's errand!" echoed the gallant captain.
"A fruitless one," interposed the colonel. "We were much against the match in every way, Edward, as you know, for the Channings are not people to mate with us, but
'It was derogatory even to think of it," interrupted Lady Sophia. "I strove to impress that upon you, colonel, before you went."
"My dear-Edward was so bent upon it: and I thought there might
be mitigating circumstances. If the girl had had twenty or thirty thousand pounds told down with her, one might have swallowed it. However, all's well that ends well. Channing refuses to give her any until his death, so the matter is at an end."
Why does he refuse?" asked the captain, with a very blank look. "He told me he should give her none before he died, and that what there would be for her then, the precise amount, he really could not state. And he proceeded to ask me, in a tone of resentment, if I had come there to make a barter for his daughter."
"I hope this will cure you of looking for a wife in a plebeian family, son Edward," observed Lady Sophia. "Your brothers have both married women of title and I am sick and tired of advising you to do the same. It would not have been convenient to them to receive Miss Channing as a sister-in-law. Who are these Channings? Nobody. He was nothing but a country parson: it is only since he got this chapel that even their name has been heard of."
"But Miss Channing will surely have money, sir," remonstrated Captain Hoare, passing over his mother's remarks without comment.
"Whether she will have a thousand pounds, or whether she will have fifty thousand, is nothing to us," was Colonel Hoare's reply. "You cannot marry her upon the uncertainty. I should never give my consent. I tell you—indeed I told you before-that my only inducement was the hope that she might be a large fortune. You must give her up." "Well-if there's no help for it. I don't feel inclined to marry the best girl that ever stepped, unless she can bring grist to the mill.”
"There is plenty of time for you to think of marrying," cried Lady Sophia. "I cannot imagine what put such a thing in your head. Pray forget this nonsensical episode of romance, Edward." "But she was
66 I suppose I must," said the young officer to himself.
a deuced nice girl, and I took it for granted the old parson would give her lots of tin."
So, little wonder Captain Hoare was late. When he entered, the evening was drawing to a close. Miss Channing was waltzing, in exuberant spirits so far as anything appeared to the contrary. He came up to her when she was free. She was standing in the recess of the bowwindow, which opened upon a small terrace filled with exotics-a London apology for a garden. At the moment no one was there but herself, so they were comparatively alone. Captain Hoare took her hand in silence. "I thought you told me you should be here early?" she exclaimed. "I did mean to be. But as things have turned out-I doubted whether I ought to appear at all, and lost time deliberating. Then an irresistible impulse seized me to come and bid you a last farewell. And why not? Nobody here knows what has passed, or will be the wiser." Had he spoken in Hebrew, his words could not have been much more unintelligible to Miss Channing.
"Bid me farewell!" she repeated. "I do not understand. regiment ordered abroad?"
Neither did Captain Hoare understand, just then. "Perhaps you have not seen Dr. Channing?" he exclaimed, after a pause, as a sudden idea occurred to him.
"I have not seen papa since the middle of the day."
“You are not ignorant, dear Miss Channing, that I had set my heart