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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 10. The Reason Of The Visit
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The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 10. The Reason Of The Visit Post by :JayBeau Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :3017

Click below to download : The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 10. The Reason Of The Visit (Format : PDF)

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 10. The Reason Of The Visit

CHAPTER X. THE REASON OF THE VISIT

On the evening of the next day Mrs. Bertram came home. She looked very tired and worn, but her manner to her children was less stern, and more loving than usual. Loftus, in especial, she kissed with rare tenderness; and even for one brief moment laid her head on her tall son's broad shoulder, as if she wanted to rest herself there.

On the evening of her mother's return Catherine was particularly bright and cheerful. As a rule, Catherine's will and her mother's were two opposing elements. Now they were one. This conjunction of two strong wills gave an immense sense of rest and harmony to the whole establishment. No one knew particularly why they felt peaceful and satisfied, but this was the true cause.

After dinner, Mrs. Bertram saw Catherine by herself. She called her into the big drawing-room; and while Loftus and Mabel accurately measured out a new tennis-court, asked her daughter many and various questions.

"She has really gone away, mother," said Catherine in conclusion. "I went to the lodge early this morning, and Tester told me that she got up early, and took a bit of bread in her pocket; but she would not even wait for a cup of tea. Tester said she was out of the house by six o'clock. She washed herself well first, though, and Mrs. Tester said that she came out of her bath as fair as a lily, and her hair shining like red gold. I thought last night, mother," concluded Catherine, "that Josephine must be a pretty girl. I should like to have seen her this morning when her hair shone and her face was like a lily."

"You are full of curiosity about this girl, are you not, Catherine?" asked her mother.

"It is true, mother. I conjecture much about her."

"I can never gratify your curiosity, nor set your conjectures right."

"You know about her then, mother?"

"Yes, I know about her."

"Is Josephine an impostor?"

Mrs. Bertram paused.

"She is an impostor," she said then, in a slow, emphatic voice.

"Mother," said her daughter, suddenly. "You look very ill."

"I have gone through a bad time, Kate. I have been worried. My dear child, be thankful you are not a middle-aged woman with many cares."

"The thing I should be most thankful for at this moment, mother, would be to share in all your worries."

"God forbid, child. Heaven forbid that such a lot should be yours. Now, my dear, we will keep our secret. It is only yours and mine. And--come here--kiss me--you have acted well, my darling."

The rare caress, the unwonted word of love, went straight to Catherine Bertram's deep heart. She put her firm young arm round her mother's neck, and something like a vow and a prayer went up to God from her fervent soul.

"Come out," said Mrs. Bertram. "The others will wonder what we are doing. Look as usual, Kitty, and fear nothing. I have been in peril, but for the present it is over."

When Mrs. Bertram appeared Loftus went up to her at once. She took his arm, and they paced slowly under the trees. If Mrs. Bertram loved her daughters, and there is no doubt she had a very real regard for them, Loftus Bertram was as the apple of her eye. She adored this young man, she was blind to his faults, and she saw his virtues through magnifying glasses.

Loftus could always talk his mother into the best of humors. He was not devoid of tact, and he knew exactly how to manage her, so as to bring her round to his wishes. Having two ends in view to-night he was more than usually fascinating. He wanted money to relieve a pressing embarrassment, and he also wished to cultivate his acquaintance with Beatrice Meadowsweet. He was not absolutely in love with Beatrice, but her cool indifference to all his fascinations piqued him. He thought it would be pleasant to see more of her, delightful to make a conquest of her. He was not the sort of man to thwart his own inclinations. Beatrice had contrived to make Northbury interesting to him, and he thought he could easily manage to get leave to visit it soon again.

That evening, therefore, Mrs. Bertram not only found herself arranging to put her hand to a bill, payable at the end of six months, for her son's benefit, but further, quite complacently agreeing to call the very next day on Mrs. Meadowsweet, the wife of the ex-shopkeeper.

Hence that visit which had aroused the jealous feelings not only of Mrs. Morris, of Mrs, Butler and Miss Peters, but more or less of the whole society of Northbury.

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