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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWhat Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 5
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What Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 5 Post by :Cheetaz Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :790

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What Will He Do With It - Book 12 - Chapter 5



Darrell escaped into the house; Fairthorn sunk upon the ground, and resigned himself for some minutes to unmanly lamentations. Suddenly he started up; a thought came into his brain--a hope into his breast. He made a caper--launched himself into a precipitate zig-zag--gained the hall-door-plunged into his own mysterious hiding-place--and in less than an hour re-emerged, a letter in his hand, with which he had just time to catch the postman, as that functionary was striding off from the back yard with the official bag.

This exploit performed, Fairthorn shambled into his chair at the dinner-table, as George Morley concluded the grace which preceded the meal that in Fairthorn's estimation usually made the grand event of the passing day. But the poor man's appetite was gone. As Sophy dined with Waife, the Morleys alone shared, with host and secretary, the melancholy entertainment. George was no less silent than Fairthorn; Darrell's manner perplexed him. Mrs. Morley, not admitted into her husband's confidence in secrets that concerned others, though in all his own he was to her conjugal sight _pellucidior vitro_, was the chief talker; and being the best woman in the world, ever wishing to say something pleasant, she fell to praising the dear old family pictures that scowled at her from the wall, and informed Fairthorn that she had made great progress with her sketch of the old house as seen from the lake, and was in doubt whether she should introduce in the foreground some figures of the olden time, as in Nash's Views of Baronial Mansions. But not a word could she coax out of Fairthorn; and when she turned to appeal to Darrell, the host suddenly addressed to George a question as to the text and authorities by which the Papal Church defends its doctrine of Purgatory. That entailed a long and, no doubt, erudite reply, which lasted not only through the rest of the dinner, but till Mrs. Motley, edified by the discourse, and delighted to notice the undeviating attention which Darrell paid to her distinguished spouse, took advantage of the first full stop, and retired. Fairthorn finished his bottle of port, and, far from convinced that there was no Purgatory, but inclined to advance the novel heresy that Purgatory sometimes commenced on this side the grave--slinked away, and was seen no more that night; neither was his flute heard.

Then Darrell rose and said: "I shall go up-stairs to our sick friend for a few minutes; may I find you here when I come back? Your visit to him can follow mine."

On entering Waife's room, Darrell went straight forward towards Sophy, and cut off her retreat.

"Fair guest," said he, with a grace and tenderness of manner which, when he pleased it, could be ineffably bewitching--"teach me some art by which in future rather to detain than to scare away the presence in which a duller age than mine could still recognise the charms that subdue the young." He led her back gently to the seat she had deserted--placed himself next to her--addressed a few cordial queries to Waife about his health and comforts--and then said: "You must not leave me for some days yet. I have written by this post to my kinsman, Lionel Haughton. I have refused to be his ambassador at a court in which, by all the laws of nations, he is bound to submit himself to his conqueror. I cannot even hope that he may escape with his freedom. No! chains for life! Thrice happy, indeed, if that be the merciful sentence you inflict."

He raised Sophy's hand to his lips as he ended, and before she could even quite comprehend the meaning of his words--so was she startled, confused, incredulous of such sudden change in fate--the door had closed on Darrell, and Waife had clasped her to his breast, murmuring, "Is not Providence kind?"

Darrell rejoined the scholar. "George," said he, "be kind enough to tell Alban that you showed me his letter. Be kind enough also to write to Lady Montfort, and say that I gratefully acknowledge her wish to repair to me those losses which have left me to face age and the grave alone. Tell her that her old friend (you remember, George, I knew her as a child) sees in that wish the same sweet goodness of heart which soothed him when his son died and his daughter fled. Add that her wish is gratified. To that marriage in which she compassionately foresaw the best solace left to my bereaved and baffled existence--to that marriage I give my consent."

"You do! Oh, Mr. Darrell, how I honour you!"

"Nay, I no more deserve honour for consenting than I should have deserved contempt if I had continued to refuse. To do what I deemed right is not more my wish now than it was twelve hours ago. To what so sudden a change of resolve, in one who changes resolves very rarely, may be due, whether to Lady Montfort, to Alban, or to that metaphysical skill with which you wound into my reason, and compelled me to review all its judgments, I do not attempt to determine; yet I thought I had no option but the course I had taken. No; it is fair to yourself to give you the chief credit; you made me desire, you made me resolve, to find an option--I have found one. And now pay your visit where mine has been just paid. It will be three days, I suppose, before Lionel, having joined his new regiment at * * *, can be here. And then it will be weeks yet, I believe, before his regiment sails; and I'm all for short courtships."

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