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had built for him when, after twelve years, he left the

source:sluggish netedit:governmenttime:2023-12-05 22:27:21

"So is every girl when a first offer is made to her. How is any girl so to arrange her thoughts at a moment's notice as to accept a man off-hand?"

had built for him when, after twelve years, he left the

"Very rarely, I think; and when they do they are hardly worth having," said Lady Albury, laying down the law on the matter with great precision. "If a girl accept a man all at once when she has had, as it were, no preparation for such a proposal, she must always surely be in a state of great readiness for matrimonial projects. When there has been a prolonged period of spooning then of course it is quite a different thing. The whole thing has in fact been arranged before the important word has been spoken."

had built for him when, after twelve years, he left the

"What a professor in the art you are!" said he.

had built for him when, after twelve years, he left the

"The odd thing is, that such a one as you should be so ignorant. Can't you understand that she would not come to Stalham if her mind were made up against you? I said nothing of you as a lover, but I took care to let her know that you were coming. You are very ready to put yourself in the same boat with poor Ben Batsby or that other unfortunate wretch. Would she, do you think, have consented to come had she known that Ben would have been there, or your friend Tom Tringle?"

There was much more of it, but the upshot was -- as the Colonel had intended that it should be -- that Lady Albury was made to understand that Ayala's goodwill was essential to his happiness. "Of course I will do my best," she said, as he parted from her. "Though I am not quite as much in love with her myself as you are, yet I will do my best." Then when she was left alone, and was prosecuting her inquiries about the new cook, and travelling back in the afternoon to Stalham, she again considered how wonderful a thing it was such a girl as Ayala, so small, apparently so unimportant, so childish in her manner, with so little to say for herself, should become a person of such terrible importance. The twentieth came, and at ten minutes before two Ayala was at the Paddington Railway Station. The train, which was to start at 2.15, had been chosen by herself so that she might avoid the Colonel, and there she was, with her aunt, waiting for it. Mrs Dosett had thought it to be her duty to see her off, and had come with her in the cab. There were the two boxes laden with her wardrobe, such as it was. Both she and her aunt had worked hard; for though -- as she had declared to herself -- there was no special reason for it, still she had wished to look her best. As she saw the boxes put into the van, and had told herself how much shabbier they were than the boxes of other young ladies who went visiting to such houses as Stalham, she rejoiced that Colonel Stubbs was not there to see them. And she considered whether it was possible that Colonel Stubbs should recognise a dress which she had worn at Stalham before, which was now to appear in a quite altered shape. She wondered also whether it would be possible that Colonel Stubbs should know how poor she was. As she was thinking of all this there was Colonel Stubbs on the platform.

She had never doubted but that her little plan would be efficacious. Nor had her aunt doubted -- who had seen through the plan, though not a word had been spoken between them on the subject. Mrs Dosett had considered it to be impossible that a Colonel engaged on duties of importance at Aldershot should run away from them to wait upon a child like Ayala -- even though he had professed himself to be in love with the child. She had never seen the Colonel, and on this occasion did not expect to see him. But there he was, all suddenly, shaking hands with Ayala.

"My aunt, Mrs Dosett," whispered Ayala. Then the Colonel began to talk to the elder lady as though the younger lady were a person of very much less importance. Yes, he had run up from Aldershot a little earlier than he had intended. There had been nothing particular to keep him down at Aldershot. It had always been his intention to go to Stalham on this day, and he was glad of the accident which was bringing Miss Dormer there just at the same time. He spent a good deal of his time at Stalham because Sir Harry and he, who were in truth cousins, were as intimate as brothers. He always lived at Stalham when he could get away from duty and was not in London. Stalham was a very nice place certainly; one of the most comfortable houses he knew in England. So he went on till he almost made Mrs Dosett believe, and did make Ayala believe, that his visit to Stalham had nothing to do with herself. And yet Mrs Dosett knew that the offer had been made. Ayala bethought herself that she did not care so much for the re-manufactured frock after all, nor yet for the shabby appearance of the boxes. The real Angel of Light would not care for her frock nor for her boxes; and certainly would not be indifferent after the fashion of -- of -- ! Then she began to reflect that she was making a fool of herself.

She was put into the carriage, Mr Dosett having luckily decided against the use of the second class. Going to such a house as Stalham Ayala ought, said Mr Dosett, to go as any other lady would. Had it been himself or his wife it would have been very different; but for Ayala, on such an occasion as this, he would be extravagant. Ayala was therefore put into her seat while the Colonel stood at the door outside, still talking to Mrs Dosett. "I don't think she will be let to come away at the end of a week," said the Colonel. "Sir Harry doesn't like people to come away very soon." Ayala heard this, and thought that she remembered that Sir Harry himself was very indifferent as to the coming and going of the visitors. "They go up to London about the end of March," said the Colonel, "and if Miss Dormer were to return about a week before it would do very well."

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