Saturday, October 24

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Rhoda knew that Algy wished and expected her to smile when he said that; and she tried to please him, but the smile would not come. Her lip quivered, and tears began to gather in her eyes again. She would have sobbed outright if she had tried to speak. The more she thought the sadder and more frightened she grew. Ridicule was painful, but that was not the worst. Her father! Mrs. Errington! She lay awake half the night, terrifying herself with imaginations of their wrath.

Algy found an opportunity the next morning to whisper to her a few words. “Don’t look so melancholy, Rhoda. They’ll wonder at Whitford what’s the matter if you go back with such a wan face. And as to what you said about deceit, why we shan’t pretend not to love each other! Look here, we must have patience! I shall always love you, darling, and I’m sure to get my own way with my mother in the long run; I always do.”

So then there would be obstacles to contend with on Mrs. Errington’s part, and Algy acknowledged that there would. Of course she had known before that it must be so. But Algy had declared that he would always love her; that was the one comforting thought to which she clung. Rhoda had grown from a child to a woman since yesterday. Algy was only older by four-and-twenty hours.

After their return to Whitford came Mr. Filthorpe’s letter. Then his mother’s application to Lady Seely, brought

about by an old acquaintance of Mrs. Errington, who lived in London, and kept up an intermittent correspondence with her. Both these events were talked over in Rhoda’s presence. Indeed, the girl filled the part towards Mrs. Errington that the confidant enacts towards the prima donna in an Italian opera. Mrs. Errington was always singing scenas to her, which, so far as Rhoda’s share in them went, might just as well have been uttered in the shape of a soliloquy. But the lady was used to her confidant, and liked to have her near, to take her hand in the impressive passages, and to walk up the stage with her during the symphony.

So Rhoda heard Algernon’s prospects canvassed. In her heart she longed that he should accept Mr. Filthorpe’s offer. It would keep him nearer to her in every sense. She had few opportunities of talking

with him alone now—far fewer than at dear Llanryddan; but she was able to say a few words privately to him one afternoon (the very afternoon of Dr. Bodkin’s whist-party), and she timidly hinted that if Algy went to Bristol, instead of to London amongst all those great folks, she would not feel that she had lost him so completely.

“My dear child!” exclaimed Algy, whose outlook on life had a good deal changed during the last three months, “how can you talk so? Fancy me on Filthorpe’s office stool!”

“London is such a long way off, Algy,” murmured the girl plaintively. “And then, amongst all those grand people, lords and ladies, you—you may grow different.”

“Upon my word, my dear Rhoda, your appreciation of me is highly flattering! For my part it seems to me more likely that I should grow ‘different’ in the society of Bristol

tradesmen than amongst my own kith and kin—people like myself and my parents in education and manners. I am a gentleman, Rhoda. Lord Seely is not more.”

Rhoda shrank 佛山桑拿选秀 back abashed before this magnificent young gentleman. Such a flourish was very unusual in Algernon. But the Ancram strain in him had been asserting itself lately. He was sorry when he saw the poor girl’s hurt look and downcast eyes, from which the big tears were silently falling one by one. He took her in his arms, and kissed her pale cheeks, and brought a blush on to them, and an April smile to her lips; and called her his own dear pretty Rhoda, whom he could never, never forget.

“Perhaps it would be best to forget me, Algy,” she faltered. And although his loving words, and flatteries, and caresses, were inexpressibly sweet to her, the pain remained at her heart.

She never again ventured to say a word to him about his plans. She would listen, meekly and admiringly, to his vivid pictures of all the fine things he was to 佛山桑拿配件 do in the future: pictures in which her figure appeared—like the donor of a great altarpiece, full of splendid saints and golden-crowned angels—kneeling in one corner. And she would sit in silent anguish whilst Mrs. Errington expatiated on her son’s prospects; wherein, of late, a “great alliance” played a large part. But she could not rouse herself to elation or enthusiasm. This mattered little to Mrs. Errington, who only required her confidante to stand tolerably still with her back to the audience. But it worried Algernon to see Rhoda’s sad, downcast face, irresponsive to any of his bright anticipations. It must be owned that the young fellow’s position was not entirely pleasant. Yet his admirable temper and spirits scarcely flagged. He was never cross, except, now and then, just a very little to his mother. And if no one else 佛山桑拿0757n in the world less deserved his ill-humour, at least no one else in the world was so absolutely certain to forgive him for it!

CHAPTER VII.
Parliament was to meet early in February. It seemed strange that that fact should have any interest for Rhoda Maxfield; nevertheless, so it was. Algernon was to go to London, but it was no use to be there unless Lord Seely, “our cousin,” were there also; and my lord our cousin would not be in town before the meeting of parliament. Thus the assembling of the peers and commons of this realm at Westminster was an event on which poor Rhoda’s thoughts were bent pretty often in the course of the twenty-four hours.

Mrs. Errington announced to the whole Maxfield family that Algernon was going away from Whitford, and accompanied the announcement with florid descriptions of the glory that awaited 佛山桑拿按摩酒店 her son, in the highest Ancram style of embellishment.

“Well,” said old Max, after listening awhile, “and will this lord get Mr. Algernon a place?”

Mrs. Errington could not answer this question very definitely. The future was vague, though splendid. But of course Algy would distinguish himself. That was a matter of course. Perhaps he might begin as Lord Seely’s private secretary.

“A sekketary! Humph! I don’t think much o’ that!” grunted Mr. Maxfield.

“My dear man, you don’t understand these things. How should you? Many noblemen’s sons would only be too delighted to get the position of private secretary to Lord Seely. A man of such distinction! Hand and glove with the sovereign!”

Maxfield did not altogether dislike to hear his lodger hold forth in this fashion. He had a certain pleasure in contemplating the future grandeur 佛山桑拿哪里有 of Mr. Algernon, whose ears he had boxed years ago, on the occasion of finding him enacting the battle of Waterloo, with a couple of schoolfellows, in the warehouse behind the shop, and attacking a Hougoumont of tea-chests and flour-barrels, so briskly, as to threaten their entire demolition.

Maxfield was weaving speculations in connection with the young man, of so wild and fanciful a nature as would have astonished his most familiar friends, could they have peeped into the brain inside his grizzled old head.

But this rose-coloured condition of things did not last.

One afternoon, Mrs. Errington looked into his little sitting-room, on her way upstairs, and finding him with an account-book, in which he was, not making, but reading entries, she stepped in, and began to chat; if any speech so laboriously condescending as hers 佛山夜生活luntan to Mr. Maxfield may be thus designated. Her theme, of course, was her son, and her son’s prospects.

“That’ll be all very fine for Mr. Algernon, to be sure,” said old Max, slowly, after some time, “but—it’ll cost money.”

“Not so much as you think for. Low persons who feel themselves in a false position, no doubt find it necessary to make a show. But a real gentleman can afford to be simple.”

“But I take it he’ll have to afford other things besides being simple! He’ll have to afford clothes, and lodging, and maybe food. You aren’t rich.”

Mrs. Errington admitted the fact.

“Algernon ought to find a wife with a bit o’ money,” said the old man, looking straight and hard into the lady’s eyes. Those round orbs sustained the gaze as unflinchingly as if they had been made of blue china.

“It is not at all a bad idea,” Mrs. Errington said, graciously.

“But then he wouldn’t just take the first ugly woman as had a fort’n.”

“Oh dear no!”

“No; nor yet an old ‘un.”

“Good gracious, man! of course not!”

“Young, pretty, good, and a bit o’ money. That’s about his mark, eh?”

Mrs. Errington shook her head pathetically. “She ought to have birth, too,” she said. “But the woman takes her husband’s rank; unless,” she added, correcting herself, and with much emphasis, “unless she happens to be the better born of the two.”

“Oh, she does, eh? The woman takes her husband’s rank? Ah! well, that’s script’ral. I have never troubled my head about these vain worldly distinctions; but that is script’ral.”

Mrs. Errington was not there to discuss her landlord’s opinions or to listen to them; but he served as well as another to be the recipient of her talk about Algernon, which accordingly she resumed, and indulged in ever-higher flights of boasting. Her mendacity, like George Wither’s muse,
As it made wing, so it made power.

“The fact is, there is more than one young lady on whom my connections in London have cast their eye for Algy. Miss Pickleham, only daughter of the great drysalter, who is such an eminent member of Parliament; Blanche Fitzsnowdon, Judge Whitelamb’s lovely niece; one of Major-General Indigo’s charming girls, all of them perfect specimens of the Eastern style of beauty—their mother was an Indian princess, and enormously wealthy. But I am in no hurry for my boy to bind himself in an engagement: it hampers a young man’s career.”

“Career!” broke out old Max, who had listened to all this, and much more, with an increasingly dismayed and lowering expression of countenance. “Why, what’s his career to be? He’s been brought up to do nothing! It ‘ud be his only chance to get hold of a wife with a bit o’ money. Then he might act the gentleman at his ease; and maybe his fine friends ‘ud help him when they found he didn’t want it. But as for career—it’s my opinion as he’ll never earn his salt!”

And with that the old man marched across the passage into the shop, taking no further notice of his lodger; and she heard him slam the little half-door, giving access to the storehouse, with such force as to set the jingling bell on it tinkling for full five minutes.

Mrs. Errington was so surprised by this sally, that she stood staring after him for some time before she was able to collect herself sufficiently to walk majestically upstairs.