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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : CHAPTER XXXVII. LORD FORGUE AND LADY ARCTURA.

Donal Grant by George MacDonald

CHAPTER XXXVII. LORD FORGUE AND LADY ARCTURA.

AT the castle things fell into their old routine. Nothing had been arranged between lord Forgue and Eppy, and he seemed content that it should be so. Mrs. Brookes told him that she had gone home: he made neither remark nor inquiry, manifesting no interest.

It would be well his father should not see it necessary to push things farther! He did not want to turn out of the castle! Without means, what was he to do? The marriage could not be to-day or to-morrow! and in the meantime he could see Eppy, perhaps more easily than at the castle! He would contrive! He was sorry he had hurt the old fellow, but he could not help it! he would get in the way! Things would have been much worse if he had not got first to his father! He would wait a bit, and see what would turn up! For the tutor-fellow, he must not quarrel with him downright! No good would come of that! In the end he would have his way! and that in spite of them all!

But what he really wanted he did not know. He only knew, or imagined, that he was over head and ears in love with the girl: what was to come of it was all in the clouds. He had said he meant to marry her; but to that statement he had been driven, more than he knew, by the desire to escape the contempt of the tutor he scorned; and he rejoiced that he had at least discomfited him. He knew that if he did marry Eppy, or any one else of whom his father did not approve, he had nothing to look for but absolute poverty, for he knew no way to earn money; he was therefore unprepared to defy him immediately -- whatever he might do by and by. He said to himself sometimes that he was as willing as any man to work for his wife if only he knew how; but when he said so, had he always a clear vision of Eppy as the wife in prospect? Alas, it would take years to make him able to earn even a woman's wages! It would be a fine thing for a lord to labour like a common man for the support of a child of the people for whom he had sacrificed everything; but where was the possibility? When thoughts like these grew too many for him, Forgue wished he had never seen the girl. His heart would immediately reproach him; immediately he would comfort his conscience with the reflection that to wish he had never seen her was a very different thing from wishing to act as if he had. He loafed about in her neighbourhood as much as he dared, haunted the house itself in the twilight, and at night even ventured sometimes to creep up the stair, but for some time he never even saw her: for days Eppy never went out of doors except into the garden.

Though she had not spoken of it, Arctura had had more than a suspicion that something was going on between her cousin and the pretty maid; for the little window of her sitting room partially overlooked a certain retired spot favoured of the lovers; and after Eppy left the house, Davie, though he did not associate the facts, noted that she was more cheerful than before. But there was no enlargement of intercourse between her and Forgue. They knew it was the wish of the head of the house that they should marry, but the earl had been wise enough to say nothing openly to either of them: he believed the thing would have a better chance on its own merits; and as yet they had shown no sign of drawing to each other. It might, perhaps, have been otherwise on his part had not the young lord been taken with the pretty housemaid, though at first he had thought of nothing more than a little passing flirtation, reckoning his advantage with her by the height on which he stood in his own regard; but it was from no jealousy that Arctura was relieved by the departure of Eppy. She had never seen anything attractive in her cousin, and her religious impressions would have been enough to protect her from any drawing to him: had they not poisoned in her even the virtue of common house-friendliness toward a very different man? The sense of relief she had when Eppy went, lay in being delivered from the presence of something clandestine, with which she could not interfere so far as to confess knowledge of it. It had rendered her uneasy; she had felt shy and uncomfortable. Once or twice she had been on the point of saying to Mrs. Brookes that she thought her cousin and Eppy very oddly familiar, but had failed of courage. It was no wonder therefore that she should be more cheerful.

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