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The Squire makes a Visit to the Small House.
Mrs. Dale acknowledged to herself that she had not much ground for hoping that she should ever find in Crosbie's house much personal happiness for her future life. She did not dislike Mr. Crosbie, nor in any great degree mistrust him; but she had seen enough of him to make her certain that Lily's future home in London could not be a home for her. He was worldly, or, at least, a man of the world. He would be anxious to make the most of his income, and his life would be one long struggle, not perhaps for money, but for those things which money only can give. There are men to whom eight hundred a year is great wealth, and houses to which it brings all the comforts that life requires. But Crosbie was not such a man, nor would his house be such a house. - Mrs. Dale hoped that Lily would be happy with him, and satisfied with his modes of life, and she strove to bem lieve that such would be the case; but as regarded herself she was forced to confess that in such a marriage her child would be much divided from her. That pleasant abode to which she had long looked forward that she might have a welcome there in coming years should be among fields and trees, not in some narrow London street. Lily must now become a city lady; but Bell would still be left to her, and it might still be hoped that Bell would find for herself some country home.
Since the day on which Lily had first told her mother of her engagement, Mrs. Dale had found herself talking much more fully and more frequently with Bell than with her younger daughter. As long as Crosbie was at Allington this was natural enough. He and Lily were of course together, while Bell remained with her mother. But the same state of things continued even after Crosbie was gone. It was not that there was any coolness or want of affection between the mother and daughter, but that Lily's heart was full of her lover, and that Mrs. Dale, though she had given her cordial consent to the marriage, felt that she had but few points of sympathy with her future son-in-law. She had never said, even to herself, that she disliked him; nay, she had sometimes declared to herself that she was fond of him. But, in truth, he was not a man after her own heart. He was not one who could ever be to her as her own son and her own child.
But she and Bell would pass hours together talking of Lily's prospects. “It seems so strange to me," said Mrs. Dale, “that she of all girls should have been fancied by such a man as Mr. Crosbie, or that she should have liked him. I cannot imagine Lily living in London."
“If he is good and affectionate to her she will be happy wherever he is,” said Bell. I'm sure I hope so.
But it seems as though she will be so far separated from us. It is not the distance, but the manner of life which makes the separation. I hope you'll never be taken so far from me.”
"I don't think I shall allow myself to be taken up
“I hope so;
to London," said Bell, laughing. “But one can never
If I do you must follow us, mamma. "I do not want another Mr. Crosbie for you, dear."
"But perhaps I may want one for myself. You need not tremble quite yet, however. Apollos do not come this road every day."
“Poor Lily! Do you remember when she first called him Apollo? I do, well. I remember his coming here the day after Bernard brought him down, and how you were playing on the lawn, while I was in the other garden. I little thought then what it would come to.”
"But, mamma, you don't regret it?"
“Not if it's to make her happy. If she can be happy with him, of course I shall not regret it; not though he were to take her to the world's end away
What else have I to look for but that she and you should both be happy?"
"Men in London are happy with their wives as well as men in the country.”
“Oh, yes; of all 'women I should be the first to acknowledge that."
"And as to Adolphus himself, I do not know why we should distrust him."
“No, my dear; there is no reason. If I did distrust him, I should not have given so ready an assent to the marriage. But, nevertheless
“The truth is, you don't like him, mamma.
“Not so cordially as I hope I may like any man whom you may choose for your
husband." And Lily, though she said nothing on the subject to Mrs. Dals, felt that her mother was in some degree estranged from her.
Crosbie's name was frequently
mentioned between them, but in the tone of Mrs. Dale's voice, and in her manner when she spoke of him, there . was lacking that enthusiasm and heartiness which real sympathy would have produced. Lily did not analyse her own feelings, or closely make inquiry as to those of her mother, but she perceived that it was not all as she would have wished it to have been. “I know mamma does not love him," she said to Bell on the evening of the day on which she received Crosbie's first letter.
“Not as you do, Lily; but she does love him."
“Not as I do! To say that is nonsense, Bell; of course she does not love him as I do. But the truth is she does not love him at all. Do you think I cannot see it?"
“I'm afraid that you see too much.”
“She never says a word against him; but if she really liked him she would sometimes say a word in his favour. I do not think she would ever mention his name unless you or I spoke of him before her. If she did not approve of him, why did she not say so sooner?”
"That's hardly fair upon mamma," said Bell, with some earnestness. “She does not disapprove of him, and she never did. You know mamma well enough to be sure that she would not interfere with us in such a matter without very strong reason. As regards Mr. Crosbie, she gave her consent without a moment's hesitation."
"Yes, she did."
“How can you say, then, that she disapproves of him?"
"I didn't mean to find fault with mamma. Perhaps it will come all right."
"It will come all right." But Bell, though she made this very satisfactory promise, was as well aware as either of the others that the family would be divided when Crosbie should have married Lily and taken her off to London.
On the following morning Mrs. Dale and Bell were sitting together. Lily was above in her own room, either writing to her lover, or reading his letter, or thinking of him, or working for him.
In some way she was employed on his behalf, and with this object she was alone. It was now the middle of October, and the fire was lit in Mrs. Dale's drawing-room. The window which opened upon the lawn was closed, the heavy curtains had been put back in their places, and it had been acknowledged as an unwelcome fact that the last of the summer was over. This was always a sorrow to Mrs. Dale; but it is one of those sorrows which hardly admit of open expression.
“Bell,” she said, looking up suddenly; "there's your uncle at the window. Let him in.” For now, since the putting up of the curtains, the window had been bolted as well as closed. So Bell got up, and opened a passage for the squire's entrance. It was not often that he came down in this way, and when be did so it was generally for some purpose which had been expressed before.
“What! fires already?” said he. "I never have fires at the other house in the morning till the first of November. I like to see a spark in the grate after dinner.”