Behind a Mask (Chapter 4, page 1 of 12)


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Chapter 4

For several days Coventry was confined to his room, much against his
will, though everyone did their best to lighten his irksome captivity.
His mother petted him, Bella sang, Lucia read, Edward was devoted, and
all the household, with one exception, were eager to serve the young
master. Jean Muir never came near him, and Jean Muir alone seemed to
possess the power of amusing him. He soon tired of the others, wanted
something new; recalled the piquant character of the girl and took a
fancy into his head that she would lighten his ennui. After some
hesitation, he carelessly spoke of her to Bella, but nothing came of
it, for Bella only said Jean was well, and very busy doing something
lovely to surprise Mamma with. Edward complained that he never saw
her, and Lucia ignored her existence altogether. The only intelligence
the invalid received was from the gossip of two housemaids over their
work in the next room. From them he learned that the governess had
been "scolded" by Miss Beaufort for going to Mr. Coventry's room; that
she had taken it very sweetly and kept herself carefully out of the
way of both young gentlemen, though it was plain to see that Mr. Ned
was dying for her.

Mr. Gerald amused himself by thinking over this gossip, and quite
annoyed his sister by his absence of mind.

"Gerald, do you know Ned's commission has come?"

"Very interesting. Read on, Bella."

"You stupid boy! You don't know a word I say," and she put down the book
to repeat her news.

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