Beyond the City (Chapter 8, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 8

"You are looking a little pale, dear," he remarked.

"Oh, no, papa, I am very well."

"All well with Harold?"

"Yes. His partner, Mr. Pearson, is still away, and he is doing all the
work."

"Well done. He is sure to succeed. Where is Ida?"

"In her room, I think."

"She was with Charles Westmacott on the lawn not very long ago. He seems
very fond of her. He is not very bright, but I think he will make her a
good husband."

"I am sure of it, papa. He is very manly and reliable."

"Yes, I should think that he is not the sort of man who goes wrong.
There is nothing hidden about him. As to his brightness, it really does
not matter, for his aunt, Mrs. Westmacott, is very rich, much richer
than you would think from her style of living, and she has made him a
handsome provision."

"I am glad of that."

"It is between ourselves. I am her trustee, and so I know something of
her arrangements. And when are you going to marry, Clara?"

"Oh, papa, not for some time yet. We have not thought of a date."

"Well, really, I don't know that there is any reason for delay. He has
a competence and it increases yearly. As long as you are quite certain
that your mind is made up----"

"Oh, papa!"

"Well, then, I really do not know why there should be any delay. And
Ida, too, must be married within the next few months. Now, what I want
to know is what I am to do when my two little companions run away
from me." He spoke lightly, but his eyes were grave as he looked
questioningly at his daughter.

"Dear papa, you shall not be alone. It will be years before Harold and I
think of marrying, and when we do you must come and live with us."

"No, no, dear. I know that you mean what you say, but I have seen
something of the world, and I know that such arrangements never answer.
There cannot be two masters in a house, and yet at my age my freedom is
very necessary to me."

"But you would be completely free."

"No, dear, you cannot be that if you are a guest in another man's house.
Can you suggest no other alternative?"

"That we remain with you."

"No, no. That is out of the question. Mrs. Westmacott herself says that
a woman's first duty is to marry. Marriage, however, should be an equal
partnership, as she points out. I should wish you both to marry, but
still I should like a suggestion from you, Clara, as to what I should
do."

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