About the time of my introduction to Mr. Mannion--or, to speak more correctly,
both before and after that period--certain peculiarities in Margaret's character and
conduct, which came to my knowledge by pure accident, gave me a little
uneasiness and even a little displeasure. Neither of these feelings lasted very
long, it is true; for the incidents which gave rise to them were of a trifling nature in
themselves. While I now write, however, these domestic occurrences are all
vividly present to my recollection. I will mention two of them as instances.
Subsequent events, yet to be related, will show that they are not out of place at
this part of my narrative.
One lovely autumn morning, I called rather before the appointed time at North
Villa. As the servant opened the front garden-gate, the idea occurred to me of
giving Margaret a surprise, by entering the drawing room unexpectedly, with a
nosegay gathered for her from her own flower-bed. Telling the servant not to
announce me, I went round to the back garden, by a gate which opened into it at
the side of the house. The progress of my flower-gathering led me on to the lawn
under one of the drawing-room windows, which was left a little open. The voices
of my wife and her mother reached me from the room. It was this part of their
conversation which I unintentionally overheard:--
"I tell you, mamma, I must and will have the dress, whether papa chooses or
This was spoken loudly and resolutely; in such tones as I had never heard from
"Pray--pray, my dear, don't talk so," answered the weak, faltering voice of Mrs.
Sherwin; "you know you have had more than your year's allowance of dresses
"I won't be allowanced. His sister isn't allowanced: why should I be?"
"My dear love, surely there is some difference--"
"I'm sure there isn't, now I am his wife. I shall ride some day in my carriage, just
as his sister does. He gives me my way in everything; and so ought you."
"It isn't me, Margaret: if I could do anything, I'm sure I would; but I really couldn't
ask your papa for another new dress, after his having given you so many this
"That's the way it always is with you, mamma--you can't do this, and you can't do
that--you are so excessively tiresome! But I will have the dress, I'm determined.
He says his sister wears light blue crape of an evening; and I'll have light blue
crape, too--see if I don't! I'll get it somehow from the shop, myself. Papa never
takes any notice, I'm sure, what I have on; and he needn't find out anything about
what's gone out of the shop, until they 'take stock,' or whatever it is he calls it.
And then, if he flies into one of his passions--"
"My dear! my dear! you really ought not to talk so of your papa--it is very wrong,
Margaret, indeed--what would Mr. Basil say if he heard you?"