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Chapter I.9
THREE months passed. During that time Frank remained in London; pursuing his
new duties, and writing occasionally to report himself to Mr. Vanstone, as he had
promised.
His letters were not enthusiastic on the subject of mercantile occupations. He
described himself as being still painfully loose in his figures. He was also more
firmly persuaded than ever -- now when it was unfortunately too late -that he
preferred engineering to trade. In spite of this conviction; in spite of headaches
caused by sitting on a high stool and stooping over ledgers in unwholesome air;
in spite of want of society, and hasty breakfasts, and bad dinners at chop-
houses, his attendance at the office was regular, and his diligence at the desk
unremitting. The head of the department in which he was working might be
referred to if any corroboration of this statement was desired. Such was the
general tenor of the letters; and Frank's correspondent and Frank's father
differed over them as widely as usual. Mr. Vanstone accepted them as proofs of
the steady development of industrious principles in the writer. Mr. Clare took his
own characteristically opposite view. "These London men," said the philosopher,
"are not to be tri fled with by louts. They ha ve got Frank by the scruff of the neck
-- he can't wriggle himself free -- and he makes a merit of yielding to sheer
necessity."
The three months' interval of Frank's probation in London passed less cheerfully
than usual in the household at Combe-Raven.
As the summer came nearer and nearer, Mrs. Vanstone's spirits, in spite of her
resolute efforts to control them, became more and more depressed.
"I do my best," she said to Miss Garth; "I set an example of cheerfulness to my
husband and my children -- but I dread July." Norah's secret misgivings on her
sister's account rendered her more than usually serious and uncommunicative,
 
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