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The American Senator

II.5. It Is A Long Way
While the correspondence given in the last chapter was going on Miss Trefoil had other
troubles besides those there narrated, and other letters to answer. Soon after her departure
from Rufford she received a very serious but still an affectionate epistle from John
Morton in which he asked her if it was her intention to become his wife or not. The letter
was very long as well as very serious and need not be given here at length. But that was
the gist of it; and he went on to say that in regard to money he had made the most liberal
proposition in his power, that he must decline to have any further communication with
lawyers, and that he must ask her to let him know at once,--quite at once,--whether she
did or did not regard herself as engaged to him. It was a manly letter and ended by a
declaration that as far as he himself was concerned his feelings were not at all altered.
This she received while staying at the Gores', but, in accordance with her predetermined
strategy, did not at once send any answer to it. Before she heard again from Morton she
had received that pleasant first letter from Lord Rufford, and was certainly then in no
frame of mind to assure Mr. Morton that she was ready to declare herself his affianced
wife before all the world. Then, after ten days, he had written to her again and had written
much more severely. It wanted at that time but a few days to Christmas, and she was
waiting for a second letter from Lord Rufford. Let what might come of it she could not
now give up the Rufford chance. As she sat thinking of it, giving the very best of her
mind to it, she remembered the warmth of that embrace in the little room behind the
drawing-room, and those halcyon minutes in which her head had been on his shoulder,
and his arm round her waist. Not that they were made halcyon to her by any of the joys of
love. In giving the girl her due it must be owned that she rarely allowed herself to indulge
in simple pleasures. If Lord Rufford, with the same rank and property, had been
personally disagreeable to her it would have been the same. Business to her had for many
years been business, and her business had been so very hard that she had never allowed
lighter things to interfere with it. She had had justice on her side when she rebuked her
mother for accusing her of flirtations. But could such a man as Lord Rufford-- with his
hands so free,--venture to tell himself that such tokens of affection with such a girl would
mean nothing? If she might contrive to meet him again of course they would be repeated;
and then he should be forced to say that they did mean something. When therefore the
severe letter came from Morton,--severe and pressing, telling her that she was bound to
answer him at once and that were she still silent he must in regard to his own honour take
that as an indication of her intention to break off the match,--she felt that she must answer
it. The answer must, however, still be ambiguous. She would not if possible throw away
that stool quite as yet, though her mind was intent on ascending to the throne which it
might be within her power to reach. She wrote to him an ambiguous letter, but a letter
which certainly was not intended to liberate him. "He ought," she said, "to understand
that a girl situated as she was could not ultimately dispose of herself till her friends had
told her that she was free to do so. She herself did not pretend to have any interest in the
affairs as to which her father and his lawyers were making themselves busy. They had
never even condescended to tell her what it was they wanted on her behalf;-- nor, for the
 
 
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