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The American Senator

18. The Attorney's Family Is Disturbed
On that Wednesday evening Mary Masters said nothing to any of her family as to
the invitation from Lady Ushant. She very much wished to accept it. Latterly, for
the last month or two, her distaste to the kind of life for which her stepmother was
preparing her, had increased upon her greatly. There bad been days in which
she had doubted whether it might not be expedient that she should accept Mr.
Twentyman's offer. She believed no ill of him. She thought him to be a fine manly
young fellow with a good heart and high principles. She never asked herself
whether he were or were not a gentleman. She had never even inquired of
herself whether she herself were or were not especially a lady. But with all her
efforts to like the man,--because she thought that by doing so she would relieve
and please her father,--yet he was distasteful to her; and now, since that walk
home with him from Bragton Bridge, he was more distasteful than ever. She did
not tell herself that a short visit, say for a month, to Cheltenham, would prevent
his further attentions, but she felt that there would be a temporary escape. I do
not think that she dwelt much on the suggestion that Reginald Morton should be
her companion on the journey, but the idea of such companionship, even for a
short time, was pleasant to her. If he did this surely then he would forgive her for
having left him at the bridge. She had much to think of before she could resolve
how she should tell her tidings. Should she show the letter first to her stepmother
or to her father? In the ordinary course of things in that house the former course
would be expected. It was Mrs. Masters who managed everything affecting the
family. It was she who gave permission or denied permission for every
indulgence. She was generally fair to the three girls, taking special pride to
herself for doing her duty by her stepdaughter;--but on this very account she was
the more likely to be angry if Mary passed her by on such an occasion as this
and went to her father. But should her stepmother have once refused her
permission, then the matter would have been decided against her. It would be
quite useless to appeal from her stepmother to her father; nor would such an
appeal come within the scope of her own principles. The Mortons, and especially
Lady Ushant, had been her father's friends in old days and she thought that
perhaps she might prevail in this case if she could speak to her father first. She
knew well what would be the great, or rather the real objection. Her mother would
not wish that she should be removed so long from Larry Twentyman. There might
be difficulties about her clothes, but her father, she knew would be kind to her.
At last she made up her mind that she would ask her father. He was always at
his office-desk for half an hour in the morning, before the clerks had come, and
on the following day, a minute or two after he had taken his seat, she knocked at
the door. He was busy reading a letter from Lord Rufford's man of business,
asking him certain questions about Goarly and almost employing him to get up
the case on Lord Rufford's behalf. There was a certain triumph to him in this. It
was not by his means that tidings had reached Lord Rufford of his refusal to