The Evil Genius
11. Linley Asserts His Authority
On the evening of Monday in the new week, the last of the visitors had left Mount
Morven. Mrs. Linley dropped into a chair (in, what Randal called, "the heavenly
tranquillity of the deserted drawing-room") and owned that the effort of entertaining her
guests had completely worn her out. "It's too absurd, at my time of life," she said with a
faint smile; but I am really and truly so tired that I must go to bed before dark, as if I was
a child again."
Mrs. Presty--maliciously observant of the governess, sitting silent and apart in a corner--
approached her daughter in a hurry; to all appearance with a special object in view.
Linley was at no loss to guess what that object might be. "Will you do me a favor,
Catherine?" Mrs. Presty began. "I wish to say a word to you in your own room."
"Oh, mamma, have some mercy on me, and put it off till to-morrow!"
Mrs. Presty reluctantly consented to this proposal, on one condition. "It is understood,"
she stipulated "that I am to see you the first thing in the morning?"
Mrs. Linley was ready to accept that condition, or any condition, which promised her a
night of uninterrupted repose. She crossed the room to her husband, and took his arm. "In
my state of fatigue, Herbert, I shall never get up our steep stairs, unless you help me."
As they ascended the stairs together, Linley found that his wife had a reason of her own
for leaving the drawing-room.
"I am quite weary enough to go to bed," she explained. "But I wanted to speak to you
first. It's about Miss Westerfield. (No, no, we needn't stop on the landing.) Do you know,
I think I have found out what has altered our little governess so strangely--I seem to
"I am only astonished," Mrs. Linley resumed, "at my own stupidity in not having
discovered it before. We must be kinder than ever to the poor girl now; can't you guess
why? My dear, how dull you are! Must I remind you that we have had two single men
among our visitors? One of them is old and doesn't matter. But the other--I mean Sir
George, of course--is young, handsome, and agreeable. I am so sorry for Sydney
Westerfield. It's plain to me that she is hopelessly in love with a man who has run
through his fortune, and must marry money if he marries at all. I shall speak to Sydney
to-morrow; and I hope and trust I shall succeed in winning her confidence. Thank
Heaven, here we are at my door at last! I can't say more now; I'm ready to drop. Good-
night, dear; you look tired, too. It's a nice thing to have friends, I know; but, oh, what a
relief it is sometimes to get rid of them!"