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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
startle you?"
"No."
"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!"
 
 
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