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Two on a Tower

Chapter 30
Louis began his stratagem by calling at the tower one afternoon, as if on the
impulse of the moment.
After a friendly chat with Swithin, whom he found there (having watched him
enter), Louis invited the young man to dine the same evening at the House, that
he might have an opportunity of showing him some interesting old scientific
works in folio, which, according to Louis's account, he had stumbled on in the
library. Louis set no great bait for St. Cleeve in this statement, for old science
was not old art which, having perfected itself, has died and left its secret hidden
in its remains. But Swithin was a responsive fellow, and readily agreed to come;
being, moreover, always glad of a chance of meeting Viviette en famille. He
hoped to tell her of a scheme that had lately suggested itself to him as likely to
benefit them both: that he should go away for a while, and endeavour to raise
sufficient funds to visit the great observatories of Europe, with an eye to a post in
one of them. Hitherto the only bar to the plan had been the exceeding
narrowness of his income, which, though sufficient for his present life, was
absolutely inadequate to the requirements of a travelling astronomer.
Meanwhile Louis Glanville had returned to the House and told his sister in the
most innocent manner that he had been in the company of St. Cleeve that
afternoon, getting a few wrinkles on astronomy; that they had grown so friendly
over the fascinating subject as to leave him no alternative but to invite St. Cleeve
to dine at Welland the same evening, with a view to certain researches in the
library afterwards.
'I could quite make allowances for any youthful errors into which he may have
been betrayed,' Louis continued sententiously, 'since, for a scientist, he is really
admirable. No doubt the Bishop's caution will not be lost upon him; and as for his
birth and connexions,-- those he can't help.'
Lady Constantine showed such alacrity in adopting the idea of having Swithin to
dinner, and she ignored his 'youthful errors' so completely, as almost to betray
herself. In fulfilment of her promise to see him oftener she had been intending to
run across to Swithin on that identical evening. Now the trouble would be saved
in a very delightful way, by the exercise of a little hospitality which Viviette herself
would not have dared to suggest.
Dinner-time came and with it Swithin, exhibiting rather a blushing and nervous
manner that was, unfortunately, more likely to betray their cause than was
Viviette's own more practised bearing. Throughout the meal Louis sat like a
spider in the corner of his web, observing them narrowly, and at moments flinging
out an artful thread here and there, with a view to their entanglement. But they
underwent the ordeal marvellously well. Perhaps the actual tie between them,
through being so much closer and of so much more practical a nature than even
their critic supposed it, was in itself a protection against their exhibiting that ultra-
reciprocity of manner which, if they had been merely lovers, might have betrayed
them.
 
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