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Chapter II.6
About six weeks after I had left the Hall, my father and Clara returned to London
for the season.
It is not my intention to delay over my life either at home or at North Villa, during
the spring and summer. This would be merely to repeat much of what has been
already related. It is better to proceed at once to the closing period of my
probation; to a period which it taxes my resolution severely to write of at all. A
few weeks more of toil at my narrative, and the penance of this poor task-work
will be over.
* * * * * *
Imagine then, that the final day of my long year of expectation has arrived; and
that on the morrow, Margaret, for whose sake I have sacrificed and suffered so
much, is at last really to be mine.
On the eve of the great change in my life that was now to take place, the relative
positions in which I, and the different persons with whom I was associated, stood
towards each other, may be sketched thus:--
My father's coldness of manner had not altered since his return to London. On
my side, I carefully abstained from uttering a word before him, which bore the
smallest reference to my real situation. Although when we met, we outwardly
preserved the usual relations of parent and child, the estrangement between us
had now become complete.
Clara did not fail to perceive this, and grieved over it in secret. Other and happier
feelings, however, became awakened within her, when I privately hinted that the
time for disclosing my secret to my sister was not far off. She grew almost as
much agitated as I was, though by very different expectations--she could think of
nothing else but the explanation and the surprise in store for her. Sometimes, I
almost feared to keep her any longer in suspense; and half regretted having said
anything on the subject of the new and absorbing interest of my life, before the
period when I could easily have said all.
Mr. Sherwin and I had not latterly met on the most cordial terms. He was
dissatisfied with me for not having boldly approached the subject of my marriage
in my father's presence; and considered my reasons for still keeping it secret, as
dictated by morbid apprehension, and as showing a total want of proper
firmness. On the other hand, he was obliged to set against this omission on my
part, the readiness I had shown in meeting his wishes on all remaining points. My
life was insured in Margaret's favour; and I had arranged to be called to the bar
immediately, so as to qualify myself in good time for every possible place within
place-hunting range. My assiduity in making these preparations for securing
Margaret's prospects and mine against any evil chances that might happen,
failed in producing the favourable effect on Mr. Sherwin, which they must
assuredly have produced on a less selfish man. But they obliged him, at least, to
stop short at occasional grumblings about my reserve with my father, and to
maintain towards me a sort of sulky politeness, which was, after all, less