Desperate Remedies HTML version

9. The Events Of Ten Weeks
The foremost figure within Cytherea's horizon, exclusive of the inmates of
Knapwater House, was now the steward, Mr. Manston. It was impossible that
they should live within a quarter of a mile of each other, be engaged in the same
service, and attend the same church, without meeting at some spot or another,
twice or thrice a week. On Sundays, in her pew, when by chance she turned her
head, Cytherea found his eyes waiting desirously for a glimpse of hers, and, at
first more strangely, the eyes of Miss Aldclyffe furtively resting on him. On
coming out of church he frequently walked beside Cytherea till she reached the
gate at which residents in the House turned into the shrubbery. By degrees a
conjecture grew to a certainty. She knew that he loved her.
But a strange fact was connected with the development of his love. He was
palpably making the strongest efforts to subdue, or at least to hide, the
weakness, and as it sometimes seemed, rather from his own conscience than
from surrounding eyes. Hence she found that not one of his encounters with her
was anything more than the result of pure accident. He made no advances
whatever: without avoiding her, he never sought her: the words he had
whispered at their first interview now proved themselves to be quite as much the
result of unguarded impulse as was her answer. Something held him back,
bound his impulse down, but she saw that it was neither pride of his person, nor
fear that she would refuse him--a course she unhesitatingly resolved to take
should he think fit to declare himself. She was interested in him and his
marvellous beauty, as she might have been in some fascinating panther or
leopard--for some undefinable reason she shrank from him, even whilst she
admired. The keynote of her nature, a warm 'precipitance of soul,' as Coleridge
happily writes it, which Manston had so directly pounced upon at their very first
interview, gave her now a tremulous sense of being in some way in his power.
The state of mind was, on the whole, a dangerous one for a young and
inexperienced woman; and perhaps the circumstance which, more than any
other, led her to cherish Edward's image now, was that he had taken no notice of
the receipt of her letter, stating that she discarded him. It was plain then, she
said, that he did not care deeply for her, and she thereupon could not quite leave
off caring deeply for him:--
'Ingenium mulierum,
Nolunt ubi velis, ubi nolis cupiunt ultro.'
The month of October passed, and November began its course. The inhabitants
of the village of Carriford grew weary of supposing that Miss Aldclyffe was going
to marry her steward. New whispers arose and became very distinct (though they
did not reach Miss Aldclyffe's ears) to the effect that the steward was deeply in
love with Cytherea Graye. Indeed, the fact became so obvious that there was
nothing left to say about it except that their marriage would be an excellent one
for both;--for her in point of comfort--and for him in point of love.