The American Senator HTML version

27. Wonderful Bird!
There were but two days between the scenes described in the last chapter and
the day fixed for Mary's departure, and during these two days Larry Twentyman's
name was not mentioned in the house. Mrs. Masters did not make herself quite
pleasant to her stepdaughter, having still some grudge against her as to the
twenty pounds. Nor, though she had submitted to the visit to Cheltenham, did
she approve of it. It wasn't the way, she said, to make such a girl as Mary like her
life at Chowton Farm, going and sitting and doing nothing in old Lady Ushant's
drawing-room. It was cocking her up with gimcrack notions about ladies till she'd
be ashamed to look at her own hands after she had done a day's work with them.
There was no doubt some truth in this. The woman understood the world and
was able to measure Larry Twentyman and Lady Ushant and the rest of them.
Books and pretty needlework and easy conversation would consume the time at
Cheltenham, whereas at Chowton Farm there would be a dairy and a poultry
yard,--under difficulties on account of the foxes,--with a prospect of baby linen
and children's shoes and stockings. It was all that question of gentlemen and
ladies, and of non-gentlemen and non-ladies! They ought, Mrs. Masters thought,
to be kept distinct. She had never, she said, wanted to put her finger into a pie
that didn't belong to her. She had never tried to be a grand lady. But Mary was
perilously near the brink on either side, and as it was to be her lucky fate at last
to sit down to a plentiful but work-a-day life at Chowton Farm she ought to have
been kept away from the maundering idleness of Lady Ushant's lodgings at
Cheltenham. But Mary heard nothing of this during these two days, Mrs. Masters
bestowing the load of her wisdom upon her unfortunate husband.
Reginald Morton had been twice over at Mrs. Masters' house with reference to
the proposed journey. Mrs. Masters was hardly civil to him, as he was supposed
to be among the enemies;--but she had no suspicion that he himself was the
enemy of enemies. Had she entertained such an idea she might have reconciled
herself to it, as the man was able to support a wife, and by such a marriage she
would have been at once relieved from all further charge. In her own mind she
would have felt very strongly that Mary had chosen the wrong man, and thrown
herself into the inferior mode of life. But her own difficulties in the matter would
have been solved. There was, however, no dream of such a kind entertained by
any of the family. Reginald Morton was hardly regarded as a young man, and
was supposed to be gloomy, misanthropic, and bookish. Mrs. Masters was not at
all averse to the companionship for the journey, and Mr. Masters was really
grateful to one of the old family for being kind to his girl.
Nor must it be supposed that Mary herself had any expectations or even any
hopes. With juvenile aptness to make much of the little things which had
interested her, and prone to think more than was reasonable of any intercourse
with a man who seemed to her to be so superior to others as Reginald Morton,
she was anxious for an opportunity to set herself right with him about that scene