The American Senator HTML version
II.11. You Are So Severe
On the next morning Arabella went to church as did of course a great many of the party.
By remaining at home she could only have excited suspicion. The church was close to the
house, and the family pew consisted of a large room screened off from the rest of the
church, with a fire-place of its own,--so that the labour of attending divine service was
reduced to a minimum. At two o'clock they lunched, and that amusement lasted nearly an
hour. There was an afternoon service at three in attending which the Duchess was very
particular. The Duke never went at that time nor was it expected that any of the
gentlemen would do so; but women are supposed to require more church than men, and
the Duchess rather made it a point that at any rate the young ladies staying in the house
should accompany her. Over the other young ladies there her authority could only be that
of influence, but such authority generally sufficed. From her niece it might be supposed
that she would exact obedience, and in this instance she tried it. "We start in five
minutes," she said to Arabella as that young lady was loitering at the table.
"Don't wait for me; aunt, I'm not going," said Arabella boldly.
"I hope you will come to church with us," said the Duchess sternly.
"Not this afternoon."
"Why not, Arabella?"
"I never do go to church twice on Sundays. Some people do, and some people don't. I
suppose that's about it."
"I think that all young women ought to go to church on Sunday afternoon unless there is
something particular to prevent them." Arabella shrugged her shoulders and the Duchess
stalked angrily away.
"That makes me feel so awfully wicked," said the Duchess of Omnium, who was the only
other lady then left in the room. Then she got up and went out and Arabella of course
followed her. Lord Rufford had heard it all but had stood at the window and said nothing.
He had not been to church at all, and was quite accustomed to the idea that as a young
nobleman who only lived for pleasure he was privileged to be wicked. Had the Duchess
of Mayfair been blessed with a third daughter fit for marriage she would not have thought
of repudiating such a suitor as Lord Rufford because he did not go to church.
When the house was cleared Arabella went upstairs and put on her hat. It was a bright
beautiful winter's day, not painfully cold because the air was dry, but still a day that
warranted furs and a muff. Having prepared herself she made her way alone to a side
door which led from a branch of the hall on to the garden terrace, and up and down that