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II.13. Lord Rufford Wants To See A Horse
Lord Rufford had been quite right about the Duchess. Arabella had only taken off her hat
and was drinking her tea when the Duchess came up to her. "Lord Rufford says that you
were too tired to come in," said the Duchess.
"I am tired, aunt;--very tired. But there is nothing the matter with me. We had to ride ever
so far coming home and it was that knocked up.
"It was very bad, your in a post chaise, Arabella."
"Why was it bad, aunt? I thought it very nice."
"My dear, it shouldn't have been done. You ought to have known that. I certainly
wouldn't have had you here had I thought that there would be anything of the kind."
"It is going to be all right," said Arabella laughing.
According to her Grace's view of things it was not and could not be made "all right." It
would not have been all right were the girl to become Lady Rufford to-morrow. The
scandal, or loud reproach due to evil doings, may be silenced by subsequent conduct. The
merited punishment may not come visibly. But nothing happening after could make it
right that a young lady should come home from hunting in a post chaise alone with a
young unmarried man. When the Duchess first heard it she thought what would have
been her feelings if such a thing had been suggested in reference to one of her own
daughters! Lord Rufford had come to her in the drawing-room and had told her the story
in a quiet pleasant manner,--merely saying that Miss Trefoil was too much fatigued to
show herself at the present moment. She had thought from his manner that her niece's
story had been true. There was a cordiality and apparent earnestness as to the girl's
comfort which seemed to be compatible with the story. But still she could hardly
understand that Lord Rufford should wish to have it known that he travelled about the
country in such a fashion with the girl he intended to marry. But if it were true, then she
must look after her niece. And even if it were not true,-- in which case she would never
have the girl at Mistletoe again,-- yet she could not ignore her presence in the house. It
was now the 18th of January. Lord Rufford was to go on the following day, and Arabella
on the 20th. The invitation had not been given so as to stretch beyond that. If it could be
at once decided,--declared by Lord Rufford to the Duke,--that the match was to be a
match, then the invitation should be renewed, Arabella should be advised to put off her
other friends, and Lord Rufford should be invited to come back early in the next month
and spend a week or two in the proper fashion with his future bride. All that had been
settled between the Duke and the Duchess. So much should be done for the sake of the
family. But the Duke had not seen his way to asking Lord Rufford any question.