The Evil Genius
7. Sydney Suffers
In the autumn holiday-time friends in the south, who happened to be visiting Scotland,
were invited to stop at Mount Morven on their way to the Highlands; and were
accustomed to meet the neighbors of the Linleys at dinner on their arrival. The time for
this yearly festival had now come round again; the guests were in the house; and Mr. and
Mrs. Linley were occupied in making their arrangements for the dinner-party. With her
unfailing consideration for every one about her, Mrs. Linley did not forget Sydney while
she was sending out her cards of invitation. "Our table will be full at dinner," she said to
her husband; "Miss Westerfield had better join us in the evening with Kitty."
"I suppose so," Linley answered with some hesitation.
"You seem to doubt about it, Herbert. Why?"
"I was only wondering--"
"Wondering about what?"
"Has Miss Westerfield got a gown, Catherine, that will do for a party?"
Linley's wife looked at him as if she doubted the evidence of her own senses. "Fancy a
man thinking of that!" she exclaimed. "Herbert, you astonish me."
He laughed uneasily. "I don't know how I came to think of it--unless it is that she wears
the same dress every day. Very neat; but (perhaps I'm wrong) a little shabby too."
"Upon my word, you pay Miss Westerfield a compliment which you have never paid to
me! Wear what I may, you never seem to know how I am dressed."
"I beg your pardon, Catherine, I know that you are always dressed well."
That little tribute restored him to his place in his wife's estimation. "I may tell you now,"
she resumed, with her gentle smile, "that you only remind me of what I had thought of
already. My milliner is at work for Miss Westerfield. The new dress must be your gift."
"Are you joking?"
"I am in earnest. To-morrow is Sydney's birthday; and here is my present." She opened a
jeweler's case, and took out a plain gold bracelet. "Suggested by Kitty," she added,
"pointing to an inlaid miniature portrait of the child. Herbert read the inscription: To
Sydney Westerfield with Catherine Linley's love. He gave the bracelet back to his wife in
silence; his manner was more serious than usual--he kissed her hand
The day of the dinner-party marked an epoch in Sydney's life.