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Chapter 11
Catherine listened for her father when he came in that evening, and she heard
him go to his study. She sat quiet, though her heart was beating fast, for nearly
half an hour; then she went and knocked at his door--a ceremony without which
she never crossed the threshold of this apartment. On entering it now she found
him in his chair beside the fire, entertaining himself with a cigar and the evening
"I have something to say to you," she began very gently; and she sat down in the
first place that offered.
"I shall be very happy to hear it, my dear," said her father. He waited--waited,
looking at her, while she stared, in a long silence, at the fire. He was curious and
impatient, for he was sure she was going to speak of Morris Townsend; but he let
her take her own time, for he was determined to be very mild.
"I am engaged to be married!" Catherine announced at last, still staring at the
The Doctor was startled; the accomplished fact was more than he had expected.
But he betrayed no surprise. "You do right to tell me," he simply said. "And who is
the happy mortal whom you have honoured with your choice?"
"Mr. Morris Townsend." And as she pronounced her lover's name, Catherine
looked at him. What she saw was her father's still grey eye and his clear-cut,
definite smile. She contemplated these objects for a moment, and then she
looked back at the fire; it was much warmer.
"When was this arrangement made?" the Doctor asked.
"This afternoon--two hours ago."
"Was Mr. Townsend here?"
"Yes, father; in the front parlour." She was very glad that she was not obliged to
tell him that the ceremony of their betrothal had taken place out there under the
bare ailantus-trees.
"Is it serious?" said the Doctor.
"Very serious, father."
Her father was silent a moment. "Mr. Townsend ought to have told me."
"He means to tell you to-morrow."
"After I know all about it from you? He ought to have told me before. Does he
think I didn't care--because I left you so much liberty?"
"Oh no," said Catherine; "he knew you would care. And we have been so much
obliged to you for--for the liberty."
The Doctor gave a short laugh. "You might have made a better use of it,
"Please don't say that, father," the girl urged softly, fixing her dull and gentle eyes
upon him.
He puffed his cigar awhile, meditatively. "You have gone very fast," he said at
"Yes," Catherine answered simply; "I think we have."