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Chapter 20
On the morrow, in the afternoon, she heard his voice at the door, and his step in
the hall. She received him in the big, bright front parlour, and she instructed the
servant that if any one should call she was particularly engaged. She was not
afraid of her father's coming in, for at that hour he was always driving about town.
When Morris stood there before her, the first thing that she was conscious of was
that he was even more beautiful to look at than fond recollection had painted him;
the next was that he had pressed her in his arms. When she was free again it
appeared to her that she had now indeed thrown herself into the gulf of defiance,
and even, for an instant, that she had been married to him.
He told her that she had been very cruel, and had made him very unhappy; and
Catherine felt acutely the difficulty of her destiny, which forced her to give pain in
such opposite quarters. But she wished that, instead of reproaches, however
tender, he would give her help; he was certainly wise enough, and clever
enough, to invent some issue from their troubles. She expressed this belief, and
Morris received the assurance as if he thought it natural; but he interrogated, at
first--as was natural too--rather than committed himself to marking out a course.
"You should not have made me wait so long," he said. "I don't know how I have
been living; every hour seemed like years. You should have decided sooner."
"Decided?" Catherine asked.
"Decided whether you would keep me or give me up."
"Oh, Morris," she cried, with a long tender murmur, "I never thought of giving you
"What, then, were you waiting for?" The young man was ardently logical.
"I thought my father might--might--" and she hesitated.
"Might see how unhappy you were?"
"Oh no! But that he might look at it differently."
"And now you have sent for me to tell me that at last he does so. Is that it?"
This hypothetical optimism gave the poor girl a pang. "No, Morris," she said
solemnly, "he looks at it still in the same way."
"Then why have you sent for me?"
"Because I wanted to see you!" cried Catherine piteously.
"That's an excellent reason, surely. But did you want to look at me only? Have
you nothing to tell me?"
His beautiful persuasive eyes were fixed upon her face, and she wondered what
answer would be noble enough to make to such a gaze as that. For a moment
her own eyes took it in, and then--"I DID want to look at you!" she said gently. But
after this speech, most inconsistently, she hid her face.
Morris watched her for a moment, attentively. "Will you marry me to- morrow?" he
asked suddenly.
"Next week, then. Any time within a month."
"Isn't it better to wait?" said Catherine.
"To wait for what?"