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Chapter 23
If Morris Townsend was not to be included in this journey, no more was Mrs.
Penniman, who would have been thankful for an invitation, but who (to do her
justice) bore her disappointment in a perfectly ladylike manner. "I should enjoy
seeing the works of Raphael and the ruins--the ruins of the Pantheon," she said
to Mrs. Almond; "but, on the other hand, I shall not be sorry to be alone and at
peace for the next few months in Washington Square. I want rest; I have been
through so much in the last four months." Mrs. Almond thought it rather cruel that
her brother should not take poor Lavinia abroad; but she easily understood that,
if the purpose of his expedition was to make Catherine forget her lover, it was not
in his interest to give his daughter this young man's best friend as a companion.
"If Lavinia had not been so foolish, she might visit the ruins of the Pantheon," she
said to herself; and she continued to regret her sister's folly, even though the
latter assured her that she had often heard the relics in question most
satisfactorily described by Mr. Penniman. Mrs. Penniman was perfectly aware
that her brother's motive in undertaking a foreign tour was to lay a trap for
Catherine's constancy; and she imparted this conviction very frankly to her niece.
"He thinks it will make you forget Morris," she said (she always called the young
man "Morris" now); "out of sight, out of mind, you know. He thinks that all the
things you will see over there will drive him out of your thoughts."
Catherine looked greatly alarmed. "If he thinks that, I ought to tell him
Mrs. Penniman shook her head. "Tell him afterwards, my dear! After he has had
all the trouble and the expense! That's the way to serve him." And she added, in
a softer key, that it must be delightful to think of those who love us among the
ruins of the Pantheon.
Her father's displeasure had cost the girl, as we know, a great deal of deep-
welling sorrow--sorrow of the purest and most generous kind, without a touch of
resentment or rancour; but for the first time, after he had dismissed with such
contemptuous brevity her apology for being a charge upon him, there was a
spark of anger in her grief. She had felt his contempt; it had scorched her; that
speech about her bad taste made her ears burn for three days. During this period
she was less considerate; she had an idea--a rather vague one, but it was
agreeable to her sense of injury--that now she was absolved from penance, and
might do what she chose. She chose to write to Morris Townsend to meet her in
the Square and take her to walk about the town. If she were going to Europe out
of respect to her father, she might at least give herself this satisfaction. She felt in
every way at present more free and more resolute; there was a force that urged
her. Now at last, completely and unreservedly, her passion possessed her.
Morris met her at last, and they took a long walk. She told him immediately what
had happened--that her father wished to take her away. It would be for six
months, to Europe; she would do absolutely what Morris should think best. She
hoped inexpressibly that he would think it best she should stay at home. It was
some time before he said what he thought: he asked, as they walked along, a