“We should not have been so hasty in any circumstances,” she said, with a blush. “But as it happens, we couldn’t—settle anything.”

“Ah! how’s that?”

“I don’t know what you will think,” said Madeline, doubtfully. “I am a little disturbed myself. Gervase has had a great deal of time to think it all over.”

Her father, who had been lying back in{50} his chair, the embodiment of luxurious repose, in the glow of the firelight, here sat up abruptly, with a start of indignation. “What!” he cried; “do you mean to tell me that the fellow—has thought better of—— 수유오피

“No, no, no!” cried Madeline, with a flush of mingled shyness and laughter,—“papa, don’t be ridiculous, please. What could possibly come between Gervase and me?”

He grumbled, and growled a little, half internally, inarticulately, over the imagined and yet scarcely imagined insult. “I never had your confidence in him, Maddie. Too soft, too soft altogether—no backbone. Not half good enough, not half. Well—what had he got to say?”

“He has had, as I think, papa, too much{51} time to think it all over; and the conclusion he has come to is—— I don’t think it will please you; and naturally it has not pleased his father.”

“Out with it, child!”

“He can’t make up his mind—he can’t satisfy his conscience—to go into the business, papa.”

Mr Thursley’s answer was a long whistle of astonishment. Words seemed to fail him. He got up and stood before the fire till the glare scorched him. Then he threw himself down into his chair again; and then, finally, in tones half of laughter, half of consternation, “Not go into the business! And what objection has he to the business?” he said.

Madeline made no reply. She had not yet found words in which to excuse her{52} lover, and though her heart rebelled against the laugh, she could oppose nothing to the astonishment, the half dismay, half irritation, with which her father spoke.