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Cecil looked at her with an admiration
which made her suddenly change colour.

"No," he said, suddenly and awkwardly,
"that man is not fit for you. It would be
throwing yourself away. If you were seen
at the queen's drawing-room with all the
jewels and dress, which a mere parson's
son couldn't get you, but which a rich
husband— "

CHAPTER XXIV. A QUARREL.

AT this moment the Doctor entered
suddenly, and with indignation.

"What, you here still! Oh, come now,
get home, girl, where you should have
been long ago. I don't like this kind of
thing at all, and I can't have it. I'm trustee
for your behaviour. It's wrong: and
foolish— "

"But, Peter dear, you said I was to wait,
and that you were coming back — "

"In the name of the County Court, am
I to be tied down to every idle word, and
guaranteed against being dragged off down
a lane to see some poor family? I wonder
ye haven't more sense. Now I just set my
face, once for all, against this sort of thing!
And I say it to your face, Mr. Leader, to
whom I have said it before."

"Then it wasn't Miss Katey's faultI
detained her. She is not to blame at all."

"Then you are, Mr. Leader. Oh, I am not
afraid, Katey, to say it to his face, I am a
thrustee" – at moments of excitement the
Doctor's Macroom pronunciation would
overpower him –  " for the respectability of
my children: all that I have, beyond a
small worldly substance, to leave them.
I'm no duke or peer of the rellum, or
marquis or bar'net; and have only just our little
margin of family pride to take care of.
Katey, I'm much displeased with you for
this; come home, child, at once."

The young man was taken back at this
severity, and saw that Katey was a little
frightened. We may suppose the Doctor
was seriously angry at this business.
Certainly, as he saw her down-stairs he
continued the severe reprimand that he
had been giving her. He then turned
back, and went into the room again.

As Katey opened the gate a young man
crossed over the road, and with a flushed
face planted himself before her. It was
an admirerthe parson's son. " Katey,
Katey. I saw you go into that officer's
house, andby yourself."

Katey had a strong spirit, as will be seen
later in this narrative, lying hidden, like
metal in a mine, and only waiting foreign
action to bring it out. This prompted her
to answer independently, for she resented
the suspicion. But she thought it kinder
to say hastily:

"Oh, but Peter was with me."

"Peter with you!" cried the young man,
much hurt: " why I saw him go in long
after you. Why will you not be open with
me?"

Why not, indeed? With whom would
not Katey have been open, even with the
closest? But she had forgotten that little
fact, she really had. And she was woman
enough to find the best defence in
exchanging defence for attack.

"This is uncalled for, and cruel," she
said; " I cannot tell you what I feel to a
man that spies upon me. What have I to
do with Mr. Cecil Leader? It is Polly who
is so beautiful, and whom every one that
sees her admires. He is dazzled by her,
and we all do our best to help, for you
know well, that Polly is much too generous
to think of herself, and lucky and happy
he will be if he gets her."

"Katey," he said excitedly, "it is you
who are too generous and unselfish. You
do not know what is going on. Do you
suppose that we haven't eyes and ears?
Your father is a very clever man, and is
playing this game now, and does not care
how he wins it, whether with her or with
you. I have been watching, and wiser
heads than mine, too, have seen what his
scheme is! It is cold-blooded, heartless;
it makes no matter which of the two this
poor feeble boy is made to choose; either
will do, and either must be sacrificed. It is
notorious over the place."

"Have you done?" she said, with a
trembling voice, and a flushed cheek.
"And you dare to slander my dear father
in that way?"

"I don't care for your father where you
are concerned. I tell you, Katey, I am
heartily weary of the life I live here in this
wretched place, with its monotony, and
pettiness, and gossip. I long to get out
into the free open world; to the grand
colonies, where there is room for a man
to stretch his arms, to work, to grow rich,
to enjoy life; instead of dawdling on here,
and subsiding into a curate! I hate all
this; and you know well that there is but
one thing that reconciles me to the sacrifice,
and that is the hope of winning you."

The colour came to her cheek.

"Sacrifice, and for me, Tom," she said.
"We want nothing of that sort. It is
unkind of you to speak in that way to me."