The Odd Women

By George Gissing ; Patricia Ingham | Go to book overview
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8 COUSIN EVERARD

As Miss Barfoot's eye fell on the letters brought to her at breakfast time, she uttered an exclamation, doubtful in its significance. Rhoda Nunn, who rarely had a letter from any one, looked up inquiringly.

'I am greatly mistaken if that isn't my cousin Everard's writing. -- I thought so.--He is in London.'

Rhoda made no remark.

'Pray read it,' said the other, handing her friend the epistle after she had gone through it.

The handwriting was remarkably bold, but careful. Punctuation was strictly attended to, and in places a word had been obliterated with a circular scrawl which left it still legible.

'Dear Cousin Mary,

'I hear that you are still active in an original way, and that civilization is more and more indebted to you. Since my arrival in London a few weeks ago, I have several times been on the point of calling at your house, but scruples withheld me. Our last interview was not quite friendly on your side, you will remember, and perhaps your failure to write to me means continued displeasure; in that case I might be rejected at your door, which I shouldn't like, for I am troubled with a foolish sense of personal dignity. I have taken a flat, and mean to stay in London for at least half a year. Please let me know whether I may see you. Indeed I should like to. Nature meant us for good friends, but prejudice came between us. Just a line, either of welcome or "get thee behind me!"* In spite of your censures, I always was, and still am, affectionately yours,

' Everard Barfoot.'

Rhoda perused the sheet very attentively.

'An imprudent letter,' said Miss Barfoot. 'Just like him.'

'Where does he appear from?'

' Japan, I suppose.--"But prejudice came between us." I like that! Moral conviction is always prejudice in the eyes of these advanced young men.--Of course he must come. I am anxious to see what time has made of him.'

-87-

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