And yet who was there at Dillsborough? He had seen those young Botseys about. Could it possibly be one of them? And during the Christmas vacation the rector's scamp of a son had been home from Oxford,--to whom Mary Masters had barely spoken. Was it young Mainwaring? or could it be possible that she had turned an eye of favour on Dr. Nupper's elegantly-dressed assistant. There was nothing too monstrous for him to suggest to himself as soon as the attorney had left him.
But there was a young man in Dillsborough,--one man at any rate young enough to be a lover,--of whom Reginald did not think; as to whom, had his name been suggested as that of the young man to whom Mary's heart had been given, he would have repudiated such a suggestion with astonishment and anger. But now, having heard this from the girl's father, he was again vexed, and almost as much disgusted as when he had first become aware that Larry Twentyman was a suitor for her hand. Why should he trouble himself about a girl who was ready to fall in love with the first man that she saw about the place? He tried to pacify himself by such a question as this, but tried in vain.
THE DINNER AT THE BUSH
HERE is the letter which at his brother-in-law's advice Lord Rufford wrote to Arabella:--
' Rufford, 3rd February, 1875.
'MY DEAR MISS TREFOIL,
'It is a great grief to me that I should have to
answer your letter in a manner that will I fear not be
satisfactory to you. I can only say that you have altogether mistaken me if you think that I have said anything which was intended as an offer of marriage. I cannot but be very much flattered by your good opinion.
I have had much pleasure from our acquaintance, and
I should have been glad if it could have been continued.