It was among the leafy shadows of this retirement, in the long sultry summer days, that Mr. Harthouse began to prove the face which had set him wondering when he first saw it, and to try if it would change for him.
‘Mrs. Bounderby, I esteem it a most fortunate accident that I find you alone here. I have for some time had a particular wish to speak to you.’
It was not by any wonderful accident that he found her, the time of day being that at which she was always alone, and the place being her favourite resort. It was an opening in a dark wood, where some felled trees lay, and where she would sit watching the fallen leaves of last year, as she had watched the falling ashes at home.
He sat down beside her, with a glance at her face.
‘Your brother. My young friend Tom—’
Her colour brightened, and she turned to him with a look of interest. ‘I never in my life,’ he thought, ‘saw anything so remarkable and so captivating as the lighting of those features!’ His face betrayed his thoughts—perhaps without betraying him, for it might have been according to its instructions so to do.
‘Pardon me. The expression of your sisterly interest is so beautiful—Tom should be so proud of it—I know this is inexcusable, but I am so compelled to admire.’
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