Page:Austen Sanditon and other miscellanea.djvu/155

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and came forward, delighted to find such a circle of Friends, and blessing his good fortune for the unlooked-for Indulgence. He shook hands with Robert, bowed and smiled to the Ladies, and did everything very prettily; but as to any particularity of address or Emotion towards Margaret, Emma, who closely observed him, perceived nothing that did not justify Elizabeth’s opinions, though Margaret’s modest smiles imported that she meant to take the visit to herself. He was persuaded without much difficulty to throw off his greatcoat, and drink tea with them. ‘For whether he dined at 8 or 9,’ as he observed, ‘was a matter of very little consequence.’ And without seeming to seek, he did not turn away from the chair close to Margaret which she was assiduous in providing him. She had thus secured him from her Sisters; but it was not immediately in her power to preserve him from her Brother’s claims, for as he came avowedly from London, and had left it only four hours ago, the last current report as to public news, and the general opinion of the day must be understood, before Robert could let his attention be yielded to the less national and important demands of the Women. At last, however, he was at liberty to hear Margaret’s soft address, as she spoke her fears of his having had a most terrible, cold, dark, dreadful journey. ‘Indeed you should not have set out so late.’ ‘I could not be earlier,’ he replied. ‘I was detained chatting at the Bedford, by a friend. All hours are alike to me. How long have you been in the Country, Miss Margaret?’ ‘We came only this morning. My kind Brother and Sister brought me home this very morning. ’Tis singular, is not it?’ ‘You were gone a great while, were not you? a fortnight, I suppose?’ ‘You may call a fortnight a great while, Mr. Musgrave,’ said Mrs. Robert sharply, ‘but we think a month very little. I assure you we bring her home at the end of a month, much against our will.’ ‘A