Page:Eliot - Middlemarch, vol. II, 1872.djvu/221

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211
BOOK IV.—THREE LOVE PROBLEMS.

notable change of manner, walking coolly up to Mr Standish and putting business questions with much coolness. He had a high chirping voice and a vile accent. Fred, whom he no longer moved to laughter, thought him the lowest monster he had ever seen. But Fred was feeling rather sick. The Middlemarch mercer waited for an opportunity of engaging Mr Rigg in conversation: there was no knowing how many pairs of legs the new proprietor might require hose for, and profits were more to be relied on than legacies. Also, the mercer, as a second cousin, was dispassionate enough to feel curiosity.

Mr Vincy, after his one outburst, had remained proudly silent, though too much preoccupied with unpleasant feelings to think of moving, till he observed that his wife had gone to Fred's side and was crying silently while she held her darling's hand. He rose immediately, and turning his back on the company while he said to her in an undertone,—"Don't give way, Lucy; don't make a fool of yourself, my dear, before these people," he added in his usual loud voice—"Go and order the phaeton, Fred; I have no time to waste."

Mary Garth had before this been getting ready to go home with her father. She met Fred in the hall, and now for the first time had the courage to