Page:Gaskell - North and South, vol. I, 1855.djvu/48

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34
NORTH AND SOUTH.

"Now, I call that treacherous," said she. "I little thought you were making old Isaac and me into subjects, when you told me to ask him the history of these cottages."

"It was irresistible. You can't know how strong a temptation it was. I hardly dare tell you how much I shall like this sketch."

He was not quite sure whether she heard this latter sentence before she went to the brook to wash her palette. She came back rather flushed, but looking perfectly innocent and unconscious. He was glad of it, for the speech had slipped from him unawares—a rare thing in the case of a man who premeditated his actions so much as Henry Lennox.

The aspect of home was all right and bright when they reached it. The clouds on her mother's brow had cleared off under the propitious influence of a brace of carp, most opportunely presented by a neighbour. Mr. Hale had returned from his morning's round, and was awaiting his visitor just outside the wicket gate that led into the garden. He looked a complete gentleman in his rather threadbare coat and well-worn hat. Margaret was proud of her father; she had always a fresh and tender pride in seeing how favourably he impressed every stranger; still her quick eye sought over his face and found there traces of some unusual disturbance, which was only put aside, not cleared away.

Mr. Hale asked to look at their sketches.

"I think you have made the tints on the thatch too dark, have you not?" as he returned Margaret's to her, and held out his hand for Mr. Lennox's, which was withheld from him one moment, no more.