embracing her), and to pass it off I said, fancifully, to Charlotte:
"I've been asking your mother for your hand."
"Oh, indeed, and has she given it?" Miss Marden answered, gayly.
"She was just going to when you appeared there."
"Well, it's only for a moment—I'll leave you free."
"Do you like him, Charlotte?" Mrs. Marden asked, with a candour I scarcely expected.
"It's difficult to say it before him isn't it?" the girl replied, entering into the humour of the thing, but looking at me as if she didn't like me.
She would have had to say it before another person as well, for at that moment there stepped into the room from the terrace (the window had been left open), a gentleman who had come into sight, at least into mine, only within the instant. Mrs. Marden had said "Here they come," but he appeared to have followed her daughter at a certain distance. I immediately recognised him as the personage who had sat beside us in church. This time I saw him better, saw that his face and his whole air were strange. I speak of him as a personage, because one felt, indescribably, as if a reigning prince had come into the room. He held himself with a kind of habitual majesty, as if he were different from us. Yet he looked fixedly and gravely at me, till I wondered what he expected of me. Did he consider that I should bend my knee or kiss his hand? He turned his eyes in the same way on Mrs. Marden, but she knew what to do. After the first agitation produced by his approach she took no notice of him whatever; it made me remember her passionate adjuration to me. I had to achieve a great effort to imitate her, for though I knew nothing about him but that he was Sir Edmund Orme I felt his