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9. CHAPTER IX (continued)
'I don't know,' replied she. 'Some idle slander somebody has been inventing, I suppose. I never heard it till Eliza told me the other day, - but if all the parish dinned it in my ears, I shouldn't believe a word of it - I know Mrs. Graham too well!'
'Quite right, Miss Millward! - and so do I - whatever it may be.'
'Well,' observed Eliza, with a gentle sigh, 'it's well to have such a comfortable assurance regarding the worth of those we love. I only wish you may not find your confidence misplaced.'
And she raised her face, and gave me such a look of sorrowful tenderness as might have melted my heart, but within those eyes there lurked a something that I did not like; and I wondered how I ever could have admired them - her sister's honest face and small grey optics appeared far more agreeable. But I was out of temper with Eliza at that moment for her insinuations against Mrs. Graham, which were false, I was certain, whether she knew it or not.
I said nothing more on the subject, however, at the time, and but little on any other; for, finding I could not well recover my equanimity, I presently rose and took leave, excusing myself under the plea of business at the farm; and to the farm I went, not troubling my mind one whit about the possible truth of these mysterious reports, but only wondering what they were, by whom originated, and on what foundations raised, and how they could the most effectually be silenced or disproved.
A few days after this we had another of our quiet little parties, to which the usual company of friends and neighbours had been invited, and Mrs. Graham among the number. She could not now absent herself under the plea of dark evenings or inclement weather, and, greatly to my relief, she came. Without her I should have found the whole affair an intolerable bore; but the moment of her arrival brought new life to the house, and though I might not neglect the other guests for her, or expect to engross much of her attention and conversation to myself alone, I anticipated an evening of no common enjoyment.
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