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7. CHAPTER VII. (continued)
"Oh, never mind--never mind," replied the timber-merchant, with a slight wave of his hand, "I have so much else to think of that I nearly had forgot it. Just now, too, there are matters of a different kind from trade to attend to, so don't let it concern ye."
As the timber-merchant spoke, as it were, down to him from a higher moral plane than his own, Giles turned to Mrs. Melbury.
"Grace is going to the House to-morrow," she said, quietly. "She is looking out her things now. I dare say she is wanting me this minute to assist her." Thereupon Mrs. Melbury left the room.
Nothing is more remarkable than the independent personality of the tongue now and then. Mr. Melbury knew that his words had been a sort of boast. He decried boasting, particularly to Giles; yet whenever the subject was Grace, his judgment resigned the ministry of speech in spite of him.
Winterborne felt surprise, pleasure, and also a little apprehension at the news. He repeated Mrs. Melbury's words.
"Yes," said paternal pride, not sorry to have dragged out of him what he could not in any circumstances have kept in. "Coming home from the woods this afternoon we met Mrs. Charmond out for a ride. She spoke to me on a little matter of business, and then got acquainted with Grace. 'Twas wonderful how she took to Grace in a few minutes; that freemasonry of education made 'em close at once. Naturally enough she was amazed that such an article--ha, ha!-- could come out of my house. At last it led on to Mis'ess Grace being asked to the House. So she's busy hunting up her frills and furbelows to go in." As Giles remained in thought without responding, Melbury continued: "But I'll call her down-stairs."
"No, no; don't do that, since she's busy," said Winterborne.
Melbury, feeling from the young man's manner that his own talk had been too much at Giles and too little to him, repented at once. His face changed, and he said, in lower tones, with an effort, "She's yours, Giles, as far as I am concerned."
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