BOOK THE SECOND: BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Chapter 13: A Solo and a Duett (continued)
The Secretary kept silence for a little while; then merely said,
'You are wholly mistaken, Miss Wilfer; wonderfully mistaken. I
cannot say, however, that it is your fault. If I deserve better
things of you, you do not know it.'
'At least, sir,' retorted Bella, with her old indignation rising, 'you
know the history of my being here at all. I have heard Mr Boffin
say that you are master of every line and word of that will, as you
are master of all his affairs. And was it not enough that I should
have been willed away, like a horse, or a dog, or a bird; but must
you too begin to dispose of me in your mind, and speculate in me,
as soon as I had ceased to be the talk and the laugh of the town?
Am I for ever to be made the property of strangers?'
'Believe me,' returned the Secretary, 'you are wonderfully
'I should be glad to know it,' answered Bella.
'I doubt if you ever will. Good-night. Of course I shall be careful
to conceal any traces of this interview from Mr and Mrs Boffin, as
long as I remain here. Trust me, what you have complained of is
at an end for ever.'
'I am glad I have spoken, then, Mr Rokesmith. It has been painful
and difficult, but it is done. If I have hurt you, I hope you will
forgive me. I am inexperienced and impetuous, and I have been a
little spoilt; but I really am not so bad as I dare say I appear, or as
you think me.'
He quitted the room when Bella had said this, relenting in her
wilful inconsistent way. Left alone, she threw herself back on her
ottoman, and said, 'I didn't know the lovely woman was such a
Dragon!' Then, she got up and looked in the glass, and said to her
image, 'You have been positively swelling your features, you little
fool!' Then, she took an impatient walk to the other end of the
room and back, and said, 'I wish Pa was here to have a talk about
an avaricious marriage; but he is better away, poor dear, for I
know I should pull his hair if he WAS here.' And then she threw
her work away, and threw her book after it, and sat down and
hummed a tune, and hummed it out of tune, and quarrelled with it.