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"Now," she said, when Percy had gone out of the room to fetch something he had forgotten, "I wish to give you a last piece of advice. I give it to you, Miss Ashleigh, as much as I do to Ada, for as you come out under my charge, I consider myself as responsible for you equally. To you, Ada, I say be very careful you do not let your high spirits run away with you; above all, do not become noisy: I know well what your tendency is. This does not apply to you, Miss Ashleigh, for although you have good spirits, I know you are not likely to let them run away with you as Ada is. Do not either of you, I beg, dance more than once, or at most twice with any gentleman. This applies equally to you, Miss Ashleigh, as the heiress to a considerable fortune. It is incumbent on you both to be very careful with whom you dance,I mean, dance frequently: there is nothing more damaging to a girl than that her name should be mentioned as seen flirting with any but a most eligible party; and as at present you do not know who is who, you cannot be too careful."

This visit had the consequences which papa had predicted from it. Society unanimously agreed that although certainly it was a strange, a very strange step for the bishop and his lady to have taken, still as they had done so, there could be no harm in every one else doing the same; in fact that it would only be what was right and proper. The ladies whom papa had rather irreverently spoken of in his letter as the bell-wethers of the flock, held out to the last and declared that they could not reconcile it to their conscience, or to their sense of what was due to their husbands' position. But the flock were no longer obedient to their lead, and indeed whispered amongst themselves, that a bishop's lady, who was moreover the daughter of a peeress, must know a good deal better what was proper and right than a mere canon's wife could do; and the consequence was that from that moment the influence of these ladies over Canterbury society waned much, and the opposition to poor Sophy recoiled upon the heads of those who had made it. In a short time every one in Canterbury and the neighbourhood called at Harmer Place, and the general verdict upon Sophy was decidedly satisfactory. She was pronounced quiet, self-composed, and ladylike; and indeed Sophy evinced none of that nervousness which she had shown upon the occasion of the bishop's visit. To him she felt she owed all; to these people nothing. So, although perfectly polite and courteous, she was yet composed and tranquil; and some of the ladies who had called, quite prepared to be very patronizing and kind, found any such line of conduct completely out of the question. There was a quiet dignity and self possession about her which became her much. She was the well-bred hostess receiving her grandfather's guests, and few girls enacting such a part for the first time could have played it so well.

So chilling was the effect of this room, so overwhelming its atmosphere of propriety, that many fathers and brothers who have come up from the country to see their daughters or sisters after a long absence, men with big voices and hearty manner, have felt so constrained and overpowered by it, that in place of taking them into their arms with a loud-sounding kiss, they have been known to hold out their hand in a most formal manner and to inquire almost in a whisper as to their state of health. In this drawing-room the elder girls used to practise, and if any visitor was shown up there the proper form to be observed was to rise from the music-stool, walk to the door, and then, making a deep curtsey, to leave the rooma performance not unfrequently completely astounding any one strange to the ceremonies inculcated at young ladies' schools as being suitable to occasions like this.

Robert Althorpe was the son of a tenant on the estate, and was a man of thirty or thereabouts. Originally a wild, reckless lad, he had, as many an English boy has done before and since, ran away to sea, and, after nearly fifteen years absence, had lately returned with only one arm, having lost the other in a naval engagement. On his return he had been received with open arms by his father, as at that time (that is, in the year 1795) all England was wild with our naval glory. And now Robert Althorpe passed his time, sitting by the fire smoking, or wandering about to relate his tales of adventure among the farmhouses of the country, at each of which he was received as a welcome guest.

"Nothing, Percy,I know and feel that; but I also feel that my decision is right, and not wrong. I know that I could not decide otherwise, and that whatever unhappiness it may cause us both, yet that, without your mother's consent, I can never be yours."