At last the gentlemen came up again, and we began to dance as if to make up for lost time; for the dancing was certainly better than before supper, and my partners more agreeable and chatty; besides, some of the people had left, so that there was more room, and I enjoyed it accordingly. I think every one else did the same, for there seemed to me to be much more lively conversation and flirting going on than before supper.
"Did you know of her husband's death before you saw her then?" Miss Harmer asked.
"I am sorry to hear that your sister has been ill, Miss Harmer, but for no other reason do I regret what I did. I endeavoured for my sister's sake to persuade your sister to do what was right. I grieve that my attempt failed, but on that account only do I regret what I have done. I did it without the knowledge of my father or sister. I acted as I did because my conscience told me I was right."
Dear old Canterbury! It is indeed a town to love with all one's heart, as it lies, sleeping, as it were, amidst its circle of smiling hop-covered hills, with its glorious cathedral looking so solemnly down upon it, with its quiet courts, its shady, secluded nooks and corners, its quaint, old-fashioned houses, with their many gables and projecting eaves, and its crumbling but still lofty walls, it gives me somehow the idea of a perfect haven of rest and peace. It, like me, has seen its stormy times: Briton, Dane, and Saxon have struggled fiercely before its walls. It, too, has had its proud dreams, its lofty aspirations; but they are all over now, and it is, like myself, contented to pass its days in quiet, resting upon its old associations, and with neither wish nor anticipation of change in the tranquil tenour of its way.
The landlady paused. She was almost as much frightened at Sophy's face as Robert Gregory had been, and she dared not touch the rigid hand. They stood, one on each side of her, watching her helplessly; with faces almost as much blanched by apprehension as was her own and listening breathlessly for the footstep of the doctor outside. It was not long in coming, although it seemed an age to them. He entered quietly: a tall, slight man, with silvered hair, and took the whole state of things in at a glance.