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"Heaven forbid! Why, mother, I didn't say she was alone with him; her father was of the party."
"Then surely you are distressing yourself more than you need. She goes to London with her papa, and Mr. Coventry happens to go up the same day; that is really all."
"Oh, but, mother, it was no accident. I watched his face, and there was no surprise when he came up with his luggage and saw her."
Mrs. Little pondered for a minute, and then said, "I dare say all her friends knew she was going up to London to-day; and Mr. Coventry determined to go up the same day. Why, he is courting her: my dear Henry, you knew before to-day that you had a rival, and a determined one. If you go and blame her for his acts, it will be apt to end in his defeating you."
"Will it? Then I won't blame her at all."
"You had better not till you are quite sure: it is one way of losing a high-spirited girl."
"I tell you I won't. Mother!"
"When I asked leave to come to the station and see her off, she seemed put out."
"Did she forbid you?"
"No; but she did not like it somehow. Ah, she knew beforehand that Coventry would be there."
"Gently, gently! She might think it possible, and yet not know it. More likely it was on account of her father. You have never told him that you love his daughter?"
"And he is rather mercenary: perhaps that is too strong a word; but, in short, a mere man of the world. Might it not be that Grace Carden would wish him to learn your attachment either from your lips or from her own, and not detect it in an impetuous young man's conduct on the platform of a railway, at the tender hour of parting?"
"Oh, how wise you are, and what an insight you have got! Your words are balm. But, there--he is with her for ever so long, and I am here all alone."
"Not quite alone, love; your counselor is by your side, and may, perhaps, show you how to turn this to your advantage. You write to her every day, and then the postman will be a powerful rival to Mr. Coventry, perhaps a more powerful one than Mr. Coventry to you."
Acting on this advice, Henry wrote every day to Grace Carden. She was not so constant in her replies; but she did write to him now and then, and her letters breathed a gentle affection that allayed his jealousy, and made this period of separation the happiest six weeks he had ever known. As for Grace, about three o'clock she used to look out for the postman, and be uneasy and restless if he was late, and, when his knock came, her heart would bound, and she generally flew upstairs with the prize, to devour it in secret. She fed her heart full with these letters, and loved the writer better and better. For once the present suitor lost ground, and the absent suitor gained it. Mrs. Little divined as much from Grace's letters and messages to herself; and she said, with a smile, "You see 'Les absents n'ont pas toujours tort.'"
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