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"Ellen and you!" repeated Lady Henmarsh with profound astonishment. "You don't mean to tell me, Katharine, that you have really taken to be intimate with that uninteresting creature--that sheep-like young lady, the veriest type of the most detestable class of society girls that I have ever encountered! A silly, pious, underbred girl, engaged to a vulgar missionary preacher! Really you amaze me, Kate. Perhaps," she said, with a covert glance at Katharine, and a strong effort to be perfectly familiar and natural, dictated by an instinctive feeling that she had lost ground with one whom she had formerly influenced--"perhaps you are doing the model wife, acting on the 'love-me-love-my-dog' principle, and cultivating this very modest flower for her brother's sake. If so, I admire you for it, Katharine. I am glad to see you have a due sense of the value of 'thorough' in you; there is no more precious quality; but I confess I did not expect it."Katharine was paler than her wont; but her eyes shone with their accustomed light, and her tall figure drawn up to its full height and proudly motionless, was full of indescribable dignity and grace. The rich folds of her dress, of lustrous white satin, with its garniture of swansdown and its fastenings of diamonds, did not so much adorn as they received grace from her. And the noble outline of her features showed like that of an antique statue under the filmy bridal veil, which softened but did not conceal them. When Hester looked from the bride to the bridegroom, she acknowledged, too, that no external incongruity was evident. Robert Streightley looked like a self-possessed gentleman; not very handsome, not strikingly elegant, but not too much inferior to the beautiful girl whom he led away, in a few minutes, his wedded wife. It was quickly done and over, and the crowd was pressing round the carriages, and peering into the aisle of the church. Mr. Guyon, the very picture of gaiety and juvenility, led out Lady Henmarsh, quite affected, and remarkably well-dressed; then came Charles Yeldham and the bridesmaids--the unappropriated bridesmaids, be it observed; Decimus had paired off with Ellen the moment the bride and bridegroom had reached the church-door. Then the general crowd drifted out; and in the porch Hester found herself face to face with Mr. Daniel Thacker, who testified great delight at the rencontre.

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"It is one of Streightley's matters, Mrs. Frere. He had, if you recollect, some five thousand and odd pounds from us some months ago, for which we hold as security the assignment of the house in Portland Place, and one or two other minor deeds. That money is, I see, due on the third of next month--a fortnight hence, that is to say; and I have received a letter from Mr. Streightley--who, of course, only knows me in the matter--asking for a renewal of the loan on payment of the interest, and on the continuance of the same security.""Just tell her what I have said," returned Robert impatiently, "and say no more."

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"Yes," said Robert; "he came to the office yesterday.""Do so," she returned. "My carriage is at your disposal. Tell them to come back here, Clarke, when they have taken this gentleman home." Then she again bade him farewell and left him.

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