The Touchstone of Fortune
When we were a short way from the house, I said: "I've come to spend several days with you, my cousin-sister. Are you not delighted?"
"Yes," she answered, cordially enough, but without the old-time gladness in her manner.
"And my purpose in coming concerns you," I continued.
She started perceptibly and blushed, but after a moment brought herself together and asked laughingly:--
"You don't want to marry me, brother Ned?"
"No, no," I answered. "We're far too dear to each other to spoil it all by marriage, and my station in life, to say nothing of my small estate, is in no way up to your value. It would not be a fair exchange. Your husband shall be at least a duke, with not less than forty thousand pounds a year. That, by the way, is a part of my mission in Sundridge. No, no, I do not bring an offer!" I said, hastily, noticing that she drew away from me in her manner, "I simply hope to pave the way to such an offer some time in the future, and wa