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45. CHAPTER XLV: THE STANHOPES AT HOME
We must now return to the Stanhopes, and see how they behaved themselves on their return from Ullathorne.
Charlotte, who came back in the first homeward journey with her sister, waited in palpitating expectation till the carriage drove up to the door a second time. She did not run down or stand at the window, or show in any outward manner that she looked for anything wonderful to occur; but, when she heard the carriage-wheels, she stood up with erect ears, listening for Eleanor's footfall on the pavement or the cheery sound of Bertie's voice welcoming her in. Had she heard either, she would have felt that all was right; but neither sound was there for her to hear. She heard only her father's slow step, as he ponderously let himself down from the carriage, and slowly walked along the hall, till he got into his own private room on the ground floor. 'Send Miss Stanhope to me,' he said to the servant.
'There's something wrong now,' said Madeline, who was lying on her sofa in the back drawing-room.
'It's all up with Bertie,' replied Charlotte. 'I know, I know,' she said to the servant, as he brought up the message. 'Tell my father I will be with him immediately.'
'Bertie's wooing gone astray,' said Madeline. 'I knew it would.'
'It has been his own fault then. She was ready enough. I am quite sure,' said Charlotte, with that sort of ill-nature which is not uncommon when one woman speaks of another.
'What will you say to him now?' By 'him' the signora meant their father.
'That will be as I find him. He was ready to pay two hundred pounds for Bertie, to stave off the worst of his creditors, if this marriage had gone on. Bertie must now have the money instead, and go and take his chances.'
'Where is he now?'
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