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42. CHAPTER XLII
When Charles left Ducie Street he had caught the first train home, but had no inkling of the newest development until late at night. Then his father, who had dined alone, sent for him, and in very grave tones inquired for Margaret.
"I don't know where she is, pater" said Charles. Dolly kept back dinner nearly an hour for her."
"Tell me when she comes in."
Another hour passed. The servants went to bed, and Charles visited his father again, to receive further instructions. Mrs. Wilcox had still not returned.
"I'll sit up for her as late as you like, but she can hardly be coming. Isn't she stopping with her sister at the hotel?"
"Perhaps," said Mr. Wilcox thoughtfully--"perhaps."
"Can I do anything for you, sir?"
"Not to-night, my boy."
Mr. Wilcox liked being called sir. He raised his eyes, and gave his son more open a look of tenderness than he usually ventured. He saw Charles as little boy and strong man in one. Though his wife had proved unstable his children were left to him.
After midnight he tapped on Charles's door. "I can't sleep," he said. "I had better have a talk with you and get it over."
He complained of the heat. Charles took him out into the garden, and they paced up and down in their dressing-gowns. Charles became very quiet as the story unrolled; he had known all along that Margaret was as bad as her sister.
"She will feel differently in the morning," said Mr. Wilcox, who had of course said nothing about Mrs. Bast. "But I cannot let this kind of thing continue without comment. I am morally certain that she is with her sister at Howards End. The house is mine-- and, Charles, it will be yours--and when I say that no one is to live there, I mean that no one is to live there. I won't have it." He looked angrily at the moon. "To my mind this question is connected with something far greater, the rights of property itself."
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