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29. CHAPTER XXIX: A SERIOUS INTERVIEW (continued)
'I never had a brother,' said she.
'I know you never had, and it is therefore that I speak to you.'
'I never had a brother,' she repeated; 'but I have hardly felt the want. Papa has been to me both father and brother.'
'Your father is the fondest and most affectionate of men. But--'
'He is--the fondest and most affectionate of men, and the best of counsellors. While he lives I can never want advice.'
This rather put the archdeacon out. He could not exactly contradict what his sister-in-law said about her father; and yet he did not at all agree with her. He wanted her to understand that he tendered his assistance because her father was a soft good-natured gentleman, not sufficiently knowing in the ways of the world; but he could not say this to her. So he had to rush into the subject-matter of his proffered counsel without any acknowledgement on her part that she could need it, or would be grateful for it.
'Susan tells me that you received a letter this evening from Mr Slope.'
'Yes; papa brought it in the brougham. Did he not tell you?'
'And Susan says that you objected to let her know what it was about.'
'I don't think she asked me. But had she done so I should not have told her. I don't think it nice to be asked about one's letters. If one wishes to show them one does so without being asked.'
'True. Quite so. What you say is quite true. But is not the fact of your receiving letters from Mr Slope, which you do not wish to show to your friends, a circumstance which must excite some--some surprise--some suspicion--'
'Suspicion!' said she, not speaking above her usual voice, speaking still in a soft womanly tone, but yet with indignation; 'suspicion! and who suspects me, and of what?'
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