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45. CHAPTER XLV: THE STANHOPES AT HOME (continued)
'Heaven knows! Smoking at the bottom of Mr Thorne's ha-ha, or philandering with some of those Miss Chadwicks. Nothing will ever make an impression on him. But he'll be furious if I don't go down.'
'No; nothing ever will. But don't be long, Charlotte, for I want my tea.'
And so Charlotte went down to her father. There was a very black cloud on the old man's brow; blacker than his daughter could ever remember to have seen there. He was sitting in his own arm-chair, not comfortably over the fire, but in the middle of the room, waiting till she should come and listen to him.
'What has become of your brother?' he said, as soon as the door was shut.
'I should rather ask you,' said Charlotte. 'I left you both at Ullathorne, when I came away. What have you done with Mrs Bold?'
'Mrs Bold! nonsense. The woman has gone home as she ought to do. And heartily glad I am that she should not be sacrificed to so heartless a reprobate.'
'A heartless reprobate! Tell me now where he is, and what he is going to do. I have allowed myself to be fooled between you. Marriage indeed! Who on earth that has money, or credit, or respect in the world to lose, would marry him?'
'It is no use your scolding me, papa. I have done the best I could for him and you.'
'And Madeline is nearly as bad,' said the prebendary, who was in truth, very, very angry.
'Oh, I suppose we are all bad,' replied Charlotte.
The old man emitted a huge leonine sigh. If they were all bad, who had made them so? If they were unprincipled, selfish, and disreputable, who was to be blamed for the education which had had so injurious an effect.
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