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|Book The Third - Garnering||Charles Dickens|
Chapter I - Another Thing Needful
|Page 4 of 5||
She did not raise her head. A dull anger that she should be seen in her distress, and that the involuntary look she had so resented should come to this fulfilment, smouldered within her like an unwholesome fire. All closely imprisoned forces rend and destroy. The air that would be healthful to the earth, the water that would enrich it, the heat that would ripen it, tear it when caged up. So in her bosom even now; the strongest qualities she possessed, long turned upon themselves, became a heap of obduracy, that rose against a friend.
It was well that soft touch came upon her neck, and that she understood herself to be supposed to have fallen asleep. The sympathetic hand did not claim her resentment. Let it lie there, let it lie.
It lay there, warming into life a crowd of gentler thoughts; and she rested. As she softened with the quiet, and the consciousness of being so watched, some tears made their way into her eyes. The face touched hers, and she knew that there were tears upon it too, and she the cause of them.
As Louisa feigned to rouse herself, and sat up, Sissy retired, so that she stood placidly near the bedside.
'I hope I have not disturbed you. I have come to ask if you would let me stay with you?'
'Why should you stay with me? My sister will miss you. You are everything to her.'
'Am I?' returned Sissy, shaking her head. 'I would be something to you, if I might.'
'What?' said Louisa, almost sternly.
'Whatever you want most, if I could be that. At all events, I would like to try to be as near it as I can. And however far off that may be, I will never tire of trying. Will you let me?'
'My father sent you to ask me.'
'No indeed,' replied Sissy. 'He told me that I might come in now, but he sent me away from the room this morning - or at least - '
She hesitated and stopped.
'At least, what?' said Louisa, with her searching eyes upon her.
'I thought it best myself that I should be sent away, for I felt very uncertain whether you would like to find me here.'
'Have I always hated you so much?'
'I hope not, for I have always loved you, and have always wished that you should know it. But you changed to me a little, shortly before you left home. Not that I wondered at it. You knew so much, and I knew so little, and it was so natural in many ways, going as you were among other friends, that I had nothing to complain of, and was not at all hurt.'
Her colour rose as she said it modestly and hurriedly. Louisa understood the loving pretence, and her heart smote her.
'May I try?' said Sissy, emboldened to raise her hand to the neck that was insensibly drooping towards her.
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