"Ruth is no improper character, mother; you do her injustice!"
"My dear boy, you don't mean to uphold her as a paragon of virtue!"
"No, mother, but I led her wrong; I----"
"We will let all discussions into the cause or duration of her present character drop, if you please," said Mrs. Bellingham, with the sort of dignified authority which retained a certain power over her son--a power which originated in childhood, and which he only defied when he was roused into passion. He was too weak in body to oppose himself to her, and fight the ground inch by inch. "As I have implied, I do not wish to ascertain your share of blame; from what I saw of her one morning, I am convinced of her forward, intrusive manners, utterly without shame, or even common modesty."
"What are you referring to?" asked Mr. Bellingham sharply.
"Why, when you were at the worst, and I had been watching you all night, and had just gone out in the morning for a breath of fresh air, this girl pushed herself before me, and insisted upon speaking to me. I really had to send Mrs. Morgan to her before I could return to your room. A more impudent, hardened manner, I never saw."
"Ruth was neither impudent nor hardened; she was ignorant enough, and might offend from knowing no better."
He was getting weary of the discussion, and wished it had never been begun. From the time he had become conscious of his mother's presence he had felt the dilemma he was in, in regard to Ruth, and various plans had directly crossed his brain; but it had been so troublesome to weigh and consider them all properly, that they had been put aside to be settled when he grew stronger. But this difficulty in which he was placed by his connection with Ruth, associated the idea of her in his mind with annoyance and angry regret at the whole affair. He wished, in the languid way in which he wished and felt everything not immediately relating to his daily comfort, that he had never seen her. It was a most awkward, a most unfortunate affair. Notwithstanding this annoyance connected with and arising out of Ruth, he would not submit to hear her abused; and something in his manner impressed this on his mother, for she immediately changed her mode of attack.