Abbildungen der Seite

suddenly ceased, and a peal on the bell set the house itself ringing.

Every body looked amazed. We expected nobody. The Nubleys were not coming. Wells could not have left the Earl's so early; we all were astounded, save and except my brother Cuthbert, and that minx Kitty, who, when we were all staring at each other, in "amazement lost," said to her "pa," loud enough for me to hear, "I shouldn't wonder if it


What these ominous words' portended, I could not venture to surmise; but my astonishment and dismay were not exceedingly small, when I saw my brother's man Hutton enter the room, and, proceeding to Miss Kitty, whisper something in her ear, and beheld her, after giving Cuthbert a pat on the arm, jump up from her chair, and run out of the room, followed by Jane, to whom she made a signal, into the hall, where, in a few moments, the noise of the laughing and giggling of girls and women, and the barking of dogs resounded. In the midst of my amazement—in Ireland it would have been alarm—at the invasion of my house at so unusual »n hour, in bounced Miss Kitty, who, running to Cuthbert, exclaimed with a look of triumphant sauciness, "It is her."

"Where is she?" said Cuthbert .

"Gone up with Jane into our room to take offher things," said Kitty; and turning to my wife, who looked petrified at the performance in progress, added, " it's only Mrs. Brandyball, dear."

Dear! to my wife !—only Mrs. Brandyball! "Why," said I, " she cannot have got our letter." "No," said Cuthbert, "but I can explain that. Kitty had said she was sure you would be glad to see her on her way back—and so—I hadn't time to mention—this—before,


"It makes no difference," said I. "Harriet, dear, hadn't

you better just see"

"Oh no!" said Miss Falwasser, interrupting; "don't hurry, because denr governess has got something to tell me all to myself, and I'll go up and keep her company till you go into the drawing-room." Saying which, and seeming perfectly satisfied that her proposal for the arrangement was in fact a fiat, she proceeded unchecked by any body to fulfil her intentions.

"This is quite a surprise," said Harriet, looking, as I ought, a little ruffled by the event—"did you know Mrs, ndyball was coming to-day, cousin V

"Why," said Cuthbert, "I don't exactly recollect what dear Kate said about it—I know she told me that when she heard from Mrs. Brandyball, she seemed to wish to know whether her coming here would be agreeable to you—and then, as far as I can recollect, Kate told me that she wished you to send her an invitation, as if it originated with yourself—so that she might not feel a difficulty in accepting the one she had giving her; however, as she is come, all the trouble of writing to her to ask her might have been saved. Tommy, dear, pick up my toothpick—eh—ah."

"I did not know," said I; for I confess the tact of Miss Falwasser in her manoeuvrings was any thing but soothing —" I did not know that Kitty had heard from the lady."

"Yes," said Cuthbert, " one day last week, I think."

"I didn't see the letter amongst ours," said I.

"No," said Cuthbert; "Kate's maid always goes down to the servants' hall when the letters come, to see if there are any for her; it saves us the trouble of sending them up to her after we get up—ah!"

All this sounded odd—there appeared a kind of precocity in her measures which did not tend in the slightest degree to exalt the opinion of the young lady's character or disposition which I had previously formed, and Cuthbert evidently saw what was passing in my mind.

"You know," added he, "the children are up long before we are—so that there is no reason why Kate should wait to get any letter which comes for her till we go to breakfast."

"None in the least," said I: "only I was not prepared to hear that so young a lady maintained an independent correspondence."

"Yes," said Cuthbert, "her poor dear mother was always an advocate of freedom from restraint; and, besides, if the poor child were obliged to write those difficult pattern answers she would be tired to death—indeed, she can't bear any thing of the sort, but when she writes of herself, if she does not, spell every word exactly right, still she speaks her own sentiments and opinions. I am a great friend to leaving the mind all free."

"Well, Fanny," said Harriet, rousing her sister from a whispering tete-a-tete with her odious lieutenant, "when you are at leisure, perhaps mamma would like to go to the drawing-room."

"La, Harry!" said Fanny, blushing, "I am sure I'm ready to go whenever she pleases."

And up they got and away they went. I took Harriet's vacated seat and arranged the bottles. '.

"Sad accident has happened," said Merman, "to a brother officer of mine, Jukes, of ours. He was riding in the Park the day before yesterday, his horse ran away with him, and threw him, and he has broken his leg and two or three of hia ribs. It would be deuced hard if he were to die, for he only purchased his company a fortnight since."

"That's sad work," said Cuthbert; "just give me a little claret, Gilbert—there—thanks.—By the way, I don't know if I ever told you of a most formidable-looking accident that happened to me a vast many years ago, when my poor father and I were travelling in a postchaise down Shooter's Hillr just where the place built like Severndroog is"

"Bush, pappy," said Tom, who had watched Cuthbert with considerable anxiety thus far, "you ave told hus that story hevery day this olidays. You should ear sister Kate tell it, just for all the world like you"

"Does she, my boy!" said Cuthbert; "how odd that is I Her poor dear mother had a strong turn for imitation. I didn't remember I had ever told Lieutenant Merman that story,—but wasn't it a miraculous escapel—we must have been dashed to pieces, if the horses had not stopped of themselves."

Lieutenant Merman, who evinced, by a look at me, bis perfect intimacy with the catastrophe, then occupied at least three-quarters of an hour in relating a case of great hardship, in which it appeared that a Captain Dobbmgton had lodged his money for the majority of his regiment, and that Captain Winnowmore had been appointed—and that Lieutenant-colonel Somebody had died—and that the commander of the forces had done Dobbington a great injustice, and so had the adjutant-general, and the quarter-master-general—and so had the secretary at war, and the paymaster of the forces, and the judge-advocate-general, and the general commanding the regiment, and, (is far as I could collect, the Archbishop of Canterbury. However, Mr. Grub and Mr. Snob, two stanch redressors-general of all human wrongs, were to bring the case before the House of Commons the very first week of the next session, it being one of such importance, that the eyes of the whole army were directed to it, and the feelings of the whole nation in a consequent state of ebullition.

I listened; and at the conclusion of the details said I had not heard any thing of it through the public papers; and when I turned to Cuthbert, I found he was fast asleep, with his snuffbox still in his hand, but reversed, as the heraldswould say, and the snuff "absent without leave," aa the Lieutenant would have said, on the carpet Not liking to rouse him from the soft slumber in which he was, like another Chrononhotonthologos, " unfatiguing himself," I pushed the wine again to Merman, who thinking, I suppose, that my doing so was an encouraging hint to resume his lamentations, continued to enlarge upon the infamous job which had been done, until the slumberer awoke.

In my mind there does not exist in the world a more anomalous character than a Radical officer of the army or the navy.—Pledged as they are to defend the king and country against all foes, foreign and domestic, and always eager to redeem that pledge,

"E'en in the cannon's mouth,"

nothing can seem more extraordinary—I should say, perhaps, more disgusting—than to hear these members of the noble services to which they belong giving utterance to sentiments, the expression of which by any man not belonging to either, would at once stamp him for a disloyal and disaffected subject. It is always to me a convincing proof of great weakness or great wickedness. If they believe that the radical reform, of which they speak so enthusiastically, means any thing short of eventual revolution, the former is their misfortune. If with their eyes open to the ulterior results, they advocate the course which leads to them, and laud the men who uphold it, the latter is their crime; and in either case respect for themselves and society should keep them silent; for, as they are bound to fight for the existing order of things, and in the case of any outbreak, would in doing their duty be compelled to oppose and overthrow it, their own previous proclamations, that what they did was contrary to their opinions and principles, would add but little to their reputation for sincerity, or their character for independence.

Merman's long tale having been quite unfolded, and Cuthbert awakened to the loss of his enuff, I suggested a removal to the drawing-room, anxious, I admit, to see the Minerva under whose fostering auspices two such promising girls as my pseudo-nieces were fast coming to maturity.

Cuthbert did not appear to evince any particular desire to greet the lady, which led me to think that his anxiety to show her civility had originated entirely in his devotion to his daughter-in-law. However, having got Lieutenant Merman to ring the bell for Hutton to come and fetch his snuffbox to be refilled, and then to wheel him across the ball to the edge of his couch in the drawing-room, we proceeded to an inspection of the all-accomplished Mrs. Drandyball.

I found her seated on one of the sofas between her young pupils. She was a plumpish dressy woman, of about fiftyfour or five, with a florid countenance, and coal-black hair, which, upon the established principle of meum and tuum, was unquestionably her own; above which she wore a capacious white bonnet, decorated with flowers, which would have made Lee and Kennedy jealous, and have driven Colville mad; chains and rings adorned her neck and fingers, and although en deshabille for travelling, she was quite as fine as need be.

Upon Cuthbert's arrival, the two girls leaped from the musnud, and while Mrs. Brandyball tired him to death with the most affectionate inquiries after his health, Kate stood kissing his forehead and Jane holding one of his hands. After this ceremony had been gone through, Cuthbert looking anxiously after me, pointed to the lady, and said, in a subdued tone of voice, "Gilbert, allow me to introduce Mrs. Brandyball."

I made the aimable with the best grace I could, and expressed myself extremely glad to see her at Ashmead,— hoped she had made some refreshment, and suggested that we should have some supper early, since she had missed our dinner-hour by her late arrival.

"Thank you, Mr. Gurney," said my fair friend, in a tone of voice suitable to a girl of sixteen performing on the stage, "for your delicate attention; but 1 would not for worlds disarrange the economy of your establishment, nor is it in any degree necessary; for owing to the amiable solicitude of these dear children, I have been supplied with every necessary refreshment since my arrival in your charming mansion."

"Have you?" said I; "I am very glad to hear it."

"Yes," continued the lady; "dear Katharine, anxious to evince a regard, which is truly reciprocal, desired the domestics to arrange a little repast in her own apartment, and I found abundance of every thing to gratify the appetite, elegantly disposed for my accommodation—interesting creatures! It is most satisfactory to a solicitous preceptress to discover in acts of kindness and consideration like these, the delightful evidence of affection, resulting perhaps in the present instance from a strict adherence to the principle, that where kindness governs in the place of anger, the pupil always receives instruction with gratitude."

This euphonic oration startled me, not only by its manner

« ZurückWeiter »