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of man from what he is, and there were any danger of matters coming to a serious conclusion, I should certainly consider it a duty to interfere; but as nothing of the kind is to be apprehended, I really do not see why I am to excite the ill-feeling of the girl, especially as I have already assured myself that she would by some means or other contrive to associate Cuthbert in her cause against me, and I should fall a victim to my attempt at any such exposure."
It was in vain I argued thus. Harriet talked of the principle of the affair—the propriety of using my knowledge of what was past, as a caution to the girl as to the future. Mrs. Wells had positively forbidden any intercourse between Kitty and Bessy Wells, who had been removed to a distance the morning after the arrival of the unwelcome visitor, under the plea of an old engagement, and the advantage of a change of air; and Fanny kept the house, not only out of respect to Tom's memory, but because the state of her engagement with the odious Lieutenant was growing particularly feverish.
Politics, I admit, occupied but a very small share of my attention just now, and, although always as a Tory born and bred, I delighted to hear of the successes almost weekly gained over our enemies by Lord Wellington, I felt so assured of the eventual triumph of my country over faction at home and foes abroad, that having no personal share, either civil or military, however humble it might have been, in the gigantic struggle going on, the fluctuations of my feelings were narrowed into the smallest possible circumference, and confined to the constantly vacillating question of whether and when Lieutenant Merman's recruiting service would really terminate, and his presence with his regiment be required. I heard faint rumours of an expectation that such an event was again anticipated, but I began to think that the subject was only agitated whenever any difference chanced to arise between the lovers. From what I could collect, it appeared that Fanny's eyes had been opened to the real H 5
character of her admirer, and that her filial affection seemed to preponderate in the scale during the discussion which was taking place as to the late outbreak of the gallant gentleman's temper.
Thus left to ourselves, Harriet was compelled to endure more of the society of the young ladies from Bath than would otherwise have been necessary, and, while I was present, I confess I sat upon thorns, expecting every moment an explosion of Harriet's indignation, which I so earnestly desired to avoid.
"Pappy," said Kate, "wished us very much to see poor dear brother Tom before he was buried, but Uncle seems to think it would be dangerous for us."
"So do I," said Harriet; "and if anything were to happen"
"But then," said Kate, with an extra degree of animation, "I have been vaccinated on purpose, you know, dear. I should like it."
"I shouldn't," said Jane; "I should like to remember my poor dear brother as he was when alive; then we may fancy him absent and away, and yet to return to us—but if we see him dead, the recollection of him so will always last."
"I think," said I, "you are right, Jane."
"But then I could go without Jane," said Kate; "Foxcroft could go with me, and"
"No," said I, "it would be the height of imprudence."
"I could go alone, if that's all," said Kate; "I am not the least afraid, and I know the way."
"It would not, I think, be considered delicate," said Harriet, "for you to be seen in the streets of Blissfold."
"What," said the young lady, "not if I were going to see my poor brother!"
"I think you had better not," said I.
This evidently checked, but did not stop her, in the course which she was pursuing.
"Well," continued she, "after the funeral, we may go and see Fanny Wells, although Bessy is gone?"
"Certainly," said Harriet; "only I understood you were to return immediately after the funeral was over."
"Why, so Pappy said," answered Kate; « but—I"
Here she was again foiled in what, with Harriet's predisposition to suspect, she considered the main object of her visit to Ashmead.
"Who are to go to the funeral, dear?" said Kate, addressing Harriet.
"Why," said I, "you tell me that it is Cuthbert's desire that both of you should attend; it is most unusual, and I should say unexpected, and"
"Well, but, Uncle," said Jane, quietly, and certainly with much reason, "if we are not to go to see him before he is buried, nor go to the burying itself, we might as well have stayed at home."
"Not at all, Jane," said Kitty, sharply. "It shows our affection and regard to Tom even to be here at this time. I suppose you will go, Uncle?"