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the inevitable division between us while he was with me was delightful to me. Mrs. Nubley had gone to Harriet, who was yet ignorant of the "cut direct" which Cuthbert had given us by delivering the carte blanche for the arrangements into the hands of the Gorgon who commanded him.
Accredited as Kate evidently was, I honestly admit I waited her approach with trepidation. It really was too bad: every act of my life since Cuthbert's return and domiciliation amongst us had been invariably misrepresented; and the last measure which I had adopted, not only upon my own feeling, but with the entire support of a man of the world like Wells,—I mean that of sending Sniggs to Montpelier instead of going myself, had produced the least lookedfor effect: for it had not only increased his popularity with Cuthbert, but had estranged him from myself, and made me contemptible in the eyes of the man whom I had raised into notice, and even practice, by inviting him to attend Cuthbert at Ashmead.
I waited for Kate—she did not come. Nubley seemed extremely fidgetty—so was I; and, in the midst of this most embarrassing lull, as the sailors call it, a loud ringing at the hall-door announced an arrival; and who should present himself, but the reverend Rector, my worthy father-in-law, whose flushed cheeks and almost quivering lip proclaimed him in a sort of agony of excitement—the cause of which I was not very far from anticipating.
He entered the room, and hastily acknowledging Nubley, as if he had expected to find him there—which he certainly could not have done—caught my hand.
"Give me ten minutes' conversation," said Wells; "you never heard—I have got a letter —insolent puppy"
"Come into the library," said I—" to be sure—yes—I can guess."
"You never heard," said Wells.
"It doesn't surprise me," replied I.
"I want to read you part of Mrs. Brandyball's letter," said Kate, coming into the room at the same moment.—" Ab, Mr. Wells, how do you do?"
"Very ill, my dear," said Wells.
"Very well," said I, "I'll hear it in ten minutes, Kitty."
"May Jane and I go to Mr. Sniggs's?" asked Kate.
"Ask Harriet," replied I, glad to shift some of the responsibility of what was going on upon some other shoulders.
"Oh," said Kate, " she won't let us go."
"She!" thought I.
"Come," said Wells, "there is not a moment to be lost."
"I'll be back directly," said I to the girls.
"Mr. Nubley," said I, "do me the favour to entertain the young ladies for five minutes, till I come back."
"Oh, the old Gig,!" said Kate; and away she and her sister ran, laughing through their grief in the most obstreperous manner.
Another loud ring preceded the announcement of Mrs. Sniggs, who never before had set foot in the house except on a Twelfth Night, when she brought two dancing-girls who had no particular relations, but who, presuming upon Cuthbert's message, now made her appearance to consult with the Miss Falwassers about mourning. A talk followed, the prelude to which I could not stop to hear; but hurrying to the library with my much-excited father in law, I left the girls and the apothecary's wife in earnest conversation in the hall, and saw Nubley creep out of the glass-door at the back of the house to take his accustomed after-breakfast stroll in a walk well sheltered by evergreens.
"You cannot imagine anything like this man's conduct," said Wells, trembling with quite as much rage as became a clergyman—" positively throws us over—of course he knows I cannot fight him, at least with decency, and so insults me."
At the moment, agitated as I was, I could not help thinking of a joke of Wells's own, in which he once suggested, in the case of a quarrel between two bishops, the propriety of their going out to settle their difference with a brace of minor canons.
"What shall I do with him?" said Wells.
I certainly did not feel at the moment parti