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"Thank you, Sir," said Kerridge, and she turned to leave the room; but just as she had got to the door a sudden thought seemed to strike her, and turning quickly round she looked wistfully in Wells's face, and said, with all the naivete imaginable, "I beg your pardon, Sir,— please don't look at the little bit that's under the fold of the direction."
"Rely upon me, Kerridge," said the Rector; and Kerridge evanished.
Whether Wells read the letter while in Fanny's room, or in her presence, I do not recollect; all I know is that he showed it to me, having posted up to Ashmead expressly for the purpose. I hastily copied it all, except " the little bit under the fold," which I held sacred—at least as far as transcribing went.
"Diansgrove, , 18—.
"According to promise dear Sarah I write although I have but little time to spare. First and foremost, I shall be out of the Captain's service before this time to-morrow—he has no fault to find with me, he says, and will give me an excellent character but he does not wish for particular reasons that I should continue with him—which particular reasons is merely and promiscuously this, namely that I know all his goings on with Miss Fanny—and the way in which he has behaved, which between you and me and the bed-post turns out to be most shocking. If I was to treat you in corresponding style you would anniliate me, and I would deserve it—but I won't dear Sarah—never.
"What do you think—I knew something was going wrong as I told you by his leaving me behind when he came here on his first visit to Miss Penfeather or whatever his aunt's name is—when he made ready to present himself to Miss Malooney—I don't exactly know the topography of her name—she was non compos as they say, that is, nowhere to be found—upon which his aunt was in a pretty quandary and fell into high streaks and was miscellaneously distracted—mind I had the whole of the pedigree from one of Mrs. Pennefeather's maids called Susan, who was an eye-witness to the entire transaction.
"Well—Miss Malooney you understand, had evaporated out of the house before dinner and continued in that state for three days, having wrote a letter to Miss Pennefeather to say she would not have my master if his skin was stuffed with guineas, for she had given her heart to another—a tall stout gentleman (unless I misunderstand Susan) with green earings— I knew he was an Irishman and I think that was what Susan said he wore—but I have been here only so few hours that I think I must simultaneously astonish you to think how I have contrived to get into all their little secrets so soon.
"Well dear Sarah so, this being the case and Miss Malooney gone, my master couldn't marry her because she wouldn't have him, and because besides that she was irrecoverably out of the way—so—Miss Penfeather or whatever it is, told him—mind I had this from Susan who has been helping me to put the Captain's room to rights—for the last time but one indiscriminately, Sarah dear—that she would give him half the ten thousand pounds—that is after her death, that he was to have had during his life with Miss Malooney—and he might marry incontinently and surreptitiously anybody he pleased—and with that, dear Sarah he went back to me and the Parsonage and whistled the business on again relying upon the inflexible tuberosity of Miss Fanny's affection for him.
"Now, comes the elasticity of the co-operation. Back he comes and as we know dear, Miss Fanny instinctively receives him again into her favour upon the incipient principle and up they go to Ashmead. 'Give me my best stock,' I recollect the Captain saying to me —' Lazenby, take care that the strings of my waistcoat don't come out under my jacket because they are not overclean.' And I remember giving him out his bottle of jeu d'esprit to scent his handcerchief, and rub up the back of his hair with to set him off to the best advantage, and he put on his best pantaloons made by Stools of Clifford Street which show off the gentleman to real 12
advantage—that is Sarah if there is anything of the gentleman about the wearer—and dear Sarah I will say confidently between you and me and the bed-post if he wasn't a gentleman with the King's admission very little of the quality of one would be found in him—but as I was saying insidiously, up he went—well and it was all kiss and make friends and all that, and so very well—but now comes what Lady Teazle says in Otway's Clandestine Marriage 'the damned spot.' What do you think dearest S. Miss Malooney after having been gone as I before contumaciously heard for three days and nights comes back to Diansgrove—that's the name of this place—throws herself into Miss Pennfeather's arms and confides to her the elemosynary circumstance that she has not been able to find the gentleman with the green earrings to whom she had given her heart.
"My dear Sarah to use the words of my favourite Dr. Dryden—whose poems I have read —and which you shall when we two are one— says with immaculate expression—' this is fudge,
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