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our nation, there should be found such a cur—a cur—what other word would meet the case?—as this Lieutenant Merman. "Now," said I to myself, "now I see why this fellow has so long lingered here recruiting." It might however have been, for I know nothing of the routine of these matters, that he was forced in his tour of duty, to Philander and play the flute at his lodgings in our peaceful town, instead of following his gallant companions in arms to the Peninsula; all I was certain of, was that here he did loiter and linger, and that until domestic matters seemed to promise war even in our peaceful town, he gave no sign of going: perhaps, as I say, it was what they call his tour of duty, or something which I do not comprehend, and that it was not his fault, but his misfortune, that he remained strolling about the laurel walks in my father-in-law's gardens in Hampshire, instead of gathering glorious bunches for himself in the field of glory in the face of an avowed enemy So it was—and what a sequel to his other proceedings was his conduct at the appropriately named villa of his virgin aunt Diansgrove.
The style in which his servant wrote was somewhat amusing, but it was evident that the view he took of the whole case was tolerably correct. It occurred to me, I admit, that after my father-in-law's condescension in accepting the perusal of the letter, and his consequent admission or permission—implied, if not expressed— of the attachment existing between Miss Kerridge and Mr. Lazenby, that Mr. Lazenby would inevitably become a kind of appendage to * one or other of the establishments at the Rectory or Ashmead; and then again—there was nothing I could think of, nothing I could imagine, that did not bring back my apprehensions and anticipations as to the precariousness of my tenure here—still my delight at having Merman decidedly expelled and properly exposed, got the better—at least for two hours—of every other feeling.
But the storm I had to encounter in the interval between my interview with Wells, letter in hand from Merman himself, and this explanatory one, was something terrific. Harriet was so well satisfied with Jane's conduct, and the resolution at which she had arrived as to going to Sniggs's, that she endured—nay, perhaps that is too strong a term—she was pleased with her society, and remained with her, until Kate's return from the love market, and from visiting the remains of her dear brother.
She came home accompanied by Mrs. Sniggs, who, not venturing to intrude farther than the hall, left her there, having imprinted on her damask cheek a kiss, accompanied by a promise that Mr. Sniggs would be up in the morning, and that any suggestion she might make would be, of course, attended to.
There was a crisis at hand. Kate's return was followed by a summons from her to Jane to attend her in her room. Jane, gaining strength against tyranny by encouragement from Harriet, whose manner assured and engaged her, sent word by the maid that she was with Mrs. Gurney, and that she might come to her (having obtained permission), or she must wait till she could leave her aunt.
This answer to her message set Kitty into a flame. She, the possessor of the order from head-quarters; she who had, under the protection of Mrs. Sniggs, defied the power of her aunt, to be treated in this disrespectful and unceremonious manner! Lucky indeed was it for her maid that she was somewhat older, larger, and stronger than Kitty, else, in the paroxysm which followed the message, she would, in all probability, have fallen a victim to her excessive rage.
"La! Miss," said the maid, "why do you put yourself in a passion about people like these? why what are they ?—only charity children of dear Mr. Cuthbert, your dear father; don't let them see that you care about them. I'm sure, after their treatment of poor Master Thomas, they deserve neither notice nor respect. If I was you, Miss Katherine, I would go straight, right an end, to Mrs. Gurney's room, and walk in without so much as knocking at the door or saying with your leave or by your leave, and I should just tell them all about your visit to your dear brother's venerable remains, and describe it to them ; tell them how he looked, and what a place he is in, and all that, and make them cry their nasty hearts out; and as for Miss Jane, she ought to be ashamed of going and carneying over these people, who want to rob her and you of your rightful fortune."
This conversation, or rather this harangue, with all of which I accidentally became acquainted, had the desired effect, and stirred Miss Katherine up to the execution of her maid's design and accordingly, with Cuthbert's letter in her hand, and without—according to prescription—any knocking or tapping at the door, she flounced into Harriet's room. Luckily, as it happened, I was on my road thither too, and almost immediately followed the sylph-like danseuse into the apartment.
"So, Jane," said Kate, without even affecting the civility of first noticing my wife, "you do not choose to come to my room to hear what I have to tell you—you have no feeling—no heart,