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I Was just in time to save the explosion— Harriet's good sense came suddenly at my call to check the expression of her feelings; and, contenting herself with lifting up her eyes, and firmly closing her lips, she threw herself back in her chair, not, however, without Kate's perceiving that she was considerably excited, and that her forbearance was an effort: still, it was clear to me, from the manner in which she mentioned the dancing master's readiness to do the dirge, that she was not at all aware of the extent of my knowledge of her previous proceedings with regard to that person; and I satisfied myself also that after Kittington's conduct about the letter, he would do nothing inconsistent with honour and propriety.
To have refused to do that, which Kate, as I imagined had, in Cuthbert's name, requested him to do, would have been impossible. His agreeing to play the organ—since, according to the young lady's version of the history, my illstarred brother was so anxious about such a performance—was no indication of any change in his views and feelings as regarded herself, and the presence of Mrs. Sniggs would naturally have hindered any conversation—except, indeed, with "eloquent eyes"—between them, in the way of explanation, as to his not having answered her affectionate letter.
"Well, then," said Kitty, apropos to nothing, "I shall go and take off my bonnet and things, and set my maid to work to make up my mourning. Come, Jane, I have had all the trouble of fetching you, so I desire you will do as I bid you."
"My mourning is all ready," said Jane, "and I am reading to my Aunt; when I have finished I will come."
"Well, I'm sure!" said Kitty, with a toss of her head that would have suited Gay's Lucy; "see if I don't tell Pappy how very rudely you behave to me."
And away she went. As she closed the door sharply, Jane's eyes rested on Harriet's face, and a sympathetic expression of feeling animated both their countenances, which I did not regret to see. I begin to like Jane—nay I this very day called her Jenny, and the adoption of what Entick oddly enough calls the abbreviation of the word Jane into Jenny, and Ann into Nancy, convinced me, almost unconsciously, that affection is taking place of formality.
Two events rapidly succeeded this scene, for one of which only I was altogether unprepared; for although it might seem that I had had no very favourable opportunity of making myself well acquainted with the world's ways, I had a sort of intuitive perception into character, and fancied that I should not often be deceived into a miscalculation of the real qualities of those with whom I came in contact
The former of the two events was the arrival of Mr. Sniggs, clad in a suit of sables, which shone like sticking-plaster—his shirt cuffs doing duty as weepers, and his hat nearly covered with crape.
"Good morning, Sir," said Galen: "I haven't been able to get to you before—a good deal of sickness flying about—hope all's well here?"
"Yes," said I, "we ought to be very grateful."
"I suppose," said Sniggs, "that Miss Falwasser has informed you of your kind, generous brother's solicitous anxiety to pay every respect to the memory of the dear departed—I think all the arrangements are now nearly complete."
"Miss Falwasser," said I, "has not been particularly communicative upon the point; nor did it seem necessary that she should be so, since my brother has confided his daughters-inlaw, pro hdc vice at least, to Mrs. Sniggs."
"Ah, there it is," said Sniggs, "I knew it— I told Mrs. S. I said, 'Depend upon it, Mrs. S., they will be miffed, up at Ashmead, at your interference.' However, my dear Sir, what could we do?—there was the letter—the kind and generous letter—of that most excellent brother of yours; and of course we could not remonstrate with him upon the point."
"There was not the least occasion for your doing so," said I; "Cuthbert has every right to please himself; and, I assure you, I think the details which have been entrusted to you and Mrs. Sniggs are not of a nature to gratify any persons to whom they are confided."
"I believe," said Sniggs, " that Mr. Cuthbert intends asking Mr. Wells to give a funeral sermon next Sunday, to which I conclude he will not object. The subject is so moving—so touching—the early flower nipped in its bud—
the instability of earthly vanities—the"
"Has Cuthbert written to the Rector?" said I.
"I don't know," replied Sniggs, "but I