Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

know Mrs. Brandyball told me she should do so."

The conversation which had passed between that estimable lady and my vivacious father-inlaw on the evening when she described the merits of Montpelier, and the impression it had made upon his mind, flashed into my memory as my medical friend talked of a correspondence between them upon such a subject as this.

"But," said Sniggs, raising his eyebrows into an arch of interesting inquisitiveness, "perhaps if she should omit to do so"—you would"

"Oh dear no!" said I; "I could not think of interfering in any of the proceedings."

"Oh! I see," said Sniggs; "only, as you have been good enough to request Mr. Kittington to supply the place of Dr. StopzanpofF at the organ during the funeral ceremony, I thought perhaps you might extend your kindness a little farther."

Now came a puzzler. It was clear that Miss Kitty had used my name in making the request to Mr. Kittington, and it was equally clear that he must think me the most extraordinary of all human beings, after what had occurred between us, to send that volatile young lady on a commission to his house, even under the protection of so respectable a chaperone as Mrs. Sniggs. The question was—and it was to be decided on the instant—should I repel the insinuation, and, by declaring the truth, proclaim Miss Kitty Falwasser that which I knew her to be? or, by slurring over the affair in its present stage, content myself with disabusing the mind of the dancing-master at the first favourable opportunity? If I took the former course, "war to the knife" would soon be the cry from the Cuthbert party, and my reasons for positively denying the fact, and for Kate's taking upon herself to use my name, would necessarily be required; and then adieu to all further concealment of any of the other circumstances of the case. If I adopted the latter, I might in another hour vindicate myself to Mr. Kittington, at the sacrifice, certain 1 y, of Kate's reputation for veracity; but as the young lady herself had thought proper long since to let Mr. Kittington into some of the peculiarities of her disposition and character, not altogether disconnected from dissimulation, nor much more venial than a plain straightforward falsehood; and as I felt I was safe with him, I resolved upon merely listening to the further disclosures of my medical friend, without saying yea or nay upon this last curious and surprising point of the young lady's conduct.

"I have fixed ten o'clock for the funeral," said Sniggs; "I will send a mourning-coach up here at a quarter before. The young ladies, I presume, adhere to their original intention of attending the mournful ceremony?"

"Really," said I, "I cannot answer that question, for Miss Kate does not admit me to her confidence. I have an opinion on the subject, but I suppose if Cuthbert wishes it, he is to be considered omnipotent."

"It will be an affecting sight," said Sniggs, looking pathetic—" the two sisters following their brother's body; don't you think so? It will show that whatever people may say, he was not really neglected."

"Say?" exclaimed I; " what! do people say anything about it?"

"Why," said Sniggs—" no—not much—but folks will talk—and some of the gossips think it hard that the poor boy should have been removed from the care of his immediate relations to"

"Mr. Sniggs," said I, interrupting the unamiable leech, " he was removed from this house, from which his only two immediate relations were (by Cuthbert's own orders, also, removed) to yours; a proof of the confidence which was placed in you by my brother and myself—a proof which I really should have thought might have been flattering to you in a particular degree. It is true the poor boy died—here he might have lived—that was not to be foreseen; in this house cherry-brandy is not left in the

VOL. II. N

unlocked cupboards of sick boys' bed-rooms to be swallowed at pleasure."

I had said—I, who passed my whole life in restraining the animation of Harriet upon all such points, had, as her maid Foxcroft would have said, " outed with it." The words were past recall, Sniggs knew my mind—he stood aghast —I saw my advantage, and, with the rapidity of a prize-fighter, followed it up, and before the apothecary could recover his "wind," added, "And that fact I shall take care to let my poor deluded brother know, in order that he may judge how wisely he has disposed of his confidence."

Sniggs turned pale, whether with rage or apprehension I know not; but he was evidently summoning all ths energies of his mind to form a reply, when a servant entered the room and told me that Captain Thompson, who was living at Chittagong Lodge, was in the morning-room, and wished to see me—about what, I knew not, never having seen him in my life, except at church, with his two nieces, or sisters, as they

« ZurückWeiter »