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The assertion seemed incontrovertible—so I bowed assent.
"Well, Sir," said the Captain, " I am a plain man."
Another truism to which I tacitly agreed. "And mean no harm."
That, I thought to myself, is by no means so clear—still I bowed.
"But as you are, I dare say, aware I have been for some months tenant of that beautiful mansion which your uncle, Mr. Nubley, thinks proper to call Chittagong Lodge—"
"Not my uncle, Sir," said I. "Mr. Nubley's connexion with me arises simply from his having been a partner of an elder brother of mine in India."
"Oh," said Thompson, " he is not a relation of yours?"
"Not in the most distant degree," said I.
"Why then," said Thompson, "that alters the case, and I may ask you a question without giving any personal offence, or casting any personal stigma upon the hereditary qualities of the family?"
"You may ask what question you please," said I.
"Well, then, Sir," said Thompson, shouldering the whip, " is that old gentleman mad?"
"I never heard such a thing even suggested," said I.
"Then, Sir, how do you account for his conduct?" said Thompson, giving his whip a sort of horizontal shake. "What do you think he did this morning ?—I came here, Sir," added the Captain, " with great pain at such a moment as this—but a soldier is jealous of his honour, and I could not rest. After walking round and round the fences and palings of the place with his lady for the last two or three days, this morning, in he stalks into the house, and although I received him with all the urbanity of which I am master; and although my nieces Evelina, and Rosetta, and my cousin Madeline, did everything they possibly could do to make
Mrs. Nubley's reception in her own house agreeable, he began in the most extraordinary manner to abuse me and my relations, mixing up all this with the greatest possible civility.
"' Captain Thompson,' said he, ' I am glad to see you—the grounds look very pretty—in fernal swindler pays no rent—anxious about the place—paper in drawing-room all smeared— vulgar dog—look at the carpet—if it is quite convenient to give me possession at Lady-day, instead of Midsummer, should feel obliged, as I have been disappointed in a house—that's fudge—anything to get the fellow away'—but, Sir, this was a trifle. I presented him to the young ladies—and after complimenting Evelina on her beautiful complexion, for which she is really celebrated, he said, staring her full in the face, 'The roses are rouge, and the lilies pearlpowder,—tol-der-a-lol.' I bore even this with patience, but when my cousin Madelina, as fine a young woman as ever stepped, and as good too, playfully opened the door of the second drawing-room to show him how careful we had been of the furniture, he said, < Thank ye, Miss, thank ye;' and, staring her full in the face, added, 'no better than she should be I take it.' Now really, Sir, I only ask what course can I pursue under these circumstances? I saw none open, but coming here directly, believ^ ing, moreover, that he was a relation of yours —-as he is not, I feel that I ought to apologise, still farther, for my intrusion, and say no more, except to ask again whether he is or is not insane, as upon the answer I receive, the conduct which I shall observe towards him must mainly depend."
"Not he, Sir," said I. "I believe him to be perfectly in his senses: he is very odd I admit, and has a propensity to talk to himself, which, to a stranger, renders his conversation very perplexing."
"Why, Sir," said Captain Thompson, giving the horsewhip a slight flourish, " if his talking were merely talking to himself, nobody else could reasonably be offended, because a man may amuse himself as much as he pleases; and I have no doubt if Mr. Nubley did so, he would find plenty of persons to agree with him; but when he stares one in the face, and says the things that he said of me and my relations, why, really,—I—" —and here again the horsewhip waggled a good deal.
"It is," said I, "purely constitutional—a habit of thinking aloud, which has grown in old age upon a naturally absent man, and while he is conversing in the ordinary worldly course of conversation, he becomes abstracted, and the truth comes out most unintentionally."
"The truth comes out, does it, Sir?" said Captain Thompson, looking at me with a most ferocious expression of countenance; the horsewhip suddenly rising to something more than an angle of forty five,—" the truth comes out, does it—eh?"
"Yes, the ingenuousness of the mind developes itself," said I.
"Oh," said Thompson, considerably excited, "the ingenuousness of the mind developes itself, does it ?—what, then Sir, it was in the sincerity of his heart that Mr. Nubley called me