« ZurückWeiter »
plenitude of his laziness, has got some one of his fair friends at Montpelier to scrawl it for him; and then I thought I recognised the extremely pretty unintelligibility of Kate's calligraphy —that, of course, I opened first, for furniture and books, although on their road, could not very rapidly follow their avant couriers:—crack went the seal—flap went the paper, and I saw—
"Montpelier, Bath. "Dear Mr. Gurney, Your good, kind, but terribly lazy brother has begged me to be his amanuensis; and when a request, even were its fulfilment troublesome in any eminent degree, is made by so amiable and so universally beloved a person as he is, it is wholly beyond the power of ordinary humanity to resist or refuse—in ordei to make some particular inquiries concerning the state of health of the dear, interesting Thomas, to whom we are all devotedly attached: —nothing indeed, my dear Mr. Gurney, contributes more essentially to the maintenance of the sentiments of high regard and fervent esteem which my bosom cherishes for your amiable brother, than the generous and paternal anxiety with which he regards the every thought and action of the dear children, who are rendered invaluable to him by the memory of their departed mother, than whom—from all I hear, not only from him but from other individuals, who had the honour and happiness of being favoured, not only with her mere ordinary acquaintance, but with friendship which may be considered really intimate and confidential—was, if ever there was what is colloquially called an angel upon earth, one of them in every acceptation of that very comprehensive phraseology.
"His anxiety—dear, kind-hearted man—is naturally increased in a ten-fold degree by the knowledge that circumstances render it impossible for you or your dear Harriet to afford poor Thomas any personal attention, and that he is consigned to the care of the professional gentleman who attends you: he is however confident that every care and attention will be used with respect to his comforts, and his diet, and the gratification of all his little wishes, as far as may be consistent with the cooling regimen so essentially necessary in a case like his; and he desires me to say that you may, at any seasonable opportunity, insinuate in the manner you may consider most effective, without violating any of the delicacies and decorums of society, to which professional gentlemen are so sensitively alive, that the recovery of Master Falwasser will be an event likely to prove, in every way, advantageous to Mr. Sniggs."
Here I laid down the letter for one minute or so, in order to think of what had passed during the last few weeks. Here was Mrs. Brandyball writing to me—the amanuensis of my brother—a stranger —an alien—dictating, in his name, to me, what to do and how to act—anticipating a carefulness and watchfulness on the part of Sniggs, which unfortunately had not existed, and promising him a reward for services which reminded me of the last line of a newspaper advertisement from a man who proposed to doctor smoky chimneys, which ran thus—"No cure, no pay." I paused— thought—put some sugar in my cup—ate a bit of toast — sipped my tea—and having indulged myself in an audible "Well !" proceeded to read on.
"Of one thing I am quite sure—at least so far as it is permitted to human fallibility to be certain of anything—that if dear Thomas were to fall a sacrifice to the dreadful disorder of which he has been visited, it would be productive of the most serious consequences to his sensitively excellent and never-to-be-sufficiently-understood or appreciated father-in-law. As for my own personal feelings upon the subject, assure yourself, my dear Mr. Gurney, they are deeply interested in the result, independently of every other consideration, upon your account and that of your dear Harriet."
"Deuce take the worrfan!" said I, throwing down the letter; "what in the name of impudence and ignorance does she mean by calling my wife Harriet ?—who wants her solicitude ?— who cares for her being interested? Well!" And up I took the scrawl again.
"Poor dear Kate, whose intuitive perception of things in general is so remarkable, has satisfied his mind that the infection was derived from the maid-servant in your establishment, who was generally supposed to have been infected by dear Thomas; and dear Jane, who although not so highly gifted by nature as her elder sister, possesses an extraordinary share of observation and discrimination, considering her apparent diffidence and her actual juvenility, corroborates the opinion of her elder sister, by stating in the most unequivocal manner that Evans—I think the domestic's patronymic is Evans—told her that she felt seriously indisposed at least three days before dear Thomas experienced any inconvenience."
"The deuce take the woman!" again said I, adding a brief prayer for forgiveness; "dear Kate says this—and dear Jane says that—and
dear Thomas—dear I will not swear, but this
is really too much—to be lectured by this Gorgon —to have an elder brother's authority delegated to a Catamaran like this! Well!—let us see—