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deshabille for travelling, she was quite as fine as need be.
Upon Cuthbert's arrival, the two girls leaped from the musnud, and while Mrs. Brandyball tired him to death with the most affectionate inquiries after his health, Kate stood kissing his forehead and Jane holding one of his hands. After this ceremony had been gone through, Cuthbert looking anxiously after me, pointed to the lady, and said, in a subdued tone of voice, "Gilbert, allow me to introduce Mrs. Brandyball."
I made the aimable with the best grace I could, and expressed myself extremely glad to see her at Ashmead,—hoped she had had some refreshment, and suggested that we should have some supper early, since she had missed our dinnerhour by her late arrival.
"Thank you, Mr. Gurney," said my fair friend, in a tone of voice suitable to a girl of sixteen performing on the stage, " for your delicate attention; but I* would not for worlds disarrange the economy of your establishment, nor is it in any degree necessary; for owing to the amiable solicitude of these dear children, I have been supplied with every necessary refreshment since my arrival in your charming mansion."
"Have you?" said I; "I am very glad to hear it."
"Yes," continued the lady; "dear Katharine, anxious to evince a regard, which is truly reciprocal, desired the domestics to arrange a little repast in her own apartment, and I found abundance of every thing to gratify the appetite, elegantly disposed for my accommodation—interesting creatures! It is most satisfactory to a solicitous preceptress to discover in acts of kindness and consideration like these, the delightful evidence of affection, resulting perhaps in the present instance from a strict adherence to the principle, that where kindness governs in the place of anger, the pupil always receives instruction with gratitude."
This euphonic oration startled me, not only by its manner but its matter. The woman appeared to me to have swallowed half a score of her own copy-books, the examples in which she was now delivering out of her lips: but this being merely ridiculous, I thought I might be amused by her absurdity. What really did startle me was the coolness with which the interesting Katharine had given her orders for preparing a snug dinner for her high-flying schoolmistress in her room, without inquiring of me or Harriet whether she might do so or not. Nor was this all, for under Hutton's directions, my butler, it seems, had furnished forth wines "of sorts" for the banquet, of which—I speak it with diffidence and reserve —it appeared to me that my fair friend had imbibed no very inconsiderable quantity.
"I have been just expressing to Mrs. Gurney," said Mrs. Brandyball, " the sentiments of admiration which I entertain for the beauties of this vicinage; it was so late when I arrived, that the shades of evening had thrown their mantle over the beauties of Nature; it was, however, impossible not to perceive by the outlines of the surrounding scenery how very beautiful it must be in a more genial season of the year."
"I think," said I, "you flatter us top much; the country about us is very pretty, but—-—" "Oh," said the lady, smiling her best, "my opinion is, that courtesy should ever be accompanied with candour; and although 'to err is human, to forgive divine,' as far as I am capable of forming a judgment upon such subjects, I think the drive from the coast hitherwards is quite charming."
"I hope," said I, "that we shall improve your favourable impression during your stay."
?' I have explained to Mrs. Gurney," said Mrs. Brandyball, "the cause of my somewhat premature appearance here. I really entertain so sincere a regard—I might almost denominate it a maternal affection—for these two dear creatures, that I ventured in some measure to overstep the ordinary regulations of society by accepting my dear Katharine's invitation; but, as I say, affectation is at best but a deformity, and conciliatory manners command esteem—so that when the dear girl wrote to beg me to come, I came without reflecting how much perhaps I ventured to intrude."
I bowed—though it was evident that Kitty, in the course of the second dinner in what this eloquent lady called her apartment, had explained to her the whole of the manoeuvre which had failed, with regard to the invitation which was to have been sent to her.
"Oh, Mr. Gurney," continued the lady, "' a good education is the foundation of happiness, and ignorance is the parent of many injuries,' and this I say, because a good maxim is never out of season. Now I have had these dear creatures under my care five years, nay, more—the course of Time is so rapid, and I may say so imperceptible, in fact like the varied movements of the vast universe, that one is unconscious of its flight—and I declare that I never have had the smallest reason to find fault with either of them —as I say, perfect idleness is perfect weariness, and of all prodigality that of time is the worst. Defer not till to-morrow what you can do today; indeed I find lazy folks take the most pains—but I do assure you that my two young charges appear to me to possess a felicitous