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scale than we now are,—I, in some way, labouring to increase my income, and perhaps doing something to obtain a reputation, as well as profit. To have contented myself under such circumstances would have been wise and philosophical; and there was nothing wrong or uncourteous in instituting such a comparison; the ungraciousness and the ungenerousness of the process applied only to the conclusion at which I arrived, that, although I might have kept two servants instead of seven or eight, my wife would have had no carriage; and my table would have been less amply covered; that my house would have been small, instead of large; and that I should have toiled, instead of trifled; I should have been independent. I could have sat down quietly with my nice, kind, good-humoured Harriet, have enjoyed that ingenuous interchange of thoughts and opinions, which is the charm of domestic life, and if I had had beyond enough, a little to spare, I might at least have chosen the friend who should be our guest.
Now this is all wrong. It makes me think I have a bad heart; that I am ungrateful to Cuthbert. No, I am not; but with all his kindness to me, with all my affection for him, I am not happy,—I am not at my ease. Then—it sounds most unfraternal to think of it—he said he should go to Cheltenham long before dear Harriet's accouchement; and I begged him not to leave us. I suppose that may be the reason why he seems to have abandoned the intention altogether; and now I am sorry he does not mean to go: we should be quieter during her illness; but still I ought not to wish him to leave Ashmead, if he is happier where he is; what I really do think, is, that he would be more amused at Cheltenham than he can possibly be with us; especially during the period of her confinement.
The Nubleys are gone to town to-day; he is reduced to Sniggs; Wells is too vivacious for him; his mind cannot travel fast enough to catch Wells's jokes and anecdotes. However, if he is comfortable, why, we owe him everything; and, pah !—I will not worry myself with thinking about it. I will bear all the little rubs I meet with, patiently and properly, and keep my temper; or, perhaps, as my temper seems to be at present by no means good, change it as soon as possible.
How is it possible, with the strongest possible fraternal feelings, to maintain this equanimity?
When I went to bed—yes, there it is—to bed—Harriet, who had not been particularly comfortable during the evening, and, poor dear soul, felt Cuthbert's rebuke about the whist, and Kitty's pre-eminence in everything more deeply than, perhaps, was necessary, told me that she proposed, after breakfast, next day, to drive over with Fanny in the pony phaeton to call on a Mrs. Somerton, a great friend of the Wells's, who had come on a visit at Hallowden, within about five miles of us. Harriet had always a persuasive way with her, and, dear love, it required very little effort on my part to make the arrangement, that she should drive Fanny, or Fanny, her, to this place. All that I apprehended was, that she might over-exert herself. However, she laughed kindly at my solicitude, 10
and said that, not only she was sure the drive would do her good, but that she was most anxious to show whatever civility she might to this Mrs. Somerton, because,—what, I did not want to hear—it was something connected with her family, and why should I argue further? And so, before taking my last turn round to sleep, I told her, poor dear, to order her phaeton when she chose, and to invite Mrs. Somerton to come to us, if she liked; and so I dropped into my slumber, quite satisfied that that matter was finally arranged.
At breakfast Cuthbert did not appear; he had got a pain in his side; and Hutton had told him he had better not get up, and so he desired Hutton, when Mr. Sniggs came, to send him to his room. Harriet received Mrs. Brandyball with all her wonted good nature; and Mrs. Brandyball was more elegant and refined than ever. Kitty had breakfasted, so had Jane, but still they were supporters to their governess's arms, and were, as usual, on her dexter and sinister side. Tom was proscribed, much to my delight; Kitty having denounced him as not presentable with a piece of plaister on his face, cut diagonally, and stuck over his mouth, like a hatchment over a window.
Mrs. Brandyball seemed to enjoy her breakfast; she ate eggs, broiled ham, and gibier au gratin, tasted of absent Cuthbert's curry, admired the way in which the rice was served dry, ventured upon one rognon, extremely well served, (although without Champagne,) and concluded her matitunal meal with the upper half of a peculiar sort of buttered cake, for which my cook was really famous, not only in the modern fal-lal acceptation of the word, in which good wine, of which nobody ever heard, is called famous, or a well-sized room, or a well-formed horse, is designated by the same adjective; but because she (for it was a she) was really famous in the neighbourhood for her excellence in contriving a delusive, delicious, and destructive compound of something that seemed light and melting in the mouth, but which was in fact of the heaviest and most indigestible order;