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Brandyball to accompany her;—she made a point of going to-day, and I concluded had ordered the carriage."
"No, Sir," said Hutton, who was wheeling his master to the luncheon-table, " the carriage was not ordered when my master sent me to see about it. Mrs. Gurney sent down since, but then the young ladies were gone."
I could not trust myself with any remark, so I took the prudent course of leaving the room, and going in search of Harriet, whom I found in her boudoir, looking exactly as cheerful and unconcerned as if no liberty had been taken with her rights and privileges, and she had not been disappointed in her drive, and frustrated in her civil intentions towards both Mrs. Somerton and our volunteer guest.
"It was my fault, dear," said Harriet; "I forgot to order the phaeton after breakfast, and"
"That may be, Harry," said I; "but what I complain of is, that anybody here should forget to ask your leave before they ordered it."
"Oh, never mind," said Harriet. "The day is not so fine as it was, and perhaps it will rain, and perhaps I might have caught cold; besides, the girls are so very fond of their schoolmistress, and it amuses her, and I can go another day."
"You are a dear, kind, good soul, Harriet," said I; "but you must not, and shall not, be overlooked and degraded in your own house. The carriage and horses are yours, and"
"So they are, love," said Harriet; "but it was cousin Cuthbert who gave them to me. Recollect that, dear Gilbert; recollect how much we owe him."
"I do, Harriet dear," said I; "and, as far as I can judge, it is not likely that I shall very soon be permitted to forget it. However, a gift, to be valuable, or even receivable, must be complete; and the moment he presented you with that carriage, all his interest in, and control over it, ceased and determined."
"My dear Gilbert," said Harriet, "what you are now saying must be something you learned in the Temple, when they were going to make a lawyer of you. Never let us cherish an unkindly thought towards kind Cuthbert. I believe sometimes Kitty's pertness and Tom's rudeness flurry me a little. I feel angry and vexed at times,—angry that I am vexed, and vexed that I am angry. But all this is temporary; a few more days, and quiet will be restored."
"Where is Fanny?" said I.
"Why, Fanny is gone home," said Harriet. "Papa has sent for her; but he brings her back to dinner. I don't exactly know, but I rather think her visit to the Rectory has something to do with the affair of your friend Lieutenant Merman. I don't know, because papa's note merely begs her to come home; but I cannot understand what else could have required her presence."
"I think," said I, "it is quite time something should be done decisively in that business. I admit that I never liked him since"
"I remember the moment right well," said Harriet: "it was when I was foolish and Missy enough to try and make you jealous of him,— wasn't that the time? and isn't that the cause of your disinclination from him? I know it is. But you have forgiven me."
"Yes, dear, yes," said I. "Forgiven you? —to be sure I have, and forgotten the whole affair,"—which, in truth, I had not, nor any one incident that ever occurred during my unconscious courtship of my darling wife.
It is curious how the minutest circumstances are registered in the mind, with which the object of our affections is in any degree connected. I remember, as well as if it were but yesterday, while walking with Harriet and her father, and her little sister, in their gay and blooming garden, I gathered a beautiful halfbudded rose. I placed it in the button-hole of my coat, and walked on, talking as we had been talking before; nor was it till my eyes rested for a moment on those of Harriet, that I felt a conviction of my selfishness, and a consciousness that she had expected I was gathering it for her, and that she had been disappointed when I appropriated it to myself. Now, absurd as it may seem, although I never have so far betrayed my weakness as to mention this trifling circumstance to her, I never, to this moment, think of it without regret and discontent.
"Come to luncheon, dear," said I. "Cuthbert is there, and I left him somewhat abruptly; for I was vexed."
"Gilbert, dearest," said Harriet, leaning on my arm, and looking in my face with an ingenuousness neither to be affected nor mistaken, "never, never be vexed about anything in which I am concerned. Believe me, I am too happy to make your happiness; and as for all this matter, what does it signify whether I went to-day to make my visit, or go to-morrow? Promise me, dear love, to let nothing of this sort put you the least out of the way."
Could I help kissing her white forehead, and pressing her to my heart? I think I should have gone the length of kissing her rosy lips too, had not her maid come into the room at the moment, to say that Mr. Cuthbert had sent up word by Hutton that he and Mr. Sniggs were waiting H 4