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bring back Cuthbert's living treasures, and bear away the excellent rector himself. However, coffee and tea were disposed of, and Mrs. Brandyball had in a great degree recovered her composure, and begun to resume her figurative style of conversation, before any announcement of its approach was made; and Cuthbert, who could not have rested unless he had seen the dear girls before he went to bed, seemed disposed, late as it was, to make up his rubber, which, amidst the interest he took in Mrs. Brandyball's autobiography, had slipped out of his mind, when, to my great relief,—for I longed to get up to Harriet, who was looking ill and wearied,—I heard the welcome wheels rolling towards the door.
The ringing of bells and barking of dogs soon confirmed my best anticipations, and Cuthbert's eyes twinkled with delight as he cast them expectingly on the door, so soon to be opened to give to his sight the pattern-girl of Montpelier, Miss Falwasser. The door was not opened— the dogs ceased to bark—and everything resumed its wonted quietude, which remained for two or three minutes unbroken, when at length Hutton made his appearance, and, approaching the Rector, said—
"Mrs. Wells sends her love, Sir; the young ladies were not quite ready to go home, and so she has sent the carriage for you, which can bring them back after you have done with it."
Wells looked more surprised than pleased, and said, "Hem! oh!"
"Young rogues," said Cuthbert, "dancing, I have no doubt."
"Most likely," said Mrs. Brandyball; "their Terpsichorean predilections are peculiarly potent."
This resumption of "style" took place because Cuthbert's servant was in the room, and it became essential, according to her policy, to "act her part" before even the meanest audience.
"Well, then," said Wells, "I suppose, being sent for, I must go. May I step up and say good night to the girls?"
VOL. I. K
"To be sure," said I.
"Good night, Mrs. Brandyball," said the Rector, "I will take care and send back the rose-buds safe."
"Are your horses quite quiet?" said Cuthbert.
"Steady as rocks," said the Rector.
"Because," said Cuthbert, "I am always alarmed about horses since an accident which had very nearly proved fatal to my poor father and myself, many years ago. We were travelling along the road"
"Yes, I know," said Wells, " Severndroog."
"Oh !" said my brother, "I have told you— eh? I did not recollect—dear, dear! Hutton, just lift me up—there—that will do. Don't go before we have a bit of supper. Mrs. Brandyball says she takes a bit of something cold."
"Oh, not for me" said the lady, "if nobody else—I"
"Tell them to bring the tray," said I to Hutton, in a fit of desperation, covered as much as possible by a look of the most perfect amenity.
"I'm off," said Wells, "good night—good night to both—to all." Saying which he proceeded to bid adieu to his daughters, and I suppose in some degree to ascertain the state of Fanny's feelings after the events of the morning.
The conversation began to flag—the lady had sunk into a sort of repose closely assimilating to that of Cuthbert; and I really was not enough of a hypocrite to appear pleased or even comfortable. Cuthbert was wheeled to his room to be refreshed with eau de Cologne, and Mrs. Brandyball just stepped up to her room to fetch her pocket-handkerchief.
The lady returned, Cuthbert was re-wheeled to his sofa, the sofa was wheeled to the table, which we drew round, and really it was with difficulty I did the honours. The haut en bas manner in which the girls treated us all, and regardless of all the commonest observances of the rules of society, usurped the carriages and conveniences of everybody, not only in the house but in the neighbourhood, were unbearable; and now, at a moment when the mistress of that house was ill—if not in body, certainly in mind, and was anxious to get to rest early—here was I forced to remain at my post, helping and serving, while I knew, let the superficial appearances be what they might, that the young ladies who were disturbing all my family arrangements at Ashmead, could not fail of being, under the circumstances, equally unwelcome guests at the Rectory.
But even this was light compared with what I had to undergo afterwards. At about half-past eleven—I having heard Harriet's bell ring for her maid twenty minutes before—Mrs. Brandyball perceived through the mist that I was rather uncomfortable, and so she requested me to ring for her maid and her candle, which I most readily did—she beginning, I presume, to think that the sylphs were carrying the joke rather too far, and resolving, as far as she was concerned, to get out of the adventure which had originated in her leaving them at Wells's. Away she went. We wished her good night. Cuthbert shook her hand, and they parted affectionately; and when