« ZurückWeiter »
"Come back as soon as you can," said Cuthbert, " I'll get Hutton to wheel me to my room, and dress me directly, so that I shall be here waiting for you."
"I'll be with you as soon as possible," said Sniggs, who took his departure and hurried home, in order to tell Mrs. Sniggs, that she needn't have the fowl and bacon cooked, which had been ordered as an addition to the cold mutton, but make her dinner upon that, and keep the fowl and the bacon for the next day, when he did not " dine out."
"Well," said I, entering the room, as soon as I saw Sniggs departing across the lawn; "you have had a long spell with the doctor."
"Yes," said Cuthbert, "such a misfortune! —upset the table—broke the bottle—played the very deuce!"
"What, in a fit of enthusiasm?" said I.
"No," said Cuthbert; "ah! dear no—in moving my leg."
"Well," said I, "that matters little. I am not sorry that Sniggs has moved his legs."
"You don't like Sniggs, Gilbert," said my brother.
"Indeed I do," replied I; "but toujours perdrix is too much of a good thing."
"But he is not a partridge, Gilbert," said my brother.
"No," said I, "nor a goose; but the very qualities for which you like his society, are those which make me less glad to see him than I otherwise should be. You like to hear all the gossip of the place, which he unquestionably gives you with point and precision: but whenever I hear his anecdotes of patients, and his details of their disorders, I always recollect that as he is universally agreeable, we, in our turns, with all our little foibles and failings, mental and bodily, become equally subjects of amusement for everybody else in the neighbourhood."
"Ah, well," said Cuthbert, "there is something in that to be sure that never struck me before; but what have we about us that can be laughed at?"
"Oh, my dear brother," said I, " lay not that flattering unction to your soul; rely upon it we are just as good subjects for satire and caricature as our neighbours."
"Well, I don't see that," said my brother— "will you just ring the bell for Hutton? my shoe has got untied, and I want him to tie it for me. I am not conscious of saying or doing anything to be laughed at for."
I did as I was desired; for although the readiest way of saving my indolent brother the trouble of tying his own shoe would have been tying it for him myself, I knew enough of him to be aware that however importunate and continuous his demands upon the attentions of his servant might be, he would not permit me to inconvenience, or, as he would have thought it, fatigue myself by doing so.
Hutton came—tied the shoe—lifted the foot upon which it was worn, into its proper place on the sofa—and retired.
"I am sorry now, that I asked Sniggs to come back and dine," said Cuthbert.
So was I—not so much because, although Sniggs was really an agreeable and entertaining companion, he was coming to break in upon what had become to me the delightful homeishness of a really family party, or because Cuthbert's giving invitations without communicating with me, or even going through the ceremony of asking my concurrence, however certain it was never to have been withheld, perpetually reminded me more forcibly than was quite agreeable, of the real position in which I stood with regard to him. I knew that the odd things which he occasionally did in this way resulted from no feeling but an apathetic indolence of mind, which induced him to make just as much exertion as might secure for himself a certain quantum of amusement. Poor fellow, he had no wife to comfort or console him, and I often thought that the very sight of our domestic happiness, might perhaps unconsciously somehow worry and vex him. From what I had gathered of his lost lady, she certainly did not, in any one point of person or character, resemble my dear Harriet; but still there was the
contrast continually before his eyes. I therefore made every allowance for his wish to break in upon our serenity, which he could not himself enjoy, by the introduction of what were to him enlivening visitors.
The Nubleys were almost always at dinner with us, or, if not, "came in the evening," and, to be sure, they were generally counteracted by the Wells's; and this system of intervention and counteraction had the effect of amusing Cuthbert, although, as I admit, at the expense of my own comfort.
Then there was another torment. Where was the absolute necessity of having Lieutenant Merman so constantly with us? Mrs. Wells had discovered that he had an extremely rich aunt; and now that Harriet was married—for well do I recollect being threatened with this very Lieutenant before she was—he appeared what mothers call an eligible match for Fanny. Him my wife undertook to invite; and if it were an eligible match for Fanny, and if she liked the man, and the man liked her, it was all very reason