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“‘I never was more surprised in my life, Sir," says he. “‘At what!" says I “‘Why Sir, Hutton is going to leave Mr. Cuthbert,” said Watson. “‘Why then,' says I, he'll die—he is his prop—his right hand.” “‘Ay, Sir," says Watson, “but Mr. Cuthbert is going to have another prop.” “So, in course, I asked him what he meant; thinking he was talking like an ass—not that asses ever do talk—only I didn't say so, because I would not hurt the feelings of any body, Gilbert. * “‘No, Sir, I'm no ass,” said Watson, just as if he had understood what was passing in my mind— what I mean, is what I know ; Mr. Cuthbert Gurney is to be married next Thursday week to Mrs. Brandyball.” “After that, my dear Gilbert, I heard nothing more—I would not believe it—I always dreaded some bedevilment—but I never could have fancied: Cuthbert marry her 4–why, deary me—deary me—the thing is preposterous ! The man has no more need of a wife than a Highlander has of kneebuckles, or a toad of a side-pocket—did you ever hear of such a thing ! However, Watson persists in it—and think of his turning away Hutton, who did everything for him, and marrying this woman —you must apply for a commission of lunacy against him—something must be done—why—in so short a time, the use she has made of her influence —and how did she obtain it! I cannot trust myself to write more—but tomorrow I shall write to you again, after I have seen him and talked to him—poor silly man . However, take care, dear Gilbert, to have whatever letters arrive at Ashmead or Chitong forwarded to me here—I have said that in my letter to Mrs. Nubley, but she has a head and so has a pin—eh— don't you see : - “Now if you think it advisable, say nothing of this to her, or to your Harriet—it is all of no use anticipating misfortunes —we must try to avert them : not that I see much chance without violent measures. Give my kind love, and tell Jenny Falwasser that she is neither missed nor wanted at Montpelier, and that I am uncommon glad she took the line of stopping where she is, although you had better look sharp that you are not saddled with her altogether. “Keep up your spirits—my supper is served—gadso: another broiled fowl and mushrooms—never mind—they didn't know I had one for dinner, and I told them to get what they
liked, and so what they like I like, and shall fally-to nobly— and so love to all of you, and confusion to the Brandyballs. * - “Yours always, “ W. NUBLEY. “P.S. If you should hear any tidings of the Thompsons, in course you will let me know.”
So then, this was the result of Nubley's mission to Montpelier. All my worst suspicions were confirmed; nay, they were so far outrun, that although I certainly anticipated some such result in the course of time, I was not prepared to find such advances made in a few days, and those days, too, for the greater part ostensibly devoted to mourning for the soss of the amiable Tom.
Knowing dear Harriet's sensitiveness, and dreading to agitate her needlessly, I resolved upon adopting my kind old friend's advice of keeping her in ignorance of the real state of affairs; and when she begged me to show her Nubley's letter, I hinted that there were parts of it not meant for ladies' eyes; she merely said “that I think is by no means unlikely;” and was satisfied by my telling her that Cuthbert was well, and that Nubley was to see him again in the morning following the evening.in which he had written his letter. After this, she inquired no further, and when we retired to rest, she sank into a gentle slumber, which, thanks be to my better information as to the state of affairs at Bath, I could not successfully emulate.
WOL. II. 11 .
THERE is no comfort so great as having somebody into whose ear one can pour his sorrows, and who is sufficiently devoted to him to listen with interest to the recital of the calamities by which he is oppressed and afflicted. As the world goes, and as man is constituted, the friend who will suffer this, and not trouble one by offering advice, unless specially requested, is unquestionably one of the greatest treasures to be found on the face of the earth.
In my present position such a person was absolutely indis
ensable to me. In the announcement contained in Nubley's
etter I saw the inevitable destruction of all my hopes and expectations; and, moreover, the fiat for my immediate relinquishment of all those present luxuries and comforts which my poor deluded brother's liberality had hitherto permitted me to enlow.
| why not confide the affair to your wife?” naturally enough would say the first person to whom I had stated the critical peculiarity of my situation. In many, in most, in all cases perhaps, nothing could be wiser or more reasonable for a man to do; but in mine, such a course would have been as dangerous as it must inevitably have been ineffectual. Harriet's feelings upon the subject under discussion were so uncontrollably violent, and her prejudices so unconquerably strong, that, possessing neither the power to check the progress of the great event which was to overwhelm us, nor the ability of suggesting the means whereby we were, if possible, to escape the ruin which threatened us, she would have fallen into a paroxysm of rage at the successful duplicity of Mrs. Brandyball, and the lamentable credulity of her victim: there would have been a scene, terrible to witness, whence no possible advantage could result. Her affection for me would have blinded her to every other feature of the case, and, in all probability, to ensure her tranquillity. I must have consented at once to cut the knot, abandon Ashmead, and finally and entirely renounce all farther connexion with my nearest relation. * Now, after all, although it was perfectly true that nothing could be more unpleasant to us, or perhaps more indiscreet in Cuthbert, than the alliance he was about to enter into, it was equally true that he had an indisputable right to do as he liked with the fortune he had himself acquired by long toil in distant lands, and that, however absurd and even dangerous to his future happiness the course he had chosen to adopt might appear to us, still if he felt that his comfort would be secured by a second marriage, what possible right had I to rise up in rebellion against my own brother, and dictate to him the disposition of his accumulated wealth, or involve myself in an unnatural quarrel upon a point with which, if selfishness were not the ground of my opposition, I could have no possible right to interfere 4
“Ay, but,” Harriet would have said, “you mistake the matter, dear Gilbert. It is not selfishness, nor covetousness, nor any interested feeling, which should prompt you to break off this ridiculous match if possible. Your uncompromising hostility to it is induced by a love for him, who has no living relative but yourself, and to whom you are bound by ties of blood, affection, and gratitude.”—“Mighty well, Harriet,” I might have replied: “but supposing Cuthbert on his arrival in England had exerted his influence over me—much greater, for a thousand reasons, than mine could now be over him—to break off my marriage with a young lady of no fortune, upon the ground of some personal pique, or dislike, or upon the general score of imprudence. How should we have regarded his interference then * This, in reasoning, was all philosophical enough, and in principle equally just; but still, if, as Harriet .# have contended, Cuthbert was not a free agent, and if he had been deluded and worked upon by a dangerous designing woman, there did exist a sufficient difference between the two cases to permit, at least, the trial of remonstrance, with the view of ascertaining the exact proportions in which self. will and the influence of another person were combined for the effectuation of the “great end” about to be achieved.
In the difficulties by which I was surrounded, it struck me that the very best course I could adopt, before I either answered Nubley's letter or decided upon any practical measure, would be to consult my worthy father-in-law, although I took the step with the extremely unsatisfactory conviction on my mind that whatever was decided upon, would prove useless and ineffectual. Judge then my surprise, when having invited the reverend gentleman to a conference, at finding him perfectly aware of the intended union, the fact having been that morning communicated to him by Sniggs, who had received the intelligence, sub rosá, from Mrs. Brandyball, in a letter, the main object of which, it appeared was to detach poor little Jane from Ashmead, and secure her return to Montpelier in time for the wedding. “But how,” said I to Wells, “how came this intriguing apothecary, who appears to be preferred in the confidence of my brother to his oldest friend Nubley, to have been authoritatively made acquainted with an important and decided change in our family, even before myself—and what can have induced him to impart this “private and confidential’ communication to you ?” * Smiggs shall speak for himself,” said my father-in-law. “He is a good deal affected by this letter and its contents, and nothing but a fear of misapprehension hindered him from coming with the news to you direct. When I got your summons, I wrote to him to desire him to call at the same time, concluding from the tone of your note, that you had heard of the af. fair from Nubley, and therefore anxious that our Galen here should have the credit of his first intention.” “But, Sniggs,” said I, “has behaved—” “Let him explain himself,” said Wells, “we are none of us perfect. I think, when he ‘states his case,' you will be inclined to entertain'a better opinion of his conduct than you now hold.” “I assure you,” said I, “that nothing will give me greater pleasure, for nothing I hate more in the world than being obliged to admit that I have been deceived in a man upon whom I had implicitly relied.” – “That's it,” said Wells; “such a result involves not only the ingratitude of the deceiver, but the perception of the deceived, and, therefore cuts two ways; however, as the people in the plays say, Here he is.” And sure enough there he stood before us—as different in manner and appearance from what I had ever seen him before as light from dark. The pert, dapper gayety of his manner was subdued into a quiet steady gait; and his usually animated countenance was softened by an expression which it was impossible to resist. I held out my hand to him with a erfect confidence in the justice of Wells's opinion concerning im. . He took it with an air of empressement unusual with . but which, prepared as I was for the scene, spoke vounles. Having gotten thus far, I was puzzled as much as Taylor the water-poet says he was in his accidence:–