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“Indeed,” said I; “does Mrs. Gurney know of this!” “No, uncle,” said Jane: “Pappy, or at least, Mrs. Brandyball had written to Mr. Sniggs to desire his wife to do whatever she chose—he is so delighted with Mr. Sniggs's coming to him, and all that; and so Kate said she did not care who said she was not to go, if Pappy said she was to go.-and so she is gone.” “And why did you not go?” said I. “Because I thought Aunt Harriet did not wish it,” said Jane: “if I could have spoken to you and asked your leave, I would have gone, because I know Kate will be cross with me for not going with her; but I could not, Uncle Gilbert; I could not, even then, have borne to see my poor brother—I woul have gone to the house, but not into the room.” “Jane,” said I, “you are a kind-hearted girl, and a good girl; and I thank you for your consideration of us while under our roof; but still more do I praise you for your feeling with regard to your poor brother: and when,” continued I, “ have they fixed for the funeral ” “The day after to-morrow,” said Jane; “and Kate tells me that there is to be music in the church, and a dirge played; and the organist is away, and so Kate has got Mrs. Sniggs to ask Mr. Kittington to play the dirge, because there is nobody else in Blissfold who can play the organ, and he can.” “Umph " said Wells; “a dancing-master do a dirge in my church But, my dear child, I have heard nothing of all this : somewhat of these arrangements depends upon me.” “I don't know,” said Jane; “all I tell you is in Kate's letter.” Wells and I exchanged glances; but we spoke not. I confess I looked at Jane with feelings far different from those which I had previously entertained towards her. It was evident from the first, that, although to a certain extent under her influence, and spoiled by an association with her, she was of a very superior order of girl to Kate. She felt the difficulty and delicacy, or rather indelicacy, of leaving Ashmead contrary to the wish of the mistress of the house, and without some qualifying consent of its master, who was so nearly connected with her. Not so Kate. Off she went, delighted at an excuse to get out, and convinced that, in order to smooth away the difficulty of the dirge, she could prevail upon the unconscious Mrs. Sniggs to call upon Mr. Kittington to make the necessary arrangements for his performance of that much desired, although not usual, piece of solemnity. The thing that annoyed me most, and it rankled—and what
a fool I must have been to let it rankle—was the absence of Smiggs himself. ... His lady wife muttered something about his patients—absurdity when four days before, he was satisfied to leave all he had—and such an all !—to the care of a friend or an assistant. No; it was too clear: he was aware of the exact state of my power and importance, and (as I before thought) of the probability that the days of my residence at Ashmead were numbered. He was to come up in the afternoon—so his message said—but how different was this formally announced visit from the constant hoppaboutishness, as Mrs. Nubley called it, with which he previously paged our heels and anticipated our slightest wishes : “Well,” said I, “there is one consolation; the fault is not my own.” “Now,” said Wells, “I will go home, and having fortified myself with your support, tell Fanny the course I think we ought to pursue. . She loves her father, Gilbert, as I hope and believe all my girls do; and the Lieutenant could not have taken a surer mode of curing her of her affection for him, than by unjustly and coarsely impugning my character or conduct. I will go to her directly, and most probably we shall come up here in the course of the afternoon. The walk * will do her good; besides, I will not suffer her to hide away from the eyes of the two-and-twenty” public of Blissfold; she has done nothing unbecoming or improper, and she shall not seem cast down by the misbehaviour of this extremely ill-conducted man.” And away went Wells in exactly that sort of humour in which I wished to see him, resolved to stand up manfully against a most unjustifiable proceeding, conscious that nobody could, or would, or, if they would, should misrepresent the conduct of either himself or his family. When he left me I asked Jane if she would like to come up with me to her aunt's room. I was anxious to tell Harriet how deeply I felt the difference between her conduct and that of her sister, and to tell her so in the girl's presence. While Kate was with her and exercised her control over her, Jane giggled, and laughed, and made faces, and did ten thousand unseemly things, less, as I believe, from entering into the views and principles of her elder sister, than because she was really afraid of incurring her displeasure by affecting a diffidence which her senior would call dissimulation, or practising a propriety which she would pronounce prudery. When she was out of her presence she was gentle, calm, and rational. # 4
I saw that Harriet was surprised at my being so accompanied, but when I explained to her the excursion of Miss Kitty, and the reasons why the quiet Jenny declined to accompany her, my wife's coldly set features—for she could not look regularly cross—relaxed into an agreeable expressión of complacency, which was followed shortly after by a beckoning invitation to Jenny to come and sit by her on the sofa. I saw that Jenny felt this mark of kindness. Harriet till then had made no great distinction in her attentions to the sisters; the change had a great effect upon a tender heart —a heart which seemed to me worth saving from the wreck which threatened that of Kate.
Having made up this little treaty of peace, I thought it right to seek out the Nubleys, who generally retired to their room abuot noon to talk over their business with regard to Chittagong; for although Nubley had been now two whole days and part of a third located within walking distance of the concern, he had never yet ventured to take any steps to ascertain how the Thompsons were actually comporting themselves in his château. Before I reached their apartment, they were, however, both absent, and I concluded that he had at length “screwed his courage to the sticking place,” and marched forth to take a view of the premises, or rather, perhaps, to hold council with the auctioneer, &c., who had let the house for him to these unseemly tenants, but to whom Nubley had, from a sort of indefinable delicacy, not yet spoken on the subject, because he happened also to be the undertaker employed to conduct the obsequies of poor Tom.
Time, and as it appears, no great length of it, brings many more things to light than philosophy dreams of, and we were destined just at this period of the day to be illuminated upon the subject of Lieutenant Merman’s departure, in a manner, from a quarter, and to an extent which certainly none of us could possibly have anticipated, This circumstance was most fortunate for the peace and happiness of Fanny, who, without some almost miraculous interposition, could not have been expected, indignant as she naturally felt at his precipi. tate conduct, to banish upon the instant from her mind and memory—for I really believe her heart was even yet unscathed—an avowed suitor who had been so long and constantly her companion, whose passion for astronomy was quite as ardent as mine had been before my happy union with Harriet, and who, with infinitely less sentiment in his composition than I, in those days, possessed, used to stroll on the bright summer’s evenings through those well-known walks where first I had unconsciously learned to hate him and love my wife. The truth is, that the domestic history of the rectory had been for the last few months “progressing,” as the Americans have it, much after the fashion of a Spanish comedy, in which the ladies have maid-servants and the gentlemen have men-servants, who invariably go and “come like shadows” of their masters and mistresses, and who, besides seconding the endeavours of their principals in bringing about a happy conclusion to their adventures, while away time by performino exactly similar, only in a lower degree. he girls at the Rectory have amongst them a trusty soubrette, who, when Foxcroft followed her mistress, undertook the duty of attendance on both Fanny and Bessy; and a nice, modest, rosy-cheeked girl she is. Lieutenant Merman's servant—not a soldier—was naturally a good deal about the Rectory, and being what is called an uncommonly smart fellow, Sally Kerridge was not altogether insensible to the sly looks with which he accompanied the delivery of any billet sent “special” to Miss Fanny Wells, and delivered di. rect into the said Sally's hand. As time wore on, looks came to words, and it certainly had been remarked by the minor scandal-mongers of Blissfold that Sally Kerridge and the Captain's (Captain by Blissfold brevet) man were not unfrequently seen walking together in the evenings, when his master and her mistress were doing the same thing elsewhere. Whether the Captain's man sought brighter stars than Sally's eyes, or contented himself with reading his fate there, the records of Blissfold do not inform us; but certain it is, that when matters were drawing to a close, as we all supposed, and Miss Wells was about to become Mirs. Merman, Miss Kerridge did venture to inquire of her young mistress as to her intentions respecting the tenure of the appointment which she held about her person, and whether she was to accompany her in her then capacity or remain with Miss Bessy at the Rectory. The answer which Fanny gave, without at all comprehending the extent of its import, was so favourable to the hopes of the applicant, that she and Mr. Thomas Lazenby speedily came to an understanding; in consequence whereof Mr. Thomas Lazenby was duly accepted by Miss Sally Kerridge; a developement of the tender engagement being only delayed until the marriage of the principals should be formally announced. Now, under these circumstances, and considering that Thomas was the confidential minister of the Lieutenant, and so essential to his comfort that he could not even travel half a day's journey without him, it struck Tom as exceedingly odd, that when his master took his departure for his Aunt Pennefather's, he thought proper to dispense with his services. It was extremely agreeable to Tom that he did so, because it left him master of his time during his absence; but still he wondered, and was fidgety, inasmuch as the moment a favourite servant finds out that his patron can do without him for a little, he generally begins to suspect that he will, not very long after, do without him entirely. So it was, however, and Tom's worst anticipations were realised by hearing from Sally that she verily believed it was all off between the Captain and her young lady. The Lieutenant returned, and it was all “on again;” Tom banished his doubts; Sally dismissed her fears, and every thing “progressed” as before. These halcyon days, however, were not to last for ever, and when the Lieutenant for a second i. quitted Blissfold, a second time did he leave Tom behind 1nn. Matters, although the cases so far were parallel, nevertheless did not run so regularly upon this occasion, for the same post which brought my worthy father-in-law the letter which so infuriated him, brought a note to Tom from the Lieutenant, directing him to pay off whatever bills might be owing in the place, to deliver an accompanying enclosed letter to the sergeant, and then to come forthwith to him at Mrs. Pennefather's, bringing the sergeant with him, as he had business to transact with him which must be done before his successor in the recruiting service should arrive at Blissfold; and moreover, to pack up his things, and lose no time in obeying his instructions. “It's all over, Sally,” said Tom; “it’s my belief the affair with Miss Fanny is entirely and regularly floored.” “I think so, too,” said Sally, “for, my dear Tom, she has been crying all the morning, and master has been storming about like mad: rely upon it that never will be a match.” “Isn't that a pretty business " said Tom. “I’m ordered off with the sergeant at half-an-hour's warning, pack and baggage; and perhaps, Sally, we may never meet again.” “We!” said Sally. “Why, Tom, what have we to do with them! We have had no quarrel—my father is not Par