Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

they go to Ashmead. ‘Give me my best stock,” I recollect the Captain saying to me—“Lazenby, take care that the strings of my waistcoat don’t come out under my jacket because they are not overclean.” And I remember giving him out his bottle of jeu d'esprit to scent his handkerchief, and rub up the back of his hair with to set him off to the best advantage, and he put on his best pantaloons made by Stools of Clifford Street which show off the gentleman to real advantage—that is Sarah if there is any thing of the gentleman about the wearer—and dear Sarah I will say confidently between you and me and the bed-post if he wasn't a gentleman with the King's admission very little of the quality of one would be found in him—but as I was saying insidiously, up he went—well and it was all kiss and make friends and all that, and so very well—but now comes what Lady Teazle says in Otway's Clandestine Marriage ‘the damned spot.’ What do you think dearest S. Miss Malooney after having been gone as I before contumaciously heard for three days and nights comes back to Diansgrove—that's the name of this place—throws herself into Miss Pennefeather's arms and confides to her the elemosynary circumstance that she has not been able to find the gentleman with the green earings to whom she had given her heart. “My dear Sarah to use the words of my favourite Dr. Dryden—whose poems I have read—and which you shall when we two are one—says with immaculate expression— “this is fudge, all fudge’—for Susan told me from circumstances which I will hereafter emanate to you that she knows for certain that she did find him, and saw him, and elucidated him upon the point, and that after two days and three nights constant endeavours on her part to make him behave to her like a gentleman, he told her she was labouring under an entire misconception of the state of his infections, and cut que cut forced her home to her aunt’s. “When she came back—it was Susan says—such a scene —weeping and wailing—because she had not found her friend—‘Mam'—says Susan ‘ that wont do—we know better.” And so in this state of betwixity and betweenity, what does the aunt do but write to the Captain and gives him another chance at Miss Mellicent, who having been out on her travels is glad enough to take him indiscriminately on his own terms; and so then he says fortunately enough—done and done—and so Miss says done and done too, and then the thing is all done together, what's past cant be recalled, so they wipe it all up and say nothing more about it, and the Captain sends

to Miss Fanny's father, and tells him a long story about a cock and a bull, which indiscriminately relates to the chap in the green earings—and so that's the plain fact. “Sarah my dear I am delighted that Captain Merman— who between you and me and the bed-post is no more a captain than Billy Rattan the old Sergeant here—has distinctly and intuitively turned me off. I couldn't have stopped with him after this explosion—and I am certain you would not have permitted yourself to have been conglomerated with Miss Malooney under any circumstances—Susan says she would not for the world, and Mrs. Gibson who was Miss Malooney's maid has, to use the words of Shenstone, in his ‘Deserted village,’ ‘hopped the twig' in disgust. “To-morrow night dear Sarah I shall be at Blissfold—but as I promised to write I have written—to-morrow about eight o'clock I will be at the old place and ". Here I came to the turned down passage, and wrote no further, quite satisfied with the exposure of as much meanness, hypocrisy, and heartlessness as ever characterised a man, who, to use Mr. Lazenby's words, “ was, by his Majesty’s admission,” a gentleman. I confess I was not at all sorry—even if the means by which we came to the knowledge of his real character were not perhaps strictly legitimate, that we had any how arrived at it; it could not fail to smooth all difficulties with regard to our poor Fanny, who could no longer continue to regret a lover who, if he had not in the first instance been attracted to her by the expectation of money, had committed the negative, if not positive, crime of giving her up when something better in the way of fortune tempted him. In the hourly alternating life I lead, I declare the hour in which the certainty of my never seeing Lieutenant Merman more was unquestionably established in my mind, was one of the most agreeable I had passed for some time. It is strange enough that I always felt a presentiment that it never would be a match—a match it never could have been—a pair, I mean ; and although I am not more superstitious than my neighbours, and, to my delight and exultation, not so superstitious as many who are vastly and immeasurably my superiors in years and intellect, I do sometimes think that such things as presentiments are often verified by the events. There is another sensation which I have often experienced, for which I can by no means whatever account, nor am I at all aware that it is peculiar to myself or common to every body, nor am I aware that having noticed it, I am capable of explaining what I mean. The sensation I refer to is a feeling during the progress of a conversation, or of the occurrence of the ordinary events of society, that every thing I hear and see at the moment, I have somehow and somewhere heard and seen before. I do not mean merely the same words or the same actions, but I mean both words and actions arising out of the passing events exactly in the same order and under precisely similar circumstances. It has not unfrequently happened to me to be so completely under the influence of this strange apprehension, that I have literally started with surprise when some one of the party present has uttered the very words I had previously expected to hear from his lips. All that Wells said—haturally enough, to be sure, resulting from the circuinstances which had occurred, arising out of the receipt of the Lieutenant's letter of one day, and the footman's on the next—came to my ears, as it seemed to me, for the second time;—not that the expression of his resolution upon the point would have been less welcome if it had been the hundredth repetition of it. Here we had secured the complete exposure of this man’s whole scheme. Loving the army as I do, esteeming, nay venerating those brave men who are from day to day and from hour to hour distinguishing themselves in defending the cause and raising the name and character of England to the highest pitch of glory, my blood chilled with regret, may I say indignation, that amongst those glorious protectors, the pride of our nation, there should be found such a cur—a cur —what other word would meet the case ?—as this Lieutenant Merman. “Now,” said I to myself, “ now I see why this fellow has so long lingered here recruiting.” It might however have been, for I know nothing of the routine of these matters, that he was forced in his tour of duty, to Philander and play the flute at his lodgings in our peaceful town, instead of following his gallant companions in arms to the Peninsula; all I was certain of, was that here he did loiter and linger, and that until domestic matters seemed to promise war even in our peaceful town, he gave no sign of going : perhaps, as I say, it was what they call his tour of duty, or something which I do not comprehend, and that it was not his fault, but his misfortune, that he remained strolling about the laurel walks in my father-in-law's gardens in Hampshire, instead of gathering glorious bunches for himself in the field of glory in the face of an avowed enemy. So it was—and what a sequel to his other proceedings was his conduct at the appropriately named villa of his virgin aunt Diansgrove.

o . The style in which his servant wrote was somewhat amusing, but it was evident that the view he took of the whole case was tolerably correct. It occurred to me, I admit, that after my father-in-law’s condescension in accepting the perusal of the letter, and his consequent admission or permission— implied, if not expressed—of the attachment existing between Miss Kerridge and Mr. Lazenby, that Mr. Lazenby would inevitably become a kind of appendage to one or other of the establishments at the Rectory or Ashmead; and then again— there was nothing I could think of, nothing I could imagine, that did not bring back my apprehensions and anticipations as to the precariousness of my tenure here—still my delight at having Merman decidedly expelled and properly exposed, got the better—at least for two hours—of every other feeling. But the storm I had to encounter in the interval between my interview with Wells, letter in hand from Merman himself and this explanatory one, was something terrific. Harriet was so well satisfied with Jane's conduct, and the resolution at which she had arrived as to going to Sniggs's, that she endured—nay, perhaps that is too strong a term—she was pleased with her society, and remained with her, until Kate's return from the love market, and from visiting the remains of her dear brother. - She came home accompanied by Mrs. Sniggs, who, not venturing to intrude foother than the hall, left her there, having imprinted on her damask cheek a kiss, accompanied by a promise that Mr. Sniggs would be up in the morning, and that any suggestion she might make would be, of course, attended to. There was a crisis at hand. Kate's return was followed by a summons from her to Jane to attend her in her room. Jane, gaining strength against tyranny by encouragement from Harriet, whose manner assured and engaged her, sent word by the maid that she was with Mrs. Gurney, and that she might come to her (having obtained permission), or she must wait till she could leave her aunt. This answer to her message set Kitty into a flame. She, the possessor of the order from head-quarters; she who had, under the protection of Mrs. Sniggs, defied the power of her aunt, to be treated in this disrespectful and unceremonious manner! Lucky indeed was it for her maid that she was somewhat older, larger, and stronger than Kitty, else, in the paroxysm which followed the message, she would, in all probability, have fallen a victim to her excessive rage. “La Miss,” said the maid, “why do you put yourself in a passion about people like these? why, what are they? Only charity children of dear Mr. Cuthbert, your dear father: don't let them see that you care about them. I’m sure, after their treatment of poor Master Thomas, they deserve neither notice nor respect. If I was you, Miss Katherine, I would go straight, right an end, to Mrs. Gurney's room, and walk in without so much as knocking at the door or saying with your leave or by your leave, and i. just tell them all about your visit to your dear brother's venerable remains, and describe it to them : tell them how he looked, and what a place he is in, and all that, and make them cry their nasty hearts out; and as for Miss Jane, she ought to be ashamed of going and carneying over these people, who want to rob her and you of your rightful fortune.”

This conversation, or rather this harangue, with all of which I accidentally became acquainted, had the desired effect, and stirred Miss Katherine up to the execution of her maid’s design, and accordingly, with Cuthbert's letter in her hand, and without—according to prescription—any knocking or tapping at the door, she flounced into Harriet's room. Luckily, as it happened, I was on my road thither too, and almost immediately followed the sylph-like danseuse into the apartment.

“So, Jane,” said Kate, without even affecting the civility of first noticing my wife, “you do not choose to come to my room to hear what I have to tell you: you have no feeling— no heart, Jenny—and so I shall write and tell Pappy—l— have—seen—Tommy;” and thereupon she burst into tears.

“I know you have,” said Jane: “you went out on purpose. “I—never—saw—any body dead before,” sobbed Kate ; “but I am glad I went,” and here she cried exceedingly.

“Kitty,” said Harriet, rising from her seat and taking her hand in her hands, “my dear girl, you should not cry in this manner. What avails all this sorrow? He is gone to a better world. Indeed, if you had consulted me, I should have strongly urged the uselessness of such a visit—I might almost add, the danger.”

I felt a slight shudder at the thought—my poor baby unfoly sleeping within three yards of the excited young adW.

Hi don't care for danger,” said Kate; “and as for asking gou, aunt, I knew you would not have let me go, and so did Mrs. Brandyball, and that was the reason she confided the

« ZurückWeiter »