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“Well, Sir,” said Thompson, “at all events, you are his friend, and evidently justify his otherwise unjustifiable conduct.—I am quite aware, Sir, that Mr. Gurney, and what are called the leaders of Blissfold society, have thought proper to behave in a most extraordinary manner to my nieces and my cousin, and I only wanted an opportunity of ascertaining the reason why gentlewomen of family and rank—yes, Sir,” added Thompson, with a flourish of the whip that made it whistle in the wind,-" of rank—have been so shamefully used.—I have now discovered it, Sir-the sweet ingenuousness of this old gentleman has settled that affair, and since you have been so good as to palliate his coarseness, I shall take the liberty of transferring the necessity of an explanation to yourself. Having,” added the Captain, “established this fact, I would not for the world intrude another moment upon you at this juncture, and I have again to apologise for taking the liberty I have taken at this season. But, as I before stated, I wished to ascertain whether I were to attribute the grossnesses which fell from your uncle's lips “Sir” said I, “he is not my uncle.” “Well, Sir,” continued the irritated Thompson, “it is all the same to me whether he is or is not. I say, I wished to know whether I were to attribute the grossnesses which fell this morning from the old man's lips—for gentleman I will not call him—to insanity, or premeditation ? You have satisfied me on that point. Not only do you state that he is sane when speaking these offensive words—but that they are the fruits of his ingenuousness.-I have done, Sir—” So much the better, thought I— “For the present. After the funeral and a decent period has elapsed, I shall take the liberty to send a friend to you, in order to settle our little difference 1" “Difference, Sir "said I, “I really am not aware—” “My friend will enlighten you, Sir,” said Thompson. “You have shifted—very honourably, I admit the responsibility from the shoulders of the old man on to your own. You must see that your explanation of the nature of his infirmity is a mere confirmation of the premeditated insult inflicted by him upon myself and my nearest female relations. . It is, I repeat, extremely fair and handsome of you, and I shall, of course, avail myself of the earliest opportunity of setting myself right. Mr. Nubley is now safe from any personal hostility, on my part, and I beg leave to bid you a very good morning.” As he proceeded towards the door, I rang the bell, and as he crossed the hall, he observed, with a degree of careless indifference, and as if his visit had been one of the most agreeable—“very fine weather for the time of year, Mr. Gurney— pray don't come any farther—good morning.”—And so-exit Thompson. I retired to my room perfectly bewildered with the brief scene which had just been enacted. The departure of this “best of cut-throats” gave me an opportunity of inquiring of poor dear Nubley what had really occurred ; of which, however, Thompson's description gave, no doubt, a tolerably correct idea. As far as I was concerned, it was clear that a personal quarrel was fastened upon me, and that Thompson, like all the disreputable persons who are subjected to the operation of the laws and customs of good society, had long been anxious to hit some blot which might enable him to make a stir, the result of which should be to establish himself on a locus standi, either to be admitted with all his tribe into the circle with which they desired to mix, or to prove, by some act of violence, his readiness to make those persons pay the penalty of their fastidiousness, who had thought fit to exclude them from it. This, although a new evil amongst the many which combined to oppress me, did not promise to be immediate in its effect—on the contrary, two or three days would at least elapse, before, according to the man's own notion of etiquette and decency, he could “send his friend to me”—a period which I honestly confess, I flattered myself might be successfully employed in averting a hostile meeting arising out of no earthly offence of mine—unless, indeed, an inadvertant expression touching the innocent murmurings of my pseudo uncle could be so considered. I do not think I am more nervous than my neighbours, but I was now married and had a son, and the cares of the world were upon me, and I admit that as the Captain and his horsewhip left the house, I felt a twinge in that part of my leg in which I had shot myself in my affair with Daly. Well—never mind—the proverb says that Providence gives meat for the mouths that are made; and, upon a similar principle, I believe Providence affords us proportionate strength and courage to meet a growing accumulation of ill. I would not give sixpence for a mind that is not elastic—let it delight in the minutest pleasure—let it expand to bear the greatest evil. I am a small person, but I thank my stars that I am so constituted, and, like poor Daly, can suit myself to all sorts of weather—ride over the wave—stoop to it—and rise again— without, however, stooping in any other sense of the word.
I will dismiss this Thompson from my mind until he sends his emissary; so no more of this. But what a girl is this Kitty —what am I to do about that 3 ... —If Thompson makes me a particeps criminis with Nubley, what must the dancing-master think of my decency or consistency in the other affair —I appreciate his conduct towards the little monkey who assails him—I praise it—I shake hands with him—thank him—and the next thing he finds me doing, according to her version, is sending her to his house to ask a favour in my name, under the protection of a person who has nothing on earth to do with us. I must see him—I must again explain. Then here is Wells, my poor dear father-in-law, as vivacious as ever, in high dudgeon about the Lieutenant, and Fanny in as towering a rage as ever excited rural beauty— her H have sent up to Harriet—her father I must commune with; but in the mean time what shall I do about Kittington 1 “Well, Sir,” said I to the Rector, “has Fanny made up her mind to this business ''' “Oh dear, yes,” said Wells; “I train my girls to like those I like, and to reject those I turn off. My notion is, that my young ladies are merely passive, and will do as I bid them.” “Well!” thought I, “this is pleasant: talk of Nubley's absence of mind offending Captain Thompson : here is the intelligent Rector propounding a doctrine of passive obedience, which, if I were tetchy or tenacious, would make me sceptical even of the devotion of my own unsophisticated wife.” “We are all creatures of habit,” said Wells:—“six months settles it:—marriage is like a stage-coach—when first you start, there may be a few little differences and angularities— if there be such a word:—a little shaking on the journey soon sets all that to rights, and every thing settles down harmoniously. I don't know that Fanny cared much for the Lieutenant, but she liked him enough to marry him if I wished it, and they sat and flirted, and whispered, and talked a parcel of nonsense about themselves, and made themselves vastly ridiculous; and, if he had behaved as he ought to have done, I have no doubt they would have made a very comfortable couple, but as he has cut and run, Fanny has too much sense to care about him any more, and he will be married to Miss Malony or Malooney, or whatever her name is, and there an end.” All this was very harsh and grating to my ear, because I never could forget how nearly parallel our cases were. “What's this?” said Wells, changing the subject, as I thought considerately, if not prudentially,–"what's this I hear about a funeral sermon to be preached upon the gunpowder Tom 4 Mrs. Sniggs has been at the Rectory talking some nonsense to Mrs. Wells, upon whom she has foisted herself only upon this pretence.—I shall preach no funeral sermon, unless you wish it; and as to a dirge, I declare till the woman told my wife that it was meant in earnest, I thought it was a joke of Sniggs's.” - Wells, as I have already recorded, had found out a great deal more upon the subject of the dancing-master than I had ever intended to escape from the sanctum of Ashmead, but as I had decided upon the course I should take with regard to the #. of underhanded tom-foolery now on the tapis, I allowed im to anathematise duly, and in the most orthodox manner, all manner and kinds of persons who should attempt to desecrate the parish church of Blissfold by such an unseemly melody—quite aware that, after a brief communication with Mr. Kittington, the dreadful sacrilege would most assuredly not be committed. I was not disappointed in my expectations of Mr. Kittington —in less than half an hour after the termination of my dialogue with Wells, I received a note from him couched in the most entlemanly and respectful terms; in which, after apologising or taking the liberty of troubling me with such an appeal, he expressed, most reluctantly, as he admitted, a disbelief that I had made the extraordinary application about his performance at the church, or that I had been a party to Miss Falwasser's visit to his mother's house after the very peculiar conversation which had previously passed between us.—This was exactl what I anticipated and what I wished—and I answered his note by telling him that I would call upon him at eight o'clock in the evening, a time at which I could easily walk down to the village—(I beg pardon, Town)—without observation, and express to him personally, much better than in writing, the real state of the case—for although Kate deserved no great forbearance at my hands or those of Harriet, still I did not like to put upon record, even in a note which I felt sure would neversee the light, the duplicity and dexterity of one so young, so artful, and deceptive. When Mr. and Mrs. Nubley—who, bating their drapery, reminded me mightily of Adam and Eve before the fall,— came mooning unto the house—thanks to Miss Kate Falwas– ser for the phrase—I ventured to take the dear original aside i. Ask him where he had been during the early part of the ay -
“Why,” said Nubley—“we have been—eh—been—to Chittagong—over the grounds—into the house—brute of a man that Thompson—eh?” “Yes,” said I, “but you need not have told him so, my dear Sir.” “Me " said Nubley, stubbling his chin—“I tell him so! La, bless you—not I—no—we were the greatest possible friends—odd girls the nieces and cousin!—he he he – and then in an under-tone, “what makes him look so glum, I wonder 2" “Why, my dear Sir,” said I, “Captain Thompson has been here to look after you—and failing of finding you, has fastened all your faults upon me—he says you abused him and the whole family.” - “That's a fib, Gilbert,” said Nubley—“I praised them, every one of them—beasts as they are—no—I said nothing offensive I know. Mrs. N. said something about them, I forget what—which seemed to vex one of them—but I–la!—I praised them, I tell you—eh?–1 wonder what Gilbert is at now 2° This last surmise was expressed in a tone nearly as loud as all his previous protestations of politeness to the Thompsons. “Why,” said I, “my dear Sir, I do not think you are aware of the only failing I can discover in your character,-I mean that of thinking aloud 5% “Ah!” said Nubley, “talking to myself what I think — that's it.—I believe I do—my wife has not that failing.—Poor thing! she talks to every body else and never thinks at all—I hope she does not hear me—eh 4—as for that Thompson, he is —between ourselves—no better than he should be—umph— few of us are.” “Those, as I understood,” said I, “were precisely the words you used to one of the young ladies.” “Ah!” said Nubley—“I thought—I know I thought so— very strange—eh? Chi—chi—he does not know what that means.” - Whether I did or did not comprehend these two very significant monosyllables, I found it was no manner of use endeavouring to persuade Nubley that this principle of wearing a window in his breast was not altogether safe in the world, and therefore I pooh pooh'd off his inquiry as to the nature of the visit of Thompson to Ashmead, resolving to do my duty b Cuthbert's venerable and unsophisticated partner, should it eventually be considered necessary to carry the matter into the field.