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Then came dinner—and, to my delight, Harriet, for the first time since her confinement, took her place at the table—and she looked so nice and so pretty, that I could not help casting my eyes upon Wells and Fanny, who dined with us, and saying to myself, “Well, I don't care upon what principle you marry your daughters. If all of them turn out like the one I have secured to myself, the system will do no harm to any body”—and then I felt a kind of chuckling satisfaction that Merman was not to have Fanny as a wife—and then I drank a glass of wine with Harriet—and she looked placid and pleased—and Kate seemed a little subdued—and Jane began, as I thought, to look quite pretty. The ladies retired, and in order to fulfil my promised eno to Mr. Kittington, I begged my reverend father-inaw, if I should be detained beyond “coffee time,” to take charge of the fair flock and give them the advantages of his society till I should return—and in the mean while to be kind enough to exert his influence over Kate to abandon her intention of attending the funeral—Jane having already more than half agreed that it would be infinitely more agreeable to her feelings to abstain from a show of grief very unusual, and not at all in accordance with her own notions of real sorrow for the loss of so near a relation. Away I went—and as what occurred during my interview with Mr. Kittington will transpire in my notes of the conversation which took place on my return to Ashmead—the particulars may be spared here: suffice it to say—I saw him— conversed with him—explained my conduct in the affair—was perfectly satisfied with his, and came home. I confess I was very much struck by the appearance of his humble residence—and of his family, which consisted only of a mother and sister. I had never crossed his threshold before, nor had I ever seen his relations except at church. I was ushered into a small but pretty parlour—the modest decorations of which gave indications of a taste and feeling suited to a more spacious apartment. Books were disposed in all available corners; drawings by good masters, not numerous but well-chosen, hung against the walls; an evidently muchfrequented piano-forte stood opposite the fire-place; a pert canary-bird hopped from perch to perch in its gilded cage; and a spaniel of the pure Marlborough breed extended its breadth on the rug before the fire. The little family had just finished their tea—that curious bond of middling society, the enchanting charm of which is unknown to what is called “the world;” and which I myself confess I feel some difficulty in appreciating as I ought to do –Kittington was reading aloud one of those extraordinary novels about which the whole nation is at this period raving, and of the origin or authority of which we are totally ignorant. His mother was occupied in working, and his pretty sister sedulously employed in copying music into a gaily decorated book of “her own,” a delicate act of piracy extremely popular even in the best circles. * Best circles! what am Italking of? The scene I witnessed in this industrious artist's cottage filled me with pleasure and respect—here I beheld, retired from the toils of his inglorious profession, the dutiful son and affectionate brother—enjoying the society of those whom he loved and for whom he laboured in his vocation. What station in life could afford more happiness?—wealth and rank would have made these people richer—greater; but look round the world and see, after all, how very slight the shades of difference really are which exist in the comforts and happiness of the various classes of what may be called general society : An elderly Duchess—the owner of a palace with sixteen gilded rooms en suite, to be snug and comfortable in a winter's night like this, would huddle into her boudoir at the extreme end of those sixteen rooms, ensconce herself in her easiest of chairs by her bright fireside, with her pet dog at her feet. Having done so, what could her Grace do more agreeable than sit and listen to the reading of the new Scotch novels, while Lady Eliza Something took the opportunity of copying out some delicious “yoodles” (I don't know if that is the correct orthography) which dear Lady Mary Something else had just lent her. The pursuits of the two parties might most naturally be the same. I question whether in the enjoyment of the relaxation afforded after active employment the dancing-master's family would not beat the Duchess's. Be that as it may—I admit I was forcibly prepossessed in favour of my host and his relations by my visit to their Goshen. Kittington seemed anxious that his mother and sister should leave us alone in the snuggery—but this I would not hear of; —and so he and I retired to an equally neat little dining-parlour on the other side the passage—hall, I must not—with all my prepossessions—call it; into which he ushered me with an apology for the absence of a fire. Our conversation was not long—but it confirmed all my suspicions as to Miss Falwasser—she had mentioned my name as the person anxious for the solemn music, and added an invitation to Kittington—whom she was sure Ishould be anxious to see at Ashmead in order to express my personal thanks for his attention to my wishes. The course of proceeding upon which we resolved will presently appear, and I took my leave, requesting permission to make my adieux to the old lady and her daughter, whom I felt perfectly convinced had been kept by their honourable highminded relation in perfect ignorance of Kitty’s “juvenile indis. cretions.” I esteem this family, and will show that I do, if ever the opportunity occurs; although I admit that their own domestic affection and respectability are calculated in some degree to decrease my estimate of the son's forbearance with regard to Miss Falwasser, whose manners and qualifications, even if more matured, could have but little attraction to a young man accustomed to a tranquillity and comfort which she, poor wild child, could neither understand nor enjoy. When I arrived at home I found Wells in the drawing-room acting upon my request, arguing seriously with Kate on the injudiciousness of subjecting herself to a public exhibition of sorrow at her brother's funeral; but I found his eloquence had been exercised in vain; she was crying, and answering his argument by merely reiterating the words “dear Tom”— “dear pappy,” “dear boy,”—“what shall I do?”—“I will go,” “I will see the last of him.”—This was clearly a resolution borrowed in words from her maid—it is the commonest possible expression with such people, and equals in popularity that very remarkable answer given by persons in a certain station of life to an inquiry after any person who happens to have “shuffled off this mortal coil,”—“La bless you, Sir, they say he has been dead and buried these seven years:”—the necessity of this second portion of the information, after the establishment of the first, not being more obvious than another common asseveration of a man whose authority being in any degree doubted, assures you that “he saw whatever it may be with his own eyes,”—as how should he have seen it with those of any other person 4 As to the “dead and buried,” there certainly have been Some strange exceptions: the celebrated Martin Van Butchell keeps his wife in his bed-chamber now, although she has been long dead; and I have the pleasure of the personal acquaintance of a very distinguished officer, whose lady having died in one of our colonies, and expressed a wish to be buried in England, was accordingly deposited in a cask of rum for the purpose of being transported home, but who remained in the cellar of the said distinguished officer even after his second marriage, the detention being occasioned by his expectation
that the duty on the spirit imported into England, in which the dear departed was preserved, would in a few years be either lowered or taken off altogether;-strange as this may seem, it is true.* Revenons d nos moutons.—“What,” said I,_“cannot the Rector succeed better than I in dissuading you from this sacrifice, Kitty 1" “No, Uncle, no,”—sobbed she, “let me go—pray let me go.” Harriet, who remained up—bless her —exhibited certain symptoms of disgust; and Jane, who it appeared had agreed to give up the point if Kate would do the same, clung to the knee of my wife as she sat on the footstool beside her. “Oh,” continued Kitty, “every thing reminds me of him— I could not rest—oh '" This touch of the sentimental was particularly odious to me —knowing the genuine bent of her mind. “I have been this very day,” continued she, still sobbing, “to look at the copper where the odious cannon knocked his dear little nose—poor boy!” - This was too much for Wells, who, after uttering— “Umph ("jumped up from his chair and walked to the fire. “I see,” said the Rector, endeavouring to stifle a laugh at this last display, “I have no chance of succeeding—so you must go.” “Ah !” said Kate, “now I am happy—I never was at a funeral.” Harriet gave me a look: the mixture of the sororial feeling with that of curiosity was food for an additional reflection upon Kate's character. “I would not be absent for the world.” This was given pathetically, and somewhat ..o. “I find,” said I, addressing myself to Wells, “we shall not have the music, after all.” “What!” cried Kate. .. “Why?” said Wells. “Mr. Kittington has told me,” said I, “that he is unavoidably obliged to go to Winchester to-morrow early in the morning, and cannot be back till Saturday.”
* There is another instance on record of a similar delay in the interment of a lady, for which a reason relative to some sort of life insurance is given, which cannot, we presume, be correct; because, as we think, it could not be legal. The case to which we refer is that of Mrs. Hook, the wife of Major Hook, of Ham; which was stated in all the newspapers of the period at which the death of the Major occurred.—ED.
WOL. II. 7
“Mr. Kittington going to Winchester!” said Kate. I should like some eminent painter to have seen the expression of my wife's countenance when Kate asked that question. “Yes,” said I, “on business.” “How do you know, Uncle!” said Kate. “Why,” said I, “as you had told him I should feel obliged by his performance ". Here Kate's white neck and bosom became rather reddish. 44 He thought it necessary to let me know why he could not do as I wished.” “You wished 4” said Wells. Redder still. “Yes,” said I; “as I wished, and as Kate told him I wished.” “Oh " said Wells, “I did not understand.” Kate did, and gave me a look of gratitude for saving her from the exposure, which somewhat astounded me, and perfectly electrified my poor Harriet. “However,” I continued, “as it is, that part of the ceremony must be dispensed with, and perhaps all for the best—I think, except upon important occasions, I mean occasions which interest other people besides those immediately connected with the deceased, all superfluous ceremonies are best avoided.” “Perhaps you are right, dear Uncle,” said Kate, in a tone which sufficiently expressed her sense of my kindness in sparing her, “perhaps we had better not go.” “What!” said Harriet, who could not resist the gratification of giving her one hit; “you think a funeral without music must be exceedingly dull ?” “No, Aunt,” said Kate; “but—I—” “I know,” said I, in order to put an end to what I feared would not otherwise end agreeably; “Kitty sees the good sense of the Rector's arguments.” “Yes, that's it, Uncle,” said Kate, and brightening up from all the humidity of tears into a sunshine of eyes directed specially at Harriet, “and I shan't go. Jane may do as she likes.” “I never wished to go, dear,” said Jame. “Don’t dear me, Miss Jane,” replied Kate, every vestige of grief having disappeared from her countenance, which was now animated with anger. “You may do as you like; but I do think Mr. Kittington's conduct, considering how much he has been noticed here, is extremely, impudent—that I must say—and very unfeeling, and so I shall let Pappy know.”