Abbildungen der Seite


The funeral is over: Sniggs and his assistant and myself were the only mourners. Wells read the service with as much energy as his feelings, which were in truth more excited than I had anticipated, would permit. I waited with a melancholy patience to see the earth piled on the coffin; and while the sad work was going on, and just as the last shovelful, which hid the object from my sight, had been thrown into the grave, a woman, the wife of one of the smaller tradesmen of the place, exclaimed close to my ear— “Ah, poor little fellow ! if you had had a father or mother to take care of you, you would not be there now.” This was peculiarly gratifying, no doubt, under all the circumstances, for it not only spoke a reproach which I felt perfectly conscious that I did not deserve, but it proved to me that the opinion generally prevalent amongst the Blissfold public was decidedly unfavourable to my tenderness of disposition and humanity of character, as well as those of my poor, dear, kind-hearted Harriet. Nor was this all; for the moment the woman uttered the words, I almost unconsciously appealed with my eyes to Sniggs, who was standing a little in the rear, and saw him give his assistant a nudge, accompanied with a twitch of the nose, which I held to be indicative of his perfect agreement in her dictum, although I could not help thinking it might have applied more particularly and personally to himself than to me. Upon my return home I found, as I had indeed expected, Kitty performing an evtravaganza of grief, while Jane, deeply sorrowful, convinced me by the quiet sadness of her countenance and manner that she had—

“That within which passeth show.”

I gave them an account of the ceremony, at the termination of ... detail Kitty sobbed out, “Then there really was no music after all !” A question which, from the way it was put, implied to my understanding a lurking belief on the part of the young lady that my previous statement of the inability of her favourite professor to attend, was not perfectly true. Harriet and I exchanged looks, but nothing was said. The next question which was to be discussed and decided was the return of the young ladies to Montpelier, which they said, and Sniggs evidently thought, was to be effected under his care and tutelage. . There was a sort of worrying anxiety about Kate to stay with us for a day or two longer than Cuthbert had prescribed, and an evident anxiety on the part of poor Jenny to stay with us altogether; but I could not see any possible method of gratifying her wish, in opposition to the mandate of her father-in-law, and therefore, upon my long-established and frequently acted upon principle of waiting a little to see what would happen, I thought the best plan would be to postpone the consideration of it for a day or two, or even until called to it by a summons from Sniggs, who would, of course, write to Cuthbert a detailed account of the funeral, and receive his further commands; and with whose official precedence I had no inclination whatever to meddle. I merely asked Kitty, after her immoderate grief was somewhat calmed, and she had satisfied herself by one or two glances at the looking-glass that if she continued crying any longer she would decrease the general beauty of her countenance, whether Cuthbert had fixed any particular day for their return to Bath. “No,” said Kate, “not exactly to a day; and I should like to stop with dear aunt for a day or two, because, now that r dear Tom is buried, we may go down and see Fanny and y at their own house.” “Bessy,” said Harriet, with a look, “will not be back for a week or ten days.” She might have added, “nor for a month, if you stay here so long;” for, as I have already noted, Bessy was sent to an intimate friend's house on an elastic visit, as Daly used to call it—a visit that was to be long or short accordingly as circumstances might render it agreeable or not. In point of fact, so long as Kate stayed at Ashmead, so long would Bessy stay at Southampton. I remember, talking of elasticity, one curious instance, which I put upon record at the time, of the elasticity of turtle soup. About three years since I went to Brighton races(the day may come when they shall cease to be gay and fashionable, for even now people begin to make Brighton a winter residence)—and stayed for four days at one of the inns there, which shall be nameless, inasmuch as, if any body should get hold of my notes, I might do the landlord of the said inn some injury by my statement. We were five in our party, and the order of the day for each of the four days was “turtle;” the rest of the matériel varied at the discretion of mine host, but for the turtle we were

[merged small][ocr errors]

* We rather think Mr. Gurney has mentioned this incident elsewhere.—Ed.

he pleases, and staying as long as he likes, that I hardly think an invitation at any time necessary.” “Yes,” said Kate, tossing her head, and looking very, very impudent, “he used to come constantly to see dear Pappy when he was here.” “Come,” said Nubley, who seemed full of something in the way of confidential communication; and I was glad he did, for, with all my resolution, I am not quite certain that I could have screwed myself to the task of giving the impertinent brat a civil answer—pretty as she was, and, by Jove I must confess that goes a great way as a qualification. Down we went, and when we entered my library, Nubley, desiring me to be seated, began, as was always his custom, to walk about the room, stubbling his chin, and occasionally leaning on the mantel-shelf and staring vacantly at himself in the glass. It is impossible to describe in writing the effect of the dialogue without contriving to mark all of that which he thought he did not utter in contradistinction to that which he meant to meet my ear. I have found it difficult in noting down his former conversations to do this without breaking in upon the “thread of the discourse;” the best way will be to underscore—or, as the printers would say, put in italics, his muttered thoughts, of the utterance of which he was himself wholly unconscious; and thus, ‘I think, a continuous course may be carried on without otherwise pointing out the difference between those and the words which he really meant should be heard. - - - “Gilbert,” said he, “I have been thinking all night about this man Thompson, and his conduct. I don't see—eh 3–why —not a bit—why you should—eh 4–take up my quarrel—I think that will startle him—eh?—Gilbert!” “My dear Sir,” said I, “if he follow up his visit, I must pursue the line I have taken. Why should you, wholly unconscious of affronting him, be, at your time of life, subjected to a meeting of such a kind with such “Why not q" said Nubley. “I have fought before, and hit my man—and an infernal stew I was in—knocked him over—eh 4–hit him in the pope's eye—eh 4–deuced glad I hadn't killed him—why shouldn't I fight my own battles!” “Because I have taken your place,” said I. “The thing is now irrevocable.” - - “He shan't go out with him though—Irrevocable is it?” said Nubley. “Now look ye—eh?—don't you see—you have got a charming young wife—and you love her;--I have a wife, too, you'd say—strange body—but I have no child—silly

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »