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dear brother Tom before he was buried, but Uncle seems to think it would be dangerous for us.” “So do I,” said Harriet; “and if any thing were to happen 22 “But then,” said Kate, with an extra degree of animation, i. have been vaccinated on purpose, you know, dear. I should ike it. “I shouldn't,” said Jane; “I should like to remember my poor dear brother as he was when alive; then we may fancy him absent and away, and yet to return to us—but if we see him dead, the recollection of him so will always last.” “I think,” said I, “you are right, Jane.” “But then I could go without Jane,” said Kate; “Foxcroft could go with me, and 33 “No,” said I, “it would be the height of imprudence.” “I could go alone, if that's all,” said Kate; “I am not the least afraid, and I know the way.” “It would not, I think, be considered delicate,” said Harriet, “for you to be seen in the streets of Blissfold.” “What,” said the young lady, “not if I were going to see my poor brother s” “I think you had better not,” said I. This evidently checked, but did not stop her, in the course which she was pursuing. “Well,” continued she, “after the funeral, we may go and see Fanny Wells, although Bessy is gone?” . “Certainly,” said Harriet; “only I understood you were to return immediately after the funeral was over.” “Why, so Pappy aid,” answeréd Kate; but—I-” Here she was again foiled in what, with Harriet's predisposition to suspect, she considered the main Óbject of her visit to Ashmead. ; , ; ; ; ; ; ; ; “Who are to go to the füßeral, dear!” said Kate addressing Harriet. - : '', 3 ; , ; “Why,” said I, “yon tell methat it is Cuthbert's desire that both of you should attend; it is most unusual, and I should say unexpected, and—” “Well, but, Uncle,” said Jane, quietly, and certainly with much reason, “if we are not to go to see him before he is buried, nor go to the burying itself, we might as well have stayed at home.” “Not at all, Jane,” said Kitty, sharply. “It shows our af. fection and regard to Tom even to be here at this time. I suppose you will go, Uncle 7" “I propose doing so, certainly,” said I.
“And Mr. Sniggs will go,” said Kate. “And Mr. Wells,” said I, “will perform the service.” “Is there any body else one could ask?” said Kate, affect§ to consider the subject. “Is there nobody we know— that “Nobody that you know, Miss Falwasser,” said Harriet, flushing crimson, “except your dancing-master—perhaps you would like him to be one of the mourners.” “What an idea 1" said Jane. “Well,” said Kitty, in a tone which left us in doubt whether she felt or did not feel the latent meaning of my uncontrollably indignant wife's observation, “I see nothing so absurd in that. I'm sure he was as fond of Tom as any body in this house ever was.” I gave Harriet a family look—a preventive glance—something between the entreating and monitory; she returned a significant toss of her head, and, to my infinite delight, said nothing. . “I am certain,” said Kate, “that Mr. Kittington took more pains with brother Tom,” and here she cried, “than any body I ever saw take pains with any body—poor dear boy, he had not a turn for dancing ; but still, I do think, if we may not go out, at least—I’m sure Pappy would like it—I do think Mr. Kittington might follow his dear remains to the grave.” Here Kitty sobbed more vehemently, and here my dear Harriet seemed quite ready—if I may use the expression—to boil over with indignation. Kate's real object, cloaked in the af. fectation of sorrow, roused all her anger, and I hastened to interpose an observation that; howäyer attentive Mr. Kittington might have been:plæsessionally to her brother, and however respectable in himself, he was not included in our circle of friends, whence alone attenditits on such oceasions were selected. “Why, doctors go,'..said Kate; “and they are not friends, only attendants.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “True,” said I; “bit there is a slight difference between the services of the doctor and the dancing-master, as regards the deceased, towards the termination of his existence.” “Well, Uncle,” said Kate, pertinaciously adhering to her favourite proposition, “ of course I have nothing to do with it. I dare say Mrs. Brandyball will write to me to-day, and I shall hear to-morrow; for perhaps she may have some new directions to give about it.” Another glance of my wife's eye followed the announcement of this supposition, which renewed my trepidation lest she should be unable further to conceal her real feelings—for an attempt at hypocrisy with Harriet was really an effort: nor was I much displeased at seeing her make preparations for quitting the room which we had invaded. Thus encouraged, I suggested to the girls that the baby required his mother's care, and that we had better retire. Whether I should have suspected what was passing in Kate's extremely shallow mind, if I had not been previously made aware of the circumstances which had occurred with regard to Kittington, I do not presume to guess; but having been so pre-advised, every word, every look, every action of the girl seemed to me connected with the furtherance of the affair, and an anxiety to understand why her tender epistle yet remained unanswered. There was a restlessness about her—a constant going to the windows at the back of the house, which were not closed, and looking out upon the lawn and grounds as if hoping to see the object of her unquestionable affection, who, by no possible chance, could be there; then taking up a book and flirting over the leaves, stopping, perhaps, at a point the subject of which might in any degree be assimilated to what she considered her own circumstances; and then came a fit of absence, during which it appeared to me she was calculating upon the safest and surest means of obtaining an interview with her graceful preceptor. I was half inclined, during one of her paroxysms of abstraction, to dissipate the vision at once, and tell her all I knew of the matter. My old propensity for procrastination, however, triumphed, and I resolved to wait a day or two and see what would turn up. My cogitations on this subject were interrupted by the arrival of Wells, who, under naturally excited feelings, came to open his heart to me and even seek advice about Fanny, which, knowing so much of his pro-matrimonial disposition as I did, I felt it would be difficult to give. The fact appeared to be that the Lieutenant—totally opposed in politics, and, as, he had recently discovered, in principle to the Rector, and disappointed in his expectations as to the fortune Fanny was likely to bring him—had gradually retreated in proportion to Wells' advance ; and had even used the gayety and conviviality which Wells had pressed into the service to make his house agreeable to him, as weapons against his moral and clerical character. After the disappointment of his hopes with regard to Miss Maloney's acceptance of him, his return to Blissfold appeared to have been the result of mingled vanity and revenge—he could prove to the thoughtless Millicent
how much he was beloved by her whom he had sacrificed for her sake.
I had long before formed an opinion of all the parties brought before me in this discussion, which circumstances did not at all tend to change. Wells had so often avowed the doctrine of his addiction to early marriages, when I myself was an illustration, that I could easily imagine Merman to have only gone half the length of pressing a match upon Fanny. Of Fanny I knew enough to know that her affection for Merman might be considered negative, inasmuch as he was the only available dangler in the place; and that, moreover, having been, as was rumoured, a pretender to Harriet's hand, there would be something like a rural and domestic triumph in secuting him, while with regard to Merman himself—hating him cordially, as I have already admitted—it seemed to me that he treated the poor girl as a mere child, whom he could twist round his finger and whistle off or whistle on as he pleased.
I therefore took leave to inquire of my reverend father-inlaw what he thought of the state of the attachment of the parties to each other, and found by his replies, as I anticipated, that Fanny, although naturally leaning husband-wise, was, even in the present stage of the affair, perfectly willing to leave the case in her father's hands: in short, that she was ready to marry the Lieutenant, and subsequently become his dutiful and affectionate wife; or, if it were required of her, equally willing to let him join his regiment, or do any thing else which might eternally divide them. In fact, I believe the whole history, as far as Fanny was concerned, had its origin in the desire not to be left far behind Harriet in the matrimonial race.
The counsel I gave to the Rector—and it did seem strange that he should, so shortly after my marriage to his eldest daughter, come to me for an opinion upon the projected union of his second—was to wait for some further communication from the Radical recruiter. In fact, Merman had left the case at a stage in which it was impossible for my father-in-law farther to proceed, even if he knew where to address him. He agreed with me in this opinion, as indeed he could not fail to do; for the English soldier had taken what is called French leave; and although his servant remained at his lodgings in Blissfold, we knew not whither he was gone, and were none of us likely to apply for information upon that most interest
The advice I gave was meritorious in two ways: I did not commit myself with either the lover or the parent; and, moreover, it was the only advice I could give. I acted, I admit, a little upon my old principle of waiting to see what would turn up ; and as I knew something must turn up by the arrival of the next post, I felt proportionably interested in the general result, which eleven o'clock would infallibly produce; although I also admit that I certainly was not prepared for the accumulation of events which were, in point of fact, destined to overwhelm me long before that hour.
Kate, who, I confess, was an object of considerable interest to me—not perhaps of the interest which the generality of the world might call “interesting,” but because the having her in my house involved, as I felt, a similar sort of responsibility to that which a man incurs who chances to have deposited in his care a barrel of gunpowder, which an unlucky match might, at some unexpected moment, explode. She was constantly hovering about the hall or the garden in a lamentable state of worry. Jane conducted herself differently: she did nothing to occupy her mind—poor dear, she had not much mind to occupy; and except, as I have before had oecasion to remark, looking at prints in books or affecting to do some work equivalent to nothing, her occupations consisted chiefly in looking at the fire or playing with the spaniel's ears—so far that was safe; for although in after-life the still and silent lady is the one for mischief—at the relative ages of Kate and Jane, Kate was the impracticable one.
I was not so innocent of the world's ways as not to suspect that Kate's restlessness was intimately connected with the real object of her affectionate visit to Ashmead. She seemed more anxious to communicate with her maid than seemed essentially necessary; and Harriet being still up-stairs, there was nobody to detect the little fidgetings and whisperings in the gallery, and even in the hall itself, which were going on, except myself. I however calmed my apprehension of any thing unfortunate happening, by a recollection of the highl honourable conduct of Kittington; and even went the len of saying to myself, as, indeed, I had previously thought— “Well, if she did marry Kittington—bating her extreme juvenility—she might-do worse; and as for Cuthbert, she would be sure of his forgiveness if she took it into her head to marry his man Rumagee Bomajee, with his high-caste yellow streak down his nose. I believe really—and I hope I do not do her an injustice—but I do really believe that Harriet, when she found me disposed to palliate Kate's conduct about