« AnteriorContinuar »
in-to let me say something to you—I suppose he meant your mamma, but I prefer saying it to you, if you will let me. Will you come and help me to find the port ?'
“ “She said nothing, but took up a candle that was on a table in the hall, and stood waiting. I ventured to look at her. Her face was now celestial rosy red, and I could not doubt that she had understood me. She looked so beautiful that I stood staring at her without moving What the servants could have been about that not one of them crossed the hall, I can't think.
“At last Kate laughed and said—Well?' I started, and I dare say took my turn at blushing. At least I did not know what to say. I had forgotten all about the guests inside. • Where's the port ?' said Kate. I caught hold of her hand again and kissed it.”
“ You needn't be quite so minute in your account, my dear,” said my mother, smiling.
“I will be more careful in future, my love,” returned my father.
“What do you want me to do?' said Kate.
“Only to hold the candle for me,' I answered, restored to my seven senses at last; and, taking it from her, I led the
way, and she followed, till we had passed through the kitchen and reached the cellar-stairs. These were steep and awkward, and she let me help her down.'
· Now, Edward !” said my mother.
“Yes, yes, my love, I understand,” returned
father. “ Up to this time your mother had asked no questions ; but when we stood in a vast, low cellar, which we had made several turns to reach, and I gave her the candle, and took up a great crowbar which lay on the floor, she said at last
Edward, are you going to bury me alive? or what are you going to do ?'
“« I'm going to dig you out, I said, for I was nearly beside myself with joy, as I struck the crowbar like a battering-ram into the wall. You can fancy, John, that I didn't work the worse that Kate was holding the candle for me.
Very soon, though with great effort, I had dislodged a brick, and the next blow I gave into the hole sent back a dull echo. . I was right!
“I worked now like a madman, and, in a very few minutes more, I had dislodged the whole of the brick-thick wall which filled up an archway of stone and curtained an ancient door in the lock of which the key now showed itself. It had been well greased, and I turned it without much difficulty.
“I took the candle from Kate, and led her into a spacious region of sawdust, cobweb, and wine-fungus.
“There, Kate!'I cried, in delight. “But,' said Kate, will the wine be good ?'
6 General Fortescue will answer you that,' I returned, exultantly. Now come, and hold the light again while I find the port-bin.
“I soon found not one, but several wellfilled port-bins. Which to choose I could not tell. I must chance that. Kate carried a bottle and the candle, and I carried two bottles very carefully. We put them down in the kitchen with orders they should not be touched. We had soon carried the dozen to the hall-table by the dining-room door.
" When at length, with Jacob chuckling and rubbing his hands behind us, we entered the dining-room, Kate and I, for Kate would not part with her share in the joyful business, loaded with a level bottle in each hand, which we carefully erected on the sideboard, I presume, from the stare of the company, that we presented a rather remarkable appearance-Kate in her white muslin, and I in my best clothes, covered with brick-dust,
and cobwebs, and lime. But we could not be half so amusing to them as they were to.
There they sat with the dessert before them but no wine-decanters forthcoming. How long they had sat thus, I have no idea.
think your mamma has, you may ask her. Captain Calker and General Fortescue looked positively white about the gills. My uncle, clinging to the last hope, despairingly, had sat still and said nothing, and the guests could not understand the awful delay. Even Lady Georgiana had begun to fear a mutiny in the kitchen, or something equally awful. But to see the flash that passed across my uncle's face, when he saw us appear with ported arms! He immediately began to pretend that nothing had been the matter.
66 What the deuce has kept you, Ned, my boy?' he said.
• Fair Hebe,' he went on, • I beg your pardon. Jacob, you can go on decanting. It was very careless of you to forget it. Meantime, Hebe, bring that bottle