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“My head aches; I shall go in."
Tomkins went for his solitary ride; and, “Oh! I thought you were going to as he rode, he thought; and his thoughts ride,” rejoined Tomkins, in a tone of sur- were far from cheerful. He appeared to prise.
himself to have got into what was called “ I feel unequal to riding, driving, walk-in his phraseology a "jolly mess.” If ing, croquet-playing, talking, laughing, or these things were done in the green tree, -crying,” said she a little pettishly. what would be done in the dry ? He had
Crying !" exclaimed Tomkins with a been given to understand by the poets blank face, as he prepared to walk with that wooing-tide was the golden time for her to the door; "what is there to cry youth of both sexes. If so, why faint ? about?"
He wondered if the same sort of thing “Nothing that I know of,” answered happened often during honeymoons; and, Annie, with a little sigh; and they saun- if it did, how glad he would be to get his tered into the house without another word. honeymoon over and have Mrs. Maddox
They found Mrs. Maddox, Annie's to help him. He fancied he saw now how mother, in a state of that peaceful serenity it is that mothers-in-law get the thin end which results from the performance of a of the wedge in. He had found Annie all duty. And that duty, to judge from ap- that was bright and sprightly, until he had pearances, was performed by means of shown her unusual attention; then she had writing materials and an exquisite-looking become ill; the doctor had been called in, little note which lay upon the table before and she had all at once taken to melanher. Annie gave one quick glance at the choly and fainting fits. It was complisuperscription; and the gleam of satisfac- mentary to him, perhaps, that the prospect tion which passed with a blush over her of accepting or rejecting him should cause face, was speedily succeeded by an expres- her such evidently serious consideration; sion of regret and the paleness of sup- but he was a plain man, who preferred pressed emotion.
comfort to compliments. He had elicited “My dear Annie,” said her mother, from her that there was no previous en"you look far from well; you feel the gagement; and he rather wished now that heat, I fear.”
there had been, he might then have got "I feel something, mamma," replied out of his scrape without having his digAnnie drearily; " but I doubt whether it nity offended. As matters stood, he was can be the heat, for hot weather, you know, in a position about which he would have always agrees with me.”
liked to consult Mr. Gladstone; for he had “Don't you think a little brandy and that statesman's favorite number of three soda- -” began Tomkins, but he was in- courses open. He might boldly but disterrupted by an exclamation from Mrs. honorably“ back out," and have a chance Maddox.
of discovering the pecuniary value attached Annie had sunk with a moan and a by twelve British jurymen (fathers, perhaps, shiver into an easy-chair; where she re- of lovely daughters) to the privilege of beclined, white, speechless, motionless. coming Mrs. Tomkins; he might ride his
Tomkins stood the picture of horror, horse desperately over the cliff and put an and was incapable of anything beyond an end to himself and his horse and his fears emphatic and general prayer for the bless- and anxieties; and he might philosophiing of his soul, and incoherent remarks cally bide his time until the fatal week was about a doctor, which were no doubt an over and he was flatteringly accepted and offer to go and fetch one. But Mrs. Mad- a bond-slave, or ignominiously rejected dox, who had flown to her daughter's side, and a free man. To either the first or the was perfectly cool and collected, smiled as second course he was not inclined, for he pleasantly as ever, and said in a sharp and inherited a disposition which was incomdecisive but playful manner :
patible with even a possible payment of ." Don't be silly: give me that scent- damages, or with self-inflicted wounds or bottle on the little table, that's a good death; and, as to the third, he was upheld man : now go and have your ride, and by a conviction that, from what he knew when you come back you will find her of himself and his fanıily, he was sufficiently quite well again : she has only fainted, that elastic of nature and thick of skin to bear is all: go-go-go;” and she gave him a with cheerfulness the amount of.ignominy gentle push.
that would fall to his lot, and to make up
his mind never again to be in a similar “recollect that the refined wife polishes predicament. If he were, contrary to his the unrefined husband." expectation and even wishes, accepted, he “It will be a very difficult task, would face the future like a man, and strive mamma." to atone by a life of devotion for the error “ Patience, perseverance, and eight hunhe had committed in making a precipitate dred a year, will surmount all difficulties. declaration. For, when he came to com- It is not as if he were hideous in appear mune with himself alone, he could not help ance, or likely to be rebellious.” seeing that he had been precipitate. He Annie laughed and rejoined, “I could had proposed simply because for three put him in shafts and drive him with a months he had been constantly thrown skein of silk.” into the society of a charming girl, had “To be sure, my dear," replied Mrs. arrived at the end of his stock of conversa- Maddox in a tone of intense satisfaction; tion, and could not plead to his conscience "and that is a great thing. It insures poverty as a reason why he should refrain domestic peace, if not happiness.” from “coming up to the scratch." He “But I'm so young as yet, mamma; now lamented that he had not at least and Mr. Bushby might in a year or so waited to be sounded as to his intentions; “ Procrastination, my darling Annie, in for, even then, no more could have been such matters is most dangerous. I always wrung from him than he had voluntarily think of that foolish king who refused the offered, and he would, probably, have Sibylline books, and was afterwards obliged gained an interval during which some di- to take a portion of them. You might version might have been created in his fa- find yourself at thirty years of age accept
Such were the reflections, during ing an offer of three hundred a year, or his ride, of Tomkins, whose mind had getting no offer at all." been so seriously disturbed by the fainting- “At any rate, Mr. Bushby is a gentlefit that he distorted and misrepresented man,” said Annie with a sigh. facts, and tried disingenuously to convince “ Mr. Bushby's only drawback," rejoined himself that twenty-four hours ago he had Mrs. Maddox, warmly, “is inability to not considered Annie and heaven syn- maintain a wife. But that, you have onymous.
already allowed, is fatal.” In the meanwhile Annie had recovered “Quite so, mamma," assented Annie, from her swoon, and she and Mrs. Mad- disconsolately; “poor Mr. Bushby!" do x were conversing freely.
The last words smote upon the ear of * If he writes to me as usual,” the Tomkins, as he entered the room on former said, “I shall feel bound for returning from his ride, and made him feel another year."
a little uncomfortable. For he had seen “He'll not write,” was the confident the superscription of the note which had reply.
been written by Mrs. Maddox, and that Annie looked wistfully at her mother, fact, coupled with Annie's exclamation, who smiled in the sweetest possible had caused him to conceive sentiments of manner.
suspicion and hatred towards this unknown “ It would never do to fall betwixt two Bushby, whose name was beginning to stools," said the mother.
appear portentously upon the scene. HowAnnie sighed.
ever, he was received with so much cor“One can't despise eight hundred a diality by both daughter and mother that year,” resumed the mother.
his perturbed spirit was soon at rest, and “Got by drugs," muttered Annie dis- he took quite a poetical flight when Mrs. paragingly.
Maddox judiciously gave him and Annie “My dear," rejoined Mrs. Maddox, an opportunity of an unobserved parting. "you speak as if they had been noxious “In a week,” said he, “I shall come drugs, and he had poisoned his father back to hear my fate; and pray rememwith them."
ber that 'yes' rhymes to bless,' and 'no' " He is dreadfully vulgar,” observed to "blow;' your answer will make me Annie, “ with his brandy and soda, and happy for ever, or strike me down into the all that sort of thing; I heard what he dust of misery." recommended for me."
And so he departed to spend a week of “My love,” rejoined Mrs. Maddox, suspense in solitary travelling and in wondering at intervals who the devil was breast, and he felt a sharp twang. Of Bushby.
course he could see there was something “ I'm afraid the man's an idiot, mamma," wrong, and of course his suspicions were said Annie after he was fairly gone, as she aroused. But what could he do ? He pondered on his farewell address.
reflected for a while, and then he wrote“ That is of no consequence, my dear," replied Mrs. Maddox complacently; "in
“ DEAR MRS, MADDOX.—You may be deed, I'm not sure that it is not an advan- quite sure that I would move neither hand tage. Idiots are generally harmless, affec- nor foot to your daughter's harm. I only tionate creatures, and it is only when they depend upon you to let her know why I, show their infirmity in outward and visible this year, omit my usual practice. ungainliness, and so on, that their idiotcy
“ Yours very sincerely, becomes distressing. Mr. Tomkins has
“JOHN BUSHBY." nothing of that sort.”
He had no idea that he had begun to “Oh! he is a very fair specimen of the be regarded by Mrs. Maddox as “that animal," rejoined Annie.
horrid Mr. Bushby," or his eyes would have “And he is a quiet, docile animal," said been completely opened; and it is, perMrs. Maddox; - and he has eight hun- haps, well for the general peace of society dred a year. It will be your own fault if that we are for the most part wholly you cannot make a tolerable husband out unconscious of the epithets applied, in our of such a combination."
absence, by our friends to our names. As And mother and daughter retired to for Bushby, though he was unable to conrest.
strue to his own satisfaction the words of Whilst they were slumbering, and Tom- Mrs. Maddox, he had a glimmering perkins was dreaming of a fearful monster ception of evil impending over him; and more appalling than a sea-serpent and in for a brief moment he harbored an idea dreamland called a Bushby, the mail train of anticipating matters by a bold stroke. was swiftly carrying to London Mrs. Mad- He took out from his desk seven little dox's little missive, or, it were as correct notes, of which each was signed “ Annie to say, missile. And a deadly shaft it was. Maddox.” They were short, business-like It reached its mark about ten o'clock the acknowledgments of the annual congratunext morning, as Mr. Bushby sat down to lations addressed by him to her on her a somewhat late breakfast and prepared to birthdays; but the most recent note, just a whet his appetite by a perusal of his year old, contained a sentence over which letters. He first took up the delicate little he became absorbed. “You say you note and read as follows :
have heard that I am altered; all I know “ DEAR MR. BUSHBY :—The weather is is
, I feel exactly the same as ever.” Why lovely, and our cottage is more charming draw a line under that little verb, if there than ever.
We heard from Tom, the was no subtle and double meaning attached other day, and he inquired particularly to it? It was clear to Bushby that she after you and said he would like to hear intended him to understand that everything from you, and that I must tell you to was unchanged on her part so far as they write as soon as ever you could. His two were concerned; that he was still to address is the same as before.
He is get
be her brother Tom's most cherished friend, ting on pretty well, and is not at all sorry with whom she had as a mere child begun he went to Ceylon. With united kind that annual interchange of letters which regards,
seemed so little and which had at last come “I remain, yours very sincerely,
to mean so much. How much had never “MARY MADDOX.”
been said by either, but was fully though “ P.S.-Annie has been seriously ill. from outward and visible signs, not only
. tacitly admitted, as could be gathered Pray don't be alarmed ; there is no danger by the pair most interested, but by Tom now, but the doctor will not allow her to and by Mrs. Maddox and by whoever read anything of any kind. I believe you spent a day at the pretty cottage and saw always write to her on her birthday, and how everything seemed to fall out so so I just warn you that it might be better that Annie and Bushby should be as if you omitted to do so this year.”
much as possible together. Why Bushby The missile hit Bushby fairly in the left had not attempted to draw her into a definite engagement was simply because
THE SECOND STOOL. he had no immediate prospects, and thought it would be unfair to fetter her for, Some months before Bushby had unperhaps, the best years of her life. And consciously become “horrid” in the now, as a dark suspicion crossed his mind, estimation of the amiable Mrs. Maddox, he put back the little notes in their accus- he had received the following note :tomed place and muttered: “Love or lucre-that is the question."
“Kensington. Friday came and went; Annie's birth- “ MY DEAR JOHN, - Your uncle bids day was over, and there had been no me to say that we have not seen anyletter of congratulation from “ that hor- thing of you for a long while, and that rid Mr. Bushby.” And though Annie he expects you to dine with us at halfhad been nervous and peevish and ill past six next Thursday evening. all the day, she was quite herself again
“ Your affectionate Aunt, on Saturday. For it is astonishing how
“ EMMA CARSON. small a quantity of salve will suffice to cure a wounded conscience, especially in us. She seems to have a very pleasant
"P.S. - Ellen Parry is staying with the case of a marriageable young woman. recollection of you." Annie felt absolved from her curious, tacit, long-continued understanding with Bushby appealed to his memory for Bushby, so soon as he discontinued the information about Ellen Parry; but only overt act which seemed to bind without any immediate response. At them together. He, not she, had bro- last the faithful organ became more ken the spell; and she laid that flatter- communicative, and revealed to him ing unction to her soul. Had he written, certain facts which he had clean forshe would have written back and con- gotten. He executed a crab-like movesidered herself committed to their sin- ment backwards, until he became once gular compact for another year. It may more seven years and was walking seem strange to those who take ex- in a garden with two or three girls. He tremely elevated views of human nature, was a pretty little boy; and they, who that she should not have inquired into had up to the time of that very walk the means taken for preventing Bushby been complete strangers to him, after from writing; but she had great con- eying him carefully and approvingly, fidence in her mother's tact, and was whispered together and giggled; and contented with results. She was now then one of them fell suddenly upon perfectly free, and intended to avail her. him and kissed him, saying, “You are self of her freedom. Let not sentimental a little darling." persons cry out indignantly that Annie She was quite twelve years old, and could not have behaved thus, for they her name was Ellen Parry. She had will at once be confuted by facts. She struck him as being frightful to look at, actually did behave thus; and so there and he had resented the liberty she had is an end for it. She was not at all senti- taken with him in a manner which only mental; she was a practical girl, strongly made her laugh good-naturedly and reimpressed with the duty of getting ad- peat her outrageous conduct. They had vantageously married, to the man she ultimately, however, become very good liked best, if it were possible, but, even friends, when she went abroad with her at the cost of a serious fit of illness, at parents, and he had never seen her any rate to somebody. It is more than since, or even heard of her. She was probable that, if Bushby had asked her, his Aunt Carson's niece, and she had she would have consented to wait until lately lost her father, who was his Aunt she was gray-headed, but his sense of Carson's brother. She must now be justice would not allow him to do so; thirty-two years of age if she was a day, and consequently his first stool began to and, if she had fulilled the promise of slip from him.
her girlhood, must have grown up to be He almost felt it slipping; and was hideous. However, he would be able already turning his thoughts seriously to decide upon the question of her towards his second, when he made his hideousness when Thursday evening remark about "love or lucre.”
came. It came; and Bushby was punctual and arrived at the door of his “So you said before, sir," observed uncle's house, in a small square in the Bushby. parish of Kensington, as the clock struck “And she has no nonsense about the half hour after six. Ellen and her her,” continued the uncle : " she has mother gave him a hearty greeting; re- told your aunt that now her father is membered him perfectly (they said); dead and has left her well off, and she and showed the greatest interest in him is no longer tied to home as she was by and his pursuits, making their conver- him, she wants to be married, and means sation during dinner turn thereon as to be, too." often as they could. As for him, he “She'll soon get picked up-with was chiefly engaged in taking stock thirty thousand pounds," remarked of Ellen. She looked quite her age, Bushby, unconcernedly. and even more than five years older “But suppose she doesn't want to than Bushby, who had the appearance be picked up ?” sneered the uncle, with of being younger than he was. She angry emphasis. was not hideous, but she was decidedly “Well she'll soon pick somebody up, plain ; and in the manner in which she then,” rejoined Bushby, carelessly. had arranged her hair and in the style The uncle made no reply, but sat and of her dress there was displayed either regarded his nephew discontentedly; an ignorance of or contempt for prevail- and his face assumed the appearance ing fashions. She wore an air of great ascribed to the great Pan in the determination, and she expressed her words :opinions with frankness and self-confi
έντι δε πικρός, dence, though she listened with marked
Και οι αεί δριμεία χολά ποτί ρινί καθήται, deference to what Bushby said, either agreeing with him cordially, or differing for “bitter choler wrinkled round his from him with evident reluctance. She nose.” expressed unbounded admiration for his But after a few moments' pause he profession (which was the bar); and she asked sharply : declared that the magazine to which he “ Any briefs this year, John ?" occasionally it appeared) contributed “No," answered Bushby, lazily; articles was her favorite. After dinner“ only three guineas' worth of soup." she played some pieces, with consider- “Soup! what d'ye mean?” snapped able skill, on the piano; and it turned the uncle. out that she and Bushby had the same Bushby explained the meaning of taste in music.
barristers' “ soup;” and his uncle conBushby's uncle never omitted to tinued : smoke tobacco in his study of an even- “ You've only your fellowship to live ing, and he, about half-past nine, carried on, then ?" off Bushby with him into the regions of
“ That's all," replied Bushby curtly. smoke. As they sat face to face and “ Two hundred a year, isn't it?” puffed in unison, the uncle seemed “ Two hundred and ten pounds fifteen buried in thought; but at last he said shillings and twopence halfpenny it was brusquely:
last year,” said the accurate Bushby. “That girl has thirty thousand pounds, “And if you married, you would have John, if she has a penny."
to give it all up ?" “Miss Parry, you mean,” rejoined "To the very halfpenny." Bushby, carelessly.
“ How long do you think it will be "Of course I do," replied the uncle, before you make as much at the bar?” testily: "perhaps I ought to have said “Do you allude to the halfpenny, sir ?" woman, for she is not any longer a girl,” Pan's nose wrinkled once more with he added, with a short cough.
ire as he snarled : “No, she is not," assented Bushby, “ You know well enough I meant the drily.
fellowship." His uncle eyed him keenly, and “ Well, sir," rejoined Bushby, “I repeated :
haven't sufficient data (that is, cases “She has thirty thousand pounds, given to me) to calculate upon; but I though, if she has a penny."
should think about a century."