« PreviousContinue »
of the party dreaming of going, in spite of preparation for it, while a chance remained oi gleaning more food for curiosity and scandal.
The hubbub had scarcely at all subsided, when a loud rap at the door announced a visitor. “Not at home!” exclaimed Mr. Chetwyn, to prevent intrusion at such an unseasonable hour: but the mandate was unheeded in the general confusion below stairs. The ladies hearing footsteps ascending resumed their chairs, with as much calmness as they could muster. The door opened; and in walked Mrs. Chartres, more radiant with smiles than ever, though not a little surprised at the strange chaos which seemed to reign; while I followed close behind her, as cheerful and composed as if nothing had occurred to disturb me.
“Very extraordinary, Mrs. Chartres ! very strauge conduct this, Mr. Sharpe!” said her husband sternly.
“Where the devil have you been?” cried her father.
“Dear Mrs. Chartres !” exclaimed all the ladies at once.
“ Chartres," I said, “your wife is tired :
take her up stairs, and she'll give you a good hour's laugh : " for though this denouement had never once occurred to either of us during the whole of the busy scene in which we had been engaged, I saw, by a glance of the eye, what it all meant.
“And now, Mr. Chetwyn, order us some dinner if you please; for we have not tasted any to-day.”
Manifold indeed were the inquiries, and ardent the curiosity — all unbonneted and unshawled again, but we could not gratify them : though when Chartres re-entered the room ten minutes after, and shook me by the hand most cordially, laughing all the time, and loudly commending my chivalry, the fair creatures almost forgot their disappointment that there was no elopement after all, in their unfeigned delight at the returning spirit of domestic harmony and love.
“Junonem interea compellat Jupiter ultro.” — ÆN. X.
INDISCRETION is a failing not limited to youth or sex; nor is it by any means identified with careless indifference about every-day matters of pounds, shillings, and pence. Mr. Bumby was an early client of mine, for whom I felt considerable regard. Accident led me one day to his shop to purchase some trifling article of jewelery. I have a natural disposition to indulge in good-humored gossip with strangers, where circumstances pave the way; and occasional purchases, accompanied with friendly chit-chat across the counter, laid the foundation for a professional connexion between us, of no very important extent, yet profitable to me and satisfactory to him. Shortly after I became acquainted with him, Mr. Bumby retired from
business, having scraped together a sum of twelve thousand pounds, which he considered amply sufficient provision for the evening of life, having no family but his wife and a married daughter comparatively independent of him. This daughter however, had two chil. dren; and her husband was somewhat speculative and scheming in business. Bumby was a blunt, honest fellow, turned of seventy, and on the whole, acute as well as sensible. His wife was full twenty years his junior, goodlooking for forty-eight, and, I believe, sincerely attached to him; yet her attachment was by no means of that high caste that contemplated self-immolation on his tomb: she obviously reckoned on a long survivorship. One of the first duties that Bumby proposed to discharge on relinquishing trade, was to make his will; and he called on me with his wife to give the usual instructions.
“You see, Sharpe, I've nothing else to do; 80 I may as well set my house in order.”
“Well, Mr. Bumby, that's a good ’un! as if I hadn't always kept it tidy as need be, though I say it that shouldn't say it! House in order, truly! it's never been out of order
these three-and-twenty years—shop, counter, master, and all !”
“Mind your own business, Betty, and don't speak till you are asked. I can talk to Mr. Sharpe without your help. I want to make my will, Sharpe.”
“There now, Bumby, that's coming to the point! we want to make the will, Mr. Sharpe.”
“I shall be happy to attend to your instructions, Sir: I believe I know generally what your property is ?”
“Let's see; there's the consols, £7850, and the reduced, £2300, and the India bonds, and the-"
“Don't forget the policy, Bumby! you remember the policy ?”
“Deuce take the policy and you too! you are always harping about the policy. I believe you'd see me hanged to-morrow to get hold of that eternal policy.”
“You needn't snub me that way, Bumby," whimpered his loving wife.
“Well, Sir;” interposing, as I always do to escape a scene, “there are the India bonds and the policy." “And the shop and dwelling-house in