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have a long and cold station on the out-post to-night if our intelligence be false.”
“Ay, but I think it will prove otherwise," said the lawyer. “This woman has played a part till she believes it; or, if she be a thorough-paced impostor, without a single grain of self-delusion to qualify her knavery, still she may think berself bound to act in character. This I know, that I could get nothing out of her by the common modes of interrogation, and the wisest thing we can do is to give her an opportunity of making the discovery her own way. And have you more to say or shall we go to the ladies?”
“Why, my mind is uncommonly agitated,” answered the Colonel, “and – but I really have no more to say — only I shall count the minutes till the carriage returns; but you cannot be expected to be so anxious.”
“Why, no use is all in all,” said the more experienced lawyer, “I am much interested certainly, but I think I shall be able to survive the interval, if the ladies will afford us some music.”
“And with the assistance of the wild-ducks, by and by?” suggested Mannering.
“True, Colonel; a lawyer's anxiety about the fate of the most interesting cause has seldom spoiled either his sleep or digestion. And yet I shall be very eager to hear the rattle of these wheels on their return, notwithstanding."
So saying, he rose and led the way into the next room, where Miss Mannering, at his request, took her seat at the harpsichord. Lucy Bertram, who sung her native melodies very sweetly, was accompanied by her friend upon the instrument, and Julia afterwards performed some of Scarlatti's sonatas with great brilliancy. The old lawyer, scraping a little upon the violoncello, and being a member of the gentlemen's concert in Edinburgh, was so greatly delighted with this mode of spending the evening, that I doubt if he once thought of the wild-ducks until Barnes informed the company that supper was ready. “Tell Mrs. Allan to have something in readiness," said the
See Note M. Lawyers' Sleepless Nights.
Colonel — “I expect - that is, I hope perhaps some company may be here to-night; and let the men sit up, and do not lock the upper gate on the lawn until I desire you."
“Lord, Sir,” said Julia, “whom can you possibly expect to-night?"
“Why, some persons, strangers to me, talked of calling in the evening on business," answered her father, not without embarrassment, for he would have little brooked a disappointment which might have thrown ridicule on his judgment; “it is quite uncertain.”
“Well, we shall not pardop them for disturbing our party," said Julia, “unless they bring as much good humour, and as susceptible hearts, as my friend and admirer for so he has dubbed himself — Mr. Pleydell."
“Ah, Miss Julia,” said Pleydell, offering his arm with an air of gallantry to conduct her into the eating-room, “the time has been. When I returned from Utrecht, in the year 1738” –
“Pray don't talk of it," answered the young lady — “we like you much better as you are — - Utrecht, in Heaven's name!-I dare say you have spent all the intervening years in getting rid so completely of the effects of your Dutch education.”
“O forgive me, Miss Mannering,” said the lawyer; "the Dutch are a much more accomplished people in point of gallantry than their volatile neighbours are willing to admit. They are constant as clock-work in their attentions.”
"I should tire of that,” said Julia.
“And then," said the old beau garçon, “although for six times three hundred and sixty-five days, your swain has placed the capuchin round your neck, and the stove under your feet, and driven your little sledge upon the ice in winter, and your cabriole through the dust in summer, you may dismiss him at once, without reason or apology, upon the two thousand one hundred and ninetieth day, which, according to my hasty calculation, and without reckoning leap-years, will complete the cycle of the supposed adoration, and that without your amiable feelings having the slightest occasion to be alarmed for the consequences to those of Mynheer."
“Well,” replied Julia, “that last is truly a Dutch recommendation, Mr. Pleydell — crystal and hearts would lose all their merit in the world, if it were not for their fragility.”
“Why, upon that point of the argument, Miss Mannering, it is as difficult to find a heart that will break, as a glass that will not; and for that reason I would press the value of mine own were it not that I see Mr. Sampson's eyes have been closed, and his hands clasped for some time, attending the end of our conference to begin the grace - And, to say the truth, the appearance of the wild-ducks is very appetizing." So saying, the worthy counsellor sat himself to table, and laid aside his gallantry for a while, to do honour to the good things placed before him. Nothing farther is recorded of him for some time, excepting an observation that the ducks were roasted to a single turn, and that Mrs. Allan's sauce of claret, lemon, and cayenne, was beyond praise.
“I see,” said Miss Mannering, “I have a formidable rival in Mr. Pleydell’s favour, even on the very first night of his avowed admiration.”
“Pardon me, my fair lady,” answered the counsellor, “your avowed rigour alone has induced me to commit the solecism of eating a good supper in your presence; how shall I support your frowns without reinforcing my strength? Upon the same principle, and no other, I will ask permission to drink wine with you.”
“This is the fashion of Utrecht also, I suppose, Mr. Pleydell?”
“Forgive me, Madam," answered the counsellor; “the French themselves, the patterns of all that is gallant, term their tavern-keepers restaurateurs, alluding, doubtless, to the relief they afford the disconsolate lover, when bowed down to the earth by his mistress's severity. My own case requires so much relief, that I must trouble you for that other wing, Mr. Sampson, without prejudice to my afterwards applying to Miss Bertram for a tart;
be pleased to tear the wing, Sir, instead of cutting it off —
Mr. Barnes will assist you, Mr. Sampson, thank you, Sir and, Mr. Barnes, a glass of ale, if you please.”
While the old gentleman, pleased with Miss Mannering's liveliness and attention, rattled away for her amusement and his own, the impatience of Colonel Mannering began to exceed all bounds. He declined sitting down at table, under pretence that he never eat supper; and traversed the parlour in which they were, with hasty and impatient steps, now throwing up the window to gaze upon the dark lawn, now listening for the remote sound of the carriage advancing up the avenue. At length, in a feeling of uncontrollable impatience, he left the room, took his hat and cloak, and pursued his walk up the avenue, as if his so doing would hasten the approach of those whom he desired to see. “I really wish,” said Miss Bertram, “Colonel Mannering would not venture out after night-fall. You must have heard, Mr. Pleydell, what a cruel fright we had.”
“0, with the smugglers?” replied the advocate “they are old friends of mine. I was the means of bringing some of them to justice a long time since, when Sheriff of this county.”
“And then the alarm we had immediately afterwards,” added Miss Bertram, “from the vengeance of one of these wretches.”
“When young Hazlewood was hurt - I heard of that too.”
“Imagine, my dear Mr. Pleydell," continued Lucy, “how much Miss Mannering and I were alarmed, when a ruffian, equally dreadful for his great strength, and the sternness of his features, rushed out upon us !”
“You must know, Mr. Pleydell,” said Julia, unable to suppress her resentment at this undesigned aspersion of her admire “that young Hazlewood is so handsome in the eyes of the young ladies of this country, that they think every person shocking who comes near him."
Oho! thought Pleydell, who was by profession an observer of tones and gestures, there 's something wrong here between my young friends. “Well, Miss Mannering, I have not seen young Hazlewood since he was a boy, so the ladies may be perfectly right; but I can assure you, in spite of your scorn, that if you want to see handsome men you must go to Holland; the pretGuy Mannering.
tiest fellow I ever saw was a Dutchman, in spite of his being called Vanbost, or Vanbuster, or some such barbarous name. He will not be quite so handsome now, to be sure.”
It was now Julia's turn to look a little out of countenance at the chance hit of her learned admirer, but that instant the Colonel entered the room. “I can hear nothing of them yet,” he said; “still, however, we will not separate Where is Dominie Sampson?"
“Here, honoured Sir." “What is that book you hold in your hand, Mr. Sampson?”
“It's even the learned De Lyra, Sir I would crave his honour Mr. Pleydell's judgment, always with his best leisure, to expound a disputed passage.”
“I am not in the vein, Mr. Sampson," answered Pleydell; “here's metal more attractive - I do not despair to engage these two young ladies in a glee or catch, wherein I, even I myself, will adventure myself for the bass part - Hang de Lyra, man; keep him for a fitter season.”
The disappointed Dominie shut his ponderous tome, much marvelling in his mind how a person, possessed of the lawyer's erudition, could give his mind to these frivolous toys. But the counsellor, indifferent to the high character for learning which he was trisling away, filled himself a large glass of Burgundy, and after preluding a little with a voice somewhat the worse for the wear, gave the ladies a courageous invitation to join in “We be three poor Mariners,” and accomplished his own part therein with great eclat.
“Are you not withering your roses with sitting up so late, my young ladies?” said the Colonel.
“Not a bit, Sir," answered Julia; “your friend, Mr. Pleydell, threatens to become a pupil of Mr. Sampson's to-morrow, so we must make the most of our conquest to-night."
This led to another musical trial of skill, and that to lively conversation. At length, when the solitary sound of one o'clock had long since resounded on the ebon ear of night, and the next signal of the advance of time was close approaching, Mannering, whose impatience had long subsided into disappointment and