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with Mr. Leeson than either his father or his half brother, is to be permitted to go about and visit-and especially visit Miss Jane—while Sir George and her intended husband are shut up moping and mumping. If I were you, I would go down to the Amershams' myself—why should you not ?-they are old friends, connexions—I would ; and as you say Í give you one account of them at one time, and another account at another, go-see—and judge for yourself: there, that's my advice.”
“ Is it?" said the colonel ; and he began to look as people who have intellects look, when they begin to consider—" there's reason in that, there is ; but you see the girl writes the truth.”
“ It isn't the girl,” said Smylar, “as you call her—there's no fear of her; but mind the people with whom she is living. Now, what do you think of doing this, colonel ?-what do you think of writing to Sir George? What I want, as you must know, is that every thing should turn out well. Suppose you go this afternoon to the Amershams', and see yourself what is going on.
“ I haven't been there for I don't know how long," said the colonel. “The happier they will be to see you,” said Smylar.
“But I promised Lady Gramm," said the colonel,“ to go this evening to see a man eat fireworks or something, and I can't-"
- “Yes, colonel, you can,” said Smylar, looking at him in a way for which no half-price is admitted ; " consider your daughter's happiness—your own peace of mind-never mind the fireworks--I know enough of those sort of things.”
“ That'll do,” said the colonel. “I'll go — by Jove you are a treasure to me; to think now how you found this out-before Jenny wrote too"
“That's it,” said Smylar; "and now, colonel--all I depend upon is, that you will ask no questions at the Amershams' of any body, nor suffer any body to speak to you on the subject. There you will go —there you will catch this designing Mr. Francis, with all his mock grief, insinuating himself into Miss Jane's good graces, and then you will appreciate the friendship of the Amershams', and the little service I may have done to you.”
“But I'll shoot Amersham," said Bruff,“ if I find he is in the conspiracy; what, d'ye think that he-"
- I think nothing," said Smylar; “go, my dear colonel-keep your own council, and speak to nobody on the subject; you are come down to see your daughter, and there's an end ;-only mark, let the affair turn out as it will, my anxiety is that your views and wishes should not be frustrated.”
Knowing the influence which Mrs. Smylar really did possess over the gallant jolter-head, there can be little doubt of her success in persuading him to follow her advice; which advice had, as is obvious, the double object of exciting, as she hoped, a quarrel with his daughter (an almost natural result of their meeting), and of withdrawing him from the fascinations of Lady Gramm's strong coffee and dimly lighted boudoir. He decided upon going : and now came another difficulty. In the ordinary course of things, he would have taken Mr. Rumfit as his servant, but Smylar could not permit of any interview between that person and
Miss Harris under the circumstances. She therefore reminded the fullsized dolt that he could go by a railroad, as the station was not more than eight miles, or some such thing, from Amersham's house (which was about half the distance it was from London), and that the groom could take his portmanteau, dressing-case, and bag: and that Simmons was there and could dress him, and that Rumfit was a safeguard to the house-all of which she urged with so much energy and anxiety, that any body who did not know the passionless coldness of her heart, and the grovelling calculativeness of her mind, would have fancied she had some very strong reason for wishing Mr. Rumfit to stay where he was. Not a bit of it: to prevent his going was the object, and having achieved that, she cared for nothing else; and consummated her performance of the day by writing the following note to her dear friend Miss Harris :
"The Colonel begs you will take no notice to him, nor any body else, of what you wrote to him. He will be down before this post comes in-he thanks you."
This was sealed and despatched, written in a disguised hand. The colonel himself, locked up in an iron hearse on the railroad, was destined to hit his mark, as far as he was concerned, by eight or nine miles. Mrs. Smylar suggested to Mr. Rumfit the agreeableness of having some cake and wine in her room, previously to a little bit of supper which she ordered to be ready at ten clock, during and after which she rallied him agreeably upon his affection for Maria Harris, who to her thinking "was one of the nicest girls she had ever seen.”
At Amersham's matters were going on rather differently. There, in the usual routine of things, the trap in which Colonel Bruff by his forced march was to catch his daughter and Francis was all ready for his closing; and certainly his arrival in a rickety sort of unglazed omnibus, drawn by one wretched poney; the omnibus, odd enough to say, being scarcely large enough to hold the colonel only, and being, moreover, called the Apollo, and which had, by dint of the last energies of the wretched animal that dragged it from the railway station, brought him to Amersham's in little less than two hours more than would have been expended if he had put himself behind a pair of Newman's posters in one of his currant-coloured chaises, startled Mrs. Amersham, Jane, and my Lady Cramly, and her daughter. The two last knew nothing of the colonel, except that when he was announced by the same name as Jane, they concluded he was her father. Jane had not, of course, the remotest notion of seeing him there, and Mrs. Amersham, to whom he had never paid the civility of even a morning visit for years, felt almost frightened at his approach.
“My dear father!" said Jane, running to meet him as he entered the room,“ what has happened?"
“ Nothing," said the colonel, “ nothing has nappened ; only as I was making a little excursion, I resolved, as my course of travelling would bring me within a mile or two of you, just to look in upon you; eh? that's all, dear.”
Now Jane knew enough of her father to know that so far from that being all, it had nothing whatever to do with the matter; and Mrs. Amersham having exchanged looks with her astonished friend, they tacitly agreed that, to use a colloquial phrase, and one which perhaps they would not have used, there was “ something in the wind."
• How's Amersham ?" said the colonel, his eye wandering about in search of his host.
“ He is not at home," answered Mrs. Amersham, “but he will be here shortly. Do you know Lady Cramly and Miss Cramly,” added the graceful mistress of the house.
The colonel telegraphed the “negative," and was forth with presented in due form. Lady Cramly was particularly amiable in her way, and poor Seraphine was really so ; but still Bruff felt rather uneasy at finding neither Amersham nor Frank of the party, and still more uneasy because he did not exactly know how to inquire about the destination of his host, or the absence of his friend, without disclosing more of the object of his visit than he considered it either necessary or judicious just at that period to develope.
“You came by the railroad, colonel,” said Lady Cramly; “delightful conveyance !"
“ Can't say I think so, my lady,” said Bruff. “ Did'nt see the beauties of it.”
“Seraphine my daughter," said Lady Cramly, “ and I, have travelled a vast many miles by it—thousands I may say—and we never were in the slightest degree inconvenienced. To be sure the people knew us, and
every accommodation was afforded us; but besides that there is a sensation—a sort of feeling not only of certainty of achieving your object in a journey, but doing it with all its rapidity, without fatigue. I think it exceedingly-exceeding
“ There's a good deal of noise about it,” said Bruff. “ Yes," said the lady,
“ there is noise" “ And smell.” “ Yes,” said Lady Cramly, “and smell, I admit.”
“And you have no great opportunity of seeing the country as you pass through it,” said the colonel.
“Oh dear no,” said Lady Cramly. “I never venture to look out. The dear duke-Seraphine's godfather-who first induced me to go in one of them, told me never to look out.”
“ That'll do, my lady,” said the colonel. s I think in future I shall stick to the old mode of going, if I can.”
And then followed the usual common-place sort of discussion, and declaration that the attempt to travel by our universally acknowledged admirable roads would be wholly fruitless—that all our excellent inns, together with the once wealthy and respectable towns in which they stood, would be deserted, and the population of the empire would be dragged through noxious tunnels, or over perilous ridges, across lines of country so remote from civilization and society, that in case of accident or delay they would find themselves alone and helpless even in the middle of the day, and if visited with any one of the numerous calamities by which this new-fangled mode of travelling is so pre-eminently distinguished, driven to avail themselves of the aid of a switch-guarding watchman, or the doubtful accommodation of a station-house stretcher.
In this conversation Bruff continued to join, occasionally talking to his daughter in broken sentences, evidently wishing to say more than he well could“ before company,” and not desiring to take her out to a private conference, because as far as every thing presented itself to his eyes, there could be no need of anything like remonstrance or scolding, and if there were not he had no need of talking to her, and so the Behemoth went on wondering why Smylar should have led him into a scrape out of which he did not at all see how he could get. At last he ventured to inquire when Amersham was expected back.
“Oh, before supper,” said Emma; “our old-fashioned meal; he is gone on a visit of good-nature to a future connexion of yours. Don't blush, my dear Jane. Poor Mr. Frank Grindle, whom we expected bere, sent him word that he was exceedingly ill, and could not come over to us, and my good man-who is a good man—went over to see him this morning, for he is alone with his homme d'affaires, settling his late uncle's estates, and all that; and he thought he might perhaps be useful to him, if not in business, at least in diverting his mind while he was an invalid.”
“So,” thought Bruff, “ then the man has never been here after all. Smylar's a fool; and I am dragged away from the soirée of Lady Gramm."
“ Grindle,” said Lady Cramly, “where do I know the name of Grindle. I know it from the famous cough-drops made by that admirable chemist in Pall-mall; but there is a Sir George Grindle, is'nt there? Oh
yes, the father of your friend, true.” Jane felt herself much as Saint Lawrence must have felt in the early stage of his martyrdom.
“Don't you recollect, Seraphine," continued the voluble lady, "our seeing that pretty creature at Versailles-Mrs. Grindle. She was the daughter-in-law of Sir somebody Grindle; was that Sir George ?"
"I don't recollect, Ma'," said Seraphine.
Bruff knew enough of the affair of the nominal Mrs. Grindle, coupled with the locality, to be rather anxious to change the subject of conversation. “So,” thought he to himself, “ Mr. George has carried the matter with a high hand indeed;" and Jane, in her placid way, cast her mild
yet intelligent eyes upon papa in order to ascertain if he were at all affected by that which in her mind was all at once associated with the brief tour made by her intended husband on the continent.
“She was exceedingly nice and naive," said Lady Cramly. “I think it was the Prince de Joinville who pointed her out to me one night at the Tuileries. She came to Paris with I forget who-Seraphine do you recollect? I believe I got her the invitation. She was so exceedingly genteel
. Oh! the nicest creature I ever saw, except the Duchess de Debonnaire—my greatest pet. We were only at Versailles one day, but this dear little half-English, half-French woman quite won my heart."
“Nice company you must keep,” thought Bruff, being perfectly well satisfied of the identity of the person ; and not knowing the extent of the discursiveness of Lady Cramly's fancy, he began to consider as much as he could as to the character of the court of the Citizen King.
Large fortune, I am told,” said Bruff, rather wishing to change the topic of conversation, “Frank gets by his uncle's death?"
“ Very considerable indeed," said Mrs. Amersham, “ and he is such a delightful person—"
“Ah, that'll do," said Bruff, " I know very little of him. We have seen him once or twice, have'nt we, Jane ?”
“ Twice or three times,” answered Jane.
The question and answer appeared to be leading the conversation into what might be considered family topics, and a subsequent exchange of looks between Lady Cramly and Mrs. Amersham indicated the propriety of leaving the colonel and his daughter tête-à-tête, the thing of all others Jane would have given the world to avoid. Still his unusual and unexpected visit in itself implied something-what, Mrs. Amersham as we know could not comprehend, nor could Jane.
I hope,” said the lady of the house, “ that you mean—now we have got you here-to stay some time with us."
Why,” said Bruff, looking exceedingly awkward, and as if he devoutly wished he never had come,“ if I bore you with my society till to-morrow after breakfast, I am afraid I must not indulge myself any longer. I must be in town by three or four.”
Simultaneously Jane, Emma, Lady Cramly and her daughter all thought in various and different degrees of energy—“Why did you come ?"
We happen to know—and we happen to know also, that he came charged with all the powder or rather power—of his paternal violence, to fulminate his rage upon his poor innocent daughter, for encouraging the advances, or rather enjoying the society of Mr. Francis Grindle. His officious councillors had been over-reached, and here he wasof course welcomed in a house, under the roof of which his only daughter was an inmate; but a visit of his being as we have seen so unusual, its effect was proportionably remarkable, its object and intention turning out complete failures. All he wished for or cared for was the return of Amersham, as the first step in his progress to his bed-room, in which, whether with or without supper, “he devoutly wished himself.”
*Jane, dear," said Mrs. Amersham, “I have no doubt you and papa have fifty things to talk over, so go your ways; you will find the little octagon room lighted and quite at your service-Amersham won't be long now, so you had better lose no time, as the colonel seems obliged to leave us to-morrow.”
Bruff had nothing to say to his daughter-Jane had nothing to say to her father ; but the common observances of society, rendered their availing themselves of Mrs. Amersham's proposal a matter almost of necessity, and so they did retire to talk over family concerns; a move which gave very great relief to Bruff, who as we have before remarked, found himself in a false position.
“A very fine-looking man, Colonel Buff," said Lady Cramly.