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tion, and after her disappointment at not receiving an encouraging answer, or indeed any answer at all from Mrs. Smylar (whether she had got any letter from Mr. Rumfit, history tells us not), she sat down when her young lady was gone to dinner, and wrote to her master that, which follows:
“Tuesday “I am sure you will forgive the very great liberty I take in venturing to write these few lines to you, which is a liberty nothing could induce me to take but that I think it right you should know of some circumstances which you are not apprised of at present.
Nobody upon earth can be more attached to a mistress than I am to Miss Jane ; I hope I have always shown it in all I have ever said or done, since I have lived with her, and there is not a sweeter-tempered, kinder-hearted young lady in the world, and I would die to serve her, which is the real cause of this letter.
“ I think it my duty, sir, to tell you, that Mr. Francis Grindle is expected here this evening; he was to have come yesterday; and I am sure my young lady is in a state of great agitation about it, for, as it seems to me, Mr. and Mrs. Amersham are most anxious for him to be here while Miss Jane is here, and she is, therefore, the more worried on that account.
“ Now sir, although I would not for the world mean to say—and I am sure, sir, you will believe me—that Mr. and Mrs. Amersham wish to do any thing to disparage Miss Jane's intended husband in her eyes, by bringing Mr. Francis Grindle here, still having lived with her now for several years, I know enough of her to know that this meeting and their staying in the same house together, will be a great trial to her, and so I thought it my duty—and I hope to be forgiven for what I have done—to write and tell you the truth.
“I have no motive, sir, and can have none, but acting for the best. I know that Miss Jane is good and excellent in every way, but from what she has said to me I humbly think she ought not to be placed in the situation in which she is, considering that it seenis as if Mr. and Mrs. Amersham wished to set up Mr. Francis Grindle against his halfbrother, and this seems to furry my young lady, and therefore I have told you the truth, and beg and pray of you, sir, not to say one word about this letter, not to my young lady, nor anybody else in the house" (underscored) "for it would cause me great trouble if you did, and, as I have said before, I have no object but doing good, as a dutiful servant should do.
66 I am,
“ Your's most obediently,
“ Emily Harris."
This letter, carefully written, cautiously spelt, and clearly directed to the gallant colonel, in due course by that night's post reached Harleystreet, and in less than ten minutes after its arrival was opened and read by Mrs. Smylar, who, taking into her kind consideration the advancing age and increasing infirmities of her respected and reputable master, felt it part of her duty to relieve him as much as possible from
the trouble of poring over correspondence which she did not consider it necessary for him, at his time of life, to worry himself about.
What Mrs. Smylar's feelings towards her dear friend Miss Harris were, or what her resolutions as to her eventual destiny might be when she had read this “ treacherous scrawl,” it is quite impossible for us to say ; but its contents decided her as to the course she was on the instant to pursue. That question was settled. The moment she saw the colonel she would open his eyes to what she thought the schemes of the Amershams. For although it was the scheme of all others which she wished to succeed, still if the colonel was to be made aware of it, she, and she only, was the person to warn him. And so, as it seems, thickened.
Amongst the letters which arrived for Colonel Bruff, was one from Jane herself. That, however, the sacrilegious hands of Smylar dared not to touch. There are limits not to be passed, lines not to be transgressed. She certainly screwed it, and twisted it, and peeped into it, in hopes of getting something out of it, but in vain : and so it reached its destination.
Whether Miss Harris had also written to Rumfit, either through his club, or down the “ hairy” we are unable to say, but there can be no doubt that he appeared exceedingly fidgety and nervous during the morning. Smylar was agitated. The least additional touch of rouge was considered necessary to enable her to meet the gaze of the colonel, and an extra bite of the lips to give them the ruddiness which the gallant and disagreeable Behemoth was so frequently inclined to mar.
Smylar had unquestionably taken a deciding step in opening Miss Harris's letter, which it is quite needless to observe she meant to answer by return of post, but the restless manner of Mr. Rumfit, a sort of twiddle-finger kind of nervousness, somewhat worried her, as convey, ing to her mind the suggestion that Maria Harris had communicated to him her intention of addressing the colonel. Whereupon she (Smylar) was particularly desirous of opening her heart to her dear master, so that she might have ample time to reply—of course in his name—to the warning given by that prudential young person.
“Well, sir,” said Smylar when she first saw the gallant animal, “ have you heard from Miss Jane to-day?"
“Where ignorance is bliss
'Tis folly to be wise.” "Yes,” said the colonel, “there's a letter from her. Have'nt opened it. Conclude she's well, else she couldn't write.”
No, that's true,” said Smylar, “but there may be news from Mrs. Amersham’s which you ought to know; nay, colonel, there is news which you ought to know.'
Whether Mrs. Smylar was correct in considering the word news in the singular, derived as she probably would have said from the points of the compass N. E. W. S., we stay not to consider, but what we ought to remark upon is, the singularity of her own position at the moment. Driven to expose, for the sake of priority, a plan of Mrs. Amersham's, the entire success of which would have given her the greatest pleasure; which she herself had been working, and which would, more than anything else in the world, tend to the accomplishment of the object she had in view. This is the force of circumstances.
“ What news?" said Bruff. “ News from Jane, eh ?”
“Yes,” said Smylar; “there may be visiters there, whose presence is not desirable.” “Can't see who—what ?" said the colonel.
Why suppose,” said Smylar, “Mr. Francis Grindle should be on a visit there, what then ?”
" Eh?” exclaimed the colonel ; " what the canter, the saint, the butterfly-hunter, the frog-catcher ?"
“Why,” said the lady, biting her lips to give them a tint," it may be so; and it may be that your friends the Amershams think that the better match of the two." “That'll do," said the colonel. " Can't make
out. One day the Amershams are all for one match, another day for another match, as you say.
What can they care about it, eh? Why should they worry themselves to shuffle about and whiffle like weathercocks."
“Oh,” said Smylar, “ if you are unreasonable enough to expect people to give you reasons for their conduct, I really can't help you. All I know is—and I feel it my duty to tell you, for nobody else willthat this fascinating Mr. Frank Grindle is domesticated with your daughter, while she is under an engagement to be married to his halfbrother, who is not admitted into her society. Now," added she emphatically and theatrically, “ that's the fact, and what do you think of it?"
“ Think !” said Bruff, looking as if he really were capable of thinking; “ why upon my life I don't know. Jane told me two or three days ago, that the Amershams had got acquainted with this spider-hunter at Broadstairs, but I never troubled my head about that. As I said to Lady Gramm, Jane is to be married this day three weeks, what else does it matter ?”
“Oh,” said Smylar, contracting her well-corked eyebrows, “you make Lady Gramm a confidante in your family matters. Is that prudent, colonel, recollecting all that has been said of her early life ?"
This Mrs. Smylar, who knew nothing whatever of Lady Gramm, except perhaps through some lying, libellous publication, thought was a hard hit, which might be useful in the prosecution of her own project.
“I don't know what you mean by confidante,” said Bruff, - because I don't know the language; but she takes an interest in my affairs.”
“ Yes,” interrupted Smylar, who could not get rid of her habit of mingling jest with her satire; the true honey and gall of the provincial coulisse, “and would take the principal too, if she could." I speak as I feel. Lady Gramm probably has objects in anticipation which of course I have not. My views are genuine and straight-forward, and what I say I say with no feeling but for your good, and that of your dear child.”
" That'll do,” said Bruff, “ that'll do. I am satisfied of that. Eh, what, Smylar-crying? Come, come, that's nonsense, crying will spoil your complexion.”
Many true words are spoken in jest, and most assuredly Smylar's
tears would have done serious damage to the beautiful glow on her countenance—the roses on her cheeks were not likely to flourish by watering. However, she was quite mistress of her art, and the two little pin's-heads which she crocodiled out, rested upon the lower lashes of her eyes, and there maintained their station, aided by the crémes and pomades which are so earnestly recommended to ladies, en decadence.
“I say, colonel,” emphatically proceeded Mrs. Smylar, wiping away the drops, " that I feel it my duty to tell you what is going on. If I have behaved wrongly—if I have outstepped that duty-send me away. Heaven knows, and then came a throw up of the orbs, “ what my intentions are, and”
“ There, there," said the colonel, “that'll do. Now then, sit down, don't Aurry yourself. What d'ye mean?-explain. Is this Frank brought down there to supplant George, and these people privy to it?-is that what you mean?”
“ That is it,” said Smylar, “and the instant it came to my knowledge I resolved that you should hear of it.”
“That'll do," said the colonel, “ what's best to be done? I won't stand this. You have puzzled me about these Amershams, I tell you ; but what do you know? that's the point. I don't ask how you
know it, but what do you know?”.
“Why,” said Smylar, with one of her best low comedy soubrette leers, “ I do know, and I made it a point to know, because I knew more before ; in fact, colonel, it is a plan ; how managed I don't pretend to guess, but so it is ; and what the denouement, as we used to say at Bullock's-smithy, may be, I of course, not being behind the scenes, cannot pretend to guess. Still that is my view of the plot; and if I have done wrong in telling you, as I said before, treat me as I deserve."
“ But,” said the colonel, “ let's see what Jane herself says; for as I told
you, I have not opened her letter.” "That,” said Smylar, “ will settle the affair;" and
“That wish was father to the thought.” Here,” said the colonel, “ read it to me. It will save my eyes, or rather my glasses. As Lady Gramm says, I have over-worked my sight."
Smylar—and it is no slight proof of confidence in her-proceeded to open the letter from Jane, and read thus :
“My dearest father,
Tuesday. “The kindness of our dear friends the Amershams has, as usual, been unmitigated-their hospitality and friendship are unbounded, and in my present peculiar position nothing can exceed Emma's tenderness towards me, or her good-hearted husband's anxiety to render me perfectly comfortable.
“There is nobody staying here but Lady Cramly and her daughtera remarkably nice, quiet, yet highly accomplished girl ; her mother has travelled a great deal, and like great travellers I believe, has seen a great deal-she is, however, exceedingly clever, and wonderfully amusing to a quiet body like me.
“I have heard from both Sir George Grindle and his son, who seem to threaten a visit here. I have no doubt the Amershams would give them a kind reception; and what renders the coincidence curious, they have invited Mr. Francis Grindle here, with whom, as I told you, they became acquainted during his uncle's illness at Broadstairs.
“I shall be very glad to improve my acquaintance with him who is destined so soon to become a near, connexion of ours; but it is odd enough that the Amershams should have made a friendship with him without even knowing, or at least thinking at the time they were first introduced, that he was destined to be my brother-in-law.
“ I have told you that I have heard from George Grindle ; I have not answered his letter, for it leaves me in doubt whether he and his father will remain at Brighton long enough to receive it. Lady Gramm has written to me very kindly, and tells me that you seem to enjoy her little quiet réunions. I have heard her say that London, in what they call the dull season of the year, is to her most agreeable.
“Our weather here is charming; but of course my mind is not quite at ease, although dear Emma is a great comfort to me, for I almost feel—not that I am very superstitious—that the death of Mr. Leeson has somehow sadly altered the previously settled arrangements.
“ Believe me, dearest father,
“ Yours affectionately,
“ JANE BRUFF."
Now, with the exception of the last two lines of this letter, there was not one syllable calculated to serve the purposes of either Smylar or Harris. Jane's openness of heart, and sincerity of character, told her father as mere matter of fact, that which these two plotters and counterplotters were hatching as something of the most vital importance.
Smylar was dead-beaten by the straight-forwardness of the letter; all the credit she had taken to herself for finding out the juxta-position of Jane and Francis was gone at a blow; and her exploit of opening Harris's exceedingly cunning epistle, recoiled most bitterly upon herself; for as it is evident had she done no such thing, but permitted that letter to reach the colonel's hand, the candid and undisguised statement of his daughter would have entirely demolished the fruits of Harris's vigilance and activity : whereas now, she had to fight the battle with Harris, and bear the blame herself. Therefore was it necessary for her-if she could manage it—to do something else, which, simply arising out of the actual state of affairs might, if possible, attract or drive the colonel away from the parties at my Lady Gramm's—his admiration of which was her horror; for besides diverting him from her society, they kept him so exceedingly sober, that when he did come home, the warmth of his friendship and the ardour of his esteem did by no means resemble that which they had been before he had addicted himself to her soirées.
“Well, colonel," said she, after she had read the letter, "I confess I do not see why Mr. Francis Grindle, who is more nearly connected