This was rendered unnecessary, however, by the gentleman himself. He called from the comfortable sitting-room to Verty, and the visitor entered.
CONTAINS AN EXTRAORDINARY DISCLOSURE.
Roundjacket was clad in a handsome dressing-gown, and was heading, or essaying to read—for he had the rheumatism in his right shoulder—a roll of manuscript. Beside him lay a ruler, which he grasped, and made a movement of hospitable reception with, as Verty came in.
“Welcome, welcome, my young friend,” said Roundjacket; “you see me laid up, sir”
“You’re not much sick, I hope, sir?” said Verty, taking the arm-chair, which his host indicated.
“I am, sir—you are mistaken.”
“I am very sorry.”
“I thank you for your sympathy,” said Roundjacket, running his fingers through his straight hair; “I think, sir I mentioned, the other day, that I expected to be laid up.”
“On the occasion, sir—”
“Oh, the paper!” said Verty, smiling; “you don’t mean—”
“I mean everything,” said Roundjacket; “I predicted, on that occasion, that I expected to be laid up, and I am, sir.”
This was adroit in Roundjacket. It was one of those skillful equivocations, by means of which a man saves his character for consistency and judgment, without forfeiting his character for truth.
“Well, it was very bad,” said Verty.
“Bad is not the word—abominable is the word—disgraceful is the word!” cried Roundjacket, flourishing his ruler, and suddenly dropping it as a twinge shot through his shoulder.
“Yes,” assented Verty; “but talking about it will make you worse, sir. Mr. Rushton asked me to come and see how you were this morning.”
“Rushton is thanked,” said Mr. Roundjacket,—“Rushton, my young friend, has his good points—so have I, sir. I nursed him through a seven month’s fever—a perfect bear, sir; but he always is that. Tell him that my arm—that I am nearly well, sir, and that nothing but my incapacity to write, from—from—the state of my—feelings,” proceeded Roundjacket, “should keep me at home. Observe, my young sir, that this is no apology. Rushton and myself understand each other. If I wish to go, I go—or stay away, I stay away. But I like the old trap, sir, from habit, and rather like the bear himself, upon the whole.”
With this Mr. Roundjacket attempted to flourish his ruler, from habit, and groaned.
“What’s the matter, sir?” said Verty.
“I felt badly at the moment,” said Roundjacket; “the fact is, I always do feel badly when I’m confined thus. I have been trying to wile away the time with the manuscript of my poem, sir—but it won’t do. An author, sir—mark me—never takes any pleasure in reading his own writings.”
“Ah?” said Verty.
“No, sir; the only proper course for authors is to marry.”