“Hum!—hum!—we are—hum—ah—! The fact is, my dear Verty!” cried Mr. Roundjacket, rising, and limping through a pas seul, in spite of his rheumatism—“the fact is, I have been acting the most miserable and deceptive way to you for the last hour. Yes, my dear boy! I am ashamed of myself! Carried away by the pride of opinion, and that fondness which bachelor’s have for boasting, I have been deceiving you! But it never shall be said that Robert Roundjacket refused the amplest reparation. My reparation, my good Verty, is taking you into my confidence. The fact is—yes, the fact really is—as aforesaid, or rather as not aforesaid, myself and the pleasing Miss Lavinia are to be married before very long! Don’t reply, sir! I know my guilt—but you might have known I was jesting. You must have suspected, from my frequent visits to Apple Orchard—hum—hum—well, well, sir; it’s out now, and I’ve made a clean breast of it, and you’re not to speak of it! I am tired of bachelordom, sir, and am going to change!”
With these words, Mr. Roundjacket executed a pirouette upon his rheumatic leg, which caused him to fall back in his chair, making the most extraordinary faces, which we can compare to nothing but the contortions of a child who bites a crab-apple by mistake.
The twinge soon spent its force, however; and then Mr. Roundjacket and Verty resumed their colloquy—after which, Verty rose and took his leave, smiling and laughing to himself, at times.
He had reason. Miss Lavinia, who had denounced wife-hunters, was about to espouse Mr. Roundjacket, who had declared matrimony the most miserable of mortal conditions; all which is calculated to raise our opinion of the consistency of human nature in a most wonderful degree.
HOW MR. RUSHTON PROVED THAT ALL MEN WERE SELFISH, HIMSELF INCLUDED.
Leaving Mr. Roundjacket contemplating the ceiling, and reflecting upon the various questions connected with bachelorship and matrimony, Verty returned to the office, and reported to Mr. Rushton that the poet was rapidly improving, and would probably be at his post on the morrow.
This intelligence was received with a growl, which had become, however, so familiar an expression of feeling to the young man, that he did not regard it.
“Well, sir,” said Mr. Rushton, “what news is there about town?”
“News, sir? I heard none.”
“Did’nt you pass along the streets?”
“And you met nobody?”
“Oh, yes; I met Ralph, and Mr. Jinks, and others.”
“Jinks! I’ll score that Jinks yet!” said Mr. Rushton; “he is an impertinent jackanapes, and deserves to be put in the stocks.”
“I don’t like him much,” said Verty, smiling, “I think he is very foolish.”
“Hum! I have no doubt of it: he had the audacity to come here once and ask an opinion of me without offering the least fee.”