The Captain came, having previously written a most sensible letter, which had entirely quieted Charlotte’s apprehensions. So much clearness about himself, so just an understanding of his own position and the position of his friends, promised everything which was best and happiest.
The conversation of the first few hours, as is generally the case with friends who have not met for a long time, was eager, lively, almost exhausting. Toward evening, Charlotte proposed a walk to the new grounds. The Captain was delighted with the spot, and observed every beauty which had been first brought into sight and made enjoyable by the new walks. He had a practised eye, and at the same time one easily satisfied; and although he knew very well what was really valuable, he never, as so many persons do, made people who were showing him things of their own uncomfortable, by requiring more than the circumstances admitted of, or by mentioning anything more perfect, which he remembered having seen elsewhere.
When they arrived at the summer-house, they found it dressed out for a holiday, only, indeed, with artificial flowers and evergreens, but with some pretty bunches of natural corn-ears among them, and other field and garden fruit, so as to do credit to the taste which had arranged them.
“Although my husband does not like in general to have his birthday or christening-day kept,” Charlotte said, “he will not object today to these few ornaments being expended on a treble festival.”
“Treble?” cried Edward.
“Yes, indeed,” she replied. “Our friend’s arrival here we are bound to keep as a festival; and have you never thought, either of you, that this is the day on which you were both christened? Are you not both named Otto?”
The two friends shook hands across the little table.
“You bring back to my mind,” Edward said, “this little link of our boyish affection. As children, we were both called so; but when we came to be at school together, it was the cause of much confusion, and I readily made over to him all my right to the pretty laconic name.”
“Wherein you were not altogether so very high-minded,” said the Captain; “for I well remember that the name of Edward had then begun to please you better, from its attractive sound when spoken by certain pretty lips.”
They were now sitting all three round the same table where Charlotte had spoken so vehemently against their guest’s coming to them. Edward, happy as he was, did not wish to remind his wife of that time; but he could not help saying, “There is good room here for one more person.”