‘Go on, Mr. Bagwax. Papa will be looking at you.’
‘Jemima,’ he said, ’will you recompense me by your love for what I have lost on the other side of the globe?’ She recompensed him, and he was happy.
The future father and son-in-law sat and discussed their joint affairs for an hour after the ladies had retired. As to Jemima and his love, Bagwax was allowed to be altogether triumphant. Mrs. Curlydown kissed him, and he kissed Sophia. That was in public. What passed between him and Jemima no human eye saw. The old post-office clerk took the younger one to his heart, and declared that he was perfectly satisfied with his girl’s choice. ‘I’ve always known that you were steady,’ he said, ’and that’s what I look to. She has had her admirers, and perhaps might have looked higher; but what’s rank or money if a man’s fond of pleasure?’ But when that was settled they returned again to the Caldigate envelope. Curlydown was not quite so sure as to that question of duty. The proposed journey to Sydney, with a pound a-day allowed for expenses, and the traveller’s salary going on all the time, would put a nice sum of ready-money into Bagwax’s pocket. ’It wouldn’t be less than two hundred towards furnishing my boy,’ said Curlydown. ’You’ll want it. And as for the delay, what’s six months? Girls like to have a little time to boast about it.’
But Bagwax had made up his mind, and nothing would shake him. ’If they’ll let me go out all the same, to set matters right, of course I’d take the job. I should think it a duty, and would bear the delay as well as I could. If Jemima thought it right I’m sure she wouldn’t complain. But since I saw that letter on that stamp my conscience has told me that I must reveal it all. It might be me as was in prison, and Jemima who was told that I had a wife in Australia. Since I’ve looked at it in that light I’ve been more determined than ever to go to Sir John Joram’s chambers on Monday. Good-night, Mr. Curlydown. I am very glad you asked me down to the cottage to-day; more glad than anything.’
At half-past eleven, by the last train, Bagwax returned to town, and spent the night with mingled dreams, in which Sydney, Jemima, and the envelope were all in their turns eluding him, and all in their turns within his grasp.
Sir John Backs His Opinion
Well, Mr. Bagwax, I’m glad that it’s only one envelope this time.’ This was said by Sir John Joram to the honest and energetic post-office clerk on the morning of Wednesday the 3d September, when the lawyer would have been among the partridges down in Suffolk but for the vicissitudes of John Caldigate’s case. It was hard upon Sir John, and went something against the grain with him. He was past the time of life at which men are enthusiastic as to the wrongs of others,—as was Bagwax; and had, in truth, much less to gain from the cause, or to expect, than