‘Not a word! Mrs. Masterson,’ the attorney cried his eyes almost bursting from his head with excitement.
Sir George was thunderstruck. “Is the man an idiot?” he exclaimed, staring at him. And then, “I’ll tell you what it is, Mr. Fishwick, or whatever your name is—a little more of this, and I shall lay my cane across your back.”
“I am in my duty,” the attorney answered, dancing on his feet.
“Then you will suffer in it!” Sir George retorted. “With better men. So do not try me too far. I am here to say a word to this woman which I would rather say alone.”
“Never,” said the attorney, bubbling, “with my good will!”
Soane lost patience at that. “D—n you!” he cried. “Will you be quiet?” And made a cut at him with his cane. Fortunately the lawyer evaded it with nimbleness; and having escaped to a safe distance hastened to cry, “No malice! I bear you no malice, sir!” with so little breath and so much good-nature that Sir George recovered his balance. “Confound you, man!” he continued. “Why am I not to speak? I came here to tell this good woman that if she has a care for this girl the sooner she takes her from where she is the better! And you cannot let me put a word in.”
“You came for that, sir?”
“For what else, fool?”
“I was wrong,” said the attorney humbly. “I did not understand. Allow me to say, sir, that I am entirely of your opinion. The young lady—I mean she shall be removed to-morrow. It—the whole arrangement is improper—highly improper.”
“Why, you go as fast now as you went slowly before,” Sir George said, observing him curiously.
Mr. Fishwick smiled after a sickly fashion. “I did not understand, sir,” he said. “But it is most unsuitable, most unsuitable. She shall return to-morrow at the latest.”
Sir George, who had said what he had to say, nodded, grunted, and went away; feeling that he had performed an unpleasant—and somewhat doubtful—duty under most adverse circumstances. He could not in the least comprehend the attorney’s strange behaviour; but after some contemptuous reflection, of which nothing came, he dismissed it as one of the low things to which he had exposed himself by venturing out of the charmed circle in which he lived. He hoped that the painful series was now at an end, stepped into his post-chaise, amid the reverent salaams of the Mitre, the landlord holding the door; and in a few minutes had rattled over Folly Bridge, and left Oxford behind him.
ACHILLES AND BRISEIS
The honourable Mr. Dunborough’s collapse arising rather from loss of blood than from an injury to a vital part, he was sufficiently recovered even on the day after the meeting to appreciate his nurse’s presence. Twice he was heard to chuckle without apparent cause; once he strove, but failed, to detain her hand; while the feeble winks which from time to time he bestowed on Mr. Thomasson when her back was towards him were attributed by that gentleman, who should have known the patient, to reflections closely connected with her charms.