CATCHING AND GETTING CAUGHT.
Did you never notice how many reasons, never thought of before, against having an aching tooth drawn, occur to you when once you stand on the dentist’s door-stone ready to ring the bell? Albert Charlton was full of doubts of what Miss Isabel Marlay’s opinion of his sister might be, and of what Miss Isabel Marlay might think of him after his intemperate denunciation of ministers and all other men of the learned professions. It was quite a difficult thing for him to speak to her on the subject of his sister’s love-affair, and so, whenever an opportunity presented itself, he found reason to apprehend interruption. On one plea or another he deferred the matter until afternoon, and when afternoon came, Isa had gone out. So that what had seemed to him in the watchfulness of the night an affair for prompt action, was now deferred till evening. But in his indecision and impatience Charlton found it impossible to remain quiet. He must do something, and so he betook himself to his old recreation of catching insects. He would have scorned to amuse himself with so cruel a sport as fishing; he would not eat a fish when it was caught. But though he did not think it right for man to be a beast of prey, slaughtering other animals to gratify his appetites, he did not hesitate to sacrifice the lives of creeping things to satisfy the intellectual needs of humanity. Even this he did with characteristic tenderness, never leaving a grasshopper to writhe on a pin for two days, but kindly giving him a drop of chloroform to pass him into the Buddhist’s heaven of eternal repose. In the course of an hour or two he had adorned his hat with a variety of orthoptera, coleoptera, and all the other opteras known to the insect-catching profession. A large Cecropia spread its bright wings across the crown of his hat, and several green Katydids appeared to be climbing up the sides for an introduction to the brilliant moth; three dragon-flies sat on the brim, and two or three ugly beetles kept watch between them. As for grasshoppers, they hung by threads from the hat-brim, and made unique pendants, which flew and flopped about his face as he ran hither and thither with his net, sweeping the air for new victims. Hurrying with long strides after a large locust which he suspected of belonging to a new species, and which flew high and far, his eyes were so uplifted to his game that he did not see anything else, and he ran down a hill and fairly against a lady, and then drew back in startled surprise and apologized. But before his hasty apology was half-uttered he lifted his eyes to the face of the lady and saw that it was Miss Minorkey, walking with her father. Albert was still more confused when he recognized her, and his confusion was not relieved by her laughter. For the picturesque figure of Charlton and his portable museum was too much for her gravity, and as the French ladies of two centuries ago used to say, she “lost her serious.” Guessing the cause of her merriment, Charlton lifted his hat off his head, held it up, and laughed with her.