“I always used to call her D.,” said Valentine.
“All the more reason why you should not now,” answered John.
And Valentine murmured to himself—
“‘These strong Egyptian fetters I must break, or lose myself in dotage’ (Antony and Cleopatra)” This he added from old habit. “I’ll quote everything I can think of to D., just to make her think I have forgotten her wish that I should leave off quoting; and if that is not doing my duty by St. George, I should like to know what is. Only that might put it into his head to quote too, and perhaps he might have the best of it. I fancy I hear him saying, ‘Art thou learned?’ I, as William, answer, ‘No, sir.’ ‘Then learn this of me,’ he makes reply, ’to have is to have; for all your writers do consent that ipse is he. Now you are not ipse, for I am he. He, sir, that hath married this woman. Therefore, you clown, abandon, which is—,’ &c., &c. What a fool I am!”
John, adding the twins and little Bertram to the party, drove over on a Saturday afternoon, finding no one at home but Mrs. Henfrey.
“St. George,” she said, “has taken to regular work, and sits at his desk all the morning, and for an hour or two in the afternoon, excepting on Saturday, when he gives himself a half-holiday, as if he was a schoolboy.”
“And where was he now?” John asked.
“Somewhere about the place with Dorothea; he had been grubbing up the roots of the trees in a corner of the little wood at all leisure times; he thought of turning it into a vegetable garden.”
“Why, we always had more vegetables than we could use,” exclaimed Valentine, “and we were three times as large a family.”
“Very true, my dear, but they are full of schemes—going to grow some vegetables, I think, and flowers, for one of the county hospitals. It would not be like him, you know, to go on as other people do.”
“No,” Valentine answered. “And he always loved a little hard work out of doors; he is wise to take it now, or he would soon get tired of stopping peaceably at home, playing Benedict in this dull place.”
The children were then sent out to find where the young wife was, and come and report to their father, telling her that he would pay his call out of doors.
“And so you are still here, sister,” observed Valentine, willing to change the subject, for he had been rather disconcerted by a quiet smile with which she had heard his last speech.
“Yes, my dear, the fact is, they won’t let me go.”
“Of course I never thought they would want me. And the morning after they came home I mentioned that I had been looking out for a house—that small house that I consulted John about, and, in fact, took.”
Mrs. Henfrey was hardly ever known to launch into narration. She almost always broke up her remarks by appeals to one and another of her listeners, and she now did not go on till John had made the admission that she had consulted him. She then proceeded with all deliberation—