“It’s an extraordinary thing, isn’t it, that Val has turned out to be rich. Please thank father for writing and telling me about it all. Val doesn’t seem to care, and he hates changing his name. He was quite crusty when we congratulated him.
“Give my love to the kids, and tell them if they don’t weed my garden they will catch it when I come home.
“I remain, your deservedly revered brother,
A postscript followed, from Crayshaw:—
“What this fellow says is quite right, our letters are worth three of yours. You never once mentioned my guinea-pigs in your last, and we don’t care whether there is a baby at Wigfield or not. Pretty, is he? I know better, they are all ugly. Fanny Crayshaw has just got another. I detest babies; but George thinks (indeed many parents do) that the youngest infant is just as much a human being as he is himself, even when it is squalling, in fact more so.”
DANTE AND OTHERS.
“He climbed the
wall of heaven, and saw his love
Safe at her singing; and he left his foes
In vales of shadow weltering, unassoiled,
Immortal sufferers henceforth, in both worlds.”
It was the middle of April. Valentine was gone, and the Mortimer children were running wild, for their nurse had suddenly departed on account of the airs of the new lady-housekeeper, who, moreover, had quarrelled with the new governess.
John was now without doubt Mr. Mortimer, the head of his family and all alone of his name, for Valentine had been obliged to take the name of Melcombe, and, rather to the surprise of his family, had no sooner got things a little settled than he had started across the Continent to meet Mrs. Peter Melcombe, and bring her home to England.
Mr. Mortimer still felt his father’s death, and he regretted Valentine’s absence more than he cared to confess. He lost his temper rather often, at that particular season, for he did not know where to turn. The housekeeper and the governess insisted frequently on appealing to him against each other, about all sorts of matters that he knew nothing of, and the children took advantage of their feuds to do precisely as they pleased. John’s house, though it showed evidently enough that it was a rich man’s abode, had a comfortable homeliness about it, but it had always been a costly house to keep, and now that it was less than ever needful to him to save money, he did not want to hear recriminations concerning such petty matters as the too frequent tuning of the schoolroom piano, and the unprofitable fabrics which had been bought for the children’s dresses.
In less than two years Parliament would dissolve. It was now frequently said that Mr. Mortimer was to stand for the borough of Wigfield; but how this was compatible with the present state of his household he did not know.