THEY MEET AN AUTHOR.
“People maybe taken
in once, who imagine that an author is greater
in private life than other men. Uncommon parts require uncommon
opportunities for their exertion.”
Mrs. Henfrey in taking leave of Amelia had expressed her pleasure at the prospect of shortly seeing her again. They were all coming by invitation to lunch, the next day, at her Uncle Augustus Mortimer’s house, because in the afternoon there was to be a horticultural show in the town. They always went to these shows, she continued, and this one would have a particular interest for them, as John Mortimer’s gardener, who had once been their gardener, was to carry off the first prize. “And if you ask him what the prize is for,” said one of the girls, “he will tell you it is for ’airly ‘tates.’”
Accordingly the next day there was a gathering of Mortimers and their families. Augustus Mortimer was not present, he generally took his luncheon at the bank; but his son John, to Peter’s delight, appeared with the twins, and constituting himself master of the ceremonies, took the head of the table, and desired his cousin Valentine to take the other end, and make himself useful.
Peter asked after his little love, Anastasia.
“Oh, she is very happy,” said Gladys Mortimer; “she and Janie have got a WASH.”
“Got what?” asked Mrs. Henfrey.
“A wash, sister,” said Valentine. “I passed through the garden, and saw them with lots of tiny dolls’ clothes that they had been washing in the stream spread out to bleach on the grass.”
“It’s odd,” observed Brandon, “that so wise as children are, they should be fond of imitating us who are such fools.”
“Janie has been drawing from the round, in imitation of her sisters,” observed John Mortimer. “She brought me this morning a portrait of a flat tin cock, lately bought for a penny, and said, ’I drew him from the round, father.’”
By this time the dishes were uncovered and the servants had withdrawn. Laura was very happy at first. She had been taken in to luncheon by the so-called St. George, he was treating her with a sort of deference that she found quite to her mind, and she looked about her on these newly-known relatives and connections with much complacency. There was John Mortimer, with Amelia at his right hand, in the place of honour; then there were the two Miss Grants (in fresh muslin dresses), with a certain Captain Walker between them, whose twin brother, as Laura understood, had married their elder sister. This military person was insignificant in appearance and small of stature, but he was very attentive to both the young ladies. Then there was Valentine, looking very handsome, between Mrs. Henfrey and Miss Christie Grant, and being rebuked by one and advised by the other as to his carving, for he could not manage the joint before him, and was letting it slip about in the dish and splash the white sauce.