But though he laughed he did not deceive John Mortimer, who knew as well as possible that the loss of Dorothea Graham pressed heavily on his heart.
“You two are going to dine with me, of course,” he said, when all the party had passed into the wilderness beyond his garden.
“On the contrary, with your leave,” answered Valentine, “we are going to take a lesson of Swan in the art of budding roses. We cannot manage it to our minds. We dined early.”
“And I suppose you will agree with Val,” observed Brandon, “that a rose-garden is one of the necessaries of life.”
“Dorothea must have one, must she, out in New Zealand? Well, Swan will be proud to teach you anything he knows or doesn’t know, and he will give you an opinion if you ask it on any subject whatever.”
Accordingly John went into the house to dine, and perhaps it was in consequence of this assertion that the two young men asked their old friend’s opinion on various points not at all in his line. Valentine even told him that his brother intended to write a book, and asked him what he thought it had better be about; whereupon Swan, while deftly shaping his bud, shook his head gravely, and said that wanted a deal of thinking over.
“But if I was you, sir,” he continued, speaking to Brandon, “I should get Mr. Mortimer—Mr. John—to help you, specially if there’s going to be any foreign talk in it. My word, I don’t believe there’s any language going that Mr. Mortimer can’t lay his tongue to!”
WANTED A DESERT ISLAND.
“We, too, have
autumns, when our leaves
Drop loosely through the dampened air;
When all our good seems bound in sheaves,
And we stand reaped and bare.”
Laura and Mrs. Melcombe went home, and Laura saw the window again that Joseph had so skilfully glazed. Joseph was not there, and Laura would not have occupied herself with constant thoughts about him if there had been anything, or rather anybody else to think of. She soon began to feel low-spirited and restless, while, like a potato-plant in a dark cellar, she put forth long runners towards the light, and no light was to be found. This homely simile ought to be forgiven, because it is such a good one.
Peter was getting too old for her teaching. He had a tutor, but the tutor was a married man, and had taken lodgings for himself and his wife in one of the farm-houses.
Laura had no career before her, and no worthy occupation. All that came to pass in her day was a short saunter, or a drive, or a visit to the market-town, where she sat looking on while her sister-in-law did some shopping.
Melcombe was six or seven miles from any visitable families, excepting two or three clergymen and their wives; it was shut up in a three-cornered nook of land, and could not be approached excepting through turn-pikes, and up and down some specially steep hills. These things make havoc with country sociability.