Though my speech is in agreement with his own, the coincidence does not seem to gratify him.
“What did you mean, then?” he says, sharply. “You said ’but’—”
“Did I?” answer I, again throwing back my head, and looking upward, as if trying to trace my last preposition among the clouds; “but—_-but_— where could I have put a ’but’’?—oh, I know! but you will most likely forget I Do not!” I continue, bringing down my eyes again, and speaking in a coaxing tone. “If you do, it will be play to you, but death to me; the thought of it will keep me up all the day!”
“Will it?” in a tone of elated eagerness. “You are not gibing, I suppose? it does not sound like your gibing voice!”
“Not it!” reply I, gloomily. “My gibing voice is packed away at the bottom of my imperial. I do not think it has been out since we left Dresden. Well, good-night! What do you want to shake hands again for? We have done that twice already. You are like the man who, the moment he had finished reading prayers to his family, began them all over again. Mind you do not forget! and” (laughing) “if you cannot come yourself, send some one else! any one will do—I am not particular, but I must have some one to speak to!”
Almost before my speech is finished, Frank is out of sight. With such rapid suddenness has he disappeared round the house-corner. I stand for a moment, marveling a little at his hurry. Five minutes ago he seemed willing enough to dawdle on till midnight. Then I go in, and forget his existence.
Suppose that in all this world, during all its ages, there never was a case of a person being always in an ill-humor. I believe that even Nantippe had her lucid intervals of amiability, during which she fondled her Socrates. At all events, father has. On the day after my disappointment, one such interval occurs. He relents, allows Algy and Barbara to have the carriage, and sends them off to Tempest.
Either Mr. Musgrave becomes aware of this fact, or, as I had anticipated, he forgets his promise, for he never appears, and I do not see him again till Sunday. By Sunday my cheeks are no longer raw; the furniture has stopped cracking—seeing that no one paid any attention to it, it wisely left off—and the ghosts await a fitter opportunity to pounce.
I have heard from Sir Roger—a cheerful note, dated Southampton. If he is cheerful, I may surely allow myself to be so too. I therefore no longer compunctiously strangle any stray smiles that visit my countenance. I have taken several drives with Barbara in my new pony-carriage—it is a curious sensation being able to order it without being subject to fathers veto—and we have skirted our own park, and have peeped through his close wooden palings at Mr. Musgrave’s, have