“Can your Ladyship ask such a question, after having formally invited us?” demanded the wrathful Jacky.
“I’ll tell you what, girls; you were just as much invited by me to dine here to-day as you were appointed to sup with the Grand Seignior—humph!”
“What day of the week does your Ladyship call this?”
“I call it Tuesday; but I suppose the Glenfern calendar calls it Thursday: Thursday was the day I invited you to come.”
“I’m sure—I’m thankful we’re got to the bottom of it at last,” cried Miss Grizzy; “I read it, because I’m sure you wrote it, Tuesday.”
“How could you be such a fool, my love, as to read it any such thing? Even if it had been written Tuesday, you might have had the sense to know it meant Thursday. When did you know me invite anybody for a Tuesday?”
“I declare it’s very true; I certainly ought to have known better. I am quite confounded at my own stupidity; for, as you observe, even though you had said Tuesday, I might have known that you must have meant Thursday.”
“Well, well, no more about it. Since you are here you must stay here, and you must have something to eat, I suppose. Sir Sampson and I have dined two hours ago; but you shall have your dinner for all that. I must shut shop for this day, it seems, and leave my resuscitating tincture all in the deadthraw—Methusalem pills quite in their infancy. But there’s no help for it. Since you are here you must stay here, and you must be fed and lodged; so get along, girls, get along. Here, Gil Blas—come, Tom Jones.” And, preceded by her cats, and followed by her guests, she led the way to the parlour.
“Point de milieu: l’hymen
et ses liens
Sont les plus grands ou des maux ou des biens.”
L’ Enfant Prodigue.
ON returning to the parlour they found Sir Sampson had, by means of the indefatigable Philistine, been transported into a suit of regimentals and well-powdered peruke, which had in some measure restored him to his usual complacency. Henry, who had gone in quest of some person to take charge of the horses, now entered; and shortly after a tray of provisions was brought, which the half-famished party eagerly attacked, regardless of their hostess’s admonitions to eat sparingly, as nothing was so dangerous as eating heartily when people were hungry.
The repast being at length concluded, Lady Maclaughlan led her guests into the saloon. They passed through an antechamber, which seemed, by the faint light of the lamp, to contain nothing but piles on piles of china, and entered the room of state.
The eye at first wandered in uncertain obscurity; and the guests cautiously proceeded over a bare oaken floor, whose dark polished surface seemed to emulate a mirror, through an apartment of formidable extent.
The walls were hung with rich but grotesque tapestry. The ceiling, by its height and massy carving, bespoke the age of the apartment; but the beauty of the design was lost in the gloom.