“It is too late, Mary; I have challenged him, and he has accepted it. I fain would believe you; but he told me so himself.”
“Then he told a lie! a base, cowardly lie! which sinks him beneath the notice of a gentleman. Let me go with you and confront him. Only let him dare to say it to my face; ’tis all I ask, William, that I may clear my fame with you. Come to bed—nay, nay, don’t refuse me,” and poor Mrs Sullivan again burst into tears.
We must leave the couple to pass the remaining hours in misery, which, however, reclaimed them both from faults. Mrs Sullivan never coquetted more; and her husband was, after this, never jealous but on trifles.
The colonel was just as busy on his side in preparing for the chances of the morrow: these chances, however, were never tried; for Captain Carrington and his confederates had made their arrangements. Mr Sullivan was already dressed, his wife clinging to him in frantic despair, when a letter was left at his door, the purport of which was that Colonel Ellice had discovered that his companions had been joking with him, when they had asserted that during his state of inebriety he had offered any rudeness to Mrs Sullivan. As, therefore, no offence had been committed, Colonel Ellice took it for granted that Mr Suillivan would be satisfied with the explanation.
Mrs Sullivan, who devoured the writing over her husband’s shoulder, sank down on her knees in gratitude, and was raised to her husband’s arms, who, as he embraced her, acknowledged his injustice.
The same party who wrote this epistle also framed another in imitation of Mr Sullivan’s handwriting, in which Mr Sullivan acquainted the colonel, that having been informed by a mutual friend that he had been in error relative to Colonel Ellice’s behaviour of the night before, he begged to withdraw the challenge, and apologise for having suspected the colonel of incivility, &c. That having been informed that Colonel Ellice embarked at an early hour, he regretted that he would not be able to pay his respects to him, and assure him, &c.
The receipt of this letter, just as the colonel had finished a cup of coffee, preparatory to starting, made him, as a single man, quite as happy as the married couple: he hastened to put the letter into the hands of Captain Carrington, little thinking that he was handing it over to the writer.
“You observe, Captain Carrington, he won’t come to the scratch. Perhaps as well for him that he does not,” said the colonel, chuckling in his glee.
The breakfast was early; the colonel talked big, and explained the whole affair to the ladies, quite unconscious that everyone in the company knew that the hoax had been played upon him. Before noon, everyone had re-embarked on board of their respective ships, and their lofty sails were expanded to a light and favouring breeze.