“And I believe I have been plain from the beginning!” cries he robustiously. “I am a careful parent, Mr. Balfour; but I thank God, a patient and deleeberate man. There is many a father, sir, that would have hirsled you at once either to the altar or the field. My esteem for your character—”
“Mr. Drummond,” I interrupted, “if you have any esteem for me at all, I will beg of you to moderate your voice. It is quite needless to rowt at a gentleman in the same chamber with yourself and lending you his best attention.”
“Why, very true,” says he, with an immediate change. “And you must excuse the agitations of a parent.”
“I understand you then,” I continued—“for I will take no note of your other alternative, which perhaps it was a pity you let fall—I understand you rather to offer me encouragement in case I should desire to apply for your daughter’s hand?”
“It is not possible to express my meaning better,” said he, “and I see we shall do well together.”
“That remains to be yet seen,” said I. “But so much I need make no secret of, that I bear the lady you refer to the most tender affection, and I could not fancy, even in a dream, a better fortune than to get her.”
“I was sure of it, I felt certain of you, David,” he cried, and reached out his hand to me.
I put it by. “You go too fast, Mr. Drummond,” said I. “There are conditions to be made; and there is a difficulty in the path, which I see not entirely how we shall come over. I have told you that, upon my side, there is no objection to the marriage, but I have good reason to believe there will be much on the young lady’s.”
“This is all beside the mark,” says he. “I will engage for her acceptance.”
“I think you forget, Mr. Drummond,” said I, “that, even in dealing with myself you have been betrayed into two-three unpalatable expressions. I will have none such employed to the young lady. I am here to speak and think for the two of us; and I give you to understand that I would no more let a wife be forced upon myself, than what I would let a husband be forced on the young lady.”
He sat and glowered at me like one in doubt and a good deal of temper.
“So that this is to be the way of it,” I concluded. “I will marry Miss Drummond, and that blythely, if she is entirely willing. But if there be the least unwillingness, as I have reason to fear—marry her will I never.”
“Well, well,” said he, “this is a small affair. As soon as she returns I will sound her a bit, and hope to reassure you——”
But I cut in again. “Not a finger of you, Mr. Drummond, or I cry off, and you can seek a husband to your daughter somewhere else,” said I. “It is I that am to be the only dealer and the only judge. I shall satisfy myself exactly; and none else shall anyways meddle—you the least of all.”
“Upon my word, sir!” he exclaimed, “and who are you to be the judge?”