‘You’re very kind, sure.’
’I hope, for both your sakes, she has got a little money. I don’t see how you are to live else. You’re too lazy for a game-keeper; and I don’t think you could keep a pot-house, you are so addicted to drinking and quarrelling. The only thing I am quite clear upon is, that you and your wife must find some other abode than this. You shall depart this evening: and now, Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Ruthyn, you may quit this room, if you please.’
Uncle Silas had risen, and made them one of his old courtly bows, smiling a death-like sneer, and pointing to the door with his trembling fingers.
‘Come, will ye?’ said Dudley, grinding his teeth. ’You’re pretty well done here.’
Not half understanding the situation, but looking woefully bewildered, she dropped a farewell courtesy at the door.
‘Will ye cut?’ barked Dudley, in a tone that made her jump; and suddenly, without looking about, he strode after her from the room.
’Maud, how shall I recover this? The vulgar villain—the fool! What an abyss were we approaching! and for me the last hope gone—and for me utter, utter, irretrievable ruin.’
He was passing his fingers tremulously back and forward along the top of the mantelpiece, like a man in search of something, and continued so, looking along it, feebly and vacantly, although there was nothing there.
’I wish, uncle—you do not know how much I wish—I could be of any use to you. Maybe I can?’
He turned, and looked at me sharply.
‘Maybe you can,’ he echoed slowly. ‘Yes, maybe you can,’ he repeated more briskly.’ Let us—let us see—let us think—that d—— fellow!—my head!’
‘You’re not well, uncle?’
‘Oh! yes, very well. We’ll talk in the evening—I’ll send for you.’
I found Wyat in the next room, and told her to hasten, as I thought he was ill. I hope it was not very selfish, but such had grown to be my horror of seeing him in one of his strange seizures, that I hastened from the room precipitately—partly to escape the risk of being asked to remain.
The walls of Bartram House are thick, and the recess at the doorway deep. As I closed my uncle’s door, I heard Dudley’s voice on the stairs. I did not wish to be seen by him or by his ‘lady’, as his poor wife called herself, who was engaged in vehement dialogue with him as I emerged, and not caring either to re-enter my uncle’s room, I remained quietly ensconced within the heavy door-case, in which position I overheard Dudley say with a savage snarl—
‘You’ll jest go back the way ye came. I’m not goin’ wi’ ye, if that’s what ye be drivin’ at—dang your impitins!’
‘Oh! Dudley, dear, what have I done—what have I done—ye hate me so?’
‘What a’ ye done? Ye vicious little beast, ye! You’ve got us turned out an’ disinherited wi’ yer d——d bosh, that’s all; don’t ye think it’s enough?’