He turned to John Massingbird, his brow clear, his eye serene. “I will take it, and thank you,” he said in a steady, cheerful tone.
“Then let’s have some grog on the strength of it,” was that gentleman’s answer. “Tynn says the worry nearly took my mother’s life out of her during the time she managed the estate; and it would take it out of mine. If I kept it in my own hands, it would go to the dogs in a twelvemonth. And you’d not thank me for that, Lionel. You are the next heir.”
“You may take a wife yet.”
“A wife for me!” he shouted. “No, thank you. I know the value of ’em too well for that. Give me my liberty, and you may have the wives. Lionel, the office had better be in the study as it used to be: you can come up here of a day. I’ll turn the drawing-room into my smoke-shop. If there are any leases or other deeds missing, you must get them drawn out again. I’m glad it’s settled.”
Lionel declined the grog; but he remained on, talking things over. John Massingbird sat in a cloud of smoke, drinking Lionel’s share as well as his own, and listening to the rain, which had begun to patter against the window-panes.
GOING TO NEW JERUSALEM ON A WHITE DONKEY.
And now we must pay a visit to Mrs. Peckaby; for great events were happening to her on that night.
When Lionel met her in the day, seated on the stump, all disconsolate, she had thrown out a hint that Mr. Peckaby was not habitually in quite so social a mood as he might be. The fact was, Peckaby’s patience had run out; and little wonder, either. The man’s meals made ready for him in any careless way, often not made ready at all, and his wife spending her time in sighing, and moaning, and looking out for the white donkey! You, my readers, may deem this a rather far-fetched episode in the story; you may deem it next to impossible that any woman should be so ridiculously foolish, or could be so imposed upon; but I am only relating to you the strict truth. The facts occurred precisely as they are being narrated, and not long ago. I have neither added to the story nor taken from it.
Mrs. Peckaby finished out her sitting on the stump under the gray skies. The skies were grayer when she rose to go home. She found on her arrival that Peckaby had been in to his tea, that is, he had been in, hoping to partake of that social meal; but finding no preparation made for it, he had a little relieved his mind by pouring a pail of water over the kitchen fire, thereby putting the fire out and causing considerable damage to the fire-irons and appurtenances generally, which would cause Mrs. Peckaby some little work to remedy.
“The brute!” she ejaculated, putting her foot into the slop on the floor, and taking a general view of things. “Oh, if I was but off!”
“My patience, what a mess!” exclaimed Polly Dawson, who happened to be going by, and turned in for a gossip. “Whatever have done it?”