“Well, Mr Newland,” replied her ladyship, “how you have obtained the knowledge I know not, but there was, I acknowledge, a trifling flirtation with Edward Warrender and me—but I was young, very young at that time.”
“I grant it, and do not, for a moment, imagine that I intend to blame your ladyship; but, as I before said, madam, I am much interested in the business.”
“What interest you can have with a little flirtation of mine, which took place before you were born, I cannot imagine, Mr Newland.”
“It is because it took place before I was born, that I feel so much interest.”
“I cannnot understand you, Mr Newland, and I think we had better change the subject.”
“Excuse me, madam, but I must request to continue it a little longer. Is Mr Warrender dead, or not? Did he die in the West Indies?”
“You appear to be very curious on this subject, Mr Newland; I hardly can tell. Yes, now I recollect, he did die of the yellow fever, I think—but I have quite forgotten all about it—and I shall answer no more questions; if you were not a favourite of mine, Mr Newland, I should say that you were very impertinent.”
“Then, your ladyship, I will put but one more question, and that one I must put, with your permission.”
“I should think, after what I have said, Mr Newland, that you might drop the subject.”
“I will, your ladyship, immediately; but, pardon me, the question—”
“Well, Mr Newland—?”
“Do not be angry with me—”
“Well?” exclaimed her ladyship, who appeared alarmed.
“Nothing but the most important and imperative reasons could induce me to ask the question” (her ladyship gasped for breath, and could not speak), I stammered, but at last I brought it out. “What has become of—of—of the sweet pledge of your love, Lady Maelstrom?”
Her ladyship coloured up with rage, raised up her clenched hand, and then fell back in violent hysterics.
I repair the damage,
and make things worse—Plot and
counterplot—Tim gains a watch by setting watch upon his tongue.
I hardly knew how to act—if I called the servants, my interview would be at an end, and I was resolved to find out the truth—for the same reason, I did not like to ring for water. Some vases with flowers were on the table; I took out the flowers, and threw the water in her face, but they had been in the water some time, and had discoloured it green. Her ladyship’s dress was a high silk gown, of a bright slate colour, and was immediately spoiled; but this was no time to stand upon trifles. I seized hold of a glass bottle, fancying, in my hurry, it was eau de cologne, or some essence, and poured a little into her mouth; unfortunately, it was a bottle of marking ink, which her ladyship, who was very economical, had on the table in disguise. I perceived my error, and had recourse to another vase of flowers, pouring a large quantity of the green water down her throat. Whether the unusual remedies had an effect or not, I cannot tell, but her ladyship gradually revived, and, as she leant back on the sofa, sobbing, every now and then, convulsively, I poured into her ear a thousand apologies, until I thought she was composed enough to listen to me.