She walked out of the shop, leaving me in no small astonishment. What could she mean? I was lost in reverie, when Timothy returned. The guinea remained on the counter.
“I met her going home,” said he. “Bless me—a guinea—why, Japhet!” I recounted all that had passed. “Well, then, it has turned out well for us instead of ill, as I expected.”
The us reminded me that we shared profits on these occasions, and I offered Timothy his half; but Tim, with all his espieglerie was not selfish, and he stoutly refused to take his share. He dubbed me an M.D., and said I had beat Mr Cophagus already, for he had never taken a physician’s fee.
“I cannot understand it, Timothy,” said I, after a few minutes’ thought.
“I can,” replied Timothy. “She has looked in at the window until she has fallen in love with your handsome face; that’s it, depend upon it.” As I could find no other cause, and Tim’s opinion was backed by my own vanity, I imagined that such must be the case. “Yes, ’tis so,” continued Timothy, “as the saying is, there’s money bid for you.”
“I wish that it had not been by so ill-favoured a person, at all events, Tim,” replied I; “I cannot return her affection.”
“Never mind that, so long as you don’t return the money.”
The next evening she made her appearance, bought, as before, a bottle of camphor julep—sent Timothy home with it, and asking my advice, paid me another guinea.
“Really, madam,” said I, putting it back towards her, “I am not entitled to it.”
“Yes, you are,” replied she. “I know you have no friends, and I also know that you deserve them. You must purchase books, you must study, or you never will be a great man.” She then sat down, entered into conversation, and I was struck with the fire and vigour of the remarks, which were uttered in such a melodious tone.
Her visits, during a month, were frequent, and every time did she press upon me a fee. Although not in love with her person, I certainly felt very grateful, and moreover was charmed with the superiority of her mind. We were now on the most friendly and confiding terms. One evening she said to me, “Japhet, we have now been friends some time. Can I trust you?”
“With your life, if it were necessary,” replied I.
“I believe it,” said she. “Then can you leave the shop and come to me to-morrow evening?”
“Yes, if you will send your maid for me, saying that you are not well.”
“I will, at eight o’clock. Farewell, then, till to-morrow.”
My vanity receives a
desperate wound, but my heart remains
unscathed—An anomaly in woman, one who despises beauty.
The next evening I left Timothy in charge, and repaired to her house; it was very respectable in outward appearance, as well as its furniture. I was not, however, shown up into the first floor, but into the room below.