One good result was produced by my adventure, which any censorship must have approved: it cured me of ever again trying "Rouge et Noir" as an amusement. The sight of a green cloth, with packs of cards and heaps of money on it, will henceforth be forever associated in my mind with the sight of a bed canopy descending to suffocate me in the silence and darkness of the night.
Just as Mr. Faulkner pronounced these words he started in his chair, and resumed his stiff, dignified position in a great hurry. “Bless my soul!” cried he, with a comic look of astonishment and vexation, “while I have been telling you what is the real secret of my interest in the sketch you have so kindly given to me, I have altogether forgotten that I came here to sit for my portrait. For the last hour or more I must have been the worst model you ever had to draw from!”
“On the contrary, you have been the best,” said I. “I have been trying to catch your likeness; and, while telling your story, you have unconsciously shown me the natural expression I wanted to insure my success.”
NOTE BY MRS. KERBY.
I cannot let this story end without mentioning what the chance saying was which caused it to be told at the farmhouse the other night. Our friend the young sailor, among his other quaint objections to sleeping on shore, declared that he particularly hated four-post beds, because he never slept in one without doubting whether the top might not come down in the night and suffocate him. I thought this chance reference to the distinguishing feature of William’s narrative curious enough, and my husband agreed with me. But he says it is scarcely worth while to mention such a trifle in anything so important as a book. I cannot venture, after this, to do more than slip these lines in modestly at the end of the story. If the printer should notice my few last words, perhaps he may not mind the trouble of putting them into some out-of-the-way corner.
PROLOGUE TO THE SECOND STORY.
The beginning of an excellent connection which I succeeded in establishing in and around that respectable watering-place, Tidbury-on-the-Marsh, was an order for a life-size oil portrait of a great local celebrity—one Mr. Boxsious, a solicitor, who was understood to do the most thriving business of any lawyer in the town.
The portrait was intended as a testimonial “expressive (to use the language of the circular forwarded to me at the time) of the eminent services of Mr. Boxsious in promoting and securing the prosperity of the town.” It had been subscribed for by the “Municipal Authorities and Resident Inhabitants” of Tidbury-on-the-Marsh; and it was to be presented, when done, to Mrs. Boxsious, “as a slight but sincere token”—and so forth. A timely recommendation from one of my kindest friends and patrons placed the commission for painting the likeness in my lucky hands; and I was instructed to attend on a certain day at Mr. Boxsious’s private residence, with all my materials ready for taking a first sitting.