“And I salute my wife,” said Willoughby, making her hand his own, and warming to his possession as he performed the act.
Mrs. Mountstuart’s indecent hurry to be at the Hall before the departure of Dr. Middleton and his daughter, afflicted him with visions of the physical contrast which would be sharply perceptible to her this morning of his Laetitia beside Clara.
But he had the lady with brains! He had: and he was to learn the nature of that possession in the woman who is our wife.
UPON WHICH THE CURTAIN FALLS
“Plain sense upon the marriage question is my demand upon man and woman, for the stopping of many a tragedy.”
These were Dr. Middleton’s words in reply to Willoughby’s brief explanation.
He did not say that he had shown it parentally while the tragedy was threatening, or at least there was danger of a precipitate descent from the levels of comedy. The parents of hymeneal men and women he was indisposed to consider as dramatis personae. Nor did he mention certain sympathetic regrets he entertained in contemplation of the health of Mr. Dale, for whom, poor gentleman, the proffer of a bottle of the Patterne Port would be an egregious mockery. He paced about, anxious for his departure, and seeming better pleased with the society of Colonel De Craye than with that of any of the others. Colonel De Craye assiduously courted him, was anecdotal, deferential, charmingly vivacious, the very man the Rev. Doctor liked for company when plunged in the bustle of the preliminaries to a journey.
“You would be a cheerful travelling comrade, sir,” he remarked, and spoke of his doom to lead his daughter over the Alps and Alpine lakes for the Summer months.
Strange to tell, the Alps, for the Summer months, was a settled project of the colonel’s.
And thence Dr. Middleton was to be hauled along to the habitable quarters of North Italy in high Summer-tide.
That also had been traced for a route on the map of Colonel De Craye.
“We are started in June, I am informed,” said Dr. Middleton.
June, by miracle, was the month the colonel had fixed upon.
“I trust we shall meet, sir,” said he.
“I would gladly reckon it in my catalogue of pleasures,” the Rev. Doctor responded; “for in good sooth it is conjecturable that I shall be left very much alone.”
“Paris, Strasburg, Basle?” the colonel inquired.
“The Lake of Constance, I am told,” said Dr. Middleton. Colonel De Craye spied eagerly for an opportunity of exchanging a pair of syllables with the third and fairest party of this glorious expedition to come.