A LIGHT ON THE WATER.
A sulky winter came hard upon November, and the war of armies was succeeded by the war of diplomats.
One day in January the same vehicle that had driven Selwyn to Roselawn deposited another visitor there. He was a sturdy, well-set-up fellow, but a thinness and a certain pallor in the cheeks conflicted with their natural weather-beaten texture.
The morose driver helped him to alight, and handed him his crutches, which he took with a snort of disapproval. He made his way at a dignified pace around the drive, pausing en route to look at the gables and wings of Roselawn as one who returns to familiar scenes after a long absence.
Without encountering any one he reached the stables, and opening a door, mounted the stairs that led to the dwelling-quarters above.
There was no one in the cosy dining-room, and sitting down, he hammered the floor with his crutch. The homely sound of dishes being washed ceased suddenly in the adjoining room, and Mrs. Mathews threw open the door.
‘Who is it?’ she cried.
‘Me,’ said Mathews.
Uttering a pious exclamation that reflected both doubt and confidence in the all-wise workings of Providence, his wife fell heavily upon him, with strong symptoms of hysteria.
‘Heavenly hope!’ she cried, after her exuberance permitted of speech; ‘so you’ve come home?’
‘I hev,’ said her husband solemnly; ’and I’m werry pleased to observe you so fit, m’dear. Is the offspring a-takin’ his oats reg’lar?’
‘Lord!’ said Mrs. Mathews irrelevantly, subsiding into a chair, ’I thought you was dead. You never writ.’
‘That,’ said Mathews, ’was conseckens of a understanding clear and likewise to the point, atwixt me and Mas’r Dick. “Mum’s the word,” sez he. “Mum’s the word,” sez I. And that there was as it should be, no argifyin’ provin’ contrairiwise. But Milord he found me out, and sez as how he knows it all, and would I come home?—which, bein’ free from horspital, I likewise does. Now, m’ dear, if you will proceed with any nooz I would be much obliged to draw up a little forrader, as it were.’
‘Did Milord tell you about Miss Elise?’ said his wife, after much thought. ‘She’s gone and got herself engaged.’
‘Captain Selwyn. Him as was visiting here when the war begun.’
‘Now that there,’ said Mathews, nodding his head slowly and admiringly, ’is nooz. That there is what a feller likes to hear from his old woman. You’re a-doin’ fine.’
‘The wedding,’ went on his wife, her eyes sparkling with the universal feminine excitement about such matters, ’is next week, and Wellington is bespoke for to pump the organ. Ain’t that wonderful grand?’
‘That,’ said Mathews with great dignity, ‘is werry gratifyin’ to a parent, that is. Pump the organ at a weddin’! I hopes he won’t go for to do nothing to give inconwenience to the parties concerned. Where is he, old girl?’