“I’m sure I hope you will.”
“But not till I’m forty or perhaps fifty years old. If I was not fool enough to have what men call a high ambition I might venture to be in love now.”
“I’m sure I’m very glad that you’ve got a high ambition. It is what every man ought to have; and I’ve no doubt that we shall hear of your marriage soon,—very soon. And then,—if she can help you in your ambition, we—shall—all—be so—glad.”
Phineas did not say a word further then. Perhaps some commotion among the party broke up the little private conversation in the corner. And he was not alone with Mary again till there came a moment for him to put her cloak over her shoulders in the back parlour, while Mrs. Flood Jones was finishing some important narrative to his mother. It was Barbara, I think, who stood in some doorway, and prevented people from passing, and so gave him the opportunity which he abused.
“Mary,” said he, taking her in his arms, without a single word of love-making beyond what the reader has heard,—“one kiss before we part.”
“No, Phineas, no!” But the kiss had been taken and given before she had even answered him. “Oh, Phineas, you shouldn’t!”
“I should. Why shouldn’t I? And, Mary, I will have one morsel of your hair.”
“You shall not; indeed you shall not!” But the scissors were at hand, and the ringlet was cut and in his pocket before she was ready with her resistance. There was nothing further;—not a word more, and Mary went away with her veil down, under her mother’s wing, weeping sweet silent tears which no one saw.
“You do love her; don’t you, Phineas?” asked Barbara.
“Bother! Do you go to bed, and don’t trouble yourself about such trifles. But mind you’re up, old girl, to see me off in the morning.”
Everybody was up to see him off in the morning, to give him coffee and good advice, and kisses, and to throw all manner of old shoes after him as he started on his great expedition to Parliament. His father gave him an extra twenty-pound note, and begged him for God’s sake to be careful about his money. His mother told him always to have an orange in his pocket when he intended to speak longer than usual. And Barbara in a last whisper begged him never to forget dear Mary Flood Jones.
Phineas Finn Takes His Seat
Phineas had many serious, almost solemn thoughts on his journey towards London. I am sorry I must assure my female readers that very few of them had reference to Mary Flood Jones. He had, however, very carefully packed up the tress, and could bring that out for proper acts of erotic worship at seasons in which his mind might be less engaged with affairs of state than it was at present. Would he make a failure of this great matter which he had taken in hand? He could not but tell himself that the chances were twenty to one against him. Now that