“Now, John Wildway,” Mrs. Penny continued, “who courted me at that time, was a shoemaker, you see, but he was a very fair-sized man, and I couldn’t believe that any such a little small man had anything to do wi’ me, as anybody might. But on he came, and crossed the threshold—not John, but actually the same little small man in the shoemaker’s apron—”
“You needn’t be so mighty particular about little and small!” said her husband.
“In he walks, and down he sits, and O my goodness me, didn’t I flee upstairs, body and soul hardly hanging together! Well, to cut a long story short, by-long and by-late, John Wildway and I had a miff and parted; and lo and behold, the coming man came! Penny asked me if I’d go snacks with him, and afore I knew what I was about a’most, the thing was done.”
“I’ve fancied you never knew better in your life; but I mid be mistaken,” said Mr. Penny in a murmur.
After Mrs. Penny had spoken, there being no new occupation for her eyes, she still let them stay idling on the past scenes just related, which were apparently visible to her in the centre of the room. Mr. Penny’s remark received no reply.
During this discourse the tranter and his wife might have been observed standing in an unobtrusive corner, in mysterious closeness to each other, a just perceptible current of intelligence passing from each to each, which had apparently no relation whatever to the conversation of their guests, but much to their sustenance. A conclusion of some kind having at length been drawn, the palpable confederacy of man and wife was once more obliterated, the tranter marching off into the pantry, humming a tune that he couldn’t quite recollect, and then breaking into the words of a song of which he could remember about one line and a quarter. Mrs. Dewy spoke a few words about preparations for a bit of supper.
That elder portion of the company which loved eating and drinking put on a look to signify that till this moment they had quite forgotten that it was customary to expect suppers on these occasions; going even further than this politeness of feature, and starting irrelevant subjects, the exceeding flatness and forced tone of which rather betrayed their object. The younger members said they were quite hungry, and that supper would be delightful though it was so late.
Good luck attended Dick’s love-passes during the meal. He sat next Fancy, and had the thrilling pleasure of using permanently a glass which had been taken by Fancy in mistake; of letting the outer edge of the sole of his boot touch the lower verge of her skirt; and to add to these delights the cat, which had lain unobserved in her lap for several minutes, crept across into his own, touching him with fur that had touched her hand a moment before. There were, besides, some little pleasures in the shape of helping her to vegetable she didn’t want, and when it had nearly alighted on her plate taking