“So, then, you are settled, Mervale,—I need not ask you if you are happy. Worth, sense, wealth, character, and so fair a companion deserve happiness, and command it.”
“Would you like some tea, Mr. Glyndon?” asked Mrs. Mervale, kindly.
“Thank you,—no. I propose a more convivial stimulus to my old friend. Wine, Mervale,—wine, eh!—or a bowl of old English punch. Your wife will excuse us,—we will make a night of it!”
Mrs. Mervale drew back her chair, and tried not to look aghast. Glyndon did not give his friend time to reply.
“So at last I am in England,” he said, looking round the room, with a slight sneer on his lips; “surely this sober air must have its influence; surely here I shall be like the rest.”
“Have you been ill, Glyndon?”
“Ill, yes. Humph! you have a fine house. Does it contain a spare room for a solitary wanderer?”
Mr. Mervale glanced at his wife, and his wife looked steadily on the carpet. “Modest and shy in his manners—rather too much so!” Mrs. Mervale was in the seventh heaven of indignation and amaze!
“My dear?” said Mr. Mervale at last, meekly and interogatingly.
“My dear!” returned Mrs. Mervale, innocently and sourly.
“We can make up a room for my old friend, Sarah?”
The old friend had sunk back on his chair, and, gazing intently on the fire, with his feet at ease upon the fender, seemed to have forgotten his question.
Mrs. Mervale bit her lips, looked thoughtful, and at last coldly replied, “Certainly, Mr. Mervale; your friends do right to make themselves at home.”
With that she lighted a candle, and moved majestically from the room. When she returned, the two friends had vanished into Mr. Mervale’s study.
Twelve o’clock struck,—one o’clock, two! Thrice had Mrs. Mervale sent into the room to know,—first, if they wanted anything; secondly, if Mr. Glyndon slept on a mattress or feather-bed; thirdly, to inquire if Mr. Glyndon’s trunk, which he had brought with him, should be unpacked. And to the answer to all these questions was added, in a loud voice from the visitor,—a voice that pierced from the kitchen to the attic,—“Another bowl! stronger, if you please, and be quick with it!”
At last Mr. Mervale appeared in the conjugal chamber, not penitent, nor apologetic,—no, not a bit of it. His eyes twinkled, his cheek flushed, his feet reeled; he sang,—Mr. Thomas Mervale positively sang!
“Mr. Mervale! is it possible, sir—”
“‘Old King Cole was a merry old soul—’”
“Mr. Mervale! sir!—leave me alone, sir!”
“‘And a merry old soul was he—’”
“What an example to the servants!”
“‘And he called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl—’”
“If you don’t behave yourself, sir, I shall call—”
“‘Call for his fiddlers three!’”