“Pardon me, sir. The understanding with Mrs. Carlyle was that I should remain here until her return, and should then be at liberty at once to leave.”
“Exactly. That is what Mrs. Carlyle said. But I must express a hope that by that time you may be feeling so much better as to reconsider your decision and continue with us. For my daughter’s sake, Madame Vine, I trust it will be so.”
He rose as he spoke, and held out his hand. What could she do but rise also, drop hers from her face, and give it him in answer? He retained it, clasping it warmly.
“How should I repay you—how thank you for your love to my poor, lost boy?”
His earnest, tender eyes were on her blue double spectacles; a sad smile mingled with the sweet expression of his lips as he bent toward her—lips that had once been hers! A faint exclamation of despair, a vivid glow of hot crimson, and she caught up her new black silk apron so deeply bordered with crape, in her disengaged hand, and flung it up to her face. He mistook the sound—mistook the action.
“Do not grieve for him. He is at rest. Thank you—thank you greatly for your sympathy.”
Another wring of her hand, and Mr. Carlyle had quitted the room. She laid her head upon the table, and thought how merciful would be death when he should come.
“IT WON’T DO, AFY!”
Mr. Jiffin was in his glory. Mr. Jiffin’s house was the same. Both were in apple-pie order to receive Miss Afy Hallijohn, who was, in a very short period, indeed, to be converted into Mrs. Jiffin.
Mr. Jiffin had not seen Afy for some days—had never been able to come across her since the trial at Lynneborough. Every evening had he danced attendance at her lodgings, but could not get admitted. “Not at home—not at home,” was the invariable answer, though Afy might be sunning herself at the window in his very sight. Mr. Jiffin, throwing off as best he could the temporary disappointment, was in an ecstasy of admiration, for he set it all down to Afy’s retiring modesty on the approach of the nuptial day. “And they could try to calumniate her!” he indignantly replied.
But now, one afternoon, when Mr. Jiffin and his shopman, and his shop, and his wares, were all set out to the best advantage—and very tempting they looked, as a whole, especially the spiced bacon—Mr. Jiffin happening to cast his eyes to the opposite side of the street, beheld his beloved sailing by. She was got up in the fashion. A mauve silk dress with eighteen flounces, and about eighteen hundred steel buttons that glittered your sight away; a “zouave” jacket worked with gold; a black turban perched on the top of her skull, garnished in front with what court milliners are pleased to term a “plume de coq,” but which, by its size and height, might have been taken for a “coq” himself, while a white ostrich feather was carried round and did duty behind, and a spangled hair net hung down to her waist. Gloriously grand was Afy that day and if I had but a photographing machine at hand—or whatever may be the scientific name of the thing—you should certainly have been regaled with the sight of her. Joyce would have gone down in a fit had she encountered her by an unhappy chance. Mr. Jiffin, dashing his apron anywhere, tore across.