It may be made a question of very great doubt, whether the faculty—and it is indisputably a faculty of the mind in its first freshness—the faculty of wondering at anything extraordinary, or out of the common course of our knowledge, is or is not productive of advantage as well as pleasure to us. But there can be no question whatsoever, that very great advantages are attached to the power of concealing our wonder. Nothing, indeed, should surprise us in life, for we are surrounded by daily miracles; nothing should surprise, because the combination of means in the hand of Almighty Power must be infinite; and to permit our wonder to appear at anything, is but to confess ourselves inexperienced, or unobserving, or thoughtless; and yet with all that, it is a very pleasant sensation.
Wilton Brown, from his commerce with the world, and especially from the somewhat bard lessons which he had received in the house of the Earl of Byerdale, had been taught, in communicating with persons unknown and indifferent to him, to put a strong restraint upon the expression of his feelings. On the present occasion, not having the slightest knowledge or conception of Captain Churchill’s character, he walked on beside him, as their way seemed to lie together, without the slightest inquiry or expression of surprise in regard to what had taken place; and Captain Churchill was almost inclined to believe that his young companion was dull, apathetic, and insensible, although he had good reason to know the contrary. The silence, however, did somewhat annoy him; for he was not without a certain share of good-humoured vanity; and he thought, and thought justly, that he had acted his part to admiration. He resolved, therefore, to say nothing upon the subject either, as far as he could avoid it; and thus, strange to say, after the extraordinary scene which had taken place, the two people who had borne a part therein had got as far as the door of Captain Churchill’s house in Duke-street, without interchanging a word upon the subject. There, however, Wilton was about to take his leave; but Churchill stopped him, saying,—
“Do me the favour of coming in for a moment or two, Mr. Brown. I have something which I wish to give you.”
Wilton followed him up stairs, with merely some reply in the common course of civility; and Churchill, opening a cabinet in the drawing-room, took out a handsome diamond ring, saying, “I have received a commission this morning from a near relation of mine, who considers that he owes his life to you, to beg your acceptance of this little token, to remember him by when you look upon it. He sent it to me by a messenger at the moment that he was embarking for France, together with a letter of instructions as to how he wished me to act in case of there being any question regarding the transactions of last night.”
“I saw,” replied Wilton, “that you must have got information some way; but in whatever way you did get that information, you certainly played your part as admirably as it was possible to conceive. I fear I did not play mine quite so well, for I was taken by surprise.”