A HALTING PROPOSAL.
Shallow. Will you upon good
dowry, marry her?
Slender. I will do a greater thing than that, upon your request.
Merry Wives of Windsor.
The first thing that Louis did appear to care for was a letter that arrived about three days previous to their departure, addressed to ‘Lord Fitsgosling, Hawmsfield Park, Northwold.’ Rather too personal, as he observed, he must tell his correspondent that it hurt his feelings. The correspondent was Tom Madison, whose orthography lagged behind his other attainments, if his account might be trusted of ‘they lectures on Kemistry.’ His penmanship was much improved, and he was prospering, with hopes of promotion and higher wages, when he should have learnt to keep accounts. He liked Mr. Dobbs and the chaplain, and wished to know how to send a crown per post to ’old granfer up at Marksedge; because he is too ignorant to get a border sinned. Please, my lord, give my duty to him and all enquiring friends, and to Schirlt, up at the Teras.’
Highly amused, Louis lay on the uppermost step from the library window, in the cool summer evening, laughing over the letter. ’There, Aunt Kitty, he said, ’I commit that tender greeting to your charge,’ and as she looked doubtful, ’Yes, do, there’s a good aunt and mistress.’
’I am afraid I should not be a good mistress; I ought not to sanction it.’
‘Better sanction it above board than let it go on by stealth,’ said Louis. ‘You are her natural protector.’
’So much the more reason against it! I ought to wish her to forget this poor boy of yours.’
’Ay, and light Hymen’s torch with some thriving tallow chandler, who would marry a domestic slave as a good speculation, without one spark of the respectful chivalrous love that—’
‘Hush! you absurd boy.’
’Well, then, if you won’t, I shall go to Jane. The young ladies are all too cold and too prudent, but Jane has a soft spot in her heart, and will not think true love is confined within the rank that keeps a gig. I did think Aunt Kitty had been above vulgar prejudices.’
‘Not above being coaxed by you, you gosling, you,’ said Aunt Kitty; ‘only you must come out of the dew, the sun is quite gone.’
‘Presently,’ said Louis, as she retreated by the window.
‘I would not have been too cold or too prudent!’ said Clara.
‘I well believe it!’
‘You will be one if you are not the other,’ said Mary, gathering her work up, with the dread of one used to tropical dews. ’Are not you coming in?’
’When I can persuade myself to write a letter of good advice, a thing I hate.’
‘Which,’ asked Mary; ‘giving or receiving it?’
‘Receiving, of course.’—’Giving, of course,’ said Clara and Louis at the same instant.
‘Take mine, then,’ said Mary, ‘and come out of the damp.’