No one but a madman would have made such an offer, but that wasn’t a reason for me to refuse it. I pretended to think a bit, but my mind was made up.
‘And the bowl?’ I said.
’Of course I’ll lend you my bowl, and you shall give me the pieces of the old one. Lord Worsley’s specimen has twenty-five rivets in it.’
‘Well, sir,’ I said, ’it seems to be a way out of it that might suit both of us. So, if you’ll speak to mother, and if your circumstances is as you represent, I’ll accept your offer, and I’ll be your good lady.’
And then I went back to aunt and told her Wilkinses was out of sago, but they would have some in on Wednesday.
It was all right about the bowl. She never noticed the difference. I was married to the old gentleman, whose name was Fytche, the next week by special licence at St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, which is very near that beautiful glass and china shop where I had tried to match the bowl; and my aunt died three months later and left me everything. Sarah married in quite a poor way. That quinsy of hers cost her dear.
Mr. Fytche was very well off, and I should have liked living at his house well enough if it hadn’t been for the china. The house was cram full of it, and he could think of nothing else. No more going out to dinner; no amusements; nothing as a girl like me had a right to look for. So one day I told him straight out I thought he had better give up collecting and sell aunt’s things, and we would buy a nice little place in the country with the money.
‘But, my dear,’ he said, ’you can’t sell your aunt’s china. She left it stated expressly in her will.’
And he rubbed his hands and chuckled, for he thought he had got me there.
‘No, but you can,’ I said, ’the china is yours now. I know enough about law to know that; and you can sell it, and you shall.’
And so he did, whether it was law or not, for you can make a man do anything if you only give your mind to it and take your time and keep all on. It was called the great Fytche sale, and I made him pay the money he got for it into the bank; and when he died I bought a snug little farm with it, and married a young man that I had had in my eye long before I had heard of Mr. Fytche.
And we are very comfortably off, and not a bit of china in the house that’s more than twenty years old, so that whatever’s broke can be easy replaced.
As for his collection, which would have brought me in thousands of pounds, they say, I have to own he had the better of me there, for he left it by will to the South Kensington Museum.
BARRING THE WAY
I don’t know how she could have done it. I couldn’t have done it myself. At least, I don’t think so. But being lame and small, and not noticeable anyhow, I had never any temptation, so I can’t judge those that have.