“And he?” Arabella smiled, complacently.
“Then perhaps you may know that all is arranged for him?” said Laura, interpreting by the look more than the word, after a habit of women.
“Indeed, to tell you the truth, I know nothing,” said Arabella.
“Really?” Laura turned sharply to Cornelia, who met her eyes and did not exhibit one weak dimple.
The story was, that Mr. Chips, the Bookseller of Hillford, objected to the departure of Mr. Barrett, until Mr. Barrett had paid the bill of Mr. Chips: and had signified his objection in the form of a writ. “When, if you know anything of law,” said Laura, “you will see why he remains. For, a writ once served, you are a prisoner. That is, I believe, if it’s above twenty pounds. And Mr. Chips’ bill against Mr. Barrett was, I have heard, twenty-three pounds and odd shillings. Could anything be more preposterous? And Mr. Chips deserves to lose his money!”
Ah! to soar out of such a set as this, of which Laura Tinley is a sample, are not some trifling acts of inhumanity and practices in the art of ‘cutting’ permissible? So the ladies had often asked of the Unseen in their onward course, if they did not pointedly put the question now. Surely they had no desire to give pain, but the nature that endowed them with a delicate taste, inspired them to defend it. They listened gravely to Laura, who related that not only English books, but foreign (repeated and emphasized), had been supplied by Mr. Chips to Mr. Barrett.
They were in the library, and Laura’s eyes rested on certain yellow and blue covers of books certainly not designed for the reading of Mr. Pole.
“I think you must be wrong as to Mr. Barrett’s position,” said Adela.
“No, dear; not at all,” Laura was quick to reply. “Unless you know anything. He has stated that he awaits money remittances. He has, in fact, overrun the constable, and my brother Albert says, the constable is very likely to overrun ham, in consequence. Only a joke! But an organist with, at the highest computation—poor absurd thing!—fifty-five pounds per annum: additional for singing lessons, it is true,—but an organist with a bookseller’s bill of twenty-three pounds! Consider!”
“Foreign books, too!” interjected Adela.
“Not so particularly improving to his morals, either!” added Laura.
“You are severe upon the greater part of the human race,” said Arabella.
“So are the preachers, dear,” returned Laura.
“The men of our religion justify you?.” asked Arabella.
“Let me see;—where were we?” Laura retreated in an affected mystification.