The Philosopher, up to this point rigidly excluded, rushes forward to the footlights to explain in a note, that Wilfrid, thus setting a perfume to contend with a stench, instead of wasting for time, change of raiment, and the broad lusty airs of heaven to blow him fresh again, symbolizes the vice of Sentimentalism, and what it is always doing. Enough!
“Let me hear to-morrow.” Wilfrid repeated Emilia’s petition in the tone she had used, and sent a delight through his veins even with that clumsy effort of imitation. He walked from the railway to Brookfield through the circle of firs, thinking of some serious tale of home to invent for her ears to-morrow. Whatever it was, he was able to conclude it—“But all’s right now.” He noticed that the dwarf pine, under whose spreading head his darling sat when he saw her first, had been cut down. Its absence gave him an ominous chill.
The first sight that saluted him as the door opened, was a pile of Mrs. Chump’s boxes: he listened, and her voice resounded from the library. Gainsford’s eye expressed a discretion significant that there had been an explosion in the house.
“I sha’nt have to invent much,” said Wilfrid to himself, bitterly.
There was a momentary appearance of Adela at the library-door; and over her shoulder came an outcry from Mrs. Chump. Arabella then spoke: Mr. Pole and Cornelia following with a word, to which Mrs. Chump responded shrilly: “Ye shan’t talk to ’m, none of ye, till I’ve had the bloom of his ear, now!” A confused hubbub of English and Irish ensued. The ladies drew their brother into the library.
Doubtless you have seen a favourite sketch of the imaginative youthful artist, who delights to portray scenes on a raft amid the tossing waters, where sweet and satiny ladies, in a pardonable abandonment to the exigencies of the occasion, are exhibiting the full energy and activity of creatures that existed before sentiment was born. The ladies of Brookfield had almost as utterly cast off their garb of lofty reserve and inscrutable superiority. They were begging Mrs. Chump to be, for pity’s sake, silent. They were arguing with the woman. They were remonstrating—to such an extent as this, in reply to an infamous outburst: “No, no: indeed, Mrs. Chump, indeed!” They rose, as she rose, and stood about her, motioning a beseeching emphasis with their hands. Not visible for one second was the intense indignation at their fate which Wilfrid, spying keenly into them, perceived. This taught him that the occasion was as grave as could be. In spite of the oily words his father threw from time to time abruptly on the tumult, he guessed what had happened.