‘She does not look a grandmother,’ said my father.
‘She would be one by this time, I dare say,’ said I.
We gazed in silence.
‘Yes!’ he sighed. ’She was a charming actress, and one of the best of women. A noble-minded young woman! A woman of cultivation and genius! Do you see a broken heart in that face? No? Very well. A walk will take us to her grave. She died early.’
I was breathing ‘Who?’ when he said, ‘She was my mother, my dear.’
It was piteous.
We walked to an old worn flat stone in a London street, where under I had to imagine those features of beautiful humanity lying shut from us.
She had suffered in life miserably.
I MEET THE PRINCESS
Hearing that I had not slept at the hotel, the Rev. Ambrose rushed down to Riversley with melancholy ejaculations, and was made to rebound by the squire’s contemptuous recommendation to him to learn to know something of the spirit of young bloods, seeing that he had the nominal charge of one, and to preach his sermon in secret, if he would be sermonizing out of church. The good gentleman had not exactly understood his duties, or how to conduct them. Far from objecting to find me in company with my father, as he would otherwise have done by transmitting information of that fact to Riversley, he now congratulated himself on it, and after the two had conversed apart, cordially agreed to our scheme of travelling together. The squire had sickened him. I believe that by comparison he saw in my father a better friend of youth.
‘We shall not be the worse for a ghostly adviser at hand,’ my father said to me with his quaintest air of gravity and humour mixed, which was not insincerely grave, for the humour was unconscious. ’An accredited casuist may frequently be a treasure. And I avow it, I like to travel with my private chaplain.’
Mr. Peterborough’s temporary absence had allowed me time for getting ample funds placed at our disposal through the agency of my father’s solicitors, Messrs. Dettermain and Newson, whom I already knew from certain transactions with them on his behalf. They were profoundly courteous to me, and showed me his box, and alluded to his Case—a long one, and a lamentable, I was taught to apprehend, by their lugubriously professional tone about it. The question was naturally prompted in me, ‘Why do you not go on with it?’
‘Want of funds.’
‘There’s no necessity to name that now,’ I insisted. But my father desired them to postpone any further exposition of the case, saying, ’Pleasure first, business by-and-by. That, I take it, is in the order of our great mother Nature, gentlemen. I will not have him help shoulder his father’s pack until he has had his, fill of entertainment.’