Her quick delicacy made her redden in alluding so closely to his personal affairs, and I loved her for the nice feeling. ‘It was not much,’ I said. The miserable attempt to repair the wrongs done to him with this small annuity angered me—and I remembered, little pleased, the foolish expectations he founded on this secret acknowledgement of the justice of his claims. ‘We won’t talk of it,’ I pursued. ’I wish he had never touched it. I shall interdict him.’
‘You would let him pay his debts with it, Harry?’
’I am not sure, aunty, that he does not incur a greater debt by accepting it.’
‘One’s wish would be, that he might not ever be in need of it.’
‘Ay, or never be caring to find the key of it.’
‘That must be waste of time,’ she said.
I meant something else, but it was useless to tell her so.
Commencement of the splendours
and perplexities of my father’s
Janet, in reply to our inquiries as to the condition of the squire’s temper, pointed out in the newspaper a notification of a grand public Ball to be given by my father, the first of a series of three, and said that the squire had seen it and shrugged. She thought there was no positive cause for alarm, even though my father should fail of his word; but expressed her view decidedly, that it was an unfortunate move to bring him between the squire and me, and so she blamed Captain Bulsted. This was partly for the reason that the captain and his wife, charmed by my father, were for advocating his merits at the squire’s table: our ingenuity was ludicrously taxed to mystify him on the subject of their extravagant eulogies. They told him they had been invited, and were going to the great London Balls.
‘Subscription Balls?’ asked the squire.
‘No, sir,’ rejoined the captain.
‘Tradesmen’s Balls, d’ ye call ’em, then?’
‘No, sir; they are Balls given by a distinguished gentleman.’
‘Take care it’s not another name for tradesmen’s Balls, William.’
‘I do not attend tradesmen’s Balls, sir.’
‘Take care o’ that, William.’
The captain was very angry. ‘What,’ said he, turning to us, ’what does the squire mean by telling an officer of the Royal Navy that he is conducting his wife to a tradesmen’s Ball?’
Julia threatened malicious doings for the insult. She and the squire had a controversy upon the explication of the word gentleman, she describing my father’s appearance and manners to the life. ’Now listen to me, squire. A gentleman, I say, is one you’d say, if he wasn’t born a duke, he ought to have been, and more shame to the title! He turns the key of a lady’s heart with a twinkle of his eye. He ’s never mean—what he has is yours. He’s a true friend; and if he doesn’t keep his word, you know in a jiffy it’s the fault of affairs; and stands about five feet eleven: he’s a full-blown man’: and so forth.