“I am much obliged to you; I do not dine out at present,” said the London lady.
“Dear me! are you ill?”
“Nothing in the family, I hope?”
“I am sure, I beg pardon,” said Mrs. Cavely, bridling with a spite pardonable by the severest moralist.
“Can I speak to you alone?” she addressed Annette.
Miss Fellingham rose.
Mrs. Cavely confronted her. “I can’t allow it; I can’t think of it. I’m only taking a little liberty with one I may call my future sister-in-law.”
“Shall I come out with you?” said Annette, in sheer lassitude assisting Mary Fellingham in her scheme to show the distastefulness of this lady and her brother.
“Not if you don’t wish to.”
“I have no objection.”
“Another time will do.”
“Will you write?”
“By post indeed!”
Mrs. Cavely delivered a laugh supposed to, be peculiar to the English stage.
“It would be a penny thrown away,” said Annette. “I thought you could send a messenger.”
Intercommunication with Miss Fellingham had done mischief to her high moral conception of the pair inhabiting the house on the beach. Mrs. Cavely saw it, and could not conceal that she smarted.
Her counsel to her brother, after recounting the offensive scene to him in animated dialogue, was, to give Van Diemen a fright.
“I wish I had not drunk that glass of sherry before starting,” she exclaimed, both savagely and sagely. “It’s best after business. And these gentlemen’s habits of yours of taking to dining late upset me. I’m afraid I showed temper; but you, Martin, would not have borne one-tenth of what I did.”
“How dare you say so!” her brother rebuked her indignantly; and the house on the beach enclosed with difficulty a storm between brother and sister, happily not heard outside, because of loud winds raging.
Nevertheless Tinman pondered on Martha’s idea of the wisdom of giving Van Diemen a fright.
The English have been called a bad-tempered people, but this is to judge of them by their manifestations; whereas an examination into causes might prove them to be no worse tempered than that man is a bad sleeper who lies in a biting bed. If a sagacious instinct directs them to discountenance realistic tales, the realistic tale should justify its appearance by the discovery of an apology for the tormented souls. Once they sang madrigals, once they danced on the green, they revelled in their lusty humours, without having recourse to the pun for fun, an exhibition of hundreds of bare legs for jollity, a sentimental wailing all in the throat for music. Evidence is procurable that they have been an artificially-reared people, feeding on the genius of inventors, transposers, adulterators, instead of the products of nature, for