‘It was like him! so unlike Bayford! So bold a venture!’ continued Mrs. Dusautoy amid peals of laughter.
‘What is there to laugh at?’ said Mr. Dusautoy, putting on a look between merriment and simplicity. ’What else could I have done? I should have done the same whoever I had met.’
’Ah! now he is afraid of your taking it as too great a compliment! To do him justice I believe he would, but the question is, what answer he would have had.’
‘Nobody could have refused—’ began Albinia.
‘Oh!’ cried Mrs. Dusautoy. ’Little you know Bayford.
‘Fanny! Fanny! this is too bad. Madame Belmarche—’
’Would have had nothing but eau sucre! No, John, decidedly you and Simkins fell upon your legs, and you bad better take credit for your “admirable sagacity."’.
‘I like the people,’ said Albinia, ’but they never can be well while they live in such a shocking place. It is quite a disgrace to Bayford.’
‘It is in a sad state,’ said Mr. Dusautoy.
’I know I should like to set my brother upon that Mr. Pettilove, who they say will do nothing,’ exclaimed Albinia.
The Vicar was going to have said something, but a look from his wife checked him. Albinia was sorry for it, as she detected a look of suppressed amusement on Mrs. Dusautoy’s face. ’I mean to ask Mr. Kendal what can be done,’ she said; ’and in the meantime, to descend from what we can’t do to what we can. Mr. Dusautoy told me to come to you for orders.’
‘And I told Mr. Dusautoy that I should give you none.’
‘Oh! that is hard.’
’If you could have heard him! He thought he had got a working lady at last, and he would have had no mercy upon you. One would have imagined that Mr. Kendal had brought you here for his sole behoof!’
‘Then I shall look to you, Mr. Dusautoy.’
‘No, I believe she is quite right,’ he said. ’She says you ought to undertake nothing till yon have had time to see what leisure you have to give us.’
’Nay, I have been used to think the parish my business, home my leisure.’
‘Yes,’ said Mrs. Dusautoy, ’but then you were the womankind of the clergy, now you are a laywoman.’
‘I think you have work at home,’ said the Vicar.
‘Work, but not work enough!’ cried Albinia. ’The girls will help me; only tell me what I may do.’
‘I say, “what you can,"’ said Mrs. Dusautoy. ’You see before you a single-handed man. Only two of the ladies here can be called coadjutors, one being poor little Genevieve Durant, the other the bookseller’s daughter, Clarissa Richardson, who made all the rest fly off. All the others do what good they mean to do according to their own sweet will, free and independent women, and we can’t have any district system, so I think you can only do what just comes to hand.’
Most heartily did Albinia undertake all that Mrs. Dusautoy would let her husband assign to her.