« ПредишнаНапред »
Sir Simeon, who, in proportion to his deference to me, which increased daily, lost some of what he had for her, or whether she began to suspect, what was true, that I was endeavouring to rescue him from the tyranny of her dominion, she became markedly averse to me as a guest, and in no very measured terms sometimes let fall, how odious it was for people, who had no home of their own, to run about the country to other people's houses, meddling with what did not belong to them. “For my part,” said she, “I can't abide it, for I always hated a spy worse than a thief, and that, whatever the colour of his coat."
I found from this, that I had lost the little place, if ever I had one, which I thought I had possessed in the good lady's good graces. In fact, having more than once found her close at the door of the study, when I had been using all my powers with her master to assert himself, I began to suspect that she was a listener, which, indeed, most housekeepers are, even when they are not so interested as this country Roxalana was
“ To bear no brother near the throne." I was not deterred by this from doing what I thought my duty to my friend, but took every occasion that offered to set before him, how easy it would be, with the commonest manliness, to assert his freedom, by getting rid of this artful hussy-for artful he himself began to allow that she was; and I thought I should have succeeded, when he told me he was quite prepared to pay the penalty of his bond in dismissing her.
“ It would, indeed, be a relief to me," said he, “as I can afford it, not to let a poor creature so attached to me, with all her faults, be cast helpless on the world, which she is ready to abandon for my sake. For, whatever her temper, I am sure of her there.”
I ventured to doubt even this, and though I saw it was unpalatable, set before him such causes of suspicion of a base conspiracy between her and her brother, to obtain from him the unlucky bond, and brought even her virtuous indignation (heaven forgive me if I was wrong) so much into doubt, that he actually worked himself up into a resolution to communicate his determination to her that instant. He even rang the bell for her with tolerable vigour, determined, he said, to carry
purpose into effect immediately. He would not, however, accept my offer to stay by him as his ally in case of need, during so critical a moment, of which I shall be glad if he has not since repented.
" You shall see," said he, “I have resolution enough, when put to it. I will manage it all myself."
Delighted with a courage so unlooked for, I retired, and abided the event with not a little interest, for I was heartily desirous of success in a measure I looked upon as one of life and death to my friend.
The reader will be astonished at the result; indeed I was astonished myself ; but such is poor human nature.
After the parties had been closeted full an hour, during which I walked the garden with some impatience, for I did not like so long an interview, in return
both for my
ing to the house I met the lady herself, fiery red with agitation, and eyes that had evidently been deluged with tears. But on seeing me she assumed a quietness of demeanour, and, with a sort of sardonic smile, dropped me a low courtesy ; then, finding her tongue, said with emphasis,
“Some folks will perhaps be disappointed after all, and had better have staid at home, if they had one, than seek to break the peace of honest families, to serve their own ends."
With this she flounced out of the hall, leaving me in wonder, and I own, not a little uneasy friend and myself. His door now creaking upon its hinges, half-opened to let his head out, for his body seemed afraid to follow it, and looking anxiously round the hall, as if to ascertain that nobody was there, he beckoned me in; and if I foreboded little good from his looks, I certainly gathered none from his account of the interview.
“O! my friend,” said he, “ let no one-at least, no one of my temper-boast of resolution till he is tried. I am a coward; I know it, I own it, I lament it, but I cannot cure it. Yet, poor thing! how could I help being softened by such gentleness ! such attachment ! I opened like a man; but when, instead of encountering a vixen, as I expected, I found a humble, heartbroken creature, in misery to leave me ; when I beheld her tears, and heard her sobs; when I saw her bosom heaving with distress, and she even fell on her knees at my
feet6. The devil,” said I; “go no farther; flesh and
blood, as you were going to say, could not resist it. Your bond, I see, is safe, and Mrs. Mary, like all other governors and governesses who have triumphed over mutinous subjects, will be more confirmed in her power than ever. Adieu then, my dear Sir Simeon, I perceive this is now no place for me, and I will release yon both from the pain of getting rid of me. The woman is shrewd enough to see who is her enemy, and what he thinks of her. Her agony, I apprehend, did not prevent the mention of my name.
6 Yes ; she mentioned it,” said Sir Simeon, with some agitation.
“And with not many honourable additions, no doubt.”
6 She certainly attributed my projected change to you, but I satisfied her that the resolution was all my own.” 66 And you have given it up ?”
Why not exactly; but she is to stay a little while longer on trial.”
“I should have thought the fruits of the bond would have made her eager to go."
“O! you don't know her; she said if she had the vile parchment here, she would put it in the fire; but it was in her brother's keeping, and he would never
part with it.”
“Or else she would undoubtedly do what she said ?
“I believe so."
Here our conversation ended, except that my poor friend entreated and implored that I would not think
of leaving him ; that I was his best and only support against himself; his counsellor, his consoler, his right hand.
In short, though I felt all the annoyance of living in a hurricane, which I was sure to do with Mrs. Mary, after what had passed, yet he was so earnest and warm, and plainly so sincere in his entreaties, that he got the better of my prudence, and, to serve him—for he had many good qualities- I consented to encounter the most dangerous thing in nature, an enraged and revengeful woman.
I, however, never saw her afterwards; for the very next day Sir Simeon, after a great deal of embarrassment of manner, many hums and clearances of his throat, and colouring all over with a shame he could not conceal, took me aside, and told me, if he was not assured of the sincerity of my friendship, as well as what he was pleased to call the generosity of my nature, he would not dare confess what he was about to do; but he owned that, upon reflection, he found I was right,“ as you always are,” said he, “and though I cannot sufficiently apologize for asking it, I think it best you should withdraw, at least, for a time. From a conference I have had with poor Mary,” added he, “ I see she will never be happy while you are in the house; yet she offered to leave me herself rather than I should lose you, who, she said, did me so much good. This I refused; but was it not kind of the good creature ? You see you have been mistaken in attributing so much art to her character."
I bowed to this proof of profound penetration in