« ForrigeFortsett »
Mother and Daughter.
R. BOXALL, with some difficulty, arising
from reluctance, made his wife acquainted with the annoyance occasioned him in the discovery of the fact that Tom Worboise had not even told his father that Mary was ill.
“ I'm convinced,” he said, “ that the young rascal has only been amusing himself—flirting I believe
you women call it." “I'm none so sure of that, Richard," answered his wife. “ You leave him to me.”
“Now, my dear, I wont have you throwing our Mary in
fool's face. It's bad enough as it is. But I declare I would rather see her in her grave than scorned by any man.”
“ You may see her there without before long," answered his wife, with a sigh.
" Eh ! What ? She's not worse, is she ?"
“No; but she hasn't much life left in her. I'm afraid it's settling on her lungs. Her cough is something dreadful to hear, and tears her to pieces.”
“It's milder weather, though, now, and that will make a difference before long. Now, I know what you're thinking of, my dear, and I wont have it. I told the fellow she wasn't fit to see anybody.”
“Were you always ready to talk about me to every one that came in your way, Richard ?" asked his wife, with a good-humoured smile.
“I don't call a lad's father and mother any one that comes in the way—though, I daresay, fathers and mothers are in the way sometimes,” he added, with a slight sigh.
“ Would you have talked about me to your own father, Richard ?"
“ Well, you see, I wasn't in his neighbourhood. But my father was a-a-stiff kind of man to deal with.”
“Not worse than Mr. Worboise, depend upon
it, my dear.”
“ But Worboise would like well enough to have our Mary for a daughter-in-law.”
“I daresay. But that mightn't make it easier to talk to him about her—for Tom, I mean. For my part, I never did see two such parents as poor Tom has got. I declare it's quite a shame to sit upon that handsome young lad—and amiableas they do. He can hardly call his nose his own. I wouldn't trust that Mr. Worboise, for my part, no, not if I was drowning.”
Why, wife !” exclaimed Mr. Boxall, both surprised and annoyed, “this is something new ! How long-"
But his wife went on regardless.
" And that mother of his ! It's a queer kind of religion that freezes the life out of
the moment you come near her. How ever a young fellow could talk about his sweetheart to either of them is more than I can understand—or you either, my dear. So don't look so righteous
Mrs. Boxall's good-natured audacity generally carried everything before it, even with more dangerous persons than her own husband. He could not help—I do not say smiling, but trying to
smile; and though the smile was rather a failure, Mrs. Boxall chose to take it for a smile. Indeed she generally put her husband into good humour by treating him as if he were in a far better humour than he really was in. It never does any good to tell a man that he is cross. If he is, it makes him no better even though it should make him vexed with himself; and if he isn't cross, nothing is more certain to make him cross, without giving him a moment's time to consult the better part of him.
Somewhere within the next eight days, Mrs. Boxall wrote to Tom as follows :
“MY DEAR MR. THOMAS,-Mary is much better, and you need not be at all uneasy about the consequences of your expedition to the North Pole on Christmas-day. I am very sorry I was so cross when you brought her home. Indeed, I believe I ought to beg your pardon. If you don't come and see us soon, I shall fancy that I have seriously offended you. But I knew she never could stand exposure to the weather, and I suppose that was what upset my temper. Mary will be pleased to see you. “I am ever yours sincerely,
« JANE BOXALL.”
Tom received this letter before he left for town in the morning. What was he to do? Of course, he must go and call there, as he styled it, but he pronounced it a great bore. glad the poor girl was better; but he couldn't help it, and he had no fancy for being hunted up after that fashion. What made him yet more savage was, that Mr. Boxall was absolutely surly he had never seen him so before—when he went into his room upon some message from Mr. Stopper. He did not go that day nor the next.
On the third evening he went;—but the embarrassment of feeling that he ought to have gone before was added to the dislike of going at all, and he was in no enviable condition of mind when he got off the Clapton omnibus. Add to this that an unrelenting east wind was blowing,