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been wont to receive favours, without a change of manner.
To Grunter's great surprise, she now implied some doubts of that relationship she had before so clearly made out. She was a degree less coaxing and patient with Miss Tibby, and even threw out some hints before Annie of the necessity of young people's applying to something, and not “mooning” and idling the whole day long.
Mr. Lindsay took no apparent notice of this, and yet the slightest change of manner was remarked by him; and a close observer would have seen a very quiet smile play about his lips, and occasionally his colour rise at some faint indication of altered feeling, or his eyes moisten at each new and devoted proof of Ellen's attachment, or of his brother's unworldly affection.
Urged by Mrs. Lindsay, and unable to bear his own feelings of painful suspense, Julian agreed to take a long ride with his
father and Ellen ; and, when they had set out, Mrs. Lindsay proceeded to her daughter's room; she entered unperceived: there knelt the passionate and proud Augusta, her face hidden in her hands, her frame convulsed with sobs.
The matchmaker saw that a moment of deep feeling was no time for worldly counsel. She noiselessly quitted the apartment; yet the daughter's evident struggles, while they affected the heart, did not shake the resolution of the mother.
“Better a few romantic tears now,” she said, “ with friends and sunny prospects to dry them, than long regrets through years of poverty, reproaches of an embittered husband, and laments of ill-provided children.”
It was while she was discussing in her own mind this disagreeable subject, difficulty making her, as it always does the vulgar, cross and vindictive, that Mr. Grunter, hearing her pass, opened the door of the little
boudoir which Ellen had yielded to him as a study, and begged for a few minutes' conversation with one hitherto so affable and obsequious, that a request of his was scarcely made ere it was cordially granted.
He began by expressing a wish to make out more clearly, if possible, the exact degree of relationship between them, as he was writing to a Mr. Gubbs, his first cousin, and wished to mention it.
“ Do not trouble yourself to do that,” said Mrs. Lindsay ; “I believe there is some mistake."
“Oh, no, I fancy not. I do not mind the trouble, madam, and I am as anxious to prove it as yourself. I will show you the pedigree as I make it out, if you will step in.”
“ I am afraid it is all a mistake.”
She entered the room sulkily enough, and exclaiming
“ Dear me! how close, Mr. Grunter! and
what a musty smell those old books and papers have !"
Mr. Grunter was very obtuse. Accustomed to her urbanity, he did not at once perceive the change, but, fancying she meant, as usual, some apologies for accommodations so unworthy of “The Lion of the day,” he replied,
“Never mind, my dear madam ; in time I shall get used to the size of the room. It is confined, certainly, but still — .”
“I cannot bear this close smell,” said Mrs. Lindsay, her ill-humour increased by his allusion to a lengthened stay. “ Nothing I hate like the smell of old books and papers.”
“Of course,” said Grunter, pompously, “ women cannot be expected to like it. But to us it is a smell dearer than that of frankincense and myrrh, madam : it is redolent of the Past; it recals ."
“ I hope it can be got rid of,” said Mrs. Lindsay, opening the window.
“Oh, never mind it !-as I said, custom will reconcile you to it.”
At this moment the wind blew one of the papers of the Gubbs' pedigree off the table. Grunter, in stooping to pick up his treasure, knocked down the inkstand, and the ink fell, not merely on the pretty mosaic wood table, but trickled down on the bright and delicate carpet.
“Oh, how tiresome ! how distressing!” said Mrs. Lindsay, making a protracted noise with her tongue, a kind of clicking, expressive of dismay, such as nurses make when a naughty child breaks his cup, or his doll's nose.
“Oh! never mind it, madam! these trifles never affect us," said Grunter, who, while Mrs. Lindsay violently pulled the bell, actually extended his huge foot, and, as if he had been in his boarded and sanded school-room of yore, with this ungain machine began to iron the black fluid into the roses and lotuses beneath.