Not knowing what might be the matter, and being easily apprehensive now, I thought it best to go to this place by myself. I bade Charley be quick with my bonnet and veil, and my shawl; and having put them on, went away down the little hilly street, where I was as much at home as in Mr Boythorns garden.
Mr Grubble was standing in his shirt sleeves at the door of his very clean little tavern, waiting for me. He lifted off his hat with both hands when he saw me coming, and carrying it so, as if it were an iron vessel (it looked as heavy), preceded me along the sanded passage to his best parlour: a neat carpeted room, with more plants in it than were quite convenient, a coloured print of Queen Caroline, several shells, a good many tea-trays, two stuffed and dried fish in glass cases, and either a curious egg or a curious pumpkin (but I dont know which, and I doubt if many people did) hanging from his ceiling. I knew Mr Grubble very well by sight, from his often standing at his door. A pleasant-looking, stoutish, middle-aged man, who never seemed to consider himself cosily dressed for his own fireside without his hat and top-boots, but who never wore a coat except at church.
He snuffed the candle, and backing away a little to see how it looked, backed out of the room unexpectedly to me, for I was going to ask him by whom he had been sent. The door of the opposite parlour being then opened, I heard some voices, familiar in my ears I thought, which stopped. A quick light step approached the room in which I was, and who should stand before me but Richard!
My dear Esther! he said. My best friend! and he really was so warm-hearted and earnest, that in the first surprise and pleasure of his brotherly greeting, I could scarcely find breath to tell him that Ada was well.
Answering my very thoughts always the same dear girl! said Richard, leading me to a chair, and seating himself beside me.
I put my veil up, but not quite.
Always the same dear girl! said Richard, just as heartily as before.
I put my veil up altogether, and laying my hand on Richards sleeve, and looking in his face, told him how much I thanked him for his kind welcome, and how greatly I rejoiced to see him; the more so, because of the determination I had made in my illness, which I now conveyed to him.
My love, said Richard, there is no one with whom I have a greater wish to talk, than you, for I want you to understand me.
And I want you, Richard, said I, shaking my head, to understand some one else.
Since you refer so immediately to John Jarndyce, said Richard I suppose you mean him?
Of course I do.
Then, I may say at once that I am glad of it, because it is on that subject that I am anxious to be understood. By you, mind you, my dear! I am not accountable to Mr Jarndyce, or Mr Anybody.
I was pained to find him taking this tone, and he observed it.
Well, well, my dear, said Richard, we wont go into that, now. I want to appear quietly in your country house here, with you under my arm, and give my charming cousin a surprise. I suppose your loyalty to John Jarndyce will allow that?
My dear Richard, I returned, you know you would be heartily welcome at his house your home, if you will but consider it so; and you are as heartily welcome here!
Spoken like the best of little women! cried Richard, gaily.
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