fetters? Was he more cheerful? thought Miss Tox. Was he reconciled to the decrees of fate? Would he ever marry again? and if yes, whom? What sort of person now!
A flush--it was warm weather--overspread Miss Tox's face, as, while entertaining these meditations, she turned her head, and was surprised by the reflection of her thoughtful image in the chimney-glass. Another flush succeeded when she saw a little carriage drive into Princess's Place, and make straight for her own door. Miss Tox arose, took up her scissors hastily, and so coming, at last, to the plants, was very busy with them when Mrs. Chick entered the room.
`How is my sweetest friend!' exclaimed Miss Tox, with open arms.
A little stateliness was mingled with Miss Tox's sweetest friend's demeanour, but she kissed Miss Tox, and said, `Lucretia, thank you, I am pretty well. I hope you are the same. Hem!'
Mrs. Chick was labouring under a peculiar little monosyllabic cough; a sort of primer, or easy introduction to the art of coughing.
`You call very early, and how kind that is, my dear!' pursued Miss Tox. `Now, have you breakfasted?'
`Thank you, Lucretia,' said Mrs. Chick. `I have. I took an early breakfast'--the good lady seemed curious on the subject of Princess's Place, and looked all round it as she spoke--`with my brother, who has come home.'
`He is better, I trust, my love,' faltered Miss Tox.
`He is greatly better, thank you. Hem!'
`My dear Louisa must be careful of that cough,' remarked Miss Tox.
`It's nothing,' returned Mrs. Chick. `It's merely change of weather. We must expect change.'
`Of weather?' asked Miss Tox, in her simplicity.
`Of everything,' returned Mrs. Chick. `Of course we must. It's a world of change. Any one would surprise me very much, Lucretia, and would greatly alter my opinion of their understanding, if they attempted to contradict or evade what is so perfectly evident. Change!' exclaimed Mrs. Chick, with severe philosophy. `Why, my gracious me, what is there that does not change! even the silkworm, who I am sure might be supposed not to trouble itself about such subjects, changes into all sorts of unexpected things continually.'
`My Louisa,' said the mild Miss Tox, `is ever happy in her illustrations.'
`You are so kind, Lucretia,' returned Mrs. Chick, a little softened, `as to say so, and to think so, I believe. I hope neither of us may ever have any cause to lessen our opinion of the other, Lucretia.'
`I am sure of it,' returned Miss Tox.
Mrs. Chick coughed as before, and drew lines on the carpet with the ivory end of her parasol. Miss Tox, who had experience of her fair friend, and knew that under the pressure of any slight fatigue or vexation she was prone to a discursive kind of irritability, availed herself of the pause, to change the subject.
`Pardon me, my dear Louisa,' said Miss Tox, `but have I caught sight of the manly form of Mr. Chick in the carriage?'
`He is there,' said Mrs. Chick, `but pray leave him there. He has his newspaper, and would be quite contented for the next two hours. Go on with your flowers, Lucretia, and allow me to sit here and rest.'
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