A Runaway Match

CHERUBIC Pa arose with as little noise as possible from beside majestic Ma, one morning early, having a holiday before him. Pa and the lovely woman had a rather particular appointment to keep.

Yet Pa and the lovely woman were not going out together. Bella was up before four, but had no bonnet on. She was waiting at the foot of the stairs — was sitting on the bottom stair, in fact — to receive Pa when he came down, but her only object seemed to be to get Pa well out of the house.

“Your breakfast is ready, sir,” whispered Bella, after greeting him with a hug, “and all you have to do, is, to eat it up and drink it up, and escape. How do you feel, Pa?”

“To the best of my judgement, like a housebreaker new to the business, my dear, who can’t make himself quite comfortable till he is off the premises.”

Bella tucked her arm in his with a merry noiseless laugh, and they went down to the kitchen on tiptoe; she stopping on every separate stair to put the tip of her forefinger on her rosy lips, and then lay it on his lips, according to her favourite petting way of kissing Pa.

“How do you feel, my love?” asked R. W., as she gave him his breakfast.

“I feel as if the Fortune-teller was coming true, dear Pa, and the fair little man was turning out as was predicted.”

“Ho! Only the fair little man?” said her father.

Bella put another of those finger-seals upon his lips, and then said, kneeling down by him as he sat at table: “Now, look here, sir. If you keep well up to the mark this day, what do you think you deserve? What did I promise you should have, if you were good, upon a certain occasion?”

“Upon my word I don’t remember, Precious. Yes, I do, though. Wasn’t it one of these beau—tiful tresses?” with his caressing hand upon her hair.

“Wasn’t it, too!” returned Bella, pretending to pout. “Upon my word! Do you know, sir, that the Fortune- teller would give five thousand guineas (if it was quite convenient to him, which it isn’t) for the lovely piece I have cut off for you? You can form no idea, sir, of the number of times he kissed quite a scrubby little piece — in comparison — that I cut off for him. And he wears it, too, round his neck, I can tell you! Near his heart!” said Bella, nodding. “Ah! very near his heart! However, you have been a good, good boy, and you are the best of all the dearest boys that ever were, this morning, and here’s the chain I have made of it, Pa, and you must let me put it round your neck with my own loving hands.”

As Pa bent his head, she cried over him a little, and then said (after having stopped to dry her eyes on his white waistcoat, the discovery of which incongruous circumstance made her laugh): “Now, darling Pa, give me your hands that I may fold them together, and do you say after me:— My little Bella.”

“My little Bella,” repeated Pa.

“I am very fond of you.”

“I am very fond of you, my darling,” said Pa.

“You mustn’t say anything not dictated to you, sir. You daren’t do it in your responses at Church, and you mustn’t do it in your responses out of Church.”

“I withdraw the darling,” said Pa.

“That’s a pious boy! Now again:— You were always — ”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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