“Thank you,” said Mrs. Wilfer. “I make false statements, it appears? So be it. If my daughter flies in my face, surely my husband may. The one thing is not more unnatural than the other. There seems a fitness in the arrangement. By all means!” Assuming, with a shiver of resignation, a deadly cheerfulness.

But, here the Irrepressible skirmished into the conflict, dragging the reluctant form of Mr. Sampson after her.

“Ma,” interposed the young lady, “I must say I think it would be much better if you would keep to the point, and not hold forth about people’s flying into people’s faces, which is nothing more nor less than impossible nonsense.”

“How!” exclaimed Mrs. Wilfer, knitting her dark brows.

“Just im-possible nonsense, Ma,” returned Lavvy, “and George Sampson knows it is, as well as I do.”

Mrs. Wilfer suddenly becoming petrified, fixed her indignant eyes upon the wretched George: who, divided between the support due from him to his love, and the support due from him to his love’s mamma, supported nobody, not even himself.

“The true point is,” pursued Lavinia, “that Bella has behaved in a most unsisterly way to me, and might have severely compromised me with George and with George’s family, by making off and getting married in this very low and disreputable manner — with some pew-opener or other, I suppose, for a bridesmaid — when she ought to have confided in me, and ought to have said, “If, Lavvy, you consider it due to your engagement with George, that you should countenance the occasion by being present, then Lavvy, I beg you to be present, keeping my secret from Ma and Pa.’ As of course I should have done.”

“As of course you would have done? Ingrate!” exclaimed Mrs. Wilfer. “Viper!”

“I say! You know ma’am. Upon my honor you mustn’t,” Mr. Sampson remonstrated, shaking his head seriously, “With the highest respect for you, ma’am, upon my life you mustn’t. No really, you know. When a man with the feelings of a gentleman finds himself engaged to a young lady, and it comes (even on the part of a member of the family) to vipers, you know! — I would merely put it to your own good feeling, you know,” said Mr. Sampson, in rather lame conclusion.

Mrs Wilfer’s baleful stare at the young gentleman in acknowledgment of his obliging interference was of such a nature that Miss Lavinia burst into tears, and caught him round the neck for his protection.

“My own unnatural mother,” screamed the young lady, “wants to annihilate George! But you shan’t be annihilated, George. I’ll die first!”

Mr. Sampson, in the arms of his mistress, still struggled to shake his head at Mrs. Wilfer, and to remark: “With every sentiment of respect for you, you know, ma’am — vipers really doesn’t do you credit.”

“You shall not be annihilated, George!” cried Miss Lavinia. “Ma shall destroy me first, and then she’ll be contented. Oh, oh, oh! Have I lured George from his happy home to expose him to this! George, dear, be free! Leave me, ever dearest George, to Ma and to my fate. Give my love to your aunt, George dear, and implore her not to curse the viper that has crossed your path and blighted your existence. Oh, oh, oh!” The young lady who, hysterically speaking, was only just come of age, and had never gone off yet, here fell into a highly creditable crisis, which, regarded as a first performance, was very successful; Mr. Sampson, bending over the body meanwhile, in a state of distraction, which induced him to address Mrs Wilfer in the inconsistent expressions: “Demon — with the highest respect for you — behold your work!”

The cherub stood helplessly rubbing his chin and looking on, but on the whole was inclined to welcome this diversion as one in which, by reason of the absorbent properties of hysterics, the previous question would become absorbed. And so, indeed, it proved, for the Irrepressible gradually coming to herself; and

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