“Neither do I understand,” retorted Mrs. Wilfer, with deep scorn, “how a young lady can mention the garment in the name of which you have indulged. I blush for you.”

“Thank you, Ma,” said Lavvy, yawning, “but I can do it for myself, I am obliged to you, when there’s any occasion.”

Here, Mr. Sampson, with the view of establishing harmony, which he never under any circumstances succeeded in doing, said with an agreeable smile: “After all, you know, ma’am, we know it’s there.” And immediately felt that he had committed himself.

“We know it’s there!” said Mrs. Wilfer, glaring.

“Really, George,” remonstrated Miss Lavinia, “I must say that I don’t understand your allusions, and that I think you might be more delicate and less personal.”

“Go it!” cried Mr. Sampson, becoming, on the shortest notice, a prey to despair. “Oh yes! Go it, Miss Lavinia Wilfer!”

“What you may mean, George Sampson, by your omnibus-driving expressions, I cannot pretend to imagine. Neither,” said Miss Lavinia, “Mr. George Sampson, do I wish to imagine. It is enough for me to know in my own heart that I am not going to —” having imprudently got into a sentence without providing a way out of it, Miss Lavinia was constrained to close with “going to it.” A weak conclusion which, however, derived some appearance of strength from disdain.

“Oh yes!” cried Mr. Sampson, with bitterness. “Thus it ever is. I never—”

“If you mean to say,” Miss Lavvy cut him short, that you never brought up a young gazelle, you may save yourself the trouble, because nobody in this carriage supposes that you ever did. We know you better.” (As if this were a home-thrust.)

“Lavinia,” returned Mr. Sampson, in a dismal vein, “I did not mean to say so. What I did mean to say, was, that I never expected to retain my favoured place in this family, after Fortune shed her beams upon it. Why do you take me,” said Mr. Sampson, “to the glittering halls with which I can never compete, and then taunt me with my moderate salary? Is it generous? Is it kind?”

The stately lady, Mrs. Wilfer, perceiving her opportunity of delivering a few remarks from the throne, here took up the altercation.

“Mr. Sampson,” she began, “I cannot permit you to misrepresent the intentions of a child of mine.”

“Let him alone, Ma,” Miss Lavvy interposed with haughtiness. “It is indifferent to me what he says or does.”

“Nay, Lavinia,” quoth Mrs. Wilfer, “this touches the blood of the family. If Mr. George Sampson attributes, even to my youngest daughter—”

(“I don’t see why you should use the word ‘even,’ Ma,” Miss Lavvy interposed, “because I am quite as important as any of the others.”)

“Peace!” said Mrs. Wilfer, solemnly. “I repeat, if Mr. George Sampson attributes, to my youngest daughter, grovelling motives, he attributes them equally to the mother of my youngest daughter. That mother repudiates them, and demands of Mr. George Sampson, as a youth of honour, what he would have? I may be mistaken — nothing is more likely — but Mr. George Sampson,” proceeded Mrs. Wilfer, majestically waving her gloves, “appears to me to be seated in a first-class equipage. Mr. George Sampson appears to me to be on his way, by his own admission, to a residence that may be termed Palatial. Mr. George Sampson appears to me to be invited to participate in the — shall I say the — Elevation which has descended

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