Mr. Bold'S Visit to Plumstead

Whether or no the ill-natured prediction made by certain ladies in the beginning of the last chapter, was or was not carried out to the letter, I am not in a position to state; Eleanor, however, certainly did feel herself to have been baffled as she returned home with all her news to her father. Certainly she had been victorious, certainly she had achieved her object, certainly she was not unhappy, and yet she did not feel herself triumphant. Everything would run smooth now. Eleanor was not at all addicted to the Lydian school of romance; she by no means objected to her lover because he came in at the door under the name of Absolute, instead of pulling her out of a window under the name of Beverley; and yet she felt that she had been imposed upon, and could hardly think of Mary Bold with sisterly charity. “I did think I could have trusted Mary,” she said to herself over and over again. “Oh that she should have dared to keep me in the room when I tried to get out!” Eleanor, however, felt that the game was up, and that she had now nothing further to do, but to add to the budget of news which was prepared for her father, that John Bold was her accepted lover.

We will, however, now leave her on her way, and go with John Bold to Plumstead Episcopi, merely premising that Eleanor on reaching home will not find things so smooth as she fondly expected; two messengers had come, one to her father, and the other to the archdeacon, and each of them much opposed to her quiet mode of solving all their difficulties; the one in the shape of a number of the Jupiter, and the other in that of a further opinion from Sir Abraham Haphazard.

John Bold got on his horse and rode off to Plumstead Episcopi; not briskly and with eager spur, as men do ride when self-satisfied with their own intentions, but slowly, modestly, thoughtfully, and somewhat in dread of the coming interview. Now and again he would recur to the scene which was just over, support himself by the remembrance of the silence that gives consent, and exult as a happy lover; but even this feeling was not without a shade of remorse. Had he not shown himself childishly weak thus to yield up the resolve of many hours of thought to the tears of a pretty girl? How was he to meet his lawyer? How was he to back out of a matter in which his name was already so publicly concerned? What, oh what! was he to say to Tom Towers? While meditating these painful things he reached the lodge leading up to the archdeacon’s glebe, and for the first time in his life found himself within the sacred precincts.

All the doctor’s children were together on the slope of the lawn close to the road, as Bold rode up to the hall door. They were there holding high debate on matters evidently of deep interest at Plumstead Episcopi, and the voices of the boys had been heard before the lodge gate was closed.

Florinda and Grizzel, frightened at the sight of so well-known an enemy to the family, fled on the first appearance of the horseman, and ran in terror to their mother’s arms; not for them was it, tender branches, to resent injuries, or as members of a church militant to put on armour against its enemies: but the boys stood their ground like heroes, and boldly demanded the business of the intruder.

“Do you want to see anybody here, sir?” said Henry, with a defiant eye and a hostile tone, which plainly said that at any rate no one there wanted to see the person so addressed; and as he spoke he brandished aloft his garden water-pot, holding it by the spout, ready for the braining of any one.

“Henry,” said Charles James, slowly, and with a certain dignity of diction, “Mr. Bold of course would not have come without wanting to see some one; if Mr. Bold has a proper ground for wanting to see some person here, of course he has a right to come.”

But Samuel stepped lightly up to the horse’s head, and offered his services. “Oh, Mr. Bold,” said he, “papa, I’m sure, will be glad to see you; I suppose you want to see papa. Shall I hold your horse for you? Oh, what a very pretty horse!” and he turned his head and winked funnily at his brothers; “papa has heard such good news about the old hospital to-day. We know you’ll be glad to hear it, because you’re such a friend of grandpapa Harding, and so much in love with aunt Nelly!”

“How d’ye do, lads?” said Bold, dismounting; “I want to see your father if he’s at home.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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