`I shall not rejoice at your departure, for you can conduct yourself like a gentleman,' said I, thinking it but right to make some acknowledgment for his good behaviour, `but I must confess I shall rejoice to bid adieu to the rest, inhospitable as it may appear.
`No one can blame you for such an avowal,' replied he gravely; `not even the gentlemen themselves, I imagine. I'll just tell you,' he continued, as if actuated by a sudden resolution, `what was said last night in the dining-room, after you left us--perhaps you will not mind it as you're so very philosophical on certain points,' he added with a slight sneer. `They were talking about Lord Lowborough and his delectable lady, the cause of whose sudden departure is no secret amongst them; and her character is so well known to them all, that, nearly related to me as she is, I could not attempt to defend it.--God curse me,' he muttered, par parenthèse, `if I don't have vengeance for this! If the villain must disgrace the family, must he blazon it abroad to every low-bred knave of his acquaintance?--I beg your pardon, Mrs. Huntingdon. Well, they were talking of these things, and some of them remarked that, as she was separated from her husband, he might see her again when he pleased.'
`"Thank you," said he; "I've had enough of her for the present: I'll not trouble to see her, unless she comes to me."
`"Then what do you mean to do, Huntingdon, when we're gone?" said Ralph Hattersley. "Do you mean to turn from the error of your ways, and be a good husband, a good father, and so forth--as I do, when I get shut of you and all these rollicking devils you call your friends? I think it's time; and your wife is fifty times too good for you, you know--"
`And he added some praise of you, which you would not thank me for repeating--or him for uttering; proclaiming it aloud, as he did, without delicacy or discrimination, in an audience where it seemed profanation to utter your name--himself utterly incapable of understanding or appreciating your real excellencies. Huntingdon meanwhile, sat quietly drinking his wine, or looking smilingly into his glass and offering no interruption or reply, till Hattersley shouted out,--
`"Do you hear me, man?"
`"Yes, go on," said he.
`"Nay, I've done," replied the other: "I only want to know if you intend to take my advice."
`"To turn over a new leaf, you double-dyed scoundrel," shouted Ralph, "and beg your wife's pardon, and be a good boy for the future."
`"My wife! what wife? I have no wife," replied Huntingdon, looking innocently up from his glass--"or if I have, look you gentlemen, I value her so highly that any one among you, that can fancy her, may have her and welcome--you may, by Jove and my blessing into the bargain!"
`I--hem--some one asked if he really meant what he said, upon which, he solemnly swore he did, and no mistake.--What do you think of that, Mrs. Huntingdon?' asked Mr. Hargrave, after a short pause, during which I had felt he was keenly examining my half-averted face.
`I say,' replied I, calmly, `that what he prizes so lightly, will not be long in his possession.'
`You cannot mean that you will break your heart and die for the detestable conduct of an infamous villain like that!'
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