A ReformationSept. 1st.--No Mr. Huntingdon yet. Perhaps he will stay among his friends till Christmas; and then, next spring, he will be off again. If he continue this plan, I shall be able to stay at Grassdale well enough-- that is, I shall be able to stay, and that is enough; even an occasional bevy of friends at the shooting season, may be borne if Arthur get so firmly attached to me--so well established in good sense and principles, before they come, that I shall be able, by reason and affection, to keep him pure from their contaminations. Vain hope, I fear! but still, till such a time of trial comes, I will forbear to think of my quiet asylum in the beloved old Hall.
Mr. and Mrs. Hattersley have been staying at the Grove a fortnight; and as Mr. Hargrave is still absent, and the weather was remarkably fine, I never passed a day without seeing my two friends, Milicent and Esther, either there or here. On one occasion, when Mr. Hattersley had driven them over to Grassdale in the phaeton, with little Helen and Ralph, and we were all enjoying ourselves in the garden--I had a few minutes' conversation with that gentleman, while the ladies were amusing themselves with the children.
`Do you want to hear anything of your husband, Mrs. Huntingdon?' said he.
`No, unless you can tell me when to expect him home.'
`I can't.--You don't want him, do you?' said he with a broad grin.
`Well, I think you're better without him, sure enough--for my part, I'm downright weary of him. I told him I'd leave him if he didn't mend his manners--and he wouldn't; so I left him--you see I'm a better man than you think me;--and what's more, I have serious thoughts of washing my hands of him entirely, and the whole set of `em, and comporting myself from this day forward, with all decency and sobriety as a Christian and the father of a family should do.--What do you think of that?'
`No; it is never too late to reform, as long as you have the sense to desire it, and the strength to execute your purpose.'
`Well, to tell you the truth, I've thought of it often and often before, but he's such devilish good company is Huntingdon, after all--you can't imagine what a jovial good-fellow he is when he's not fairly drunk, only just primed or half-seas-over--we all have a bit of a liking for him at the bottom of our hearts, though we can't respect him.'
`But should you wish yourself to be like him?'
`No, I'd rather be like myself, bad as I am.'
`You can't continue as bad as you are without getting worse--and more brutalized every day--and therefore more like him.'
I could not help smiling at the' comical, half angry, half confounded look he put on at this rather unusual mode of address.
`Never mind my plain speaking,' said I; `it is from the best of motives. But tell me, should you wish your sons to be like Mr. Huntingdon--or even like yourself?'
`Hang it, no.'
`Should you wish your daughter to despise you--or, at least, to feel no vestige of respect for you, and no affection but what is mingled with the bitterest regret?'
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