his mouth. At last, finding it desirable to add ease to his other charms, he drew forth to aid him an ample silk pocket-handkerchief. This was to be the graceful toy with which his unoccupied hands were to trifle. He went to work with a certain energy: he folded the red and yellow square corner-wise; he whipped it open with a waft; again he folded it in narrower compass; he made of it a handsome band. To what purpose would he proceed to apply the ligature? Would he wrap it about his throat, his head? Should it be a comforter or a turban? Neither. Peter Augustus had an inventive, an original genius: he was about to show the ladies graces of action possessing at least the charm of novelty. He sat on the chair with his athletic Irish legs crossed, and these legs, in that attitude, he circled with the bandanna and bound firmly together. It was evident he felt this device to be worth an encore—he repeated it more than once. The second performance sent Shirley to the window to laugh her silent but irrepressible laugh unseen; it turned Caroline’s head aside that her long curls might screen the smile mantling on her features. Miss Helstone, indeed, was amused by more than one point in Peter’s demeanour: she was edified at the complete though abrupt diversion of his homage from herself to the heiress. The £5,000 he supposed her likely one day to inherit were not to be weighed in the balance against Miss Keeldar’s estate and Hall. He took no pains to conceal his calculations and tactics: he pretended to no gradual change of views—he wheeled about at once: the pursuit of the lesser fortune was openly relinquished for that of the greater. On what grounds he expected to succeed in his chase, himself best knew—certainly not by skilful management.

From the length of time that elapsed, it appeared that John had some difficulty in persuading Mr. Donne to descend. At length, however, that gentleman appeared, nor, as he presented himself at the oak-parlour door, did he seem in the slightest degree ashamed or confused—not a whit. Donne, indeed, was of that coldly phlegmatic, immovably complacent, densely self-satisfied nature which is insensible to shame. He had never blushed in his life: no humiliation could abash him; his nerves were not capable of sensation enough to stir his life and make colour mount to his cheek. He had no fire in his blood, and no modesty in his soul; he was a frontless, arrogant, decorous slip of the commonplace—conceited, inane, insipid. And this gentleman had a notion of wooing Miss Keeldar! He knew no more, however, how to set about the business than if he had been an image carved in wood; he had no idea of a taste to be pleased, a heart to be reached in courtship. His notion was, when he should have formally visited her a few times, to write a letter proposing marriage; then he calculated, she would accept him for love of his office; then they would be married; then he should be master of Fieldhead, and he should live very comfortably, have servants at his command, eat and drink of the best, and be a great man. You would not have suspected his intentions when he addressed his intended bride in an impertinent, injured tone:

‘A very dangerous dog that, Miss Keeldar. I wonder you should keep such an animal.’

‘Do you, Mr. Donne? Perhaps you will wonder more when I tell you I am very fond of him.’

‘I should say you are not serious in the assertion. Can’t fancy a lady fond of that brute, ’tis so ugly—a mere carter’s dog. Pray hang him!’

‘Hang what I am fond of?’

‘And purchase in his stead some sweetly pooty pug or poodle—something appropriate to the fair sex. Ladies generally like lap-dogs.’

‘Perhaps I am an exception.’

‘Oh! you can’t be, you know. All ladies are alike in those matters—that is universally allowed.’

‘Tartar frightened you terribly, Mr. Donne. I hope you won’t take any harm.’

‘That I shall, no doubt. He gave me a turn I shall not soon forget. When I sor him’—such was Mr. Donne’s pronunciation—‘about to spring, I thought I should have fainted.’

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