Shirley leaned forwards on the table, her nostrils dilating a little, her taper fingers interlaced and compressing each other hard.

‘The rich,’ pursued the infatuated and unconscious Donne, ‘are a parcel of misers—never living as persons with their incomes ought to live. You scarsley’—(you must excuse Mr. Donne’s pronunciation, reader: it was very choice; he considered it genteel, and prided himself on his southern accent; northern ears received with singular sensations his utterance of certain words); ‘you scarsley ever see a fam’ly where a propa carriage or a reg’la butla is kep; and as to the poor, just look at them when they come crowding about the church-doors on the occasion of a marriage or a funeral, clattering in clogs; the men in their shirt- sleeves, and wool-combers’ aprons, the women in mob-caps and bedgowns. They pos’tively deserve that one should turn a mad cow in amongst them to rout their rabble-ranks—he! he! What fun it would be!’

‘There, you have reached the climax,’ said Shirley quietly. ‘You have reached the climax,’ she repeated, turning her glowing glance towards him. ‘You cannot go beyond it, and,’ she added with emphasis, ‘you shall not in my house.’

Up she rose; nobody could control her now, for she was exasperated; straight she walked to her garden gates, wide she flung them open.

‘Walk through,’ she said austerely, ‘and pretty quickly, and set foot on this pavement no more.’

Donne was astounded. He had thought all the time he was showing himself off to high advantage, as a lofty-souled person of the first ‘ton’; he imagined he was producing a crushing impression. Had he not expressed disdain of everything in Yorkshire? What more conclusive proof could be given that he was better than anything there? And yet here was he about to be turned like a dog out of a Yorkshire garden! Where, under such circumstances, was the ‘concatenation accordingly’?

‘Rid me of you instantly—instantly!’ reiterated Shirley, as he lingered.

‘Madam—a clergyman! Turn out a clergyman?’

‘Off! Were you an archbishop you have proved yourself no gentleman, and must go. Quick!’

She was quite resolved; there was no trifling with her; besides, Tartar was again rising; he perceived symptoms of a commotion; he manifested a disposition to join in; there was evidently nothing for it but to go, and Donne made his exodus; the heiress sweeping him a deep curtsey as she closed the gates on him.

‘How dare the pompous priest abuse his flock? How dare the lisping Cockney revile Yorkshire?’ was her sole observation on the circumstance as she returned to the table.

Erelong the little party broke up; Miss Keeldar’s ruffled and darkened brow, curled lip, and incensed eye gave no invitation to further social enjoyment.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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