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Our old friend Marmaduke Hutton was up, and dressed in a style of very unusual elegance, although the hour was only eight, and it was not his custom, in general, to make his appearance much before noon. The whole house, too, was more lively than was its wont, on this particular occasion, for feet pattered to and fro, and doors banged hurriedly, and people talked in a loud key, as if the matter they had in hand, was so important, that they had grown reckless of constraint, and bad entirely forgotten the usual quiet and gloom that brooded over the place.
Nay, more than this, as Mr. Hutton sat by the blazing fire, (it was a lovely morning in June, but he needed a fire, for all that,) his eye wandered from time to time, about the room, which had less of its usual dingy state, and more of cheerfulness about it, than it had had for many a long and dreary year. There were fresh bouquets of roses and heliotrope in the two grim old vases that graced the dark side-board, looking in most strange contrast, in their freshness and bloom, with everything around them; the curtains looked cleaner, the carpet seemed brighter, the very furniture wore a holiday look; nay, old Marmaduke, himself, sported a white favour in his plum-coloured coat, whilst the centre tables had such a display of plate and china, and wine, and cold meats, and fruit, as they never had
• Continued from page 219, vol. lii.
had before, and never might have again—at least in the lifetime of their present owner.
From all these tokens, it was evident that a wedding was about to take place, and that old Marmaduke had been deprived of his morning's nap, to grace the nuptials. The gallant doctor had at last received the price of his constancy and devotion, and this auspicious morn was about to behold him blessed with the possession of the countless charms of Miss Penelope Pestlepolge.
Everything had prospered beyond the most sanguine expectations of Mr. Pestlepolge, and the dauntless bridegroom, who had entered into a latent conspiracy to tease Mr. Hutton into the step, should he prove obstreperous; and it was with a feeling akin to mortification, to one, at least, of the high contracting parties, that when the matter was finally broached to him, that he at once acceded to it, and did not even object, when Mr. Pestlepolge named another early day for the ceremony.
“Let her be married when she will, Humphrey," was his answer; "there'll be one fool the less to plague us," and this was all that he would condescend to utter touching and regarding the fortunes of the happy pair.
"He would make her no present," he said, when Mr. Pestlepolge plied him with his usual tact upon this delicate subject; "If Yellowchops liked the girl, she was a good enough bargain without; things might be different at his death, and they might not," and a fit of coughing closed the interview.
This was by no means satisfactory to the doctor, who would have better preferred receiving a moderate dower with his spouse, to the most high-flown expectations of wealth at a future period, especially when that wealth depended upon the decease of Mr. Hutton. But matters had now gone too far for him to draw back, and so he made his preparations with a rather heavy heart, much heavier, in fact, than that which beat in the innocent and guileless bosom of Penelope, who had no shadow of doubt or distrust upon her soul.
The doctor, who, in the uncertain state of affairs, as they at present stood, was more than usually anxious to avoid expense, had vainly striven to convince his bride, that the present furniture of his house was quite good and respectable enough for their station ; she, however, with all the extravagance of a bride, and all the wilful determination of a woman, had decided otherwise ; the better portion of the drawing-room furniture she said might be placed in the dining-room, but the drawing room should be entirely re-furnished, together with their own sleeping apartment, which really was dreadfully shabby.
She said that it was due to Doctor Yellowchops' position, to keep a respectable house, and though the doctor shrugged his
July, 1848.-VOL. LIII.-NO. UCVII.
shoulders, and groaned at the ruin that was impending over him, whenever the subject was broached, yet he never dared to object, for Miss Penelope had a quiet decision about her, that effectually disarmed all opposition; and so the grim old house was painted without, and thoroughly cleaned, painted, and papered within, until it became fit, at last, to receive the new furniture, the doctor and Penelope had ordered from Hereford, and which made its appearance two or three weeks before the wedding took place.
In the evenings, the poor doctor would sit in the drawingroom, eyeing, with rueful visage, the altered appearance of his old domicile, and silently adding up in his mind, the long and dismal items of the upholsterer's bill, which the approaching Midsummer would send in ; how the deuce he would ever find means to pay it, was more than his stolid mind could discover ; and pleasant images of debt and a jail, a ditch-side and starvation, were the prevailing themes his mind dwelt upon, during the period that still intervened between his nuptials.
How pleasant it must be to be tortured with such bugbear fears, just at the very time when the whole world imagines you wrapt in Elysian dreams, and when you are compelled to assume in the presence of your intended, the most extravagant joy; to wear the mask of gaiety and happiness, when all beneath is dark and corroding care for the future, and uncertainty for the present; to a man who marries not for love, but for pelf, and who yet has a latent terror of being outwitted in his game. I cannot imagine a more perplexing position to be placed in; an indefinable dread of the future, and the pleasant contempt he must conceive of himself for the present, are certainly not the most agreeable thoughts to haunt us, at the very moment when we are about to launch ourselves upon the new and untried sea of married life.
All these terrors haunted poor Doctor Yellowchops, who would now have given worlds, had he possessed them, to have retreated, and who now began to feel how imperious and determined, was the woman whom he had selected to succeed Mrs. Doctor Yellowchops the first.
Only the night before the wedding had to take place, an altercation had taken place between them, which showed him plainly enough how determined was her will, when it became opposed to his own, and how resolutely she could maintain it when she chose.
They had been sitting all alone in Mr. Hutton's dark drawingroom, discussing the way of life they would follow on their return home. She was in high spirits, almost too high, he thought, in his present miserablc uncertainty, and this tone of hers, jarred upon his own tortured nerves, and made him less complaisant than was his wont.
“You must discharge that low-bred looking groom of yours, my love, as early as possible,” she said, in the dictatorial tone of a bride-expectant; "he really is not respectable enough for your profession and station, and we can easily get a nice boy to put into livery.”
“I'll do no such thing, Penelope," quoth Doctor Yellowchops, hastily, “my man and I suit each other, and have done so for many years, and we aren't going to part now, my dear; everything reasonable you shall have your own way in, but in that particular -
He stopped short as he chanced to look up into her face, and noticed how pale and angry it was ; and then with an awakened sense of impending danger, he said in a mollifying tone:
My dear Penelope, in every reasonable matter I am and always shall be happy to have your co-operation, but in this affair
“Oh! then this is unreasonable, is it?" retorted Penelope, tracing figures on the carpet with her slipper, without looking up. "In anything, I think, Doctor Yellowchops, which concerns your respectability and mine, I have a perfect right to interfere."
“ But the man is really a very good servant and content with very small wages, my love," urged the doctor.
“The latter is such a paltry excuse that I must insist upon your not mentioning it,” retorted Penelope, still continuing her occupation; “but the man shall go !"
Doctor Yellowchops sat moodily eyeing her without speaking for several minutes ; anyone who could have seen his sullen and gloomy visage, would scarcely have refrained from laughing at the contrast it shewed to what might reasonably have been expected from a man on the eve of his marriage, and have made his strictures upon the position of the parties accordingly.
A gloomy joy, a fiendish exultation at this moment entered his soul, which Penelope's show of authority had evoked. If ruin did come upon him she would have to sustain it as well as himself; nay, more bitterly than him, for he already felt it by anticipation, whilst she had no dark forebodings for the future, which lay like a sunny landscape before her eyes, and on which he was the only dark and repulsive object.
“ You will get a smart footboy, dearest,” she said in a gentler tone, breaking the unpleasant stillness of the room.
“As you please, my love," he rejoined, sulkily, “oh, do everything as you wish it,” and he began to walk' back and forward between the windows, in a gloomy reverie.
B B 2
Presently Mr. Pestlepolge came into the room, supporting Marmaduke Hutton, who seemed to fail more and more every day; his quick eye in a moment detected traces of the storm that had just blown over, in the doctor's silence and the averted attitude in which his daughter was sitting.
“You don't look very much like a pair of turtle doves," was his salutation, as soon as he had deposited Mr. Hutton in his accustomed seat.
“No! we don't," was the doctor's gruff reply, “and we aren't either.”
“What is the matter? A lover's quarrel, I suppose," was the oily reply.
Something of the kind,” rejoined Doctor Yellewohops, who alone seemed to have found his voice, “Yes, I daresay its a lover's quarrel,” he added, laughing constrainedly.
“Which I hope is quite blown over now, though,” continued Mr. Pestlepolge, in a mollified tone; "on the advent of such a happy occasion, my dear Penelope, I'm sure, will be the first to cherish oblivion of the past,” and he patted his daughter's rather scraggy neck playfully with his cold, soft hand.
“Don't speak to me, papa,” cried that gentle vestal, brusquely, as she retreated from his endearments, “I almost wish I wasn't going to be married, I do!”
“Don't be a fool, girl," he muttered through his clenched teeth, and glancing uneasiiy over his shoulder at the figure of the doctor, as he stood in the embrasure of the window, "you little know what care and anxiety it has cost me to get you even such a man as that,” and he pointed with his finger significantly to the doctor.
“But Doctor Yellowchops really pays so little attention to my wishes, sir,” she said, lowering her voice, though she did not seem to care whether that worthy individual heard her or not, “he is so mean and niggardly, and so terribly afraid of expense.'
“Hush ! hush, hush! you must not talk so, love,” said Mr. Pestlepolge, who was far too fidgetty and restless to listen patiently to her accusations; “after you are married --"
“I half wish I was not going to be married,” said the brideexpectant, sternly.
* You had better wait then until Walter Mordaunt comes to wed you, girl,” he retorted, bitterly. “Shall I tell Yellowchops that you have changed your mind, and will prefer waiting until your old suitor comes awooing again ?”
His daughter smiled, and for the first time he now saw her countenance.
“Who was it,” she said, with sparkling eyes, “that laid the snare by which he had to wed me? Who was it that cringed,