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company with her here, and then her husband will take her home to-night." “Is Barbara married ?" demanded Walter, laughing:
Married ! ods, to be sure she is; Sol Cash and her have been man and wife this month or more; but they do make as rum a couple as ever went together. But put on your clothes, man, and come down to us and get some breakfast; now it only needed this, Wat, to make me as happy as a lord, I'll just run down to see that they've the breakfast all ready for us, but I won't say a word, even to Lucy, about your being here; ods, but it will be a surprise to see you walking into the room as natural as life; we're in the Star, and you can easily find your way there; Bab will stare like the town's clock at you," and with a suppressed chuckle, which made his huge chest heave convulsively, Dick strode out of the room, after adjuring Walter to hurry down as soon as he could, or he would not answer for the consequences.
One might have known, from the rosy look of everything about the old Granby on that particular May morning, that a wedding party had arrived over night, and were at that moment enclosed within its venerable walls. The dapper waiters, as they flitted about from room to room, had a spruce and jaunty air about them that was absolutely wanting in the ordinary routine of affairs, and the jolly landlady, with her white satin topknot, and her huge bunch of keys depending from her waist, had a more than usual air of importance and pride as she bustled about from bar to pantry, keeping every one about her in a perpetual flutter, lest the breakfast should not be everything it should be, or that the spatch-cock should be broiled to a cinder, or the muffins be heavy, or the eggs get cold before they were touched.
We would fain linger for one moment over that pleasant breakfast table, and bring before your eyes the three or four people who filled up the canvass. At the head of the table, gentle, and self-possessed, and pretty as ever-prettier than ever, we meant to say, for was she not a newly-made bride, and what bride ever did look uninteresting or ugly?—sat gentle Lucy Harding, the quiet, sweet-tempered, pretty wife of Richard Burton, presiding at the board with a bewitching grace and sweetness that almost made honest Dick, prosaic as he was, fall down and worship her, even before Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Cash, who were eating and drinking away for bare life, in a manner which must be very disgusting to folks whose married life is scarcely twenty-four hours old; farther away sat Stephen Harding, who was apparently just as disgustingly hungry as Solomon and Barbara.
“Dear me, Dick, do you intend to stare at Lucy in that silly way all your life?” cries the shrill-voiced Barbara, attacking the crispy brawn with a vigorous arm; "for dear sake, man, get your breakfast, and behave like a sober, sensible person : I'm sure Solomon never stared at me in that outrageous way.”
“That I'll be bound he didn't, Bab," retorted Dick, laughing; “ he'd be a precious fool to waste so much eyesight on ye,Stephen, my lad, I'll just trouble you for an egg.
“If Mr. Cash had any spirit in him, he'd not stand such insults, offered his wife in that manner" said the amiable Barbara, hysterically; "but he hasʼnt the soul of a tomcat, or he wouldn't stand it,-its—its too—too bad ! ” and Barbara even went the length of squeezing a tear out of the corner of one eye, the further to aggravate poor little Solomon.
“Come, come, Bab, that won't go down with me, old girl," retorted Dick, with another good-humoured chuckle, “so dry your eyes and look cheerful, or you and I'll quarrel, my dear, that's all.”
“You're a beast, Dick,” screamed Mrs. Solomon Cash), in a furious voice, just at the very moment when the door opened, and Walter appeared.
“Mordaunt, by all that's wonderful !” ejaculated Stephen Harding, starting up; " dear Wat, how glad I am to see you, and at the very moment when we most needed your presence.”
Solomon's help-mate, judging by her rueful countenance, did not join in the latter part of Stephen's welcome; and she made him a very stiff curtsey, too, when he came to shake hands with her, being evidently determined not to receive him into her favour on any pretence whatever. As for the little pedagogue, his withered atomy of a face quivered with some mysterious emotion, which communicated itself even to his pigtail
, as he shook Walter by the hand, declaring as he did so, that he never should have known him, he was so much altered, and had become quite a fine gentleman, and had improved so much in looks and so forth, encomiums which our hero could very
well have dispensed with indeed.
“And now sit down and get your stomach filled, Wattie," cried Dick, thrusting him down into a chair beside himself ; “these daft folks are enough to deafen us with their clatter, my lad, and ye'll be very hungry, I'll be bound : Lucy, lass, give Watt a cup of coffee-Stephen, cut a round of that brawn at your elbow, man-waiter ! some more hot rolls and eggs, this instant! odds, what's the use of getting married, if one hasn't to spend a bit of money and make one's friends happy, eh?”
“Fools and their money are soon parted,” muttered Barbara, sneeringly.
"Come, come, fall too like a sensible man, Wat,” reiterated Dick, kindly, turning his shoulder from his sister and patting his wife's fair cheek with a huge, rough hand as he spoke; “od's, but it does one's heart good to see the likes of you about one, Wat; manys and manys the time Stephen and I have cracked for the hour on the stretch about you,—and to see you turning up in this way at last-come, eat, man, and be hearty!”
“Walter's been among such fine people of late,” interposed Mrs. Cash, in a sour tone, “that he cannot take up all at once with our coarse fare.”
“Haud your tongue, you sour-tempered jade,” roared Dick, in a voice of thunder, as he stood up in his seat with flashing eyes and distended nostrils; " has one always to ha? your tart, saucy speeches breeding ill-will between one's friends ? if ye say another word, good or ill, l'll gar that little doddery man of yours whip ye off pretty quickly to your own hoose; so think of that, my bonny doo, or it'll, maybe, fare worse with ye.”
“Pretty language, this, indeed, to use to your own flesh and blood, Richard," cried Barbara, who could not restrain her temper, even when she was as terrified by Dick's passion as she was now; “but its no use speaking here, I see, and so I'll just hold my tongue, and let matters mend if they may."
“IĽil be better for ye, my lass,” retorted Dick, significantly.
“You're a brute, Dick, and nothing else," retorted Barbara, shivering with passion.
“ Then I know who made me so," responded the jolly bride. groom, with a sonorous chuckle; “but od's alive, we're not going to quarrel in this way, Bab, the very day after I'm married, and Wat here, too, to the fore: come, come, let's all be friends, and as soon as Walter has satisfied his hunger, he shall tell us his adventures since he left old Hutton.”
“I have very little to tell you, I'm afraid,” rejoined Walter, whose mouth was full of egg and muffin, and who was therefore by no means in a loquacious mood, “more than that I have
never quitted the good friends I encountered on leaving you, and that my time has passed very pleasantly during its lapse, and has left a sadder feeling behind,-I really have nothing to communicate.”
“That certainly isn't much then, Wat,” rejoined Dick, in rather a dissatisfied tone; "why, even Lucy and I might give you a better."
“ That you might; and now that you have heard all that has happened since I left you, let me hear what is your destination, as I presume you intend to take a pretty extensive weddingtrip."
“That we do, eh, Lucy?” cried Dick, tapping his wife's cheek; “i'faith, we intend to see a few of the wonders of the world afore we turn our faces homeward. We're bound for London, Wat, my lad, and if you intend turning your face south, why, say the word, and we'll all make one party; that is, I mean you, and Stephen, and ourselves,-Solomon and Bab go home to day again.”
“ Some people might treat their own sisters, I think, when they do take a jaunt,” said Barbara, scornfully.
“And so they would, Bab, but then that doddery goodman of yours cannot spare the time, my lass," answered Dick. He's never happy if he isn't flaying and thrashing them poor gamerils of his once or twice a day, and so as thou's married schoolmeaster, why, thou must e'en stick till him, my lass, and bide the consequence.”
“ I don't see why Mr. Cash's employments should deprive me of the pleasure of a trip, Richard," persisted Barbara, angrily. “I really think both Solomon and I are old enongh to take proper care of ourselves, without being always tied to the other's apron-strings.”
“You're just owre ould, Bab," retorted Dick, with another loud laugh, "and that's just the upshot o'it. If I took you wi' me, ten to one but you wad be 'loping away with some randy, dandy fellow or other, you picked up in some sly corner or another, and then a pretty tale I'd have to bring home to schoolmeaster aboot ye. Or maybe, schoolmeaster might pick up a duplicate Mrs. Cash in your absence, and then there would be the very deuce to pay amongst ye all; so ye'd better both gan home and help schoolmeaster to shoot the young ideas : he can turn the flogging part over till ye, at any rate, and I know you're a gay hand at that, Bab.”
Barbara gave a nervous titter at the conclusion of this speech, which seemed to glue poor little Solomon to his chair, outright, whilst Dick, ringing the bell, ordered the bill to be got ready, and the chaise to be brought round to the door.
“The chaise, Richard !” screamed, rather than said, Barbara, at this juncture; "you're surely not going to take the chaise on with you?”
“But I am, though, Mrs. Cash, and I should like to know who'll hinder me, ma'am.”
“Oh, nobody, of course: but how are Mr. Cash and me to get home again ?”
“ As you can, ma'am. I didn't ask you for your company, I believe."
“No, you certainly did not; but Solomon and myself only thought it a proper regard to appearances to come so far with you—that's all."
“Bother the appearances," growled Dick. “Then if you ask me how you're to get back, ma'am, why, if you're not too fine, and too delicate, you must walk, and if your appearances won't allow of that, why, you must hire a dog-cart, and get home that way-only you know Solomon cannot drive, and there are such things as broken necks, ma'am, even yet."
“But you'd far better let us have the chaise, Richard, and take places in the coach," persisted Barbara, who didn't wish to give up her point. “Just consider the expense you'll be at,really men are so extravagant when they get married, although they're nice and niggardly beforehand, as I've learnt to my cost.'
"Once for all, Mrs. Cash, allow me to tell you,” retorted Dick, who really did look angry for once, “that in my own domestic affairs I will not allow of any interference, and particularly from you; my own good and gentle wife," patting Lucy's shoulder, "henceforth shall be my only monitor, and from her only will I permit of any interference. For the future, you will confine your meddling mind in your own affairs, and rest assured that I shall resent any dictation in mine; so now good bye—waiter ! bring the bill this instant," and Dick rose up, and then sat down again, staring very hard at Barbara all the time, as if he fully meant what he said, and was resolved to stick to it, too.
"Well really, Richard,” said Barbara, with a sharp cough, which she manufactured at this juncture to give her time to consider what to say, "you really do—I'm sure I am quite surprised to hear you talking in this way; I'm sure a cannibal couldn't have addressed a victim at the stake more fiercely, just a moment before he set fire to the faggots that were to roast him into—really I never remember hearing what those people call human beings after they're cooked-do you, Solomon?
but however, it's no matter, and as I was saying, this speech of yours, Richard, has astonished me, and all I can say is, as our company isn't required, why, we won't inflict it longer upon you."
“Thank you, Barbara,” retorted Dick, in a firm voice,