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Upon my word, sir,” said Harry, “I have not even formed a wish on the subject.”
“ If there is going to be a celebration,” said Frank, “ I prefer Rose Hill."
“ So I thought,” remarked Mary, laughing. “ So should I,” said Harry. * At à ball, I suppose,
I should be metamorphosed into a sort of lion, and I fear I should feel more like Bottom the weaver than the noble animal himself.”
“That's right, Harry," observed his mother; “be modest,
“But, now I think of it,” said Mr. Lennox, “I can't very well leave town Thursday: I have an engagement."
“If you mean the affair of Brinsley, I can attend to that, I think,” said Harry.
“And you," replied his mother, “how can you then join the party ?"
Oh, I don't mind. I shall rather prefer to stay in town.” “Well, that is one way to celebrate one's birthday, to be sure,” said Frank, laughing.
Harry is so odd,” exclaimed Mary. “I believe he really dislikes to be with his own family. He's all day at his business, and all the evening at political meetings, or clubs, or the theatre, or heaven knows where! He don't dine at home half the time, and when he does—”
Young men will be young men,” said his father ; thing is gained by curbing and advising them; though, to say truth, Harry, you have been rather erratic in your way of life lately."
often say men want not only severe application, but a knowledge of life.” Certainly, my dear boy, certainly; you are quite your
As to Rose Hill, we shall be obliged to give that for Thursday. I'm sorry, too, with this magnificent weather. But I'll make another proposition, which I hope won't shock your mother's sense of gravity. We'll have no celebration at all, but a quiet family dinner, with your uncle and aunt Henderson, and go in the evening to the theatre and hear Horn."
“I should like that better," said Mrs. Lennox.
And, father,” said Mary, “we'll ask the Eltons to dine, and take them with us. What say you, Frank ?"
- I'm sorry you
" Who! I ?” exclaimed Frank. “Oh, certainly. Anything for a quiet house--anybody. It's quite the same to
“Oh, you hypocrite!” said Mary. “You've no preference for Mrs. Elton! certainly not !”
“What do you mean by that, Mary?" asked Frank.
“And why not Mrs. Elton ?” said Mr. Lennox. “She is a very charming lady; a gay, amiable, excellent, and very handsome woman; a little eloquent, perhaps ; but I like her because she has a heart. Mrs. Elton is one of my beauties, although she is fifty.”
" Why, so are you fifty, father," said Mary, laughing, “ for the matter of that."
“ Don't mention it, I beg," cried Mr. Lennox. “I don't believe it. It's too ridiculous ! Why, I don't feel a bit older than I did when your too susceptible mamma first fell furiously in love with me."
“ Nonsense! Nor a bit wiser !” said his wife.
“ Wisdom? A fig for wisdom! What is it but caution and cunning, after all? What do we live for? Happiness. Thank Heaven, I've enjoyed it, and I shall leave it within the reach of my children. Let the unfortunate study wisdom; but for me, true wisdom is to enjoy. And yet fifty! I really can't believe it."
“It is nevertheless so," said Mrs. Lennox. “And there's Frank, a man, with a pair of, I must say, very impudentlooking whiskers, and a commission in the army. Here's Mary, a tall woman already ; and as for Harry, he's actually growing old and serious.
little know how short life is to those who look back."
“ Very true !" observed Lennox, intending to be grave, but failing in such a droll way as to make every one smile. " It seems but yesterday when I used to think a man of fifty a regular old codger, done with life, gouty, with a cracked voice, gold-headed cane, and a brown wig; and yet now, although arrived fairly at that awful age, I still feel myself the same wild, good-for-nothing young dog as ever."
“ And I don't see any particular difference in you either," said his wife, looking at him half reproachfully, half affectionately, “only you've grown rather younger and wilder.”
“ To be sure I have,” replied he; “and why? Because I have not troubled myself with wisdom! I've never fret
ted and moped about what couldn't be helped. I never thought an hour in my life; never studied more than was just necessary for the morrow. I've taken the world as it came, and not striven for what it did not give me. Do you suppose that, had I pleased, I could not have been as great as any of them? Couldn't I have shone at the bar, and shaken the Senate ? To be sure I could. But I disdained it. Fortune made me rich, and my own good sense kept me happy ; and, if that is not the true wisdom, I should like to know what is.”
" To do you justice,” said Mrs. Lennox, with a smile, “when you came to visit me-let me see! five-and-twenty years ago--you certainly were much graver and more sensible than you are now. I never saw such a gentle, lowspoken, modest person.
If I could have known what a hair-brained young madcap you would turn out at fifty, I shouldn't have had you !"
This was received with renewed laughter by the happy family circle.
“ And how they have gone, those five-and-twenty years !" added Mrs. Lennox. " And I wonder where we shall all be five-and-twenty years hence.”
“ Be? why here," replied Mr. Lennox; “ a little changed or so, but just here, Mary, looking very much what you are
Frank commander-in-chief, with his eyebrows and whiskers a little more bushy (if possible), and Harry a senator, or Secretary of State, perhaps, for he hasn't unfolded yet any actual designs on the presidential chair.”
“ How can you speak so lightly of such solemn things ?" said Mrs. Lennox. “How can you close your eyes to the possibility of a very different picture ?"
" I tell you what, madam,” said her husband, gayly, “I'll thank you to give us none of your wisdom. If you choose to go, why that's your affair: I don't; on the contrary, I mean to stay, and I don't think I need despair of providing myself with another helpmate. I know twenty fine women at this moment who would take
“I haven't the slightest doubt of it,” replied his wife, laughing at a reckless good-humour, to which she was too well accustomed to misunderstand it, and looking at him with an admiration which the five-and-twenty years aforesaid, whatever other revolutions they might have effected, had not changed.
“ Nor I," said he, elevating his chin a little, throwing back his shoulders into something of an attitude, and with a glance into a large mirror opposite, which was intended to pass for affectation, but in which, nevertheless, was no want of a little real vanity. “I think I'm tolerably well preserved! Hair-a touch of gray, perhaps ; complexion -a little richer than falls to the lot of inexperienced youth; a line or two in the face, here and there, only visible in the daylight; and, in fact, altogether,"
Pray take a warm cake, sir," interrupted Harry, laughing. To
say the truth, Mr. Lennox was a very handsome man. His once dark hair was not the less luxuriant or becomingly disposed, from the very general and decided change of colour which he was pleased to denominate a “ touch of gray." His complexion showed the natural effect of a long course of good living, in a gentlemanly ruddiness which scarcely detracted from his good looks. His person was tall, well formed, and dignified; his voice manly and pleasing, his eyes fine, and his manners particularly fascinating. In short, he was one of those persons whose appearance and address remind you of a duke or a prince, before you have time to reflect that dukes and princes are, by nature, no handsomer than other men. The benevolence, good humour, and esprit of his character discovered themselves in all he did and said, and the sort of thoughtlessness, which might appear startling in any other 'man of his age, threw around him only an air of originality.
“ To come back to Mrs. Elton, however,” said he, while he arranged upon his plate, and duly provided with pepper and salt, a piece of fresh, boiled shad (an exquisite delicacy, peculiar, we believe, to the United States, and some of the rivers of Spain), “ if I should be under the necessity of seeking a new helpmate, which, nevertheless, I hope won't be the case, Katy my dear, it wouldn't be the old lady I should make up to, by any manner of means. She has rather too redundant à flow of conversation for my quiet and retiring disposition. I should carry the war into another quarter."
And, pray, who would it be, father ?" inquired Mary. “Whom would you give me for a second mamma ?”
Why, that little witch Fanny, to be sure.” Mary and her mother here interchanged glances, and
says, to “
laughed with a significance which appeared, as Othello
mean something." “What are you laughing at, miss ?” demanded her father.
Oh, nothing, sir !" answered Mary, laughing still more. “ Come, now, I insist upon knowing.”
Why, only,” said Mrs. Lennox, “ if you have any serious intentions that way, your pride may have a fall.”
“ What do you mean ?"
“What! Fanny Elton ?" exclaimed Mr. Lennox, evidently surprised." Is it possible? And who is the fellow,
A glance, full of good-natured mischief, which Mary cast towards Frank, appeared to throw some light on the mystery. Frank returned it with a look of great indignation, but, at the same time, coloured obviously. “ What! the lieutenant ?” cried Mr. Lennox.
“ What, sir! you have hąd the audacity to-to-hey, sir ?"
“ It's the most absurd thing possible,” said Frank. Mary is always full of nonsensical ideas.”
“ You - need not look so angry,” said Mrs. Lennox. “ There's nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Ashamed ?" repeated Frank, with a certain dignity, rather thrown away, however, upon the company,
“ I'm not ashamed; but I think Mary might devise more profitable occupation than-than endeavouring to discover facts, and circulating reports of things which which do not exist."
Hoity toity! what a grand speech !” rejoined his father. “ Your indignation,” said Mrs. Lennox, “ reminds me, Frank, of the first time you ever put on a long-tailed coat. Mary had been teazing him all day about it, for she is a shameful teaze, and at last capped the climax by speaking, of it to some ladies who were paying me a visit. I shali never forget how Frank drew himself up, in his grand way, and said, “Mary's a mere child, and is always endeavouring to attract attention to every passing circumstance ! Poor Frank !"
“ Frank's famous for making memorable speeches,” said Mary, while all were laughing heartily except the object of the merriment. “Do you remember what he once told me about reading history ? I had asked him some question