"You are not to be excited, sir: compose yourself. You will recover and be strong to-morrow: you are at home; you are in your own house; you are in Laetitia's drawing-room. All will be clear to-morrow. Till to-morrow we talk riddles by consent. Sit, I beg. You stay with us."
Uncle Pyke, licking his chops anticipatorily of his bath in his soup, has been licking them also in relish of working off his daughter in this excellent match; Aunt Belle, kind, kind Aunt Belle, with a last satisfied eye about the appointments of the table, has patted her Laetitia's hand and conveyed to her, "Soon, soon, darling; soon, soon!"
Monday came. She was at this dinner, this festival for the consummation and celebration of the betrothal of beautiful Laetitia and Laetitia's darling Harry. That sick dis-ease of hers had wonderfully vanished when she came into the house, when she was hugged fit to crack her to Aunt Belle's bosom with "Dear child! Dear child! He's just arrived! He's with your uncle downstairs. Look at Laetitia!
"The axe is better than decay, do you not think?" "I think your influence will be great and always used to good purpose." "My influence, Miss Dale? I have begged a favour this morning and can not obtain the grant." It was lightly said, but Clara's face was more significant, and "What?" leaped from Laetitia's lips. Before she could excuse herself, Clara had answered: "My liberty."
But close it. An examination of Laetitia's faded complexion braced him very cordially. His Clara, jealous of this poor leaf!
Nor could the temptings of prudent counsel in his head induce him to run the risk of such a total turnover as the incurring of Laetitia's pity of himself by confiding in her. He checked that impulse also, and more sovereignly. For him to be pitied by Laetitia seemed an upsetting of the scheme of Providence.
It is his wish . . . his wish that I should promise to give my hand to Mr. Whitford. You see the kindness." Laetitia's eyes widened and fixed: "You think it kindness?" "The intention. He sent Mr. Whitford to me, and I was taught to expect him." "Was that quite kind to Mr. Whitford?" "What an impression I must have made on you during that walk to the cottage, Laetitia!
"He is my boy as well as yours. No chance of pardon?" "It's not likely." "Laetitia!" "What can I do?" "Oh! what can you not do?" "I do not know." "Teach him to forgive!" Laetitia's brows were heavy and Clara forbore to torment her. She would not descend to the family breakfast-table.
His excellent aunts had ventured a comment on his appearance that frightened him lest he himself should be the person to betray his astounding discomfiture. He regarded his conduct as an act of madness, and Laetitia's as no less that of a madwoman happily mad! Very happily mad indeed!
She had rebuked herself for want of reserve in the presence of Lady Busshe and Lady Culmer, and she was guilty of a slightly excessive containment when she next addressed Laetitia. It was, like Laetitia's look at Dr.