But for the rest, the hopeless glances that Hugh Van Orden cast toward her caused Adèle to flush, and Mrs. Haggage to become despondent and speechless and astonishingly rigid; and Petheridge Jukesbury's vaguely apologetic attitude toward the world struck Miss Hugonin as infinitely diverting.
His voice had risen to a querulous tone. Gently the fat old man restrained him. "Yes," said Petheridge Jukesbury; "dear me, yes. Why, dear me, of course." But his warning hand held Margaret back Margaret, who stood with big tears trickling down her cheeks.
Petheridge Jukesbury caught her as she fell, and began to blubber like a whipped schoolboy as he stood there holding her in his arms. But Billy was not dead. There was still a feeble, jerky fluttering in his big chest when Colonel Hugonin found him. His heart still moved, but under the Colonel's hand its stirrings were vague and aimless as those of a captive butterfly.
But, "The rats always desert a sinking ship," said Miss Hugonin, with the air of one delivering a particularly original sentiment. "They make me awfully tired, and I don't care for them in the least. But Petheridge Jukesbury is a dear, and I may be poor now, but I did try to do good with the money when I had it, and anyhow, Billy is going to get well."
"A beautiful evening," Petheridge Jukesbury suggested, after a little cogitation. She conceded that this was undeniable. "Where Nature smiles, and only the conduct of man is vile and altogether what it ought not to be," he continued, with unction "ah, how true that is and how consoling!
Ah, youth, youth! as the poet admirably says, Miss Hugonin, the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts, but its visions of existence are rose-tinged and free from care, and its conception of the responsibilities of manhood such as taxes and the water-rate I may safely characterise as extremely sketchy. But pray be seated, Miss Hugonin," Petheridge Jukesbury blandly urged.
"Oh! not at all," replied the girl, sealing a letter which she had just written. "Mother has gone to Warwickshire, and I'm going out to lunch with May Petheridge, an old schoolfellow of mine." "Oh! Then I won't keep you," said the smug lover of Lady Ranscomb's choice.
Thanks," he added, "to Mr. er Jukesbury here whose prompt action was, under Heaven, undoubtedly the means of staving off meningitis and probably indeed, more than probably the means of saving Mr. Woods's life. It was splendid, sir, splendid! No doctor why, God bless my soul!" For Miss Hugonin had thrown her arms about Petheridge Jukesbury's neck and had kissed him vigorously.
I erected a tomb to her at considerable personal expense, but I don't begrudge it no, I don't begrudge it, Miss Hugonin. She was very hard to live with. But she was an angel, and angels are rare. Miss Hugonin," said Petheridge Jukesbury, with emphasis, "you are an angel." "Oh, dear, dear!" said Margaret, to herself; "I do wish I'd gone to bed directly after dinner!" Above them the Eagle brooded.
Kennaston's fault, she assured a pricking conscience, as she went out on the terrace before Selwoode. He had bothered her dreadfully. There she found Petheridge Jukesbury smoking placidly in the effulgence of the moonlight; and the rotund, pasty countenance he turned toward her was ludicrously like the moon's counterfeit in muddy water. I am sorry to admit it, but Mr.