Badger pursued the conversation, we both felt that it was disinterested in them to express the opinion they had communicated to us and that there was a great probability of its being sound. We agreed to say nothing to Mr. Jarndyce until we had spoken to Richard; and as he was coming next evening, we resolved to have a very serious talk with him.
So after he had been a little while with Ada, I went in and found my darling (as I knew she would be) prepared to consider him thoroughly right in whatever he said.
"And how do you get on, Richard?" said I. I always sat down on the other side of him. He made quite a sister of me.
"Oh! Well enough!" said Richard.
"He can't say better than that, Esther, can he?" cried my pet triumphantly.
I tried to look at my pet in the wisest manner, but of course I couldn't.
"Well enough?" I repeated.
"Yes," said Richard, "well enough. It's rather jog-trotty and humdrum. But it'll do as well as anything else!"
"Oh! My dear Richard!" I remonstrated.
"What's the matter?" said Richard.
"Do as well as anything else!"
"I don't think there's any harm in that, Dame Durden," said Ada, looking so confidingly at me across him; "because if it will do as well as anything else, it will do very well, I hope."
"Oh, yes, I hope so," returned Richard, carelessly tossing his hair from his forehead. "After all, it may be only a kind of probation till our suit is--I forgot though. I am not to mention the suit. Forbidden ground! Oh, yes, it's all right enough. Let us talk about something else."
Ada would have done so willingly, and with a full persuasion that we had brought the question to a most satisfactory state. But I thought it would be useless to stop there, so I began again.
"No, but Richard," said I, "and my dear Ada! Consider how important it is to you both, and what a point of honour it is towards your cousin, that you, Richard, should be quite in earnest without any reservation. I think we had better talk about this, really, Ada. It will be too late very soon."
"Oh, yes! We must talk about it!" said Ada. "But I think Richard is right."
What was the use of my trying to look wise when she was so pretty, and so engaging, and so fond of him!
"Mr. and Mrs. Badger were here yesterday, Richard," said I, "and they seemed disposed to think that you had no great liking for the profession."
"Did they though?" said Richard. "Oh! Well, that rather alters the case, because I had no idea that they thought so, and I should not have liked to disappoint or inconvenience them. The fact is, I don't care much about it. But, oh, it don't matter! It'll do as well as anything else!"
"You hear him, Ada!" said I.
"The fact is," Richard proceeded, half thoughtfully and half jocosely, "it is not quite in my way. I don't take to it. And I get too much of Mrs. Bayham Badger's first and second."
"I am sure THAT'S very natural!" cried Ada, quite delighted. "The very thing we both said yesterday, Esther!"
"Then," pursued Richard, "it's monotonous, and to-day is too like yesterday, and to-morrow is too like to-day."
"But I am afraid," said I, "this is an objection to all kinds of application--to life itself, except under some very uncommon circumstances."
"Do you think so?" returned Richard, still considering. "Perhaps! Ha! Why, then, you know," he added, suddenly becoming gay again, "we travel outside a circle to what I said just now. It'll do as well as anything else. Oh, it's all right enough! Let us talk about something else."
But even Ada, with her loving face--and if it had seemed innocent and trusting when I first saw it in that memorable November fog, how much more did it seem now when I knew her innocent and trusting heart--even Ada shook her head at this and looked serious. So I thought it a good opportunity to hint to Richard that if he were sometimes a little careless of himself, I was very sure he never meant to be careless of Ada, and that it was a part of his affectionate consideration for her not to slight the importance of a step that might influence both their lives.