"Father, Miss Summerson; Miss Jellyby."
"Charmed! Enchanted!" said Mr. Turveydrop, rising with his high- shouldered bow. "Permit me!" Handing chairs. "Be seated!" Kissing the tips of his left fingers. "Overjoyed!" Shutting his eyes and rolling. "My little retreat is made a paradise." Recomposing himself on the sofa like the second gentleman in Europe.
"Again you find us, Miss Summerson," said he, "using our little arts to polish, polish! Again the sex stimulates us and rewards us by the condescension of its lovely presence. It is much in these times (and we have made an awfully degenerating business of it since the days of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent--my patron, if I may presume to say so) to experience that deportment is not wholly trodden under foot by mechanics. That it can yet bask in the smile of beauty, my dear madam."
I said nothing, which I thought a suitable reply; and he took a pinch of snuff.
"My dear son," said Mr. Turveydrop, "you have four schools this afternoon. I would recommend a hasty sandwich."
"Thank you, father," returned Prince, "I will be sure to be punctual. My dear father, may I beg you to prepare your mind for what I am going to say?"
"Good heaven!" exclaimed the model, pale and aghast as Prince and Caddy, hand in hand, bent down before him. "What is this? Is this lunacy! Or what is this?"
"Father," returned Prince with great submission, "I love this young lady, and we are engaged."
"Engaged!" cried Mr. Turveydrop, reclining on the sofa and shutting out the sight with his hand. "An arrow launched at my brain by my own child!"
"We have been engaged for some time, father," faltered Prince, "and Miss Summerson, hearing of it, advised that we should declare the fact to you and was so very kind as to attend on the present occasion. Miss Jellyby is a young lady who deeply respects you, father."
Mr. Turveydrop uttered a groan.
"No, pray don't! Pray don't, father," urged his son. "Miss Jellyby is a young lady who deeply respects you, and our first desire is to consider your comfort."
Mr. Turveydrop sobbed.
"No, pray don't, father!" cried his son.
"Boy," said Mr. Turveydrop, "it is well that your sainted mother is spared this pang. Strike deep, and spare not. Strike home, sir, strike home!"
"Pray don't say so, father," implored Prince, in tears. "It goes to my heart. I do assure you, father, that our first wish and intention is to consider your comfort. Caroline and I do not forget our duty--what is my duty is Caroline's, as we have often said together--and with your approval and consent, father, we will devote ourselves to making your life agreeable."
"Strike home," murmured Mr. Turveydrop. "Strike home!" But he seemed to listen, I thought, too.
"My dear father," returned Prince, "we well know what little comforts you are accustomed to and have a right to, and it will always be our study and our pride to provide those before anything. If you will bless us with your approval and consent, father, we shall not think of being married until it is quite agreeable to you; and when we ARE married, we shall always make you--of course-- our first consideration. You must ever be the head and master here, father; and we feel how truly unnatural it would be in us if we failed to know it or if we failed to exert ourselves in every possible way to please you."
Mr. Turveydrop underwent a severe internal struggle and came upright on the sofa again with his cheeks puffing over his stiff cravat, a perfect model of parental deportment.
"My son!" said Mr. Turveydrop. "My children! I cannot resist your prayer. Be happy!"
His benignity as he raised his future daughter-in-law and stretched out his hand to his son (who kissed it with affectionate respect and gratitude) was the most confusing sight I ever saw.
"My children," said Mr. Turveydrop, paternally encircling Caddy with his left arm as she sat beside him, and putting his right hand gracefully on his hip. "My son and daughter, your happiness shall be my care.