"Cousin Richard," said Ada then, raising her blue eyes tenderly to his face, "after what our cousin John has said, I think no choice is left us. Your mind may he quite at ease about me, for you will leave me here under his care and will be sure that I can have nothing to wish for--quite sure if I guide myself by his advice. I--I don't doubt, cousin Richard," said Ada, a little confused, "that you are very fond of me, and I--I don't think you will fall in love with anybody else. But I should like you to consider well about it too, as I should like you to be in all things very happy. You may trust in me, cousin Richard. I am not at all changeable; but I am not unreasonable, and should never blame you. Even cousins may be sorry to part; and in truth I am very, very sorry, Richard, though I know it's for your welfare. I shall always think of you affectionately, and often talk of you with Esther, and--and perhaps you will sometimes think a little of me, cousin Richard. So now," said Ada, going up to him and giving him her trembling hand, "we are only cousins again, Richard--for the time perhaps-- and I pray for a blessing on my dear cousin, wherever he goes!"
It was strange to me that Richard should not be able to forgive my guardian for entertaining the very same opinion of him which he himself had expressed of himself in much stronger terms to me. But it was certainly the case. I observed with great regret that from this hour he never was as free and open with Mr. Jarndyce as he had been before. He had every reason given him to be so, but he was not; and solely on his side, an estrangement began to arise between them.
In the business of preparation and equipment he soon lost himself, and even his grief at parting from Ada, who remained in Hertfordshire while he, Mr. Jarndyce, and I went up to London for a week. He remembered her by fits and starts, even with bursts of tears, and at such times would confide to me the heaviest self- reproaches. But in a few minutes he would recklessly conjure up some undefinable means by which they were both to be made rich and happy for ever, and would become as gay as possible.
It was a busy time, and I trotted about with him all day long, buying a variety of things of which he stood in need. Of the things he would have bought if he had been left to his own ways I say nothing. He was perfectly confidential with me, and often talked so sensibly and feelingly about his faults and his vigorous resolutions, and dwelt so much upon the encouragement he derived from these conversations that I could never have been tired if I had tried.
There used, in that week, to come backward and forward to our lodging to fence with Richard a person who had formerly been a cavalry soldier; he was a fine bluff-looking man, of a frank free bearing, with whom Richard had practised for some months. I heard so much about him, not only from Richard, but from my guardian too, that I was purposely in the room with my work one morning after breakfast when he came.
"Good morning, Mr. George," said my guardian, who happened to be alone with me. "Mr. Carstone will be here directly. Meanwhile, Miss Summerson is very happy to see you, I know. Sit down."
He sat down, a little disconcerted by my presence, I thought, and without looking at me, drew his heavy sunburnt hand across and across his upper lip.
"You are as punctual as the sun," said Mr. Jarndyce.
"Military time, sir," he replied. "Force of habit. A mere habit in me, sir. I am not at all business-like."
"Yet you have a large establishment, too, I am told?" said Mr. Jarndyce.
"Not much of a one, sir. I keep a shooting gallery, but not much of a one."
"And what kind of a shot and what kind of a swordsman do you make of Mr. Carstone?" said my guardian.
"Pretty good, sir," he replied, folding his arms upon his broad chest and looking very large. "If Mr. Carstone was to give his full mind to it, he would come out very good."
"But he don't, I suppose?" said my guardian.