However, as he is now gone so far away and for an indefinite time, and as he will have good opportunities and introductions, we may consider this past and gone. And you, my dear," said the old lady, who was now all nods and smiles, "regarding your dear self, my love?"
"Me, Mrs. Woodcourt?"
"Not to be always selfish, talking of my son, who has gone to seek his fortune and to find a wife--when do you mean to seek YOUR fortune and to find a husband, Miss Summerson? Hey, look you! Now you blush!"
I don't think I did blush--at all events, it was not important if I did--and I said my present fortune perfectly contented me and I had no wish to change it.
"Shall I tell you what I always think of you and the fortune yet to come for you, my love?" said Mrs. Woodcourt.
"If you believe you are a good prophet," said I.
"Why, then, it is that you will marry some one very rich and very worthy, much older--five and twenty years, perhaps--than yourself. And you will be an excellent wife, and much beloved, and very happy."
"That is a good fortune," said I. "But why is it to be mine?"
"My dear," she returned, "there's suitability in it--you are so busy, and so neat, and so peculiarly situated altogether that there's suitability in it, and it will come to pass. And nobody, my love, will congratulate you more sincerely on such a marriage than I shall."
It was curious that this should make me uncomfortable, but I think it did. I know it did. It made me for some part of that night uncomfortable. I was so ashamed of my folly that I did not like to confess it even to Ada, and that made me more uncomfortable still. I would have given anything not to have been so much in the bright old lady's confidence if I could have possibly declined it. It gave me the most inconsistent opinions of her. At one time I thought she was a story-teller, and at another time that she was the pink of truth. Now I suspected that she was very cunning, next moment I believed her honest Welsh heart to be perfectly innocent and simple. And after all, what did it matter to me, and why did it matter to me? Why could not I, going up to bed with my basket of keys, stop to sit down by her fire and accommodate myself for a little while to her, at least as well as to anybody else, and not trouble myself about the harmless things she said to me? Impelled towards her, as I certainly was, for I was very anxious that she should like me and was very glad indeed that she did, why should I harp afterwards, with actual distress and pain, on every word she said and weigh it over and over again in twenty scales? Why was it so worrying to me to have her in our house, and confidential to me every night, when I yet felt that it was better and safer somehow that she should be there than anywhere else? These were perplexities and contradictions that I could not account for. At least, if I could--but I shall come to all that by and by, and it is mere idleness to go on about it now.
So when Mrs. Woodcourt went away, I was sorry to lose her but was relieved too. And then Caddy Jellyby came down, and Caddy brought such a packet of domestic news that it gave us abundant occupation.
First Caddy declared (and would at first declare nothing else) that I was the best adviser that ever was known. This, my pet said, was no news at all; and this, I said, of course, was nonsense. Then Caddy told us that she was going to be married in a month and that if Ada and I would be her bridesmaids, she was the happiest girl in the world. To be sure, this was news indeed; and I thought we never should have done talking about it, we had so much to say to Caddy, and Caddy had so much to say to us.
It seemed that Caddy's unfortunate papa had got over his bankruptcy--"gone through the Gazette," was the expression Caddy used, as if it were a tunnel--with the general clemency and commiseration of his creditors, and had got rid of his affairs in some blessed manner without succeeding in understanding them, and had given up everything he possessed (which was not worth much, I should think, to judge from the state of the furniture), and had satisfied every one concerned that he could do no more, poor man. So, he had been honourably dismissed to "the office" to begin the world again.