Thurveydrop, in virtue of his deportment, considering himself vastly superior to all the company--it was a very unpromising case.
At last the time came when poor Caddy was to go and when all her property was packed on the hired coach and pair that was to take her and her husband to Gravesend. It affected us to see Caddy clinging, then, to her deplorable home and hanging on her mother's neck with the greatest tenderness.
"I am very sorry I couldn't go on writing from dictation, Ma," sobbed Caddy. "I hope you forgive me now."
"Oh, Caddy, Caddy!" said Mrs. Jellyby. "I have told you over and over again that I have engaged a boy, and there's an end of it."
"You are sure you are not the least angry with me, Ma? Say you are sure before I go away, Ma?"
"You foolish Caddy," returned Mrs. Jellyby, "do I look angry, or have I inclination to be angry, or time to be angry? How CAN you?"
"Take a little care of Pa while I am gone, Mama!"
Mrs. Jellyby positively laughed at the fancy. "You romantic child," said she, lightly patting Caddy's back. "Go along. I am excellent friends with you. Now, good-bye, Caddy, and be very happy!"
Then Caddy hung upon her father and nursed his cheek against hers as if he were some poor dull child in pain. All this took place in the hall. Her father released her, took out his pocket handkerchief, and sat down on the stairs with his head against the wall. I hope he found some consolation in walls. I almost think he did.
And then Prince took her arm in his and turned with great emotion and respect to his father, whose deportment at that moment was overwhelming.
"Thank you over and over again, father!" said Prince, kissing his hand. "I am very grateful for all your kindness and consideration regarding our marriage, and so, I can assure you, is Caddy."
"Very," sobbed Caddy. "Ve-ry!"
"My dear son," said Mr. Turveydrop, "and dear daughter, I have done my duty. If the spirit of a sainted wooman hovers above us and looks down on the occasion, that, and your constant affection, will be my recompense. You will not fail in YOUR duty, my son and daughter, I believe?"
"Dear father, never!" cried Prince.
"Never, never, dear Mr. Turveydrop!" said Caddy.
"This," returned Mr. Turveydrop, "is as it should be. My children, my home is yours, my heart is yours, my all is yours. I will never leave you; nothing but death shall part us. My dear son, you contemplate an absence of a week, I think?"
"A week, dear father. We shall return home this day week."
"My dear child," said Mr. Turveydrop, "let me, even under the present exceptional circumstances, recommend strict punctuality. It is highly important to keep the connexion together; and schools, if at all neglected, are apt to take offence."
"This day week, father, we shall be sure to be home to dinner."
"Good!" said Mr. Turveydrop. "You will find fires, my dear Caroline, in your own room, and dinner prepared in my apartment. Yes, yes, Prince!" anticipating some self-denying objection on his son's part with a great air. "You and our Caroline will be strange in the upper part of the premises and will, therefore, dine that day in my apartment. Now, bless ye!"
They drove away, and whether I wondered most at Mrs. Jellyby or at Mr. Turveydrop, I did not know. Ada and my guardian were in the same condition when we came to talk it over. But before we drove away too, I received a most unexpected and eloquent compliment from Mr. Jellyby. He came up to me in the hall, took both my hands, pressed them earnestly, and opened his mouth twice. I was so sure of his meaning that I said, quite flurried, "You are very welcome, sir. Pray don't mention it!"
"I hope this marriage is for the best, guardian," said I when we three were on our road home.
"I hope it is, little woman. Patience. We shall see."
"Is the wind in the east to-day?" I ventured to ask him.
He laughed heartily and answered, "No."
"But it must have been this morning, I think," said I.
He answered "No" again, and this time my dear girl confidently answered "No" too and shook the lovely head which, with its blooming flowers against the golden hair, was like the very spring. "Much YOU know of east winds, my ugly darling," said I, kissing her in my admiration--I couldn't help it.