'I say there are secrets in all families.'
'So there are,' cried the other, clapping him on both shoulders, and rolling him backwards and forwards. 'Haha! you are right. So there are! Secrets! Holy Blue! There are the devil's own secrets in some families, Mr Flintwinch!' With that, after clapping Mr Flintwinch on both shoulders several times, as if in a friendly and humorous way he were rallying him on a joke he had made, he threw up his arms, threw back his head, hooked his hands together behind it, and burst into a roar of laughter. It was in vain for Mr Flintwinch to try another screw at him. He had his laugh out.
'But, favour me with the candle a moment,' he said, when he had done. 'Let us have a look at the husband of the remarkable lady. Hah!' holding up the light at arm's length. 'A decided expression of face here too, though not of the same character. Looks as if he were saying, what is it--Do Not Forget--does he not, Mr Flintwinch?
By Heaven, sir, he does!'
As he returned the candle, he looked at him once more; and then, leisurely strolling out with him into the hall, declared it to be a charming old house indeed, and one which had so greatly pleased him that he would not have missed inspecting it for a hundred pounds. Throughout these singular freedoms on the part of Mr Blandois, which involved a general alteration in his demeanour, making it much coarser and rougher, much more violent and audacious than before, Mr Flintwinch, whose leathern face was not liable to many changes, preserved its immobility intact. Beyond now appearing perhaps, to have been left hanging a trifle too long before that friendly operation of cutting down, he outwardly maintained an equable composure. They had brought their survey to a close in the little room at the side of the hall, and he stood there, eyeing Mr Blandois.
'I am glad you are so well satisfied, sir,' was his calm remark. 'I didn't expect it. You seem to be quite in good spirits.'
'In admirable spirits,' returned Blandois. 'Word of honour! never more refreshed in spirits. Do you ever have presentiments, Mr Flintwinch?'
'I am not sure that I know what you mean by the term, sir,' replied that gentleman.
'Say, in this case, Mr Flintwinch, undefined anticipations of pleasure to come.'
'I can't say I'm sensible of such a sensation at present,' returned Mr Flintwinch with the utmost gravity. 'If I should find it coming on, I'll mention it.'
'Now I,' said Blandois, 'I, my son, have a presentiment to-night that we shall be well acquainted. Do you find it coming on?'
'N-no,' returned Mr Flintwinch, deliberately inquiring of himself. 'I can't say I do.'
'I have a strong presentiment that we shall become intimately acquainted.--You have no feeling of that sort yet?'
'Not yet,' said Mr Flintwinch.
Mr Blandois, taking him by both shoulders again, rolled him about a little in his former merry way, then drew his arm through his own, and invited him to come off and drink a bottle of wine like a dear deep old dog as he was.
Without a moment's indecision, Mr Flintwinch accepted the invitation, and they went out to the quarters where the traveller was lodged, through a heavy rain which had rattled on the windows, roofs, and pavements, ever since nightfall. The thunder and lightning had long ago passed over, but the rain was furious. On their arrival at Mr Blandois' room, a bottle of port wine was ordered by that gallant gentleman; who (crushing every pretty thing he could collect, in the soft disposition of his dainty figure) coiled himself upon the window-seat, while Mr Flintwinch took a chair opposite to him, with the table between them. Mr Blandois proposed having the largest glasses in the house, to which Mr Flintwinch assented. The bumpers filled, Mr Blandois, with a roystering gaiety, clinked the top of his glass against the bottom of Mr Flintwinch's, and the bottom of his glass against the top of Mr Flintwinch's, and drank to the intimate acquaintance he foresaw.
Mr Flintwinch gravely pledged him, and drank all the wine he could get, and said nothing.