Honouring the last feeble suggestion with no notice, Mrs Sparkler declared with bitterness that it really was too bad, and that positively it was enough to make one wish one was dead!
'However,' she said, when she had in some measure recovered from her sense of personal ill-usage; 'provoking as it is, and cruel as it seems, I suppose it must be submitted to.'
'Especially as it was to be expected,' said Mr Sparkler.
'Edmund,' returned his wife, 'if you have nothing more becoming to do than to attempt to insult the woman who has honoured you with her hand, when she finds herself in adversity, I think YOU had better go to bed!'
Mr Sparkler was much afflicted by the charge, and offered a most tender and earnest apology. His apology was accepted; but Mrs Sparkler requested him to go round to the other side of the sofa and sit in the window-curtain, to tone himself down.
'Now, Edmund,' she said, stretching out her fan, and touching him with it at arm's length, 'what I was going to say to you when you began as usual to prose and worry, is, that I shall guard against our being alone any more, and that when circumstances prevent my going out to my own satisfaction, I must arrange to have some people or other always here; for I really cannot, and will not, have another such day as this has been.'
Mr Sparkler's sentiments as to the plan were, in brief, that it had no nonsense about it. He added, 'And besides, you know it's likely that you'll soon have your sister--'
'Dearest Amy, yes!' cried Mrs Sparkler with a sigh of affection. 'Darling little thing! Not, however, that Amy would do here alone.'
Mr Sparkler was going to say 'No?' interrogatively, but he saw his danger and said it assentingly, 'No, Oh dear no; she wouldn't do here alone.'
'No, Edmund. For not only are the virtues of the precious child of that still character that they require a contrast--require life and movement around them to bring them out in their right colours and make one love them of all things; but she will require to be roused, on more accounts than one.'
'That's it,' said Mr Sparkler. 'Roused.'
'Pray don't, Edmund! Your habit of interrupting without having the least thing in the world to say, distracts one. You must be broken of it. Speaking of Amy;--my poor little pet was devotedly attached to poor papa, and no doubt will have lamented his loss exceedingly, and grieved very much. I have done so myself. I have felt it dreadfully. But Amy will no doubt have felt it even more, from having been on the spot the whole time, and having been with poor dear papa at the last; which I unhappily was not.'
Here Fanny stopped to weep, and to say, 'Dear, dear, beloved papa! How truly gentlemanly he was! What a contrast to poor uncle!'
'From the effects of that trying time,' she pursued, 'my good little Mouse will have to be roused. Also, from the effects of this long attendance upon Edward in his illness; an attendance which is not yet over, which may even go on for some time longer, and which in the meanwhile unsettles us all by keeping poor dear papa's affairs from being wound up. Fortunately, however, the papers with his agents here being all sealed up and locked up, as he left them when he providentially came to England, the affairs are in that state of order that they can wait until my brother Edward recovers his health in Sicily, sufficiently to come over, and administer, or execute, or whatever it may be that will have to be done.'
'He couldn't have a better nurse to bring him round,' Mr Sparkler made bold to opine.
'For a wonder, I can agree with you,' returned his wife, languidly turning her eyelids a little in his direction (she held forth, in general, as if to the drawing-room furniture), 'and can adopt your words. He couldn't have a better nurse to bring him round. There are times when my dear child is a little wearing to an active mind; but, as a nurse, she is Perfection. Best of Amys!'
Mr Sparkler, growing rash on his late success, observed that Edward had had, biggodd, a long bout of it, my dear girl.