'I knew it,' continued Theodosius, tragically; 'I knew it--I forwarded him a copy. He wished to know me. Could I disclose my real name? Never! No, I assumed that name which you have so often pronounced in tones of endearment. As M'Neville Walter, I devoted myself to the stirring cause; as M'Neville Walter I gained your heart; in the same character I was ejected from your house by your father's domestics; and in no character at all have I since been enabled to see you. We now meet again, and I proudly own that I am--Theodosius Butler.'
The young lady appeared perfectly satisfied with this argumentative address, and bestowed a look of the most ardent affection on the immortal advocate of bees'-wax.
'May I hope,' said he, 'that the promise your father's violent behaviour interrupted, may be renewed?'
'Let us join this set,' replied Lavinia, coquettishly--for girls of nineteen CAN coquette.
'No,' ejaculated he of the nankeens. 'I stir not from this spot, writhing under this torture of suspense. May I--may I--hope?'
'The promise is renewed?'
'I have your permission?'
'To the fullest extent?'
'You know it,' returned the blushing Lavinia. The contortions of the interesting Butler's visage expressed his raptures.
We could dilate upon the occurrences that ensued. How Mr. Theodosius and Miss Lavinia danced, and talked, and sighed for the remainder of the evening--how the Miss Crumptons were delighted thereat. How the writing-master continued to frisk about with one- horse power, and how his wife, from some unaccountable freak, left the whist-table in the little back-parlour, and persisted in displaying her green head-dress in the most conspicuous part of the drawing-room. How the supper consisted of small triangular sandwiches in trays, and a tart here and there by way of variety; and how the visitors consumed warm water disguised with lemon, and dotted with nutmeg, under the denomination of negus. These, and other matters of as much interest, however, we pass over, for the purpose of describing a scene of even more importance.
A fortnight after the date of the ball, Cornelius Brook Dingwall, Esq., M.P., was seated at the same library-table, and in the same room, as we have before described. He was alone, and his face bore an expression of deep thought and solemn gravity--he was drawing up 'A Bill for the better observance of Easter Monday.'
The footman tapped at the door--the legislator started from his reverie, and 'Miss Crumpton' was announced. Permission was given for Miss Crumpton to enter the sanctum; Maria came sliding in, and having taken her seat with a due portion of affectation, the footman retired, and the governess was left alone with the M.P. Oh! how she longed for the presence of a third party! Even the facetious young gentleman would have been a relief.
Miss Crumpton began the duet. She hoped Mrs. Brook Dingwall and the handsome little boy were in good health.
They were. Mrs. Brook Dingwall and little Frederick were at Brighton.
'Much obliged to you, Miss Crumpton,' said Cornelius, in his most dignified manner, 'for your attention in calling this morning. I should have driven down to Hammersmith, to see Lavinia, but your account was so very satisfactory, and my duties in the House occupy me so much, that I determined to postpone it for a week. How has she gone on?'
'Very well indeed, sir,' returned Maria, dreading to inform the father that she had gone off.
'Ah, I thought the plan on which I proceeded would be a match for her.'
Here was a favourable opportunity to say that somebody else had been a match for her. But the unfortunate governess was unequal to the task.
'You have persevered strictly in the line of conduct I prescribed, Miss Crumpton?'
'You tell me in your note that her spirits gradually improved.'
'Very much indeed, sir.'
'To be sure. I was convinced they would.'
'But I fear, sir,' said Miss Crumpton, with visible emotion, 'I fear the plan has not succeeded, quite so well as we could have wished.'
No!' exclaimed the prophet.