Tippin; after which, Mr. Tippin sang a comic song, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Tippin: the applause consequent upon which, was only to be exceeded by the enthusiastic approbation bestowed upon an air with variations on the guitar, by Miss Tippin, accompanied on the chin by Master Tippin.
Thus passed the evening; thus passed the days and evenings of the Tuggses, and the Waterses, for six weeks. Sands in the morning-- donkeys at noon--pier in the afternoon--library at night--and the same people everywhere.
On that very night six weeks, the moon was shining brightly over the calm sea, which dashed against the feet of the tall gaunt cliffs, with just enough noise to lull the old fish to sleep, without disturbing the young ones, when two figures were discernible--or would have been, if anybody had looked for them-- seated on one of the wooden benches which are stationed near the verge of the western cliff. The moon had climbed higher into the heavens, by two hours' journeying, since those figures first sat down--and yet they had moved not. The crowd of loungers had thinned and dispersed; the noise of itinerant musicians had died away; light after light had appeared in the windows of the different houses in the distance; blockade-man after blockade-man had passed the spot, wending his way towards his solitary post; and yet those figures had remained stationary. Some portions of the two forms were in deep shadow, but the light of the moon fell strongly on a puce-coloured boot and a glazed stock. Mr. Cymon Tuggs and Mrs. Captain Waters were seated on that bench. They spoke not, but were silently gazing on the sea.
'Walter will return to-morrow,' said Mrs. Captain Waters, mournfully breaking silence.
Mr. Cymon Tuggs sighed like a gust of wind through a forest of gooseberry bushes, as he replied, 'Alas! he will.'
'Oh, Cymon!' resumed Belinda, 'the chaste delight, the calm happiness, of this one week of Platonic love, is too much for me!' Cymon was about to suggest that it was too little for him, but he stopped himself, and murmured unintelligibly.
'And to think that even this gleam of happiness, innocent as it is,' exclaimed Belinda, 'is now to be lost for ever!'
'Oh, do not say for ever, Belinda,' exclaimed the excitable Cymon, as two strongly-defined tears chased each other down his pale face- -it was so long that there was plenty of room for a chase. 'Do not say for ever!'
'I must,' replied Belinda.
'Why?' urged Cymon, 'oh why? Such Platonic acquaintance as ours is so harmless, that even your husband can never object to it.'
'My husband!' exclaimed Belinda. 'You little know him. Jealous and revengeful; ferocious in his revenge--a maniac in his jealousy! Would you be assassinated before my eyes?' Mr. Cymon Tuggs, in a voice broken by emotion, expressed his disinclination to undergo the process of assassination before the eyes of anybody.
'Then leave me,' said Mrs. Captain Waters. 'Leave me, this night, for ever. It is late: let us return.'
Mr. Cymon Tuggs sadly offered the lady his arm, and escorted her to her lodgings. He paused at the door--he felt a Platonic pressure of his hand. 'Good night,' he said, hesitating.
'Good night,' sobbed the lady. Mr. Cymon Tuggs paused again.
'Won't you walk in, sir?' said the servant. Mr. Tuggs hesitated. Oh, that hesitation! He DID walk in.
'Good night!' said Mr. Cymon Tuggs again, when he reached the drawing-room.
'Good night!' replied Belinda; 'and, if at any period of my life, I--Hush!' The lady paused and stared with a steady gaze of horror, on the ashy countenance of Mr. Cymon Tuggs. There was a double knock at the street-door.
'It is my husband!' said Belinda, as the captain's voice was heard below.
'And my family!' added Cymon Tuggs, as the voices of his relatives floated up the staircase.
'The curtain! The curtain!' gasped Mrs. Captain Waters, pointing to the window, before which some chintz hangings were closely drawn.
'But I have done nothing wrong,' said the hesitating Cymon.