The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 3, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 3

"Why then," says I, "go you on to the house; I'm minded to walk in the rose-garden awhile," for I had caught the flutter of Pen's cloak at the end of one of the walks.

"Walk?" repeated Bentley, staring. "Rose-garden? But Jack will be for a game of picquet--"

"I'll be with you anon," says I, turning away.

"Hum!" says Bentley, scratching his chin, and presently sets off towards the house, whistling lustily.

I found Penelope in the yew-walk, leaning against the statue of a satyr. And looking from the grotesque features above to the lovely face below, I suddenly found my old heart a-thumping strangely--for beside this very statue, in almost the same attitude, her mother had once stood long ago to listen to the tale of my hopeless love. For a moment it almost seemed that the years had rolled backward, it almost seemed that the thin grey hair beneath my wig might be black once more, my step light and elastic with youth. Instinctively, I reached out my hands and took a swift step across the grass, then, all at once she looked up, and seeing me, smiled.

My hands dropped.

"Penelope," I said.

"Uncle Dick," says she, her smile fading, "why, what is it?"

"Naught, my dear," says I, trying to smile, "old men have strange fancies at times--"

"Nay, but what was it?" she repeated, catching my hands in hers.

"Child," says I, "child, you are greatly like what your mother was before you."

"Am I?" says she very low, looking at me with a new light in her eyes. Then she leaned suddenly forward and kissed me.

"Why, Pen!" says I, all taken aback.

"I know," she nodded, "on Monday my hand, on Wednesday my cheek, and on Sunday my lips--"

"And to-day is Friday!"

"What if it is, sir," says she, tossing her head, "I made that rule simply for peace and quietness sake; you and Uncle Bentley were forever pestering me to death, you know you were."

"Were we?" says I, chuckling, "well, I'm one ahead of him to-day, anyhow, Pen."

Talking thus, we came to the rose-garden (Pen's special care) and here we must needs fall a-sorrowing over the dead flowers.

"And yet," says Pen, pausing beside a bush whereon hung a few faded blooms, "all will be as sweet, and fresh, and glorious again next year."

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