The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 2, page 4 of 9)


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Chapter 2

"Bah!" snorted Jack.

"'Dear Heart!'" read Bentley again and with a certain unction:

"'DEAR HEART,

I send you these few lines, poor though they be, for since they were inspired by my great love for thee, that of itself, methinks, should make them more worthy,

Thine, as ever, HORATIO.'"

"You mark that?" cries Jack, excitedly, "'hers as ever,' and 'Horatio!' Horatio--faugh! I could ha' taken it kinder had he called himself Tom, or Will, or George, but 'Horatio'--oh, damme! And now comes the poetry-stuff."

Hereupon Bentley hummed and ha'd, and clearing his throat, read this: "'When drowsy night with sombre wings O'er this world his shadow flings And thou, dear love, doth sleep, Then do I send my soul to thee Thy guardian till the dawn to be And thy sweet slumbers keep.'"

"'Slumbers keep,'" snorted Jack, "the insolence of the fellow! Now look on t'other side."

"'I shall be in the orchard to-morrow at the usual hour, in the hope of a word or a look from you.'"

Bentley read, and laid down the paper.

"At the usual hour--d'ye mark that!" cries Jack, thumping himself in the chest--"'tis become a habit with 'em, it seems--and there's for ye, and a nice kettle o' fish it is!"

"Ah, Bentley," says I, "if only your nephew, the young Viscount, were here--"

"To the deuce with Bentley's nephew!" roars Jack. "I say he shouldn't marry her now, no--not if he were ten thousand times Bentley's nephew, sir--deuce take him!"

"So then," says I, "all our plans are gone astray, and she will have her way and wed this adventurer Tawnish, I suppose?"

"No, no, Dick!" cries Jack; "curse me, am I not her father?"

"And is she not--herself?" says I.

"True!" Jack nodded, "and as stubborn as--as--"

"Her father!" added Bentley. "Why, Jack--Dick--I tell you she's ruled us all with a rod of iron ever since she used to climb up our knees to pull at our wigs with her little, mischievous fingers!"

"Such very small, pink fingers!" says I, sighing. "Indeed we've spoiled her wofully betwixt us."

"Ha!" snorted Jack, "and who's responsible for all this, I say; who's petted and pampered, and coddled and condoned her every fault? Why--you, Dick and Bentley. When I had occasion to scold or correct her, who was it used to sneak behind my back with their pockets bulging with cakes and sticky messes? Why, you, Dick and Bentley!"

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