The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 2, page 5 of 9)


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Chapter 2

"You scold her, Jack?" says Bentley, "yes, egad! in a voice as mild as a sucking dove! And when she wept, you'd frown tremendously to hide thine own tears, man, and end by smothering her with your kisses. And thus it has ever been--for her dead mother's sake!"

"But now," says I after a while, "the time is come to be resolute, for her sake--and her mother's."

"Aye," cries Jack, "we must be firm with her, we must be resolute! Penelope's my daughter and shall obey us for once, if we have to lock her up for a week. I'll teach her that our will is law, for once!"

"You're in the right on 't, Jack," says I, "we must show her that she can't ride rough-shod over us any longer. We must be stern to be kind."

"We must be adamant!" says Bentley, his eyes twinkling.

"We must be harsh," says I, "if need be and--"

But here, perceiving Bentley's face to be screwed up warningly, observing his ponderous wink and eloquent thumb, I glanced up and beheld Penelope herself regarding us from the doorway. And indeed, despite the pucker at her pretty brow, she looked as sweet and fresh and fair as an English summer morning. But Jack, all innocent of her presence, had caught the word from me.

"Harsh!" cries he, thumping the table at his elbow, "I'll warrant me I'll be harsh enough--if 'twas only on account of the fellow's poetry-stuff--the jade! We'll lock her up--aye, if need be, we'll starve her on bread and water, we'll--"

But he got no further, for Penelope had stolen up behind him and, throwing her arms round his neck, kissed him into staring silence.

"Uncle Bentley!" says she, giving him one white hand to kiss, "and you, dear uncle Dick!" and she gave me the other.

"What, my pretty lass!" cries Bentley, rising, and would have kissed the red curve of her smiling lips, but she stayed him with an authoritative finger.

"Nay, sir," says she, mighty demure, "you know my new rule,--from Monday to Wednesday my hand; from Wednesday to Saturday, my cheek; and on Sunday, my lips--and to-day is Tuesday, sir!"

"Drat my memory, so it is!" says Bentley, and kissed her slender fingers obediently, as I did likewise. Hereupon she turns, very high and haughty, to eye Jack slowly from head to foot, and to shake her head at him in dignified rebuke.

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