The Honourable Mr. Tawnish (Chapter 8, page 3 of 4)

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Chapter 8

"Father," says she, "this is my husband--and I am proud to tell you so."

There was a moment's silence, and Jack's frown grew the blacker.

"Father," says she again, "I am not so simple but that I found out your quarrel with Sir Harry, and knew that you came hither to-day to meet your death--so--so I sought aid of this noble gentleman. Yet first I begged of him to marry me, that if--if he had died to-day in your place, I could have mourned him as a beloved husband. Can you forgive me, father?"

As Pen ended, she rose and approached Jack with outstretched hands; for a moment longer he hesitated--then he had her in his embrace.

"And you, Uncle Bentley," says she, looking at us from Jack's arms, "and, Uncle Dick, dear, tender Uncle Dick, can you forgive your wilful maid?"

"God knows, my dear, there's naught to forgive," says I, "save that you are leaving us--"

"Nay, Sir Richard," cries Mr. Tawnish, "Uncle Bentley has seen to that--"

"Uncle!" says Jack.

"Uncle!" says I.

"Can it be possible," says Mr. Tawnish, rising, "that you are still unaware of the relationship?"

"Bentley," cries Jack, "explain."

"To be sure," says Bentley, in his heavy way, pointing to Mr. Tawnish, "this is my sister's only child, Viscount Hazelmere!"

"What!" cries Jack, while I stood dumb with astonishment.

"As you remember, Jack and Dick," says Bentley, getting ponderously to his feet, "it was ever our wish that these two should marry, but, being young and hot-headed, the very expression of that wish was but the signal for them to set themselves to thwart it, even before they had ever seen each other. Therefore acting upon that very contrariness, I wrote to my graceless nephew there, telling him that he need have no fear for his freedom--that we had changed our plans with regard to him--that our Pen was a thousand times too good and sweet for such as he--which she is, mark you!--that she was a beauty, and reigning toast of all the South Country--which she likewise is, mark you--and, in a word, forbidding him to think any more about her. Whereupon, my young gentleman comes hot-foot back to England, to learn the why and wherefore--did the mightily indignant, an' it please you--and ended by vowing he'd marry her despite all three of us. As for Pen--oh, egad! I spun her a fine tale, I promise you--spoke of him as a poor young gentleman, penniless but proud, a man 'twould be folly for any maid to wed--and oh, Jack and Dick, it worked like a charm--she saw him and promptly fell in love with him, and he with her. Yet at this juncture, Jack, you must needs go nigh ruining all by your quarrel with Raikes; however, knowing my young rascal there plumed himself monstrously upon his swordsmanship, I offered to put it to the test, and found him mighty eager. But oh, curse me! as I watched them preparing to murder you, Jack, a little while since, and this nephew of mine failed to come, methought I should go mad! And to think that they were marrying each other all the time! Rat me, Dick and Jack! to-day will be the merriest Christmas of all--how say you?"

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