Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 3/Assize intelligence—very ordinary - Part 2

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Reader! Listen once again to the voice of wisdom—unto the words of Charley Davis:

By Jove, old fellow, a pretty girl is never more captivating than when she is making tea.”

It was the sight of Grace Wardleur, wielding the sugar-tongs, that elicited this observation whispered, parenthetically, into my ear as my cup was presented by the roundest and most snowy arm in the world—a plump chiseled arm, up and down which, as it was lifted and fell, a plain red gold bracelet slipped coquettishly, leaving behind it a track of little pink dimples that died out like blushes to mark where it had pressed—oh, lucky bracelet!—on the dainty limb! A cool fragrant arm draped bewitchingly in folds of soft and cloudy lace, and ending in a fairy hand that—— Woe is me! Oh! Charley!—of the piercing eye and silver tongue—how is this? You were my fag at school, and a dirty little dunce you were. Have you not come snivelling to me many a day to do your nonsense-verses for you? Candidly confess, Charley, that even now you are not a profound and learned pundit, and I will admit that the style in which you part your hair behind, and pin your scarf, is unapproachable,—that your self-confidence is sometimes quite appalling, and that what perhaps I shall best describe, by calling your “extra newspaper news,” about great and famous persons moving about in this world of ours, makes you the honoured guest alike of boudoir and smoking-room.

It was a mistake of mine, introducing you to this family, Charley Davis.

Jack Wardleur was a baby in arms when I was a young man. I have known the girls since they wore their hair in long tails dangling down their backs, and strummed the “Battle of Prague.” Their comely mother—God bless her!—was my kind and generous comforter in a very bitter trial years and years ago, when—but never mind. I was the white-headed boy of the house, the always welcome guest,—chief conspirator in all the little schemes and loving surprises that are always going on in this pleasant household. I am not less liked, or welcomed, or trusted, now; but, oh, Charley! Charley! why does winsome Grace cast down her violet eyes when you speak to her,—why have you assumed that humble air towards the gentle girl? What means that tremble in her voice, and why should you speak so low? Ah, me! You might—but, no matter. Let me proceed with my narration.

As soon as we had finished our tea, “Jack,” said Charley, “when you’ve quite done toasting your shins by the fire, perhaps you’ll come and be tried for your life.”

“All right,” said Jack coming forward, “but you can’t hang me for robbery.”

“Yes, but I can,” replied Charley, “at least, I can, and must order sentence of death to be recorded against you; should you be convicted of that, or any of six other crimes short of murder.”

“What are they?” inquired Grace.

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