Jamie looked into the stolid features of Mr. Obadiah, and laughed—laughed heartily, laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks. Not that he saw aught humorous there, but that he was told it was there, he aught to see it, and would be a fool if he were not convulsed by it.
Precisely the same thing happens with us. We look at and go into raptures over a picture, because it is by a Royal Academician who has been knighted on account of his brilliant successes. We are charmed at a cantata, stifling our yawns, because we are told by the art critics who are paid to puff it, that we are fools, and have no ears if we do not feel charmed by it. We rush to read a new novel, and find it vastly clever, because an eminent statesman has said on a postcard it has pleased him.
We laugh when told to laugh, condemn when told to condemn, and would stand on our heads if informed that it was bad for us to walk on our feet.
"There!" said Mr. Scantlebray, the valuer. "Them's ears."
"Crrrh!" went Mr. Obadiah, and the handkerchief, converted into a white bunny, shot from his hand up his sleeve.
"I can't drive, 'pon my honor; I'm too ill. You have done me for to-day," said Scantlebray the elder, the valuer. "Now, young hopeful, what say you? Will you make a rabbit, also? I'll give you a shilling if you will."
Thereupon Jamie took the kerchief and spread it out, and began to fold it. Whenever he went wrong Mr. Obadiah made signs, either by elevation of his brows and a little shake of his head, or by pointing, and his elder brother caught him at it and protested. Obadiah was the drollest fellow, he was incorrigible, as full of mischief as an egg is full of meat. There was no trusting him for a minute when the eye was off him.
"Come, Scanty! I'll put you on your honor. Look the other way." But a moment after—"Ah, for shame! there you are at it again. Young hopeful, you see what, a vicious brother I have; perfectly untrustworthy, but such a comical dog. Full of tricks up to the ears. You should see him make shadows on the wall. He can represent a pig eating out of a trough. You see the ears flap, the jaws move, the eye twinkle in appreciation of the barley-meal. It is to the life, and all done by the two hands—by one, I may say, for the other serves as trough.