and Major Soames. It seems to me everybody is going to call. I foresee we shall be quite besieged, Pauline — I do indeed."
"You had better not let them all in at once," said Charlotte, mischievously, "or they may do as the besiegers sometimes did of old, turn upon each other. Admit them one by one, Aunt Camilla, 'on approbation,' as the shopmen say."
"Are all to be admitted — all, without exception, dear?" Mrs. Jermyn was looking significantly at her sister as she spoke, and the look evidently recalled something to Mrs. Wyndham's remembrance.
"What do you say, Pauline? Shall it be a fair field and no favor? Are we to extend our gracious permission to all, even to this terrible Mr. Blundell?"
"Mr. Blundell!" said Pauline, with a little start.
"Perhaps Pauline may not like to hear him called 'terrible,'" said Mrs. Jermyn. "Did you not say he was a friend, my dear?"
She had not said it, but this escaped the girl. She was upset all in a moment, and her color went and came, as she answered, stammering, "Of Tom's, yes. I have only met him once, some years ago."
"So you see he may not be 'terrible' at all!" cried Mrs. Jermyn, gaily. "Do you know he is going to be your next neighbor?"
Pauline made no reply.
"For my part, I love a 'terrible' man," babbled Mrs. Wyndham. "And to confess the truth, the man whom I am warned to barricade my doors against, is the very man whom I should like of all others to open them to."
"My dear Camilla!" But Mrs. Jermyn laughed. By this time Pauline was ready to speak, and there was something she wished to say.
"Mr. Blundell was very kind to Tom when he was a schoolboy, and afterwards I met him at my aunt's, Lady Calverley's. We all liked him very much then. Is there any reason why he — is there anything agaist him?" she asked, plainly, and then her heart beat with the consciousness of having put a great, simple question.
"Oh dear, no," exclaimed Mrs. Jermyn, fervently. "At least I cannot imagine that there is. You did not hear anything, did you? If there had been anything detrimental to him to be said, it would certainly have been mentioned at Finch Hall. Mr. Blundell is a little talked about in some quarters, but there cannot be anything really of any consequence against his character, or Sir John, who is such a good judge, and such a particular man in every respect, would have been sure to know."
Mrs. Wyndham stared.
How odd! Had Selina really missed that scene at dinner, heard nothing of that little ebullition between Sir John and his son, all about this very Mr. Blundell? So outspoken as Sir John had been! so loud and noisy about it! Mrs. Wyndham thought that nobody present could by any chance have escaped hearing him.
Dear! Did Camilla really mean it? When, how, and where was it? Mrs. Jermyn could hardly believe such a thing. What? Sir John so determined against him? So resolved to have no intercourse? Was Camilla sure about it? How extraordinary! There must really be something more — more — there must, she was afraid, be some truth in the reports spread abroad, which, for her part, she had always, hitherto so strenuously refused to believe.
Then she looked her desire for more.
Mrs. Wyndham had only been waiting for a pause, and was ready to strike in immediately.
She could not understand how Selina had not heard him. Selina was certainly not too far off. Every one round had listened. Pauline had, surely, observed the scene? — had noticed how annoyed young Mr. Finch had been, and how he had done his best to keep his father quiet?
Yes, Pauline allowed, she had. And Pauline had an intuition, amounting to a certainty, that so also had the lady opposite her.
Why Mrs. Jermyn should care to conceal that such was the case she could not conjecture, but of the fact she was certain.
For ends of her own, she was making use of what had escaped from an incautious old man in a fit of ill-temper.
Was Pauline going to be so imposed upon? She dissolved the whole testimony in her scorn, and threw it over.
From The Fortnightly Review.
Of all men in the world the biographer of Lamb deserved to be fortunate in his own biographer, and the volume before us, fragmentary as it is, conveys a complete impression of the charm which the compiler has felt. We hardly know Mr. Procter when we have read it, but we
- Bryan Walter Procter (Barry Cornwall). G. Bell and Sons.