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“ What, not abuse me! did he not denounce me a renegade, or an apostate ?"
“ No, sir, he did not.” She paused, and slily added, did not know you had apostatised, sir, when he made the speech you allude to."
Apostatised !-you, too, madam!” he rejoined, with uncontrolled amazement at her confidence, and pulling off his cravat while he spoke.
“ You changed your mind, sir. Reuben did not know you had changed it. I did not know it myself, although I was your wife at the time."
"Probably not; I am not in the habit of communicating my political opinions to my wives."
“ At all events,” pursued Blanche, “whatever he did or said so long ago, it might very properly be forgotten now; he never intentionally offended you, and he has long sincerely regretted that he did so without intending it.”
The Bishop was silent for several minutes, saving the strange abnormal sounds which he was in the habit of uttering involuntarily. “ How comes it
, my dear,” he said at length, in an altered and subdued tone,“ how comes it that he has got, of a sudden, such a zealous advocate in you ?"
“Mr. Medlicott was an old flame of mine, you know, sir, that's one of my reasons for taking his part,” she replied, with the utmost gravity, while she picked up his cravat and other things which he had strewn on the floor.
“ Any other he continued, now speaking in the manner of a man who really wished to hear the entire of what his opponent
“For your own sake, sir, just as much as for his,” replied his wife; “nay, more for your own sake a great deal.”
“ An old flame of yours," murmured the Bishop; “how many flames had
I should like to know ?" “I am not in the habit,” said Blanche, parodying the odd expression the Bishop had used a little before, “ of communicating my love secrets to my husbands. However, I have no great objection to make you my confidant,-upon one condition."
He desired her to name it.
“ You must retract all your abuse of me awhile ago—you called me a rake—now am I a rake?”
“ It was too strong a word,” said the Bishop.
had to urge.
" And a careless wife ?"
you said I was an unnatural mother,—is that true ?" “ Polemical habits," said the Bishop, giving way now to his fair opponent right, left, and centre, “lead men sometimes to overcharge their statements.”
“ Well, sir, I'll now tell you all my love-secrets, I never had but one flame in my life; unfortunately for myself he was shockingly given to the habits you speak of.”
He must try to correct them,” said the Bishop, kissing her. “ Naughty habits for a divine, are they not?” said Blanche, radiant with her amiable triumph.
“Even divines are human," said her husband.
“ Dr Wyndham was never so foiled in debate from the day that he first entered the lists of controversy. Blanche was far too discreet to push her victory farther at the time. She said nothing more of Mr. Medlicott, but encouraged her husband to talk of his dinner at the Minister's, which he did until he fell asleep.
6 I'll try.”
A SCENE IN KENSINGTON GARDENS.
It was an important point gained, bringing Mr. Medlicott back into amicable relations with the old Prelate, whose virtues, as well as his faults, were thuinpers, and who, with his fame, rank, and force of character, made a powerful and splendid centre to the now rapidly extending family circle. The house was no longer divided against itself, and the amiable Blanche had earned the blessing of the peace-makers.
The next morning, at breakfast, to the vast astonishment of the Primroses, the Bishop was talking of Reuben as if he had never been estranged from him, and calmly discussing with his chaplain the pros and cons of his grandson's parliamentary success. Hyacinth was hopeful, as became a friend. The Bishop, more sagacious, argued nothing but failure from Mr. Medlicott's unfortunate mental habits, and particularly his morbid craving after applause and popularity. He spoke kindly however upon these points, and even referred with temper to Reuben's dangerous associations with the noisiest and most fanatical busy-bodies of the day. Mos. Wyndham secretely cherished a hope, that her experienced and strong-minded husband would soon begin to exert a useful influence in this respect over his descendant, and possibly succeed in withdrawing him from some of the most objectionable connections in which he was involved : but this was a vain expectation. The Bishop was too old a man now to engage in the task of reclaiming anybody whatever ; he was prepared to lay aside, and he did lay aside, every vestige of angry feeling, with the magnanimity that became him; but in the same philosophical spirit, he deliberately laid himself out to observe the rest of his grandson's career, as the mere working out of a sort of problem in the science of life ;-given, as it were, a certain redundancy of the faculty of speech, certain considerable powers of memory, a known amount of self-conceit
, a certain marked deficiency in resolution and perseverance, a wife and children, a seat in Parliament, and no stake in the country,—to determine what a man's place in the world will be at the expiration of a term of years.
The first meeting between the reconciled parties took place accidentally in Kensington Gardens. The Bishop was fond of taking a stately walk there now and then, attended by his suit, consisting of his wife, the Primroses, the nurse, and Uncle Tom, as the intant Wyndham was now generally called in the family. The Barsacs were always anxious to meet him there, but they were seldom successful, as the Bishop's times for doing any particular thing, or going any particular place, were not the most regular. It happened one day, however, that the Barsacs and Wyndhams met on the promenade, and formed a most imposing procession, marching in two lines, four abreast, the stout old Prelate slightly in advance of everybody, On his right, in the first line, was the nurse with Tom in her arms; on his left was Mr. Primrose, about whom there was now a good deal of clerical foppery, more than the Bishop liked. The Barsacs were in the rear, but as close to their right reverend son-in-law as they well could have been without treading on his heels. While they proceeded at the proper dignified pace, much noticed by the other promenaders, Mr. Barsac, to make himself as agreeable as pos
sible, began to talk of Parlianient with his usual pomposity, and soon fell
into his usual way of making dull hits at Reuben.
Eloquence won't do in the House of Commons now-a-days," said Barsac,
-“ if ever I go into Parliament”“ You will avoid that fault,” said the Bishop drily, taking Tom out of the nurse's arms as he spoke, and paying him much more respect than he paid his father-in-law.
“But, in fact," persisted the merchant, " that sort of thing is not oratory at all—that's what I mean to say, my lord.”
“ What sort of thing ?” asked the Bishop over his shoulder.
“You know, my lord, we were talking of Mr. Medlicott's style of speaking; you don't call that eloquence ?"
“ But I do, sir," replied the Prelate, stiffly.
Mr. Barsac was meditating how to back out of his unlucky criticisms, when Mrs. Wyndham exclaimed
Oh, I protest there is Mrs. Medlicott and her baby under the trees yonder !"
“ Where? which is Mrs. Medlicott ?” asked the Bishop, with anxiety, turning round to his wife.
Mrs. Wyndham pointed her out.
you hold Tom,”—and forgetting that the nurse was at his elbow, as well as his chaplain (who, indeed, often performed the duty of a bonne d'enfans), he placed Tom in the arms of the astonished Barsac, whose regard for his waistcoat and his nosegay made him always entertain the liveliest horror of infants of that age. Little cared the Bishop how Tom treated the merchant's gay bunch of exotics; he advanced to poor Mary Medlicott with a vigorous cordiality that charmed his wife and daughter, to whom this was a moment of the deepest interest. Mary, always timid before grandees, and apt to be alarmed by big wigs, was no sooner fluttered by the unexpectedness of this rencontre, than she was calmed and encouraged by the frankness and heartiness of the old man's voice and manner. He shook her by the hand, said he was to blame for not having known her before, but it was better late than never, and then he asked for her husband and her children with all the kindness of his softest hours.
“ Mr. Medlicott is not far off,” said Mary, still tremulous, but more with pleasure than awe ; “ he left me only this instant, to show Chichester the swans.
" And how is the little Chichester ? I have heard a great
deal of him. Tom and he must be friends," said the Bishop, taking a seat that was vacant beside Mrs. Medlicott,
Before he was seated there a minute, he had fixed an early day for her and her husband to dine with him. Mr. Medlicott himself joined them in a few moments, and great was his amazement, as he approached, when he saw the Bishop seated by the side of his wife. The old man rose, and received his grandson with a happy mixture of the freedom belonging to his advanced years and venerable relationship, and the deference due to a man of Reuben's ripe age and eminent position. It was altogether an interesting and striking incident of domestic life. The bewilderment of the Barsacs, who had looked upon the breach as incurable, and had treated the Medlicotts as ill as possible, to make themselves agreeable to the Bishop, was a curious part of the scene; but the most
, curious of all was the mutual introduction of the infant prodigies. The Bishop himself put Tom's little red fist into Chichester's still smaller and redder one. Tom had his other hand full of the remains of Barsac's bouquet, which he shared most good-humouredly with his new acquaintance.
“ Generous little fellow," cried Mrs. Barsac.
“ Haud sine diis animosus infans,” said Reuben, addressing himself to the Bishop, whom the quotation greatly pleased.
“ To whom should he be generous, if not to his grandnephew ?" said the chaplain. Very true,” said the old
6 that never occurred to me before; that is the relationship between the urchins."
The laughter was, in Homerio phrase, “ inextinguishable.” The Bishop leaned on Reuben's arm all the way back to his carriage. Mr. Barsac was as attentive to Mrs. Medlicott as if she had been a countess; and that very night a card of invitation to a distant dinner at Portland Place was delivered at the modest little house in Piccadilly.
They were now in the Easter recess.
“ The talking period of the session is happily over," said Mr. Medlicott to the Bishop on the day he dined with him, shall now, I hope, get some little business done; I have several irons in the fire myself.”
Keep the hammer going,” replied his grandfather, poking him slily under the midriff.
“ That's the true plan, sir," said Reuben, 666 constant strokes foll great oaks, as poor Richard says.”
“ We shall meet you and Mrs. Medlicott at my father's, I hope," said Mrs. Wyndham.