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They had been married a week. A slight change, but quite distinct to an observer of her sex, bloomed in Lucy's face and manner. A new beauty was in her face--the blossom of wifehood. Her eyes, though not less modest, were less timid than before; and now they often met David's full, and seemed to sip affection at them. When he came near her, her lovely frame showed itself conscious of his approach. His queen, though he did not know it, was his vassal. They sat at table at a little inn, twenty miles from Harrowden, for they were on their return to Mrs. Wilson. Lucy went to the window while David settled the bill. At the window it is probable she had her own thoughts, for she glided up behind David, and, fanning his hair with her cool, honeyed breath, she said, in the tone of a humble inquirer seeking historical or antiquarian information, "I want to ask you a question, David: are you happy too?"
David answered promptly, but inarticulately; so his reply is lost to posterity. Conjecture alone survives.
One disappointment awaited Lucy at Mrs. Wilson's. There were several letters for both David and her, but none from Mr. Bazalgette. She knew by that she had lost his respect. She could not blame him, for she saw how like disingenuousness and hypocrisy her conduct must look to him. "I must trust to time and opportunity," she said, with a sigh. She proposed to David to read all her letters, and she would read all his. He thought this a droll idea; but nothing that identified him with his royal vassal came amiss. The first letter of Lucy's that David opened was from Mr. Talboys.
"DEAR MADAM--I have heard of your marriage with Mr. Dodd, and desire to offer both you and him my cordial congratulations.
"I feel under considerable obligation to Mr. Dodd; and, should my house ever have a mistress, I hope she will be able to tempt you both to renew our acquaintance under my roof, and so give me once more that opportunity I have too little improved of showing you both the sincere respect and gratitude with which I am,
"Your very faithful servant,
Lucy was delighted with this note. "Who says it was nothing to have been born a gentleman?"
The second letter was from Reginald No. 2; and, if I only give the reader a fragment of it, I still expect his gratitude, all one as if I had disinterred a fragment of Orpheus or Tiresias.
Dear lucy. It is very ungust of you to go and Mary other peeple wen you Promised me. but it is mr. dod. So i dont so much mind i like Mr. dod. he is a duc. and they all Say i am too litle and jane says Sailors always end by been Drouned so it is only put off. But you reely must keep your Promise to me. wen i am biger And mr. Dod is drouned. my Ginny pigs--
Here a white hand drew the pleasing composition out of David's hand, and dropped it on the floor; two piteous, tearful eyes were bent on him, and a white arm went tenderly round his neck to save him from the threatened fate.
At this sight Eve pounced on the horrid scroll, and hurled it, with general acclamation, into the flames.
Thus that sweet infant revenged himself, and, like Sampson, hit hardest of all at parting--in tears and flame vanished from written fiction, and, I conclude, went back to Gavarni.
There was a letter from Mr. Fountain--all fire and fury. She was never to write or speak to him any more. He was now looking out for a youth of good family to adopt and to make a Fontaine of by act of Parliament, etc., etc. A fusillade of written thunderbolts.
There was another from Mrs. Bazalgette, written with cream--of tartar and oil--of vitriol. She forgave her niece and wished her every happiness it was possible for a young person to enjoy who had deceived her relations and married beneath her. She felt pity rather than anger; and there was no reason why Mr. and Mrs. Dodd should not visit her house, as far as she was concerned; but Mr. Bazalgette was a man of very stern rectitude, and, as she could not make sure that he would treat them with common courtesy after what had passed, she thought a temporary separation might be the better course for all parties.
I may as well take this opportunity of saying that these two egotists carried out the promise of their respective letters. Mr. Fountain blustered for a year or two, and then showed manifest signs of relenting.
Mrs. Bazalgette kept cool, and wrote, in oils, twice a year to Mrs. Dodd:
"ET GARDAIT TOUT DOUCEMENT UNE HAINE IRRECONCILIABLE."
Lucy had to answer these letters. In signing one of them, she took a look at her new signature and smiled. "What a dear, quaint little name mine is!" said she. "Lucy Dodd;" and she kissed the signature.
A Month after Marriage.
The Dodds took a house in London and Eve came up to them. David was nearly all day superintending the ship, but spent the whole evening with his wife at home. Zeal always produces irritation. The servant that is anxious for his employer's interest is sure to get into a passion or two with the deadness, indifference and heartless injustice of the genuine hireling. So David was often irritated and worried, and in hot water, while superintending the Rajah, but the moment he saw his own door, away he threw it all, and came into the house like a jocund sunbeam. Nothing wins a woman more than this, provided she is already inclined in the man's favor. As the hour that brought David approached, Lucy's spirits and Eve's used both to rise by anticipation, and that anticipation his hearty, genial temper never disappointed.
One day Lucy came to David for information. "David, there is a singular change in me. It is since we came to London. I used to be a placid girl; now I am a fidget."
"I don't see it, love."
"No; how should you, dear? It always goes away when you come. Now listen. When five o'clock comes near, I turn hot and restless, and can hardly keep from the window; and if you are five minutes after your time, I really cannot keep from the window; and my nerves se crispent, and I cannot sit still. It is very foolish. What does it mean? Can you tell me?"
"Of course I can. I am just the same when people are unpunctual. It is inexcusable, and nothing is so vexing. I ought to be--"
"Oh David, what nonsense! it is not that. Could I ever be vexed with my David?"
"Well, then, there is Eve; we'll ask her."
"If you dare, sir!" and Mrs. Dodd was carnation.
Four years after the above events
Two ladies were gossiping.
1st Lady. "What I like about Mrs. Dodd is that she is so truthful."
2d Lady. "Oh, is she?"
1st Lady. "Yes, she is indeed. Certainly she is not a woman that blurts out unpleasant things without any necessity; she is kind and considerate in word and deed, but she is always true. She has got an eye that meets you like a little lion's eye, and a tongue without guile. I do love Mrs. Dodd dearly."
Two Qui his were talking in Leadenhall Street.
1st Qui hi. "Well, so you are going out again."
2d Qui hi. "Yes; they have offered me a commissionership. I must make another lac for the children."
1st Qui hi. "When do you sail?"
2d Qui hi. "By the first good ship. I should like a good ship."
1st Qui hi. "Well, then, you had better go out with Gentleman Dodd."
2d Qui hi. "Gentleman Dodd? I should prefer Sailor Dodd. I don't want to founder off the Cape."
1st Qui hi. "Oh, but this is a first-rate sailor, and a first-rate fellow altogether."
2d Qui hi. "Then why do you call him 'Gentleman Dodd'?"
1st Qui hi. "Oh, because he is so polite. He won't stand an oath within hearing of his quarter-deck, and is particularly kind and courteous to the passengers, especially to the ladies. His ship is always full."
2d Qui hi. "Is it? Then I'll go out with 'Gentleman Dodd.'"
TO MY MALE READERS.
I SEE with some surprise that there still linger in the field of letters writers who think that, in fiction, when a personage speaks with an air of conviction, the sentiments must be the author's own. (When two of his personages give each other the lie, which represents the author? both?)
I must ask you to shun this error; for instance, do not go and take Eve Dodd's opinion of my heroine, or Mrs. Bazalgette's, for mine.
Miss Dodd, in particular, however epigrammatic she may appear, is shallow: her criticism peche par la base. She talks too much as if young girls were in the habit of looking into their own minds, like little metaphysicians, and knowing all that goes on there; but, on the contrary, this is just what women in general don't do, and young women can't do.
No male will quite understand Lucy Fountain who does not take "instinct" and "self-deception" into the account. But with those two dews and your own intelligence, you cannot fail to unravel her, and will, I hope, thank me in your hearts for leaving you something to study, and not clogging my sluggish narrative with a mass of comment and explanation.
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