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Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Part 21 out of 21

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went stamping about the pavement of the Hall.

We asked a gentleman by us if he knew what cause was on. He told
us Jarndyce and Jarndyce. We asked him if he knew what was doing
in it. He said really, no he did not, nobody ever did, but as well
as he could make out, it was over. Over for the day? we asked him.
No, he said, over for good.

Over for good!

When we heard this unaccountable answer, we looked at one another
quite lost in amazement. Could it be possible that the will had
set things right at last and that Richard and Ada were going to be
rich? It seemed too good to be true. Alas it was!

Our suspense was short, for a break-up soon took place in the
crowd, and the people came streaming out looking flushed and hot
and bringing a quantity of bad air with them. Still they were all
exceedingly amused and were more like people coming out from a
farce or a juggler than from a court of justice. We stood aside,
watching for any countenance we knew, and presently great bundles
of paper began to be carried out--bundles in bags, bundles too
large to be got into any bags, immense masses of papers of all
shapes and no shapes, which the bearers staggered under, and threw
down for the time being, anyhow, on the Hall pavement, while they
went back to bring out more. Even these clerks were laughing. We
glanced at the papers, and seeing Jarndyce and Jarndyce everywhere,
asked an official-looking person who was standing in the midst of
them whether the cause was over. Yes, he said, it was all up with
it at last, and burst out laughing too.

At this juncture we perceived Mr. Kenge coming out of court with an
affable dignity upon him, listening to Mr. Vholes, who was
deferential and carried his own bag. Mr. Vholes was the first to
see us. "Here is Miss Summerson, sir," he said. "And Mr.
Woodcourt."

"Oh, indeed! Yes. Truly!" said Mr. Kenge, raising his hat to me
with polished politeness. "How do you do? Glad to see you. Mr.
Jarndyce is not here?"

No. He never came there, I reminded him.

"Really," returned Mr. Kenge, "it is as well that he is NOT here
to-day, for his--shall I say, in my good friend's absence, his
indomitable singularity of opinion?--might have been strengthened,
perhaps; not reasonably, but might have been strengthened."

"Pray what has been done to-day?" asked Allan.

"I beg your pardon?" said Mr. Kenge with excessive urbanity.

"What has been done to-day?"

"What has been done," repeated Mr. Kenge. "Quite so. Yes. Why,
not much has been done; not much. We have been checked--brought up
suddenly, I would say--upon the--shall I term it threshold?"

"Is this will considered a genuine document, sir?" said Allan.
"Will you tell us that?"

"Most certainly, if I could," said Mr. Kenge; "but we have not gone
into that, we have not gone into that."

"We have not gone into that," repeated Mr. Vholes as if his low
inward voice were an echo.

"You are to reflect, Mr. Woodcourt," observed Mr. Kenge, using his
silver trowel persuasively and smoothingly, "that this has been a
great cause, that this has been a protracted cause, that this has
been a complex cause. Jarndyce and Jarndyce has been termed, not
inaptly, a monument of Chancery practice."

"And patience has sat upon it a long time," said Allan.

"Very well indeed, sir," returned Mr. Kenge with a certain
condeseending laugh he had. "Very well! You are further to
reflect, Mr. Woodcourt," becoming dignified almost to severity,
"that on the numerous difficulties, contingencies, masterly
fictions, and forms of procedure in this great cause, there has
been expended study, ability, eloquence, knowledge, intellect, Mr.
Woodcourt, high intellect. For many years, the--a--I would say the
flower of the bar, and the--a--I would presume to add, the matured
autumnal fruits of the woolsack--have been lavished upon Jarndyce
and Jarndyce. If the public have the benefit, and if the country
have the adornment, of this great grasp, it must be paid for in
money or money's worth, sir."

"Mr. Kenge," said Allan, appearing enlightened all in a moment.
"Excuse me, our time presses. Do I understand that the whole
estate is found to have been absorbed in costs?"

"Hem! I believe so," returned Mr. Kenge. "Mr. Vholes, what do YOU
say?"

"I believe so," said Mr. Vholes.

"And that thus the suit lapses and melts away?"

"Probably," returned Mr. Kenge. "Mr. Vholes?"

"Probably," said Mr. Vholes.

"My dearest life," whispered Allan, "this will break Richard's
heart!"

There was such a shock of apprehension in his face, and he knew
Richard so perfectly, and I too had seen so much of his gradual
decay, that what my dear girl had said to me in the fullness of her
foreboding love sounded like a knell in my ears.

"In case you should be wanting Mr. C., sir," said Mr. Vholes,
coming after us, "you'll find him in court. I left him there
resting himself a little. Good day, sir; good day, Miss
Summerson." As he gave me that slowly devouring look of his, while
twisting up the strings of his bag before he hastened with it after
Mr. Kenge, the benignant shadow of whose conversational presence he
seemed afraid to leave, he gave one gasp as if he had swallowed the
last morsel of his client, and his black buttoned-up unwholesome
figure glided away to the low door at the end of the Hall.

"My dear love," said Allan, "leave to me, for a little while, the
charge you gave me. Go home with this intelligence and come to
Ada's by and by!"

I would not let him take me to a coach, but entreated him to go to
Richard without a moment's delay and leave me to do as he wished.
Hurrying home, I found my guardian and told him gradually with what
news I had returned. "Little woman," said he, quite unmoved for
himself, "to have done with the suit on any terms is a greater
blessing than I had looked for. But my poor young cousins!"

We talked about them all the morning and discussed what it was
possible to do. In the afternoon my guardian walked with me to
Symond's Inn and left me at the door. I went upstairs. When my
darling heard my footsteps, she came out into the small passage and
threw her arms round my neck, but she composed herself directly and
said that Richard had asked for me several times. Allan had found
him sitting in the corner of the court, she told me, like a stone
figure. On being roused, he had broken away and made as if he
would have spoken in a fierce voice to the judge. He was stopped
by his mouth being full of blood, and Allan had brought him home.

He was lying on a sofa with his eyes closed when I went in. There
were restoratives on the table; the room was made as airy as
possible, and was darkened, and was very orderly and quiet. Allan
stood behind him watching him gravely. His face appeared to me to
be quite destitute of colour, and now that I saw him without his
seeing me, I fully saw, for the first time, how worn away he was.
But he looked handsomer than I had seen him look for many a day.

I sat down by his side in silence. Opening his eyes by and by, he
said in a weak voice, but with his old smile, "Dame Durden, kiss
me, my dear!"

It was a great comfort and surprise to me to find him in his low
state cheerful and looking forward. He was happier, he said, in
our intended marriage than he could find words to tell me. My
husband had been a guardian angel to him and Ada, and he blessed us
both and wished us all the joy that life could yield us. I almost
felt as if my own heart would have broken when I saw him take my
husband's hand and hold it to his breast.

We spoke of the future as much as possible, and he said several
times that he must be present at our marriage if he could stand
upon his feet. Ada would contrive to take him, somehow, he said.
"Yes, surely, dearest Richard!" But as my darling answered him
thus hopefully, so serene and beautiful, with the help that was to
come to her so near--I knew--I knew!

It was not good for him to talk too much, and when he was silent,
we were silent too. Sitting beside him, I made a pretence of
working for my dear, as he had always been used to joke about my
being busy. Ada leaned upon his pillow, holding his head upon her
arm. He dozed often, and whenever he awoke without seeing him,
said first of all, "Where is Woodcourt?"

Evening had come on when I lifted up my eyes and saw my guardian
standing in the little hall. "Who is that, Dame Durden?" Richard
asked me. The door was behind him, but he had observed in my face
that some one was there.

I looked to Allan for advice, and as he nodded "Yes," bent over
Richard and told him. My guardian saw what passed, came softly by
me in a moment, and laid his hand on Richard's. "Oh, sir," said
Richard, "you are a good man, you are a good man!" and burst into
tears for the first time.

My guardian, the picture of a good man, sat down in my place,
keeping his hand on Richard's.

"My dear Rick," said he, "the clouds have cleared away, and it is
bright now. We can see now. We were all bewildered, Rick, more or
less. What matters! And how are you, my dear boy?"

"I am very weak, sir, but I hope I shall be stronger. I have to
begin the world."

"Aye, truly; well said!" cried my guardian.

"I will not begin it in the old way now," said Richard with a sad
smile. "I have learned a lesson now, sir. It was a hard one, but
you shall be assured, indeed, that I have learned it."

"Well, well," said my guardian, comforting him; "well, well, well,
dear boy!"

"I was thinking, sir," resumed Richard, "that there is nothing on
earth I should so much like to see as their house--Dame Durden's
and Woodcourt's house. If I could be removed there when I begin to
recover my strength, I feel as if I should get well there sooner
than anywhere."

"Why, so have I been thinking too, Rick," said my guardian, "and
our little woman likewise; she and I have been talking of it this
very day. I dare say her husband won't object. What do you
think?"

Richard smiled and lifted up his arm to touch him as he stood
behind the head of the couch.

"I say nothing of Ada," said Richard, "but I think of her, and have
thought of her very much. Look at her! See her here, sir, bending
over this pillow when she has so much need to rest upon it herself,
my dear love, my poor girl!"

He clasped her in his arms, and none of us spoke. He gradually
released her, and she looked upon us, and looked up to heaven, and
moved her lips.

"When I get down to Bleak House," said Richard, "I shall have much
to tell you, sir, and you will have much to show me. You will go,
won't you?"

"Undoubtedly, dear Rick."

"Thank you; like you, like you," said Richard. "But it's all like
you. They have been telling me how you planned it and how you
remembered all Esther's familiar tastes and ways. It will be like
coming to the old Bleak House again."

"And you will come there too, I hope, Rick. I am a solitary man
now, you know, and it will be a charity to come to me. A charity
to come to me, my love!" he repeated to Ada as he gently passed his
hand over her golden hair and put a lock of it to his lips. (I
think he vowed within himself to cherish her if she were left
alone.)

"It was a troubled dream?" said Richard, clasping both my
guardian's hands eagerly.

"Nothing more, Rick; nothing more."

"And you, being a good man, can pass it as such, and forgive and
pity the dreamer, and be lenient and encouraging when he wakes?"

"Indeed I can. What am I but another dreamer, Rick?"

"I will begin the world!" said Richard with a light in his eyes.

My husband drew a little nearer towards Ada, and I saw him solemnly
lift up his hand to warn my guardian.

"When shall I go from this place to that pleasant country where the
old times are, where I shall have strength to tell what Ada has
been to me, where I shall be able to recall my many faults and
blindnesses, where I shall prepare myself to be a guide to my
unborn child?" said Richard. "When shall I go?"

"Dear Rick, when you are strong enough," returned my guardian.

"Ada, my darling!"

He sought to raise himself a little. Allan raised him so that she
could hold him on her bosom, which was what he wanted.

"I have done you many wrongs, my own. I have fallen like a poor
stray shadow on your way, I have married you to poverty and
trouble, I have scattered your means to the winds. You will
forgive me all this, my Ada, before I begin the world?"

A smile irradiated his face as she bent to kiss him. He slowly
laid his face down upon her bosom, drew his arms closer round her
neck, and with one parting sob began the world. Not this world,
oh, not this! The world that sets this right.

When all was still, at a late hour, poor crazed Miss Flite came
weeping to me and told me she had given her birds their liberty.

CHAPTER LXVI

Down in Lincolnshire

There is a hush upon Chesney Wold in these altered days, as there
is upon a portion of the family history. The story goes that Sir
Leicester paid some who could have spoken out to hold their peace;
but it is a lame story, feebly whispering and creeping about, and
any brighter spark of life it shows soon dies away. It is known
for certain that the handsome Lady Dedlock lies in the mausoleum in
the park, where the trees arch darkly overhead, and the owl is
heard at night making the woods ring; but whence she was brought
home to be laid among the echoes of that solitary place, or how she
died, is all mystery. Some of her old friends, principally to be
found among the peachy-cheeked charmers with the skeleton throats,
did once occasionally say, as they toyed in a ghastly manner with
large fans--like charmers reduced to flirting with grim death,
after losing all their other beaux--did once occasionally say, when
the world assembled together, that they wondered the ashes of the
Dedlocks, entombed in the mausoleum, never rose against the
profanation of her company. But the dead-and-gone Dedlocks take it
very calmly and have never been known to object.

Up from among the fern in the hollow, and winding by the bridle-
road among the trees, comes sometimes to this lonely spot the sound
of horses' hoofs. Then may be seen Sir Leicester--invalided, bent,
and almost blind, but of worthy presence yet--riding with a
stalwart man beside him, constant to his bridle-rein. When they
come to a certain spot before the mausoleum-door, Sir Leicester's
accustomed horse stops of his own accord, and Sir Leicester,
pulling off his hat, is still for a few moments before they ride
away.

War rages yet with the audacious Boythorn, though at uncertain
intervals, and now hotly, and now coolly, flickering like an
unsteady fire. The truth is said to be that when Sir Leicester
came down to Lincolnshire for good, Mr. Boythorn showed a manifest
desire to abandon his right of way and do whatever Sir Leicester
would, which Sir Leicester, conceiving to be a condescension to his
illness or misfortune, took in such high dudgeon, and was so
magnificently aggrieved by, that Mr. Boythorn found himself under
the necessity of committing a flagrant trespass to restore his
neighbour to himself. Similarly, Mr. Boythorn continues to post
tremendous placards on the disputed thoroughfare and (with his bird
upon his head) to hold forth vehemently against Sir Leicester in
the sanctuary of his own home; similarly, also, he defies him as of
old in the little church by testifying a bland unconsciousness of
his existence. But it is whispered that when he is most ferocious
towards his old foe, he is really most considerate, and that Sir
Leicester, in the dignity of being implacable, little supposes how
much he is humoured. As little does he think how near together he
and his antagonist have suffered in the fortunes of two sisters,
and his antagonist, who knows it now, is not the man to tell him.
So the quarrel goes on to the satisfaction of both.

In one of the lodges of the park--that lodge within sight of the
house where, once upon a time, when the waters were out down in
Lincolnshire, my Lady used to see the keeper's child--the stalwart
man, the trooper formerly, is housed. Some relics of his old
calling hang upon the walls, and these it is the chosen recreation
of a little lame man about the stable-yard to keep gleaming bright.
A busy little man he always is, in the polishing at harness-house
doors, of stirrup-irons, bits, curb-chains, harness bosses,
anything in the way of a stable-yard that will take a polish,
leading a life of friction. A shaggy little damaged man, withal,
not unlike an old dog of some mongrel breed, who has been
considerably knocked about. He answers to the name of Phil.

A goodly sight it is to see the grand old housekeeper (harder of
hearing now) going to church on the arm of her son and to observe--
which few do, for the house is scant of company in these times--the
relations of both towards Sir Leicester, and his towards them.
They have visitors in the high summer weather, when a grey cloak
and umbrella, unknown to Chesney Wold at other periods, are seen
among the leaves; when two young ladies are occasionally found
gambolling in sequestered saw-pits and such nooks of the park; and
when the smoke of two pipes wreathes away into the fragrant evening
air from the trooper's door. Then is a fife heard trolling within
the lodge on the inspiring topic of the "British Grenadiers"; and
as the evening closes in, a gruff inflexible voice is heard to say,
while two men pace together up and down, "But I never own to it
before the old girl. Discipline must be maintained."

The greater part of the house is shut up, and it is a show-house no
longer; yet Sir Leicester holds his shrunken state in the long
drawing-room for all that, and reposes in his old place before my
Lady's picture. Closed in by night with broad screens, and
illumined only in that part, the light of the drawing-room seems
gradually contracting and dwindling until it shall be no more. A
little more, in truth, and it will be all extinguished for Sir
Leicester; and the damp door in the mausoleum which shuts so tight,
and looks so obdurate, will have opened and received him.

Volumnia, growing with the flight of time pinker as to the red in
her face, and yellower as to the white, reads to Sir Leicester in
the long evenings and is driven to various artifices to conceal her
yawns, of which the chief and most efficacious is the insertion of
the pearl necklace between her rosy lips. Long-winded treatises on
the Buffy and Boodle question, showing how Buffy is immaculate and
Boodle villainous, and how the country is lost by being all Boodle
and no Buffy, or saved by being all Buffy and no Boodle (it must be
one of the two, and cannot be anything else), are the staple of her
reading. Sir Leicester is not particular what it is and does not
appear to follow it very closely, further than that he always comes
broad awake the moment Volumnia ventures to leave off, and
sonorously repeating her last words, begs with some displeasure to
know if she finds herself fatigued. However, Volumnia, in the
course of her bird-like hopping about and pecking at papers, has
alighted on a memorandum concerning herself in the event of
"anything happening" to her kinsman, which is handsome compensation
for an extensive course of reading and holds even the dragon
Boredom at bay.

The cousins generally are rather shy of Chesney Wold in its
dullness, but take to it a little in the shooting season, when guns
are heard in the plantations, and a few scattered beaters and
keepers wait at the old places of appointment for low-spirited twos
and threes of cousins. The debilitated cousin, more debilitated by
the dreariness of the place, gets into a fearful state of
depression, groaning under penitential sofa-pillows in his gunless
hours and protesting that such fernal old jail's--nough t'sew fler
up--frever.

The only great occasions for Volumnia in this changed aspect of the
place in Lincolnshire are those occasions, rare and widely
separated, when something is to be done for the county or the
country in the way of gracing a public ball. Then, indeed, does
the tuckered sylph come out in fairy form and proceed with joy
under cousinly escort to the exhausted old assembly-room, fourteen
heavy miles off, which, during three hundred and sixty-four days
and nights of every ordinary year, is a kind of antipodean lumber-
room full of old chairs and tables upside down. Then, indeed, does
she captivate all hearts by her condescension, by her girlish
vivacity, and by her skipping about as in the days when the hideous
old general with the mouth too full of teeth had not cut one of
them at two guineas each. Then does she twirl and twine, a
pastoral nymph of good family, through the mazes of the dance.
Then do the swains appear with tea, with lemonade, with sandwiches,
with homage. Then is she kind and cruel, stately and unassuming,
various, beautifully wilful. Then is there a singular kind of
parallel between her and the little glass chandeliers of another
age embellishing that assembly-room, which, with their meagre
stems, their spare little drops, their disappointing knobs where no
drops are, their bare little stalks from which knobs and drops have
both departed, and their little feeble prismatic twinkling, all
seem Volumnias.

For the rest, Lincolnshire life to Volumnia is a vast blank of
overgrown house looking out upon trees, sighing, wringing their
hands, bowing their heads, and casting their tears upon the window-
panes in monotonous depressions. A labyrinth of grandeur, less the
property of an old family of human beings and their ghostly
likenesses than of an old family of echoings and thunderings which
start out of their hundred graves at every sound and go resounding
through the building. A waste of unused passages and staircases in
which to drop a comb upon a bedroom floor at night is to send a
stealthy footfall on an errand through the house. A place where
few people care to go about alone, where a maid screams if an ash
drops from the fire, takes to crying at all times and seasons,
becomes the victim of a low disorder of the spirits, and gives
warning and departs.

Thus Chesney Wold. With so much of itself abandoned to darkness
and vacancy; with so little change under the summer shining or the
wintry lowering; so sombre and motionless always--no flag flying
now by day, no rows of lights sparkling by night; with no family to
come and go, no visitors to be the souls of pale cold shapes of
rooms, no stir of life about it--passion and pride, even to the
stranger's eye, have died away from the place in Lincolnshire and
yielded it to dull repose.

CHAPTER LXVII

The Close of Esther's Narrative

Full seven happy years I have been the mistress of Bleak House.
The few words that I have to add to what I have written are soon
penned; then I and the unknown friend to whom I write will part for
ever. Not without much dear remembrance on my side. Not without
some, I hope, on his or hers.

They gave my darling into my arms, and through many weeks I never
left her. The little child who was to have done so much was born
before the turf was planted on its father's grave. It was a boy;
and I, my husband, and my guardian gave him his father's name.

The help that my dear counted on did come to her, though it came,
in the eternal wisdom, for another purpose. Though to bless and
restore his mother, not his father, was the errand of this baby,
its power was mighty to do it. When I saw the strength of the weak
little hand and how its touch could heal my darling's heart and
raised hope within her, I felt a new sense of the goodness and the
tenderness of God.

They throve, and by degrees I saw my dear girl pass into my country
garden and walk there with her infant in her arms. I was married
then. I was the happiest of the happy.

It was at this time that my guardian joined us and asked Ada when
she would come home.

"Both houses are your home, my dear," said he, "but the older Bleak
House claims priority. When you and my boy are strong enough to do
it, come and take possession of your home."

Ada called him "her dearest cousin, John." But he said, no, it
must be guardian now. He was her guardian henceforth, and the
boy's; and he had an old association with the name. So she called
him guardian, and has called him guardian ever since. The children
know him by no other name. I say the children; I have two little
daughters.

It is difficult to believe that Charley (round-eyed still, and not
at all grammatical) is married to a miller in our neighbourhood;
yet so it is; and even now, looking up from my desk as I write
early in the morning at my summer window, I see the very mill
beginning to go round. I hope the miller will not spoil Charley;
but he is very fond of her, and Charley is rather vain of such a
match, for he is well to do and was in great request. So far as my
small maid is concerned, I might suppose time to have stood for
seven years as still as the mill did half an hour ago, since little
Emma, Charley's sister, is exactly what Charley used to be. As to
Tom, Charley's brother, I am really afraid to say what he did at
school in ciphering, but I think it was decimals. He is
apprenticed to the miller, whatever it was, and is a good bashful
fellow, always falling in love with somebody and being ashamed of
it.

Caddy Jellyby passed her very last holidays with us and was a
dearer creature than ever, perpetually dancing in and out of the
house with the children as if she had never given a dancing-lesson
in her life. Caddy keeps her own little carriage now instead of
hiring one, and lives full two miles further westward than Newman
Street. She works very hard, her husband (an excellent one) being
lame and able to do very little. Still, she is more than contented
and does all she has to do with all her heart. Mr. Jellyby spends
his evenings at her new house with his head against the wall as he
used to do in her old one. I have heard that Mrs. Jellyby was
understood to suffer great mortification from her daughter's
ignoble marriage and pursuits, but I hope she got over it in time.
She has been disappointed in Borrioboola-Gha, which turned out a
failure in consequence of the king of Borrioboola wanting to sell
everybody--who survived the climate--for rum, but she has taken up
with the rights of women to sit in Parliament, and Caddy tells me
it is a mission involving more correspondence than the old one. I
had almost forgotten Caddy's poor little girl. She is not such a
mite now, but she is deaf and dumb. I believe there never was a
better mother than Caddy, who learns, in her scanty intervals of
leisure, innumerable deaf and dumb arts to soften the affliction of
her child.

As if I were never to have done with Caddy, I am reminded here of
Peepy and old Mr. Turveydrop. Peepy is in the Custom House, and
doing extremely well. Old Mr. Turveydrop, very apoplectic, still
exhibits his deportment about town, still enjoys himself in the old
manner, is still believed in in the old way. He is constant in his
patronage of Peepy and is understood to have bequeathed him a
favourite French clock in his dressing-room--which is not his
property.

With the first money we saved at home, we added to our pretty house
by throwing out a little growlery expressly for my guardian, which
we inaugurated with great splendour the next time he came down to
see us. I try to write all this lightly, because my heart is full
in drawing to an end, but when I write of him, my tears will have
their way.

I never look at him but I hear our poor dear Richard calling him a
good man. To Ada and her pretty boy, he is the fondest father; to
me he is what he has ever been, and what name can I give to that?
He is my husband's best and dearest friend, he is our children's
darling, he is the object of our deepest love and veneration. Yet
while I feel towards him as if he were a superior being, I am so
familiar with him and so easy with him that I almost wonder at
myself. I have never lost my old names, nor has he lost his; nor
do I ever, when he is with us, sit in any other place than in my
old chair at his side, Dame Trot, Dame Durden, Little Woman--all
just the same as ever; and I answer, "Yes, dear guardian!" just the
same.

I have never known the wind to be in the east for a single moment
since the day when he took me to the porch to read the name. I
remarked to him once that the wind seemed never in the east now,
and he said, no, truly; it had finally departed from that quarter
on that very day.

I think my darling girl is more beautiful than ever. The sorrow
that has been in her face--for it is not there now--seems to have
purified even its innocent expression and to have given it a
diviner quality. Sometimes when I raise my eyes and see her in the
black dress that she still wears, teaching my Richard, I feel--it
is difficult to express--as if it were so good to know that she
remembers her dear Esther in her prayers.

I call him my Richard! But he says that he has two mamas, and I am
one.

We are not rich in the bank, but we have always prospered, and we
have quite enough. I never walk out with my husband but I hear the
people bless him. I never go into a house of any degree but I hear
his praises or see them in grateful eyes. I never lie down at
night but I know that in the course of that day he has alleviated
pain and soothed some fellow-creature in the time of need. I know
that from the beds of those who were past recovery, thanks have
often, often gone up, in the last hour, for his patient
ministration. Is not this to be rich?

The people even praise me as the doctor's wife. The people even
like me as I go about, and make so much of me that I am quite
abashed. I owe it all to him, my love, my pride! They like me for
his sake, as I do everything I do in life for his sake.

A night or two ago, after bustling about preparing for my darling
and my guardian and little Richard, who are coming to-morrow, I was
sitting out in the porch of all places, that dearly memorable
porch, when Allan came home. So he said, "My precious little
woman, what are you doing here?" And I said, "The moon is shining
so brightly, Allan, and the night is so delicious, that I have been
sitting here thinking."

"What have you been thinking about, my dear?" said Allan then.

"How curious you are!" said I. "I am almost ashamed to tell you,
but I will. I have been thinking about my old looks--such as they
were."

"And what have you been thinking about THEM, my busy bee?" said
Allan.

"I have been thinking that I thought it was impossible that you
COULD have loved me any better, even if I had retained them."

"'Such as they were'?" said Allan, laughing.

"Such as they were, of course."

"My dear Dame Durden," said Allan, drawing my arm through his, "do
you ever look in the glass?"

"You know I do; you see me do it."

"And don't you know that you are prettier than you ever were?"

"I did not know that; I am not certain that I know it now. But I
know that my dearest little pets are very pretty, and that my
darling is very beautiful, and that my husband is very handsome,
and that my guardian has the brightest and most benevolent face
that ever was seen, and that they can very well do without much
beauty in me--even supposing--."

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