The Fallen Leaves, by Wilkie Collins

Chapter 12

After waiting a day or two for news from Amelius, and hearing nothing, Rufus went to make inquiries at the cottage.

“My master has gone out of town, sir,” said Toff, opening the door.

“Where?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Anybody with him?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Any news of Sally?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

Rufus stepped into the hall. “Look here, Mr. Frenchman, three times is enough. I have already apologized for treating you like a teetotum, on a former occasion. I’m afraid I shall do it again, sir, if I don’t get an answer to my next question — my hands are itching to be at you, they are! When is Amelius expected back?”

“Your question is positive, sir,” said Toff, with dignity. “I am happy to be able to meet it with a positive reply. My master is expected back in three weeks’ time.”

Having obtained some information at last, Rufus debated with himself what he should do next. He decided that “the boy was worth waiting for,” and that his wisest course (as a good American) would be to go back, and wait in Paris.

Passing through the Garden of the Tuileries, two or three days later, and crossing to the Rue de Rivoli, the name of one of the hotels in that quarter reminded him of Regina. He yielded to the prompting of curiosity, and inquired if Mr. Farnaby and his niece were still in Paris.

The manager of the hotel was in the porter’s lodge at the time. So far as he knew, he said, Mr. Farnaby and his niece, and an English gentleman with them, were now on their travels. They had left the hotel with an appearance of mystery. The courier had been discharged; and the coachman of the hired carriage which took them away had been told to drive straight forward until further orders. In short, as the manager put it, the departure resembled a flight. Remembering what his American agent had told him, Rufus received this information without surprise. Even the apparently incomprehensible devotion of Mr. Melton to the interests of such a man as Farnaby, failed to present itself to him as a perplexing circumstance. To his mind, Mr. Melton’s conduct was plainly attributable to a reward in prospect; and the name of that reward was — Miss Regina.

At the end of the three weeks, Rufus returned to London.

Once again, he and Toff confronted each other on the threshold of the door. This time, the genial old man presented an appearance that was little less than dazzling. From head to foot he was arrayed in new clothes; and he exhibited an immense rosette of white ribbon in his button-hole.

“Thunder!” cried Rufus. “Here’s Mr. Frenchman going to be married!”

Toff declined to humour the joke. He stood on his dignity as stiffly as ever. “Pardon me, sir, I possess a wife and family already.”

“Do you, now? Well — none of your know-nothing answers this time. Has Amelius come back?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And what’s the news of Sally?”

“Good news, sir. Miss Sally has come back too.”

“You call that good news, do you? I’ll say a word to Amelius. What are you standing there for? Let me by.”

“Pardon me once more, sir. My master and Miss Sally do not receive visitors today.”

“Your master and Miss Sally?” Rufus repeated. “Has this old creature been liquoring up a little too freely? What do you mean,” he burst out, with a sudden change of tone to stern surprise —“what do you mean by putting your master and Sally together?”

Toff shot his bolt at last. “They will be together, sir, for the rest of their lives. They were married this morning.”

Rufus received the blow in dead silence. He turned about, and went back to his hotel.

Reaching his room, he opened the despatch box in which he kept his correspondence, and picked out the long letter containing the description by Amelius of his introduction to the ladies of the Farnaby family. He took up the pen, and wrote the indorsement which has been quoted as an integral part of the letter itself, in the Second Book of this narrative:—

“Ah, poor Amelius! He had better have gone back to Miss Mellicent, and put up with the little drawback of her age. What a bright lovable fellow he was! Goodbye to Goldenheart!”

Were the forebodings of Rufus destined to be fulfilled? This question will be answered, it is hoped, in a Second Series of The Fallen Leaves. The narrative of the married life of Amelius presents a subject too important to be treated within the limits of the present story — and the First Series necessarily finds its end in the culminating event of his life, thus far.

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Last updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 21:30