Gryll Grange, by Thomas Love Peacock

Chapter 25

Harry and Dorothy

(Greek passage)

Humerus in Odyssea.

The youthful suitors, playing each his part,

Stirred pleasing tumult in each fair one’s heart.

— Adapted — not translated.

Harry Hedgerow had found means on several occasions of delivering farm and forest produce at the Tower, to introduce his six friends to the sisters, giving all the young men in turn to understand that they must not think of Miss Dorothy; an injunction which, in the ordinary perverse course of events, might have led them all to think of no one else, and produced a complication very disagreeable for their introducer. It was not so, however. ‘The beauty of it,’ as Harry said to the reverend doctor, was that each had found a distinct favourite among the seven vestals. They had not, however, gone beyond giving pretty intelligible hints. They had not decidedly ventured to declare or propose. They left it to Harry to prosecute his suit to Miss Dorothy, purposing to step in on the rear of his success. They had severally the satisfaction of being assured by various handsome young gipsies, whose hands they had crossed with lucky shillings, that each of them was in love with a fair young woman, who was quite as much in love with him, and whom he would certainly marry before twelve months were over. And they went on their way rejoicing.

Now Harry was indefatigable in his suit, which he had unbounded liberty to plead; for Dorothy always listened to him complacently, though without departing from the answer she had originally given, that she and her sisters would not part with each other and their young master.

The sisters had not attached much importance to Mr. Falconer’s absences; for on every occasion of his return the predominant feeling he had seemed to express was that of extreme delight at being once more at home.

One day, while Mr. Falconer was at the Grange, receiving admonition from Orlando Innamorato, Harry, having the pleasure to find Dorothy alone, pressed his suit as usual, was listened to as usual, and seemed likely to terminate without being more advanced than usual, except in so far as they both found a progressive pleasure, she in listening, and he in being listened to. There was to both a growing charm in thus ‘dallying with the innocence of love,’ and though she always said No with her lips, he began to read Yes in her eyes.

Harry. Well, but, Miss Dorothy, though you and your sisters will not leave your young master, suppose somebody should take him away from you, what would you say then?

Dorothy. What do you mean, Master Harry?

Harry. Why, suppose he should get married, Miss Dorothy?

Dorothy. Married!

Harry. How should you like to see a fine lady in the Tower, looking at you as much as to say, This is mine?

Dorothy. I will tell you very candidly, I should not like it at all. But what makes you think of such a thing?

Harry. You know where he is now?

Dorothy. At Squire Gryll’s, rehearsing a play for Christmas.

Harry. And Squire Gryll’s niece is a great beauty, and a great fortune.

Dorothy. Squire Gryll’s niece was here, and my sisters and myself saw a great deal of her. She is a very nice young lady; but he has seen great beauties and great fortunes before; he has always been indifferent to the beauties, and he does not care about fortune. I am sure he would not like to change his mode of life.

Harry. Ah, Miss Dorothy! you don’t know what it is to fall in love. It tears a man up by the roots, like a gale of wind.

Dorothy. Is that your case, Master Harry?

Harry. Indeed it is, Miss Dorothy. If you didn’t speak kindly to me, I do not know what would become of me. But you always speak kindly to me, though you won’t have me.

Dorothy. I never said won’t, Master Harry.

Harry. No, but you always say can’t, and that’s the same as won’t, so long as you don’t.

Dorothy. You are a very good young man, Master Harry. Everybody speaks well of you. And I am really pleased to think you are so partial to me. And if my young master and my sisters were married, and I were disposed to follow their example, I will tell you very truly, you are the only person I should think of, Master Harry.

Master Harry attempted to speak, but he felt choked in the attempt at utterance; and in default of words, he threw himself on his knees before his beloved, and clasped his hands together with a look of passionate imploring, which was rewarded by a benevolent smile. And they did not change their attitude till the entrance of one of the sisters startled them from their sympathetic reverie.

Harry having thus made a successful impression on one of the Theban gates, encouraged his six allies to carry on the siege of the others; for which they had ample opportunity, as the absences of the young gentleman became longer, and the rumours of an attachment between him and Miss Gryll obtained more ready belief.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24