The Senator for Mickewa, whose name we have taken for a book which might perhaps have been better called “The Chronicle of a Winter at Dillsborough”— did not stay long in London after the unfortunate close of his lecture. He was a man not very pervious to criticism, nor afraid of it, but he did not like the treatment he had received at St. James’s Hall, nor the remarks which his lecture produced in the newspapers. He was angry because people were unreasonable with him, which was surely unreasonable in him who accused Englishmen generally of want of reason. One ought to take it as a matter of course that a bull should use his horns, and a wolf his teeth. The Senator read everything that was said of him, and then wrote numerous letters to the different journals which had condemned him. Had any one accused him of an untruth? Or had his inaccuracies been glaring? Had he not always expressed his readiness to acknowledge his own mistake if convicted of ignorance? But when he was told that he had persistently trodden upon all the corns of his English cousins, he declared that corns were evil things which should be abolished, and that with corns such as these there was no mode of abolition so efficacious as treading on them.
“I am sorry that you should have encountered anything so unpleasant,” Lord Drummond said to him when he went to bid adieu to his friend at the Foreign Office.
“And I am sorry too, my Lord; — for your sake rather than my own. A man is in a bad case who cannot endure to hear of his faults.”
“Perhaps you take our national sins a little too much for granted.”
“I don’t think so, my Lord. If you knew me to be wrong you would not be so sore with me. Nevertheless I am under deep obligation for kind-hearted hospitality. If an American can make up his mind to crack up everything he sees here, there is no part of the world in which he can get along better.” He had already written a long letter home to his friend Mr. Josiah Scroome, and had impartially sent to that gentleman not only his own lecture, but also a large collection of the criticisms made on it. A few weeks afterwards he took his departure, and when we last heard of him was thundering in the Senate against certain practices on the part of his own country which he thought to be unjust to other nations. Don Quixote was not more just than the Senator, or more philanthropic — nor perhaps more apt to wage war against the windmills.
Having in this our last chapter given the place of honour to the Senator, we must now say a parting word as to those countrymen of our own who have figured in our pages. Lord Rufford married Miss Penge of course, and used the lady’s fortune in buying the property of Sir John Purefoy. We may probably be safe in saying that the acquisition added very little to his happiness. What difference can it make to a man whether he has forty or fifty thousand pounds a year — or at any rate to such a man? Perhaps Miss Penge herself was an acquisition. He did not hunt so often or shoot so much, and was seen in church once at least on every Sunday. In a very short time his friends perceived that a very great change had come over him. He was growing fat, and soon disliked the trouble of getting up early to go to a distant meet; and, before a year or two had passed away, it had become an understood thing that in country houses he was not one of the men who went down at night into the smoking-room in a short dressing-coat and a picturesque cap. Miss Penge had done all this. He had had his period of pleasure, and no doubt the change was desirable; — but he sometimes thought with regret of the promise Arabella Trefoil had made him, that she would never interfere with his gratification.
At Dillsborough everything during the summer after the Squire’s marriage fell back into its usual routine. The greatest change made there was in the residence of the attorney, who with his family went over to live at Hoppet Hall, giving up his old house to a young man from Norrington, who had become his partner, but keeping the old office for his business. Mrs. Masters did, I think, like the honour and glory of the big house, but she would never admit that she did. And when she was constrained once or twice in the year to give a dinner to her step-daughter’s husband and Lady Ushant, that, I think, was really a period of discomfort to her. When at Bragton she could at any rate be quiet, and Mary’s caressing care almost made the place pleasant to her.
Mr. Runciman prospers at the Bush, though he has entirely lost his best customer, Lord Rufford. But the U.R.U. is still strong, in spite of the philosophers, and in the hunting season the boxes of the Bush Inn are full of horses. The club goes on without much change, Mr. Masters being very regular in his attendance, undeterred by the grandeur of his new household. And Larry is always there — with increased spirit, for he has dined two or three times lately at Hampton Wick, having met young Hampton at the Squire’s house at Bragton. On this point Fred Botsey was for a time very jealous; — but he found that Larry’s popularity was not to be shaken, and now is very keen in pushing an intimacy with the owner of Chowton Farm. Perhaps the most stirring event in the neighbourhood has been the retirement of Captain Glomax from the post of Master. When the season was over he made an application to Lord Rufford respecting certain stable and kennel expenses, which that nobleman snubbed very bluntly. Thereupon the Captain intimated to the Committee that unless some advances were made he should go. The Committee refused, and thereupon the Captain went; — not altogether to the dissatisfaction of the farmers, with whom an itinerant Master is seldom altogether popular. Then for a time there was great gloom in the U.R.U. What hunting man or woman does not know the gloom which comes over a hunting county when one Master goes before another is ready to step in his shoes? There had been a hope, a still growing hope, that Lord Rufford would come forward at any such pinch; but since Miss Penge had come to the front that hope had altogether vanished. There was a word said at Rufford on the subject, but Miss Penge — or Lady Rufford as she was then — at once put her foot on the project and extinguished it. Then, when despair was imminent, old Mr. Hampton gave way, and young Hampton came forward, acknowledged on all sides as the man for the place. A Master always does appear at last; though for a time it appears that the kingdom must come to an end because no one will consent to sit on the throne.
Perhaps the most loudly triumphant man in Dillsborough was Mr. Mainwaring, the parson, when he heard of the discomfiture of Senator Gotobed. He could hardly restrain his joy, and confided first to Dr. Nupper and then to Mr. Runciman his opinion, that of all the blackguards that had ever put their foot in Dillsborough, that vile Yankee was the worst. Mr. Gotobed was no more a Yankee than was the parson himself; — but of any distinction among the citizens of the United States, Mr. Mainwaring knew very little.
A word or two more must be said of our dear friend Larry Twentyman; — for in finishing this little story we must own that he has in truth been our hero. He went away on his fishing expedition, and when he came back the girl of his heart had become Mrs. Morton. Hunting had long been over then, but the great hunting difficulty was in course of solution, and Larry took his part in the matter. When there was a suggestion as to a committee of three — than which nothing for hunting purposes can be much worse, there was a question whether he should not be one of them. This nearly killed both the Botseys. The evil thing was prevented by the timely pressure put on old Mr. Hampton; but the excitement did our friend Larry much good. “Bicycle” and the other mare were at once summered with the greatest care, and it is generally understood that young Hampton means to depend upon Larry very much in regard to the Rufford side of the country. Larry has bought Goarly’s two fields, Goarly having altogether vanished from those parts, and is supposed to have Dillsborough Wood altogether in his charge. He is frequently to be seen at Hoppet Hall, calling there every Saturday to take down the attorney to the Dillsborough club — as was his habit of old; but it would perhaps be premature to say that there are very valid grounds for the hopes which Mrs. Masters already entertains in reference to Kate. Kate is still too young and childish to justify any prediction in that quarter.
What further need be said as to Reginald and his happy bride? Very little; — except that in the course of her bridal tour she did gradually find words to give him a true and accurate account of all her own feelings from the time at which he first asked her to walk with him across the bridge over the Dill and look at the old place. They had both passed their childish years there, but could have but little thought that they were destined then to love and grow old together. “I was longing, longing, longing to come,” she said.
“And why didn’t you come?”
“How little you know about girls? Of course I had to go with the one I— I— I—; well with the one I did not love down to the very soles of his feet” And then there was the journey with the parrot. “I rather liked the bird. I don’t know that you said very much, but I think you would have said less if there had been no bird.”
“In fact I have been a fool all along.”
“You weren’t a fool when you took me out through the orchard and caught me when I jumped over the wall. Do you remember when you asked me, all of a sudden, whether I should like to be your wife? You weren’t a fool then.”
“But you knew what was coming.”
“Not a bit of it. I knew it wasn’t coming. I had quite made up my mind about that. I was as sure of it; — oh, as sure of it as I am that I’ve got you now. And then it came; — like a great thunderclap.”
“A thunderclap, Mary!”
“Well; — yes. I wasn’t quite sure at first. You might have been laughing at me; — mightn’t you?”
“Just the kind of joke for me!”
“How was I to understand it all in a moment? And you made me repeat all those words. I believed it then, or I shouldn’t have said them. I knew that must be serious.” And so she deified him, and sat at his feet looking up into his eyes, and fooled him for a while into the most perfect happiness that a man ever knows in this world. But she was not altogether happy herself till she had got Larry to come to her at the house at Bragton and swear to her that he would be her friend.
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Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:55