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Mrs. Archie hastily withdrew. Then Aunt | Mary and Rachel sat at their work-table, and Pen pushed away her book, gathered her each uttered half-a-dozen phrases between shawl round her, and got up with her candle. breakfast and dinner. Mrs. Archie, after But before she left the room she walked round delighting Aunt Mac for an hour with her the walls, passing her hand over the wainscot elegant conversation, had produced a novel, at intervals, and sometimes peering into the and ensconced herself comfortably in a sofa, cracks and lines with the candle close to the with her becoming drapery swelling in silken wood. After this inspection she shook her billows around her. Letitia had found so head warily, smiled to herself, and went off much to do elsewhere that she could not conto her room.
trive to make herself visible in the drawingNext morning, to the dismay of many pres- room for more than five minutes at a time. ent, Aunt Mac made her appearance at the And so the two áunts sat opposite to one breakfast-table. On the night before she had another, each engaged in knitting, Aunt Mac just been mounting the steps of her“ inside with thin needles of cold blue steel, and Aunt
(** Aunt's Mac's shanderadan,” some Pen with large comfortable wooden ones, sly cousin had been known to call it), when with sealing-wax heads, which she bestowed the echo of Aunt Pen's announcement to stay away under her arms, while she plied her the night reached her preternaturally sharp work with many a click and clack.
She at once descended, and, re-enter- During the course of the day Mrs. Archie ing the house, had informed Aunt Janette chanced to lay down her novel and go out of that the air was so keen she feared a return the room. A few minutes afterwards Aunt of toothache, from which she had suffered so Penelope wound up her ball, and fastened it much ten years ago. She would, therefore, into its little basket with the hole for the inhabit a second of the Glenrig spare bed- cotton to run through, stuck her needles into rooms for the night.
her work, and also left the room. “ It was a clever stroke of Mrs. Pen!”
“I was thinking, Mrs. Archie,” she said, soliloquized she, as she betook herself to her entering the dining-room, " that you'd be, chamber. - A clever stroke, but she forgets maybe, writing a line to your good man; and that she has Sabina MacAlister to deal with." as I've a letter to send to the post myself, the “ It was a good idea to try and get the start of same messenger could take yours and mine me in that way, but I'll let her see that I to Cushlake together.” mean to keep my ground with Mrs. Archie, Mrs. Archie, who was deeply engaged in who is a very superior person, and, I am sure, studying the pictures on the wall, said, " Oh, despises her wheedling ways ! Wbilst kept thank you ; I will write it at once!" and waking by the energy of these valiant re- tripped off to her own room. solves, Aunt Mac had heard a step in the “Rather queer,” mused Aunt Pen as she passage, and peeping from her door had just marched round by the wainscot again, like a been in time to see the top of Aunt Penelope's general reviewing the strength of his batnightcap disappearing down the stairs. This teries. • Rather queer for a young bride to little circumstance had added a tinge of mys- need to be reminded of writing to her hustery to Aunt Pen’s audacious conduct; and band by an old wife like me!” at the end of the two hours which had 56 I have left it on the hall-table,” said elapsed before her step ascended the stair Mrs. Archie, fluttering into the drawingagain, Aunt Mac had been in a perfect frenzy room. of curiosity
And Aunt Pen went off to deposit her own However, in the morning there was Aunt letter beside the bride's. She lifted up
Mrs. Penelope punctual at the early breakfast- Archie's dainty little note, and surveyed it table, as fresh and as pleasant as a very large back and front, and read the direction over and fully blown cabbage rose, and quite un- at least twenty times—« Archibald MacArimpressed by Aunt Mac'sextra austere glances, thur,” it ran,“ 19, Butterfly Terrace, Brompand the extra acid tones of Aunt Mac's voice. ton, London, S. W." The day proved wet, and in the drawing Well, Mrs. Penelope, and what is there so room Uncle Randal had his paper, whilst strange about that? Is it not your nephew's Aunt Janette studied a book called " Chris- correct address, the address of his lodging tian Perfection " in the opposite arm-chair. where he exists during the intervals between
his periods of living interment in the Temple ? Mac, “I don't pretend to know why you Oh, yes, Mrs. Penelope says, but that is pre- think proper to walk about the house at cisely what puzzles me! Then she takes a nights scaring quiet people in their beds. letter from her pocket-Archie's letter to his Of course it's nothing to me~I'm nobodymother—and spreads it out upon the table, but I wonder you're not ashamed to rout up and peers into the writing, and then again a young creature like that—a guest in the into that on the envelope addressed by the house-a
Here Aunt Mac choked fair Ethelind. Never was there a prettier with anger for a moment. 66 Mrs. Archie,” contrast. One, bold, clear, a little rugged, she went on, very politely, “ will you do me with here and there a mischievous curve curl- the favor of leaning on my arm, and allowing up like a laugh ; very suggestive of ing me to conduct you to your chamber? As Archie. The other, fine, weak, slanting, I'm a MacArthur myself, I may speak for pretty—just the handwriting for a dainty, my brother in my brother's house. I am fair-complexioned bride, who reads novels, distressed that your slumbers should have and wears blue silk and laces. The result been so intruded upon." of Aunt Pen’s inspection is a twinkle of the This was no doubt the style of diction ineyes, and she goes back to her knitting. dulged in by Aunt Mac, “ in Dublin in her
" Now what is she plotting and planning ?” youth.” Mrs. Archie graciously and timejaculated Aunt MacAlister that night, when idly accepted her protection, and Aunt Pen she found herself in her own room. “She was left smiling at her candle in the diningkeeps coming and going, and smiling to her- room alone. self, and her eyes keep twinkling while she “ I do positively think,” said Aunt Mac, as rattles those great coarse vulgar needles of she prepared a second time for rest, “ I do hers! And she keeps watching that sweet, believe that foolish, superstitious woman has elegant creature, just as a cat does a mouse. begun again at her old nonsense about that And no one sees it-oh, dear, no! Randal treasure. Treasure, indeed! As if wiser might be blind as well as deaf, and as for than she is would not have found it long ago Janette, she's as ignorant as a baby of every- if it had been there! As if the MacArthurs thing but the Lives of the Saints and Ran- themselves did not know their own affairs dal's ailments.
best! Oh, that's what she's plotting and Soliloquizing thus at a late hour, Aunt planning about! And I'll stake my head Mac, who had purposely left her door ajar, that she's trying to coax or worry that nice heard Aunt Pen's soft step going past again, Mrs. Archie into her clutches. She wants as on the night before. She at once got up, her help in some way or other. · Perhaps to and shaking with hurry and overflowing with use her influence with Archie to get the house curiosity, dressed and went down-stairs. After pulled down. What else could have brought trying several dark rooms, she at last made her below these two nights and Mrs. Archie her way to the dining-room, where sh was with her ? But trust a real MacArthur for so astounded at seeing Aunt Penelope and finding out her plots! Oh, I'll stake my Mrs. Archie together, that she sank into a head upon
it!” chair with a little spasmodic shriek. Where What, Aunt Mac! with the rigid cap, and upon Aunt Penelope turned from the table the MacArthur nose, and the fine plaited front where she was standing, closed the door softly, and all? Take care, Aunt Mac. And yet she and said pleasantly
would have been willing to stake her hands Keep quiet, if you please, Aunt Mac. in addition, if she could have seen Aunt PenMrs. Archie and I are just looking for a ret- elope at that moment, as she stood smiling icule of hers that she's apt to mislay of over a sharp instrument with a handle, which nights. But there's no need to wake up the she had found among the chairs near where house about it. I think, Mrs. Archie, we'll Mrs. Archie had stood, close by the wainscot. give it up for to-night." The bride was standing near the wainscot
II. with her candle on a chair beside her. She ANOTHER day arrived, and neither of the looked pale and cross as she took her light aunts made any sign of returning to her town and prepared to go.
residence at Cushlake; Aunt Pen stayed and “ Mistress Penelope !” burst forth Aunt Aunt Mac stayed.
“ Oh! I certainly expect a letter to-day, i sbe ejaculated, wiping her eyes, “ very well warbled Mrs. Arcbie, in answer to a query done indeed! You're a cleverer woman, my put by some one at the breakfast-table. dear Mrs. Archie, than even I gave you credit
Aunt Pen was not much in the drawing- for!” room that morning, and it chanced that she Aunt MacAlister, who also found her door got the letter-bag first, and carried it with locked, was not so amiable over the discovery, her to her own room. Arrived there, we but fumed about her room in a fury at the are afraid the reader will be shocked to learn impudence, the audacity, the cunning of that ber next proceeding. Having found a letter lowbred woman. But she would be even with addressed in her nephew's writing to “ Mrs. her, she vowed she would. She would bide Archibald MacArthur, Glenrig, Cushlake, her time and outwit her in the end. She Co. Antrim," she held it over a dish of hot would have a second key to fit ber door, and water, and opened it easily. She then took the next night would walk down to her in out the enclosure and read it. Having done the midst of her secret doings. And when 80, a smile overspread Aunt Penelope's round at last Aunt Mac consoled herself with her face--a smile so broad, that some people, see- pillow she dreamed of Aunt Penelope dressed ing it, would have concluded that a crown, or as an Italian peasant, and covered with jewa fortune at least, had been laid at her feet. els, riding off from Glenrig attended by a Having finished reading, she coolly locked up company of brigands, each of whom carried a the letter in a box, and folding a sheet of coffer of gold before him on his saddle. And blank paper placed it in the envelope. Then it would be using much too weak an espresshe sat down and wrote a letter, addressed to sion to say that Aunt Mac looked daggers at the Temple, London, which she carried away Aunt Pen at the breakfast-table next mornand sent off to Cushlake to the post ; and ing. Spears and javelins convey but a faint after completing all these arrangements, she idea of the cutting intensity of glance with introduced the letter-bag to the drawing which she favored her.
That day, in passing down the hall, Aunt Mrs. Archie retired to her own room to Penelope observed a second of those pretty read her letter. On her return, Aunt Pene- missives addressed to Butterfly Terrace, lope hoped her nephew Archie was well. Brompton, lying conspicuously on the hall “Oh, yes !” Ethelind assured her, as she table. And now shudder again, virtuous nestled among her flounces again with her reader, for this wicked Aunt Pen took the novel. “Oh, yes, very well, very well in-note and put it in her pocket. Afterwards deed!”
she read it in her own room, and it never left “ Archie is beginning to write a great deal Glenrig. On returning to the drawing-room better than he did,” remarked Rachel, taking after this exploit she found that Mrs. Archie up the envelope wbich Mrs. Archie had left had had another letter from her husband, in ostentatiously upon the table. This is not which he stated that he found it impossible 80 hurried as he used to write; it is very nice to go to Glenrig for a considerable time, and and fine.” The bride's cheeks grew a shade wished her to return at once to London. They pinker, and Aunt Penelope smiled, but no could pay a good visit together during the one answered Rachel's observation.
long vacation,-he must defer it till then ; Three nights passed, during which Mrs. and Mrs. Archie, like a leal and loving wife, Archie never once had occasion to come down was most anxious to depart without delay, searching for her reticule after twelve o'clock, although with overwhelming regret, and gratand the two aunts were suffered to skirmish itude for her delightful, if short, sojourn in about the house in their nightcaps, and come the home of her dear busband. Aunt Pen, in collision with their candles in dark rooms entering the room, sat down quietly anchored to their hearts' content. But on the fourth in the midst of the little storm of mild dismay night, when Aunt Pen was in the act of and persuasion which had arisen after Mrs. screwing up her curl-papers, she heard a Archie's announcement of her lord's behest, “click” at her door, and discovered that she and her own resolve. Aunt MacAlister was was locked into her room. Finding this, she strong in deprecation, condemning her nephew sat down upon the nearest chair and indulged loudly; and Uncle Randal and Aunt Janette, in a hearty fit of laughter. “Well done!” though they loved not their fine daughter-in
law, tried for the sake of their worshipped postman, and that Cousin Kate found the son, to make believe to their own kindly ribbon chosen in town the other day of the hearts that they were sorry to lose her. Mary right shade. And Mary and Rachel looked and Rachel said nothing, but then that was very nice with their white shoulders peeping their more usual mode of expressing their out of their lilac silks, and Letitia made tea feelings.
as usual in her white muslin and favorite “ Well, well, Penelope,” said mild, little coral necklace. Her face was fairer and her Mrs. Janette, “ it's very lucky, as she is re- hair cloudier than they used to appear, and solved to go, that we have asked our friends her wide-awake, amber eyes seemed to have to come to-night. We'll give her one glens got darker settings than they had a month dance before she goes.”
ago. But some one speaks, and the color To this Aunt Penelope nodded and smiled runs red over her cheek, and she laughs a acquiescence over her knitting. And Mrs. gay laugh. The child who runs to put salt Archie writhed uneasily on her sofa, and on a bird's tail is as wise as the person who watched Aunt Pen intently out of her pale, ever expected to find Letitia sentimentalizing. blue-green eyes from behind her novel. And And Mrs. Archie comes in, in a cloud of blue still Aunt Pen sat in the window counting crape spangled with silver, and with pearls her stitches, with her eyes puckered up in twisted in her fair ringlets, and the country the sun, and her cheeks broad with content girls in their simple attire gaze at her in a and good-humor. And after that Mrs. Archie maze of admiration as she floats into a chair did not appear much in the drawing-room and consents to be helped to a cup of tea. that day, being occupied up-stairs in packing And now the fun begins and is carried on her trunks, and preparing her dress for the with greatspirit, Letitia dancing more blithely evening.
than anybody, only detected once by Aunt For there was to be a party at Glenrig that Pen in a tired far-away look of the eyes. But night. Not the kind of country ball where who deserves blame for that! Aunt Penelope the dancing commences at eleven, and a pro- need not be always watching somebody! fessional musician comes down by train from And indeed Aunt Pen herself did not escape the nearest important town to play the polkas without criticism that night, for Aunt Mac and mazurkas; but a species of old-fashioned, never forgave her for the country dance in country party, where the matrons come in which she had the bad taste to join. A their good, well-kept silks and satins of de- woman come to her time of life. Faugh! it cent make, and wear caps which they bring was too ridiculous ! tenderly pinned up in their lace pocket-hand The evening sped and the supper came, kerchiefs; where a young lady may consider carried in on trays, and handed about like herself full-dressed in a high, white muslin the tea. And after Mrs. Archie had eaten with a rose in her hair, and her“ partner for her supper, she changed her seat once, twice, the first dance hands her the seed-cake from thrice, getting nearer the door each time, on the round table, where tea is being made for account of the beat, and at last slipped out of the company; and where the old ladies regale the room whilst Aunt Pen was discussing the themselves over their gossip in the corner with wing of a chicken and lending a sympathizhot sally-lun, and send back their cups for a ing ear to the tale of domestic woes poured little more sugar.
therein by a neighbor whose servant had had Evening arrived, and the drawing-room was the unheard of audacity to get married. filled early with a right merry company. The “ And there she walked out on Sunday morngirls tied their sandals and smoothed out their ing as brazen as you please, and came home sashes up in Aunt Janette's room, and then with a ring on her finger !” Aunt Pen came down in groups to the drawing-room, waited till her wing, and her duties of conand the old ladies nodded their heads together soler, were finished, and then, sending away for a few minutes after they had pinned on her plate, shook a crumb from the brown and their caps, and then followed them. And gold-color brocade, and left the drawing-room. the young men placed chairs for the young The hall was alight, but the dining-room, ladies, and hoped they had enjoyed their at its extreme end had been left in forgotten drive, and had not caught cold; hoped that darkness. Thither Aunt Pen turned her Miss Annie's parcel came all right by the I steps, taking no light. On entering softly,
she perceived a square vista of brightness, , - For whom?" asked Archie, turning a whose rays streamed from the most distant blank face upon her. wainscot. She crept very noiselessly round "Your wife.” the dark walls to the spot, and caught a Oh, come, Aunt Pen, you're as bad as glimpse of the fair Ethelind down on her ever I see! Well, we'll have it out by and knees before something like a trunk, in what by." seemed a small closet or passage, running be “I am quite in earnest Nephew Archie. hind the wainscot. She was hurrying madly I say, why don't you
wife?" over the contents of the chest, or whatever “ Yes, certainly, your wife," said old Ranreceptacle it might be, and Aunt Pen could dal.
hear her enraged panting whispers, as she “Oh, yes, Archie dear, your wife, you
tossed about the mouldy contents, evidently know!” said Aunt Janette, looking nervously finding only disappointment in her search. in her son's face. Archie's puzzled eyes
“Nothing, after all!” she groaned ; “noth- scanned the groups of inquiring faces around ing but an old cake-basket two salt-cellars, him. He began to think he was the victim and a trumpery old yellow satin gown! of some joke in which all present were leagued
Aunt Penelope, shaking with laughter, against him. Aunt Pen came to the rescue. stretched out her hand, and slid the panel “ Look here, now," she said ; “ Archie, into its place closing the aperture from with did you write that letter ?” out.
Letitia all this time had been standing And away went this cruel Aunt Pen, clos- invisible behind a curtain, drumming with ing the dining-room door as she came out. her fingers on the window-shutter. She “ Nicely caged at last,” the said ; " and now, stopped drumming. if Archie does not fail me, he'll be here in a Archie took the letter which Aunt Pen gave few minutes!”
him, and looked it over. Then he laughed, What with the dancing and talking, no one once, twice, and again, and again, so gayly, in the drawing-room heard the arrival of a with such a genuine ring, that every one conveyance at the door; and when “ Mr. joined perforce. 66 No, I'll swear I never Archie, God bless his handsome face !” in- did!” he said, as soon as he could find his vaded the hall, with his rugs and scarfs and voice. portmanteau, Bridget forgot all propriety, 66 But is it not
your writing ? clapped her hands, and was rushing off to the “ Faith, it's uncommonly like it. At least drawing-room with the news. But Archie it's very like what I might write if I were on said, “ Don't interrupt the dancing, Bridget. my good behavior.” I'm glad to see that nothing is wrong. I'll “ Well, then,” said Aunt Pen, who seemed go up and get rid of these things, and then to have taken upon her the duty of spokessurprise them. Get me a light.”
woman for the family, " our reasons for beAnd so to Aunt Pen’s infinite satisfaction, lieving you to have a wife are, firstly,
that and the bewilderment of every one else, the precious epistle in your hand ; secondly, the door opened in the middle of a dance, and arrival of the lady; and, thirdly, your regulawyer Archie walked in. Rather a cheer lar letters to her since she came, and hers to than a murmur of welcome filled the room, you." and Aunt Janette forgot herself so far as to Archie extended his left hand. 66 Will fall into her son's arms in presence of her any of you gentlemen be kind enough to give guests.
me à pinch ?" Upon my word, this is very pleasant,” “ Of snuff ?” asked a stout little gentlesaid Archie, after the greetings were over and man, producing his box. No, Arcbie said, he had sat down by his father's chair and laughing, but a pinch on his flesh, to assure surveyed the company, rather restlessly, as if him that he was awake. After some one had searching for some face not yet visible. performed that kind office for him, Archie
Very pleasant to see so many friends all proceeded to make a speech, which, being together on one's arrival home.”
quite in his way, it is to be supposed he found “ But you don't ask for your wife, Nephew no difficulty in doing. Archie,” said Aunt Pen, slyly.
“I beg to state," he said, “ to this good