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place, of turning the stranger out of the cabin by force; it was natural, too-for few were more alive to the “proprieties" than the hero of this storythat upon learning that the stranger was a clergyman, he should have drawn back, and swallowed down, or tried to swallow, his abundant ire. The extreme calmness of the gentleman in black had at first exasperated him ; now it rather awed him. He felt that intemperance would be useless—nay, worse than this, that it would only degrade him; and so, striving with all his might to control himself, he turned to Mrs. Poggleton and said, “ Aunt, pray tell this gentleman who I am."
Julia, during all this, which, long as it has taken us to describe, occupied only a few minutes, was lying with her head on the strange gentleman's knee, pale and rigid, with her eyes closed and like one after death. The stranger's whole thoughts were fixed upon her, and he heard not what Peregrine said, or it is probable that he would have answered for himself. “Pray tell this gentleman who I am," repeated Peregrine.
“Henry, Henry," began Mrs. Poggleton ; “ dear me! he does not hear me. Henry, this is my nephew, Peregrine-only think! And come here, Henry, you had better let me take her, and answer Peregrine yourself. Henry, this is my nephew."
" I thought so," said the strange gentleman in black.
Peregrine was determined to restrain himself,
and though his face was livid, and he had bitten his under lip till the blood had poured from it, he said in a low, clear voice, coercively, “ Well, sir, perhaps you will explain all this. I really am confused -astonished. I came here to claim my betrothed bride; and you, sir-oh! tell me at once, have you a better right to be here than I have?”
“ Better than any man living," said the stranger.
“ You have? then one word more-only one word more in pity—".
"Stay," interrupted the stranger, " there has been some fatal error, I think. Mr. Pultuney, tell me first, do you come here a married man?"
“ Married ! oh, God ! no: but you, sir-you,
“I am the husband of this lady," said the stranger, and as he bent over Julia's prostrate form, his lips touched her forehead.
" Come," said Mrs. Poggleton, laying her hand upon Peregrine's arm and turning towards the door: “come away, pray do. Dear me! dear me! it is terrible. I really don't know what to think-we all supposed you were married : only think—and not after all. Don't be angry-don't say any thing, but come with me into the next cabin; I will tell you all, as well as I can-only think: dear me !"
Peregrine turned away and followed his aunt, like an automaton, from the cabin.
In which Mrs. Poggleton is very explanatory, and the Mystery
is cleared up.
THERE was a door of communication between the large stern cabin and that next to it, which, in accordance with after arrangements, had been appropriated to Mrs. Poggleton. Through this door passed Peregrine and his aunt ; and then began the explanation. “My dear Peregrine-now don't be angry-pray don't be angry, but sit down-I can't stand a minute longer. Only think, how terrible it is ; I really think I shall die under it-now, don't say any thing, pray, but listen. I am so weak; you couldn't get me some water, could you ?-there is a filter in that corner and a tumbler on the swing tray-dear me, dear me !"
Peregrine took the tumbler from the tray and drew some water from the filter, scarcely knowing what he was about. “Here aunt,” he said, “ drink it," and he was so hoarse, that his dearest friend could not have recognised the tones of his voice.
“ Thank you, dear, thank you,” recommenced Mrs. Poggleton, and she applied the tumbler to her lips. “I shall be better, I think, presently—but sit down, there is plenty of room on the couch-sit down pray—but don't be in hurry, I beseech you. I will tell you all in very good time, but you must not be in a hurry-only think that it should come to this-dear me, dear me !"
Peregrine sat down on the couch, and asked his aunt what it all meant.
“ There now," she said, “ I told you not to be in a hurry-you young men are so intemperate, always. I never shall get on in this way-only think, what a flutter I am in, and how terrible this is for the nerves. I have always been very nervous; but this, Peregrine, is-oh, dear me! I shall never get over it, I am sure.”
“Pray, go on-pray, go on," urged Peregrine.
"I will try, that I will,” continued the little woman, in a voice between a sob and a falter; "but you must not be angry, my dear Peregrine. I cannot stand it, I cannot, indeed, my nerves are so terribly weak—all this has come upon me so suddenly—we thought that you were married, you know—that you had behaved very ill indeed, and married that odious Miss Sweetenham; and, after all, you are not married—oh, dear! what will ever become of us ?"
“Go on, go on,” said Peregrine, "we shall get at the truth presently."
“The truth-oh, dear! oh, dear! what does the foolish boy mean? Does he think I shall tell him a story? Now, pray, be patient, do, Peregrine. It has not been my fault, indeed—but I do not know what to make of it all. How comes it that you are not married ?"
“What a question !" returned Peregrine.
“You are so intemperate—now, pray listen,” continued the poor little woman, whilst the tears streamed down her face, " and I will tell you how it came to pass. Let me see-you came out to India, as a cadet, two or three years ago—it was all my fault, I know it was—I ought to have foreseen what would happen, and not have left you so much together. I don't know whether you fell in love with Julia, or whether Julia fell in love with you, or whether you fell in love with one another, or what, but she refused some very excellent offers indeed, which her poor papa and I-that we did—both of us wished her very much to accept—there was Mr. Rich, of one of the Boards, and Mr. Ballygunge, and that Mr. What's-his-name, who, they said, took to drinking afterwards—the gentleman with the front tooth out-and, I don't know, how many besides, she refused them all ; and I couldn't tell why, until I found that you had been persuading her.”
"I persuade her? but, go on,” exclaimed Peregrine, “I know all this—but, pray, go on.”
“It was very foolish, I know it was,” continued Mrs. Poggleton, “ to leave you two young people