That there was something kindred in their nature, something congenial in their souls, something mysteriously sympathetic in their bosoms, was evident. Her name was the first that rose to Mr. Tupman's lips as he lay wounded on the grass; and her hysteric laughter was the first sound that fell upon his ear when he was supported to the house. But had her agitation arisen from an amiable and feminine sensibility which would have been equally irrepressible in any case; or had it been called forth by a more ardent and passionate feeling, which he, of all men living, could alone awaken? These were the doubts which racked his brain as he lay extended on the sofa; these were the doubts which he determined should be at once and for ever resolved.
it was evening. Isabella and Emily had strolled out with Mr. Trundle; the deaf old lady had fallen asleep in her chair; the snoring of the fat boy, penetrated in a low and monotonous sound from the distant kitchen; the buxom servants were lounging at the side door, enjoying the pleasantness of the hour, and the delights of a flirtation, on first principles, with certain unwieldy animals attached to the farm; and there sat the interesting pair, uncared for by all, caring for none, and dreaming only of themselves; there they sat, in short, like a pair of carefully- folded kid gloves--bound up in each other.
'I have forgotten my flowers,' said the spinster aunt.
'Water them now,' said Mr. Tupman, in accents of persuasion.
'You will take cold in the evening air,' urged the spinster aunt affectionately.
'No, no,' said Mr. Tupman, rising; 'it will do me good. Let me accompany you.'
The lady paused to adjust the sling in which the left arm of the youth was placed, and taking his right arm led him to the garden.
There was a bower at the farther end, with honeysuckle, jessamine, and creeping plants--one of those sweet retreats which humane men erect for the accommodation of spiders.
The spinster aunt took up a large watering-pot which lay in one corner, and was about to leave the arbour. Mr. Tupman detained her, and drew her to a seat beside him.
'Miss Wardle!' said he. The spinster aunt trembled, till some pebbles which had accidentally found their way into the large watering-pot shook like an infant's rattle.
'Miss Wardle,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you are an angel.'
'Mr. Tupman!' exclaimed Rachael, blushing as red as the watering-pot itself.
'Nay,' said the eloquent Pickwickian--'I know it but too well.'
'All women are angels, they say,' murmured the lady playfully.
'Then what can you be; or to what, without presumption, can I compare you?' replied Mr. Tupman. 'Where was the woman ever seen who resembled you? Where else could I hope to find so rare a combination of excellence and beauty? Where else could I seek to-- Oh!' Here Mr. Tupman paused, and pressed the hand which clasped the handle of the happy watering-pot.
The lady turned aside her head. 'Men are such deceivers,' she softly whispered.
'They are, they are,' ejaculated Mr. Tupman; 'but not all men. There lives at least one being who can never change--one being who would be content to devote his whole existence to your happiness--who lives but in your eyes--who breathes but in your smiles--who bears the heavy burden of life itself only for you.'
'Could such an individual be found--' said the lady.
'But he CAN be found,' said the ardent Mr. Tupman, interposing. 'He IS found. He is here, Miss Wardle.' And ere the lady was aware of his intention, Mr. Tupman had sunk upon his knees at her feet.
'Mr. Tupman, rise,' said Rachael.
'Never!' was the valorous reply. 'Oh, Rachael!' He seized her passive hand, and the watering-pot fell to the ground as he pressed it to his lips.--'Oh, Rachael! say you love me.'
'Mr. Tupman,' said the spinster aunt, with averted head, 'I can hardly speak the words; but--but--you are not wholly indifferent to me.'
Mr. Tupman no sooner heard this avowal, than he proceeded to do what his enthusiastic emotions prompted, and what, for aught we know (for we are but little acquainted with such matters), people so circumstanced always do.