In Which Rebecca’s Husband Appears for a Short Time
Every reader of a sentimental turn (and we desire no other) must have been pleased with the tableau with which the last act of our little drama concluded; for what can be prettier than an image of Love on his knees before Beauty?
But when Love heard that awful confession from Beauty that she was married already, he bounced up from his attitude of humility on the carpet, uttering exclamations which caused poor little Beauty to be more frightened than she was when she made her avowal. “Married; you’re joking,” the Baronet cried, after the first explosion of rage and wonder. “You’re making vun of me, Becky. Who’d ever go to marry you without a shilling to your vortune?”
“Married! married!” Rebecca said, in an agony of tears –her voice choking with emotion, her handkerchief up to her ready eyes, fainting against the mantelpiece a figure of woe fit to melt the most obdurate heart. “0 Sir Pitt, dear Sir Pitt, do not think me ungrateful for all your goodness to me. It is only your generosity that has extorted my secret.”
“Generosity be hanged!” Sir Pitt roared out. “Who is it tu, then, you’re married? Where was it?”
“Let me come back with you to the country, sir! Let me watch over you as faithfully as ever! Don’t, don’t separate me from dear Queen’s Crawley!”
“The feller has left you, has he?” the Baronet said, beginning, as he fancied, to comprehend. “Well, Becky– come back if you like. You can’t eat your cake and have it. Any ways I made you a vair offer. Coom back as governess–you shall have it all your own way.” She held out one hand. She cried fit to break her heart; her ringlets fell over her face, and over the marble mantelpiece where she laid it.
“So the rascal ran off, eh?” Sir Pitt said, with a hideous attempt at consolation. “Never mind, Becky, I’LL take care of ‘ee.”
“Oh, sir! it would be the pride of my life to go back to Queen’s Crawley, and take care of the children, and of you as formerly, when you said you were pleased with the services of your little Rebecca. When I think of what you have just offered me, my heart fills with gratitude indeed it does. I can’t be your wife, sir; let me–let me be your daughter.”
Saying which, Rebecca went down on HER knees in a most tragical way, and, taking Sir Pitt’s horny black hand between her own two (which were very pretty and white, and as soft as satin), looked up in his face with an expression of exquisite pathos and confidence, when– when the door opened, and Miss Crawley sailed in.
Mrs. Firkin and Miss Briggs, who happened by chance to be at the parlour door soon after the Baronet and Rebecca entered the apartment, had also seen accidentally, through the keyhole, the old gentleman prostrate before the governess, and had heard the generous proposal which he made her. It was scarcely out of his mouth when Mrs. Firkin and Miss Briggs had streamed up the stairs, had rushed into the drawing-room where Miss Crawley was reading the French novel, and had given that old lady the astounding intelligence that Sir Pitt was on his knees, proposing to Miss Sharp. And if you calculate the time for the above dialogue to take place –the time for Briggs and Firkin to fly to the drawing-room–the time for Miss Crawley to be astonished, and to drop her volume of Pigault le Brun–and the time for her to come downstairs–you will see how exactly accurate this history is, and how Miss Crawley must have appeared at the very instant when Rebecca had assumed the attitude of humility.