'I should think so myself, aunt, I am sure,' said I.
'Well, then, why DON'T you think so?' said my aunt.
'Because you and I are very different people,' I returned.
'Stuff and nonsense, Trot!' replied my aunt.
MY aunt went on with a quiet enjoyment, in which there was very little affectation, if any; drinking the warm ale with a tea-spoon, and soaking her strips of toast in it.
'Trot,' said she, 'I don't care for strange faces in general, but I rather like that Barkis of yours, do you know!'
'It's better than a hundred pounds to hear you say so!' said I.
'It's a most extraordinary world,' observed my aunt, rubbing her nose; 'how that woman ever got into it with that name, is unaccountable to me. It would be much more easy to be born a Jackson, or something of that sort, one would think.'
'Perhaps she thinks so, too; it's not her fault,' said I.
'I suppose not,' returned my aunt, rather grudging the admission; 'but it's very aggravating. However, she's Barkis now. That's some comfort. Barkis is uncommonly fond of you, Trot.'
'There is nothing she would leave undone to prove it,' said I.
'Nothing, I believe,' returned my aunt. 'Here, the poor fool has been begging and praying about handing over some of her money — because she has got too much of it. A simpleton!'
My aunt's tears of pleasure were positively trickling down into the warm ale.
'She's the most ridiculous creature that ever was born,' said my aunt. 'I knew, from the first moment when I saw her with that poor dear blessed baby of a mother of yours, that she was the most ridiculous of mortals. But there are good points in Barkis!'
Affecting to laugh, she got an opportunity of putting her hand to her eyes. Having availed herself of it, she resumed her toast and her discourse together.
'Ah! Mercy upon us!' sighed my aunt. 'I know all about it, Trot! Barkis and myself had quite a gossip while you were out with Dick. I know all about it. I don't know where these wretched girls expect to go to, for my part. I wonder they don't knock out their brains against — against mantelpieces,' said my aunt; an idea which was probably suggested to her by her contemplation of mine.
'Poor Emily!' said I.
'Oh, don't talk to me about poor,' returned my aunt. 'She should have thought of that, before she caused so much misery! Give me a kiss, Trot. I am sorry for your early experience.'
As I bent forward, she put her tumbler on my knee to detain me, and said:
'Oh, Trot, Trot! And so you fancy yourself in love! Do you?'
'Fancy, aunt!' I exclaimed, as red as I could be. 'I adore her with my whole soul!'
'Dora, indeed!' returned my aunt. 'And you mean to say the little thing is very fascinating, I suppose?'
'My dear aunt,' I replied, 'no one can form the least idea what she is!'
'Ah! And not silly?' said my aunt.
I seriously believe it had never once entered my head for a single moment, to consider whether she was or not. I resented the idea, of course; but I was in a manner struck by it, as a new one altogether.
'Not light-headed?' said my aunt.
'Light-headed, aunt!' I could only repeat this daring speculation with the same kind of feeling with which I had repeated the preceding question.
'Well, well!' said my aunt. 'I only ask. I don't depreciate her. Poor little couple! And so you think you were formed for one another, and are to go through a party-supper-table kind of life, like two pretty pieces of confectionery, do you, Trot?'
She asked me this so kindly, and with such a gentle air, half playful and half sorrowful, that I was quite touched.
'We are young and inexperienced, aunt, I know,' I replied; 'and I dare say we say and think a good deal that is rather foolish. But we love one another truly, I am sure. If I thought Dora could ever love anybody else, or cease to love me; or that I could ever love anybody else, or cease to love her; I don't know what I should do — go out of my mind, I think!'
'Ah, Trot!' said my aunt, shaking her head, and smiling gravely; 'blind, blind, blind!'
'Someone that I know, Trot,' my aunt pursued, after a pause, 'though of a very pliant disposition, has an earnestness of affection in him that reminds me of poor Baby. Earnestness is what that Somebody must look for, to sustain him and improve him, Trot. Deep, downright, faithful earnestness.'