14 TYLNEY HALL. of " The Rabbits." The considerate Mrs. Hanway, with the overflowing carefulness which belonged to her character, had tied a muffler of leather over the knocker of a door which professionally stood ever open ; and Pots, under the same direction, had scattered two trusses of straw over a road where wheels were almost as great a rarity as they are now-a-days in state lotteries. The Dutch clock in the tap-room no longer struck the hour, and the parlour bell rang only with the benumbed sound of a wine-glass when it is filled with liquid. The sign which had been so given to JEolian discord was taken down, and Jonas himself, at the desire of his spouse, had discarded his iron-shod high- lows, and minced awkwardly about in a pair of list slippers. As for Mrs. Hanway herself, she was quite in her element, invested with all the importance and mystery of an attendant on a sick chamber. Her face wore an unusual expression of grave anxiety, varied, however, occasionally, by a slight crumpling up of her features, which died away again with the flavour of the various medicines, which she amused herself by sipping and tasting, preparatory to in- flicting them on her patient. Strange to say, the tenderest of nurses seem to derive some peculiar gratification from the administration of physic. With wonderful gusto they shake up the nauseous sediment full before the eyes of the loathing expectant. With a very unnecessary noise and splash they pour the gurgling abomination, close under the olfactories, into the wine-glass or tea-cup, as if jalap, like porter, would be more acceptable with a fine head, and then gaze on the writhing features and rising gorge with a complacency perfectly unaccountable, except on that principle of Lucretius, that it is pleasant to stand by and look on an infliction which does not reach ourselves. Mrs. Hanway, at the expense of her invalid, had revelled for some time in this nursing propensity, till human patience, revolting at last, refused peremptorily to honour her draughts ; and in consequence she was compelled to find vent for her ruling passion amongst knockers, bells, and thick shoes, as already described. Above all, she watched for a noise as vigilantly as a cat for a mouse, and whenever the most insignificant sound dared
TYLNEY HALL. 15 to be heard, she pounced upon it with her finger on her lips, and strangled it in its hirth. Accordingly, the moment Sir Mark alighted at the door, she put his very first question asleep with an " " emphatic Hush ! and then laying her lips to his ear favoured him with an inaudible answer. Awed by this beginning, the Baronet suffered himself, like one of the deaf and dumb, to be telegraphed up stairs into what is called the best bed-room, and coming suddenly out of the broad light of day into a gloom miti- gated only by the slender ray which crept through the mere cracks of the shutters, the fire-light even being studiously screened off, he felt for some bewildered moments as if blindness was added to his other bereavements. At last a voice which he could scarcely hear called him by name to the bedside, where a form he could barely see clutched him feebly round the neck, and for some time held him in a silent and tremulous embrace. The voice again made an attempt to speak, when suddenly the hands unclasped, and the body fell back with a death-like helplessness on the pillow. "He's dead, woman he's dying!" shouted the agitated Baronet ; "let me see the last of my brother!" and tearing down a curtain with each hand as he spoke, he endeavoured with fixed eyes to pierce the thick gloom which hung before him. In obedience to the command, Mrs. Hanway opened one solitary leaf of the shutters, but which by chance allowed a partial stream of light to fall full upon the bed, and disclosed a sight that rendered the gazer almost as insensible as the being before him. The letter he had received, the few words of the invalid himself, had led Sir Mark to believe that he was about to see a brother ; but when he was able to distinguish the face of the sufferer, he beheld with unspeakable horror the countenance of his father, at whose death-bed he had stood and wept some ten years before.