'They like to be by themselves, of course,' said Tom; 'and I came away so naturally, that I have no doubt they are expecting me, every moment, to return. That's capital!'
But he had not sat reading very long, when he heard a tap at his door.
'May I come in?' said John.
'Oh, surely!' Tom replied.
'Don't leave us, Tom. Don't sit by yourself. We want to make you merry; not melancholy.'
'My dear friend,' said Tom, with a cheerful smile.
'Brother, Tom. Brother.'
'My dear brother,' said Tom; 'there is no danger of my being melancholy, how can I be melancholy, when I know that you and Ruth are so blest in each other! I think I can find my tongue tonight, John,' he added, after a moment's pause. 'But I never can tell you what unutterable joy this day has given me. It would be unjust to you to speak of your having chosen a portionless girl, for I feel that you know her worth; I am sure you know her worth. Nor will it diminish in your estimation, John, which money might.'
'Which money would, Tom,' he returned. 'Her worth! Oh, who could see her here, and not love her! Who could know her, Tom, and not honour her! Who could ever stand possessed of such a heart as hers, and grow indifferent to the treasure! Who could feel the rapture that I feel to-day, and love as I love her, Tom, without knowing something of her worth! Your joy unutterable! No, no, Tom. It's mine, it's mine.
'No, no, John,' said Tom. 'It's mine, it's mine.'
Their friendly contention was brought to a close by little Ruth herself, who came peeping in at the door. And oh, the look, the glorious, half-proud, half-timid look she gave Tom, when her lover drew her to his side! As much as to say, 'Yes, indeed, Tom, he will do it. But then he has a right, you know. Because I AM fond of him, Tom.'
As to Tom, he was perfectly delighted. He could have sat and looked at them, just as they were, for hours.
'I have told Tom, love, as we agreed, that we are not going to permit him to run away, and that we cannot possibly allow it. The loss of one person, and such a person as Tom, too, out of our small household of three, is not to be endured; and so I have told him. Whether he is considerate, or whether he is only selfish, I don't know. But he needn't be considerate, for he is not the least restraint upon us. Is he, dearest Ruth?'
Well! He really did not seem to be any particular restraint upon them. Judging from what ensued.
Was it folly in Tom to be so pleased by their remembrance of him at such a time? Was their graceful love a folly, were their dear caresses follies, was their lengthened parting folly? Was it folly in him to watch her window from the street, and rate its scantiest gleam of light above all diamonds; folly in her to breathe his name upon her knees, and pour out her pure heart before that Being from whom such hearts and such affections come?
If these be follies, then Fiery Face go on and prosper! If they be not, then Fiery Face avaunt! But set the crunched bonnet at some other single gentleman, in any case, for one is lost to thee for ever!
GIVES THE AUTHOR GREAT CONCERN. FOR IT IS THE LAST IN THE BOOK
Todger's was in high feather, and mighty preparations for a late breakfast were astir in its commercial bowers.