Snitchey, looking into the orchard, 'but have I liberty to come in?'
Without waiting for permission, he came straight to Marion, and kissed her hand, quite joyfully.
'If Mr. Craggs had been alive, my dear Miss Marion,' said Mr. Snitchey, 'he would have had great interest in this occasion. It might have suggested to him, Mr. Alfred, that our life is not too easy perhaps: that, taken altogether, it will bear any little smoothing we can give it; but Mr. Craggs was a man who could endure to be convinced, sir. He was always open to conviction. If he were open to conviction, now, I - this is weakness. Mrs. Snitchey, my dear,' - at his summons that lady appeared from behind the door, 'you are among old friends.'
Mrs. Snitchey having delivered her congratulations, took her husband aside.
'One moment, Mr. Snitchey,' said that lady. 'It is not in my nature to rake up the ashes of the departed.'
'No, my dear,' returned her husband.
'Mr. Craggs is - '
'Yes, my dear, he is deceased,' said Snitchey.
'But I ask you if you recollect,' pursued his wife, 'that evening of the ball? I only ask you that. If you do; and if your memory has not entirely failed you, Mr. Snitchey; and if you are not absolutely in your dotage; I ask you to connect this time with that - to remember how I begged and prayed you, on my knees - '
'Upon your knees, my dear?' said Mr. Snitchey.
'Yes,' said Mrs. Snitchey, confidently, 'and you know it - to beware of that man - to observe his eye - and now to tell me whether I was right, and whether at that moment he knew secrets which he didn't choose to tell.'
'Mrs. Snitchey,' returned her husband, in her ear, 'Madam. Did you ever observe anything in MY eye?'
'No,' said Mrs. Snitchey, sharply. 'Don't flatter yourself.'
'Because, Madam, that night,' he continued, twitching her by the sleeve, 'it happens that we both knew secrets which we didn't choose to tell, and both knew just the same professionally. And so the less you say about such things the better, Mrs. Snitchey; and take this as a warning to have wiser and more charitable eyes another time. Miss Marion, I brought a friend of yours along with me. Here! Mistress!'
Poor Clemency, with her apron to her eyes, came slowly in, escorted by her husband; the latter doleful with the presentiment, that if she abandoned herself to grief, the Nutmeg-Grater was done for.
'Now, Mistress,' said the lawyer, checking Marion as she ran towards her, and interposing himself between them, 'what's the matter with YOU?'
'The matter!' cried poor Clemency. - When, looking up in wonder, and in indignant remonstrance, and in the added emotion of a great roar from Mr. Britain, and seeing that sweet face so well remembered close before her, she stared, sobbed, laughed, cried, screamed, embraced her, held her fast, released her, fell on Mr. Snitchey and embraced him (much to Mrs. Snitchey's indignation), fell on the Doctor and embraced him, fell on Mr. Britain and embraced him, and concluded by embracing herself, throwing her apron over her head, and going into hysterics behind it.
A stranger had come into the orchard, after Mr. Snitchey, and had remained apart, near the gate, without being observed by any of the group; for they had little spare attention to bestow, and that had been monopolised by the ecstasies of Clemency.