By some strange occurrence of favourable circumstances he had found out the drawing-room, and was sitting there alone.
‘Ah, cousin!’ he said. ‘Here I am, you see. You thought I was lost, I’ll be bound. Well! how do you find yourself by this time?’
Miss Charity replied that she was quite well, and gave Mr Jonas Chuzzlewit her hand.
‘That’s right,’ said Mr Jonas, ‘and you’ve got over the fatigues of the journey have you? I say. How’s the other one?’
‘My sister is very well, I believe,’ returned the young lady. ‘I have not heard her complain of any indisposition, sir. Perhaps you would like to see her, and ask her yourself?’
‘No, no cousin!’ said Mr Jonas, sitting down beside her on the window-seat. ‘Don’t be in a hurry. There’s no occasion for that, you know. What a cruel girl you are!’
‘It’s impossible for you to know,’ said Cherry, ‘whether I am or not.’
‘Well, perhaps it is,’ said Mr Jonas. ‘I say—Did you think I was lost? You haven’t told me that.’
‘I didn’t think at all about it,’ answered Cherry.
‘Didn’t you though?’ said Jonas, pondering upon this strange reply. ‘Did the other one?’
‘I am sure it’s impossible for me to say what my sister may, or may not have thought on such a subject,’ cried Cherry. ‘She never said anything to me about it, one way or other.’
‘Didn’t she laugh about it?’ inquired Jonas.
‘No. She didn’t even laugh about it,’ answered Charity.
‘She’s a terrible one to laugh, an’t she?’ said Jonas, lowering his voice.
‘She is very lively,’ said Cherry.
‘Liveliness is a pleasant thing—when it don’t lead to spending money. An’t it?’ asked Mr Jonas.
‘Very much so, indeed,’ said Cherry, with a demureness of manner that gave a very disinterested character to her assent.
‘Such liveliness as yours I mean, you know,’ observed Mr Jonas, as he nudged her with his elbow. ‘I should have come to see you before, but I didn’t know where you was. How quick you hurried off, that morning!’
‘I was amenable to my papa’s directions,’ said Miss Charity.
‘I wish he had given me his direction,’ returned her cousin, ‘and then I should have found you out before. Why, I shouldn’t have found you even now, if I hadn’t met him in the street this morning. What a sleek, sly chap he is! Just like a tomcat, an’t he?’
‘I must trouble you to have the goodness to speak more respectfully of my papa, Mr Jonas,’ said Charity. ‘I can’t allow such a tone as that, even in jest.’
‘Ecod, you may say what you like of my father, then, and so I give you leave,’ said Jonas. ‘I think it’s liquid aggravation that circulates through his veins, and not regular blood. How old should you think my father was, cousin?’
‘Old, no doubt,’ replied Miss Charity; ‘but a fine old gentleman.’
‘A fine old gentleman!’ repeated Jonas, giving the crown of his hat an angry knock. ‘Ah! It’s time he was thinking of being drawn out a little finer too. Why, he’s eighty!’
‘Is he, indeed?’ said the young lady.
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