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the six persons of the picnic to be divided between the two open carriages that
were in waiting for them?
Here, again, Pedgift Junior exhibited his invaluable faculty of contrivance. This
highly cultivated young man possessed in an eminent degree an accomplishment
more or less peculiar to all the young men of the age we live in: he was perfectly
capable of taking his pleasure without forgetting his business. Such a client as the
Master of Thorpe Ambrose fell but seldom in his father's way, and to pay special
but unobtrusive attention to Allan all through the day was the business of which
young Pedgift, while proving himself to be the life and soul of the picnic, never
once lost sight from the beginning of the merry-making to the end. He had
detected the state of affairs between Miss Milroy and Allan at glance, and he at
once provided for his client's inclinations in that quarter by offering, in virtue of
his local knowledge, to lead the way in the first carriage, and by asking Major
Milroy and the curate if they would do him the honor of accompanying him.
"We shall pass a very interesting place to a military man, sir," said young Pedgift,
addressing the major, with his happy and unblushing confidence--"the remains of
a Roman encampment. And my father, sir, who is a subscriber," proceeded this
rising lawyer, turning to the curate, "wished me to ask your opinion of the new
Infant School buildings at Little Gill Beck. Would you kindly give it me as we go
along?" He opened the carriage door, and helped in the major and the curate
before they could either of them start any difficulties. The necessary result
followed. Allan and Miss Milroy rode together in the same carriage, with the
extra convenience of a deaf old lady in attendance to keep the squire's
compliments within the necessary limits.
Never yet had Allan enjoyed such an interview with Miss Milroy as the interview
he now obtained on the road to the Broads.
The dear old lady, after a little anecdote or two on the subject of her son, did the
one thing wanting to secure the perfect felicity of her two youthful companions:
she became considerately blind for the occasion, as well as deaf. A quarter of an
hour after the carriage left the major's cottage, the poor old soul, reposing on snug
cushions, and fanned by a fine summer air, fell peaceably asleep. Allan made
love, and Miss Milroy sanctioned the manufacture of that occasionally precious
article of human commerce, sublimely indifferent on both sides to a solemn bass
accompaniment on two notes, played by the curate's mother's unsuspecting nose.
The only interruption to the love-making (the snoring, being a thing more grave
and permanent in its nature, was not interrupted at all) came at intervals from the
carriage ahead. Not satisfied with having the major's Roman encampment and the
curate's Infant Schools on his mind, Pedgift Junior rose erect from time to time in
his place, and, respectfully hailing the hindmost vehicle, directed Allan's
attention, in a shrill tenor voice, and with an excellent choice of language, to
objects of interest on the road. The only way to quiet him was to answer, which
Allan invariably did by shouting back, "Yes, beautiful," upon which young
Pedgift disappeared again in the recesses of the leading carriage, and took up the
Romans and the Infants where he had left them last.
The scene through which the picnic party was now passing merited far more
attention than it received either from Allan or Allan's friends.