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Chapter VIII.

I BECOME PERFECTLY RECONCILPD TO MY FATE, MY NAME INCLUDED. "Well," said Mr Bottletop, " at last our friend lias arrived" (I looked round, but saw nothing of Him) ; " and as it as well to know our own minds about things, let us settle now. Cecil being here makes it a little awkward, but we'll have no misunderstanding. Cecil in the first place, do you think you are able and willing to many on the little money you and Geraldine will have between you? Do you think, now, supposing your debts were paid, that you coiilcl be economical and keep straight f " I'm quite sure of it, Mr Bottletop/' I answered eagerly. " Nothing will induce me to relinquish Geraldine again." "Ay, ay," said Mr Bottletop, with much, gravity. "And what do you say, young lady, to this headstrong fellow?" "I think lie is right," answered Geraldine steadily, though she blushed brightly. " May I ask where my cousin is, sir f I demanded. "You will see him soon enough, responded my godfather composedly; "he' was in Ms travelling dress and not presentable when lie arrived. But now Mrs Montague, having heard what these young folks say, and believing — as I at least do — that they mean it, and are really very fond of each other, don't you think it will be kindest and wisest, after all, to let them have their own way 1" Geraldine's soft eyes rose to his face gratefully, and though I had not the least hope that my optics coukl ever be so expressive, I did the best I could with them. But Mrs Montague replied majestically, " IsTo, Mr Bottletop. lam qidte surprised to hear this from you. I object utterly to any alliance between my doughtier jvac], Mr Cecil Ogg ; and, it I

know her aright, she will never wed against my wishes." I knew this too well, as Geraldine had impressed it on me many times, and my spirits fell proportionately. " But why should you object to him ?" urged Mr Bottletop good-humouredly. " He is a gentleman both by birth and education; lie might be a great deal worse to look at; and, for my part, I never heard any harm of him — except, perhaps, that he has spent a trifle more than he ought, and earned a trifle less." " And you call that nothing ?" said Mrs Montague, with scathing emphasis. "An idle, good-for-nothing, unprincij)led spendthrift, steeped in debt and poverty — is he a fit husband for Miss Montague I—a1 — a man with no sense of honour, or he would never have come in this underhand manner and re-estab-liahed his ascendancy over the mind of my daughrer after lie had given bis promise " " Stop ! Another word of this, and I will marry him to-morrow." It was Geraldine who spoke, her eyes flashing as I had never seen them before — and I may add, as I h»vo never seen them since — and quite overaweing her majestic mamma. " Cecil gave no promise except not to write to me, and he has kept it; he has not written." Then she turned those same blue eyes, full of tears, to Mr Bottletop, adding, " Oh, you know this is not true — that my mother only — only says these things about him because Cecil is not rich. And as for breaking his promise, it is nonsense ; and indeed the truth is, he never spoke to me at all till I went up to him this evening ; and I asked him to take me out on to the terrace " " My dear," said Mr Bottletop kindly, " I think you are right, and that your mother is wrong. Not that you need hope to find Mr Cecil there perfection, or anything like it. But as for his being an unprincipled spendthrift, of that kind — why — why — you ought to be ashamed of yourself, Mrs Montague, for saving it of him. But now come, Cecil, we'll go upstairs and see if Neremiah is ready to come down. I'm sure you and he will be good friends." He put his arm through mine, and we went out of the room, but not upstairs as I had expected. Instead, he took me into a little room he called his study, and unlocked a drawer in his writing-table. He took from it a parchment document unlike any I had ever seen before, and spread it out on the table. " Do you see this, my boy ?" he asked, pointing to where certain " lands and tenements, inchiding the estate and mansion of Cheslyn," and money, invested in various "ways, amounting to the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, "there or thereabouts," were left to his godson, Neremiah Bottletop Ogg. I read it, and looked at him, my mind wavering. This must be my fortune cousin ; yet why show it to me ? I was his godson — I was Neremiah Bottletop Ogg. I thought my brain was getting irretrievably confused; but he saw how puzzled and surprised I looked, and with a very grave face said: " I shall never be able to call you anything but Cecil, but it is best to put you down in my will all correct. And you must have the wedding from here, and you and Geraldine must come and keep house for me afterwards — d'ye hear I—and1 — and may be some day I'll have some little great -godsons; and, by Jove ! we'll call them Cecil and George, and Reginald, and all the rest of it. By the way, do you see the day this will was made ? — the day after you told me your love story. You thought I would be offended ; but see what a fine thing it is to tell the whole truth. The first lady I asked to become Mrs Neremiah Bottletop declined on the score of the 'dreadful name'; and I had never thought of your plan : you may guess how it tickled me." " But — my cousin V I asked, in great perplexity. The puckered-up face dissolved, and he laughed so long and so heartily I couldn't help laughing too. "By Jove, I forgot hini !" lie gasped. " That old woman's face will be worth a hundred pounds to see. When my poor nephew, Commodore Bottletop, died, two or three years ago, some story got afloat that all my money would go to my godson — a Mr Neremiah Bottletop Ogg — which it will now. Mrs Montague heard of this, and caught at your acquaintance in town. I knew all along she was as insincere an old manceuvrer as there is in England, but I wanted to try the girl. She's as good as gold, Cecil, and she has stood up for you through thick and thin, and, I take it, has not had a very easy time of it lately with the old lady. Be a good husband, my boy, for you'll get a good wife." As he spoke we left the room and reached the library door. Flinging it wide open he announced loudly, " My godson, Mr Neremiah Bottletop Ogg!" I shrank, even then, at the hideous sounds ; but I saw Mrs Montague grow scarlet with annoyance, amazement, and confusion ; and my pretty Geraldine looking pale and frightened. I was by her side at once, telling my imposition and the cause in a few incoherent words ; whispering that all — everything — was right now ; that there was no cousin, that I was my cousin— and I was getting a little involved when my future mamma interrupted us. She had recovered herself, and was equal to the occasion, :

"My dear Mr Ogg, I hope you will overlook the somewhat hasty expressions I have used about you ; a mother's feelings are not always entirely under her own control." I took the hand she held out to me, and said, " Oh ! all right ;" but though outward peace was made, Geraldine and I don't often trouble the maternal residence when we are in town. " And I'm not Cecil at all, Geraldine," I said, humbly, the next morning; " but I'm — it's absurd, I know — but my sisters generally call me ' Nerry, and perhaps it's a shade better than " " Oh, Cecil, how funny !" she interrupted, laughing. " Why, at home I always go by the name of Jerry! What do you think of that for a name —for a lady, too 1 But as that dear delightful old Mr Bottletop says, I know I shall never be able to call you anything but Cecil." So, but for the happy chance of possessing the name I do, and of signing my first letter to Geraldine, " Cecil George Reginald," I should never have been able to demonstrate how good and true she is; she would never have known that I could be constant to her for months — with or without hope — and seriously contemplate matrimony on six hundred a-year; Mrs Montague would never have come out in her true colours ; and, above all, I should never have made the friendship of the very best, cheeriest, and kindest godfather ever human being possessed. My father and mother never did a wiser action than when they invited him to my christening, and bestowed upon me the name which — abhorred as it once was — has indirectly brought me all the blessings of my life. Now, too, as I associate it with the good, genial disposition of its first possessor, I incline to think that an ugly name, weighed against a noble nature, ought to be the merest feathei in the balance; and I think what a fool, an idiot, must the woman have been who refused him on account of it. " Aye Cecil," he said, laughing, when this thought escaped me the other day ; " but I'd no money then : and who do, you think, was the lady ? I rather think I was the. idiot. She was the lady who afterwards became Mrs De Courcey Montague. I had my reasons, you see, for taking such pains about her daughter, and — , I'm sure I thank heaven that she didn't take me, and that our name has been so useful to us." As I want a moral to adorn my tale tale, I think I cannot find a better than that contained in some of of M Bottletop's further reflections. "My dear boy, depend upon it, there's nothing in the world, however hard it may seem, that isn't for our good in some fashion, though we are sometimes so dull that we never find it out in this world. There would less grumbling, I dare say, if we could see to the end of what we call our misfortunes, and find how very often they turn out to be blessing."

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Chapter VIII. Grey River Argus, Volume XXI, Issue 2764, 23 June 1877

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