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mated, or otherwise provided for. The comfortable present in their cheerful home in Sussex Gardens was enough for them ; let the future come, they could trust to it being as happy as the past.
Time after time, when the doctor's soft and commiserating announcement had been made to the expectant father, “ Amher daughter, my dear sir; " Mr. Shrugs had for the moment caught the commiseration in the doctor's tone, and shaken his head sadly as if it really was disappointing ; and once when the announcement had been slightly varied with, “ Twin daughters, my dear sir," he had even spoken testily:
“ Twins ! what twv more?" he had cried, starting up from the chemical studies on which he spent the greater part of his days “God bless me; what are we to do with them all?" But when he went upstairs and saw the comical distress of his wife's pretty face, as the two little pink babies were brought for her in
spection ; and as he heard the nurse's laments and plans as to how two were to be dressed in one set of clothes, his momentary vexation vanished then and there for ever; and he ended in calling the unconscious intruders a double blessing; and made himself quite merry by nicknaming them Ditto and Do.
After that there were two more announcements in due time, always the same. “Another daughter, my dear sir!” But there was no longer the shadow of a sting for him in the news. “Only one!” he would say. And he was really thankful ; for after the arrival of twins, he had declared himself prepared to hear of being in a position even to receive the Queen's bounty, and quite dreaded to have his presentiments realized.
I think any man might be proud of six such daughters ; not only because they were all pretty, some of them more than pretty-beautiful, as we shall hear their lovers swear by-andby; but also because they were all healthy in mind and body: and I maintain that of all the blessings given us on earth, a healthy body is the greatest; and the beauty that springs from health is, notwithstanding the morbid romance that sees beauty only in the pallor of disease, the only true beauty. A pretty delicate woman is a fragile toy one fears even as one admires; but bright eyes and rounded limbs delight without reservation; and the eyes that flashed upon Mr. Shrugg, six pairs of eyes varied in form and colour, but all unvaried in health and clearness, gladdened him unfeignedly. They were good girls—as girls go—petulant sometimes, silly sometimes; inconsistent very often, thoughtlessly extravagant occasionally ; but insolent and deaf to reason never ; high spirited, more or less according to their different dispositions ; of course they were saucy too, on occasion, and sarcastic about pretentious acquaintances. Were they not young women; and have I not said they were healthy ? For the rest, they were pretty well educated, tolerable theologians,
affectionate sisters and daughters, kind to their servants, seldom squabbled amongst themselves, and were emphatically wholesome in mind and person; and for myself, though this may sound a too homely term to apply to young lady heroines, I would rather be able to apply it to my wife or sister than the loftier one of “lovely” or “intellectual.” Comfort and happiness go with the one, and what does comfort not represent in daily family intercourse ?
Mr. and Mrs. Shrugg were not rich as the world stands now-a-days; theirs was a love match; Mrs. Shrugg was a penniless bride, and Mr. Shrugg had no more than his mother's portion of £20,000. He had been brought up by his grandfather, old Robert Shrugg, of Shrugg, in Yorkshire ; an old squire, with a fine estate, worth some £6000 or £7000 a year, to consider himself his heir, but his marriage had angered old Shrugg past redemption. Francis might be a “good lad;” nay, had always been a dutiful lad; and moreover, he was the orphan
child of that dearly-loved eldest boy, whose death happening in the hunting-field in the first year of his marriage, had aged the squire more than ten years of ordinary life could have done, and had seemed to give the posthumous baby a stronger claim upon his love. But his obstinate defiance, when his grandfather commanded him to think no more of pretty Susan Greville, and to marry a high-cheeked Yorkshire lady, whose charms were like Miss Kilmansegge's, thoroughly estranged the old man's affection; and henceforth the grandfather and grandson were as strangers to each other.
Francis Shrugg's vacant place at Shrugg was filled by a younger son, whose marriage had been to his grandfather's satisfaction, and whose children were born under the old roof (for the new favourite was said to know how to humour the old man); and though the marriage had become an unhappy one, and shame had tarnished the hitherto unsullied name through young Mrs. Robert Shrugg's conduct, the old