"Papa," said Gertrude, to her father one evening, "don't you think you could do something for me too now?" Just at this time Sir Thomas, greatly to his own annoyance, was coming down to Merle Park every evening. According to their plans as at present arranged, they were to stay in the country till after Easter, and then they were to go up to town in time to despatch poor Tom upon his long journey round the world. But poor Tom was now in bed, apparently ill, and there seemed to be great doubt whether he could be made to go on the appointed day in spite of the taking of his berth and the preparation of his outfit. Tom, if well enough, was to sail on the nineteenth of April, and there now wanted not above ten days to that time. "Don't you think you could do something for me now?" asked Gertrude. Hitherto Sir Thomas had extended no sign of pardon to his youngest daughter, and never failed to allude to her and to Captain Batsby as "those two idiots" whenever their names were mentioned before him.
"Yes, my dear; I will endeavour to do a good deal for you if you will behave yourself."
"What do you call behaving myself, papa?"
"In the first place telling me that you are very sorry for your misbehaviour with that idiot."
"Of course I am sorry if I have offended you."
"Well, that shall go for something. But how about the idiot?" "Papa!" she exclaimed.
"Was he not an idiot? Would anyone but an idiot have gone on such an errand as that?"
"Gentlemen and ladies have done it before, papa."