Yes! in a score of drawing-rooms he would be more
than welcome. Mamma would advance to meet him, with outstretched hand;
the virgin daughter, elderly as he has now got to be,--an old widower,
as he smilingly describes himself,--would shake up the cushion for the
Judge, and do her pretty utmost to make him comfortable. For the Judge
is a prosperous man. He cherishes his schemes, moreover, like other
people, and reasonably brighter than most others; or did so, at least,
as he lay abed this morning, in an agreeable half-drowse, planning the
business of the day, and speculating on the probabilities of the next
fifteen years. With his firm health, and the little inroad that age
has made upon him, fifteen years or twenty--yes, or perhaps
five-and-twenty!--are no more than he may fairly call his own.
Five-and-twenty years for the enjoyment of his real estate in town and
country, his railroad, bank, and insurance shares, his United States
stock,--his wealth, in short, however invested, now in possession, or
soon to be acquired; together with the public honors that have fallen
upon him, and the weightier ones that are yet to fall! It is good! It
is excellent! It is enough!
Still lingering in the old chair! If the Judge has a little time to
throw away, why does not he visit the insurance office, as is his
frequent custom, and sit awhile in one of their leathern-cushioned
arm-chairs, listening to the gossip of the day, and dropping some
deeply designed chance-word, which will be certain to become the gossip
of to-morrow. And have not the bank directors a meeting at which it
was the Judge's purpose to be present, and his office to preside?
Indeed they have; and the hour is noted on a card, which is, or ought
to be, in Judge Pyncheon's right vest-pocket. Let him go thither, and
loll at ease upon his moneybags! He has lounged long enough in the old
This was to have been such a busy day. In the first place, the
interview with Clifford. Half an hour, by the Judge's reckoning, was
to suffice for that; it would probably be less, but--taking into
consideration that Hepzibah was first to be dealt with, and that these
women are apt to make many words where a few would do much better--it
might be safest to allow half an hour. Half an hour? Why, Judge, it is
already two hours, by your own undeviatingly accurate chronometer.
Glance your eye down at it and see! Ah; he will not give himself the
trouble either to bend his head, or elevate his hand, so as to bring
the faithful time-keeper within his range of vision! Time, all at once,
appears to have become a matter of no moment with the Judge!