Part 2 (1/2)

Expecting what was coming, Chapman interposed by saying, ”Don't be afraid to speak, my darling; I know what you mean.”

”I meant,” resumed Mrs. Chapman, blus.h.i.+ng and looking very serious, ”I meant, have you noticed the attention that sailor-boy--(young Toodlebug did you call him?) horrors! what a name--was paying to our Mattie?”

”Burg, my dear, not bug,” rejoined Chapman.

”People are beginning to talk about it, and they say such things!” The good woman blushed, and a.s.sumed an air of great seriousness. ”The young man may be well enough, but then the Toodlebugs are only a common Dutch family.”

”Toodleburgs, my dear, not bugs. The name makes a great difference with some people,” rejoined Chapman, correctively. ”Very natural, my dear, very natural. The most natural thing in the world for young people to make love. And the most natural thing in the world is that people should talk about it. It is according to the principles of true philosophy. You must not be alarmed, my dear, when you see young people make love. Harm rarely comes of it, and it generally ends in a very small affair.”

”Yes, my dear,” replied the good woman, ”and experience has proved to me that it sometimes ends in a very large affair. A little flirtation between young people--”

”Should be encouraged, my darling,” interrupted Chapman.

”I was going to say,” she continued, ”was not objectionable. But when looks come to be serious, the equality of things should be enquired into. Time's a coming when we may be rich, and live in New York, and be somebody, and move with the best of people. I looks forward to it, my dear; and I am sure the enterprises we have on hand will be a success.

It will never do to marry our daughter to a sailor-boy, to say nothing of connecting ourselves to a common Dutch family--”

”You talk like a philosopher, my darling; but I have known worse things done, and great results flow from them. That young man promises well, and as for old Hanz, he is a man of more importance than you think.

Some of these Dutch people are slow, but solid,” rejoined Chapman, shutting up the book. ”I have an object in view, and this little, innocent flirtation may help to improve it. At least, it can do no harm.”

”It is not good to let anything go on that might lead to harm,” resumed the good woman. ”Mattie has good looks, and I intend that she shall have a polished education, and s.h.i.+ne in society some day. You have always agreed with me, my dear, that it was good to look forward. How could Mattie s.h.i.+ne in society with such a husband, and such a name? The very name of Toodlebug would sink us. Yes, my dear, sink us right down--”

”Wrong again, my dear; Tutle-burg. You may put an _e_ in it instead of an _r_, if you please. That's where the difference is,” interrupted Chapman.

”I don't care, my dear; these polite people would turn up their noses, and get it Too-dle-bug. They are very nice on names. If the young man should get up in the world and keep a carriage, people would say 'there goes Too-dle-bug's carriage--oh! what a name. What low people they must have been.' If they should own a house in the fas.h.i.+onable part of the city. We should both look forward to that, you know. Would'nt it be a horrid name to read on the door? Toodlebug!”

”Tutle-burg, my dear; there's a big difference,” interposed Mr. Chapman.

”As you says; but nice people would not p.r.o.nounce it except with a bug,”

continued the good woman, looking discomfitted. ”You have given so much time to progress and reforming the world, that you don't understand these matters as well as I do. I am sure there would be blushes and smiles enough over such a name. Think of our daughter being Mrs.

Toodlebug, (I p.r.o.nounce it with a b-u-g, you see,) and inviting nice people to her reception. There would be people enough at that reception to make light of the name. Yes, Mr. Chapman, you might as well have her married to a Mr. Straddlebug. It's so very vulgar, my dear.”

”As to that,” replied Chapman, ”the world is a great vulgarity, and only puts on politeness for appearance sake. The young man might have his name changed, or he might add something to it to soften it. How would you like Von Toodleburg, my dear?”

”Never can be softened; never! The Von would do something to lift a family up into respectability. And then, socially speaking, there was such a wide difference between them distinguished Dutch families and them common Dutch families.”

”What would you have me do about it, darling?” enquired Chapman, submissively.

”Oppose it, my dear!” replied Mrs. Chapman, bowing, and becoming earnest. ”Oppose it. You know how to oppose everything, and surely you can oppose this.”

This reply troubled Chapman considerably. He had for once found something he would rather encourage than oppose. But he had a motive for his action, as will be seen hereafter.

CHAPTER VII.

THE TOWN MOVED WITH INDIGNATION.

It was less than a week after the scenes we have described in the foregoing chapter took place, that the good sloop Heinrich arrived, having made her weekly voyage to New York and back. A small, ill-favored man, with a very long red beard, and very long red hair, might have been seen stepping ash.o.r.e, with a book and an umbrella under his arm, and wending his way up the lane, followed by t.i.te, carrying a corpulent carpet-bag. There was a combative air about the little man, who stared with a pair of small, fierce eyes, through a pair of glaring spectacles at every one he met. He was dressed in a shabby black suit, that hung loosely on his lean figure. This, with a broad, rolling collar, a pair of russet brogans, and a common straw hat, turned up at one side, completed his wardrobe, and gave an odd appearance to the man. Indeed, the gentleman had no taste for the vanities of the world, and parted his hair in the middle to save trouble. The ordinary observer might easily have mistaken him for a school-master out of employment and in distress.

That such a man was to upset the settled opinions of a big town, few persons would have believed. Such, however, was this odd-looking little man's mission, and there was no end of new ideas contained in that little b.u.mpy forehead of his.

The new arrival was the much-expected Reverend Warren Holbrook, from Dogtown last. As I have said before, he looked askance and inquisitively at every one he met as he walked up the lane. He bowed, too, and had a smile for all the females; then he enquired the name and condition of those who lived in each house he came to--how many children they had, and whether they were boys or girls. Now he paused and rested on his umbrella when he had reached a bit of high ground, and gazed over Nyack generally, and then over the Tappan Zee. Here was the new field of the great labors before him. How often he had taken Dogtown by the neck and shaken her up severely. The day might come when he would have to take Nyack by the neck and give her a good shaking up, morally and religiously. Mrs. Chapman had written him to say that Nyack was a bad place, secularly and otherwise.

The whole Chapman family (including the big dog) was out at the door to welcome the stranger; and such a warm greeting as he got. Mrs. Chapman a.s.sured him that the best in the house had been prepared for him, and that she had got the town in a state of great anxiety to see him. To tell the truth, this busy, bustling woman had been blowing a noisy trumpet for him in advance, and enlisting a large amount of female sympathy by stating that he was preeminent as an advocate of woman's rights in all things.