THE PORTER'S SON 927
poor creatures ! ' said Emily to him. ' Do you realize that properly ? '
It nattered George that the lovely young girl looked up to him, and he thought her uncommonly gifted. And the General felt himself more and more convinced that Mr. George could not possibly be a child, of the cellar.
1 The mother was, however, a very honest woman,' said he ; ' I owe that to her memory.'
The summer went and the winter came, and there was more talk about Mr. George ; he had been received with favour in the highest places. The General had met him at a court-ball. And now there was to be a ball in the house for little Emily. Could Mr. George be invited ?
1 Whom the King invites, the General can invite,' said the General, and lifted himself a whole inch from the floor.
Mr. George was invited, and he came ; and princes and counts came, and the one danced better than the other ; but Emily could only dance the first dance. In it she sprained her foot, not badly, but enough to feel it; so she had to be careful, stop dancing, and look at the others ; and she sat and looked, and the architect stood by her side:
1 You are surely giving her the whole of St. Peter's ! ' said the General, as he went past, and smiled like benevolence itself.
With the same benevolent smile he received Mr. George some days after. The young man certainly came to call after the ball, what else ? Yes, the most astounding, the most astonishing thing ; he came with insane words ; the General could not believe his own ears ; a perfectly incredible proposal,—Mr. George asked for little Emily as his wife !
1 Man ! ' said the General, and began to boil. ' I don't understand you in the least! What do you say ? What do you want ? I don't know you ! Sir ! Fellow ! it comes into your head to come like this into my house ! am I to be here, or am I not to be here ? ' and he went backwards into his bedroom and locked the door, leaving George standing alone. He stood for some minutes, and then turned about to go. In the corridor stood Emily.
' My father answered------? ' she asked, and her voice