nquired with mild gravity after the fate of the billiard-table, he was not proceeding42 beyond a very allowable curiosity. A few minutes were enough for such unsatisfactory sensations on each side; and Sir Thomas having exerted himself so far as to speak a few words of calm approbation52 in reply to an eager appeal of Mr. Yates, as to the happiness of the arrangement, the three gentlemen returned to the drawing-room together, Sir Thomas with an increase of gravity which was not lost on all.
“I come from your theatre,” said he composedly, as he sat down; “I found myself in it rather unexpectedly. Its vicinity to my own room–but in every respect, indeed, it took me by surprise, as I had not the smallest suspicion of your acting having assumed so serious a character. It appears a neat job, however, as far as I could judge by candlelight, and does my friend Christopher Jackson credit.” And then he would have changed the subject, and sipped85 his coffee in peace over domestic matters of a calmer hue86; but Mr. Yates, without discernment to catch Sir Thomas’s meaning, or diffidence, or delicacy87, or discretion88 enough to allow him to lead the discourse89 while he mingled90 among the others with the least obtrusiveness91 himself, would keep him on the topic of the theatre, would torment92 him with questions and remarks relative to it, and finally would make him hear the whole history of his disappointment at Ecclesford. Sir Thomas listened most politely, but found much to offend his ideas of decorum, and confirm his ill-opinion of Mr. Yates’s habits of thinking, from the beginning to the end of the story; and when it was over, could give him no other assurance of sympathy than what a slight bow conveyed.