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“Oh, dear mamma, could not Charley vociferously bewailed his approaching and I ride over to Englebourn? I do so departure, and tried to get him to name long to see Katie.”
some day for his return before their “No, dear; it is much too far for you. holidays ended. Instead of encouraging We will drive over in a few days' time." the idea, Mrs. Porter reminded Neddy
And, so saying, Mrs. Porter wished and Charley that they had only ten Tom good night, and led off her daughter. days more, and had not yet looked at
Tom went slowly upstairs to his room, the work they had to do for their tutor and, after packing his portmanteau for in the holidays. Immediately after the carrier to take in the morning, threw breakfast Mrs. Porter wished him goodup his window and leant out into the bye herself very kindly, but he could night, and watched the light clouds not help thinking) without that air of swimming over the moon, and the silver near relationship which he had flattered mist folding the water meadows and himself was well established between willows in its soft cool mantle. His himself and all the members of the thoughts were such as will occur to any Porter family; and then she had added, reader who has passed the witching age“Now, Mary, you must say good-bye; I of twenty; and the scent of the helio- want you to come and help me with trope-bed, in the flower-garden below, some work this morning.” He had seemed to rise very strongly on the scarcely looked at her all the morning, night air.
and now one shake of the hand and she was spirited away in a moment, and he
was left standing, dissatisfied and unCHAPTER XXXII.
comfortable, with a sense of incompleteness in his mind, and as if he had had a thread in his life suddenly broken off
which he could not tell how to get In the forenoon of the following day joined again. Tom rode slowly along the street of However, there was nothing for it Englebourn towards the rectory gate. but to get off. He had no excuse for He had left Barton soon after breakfast, delay, and had a long ride before him ; without having been able to exchange a so he and the boys went round to the word with Mary except in the presence stable. On their passage through the of her mother, and yet he had felt more garden the idea of picking a nosegay anxious than ever before at least to say and sending it to her by one of the boys good bye to her without witnesses. came into his head. He gathered the With this view he had been up early, flowers, but then thought better of it, and had whistled a tune in the hall, and and threw them away.
What right, held a loud conversation with the boys, after all, had he to be sending flowers to who appeared half-dressed in the gallery her-above all, flowers to which they had above, while he brushed the dilapidated attached a meaning, jokingly it was true, white hat, to let all whom it might con- but still a meaning ? No, he had no cern know that he was on the move. right to do it; it would not be fair to Then he had walked up and down the her, or her father and mother, after the garden in full view of the windows till kind way in which they had all received the bell rang for prayers. He was in him. So he threw away the flowers, the breakfast-room before the bell had and mounted and rode off, watched by done ringing, and Mrs. Porter, followed the boys, who waved their straw hats by her daughter, entered at the same as he looked back just before coming to moment. He could not help fancying a turn in the road which would take him that the conversation at breakfast was a out of sight of the Manor House. He little constrained, and particularly re- rode along at a foot's pace for some marked that nothing was said by the time, thinking over the events of the
purposeless, and somewhat melancholy, the house and inquired for his uncle. urged his horse into a smart trot along He had not been in Englebourn for the waste land which skirted the road. some years, and the servant did not But, go what pace he would, it mattered know him, and answered that Mr. Winter not; he could not leave his thoughts was not out of his room and never saw behind. So he pulled up again after a strangers till the afternoon. Where mile or so, slackened his reins, and, was Miss Winter then? She was down leaving his horse to pick his own way the village at Widow Winburn's, and he along the road, betook himself to the couldn't tell when she would be back, serious consideration of his position. the man said. The contents of Katie's
The more he thought of it the more note of the day before had gone out of discontented he became, and the day his head, but the mention of Betty's clouded over as if to suit his temper. name recalled them, and with them He felt as if within the last twenty-four something of the kindly feeling which hours he had been somehow unwarrant- he had had on hearing of her illness. ably interfered with. His mother and So, saying he would call later to see his Mrs. Porter had both been planning uncle, he started again to find the something about him, he felt sure. If widow's cottage, and his cousin. they had anything to say, why couldn't The servant had directed him to the they say it out to him? But what could last house in the village, but, when he there be to say ? Couldn't he and Mary got outside the gate, there were houses be trusted together without making fools in two directions. He looked about for of themselves ? He did not stop to some one from whom to inquire further, analyze his feelings towards her, or to and his eye fell upon our old acquaintconsider whether it was very prudent or ance, the constable, coming out of his desirable for her that they should be door with a parcel under his arm. thrown so constantly and unreservedly The little man was in a brown study, together. He was too much taken up and did not notice Tom's first address. with what he chose to consider his own He was in fact anxiously thinking over wrongs for any such consideration.- his old friend's illness and her son's “Why can't they let me alone?” was trouble ; and was on his way to farmer the question which he asked himself Grove's, having luckily the excuse of perpetually, and it seemed to him the taking a coat to be tried on, in the most reasonable one in the world, and hopes of getting him to interfere and that no satisfactory answer was possible patch up the quarrel between young to it, except that he ought to be, and Tester and Harry. should be, let alone. And so at last he Tom's first salute had been friendly rode along Englebourn street, convinced enough ; no one knew better how to that what he had to do before all other speak to the poor, amongst whom he things just now was to assert himself had lived all his life, than he. But, not properly, and show every one, even his getting any answer, and being in a own mother, that he was no longer a touchy state of mind, he was put out, boy to be managed according to any and shoutedone's fancies except his own.
“Hullo, my man,
can't hear me?" He rode straight to the stables and “Ees, I beant dunch," replied the loosed the girths of his horse and gave constable, turning and looking at his particular directions about grooming and questioner. feeding him, and stayed in the stall for “I thought you were, for I spoke some minutes rubbing his ears and loud enough before. Which is Mrs. fondling him. The antagonism which Winburn's cottage ?” possessed him for the moment against “ The furdest house down ther," he mankind perhaps made him appreciate said, pointing, “ 'tis in my way if you've the value of his relations with a well- a mind to come.” Tom accepted the trained beast. Then he went round to offer and walked along by the constable.
“Mrs. Winburn is ill, isn't she ?" to be doin' for yourself, like; but I he asked, after looking his guide over. thought you med ha' been a 'sistant, or “Ees, her be-terreble bad,” said the
"Well, then, you're just mistaken," “What is the matter with her, do said Tom, considerably disgusted at being
taken for a country doctor's assistant. “ Zummat o' fits, I hears. Her've “I ax your pardon,” said the conhad em this six year, on and off.” stable. “But if you beant in the doc
“I suppose it's dangerous. I mean, torin' line, what be gwine to Widow she isn't likely to get well ?”
Winburn's for, make so bould ?” “ 'Tis in the Lord's hands," replied “That's my look out, I suppose," said the constable, “but her's that bad wi' Tom, almost angrily. “That's the house, pain, at times, 'twould be a mussy if isn't it?" and he pointed to the cottage 'twoud plaase He to tak her out on't." already described at the corner of Engle
“ Perhaps she mightn't think so," bourn Copse. said Tom superciliously; he was not in the mind to agree with any one. The “Good day, then.” constable looked at him solemnly for a “Good day,” muttered the constable, moment and then said —
not at all satisfied with this abrupt close “Her's been a God-fearin' woman of the conversation, but too unready to from her youth up, and her's had a deal prolong it. He went on his own way o' trouble. Thaay as the Lord loveth slowly, looking back often, till he saw He chasteneth, and tisn't such as thaay the door open; after which he seemed as is afeard to go afore Him."
better satisfied, and ambled out of sight. “Well, I never found that having “ The old snuffler !” thought Tom, as troubles made people a bit more anxious he strode up to the cottage door—"a to get out on't, as you call it,” said ranter, I'll be bound, with his · Lord's Tom.
troubles,' and 'Lord's hands,' and 'Lord's “It don't seem to me as you can 'a marks. I hope Uncle Robert hasn't had much o' trouble to judge by," said many such in the parish.” the constable, who was beginning to be He knocked at the cottage door, and nettled by Tom's manner.
in a few seconds it opened gently, and “How can you tell that ?”
Katie slipped out with her finger on her “ Leastways 'twould be whoam-made, lips. She made a slight gesture of surthen," persisted the Constable," and prise at seeing him, and held out her ther's a sight o' odds atween whoam- hand. made troubles and thaay as the Lord “ Hush !” she said, "she is asleep. sends."
You are not in a hurry?” “So there may be ; but I may have “No, not particularly,” he answered seen both sorts for anything you can abruptly; for there was something in tell."
her voice and manner which jarred with “Nay, nay; the Lord's troubles leaves his humour. His marks."
“ Hush !” she said again, "you must “And you don't see any of them in not speak so loud. We can sit down my face, eh ?”
here, and talk quietly. I shall hear if The constable jerked his head after she moves.” his own peculiar fashion, but declined So he sat down opposite to her in the to reply directly to this interrogatory little porch of the cottage. She left the He parried it by one of his own. door ajar, so that she might catch the
“In the doctorin' line, make so least movement of her patient, and then bould ?”
turned to him with a bright smile, and “ No," said Tom. “You don't seem said, to have such very good eyes, after all.” “Well, I am so glad to see you!
“No particularly good wind, that I only you ought to have a little pleasure know of. Mary showed me your letter sometimes. People have a right to think yesterday, and mother wished me to of themselves and their own happiness come round here on my way home; and a little." so here I am.
“ Perhaps I don't find visiting, and “ And how did the party go off ? I all that sort of thing, as you call it, so long to hear about it.”
very miserable. But now, Tom, you saw Very well ; half the county were in my letter that poor Betty's son has there, and it was all very well done.” got into trouble ?”
“ And how did dear Mary look ?” “ Yes; and that is what brought on
“ Oh, just as usual. But now, Katie, her attack, you said.” why didn't you come ? Mary and all of “ I believe so. She was in a sad us were so disappointed.”
state about him all yesterday,—so pain“I thought you read my letter?” fully eager and anxious. She is better “ Yes, so I did.”
to-day; but still I think it would do her “ Then you know the reason.'
good if you would see her, and say you “I don't call it a reason. Really, will be a friend to her son. Would you you have no right to shut yourself up mind ?” from everything. You will be getting “ It was just what I wished to do moped to death.”
yesterday. I will do all I can for him, “But do I look moped ?" she said; I'm sure. I always liked him as a boy; and he looked at her, and couldn't help you can tell her that. But I don't feel, admitting to himself, reluctantly, that somehow, to-day, at least, as if I could she did not. So he re-opened fire from do any good by seeing her.” another point.
Oh, why not ?" “You will wear yourself out, nursing “I don't think I'm in the right every old woman in the parish.”
humour. Is she very ill ?” “But I don't nurse every old woman." “Yes, very ill indeed; I don't think
“Why, there is no one here but you she can recover." to-day now," he said, with a motion of Well, you see, Katie, I'm not used his head towards the cottage.
to death-beds. I shouldn't say the right “No, because I have let the regular sort of thing.” nurse go home for a few hours. Besides, “How do you mean—the right sort of this is a special case. You don't know thing?" what a dear old soul Betty is."
Oh, you know. I couldn't talk to “ Yes, I do; I remember her ever her about her soul. I'm not fit for it, since I was a child."
and it isn't my place.”. Ah, I forgot; I have often heard her “No, indeed, it isn't.
But you can talk of you. Then you ought not to be remind her of old times, and say a kind surprised at anything I may do for her." word about her son.'
“She is a good, kind old woman, I “Very well, if you don't think I shall know. But still I must say, Katie, you do any harm." ought to think of your friends and rela- “ I'm sure it will comfort her. And tions a little, and what you owe to now tell me about yesterday.” society."
They sat talking for some time in the “ Indeed, I do think of my friends same low tone, and Tom began to forget and relations very much, and I should his causes of quarrel with the world, have liked, of all things, to have been and gave an account of the archery party with you yesterday. You ought to be from his own point of view. Katie saw, pitying me, instead of scolding me.” with a woman's quickness, that he avoided
My dear Katie, you know I didn't mentioning Mary, and smiled to herself, mean to scold you; and nobody admires and drew her own conclusions. the way you give yourself up to visiting, At last, there was a slight movement and all that sort of thing, more than I; in the cottage, and, laying her hand on
his arm, she got up quickly, and went gentleman, surely. And how's the in. In a few minutes she came to the Squire, and Madam Brown, and all the door again.
fam'ly?” “ How is she?" asked Tom.
Oh, very well, Betty,—they will be “Oh, much the same ; but she has so sorry to hear of your illness.” waked without pain, which is a great “But there ain't no hot bread for un. blessing. Now, are you ready?” 'Tis ill to bake wi' no fuz bushes, and
“ Yes; but you must go with me." bakers' stuff is poor for hungry folk.”
“Come in, then.” She turned, and “I'm within three months as old as he followed into the cottage.
your Harry, you know," said Tom, tryBetty's bed had been moved into the ing to lead her back to the object of his kitchen, for the sake of light and air. visit. He glanced at the corner where it stood “Harry," she repeated, and then colwith almost a feeling of awe, as he fol lecting herself went on, “our Harry ; lowed his cousin on tip-toe. It was all where is he? They have'nt sent un to he could do to recognize the pale, drawn prison, and his mother a dyin' ?” face which lay on the coarse pillow. “Oh no, Betty; he will be here The rush of old memories which the directly. I came to ask whether there sight called up, and the thought of the is anything I can do for you.” suffering of his poor old friend, touched “ You'll stand by un, poor buoy-our him deeply.
Harry, as you used to play wi' when yoti Katie
went to the bed-side, and, stoop was little—'twas they as aggravated un ing down, smoothed the pillow, and so as he couldn't abear it, afore ever he'd placed her hand for a moment on the a struck a fly.” forehead of her patient. Then she look “Yes, Betty; I will see that he has ed up, and beckoned to him, and said, fair play. Don't trouble about that; it in her low, clear voice,
will be all right. You must be quite "Betty, here is an old friend come to quiet, and not trouble yourself about see you, my cousin, Squire Brown's anything, that you may get well and son. You remember him quite a little about again.” boy.
“Nay, nay, master Tom. I be gwine The old woman moved her head to whoam ; ees, I be gwine whoam to my wards the voice and smiled, but gave no maester, Harry's father-I knows I be further sign of recognition. Tom stole and you'll stand by un when I be gone ; across the floor, and sat down by the and Squire Brown 'll say a good word bed-side.
for un to the magistrates ?”. “Oh, yes, Betty,” he said, leaning “Yes, Betty, that he will. But you towards her and speaking softly, “you must cheer up, and you'll get better must remember me. Master Tom, yet ;
don't be afraid.” who used to come to your cottage on “I beant afeard, master Tom: no, baking days for hot bread, you know.” bless you, I beant afeard but what the
“To be sure, I minds un, bless his Lord 'll be mussiful to a poor lone little heart," said the old woman faintly. woman like me, as has had a sore time “Hev he come to see poor Betty? Do'ee of it since my maester died, wi' a hungry let un com, and lift un up so as I med boy like our Harry to kep, back and see un. My sight be getting dim-like.” belly; and the rheumatics terrible bad
“Here he is, Betty," said Tom, taking all winter time." her hand—a hard-working hand, lying “I'm sure, Betty, you have done your there with the skin all puckered from duty by him, and every one else." long and daily acquaintance with the "Dwontee speak o doin's, master washing-tub—"I'm master Tom.” Tom. 'Tis no doin's o' own as 'll make
“Ah, dearee me," she said slowly, any odds where I be gwine.” looking at him with lustreless eyes. Tom did not know what to answer; “Well, you be growed into a fine young so he pressed her hand and said,