« PreviousContinue »
it rather appeared to gain ground happening, what may have actually with insidious, unseen footsteps. taken place by this time? How
She was not exactly worse, she could I not go ? How could I anwas certainly not better.
swer it to my own conscience if that The white bar came a little fur- poor dear child were to die " ther into the mouth.
“Nonsense! Who talks of dyDr Birch breathed more freely. ing! You have put yourself into "If we can but keep it there,” he an altogether unnecessary ferment, said. “If we can prevent its going Adelaide. There is not a word of down the throat again, we shall dying in the letter. Besides, if it do."
were as bad as that, you would be Alas! it crept round to the other most certainly de trop, and would side.
wish yourself back here again."
“I might be a little comfort to “ Poor dear John ! poor dear fel- him. And John never makes me low! Dear! Dear! Dear ! DEAR! feel de trop." Oh, how sad, how sad! I must, “Well, well, I daresay not. But and will go to him directly. Snow- don't let us have any more fuss. ing! What if it is? I cannot get Drink your tea, my dear, and think wet in a railway carriage ; and it over; there is abundance of time.” what if I did, either? Dear me, if The tea was drunk, but scarcely the line should be blocked! But was the last drop tasted, ere she it only came on an hour ago. Ring broke forth again. the bell, dear, please. Oh, Marshall, “Such a perfect marriage! Everypoor Mrs Tresham is so much worse, thing so suitable !
A charming so alarmingly worse! It is dread- creature, so handsome, so lively, so ful, quite dreadfull and I am going clever ! Poor John ! poor dear off to her at once."
John! Who could ever have fore“ What is the use of your going seen an ending like this !" off at once? Indeed I can't see any “Adelaide, do, for pity's sake, not good in your going at all. If you set up that doleful cry again.' Sir must go, wait till to-morrow," pro- Walter grew quite testy. “How nounced Sir Walter, in his sleepy, can I enjoy my chop, or toast, or selfish way, chipping off the shell anything, whilst you are making of his egg as he spoke, and examin- such a din? I like
breakfast ing it with the eye of a connoisseur. to be a pleasant meal; it ought not “What good will your going do to to be disturbed by disagreeables.” anybody? And in such atrocious “But, my love--" Lady Adeweather too !”
laide, a pattern wife, was perplexed “My dear! but you do not con- how to express herself. sider what you are saying. It is The door was opened, and a hot true I might be but of little use, dish was brought to Sir Walter's but at least I could entertain the elbow. doctor, and
“Muffin? ah! Nice and brown “Ha! ha!” laughed her hus- too. The sort of day to eat muffins band. “So you go to entertain the on, as somebody says somewhere. doctor!"
Have some muffin, my dear, while “ It would release dear John, it is hot, and let us hear no more would allow him to devote himself of this, just now. There will be entirely to his—oh, I cannot bear another letter to-morrow, and a betto think of it!" cried the kind crea- ter account, we will hope." ture. “ Who knows what may be “As if I could wait till tomorrow! It is diphtheria, my dear, “Stoke Ferrington, my good diphtheria! The most shockingly girl. Stoke Ferrington is our own fatal complaint. Ah! how little station, you know-our station at we thought
home. We have only to get there, “Well, this is most provoking! and the carriage will meet us." I thought we had done with it at “The carriage, nyiladi !" last, and now you begin all over “Oh, well, good Robinson will again. How can you set yourself send us up in his comfortable fly. to be so unpleasant, Adelaide ? Or Mr Tresham will drive down in One would really think you did it the dogcart. Poor dear! of course on purpose. Here is everything he will be there to meet us—that is, nice and comfortable, just as it if he knows we are coming." ought to be, and I am not to be “ Miladi has then sent the mesallowed to enjoy it. If I cannot sage?” have peace and quiet at my meals, “ Have I sent it? Yes-no-I I would rather go without food really forget, and it does not sig. altogether."
nify. I daresay he would never “I assure you I am really very get it if I did, or read it if he got sorry, my dear. Pray take another it. No, Marshall
, no ; thank you cup, such good tea, and the pot is for reminding me, but I prefer not quite full. And Marshall, be so
to send one. I would not have good as look up Bradshaw at once, them troubled on any account at and let me know which is the very such a time. Mr Tresham will have first train that I can catch to Stoke quite enough to think of, and it Ferrington."
might be inconvenient to send. “You are really going?” Sir No, no—we shall get on very well. Walter raised his eyebrows. Jeannette, there is no need for more.
There was no doubt about her Let us take the least possible luggoing.
Why take any ? Bells rang, maids hurried hither Would not a carpet-bag be suffiand thither. Marshall received a cient—a carpet-bag which you could summons every five minutes; and hang on your arm? Well, well, but my lady, distracted betwixt her let there be as little as possible. duty to her husband, her orders to No evening dresses, no other bonher housekeeper, the claims of her net. And now, Jeannette, my engagements, the barking of her mantle. What comforts these furdogs, and the chattering of her lined mantles are, to be sure! Ah! parrot, grew every minute more and if dear Elizabeth bad only worn one more bewildered and incoherent. of these; but it is too late to regret “ Jeannette goes
Has Marshall ordered the course. Did I not say so? And cab? Run and see, JeannetteMarshall. No, Marshall must stay quick! The time is flying, and to attend on his master. Sir Walter cabs go so slowly. Yet I could not must not be inconvenienced. I had take our own poor horses out on better not take Thomas either, it such a day. What, not come ? would disturb Sir Walter to drive Marshall must send- it is come? out without him. What did you Then let us be off, at once, at once." say, good Jeannette? Oh, we shall In vain Sir Walter murmured his get on very well, admirably. I am disapproval — less urgently indeed not at all afraid."
now that his personal comfort was “Miladi knows de stairshon ?" no longer interfered with, but still -suggested Jeannette, doubtfully. in uncompromising accents. The
front door opened, and out she sal-gaged carriage, presented with her lied,-herlong dress, although on one tickets, which Marshal kept his side held up high enough to do duty eye upon, until they were safely for both, trailing far behind her on stowed away in the satchel; and the other,—her hands encumbered then, he thought, with Jeannette with muff, purse, and satchel. by her side, she might be brought
“Now, my good man, I will give through ; though it was not without you double fare if you take us in a qualm that the worthy major-domo time for the twelve o'clock train. saw the train depart. The twelve o'clock train to Stoke Faster and faster fell the snow. Ferrington, mind—not the London Ridges formed upon the windows twelve o'clock express train.” of the railway carriages; and between
“ All right, ma'am. I'll do it, if the flakes which settled on the panes, it can be done,” said the man, reso- and slowly melting trickled down lutely, casting about in his mind outside, and the steam arising from for some roundabout streets in which the warmer atmosphere within, the he could spin out the time.
country through which the travellers "Is it a block, Jeannette? Look passed was almost invisible to them. out and see. What shall we do if The hot-water pans rapidly cooled. it is a block ?”
Every time a door was opened, came The station, in spite of all strat- in a blast of air so chill, so witheregy, was reached so soon, that Lady ing, that the passengers wrapped Adelaide, forgetting that Brighton in their thickly-folded rugs shud. is not London, could hardly be per- dered from head to foot. Guards suaded to believe otherwise than and porters, with snow-tipped hats that a mass of vehicles obstructed and shoulders, blue faces, red noses, her path.
watery eyes and palsied hands, The cabman, however, got his struggled with their duties. Tradouble fare, and she had now the vellers, either muffled to the ears difficulties of the ticket-office to en- in Ulster coats and comforters, or counter.
equally well shrouded in sealskin But these difficulties had loomed and Shetland veils, sought the so gigantically before the eyes of the shelter as a haven of refuge. household in B— Square, that How dismal, how cross they Marshall himself—the magnificent looked ! There was the burly Marshall — had run round in the middle-aged man with snow on his snow, and all to save his poor, fool whiskers, the soldier with ice on ish, kind mistress from a hopeless his moustache, the schoolgirl with tangle of confusion.
thin kid gloves, the schoolboy with He should have been on the box- no gloves at all-each one more seat of the cab of course, but my wretched, more unaccommodating lady had actually driven off whilst than the other. he was filling for her the flask of her “ Horrible !” escaped from Jeantravelling-bag, wbich she had only nette; but no syllable of complaint produced at the last moment. He crossed the lips of her mistress. was at the station before her, flask Strange to tell, yet true, Lady in hand. My lady was quite touch- Adelaide and her waiting-woman ed; and it never occurred to her to reached Stoke Ferrington in safety, wonder that Marshall should, on his and the only mistake they made feet, have preceded her indomitable was in going a little beyond it. driver with his cab.
“Why, this is Becksley! BeckShe was safely seen into a disen- sley is on the other side of Stoke Ferrington ! Guard ! guard! are both her hands, and choking down we in the right train ?”
a great sob in his throat-"foolish ! “Depends on where you are It was the best, and the kindest, going to, ma'am.”
and-and-there isn't one woman “Going to Stoke Ferrington, in a thousand would have done it. to be sure ! I know we have God bless you, aunt ! Neither she passed it, for this is the way we go nor I will ever forget this." to London. What shall we do?” “Oh, my dear!"
She had to get out, and wait She was quite overcome. Two in the bitter cold at a little side large, warm tears rolled down her station for nearly an hour. Yet cheeks, and settled on the velvet she never faltered.
strings of her bonnet. “ This fire might be a little “To think of your coming here larger, but what there is of it is all by yourself, and fighting your quite hot. Come nearer, Jeannette way among porters and cabmen!” -come, my good girl, warm your continued John, aware of the feet as I do. Oh, there is plenty miseries this involved to his helpof room-plenty. You are cold as less relative. “ You, who never well as I. Ah! I wonder how travelled alone in your life! And poor Mrs Tresham is now? But the Priory closed! And not a creawe must not expect to hear till we ture to meet you! But go to the are there."
shall not. Here you have It was late in the afternoon ere come, and here you must stay. I the travellers arrived at the Cottage. wish it were a palace for your sake.” " Aunt Adelaide !"
“Dear, kind boy !” murmured For once in her life, Lady Ade- she. “It was nothing, a mere nolaide had no words. Mutely she thing-so glad-so thankful—such gazed into her nephew's face to read a happy endingthe verdict there, and it was with John had hurried out of the almost an hysterical gasp of relief room. “ Coals of fire ! Yes, inthat she sank down on a seat after- deed, my little wife, a perfect furwards.
nace is about to descend on your “Aunt Adelaide !"
head now.” My dear boy!"
It would doubtless have been “You have come from Brighton more prudent if the knowledge of on a day like this?”
Lady Adelaide's arrival could have “My poor John, to be sure I been concealed from the sick one. have. How is she ?"
But independently of the fact “Better-decidedly better. Quite that in so small a dwelling it was à change since last night. But, my difficult to conceal any event that dear aunt
took place, John felt that he John looked perfectly confounded. owed it to his aunt to let her jour“You shall not be troubled with ney and its object be known.
I have thought it all True, had he suggested secrecy, We will go down to that she would not only have acquiesced good little inn, where I know they without a murmur, but would have will do everything to make us com- instantly felt that she had been fortable. Jeannette is to tell the imprudent in expecting anything driver-it is all arranged. But I else; but it would have been a discould not help coming, though Sir appointment which he could not Walter said it was foolish.”
have borne to inflict. More, it would “Foolish !" cried John, seizing have been an injustice. Elizabeth
us, my dear.
must know, ought to know, the “By herself;- bringing that true worth of one whom she valued French girl with her.” so slightly
“On this dreadful day!” Although weak, the invalid was “Drove up from the station in now on the way to recover; and that old jangling fly with its broken he felt he might venture on the window, and was preparing to sleep announcement without danger of to-night at the public-house !" harming her.
“ You will not let her?” Like his own, her first emotion “No, dear, no. It is all settled. was one of extreme surprise. And now, Elizabeth, what do you
"John! Aunt Adelaide! What think of the poor aunt now ?" for? How did she come? How Elizabeth's pale face fushed. long has she been here?”
" I should like to see her.” "When I wrote yesterday, dear, On tiptoe Lady Adelaide came, you were very ill. Dr Birch was her long silk dress rustling behind anxious about you.
I could not her all the way up-stairs, and getting disguise it in my letter, and it they itself shut into the doorway as she only received this morning. The approached the bedside. better report I sent to-day will not None of them once thought of the artive there till to-morrow."
infection. " And you mean that Sir Walter Lady Adelaide stooped to kiss and Lady Adelaide set off on the her niece, and Elizabeth threw her strength of that letter?”
arms around her neck. “Not Sir Walter. He is safe at (" She may call me clever every Brighton.”
day of my life from this time hence“John, did she come by her- forth, but I will never think of her self ?”
as a fool again.”)
VOL. CXX.-NO. DCCXXIX.