Part 6 out of 7
She hoped to explain and lament the next morning, after church. He
would surely come to talk it over with her; but he only returned a
civil note with his receipt, and she did not see him again before his
departure. She was greatly vexed; she had wanted so much to tell him
how it was, and then came an inward consciousness that she would
probably have told him a great deal too much.
Was it that tiresome prudence of his again that would think for her
and prevent impulsive and indignant disclosures? It made her bring
down her foot sharply on the pavement with vexation as she suspected
that he thought her so foolish, and then again her heart warmed with
the perception of self-denying care for her. She trusted to that
same prudence for no delusive hopes having been given to Mark and his
She did so justly. Mr. Dutton had thought the matter far too
uncertain to be set before them. The Canoness's vague hopes had been
the fruit of a hint imprudently dropped by Nuttie herself in a letter
to Blanche. She had said more to Miss Nugent, but Mary was a
nonconductor. Mr. Dutton's heart sank as he looked at the houses,
and he had some thoughts of going to her first for intelligence, but
Annaple had spied him, and ran out to the gate to welcome him.
'Oh, Mr. Dutton, I'm so glad! Mark will be delighted.'
'Is he at home?'
'Oh no, at the office, wading through seas of papers with Mr.
Greenleaf, but he will come home to eat in a quarter of an hour. So
come in;' then, as her boy's merry voice and a gruffer one were
heard, 'That's the bailiff. He is Willie's devoted slave.'
'I hoped to have been in time to have saved you that.'
'Well, I'm convinced that among the much maligned races are bailiffs.
I wonder what I could get by an article on prejudice against classes!
I was thinking how much beer I should have to lay in for this one,
and behold he is a teetotaller, and besides that amateur nurse-maid,
parlour-maid, kitchen-maid, etc. etc.--'
'What bailiff could withstand Mrs. Egremont? Perhaps you have tamed
'Not I. The cook did that. Indeed I believe there's a nice little
idyll going on in the kitchen, and besides he wore the blue ribbon,
and was already a devoted follower of young Mr. Godfrey!'
'However, if the valuation is ready, I hope you may be relieved from
him, if you won't be too much concerned at the parting!'
'Mrs. Egremont told us that our people are very good to us,' said
Annaple, 'and don't mean to send us out with nothing but a pack at
our backs. It is very kind in them and in you, Mr. Dutton, to take
the trouble of it! No, I'll not worry you with thanks. The great
point is, hope for something for Mark to do. That will keep up his
spirits best! Poor Mr. Greenleaf is so melancholy that it is all I
can do to keep him up to the mark.'
'I have been making inquiries, and I have three possible openings,
but I hardly like to lay them before you.'
'Oh, we are not particular about gentility! It is work we want, and
if it was anything where I could help that would be all the better!
I'm sure I only wonder there are so many as three. I think it is
somebody's doing. Ah! there's Mark,' and she flew out to meet him.
'Mark!' she said, on the little path, 'here's the good genius, with
three chances in his pocket. Keep him to luncheon. I've got plenty.
Poor old man, how hot you look! Go and cool in the drawing-room,
while I wash my son's face.'
And she disappeared into the back regions, while Mark, the smile she
had called up vanishing from his face, came into the drawing-room,
and held out a cordial, thankful hand to his friend, whose chief
intelligence was soon communicated. 'Yes,' said Mark, when he heard
the amount entrusted by the family to Mr. Dutton, 'that will save all
my wife's poor little household gods. Not that I should call them
so, for I am sure she does not worship them. I don't know what would
become of me if she were like poor Mrs. Greenleaf, who went into
hysterics when the bailiff arrived, and has kept her room ever since.
I sometimes feel as if nothing could hurt us while Annaple remains
what she is.'
Mr. Dutton did not wonder that he said so, when she came in leading
her little son, with his sunny hair newly brushed and shining, and
carrying a little bouquet for the guest of one La Marque rosebud and
three lilies of the valley.
'Take it to Mr. Dutton, Billy-boy; I think he knows how the flowers
came into the garden. You shall have daddy's button-hole to take to
him next. There, Mark, it is a pansy of most smiling countenance,
such as should beam on you through your accounts. I declare, there's
that paragon of a Mr. Jones helping Bessy to bring in dinner! Isn't
it very kind to provide a man-servant for us?'
It might be rattle, and it might be inconsequent, but it was much
pleasanter than hysterics. Billy-boy was small enough to require a
good deal of attention at dinner, especially as he was more disposed
to open big blue eyes at the stranger, than to make use of his spoon,
and Annaple seemed chiefly engrossed with him, though a quick keen
word at the right moment showed that she was aware of all that was
going on, as Mark and Mr. Dutton discussed the present situation and
It was quite true that a man concerned in a failure was in great
danger of being left out of the race for employment, and Mr. Dutton
did not think it needful to mention the force of the arguments he was
using to back his recommendation of Mark Egremont. The possibilities
he had heard of were a clerkship at a shipping agent's, another at a
warehouse in their own line, and a desk at an insurance office. This
sounded best, but had the smallest salary to begin with, and locality
had to be taken into account. Mr. Dutton's plan was, that as soon as
Mark was no longer necessary for what Annaple was pleased to call the
fall of the sere and withered leaf, the pair should come to stay with
him, so that Mark could see his possible employers, and Annaple
consider of the situations. They accepted this gratefully, Mark only
proposing that she should go either to his stepmother or her own
relations to avoid the final crisis.
'As if I would!' she exclaimed. 'What sort of a little recreant
goose do you take me for?'
'I take you for a gallant little woman, ready to stand in the
breach,' said Mark.
'Ah, don't flatter yourself! There is a thing I have not got courage
to face--without necessity, and that's Janet's triumphant pity. Mr.
Dutton lives rather too near your uncle, but he is a man, and he
can't be so bad.'
This of course did not pass till Mr. Dutton had gone in to greet the
ladies next door, to promise to tell them of their child at length
when the business hours of the day should be over.
Shall it be told? There was something in his tone--perfectly
indefinable, with which he spoke of 'Miss Egremont,' that was like
the old wistfully reverential voice in which he used to mention 'Mrs.
Egremont.' It smote Mary Nugent's quiet heart with a pang. Was it
that the alteration from the old kindly fatherliness of regard to
'little Nuttie' revealed that any dim undefined hope of Mary's own
must be extinguished for ever; or was it that she grieved that he
should again be wasting his heart upon the impracticable?
A little of both, perhaps, but Mary was as ready as ever to
sympathise, and to rejoice in hearing that the impetuous child had
grown into the forbearing dutiful woman.
A FRESH START.
'Did you say that Mark and his wife were come to Springfield House?'
'They come the day after to-morrow,' answered Ursula. 'Mark could
not finish up the business sooner.'
'Well, I suppose we must have them to dinner for once. He has made a
fool of himself, but I won't have the Canoness complaining that I
take no notice of him; and it is easier done while he is there than
when he has got into some hole in the City--that is if he ever gets
anything to do.'
'Mr. Dutton has several situations in view for him.'
'In view. That's a large order. Or does it mean living on Dutton
and doing something nominal? I should think Dutton too old and sharp
a hand for that, though he is quartering them on himself.'
'I believe there is nothing Mr. Dutton would like better, if he
thought it right for them, but I am quite sure Mark and Annaple would
'Ha, ha!' and Mr. Egremont laughed. 'Their nose is not brought to
the grindstone yet! Say Saturday, then, Ursula.'
'Am I to ask Mr. Dutton?'
'Of course; I'm not going to have a tete-a-tete with Master Mark.'
So Ursula had the satisfaction of writing a more agreeable note to
Mr. Dutton than her last, and her invitation was accepted, but to her
vexation Mr. Egremont further guarded himself from anything
confidential by verbally asking Mr. Clarence Fane on that very day,
and as that gentleman was a baronet's son, she knew she should fall
to his lot at dinner, and though she was glad when this was the case
at their ordinary parties, it was a misfortune on the present
occasion. She had not seen Annaple since her marriage, except at the
family gathering on the Canon's death, when she was very much
absorbed by the requirements of the stricken household; and Nuttie
expected to see her in the same subdued condition. All Mr. Dutton
had said or Mary Nugent had written about her courage and
cheerfulness had given the impression of 'patience smiling at grief,'
and in a very compassionate mood she started for a forenoon call at
Springfield House; but, early as it was, nobody was at home, unless
it might be the little boy, whose voice she thought she heard while
waiting at the gate.
She was out driving with her father afterwards in the long summer
evening, and only found Mark's card on returning just in time to
dress. It was a bright glaring day, and she was sitting by the
window, rather inattentively listening to Mr. Fane's criticism of a
new performance at one of the theatres, when she heard the bell, and
there entered the slight, bright creature who might still have been
taken for a mere girl. The refined though pronounced features, the
transparent complexion, crispy yellow hair and merry eyes, were as
sunbeam-like as at the Rectory garden-party almost five years ago,
and the black dress only marked the contrast, and made the
slenderness of the figure more evident.
Mark looked older, and wrung his cousin's hand with a pressure of
gratitude and feeling, but Annaple's was a light little gay kiss, and
there was an entire unconsciousness about her of the role of poor
relation. She made an easy little acknowledgment of the introduction
of Mr. Fane, and, as Mr. Egremont appeared the next moment, exchanged
greetings with him in a lively ordinary fashion.
This was just what he liked. He only wanted to forget what was
unpleasant, and, giggling Scotch girl as she was, he was relieved to
find that she could not only show well-bred interest in the surface
matters of the time, but put in bright flashes of eagerness and
originality, well seconded by Mr. Dutton. Mr. Fane was always a
professor of small talk, and Nuttie had learnt to use the current
change of society, so that though Mark was somewhat silent, the
dinner was exceedingly pleasant and lively; and, as Mr. Fane remarked
afterwards, he had been asked to enliven a doleful feast to ruined
kindred, he could only say he wished prosperity always made people so
'This is all high spirit and self-respect,' thought Nuttie. 'Annaple
is talking as I am, from the teeth outwards. I shall have it out
with her when we go upstairs! At any rate my father is pleased with
Nuttie made the signal to move as soon as she could, and as they went
upstairs, put her arm round the slim waist and gave a sympathetic
pressure, but the voice that addressed her had still the cheery ring
that she fancied had been only assumed.
'I'm sorry I missed you, but we set out early and made a day of it;
and oh! we've been into such funny places as I never dreamt of! You
didn't see my boy?'
'No. I thought I heard him. I must see him to-morrow.'
'And I must see yours. May it not be a pleasure to-night? I've no
doubt you go and gloat over him at night.'
'Well, I do generally run up after dinner; but after your day, I
can't think of dragging you up all these stairs.'
'Oh, that's nothing! Only you see it is jollier to have my Billy-boy
in the next room.'
They were mounting all the time, and were received in the day nursery
by the old Rectory nurse, much increased in dignity, but inclined to
be pathetic as she inquired after 'Mr. Mark,' while Annaple, like a
little insensible being, answered with provoking complacency as to
his perfect health, and begged Mrs. Poole to bring Master Alwyn to
play in the garden at Springfield with her Willie. In fact there was
a general invitation already to Alwyn to play there, but his
attendants so much preferred the society of their congeners in the
parks that they did not avail themselves of it nearly as often as
Little Alwyn asleep was, of course, a beautiful sight, with a
precious old headless rabbit pressed tight to his cheek; Annaple's
face grew tender as she looked at the motherless creature; and she
admired him to any extent except saying that he excelled her own.
Being more than a year the elder, there could be no rivalry as to
accomplishments; but as soon as they were out of the nursery hush,
Annaple laughed her way down again with tales of Billy-boy's wonder
at his first experiences of travelling. They sat down among the
plants in the balcony, as far from the lamps as possible, and talked
themselves into intimacy over Micklethwayte. There are two Eden
homes in people's lives, one that of later childhood, the other the
first of wedded happiness, and St. Ambrose Road had the same halo to
both of these; for both had been uprooted from it against their will;
the chief difference being that Ursula could cast longing, lingering
looks behind, while Annaple held herself resolutely steeled against
sentiment, and would only turn it off by something absurd. Nothing
was absolutely settled yet; Mark had been presenting himself at
offices, and she had been seeing rooms and lodgings.
'The insurance office sounds the best, and would be the least shock
to our belongings,' said Annaple; 'but it seems to lead to nothing.
He would not get on unless we had capital to invest, and even if we
had any, you wouldn't catch us doing that again!'
'Does Mr. Dutton advise that?'
'No, he only thought we should like it better; but we are quite past
caring for people's feelings in the matter. They couldn't pity us
worse than they do. I incline to Stubbs and Co. One of them was
once in the Greenleaf office, and has a regard for anything from
thence; besides Mark would have something to do besides desk work.
He would have to judge of samples, and see to the taking in and
storing of goods. He does know something about that, and I'm sure it
would agree with him better than an unmitigated high stool, with his
nose to a desk.'
'I should like it better.'
'That's right! Now I have got some one to say so. Besides, rising
is possible, if one gets very useful. I mean to be Mrs. Alderman, if
not my Lady Mayoress, before we have done. Then they have a great
big almost deserted set of rooms over the warehouse, where we might
live and look after the place.'
'Oh! but should you like that?'
'Mr. Dutton wants us to live out in some of the suburban places,
where it seems there is a perfect population of clerks' families in
semi-detached houses. He says we should save Mark's railway fare,
rent, and all in doctors' bills. But people, children and all, do
live and thrive in the City; and I think Mark's health will be better
looked after if I am there to give him his midday bite and sup, and
brush him up, than if he is left to cater for himself; and as to
exercise for the Billy-boy, 'tis not so far to the Thames Embankment.
The only things that stagger me are the blacks! I don't know whether
life is long enough to be after the blacks all day long, but perhaps
I shall get used to them!'
'Well, I think that would be worse.'
'Perhaps it would; and at any rate, if the blacks do beat me, we
could move. Think, no rent, nor rates, nor taxes--that is an
inducement to swallow--no--to contend with, any number of
blackamoors, isn't it? even if they settle on the tip of Billy-boy's
'I could come to see you better there than out in a suburb,' said
Nuttie. 'But what do these rooms look out upon?'
'On one side into their own court, on the other into Wulstan Street--
a quiet place on the whole--all walls and warehouses; and there's an
excellent parish church, Mr. Underwood's; so I think we might do
Nuttie was very sorry that the gentlemen came up, and Mr. Fane
wandered out and began asking whether they were going to the rose
show. Somehow on that evening she became conscious that Annaple
looked at her and Mr. Fane rather curiously; and when they met again
the next day, and having grown intimate over the introduction of the
two little boys, were driving out together, there were questions
about whether she saw much of him.
'Oh, I don't know! He is the nicest, on the whole, of papa's
friends; he can talk of something besides'--Nuttie paused over her
'besides,'--'horseyness, and all that sort of thing--he is not so
like an old satyr as some of them are; and so he is a resource.'
'I see. And you meet him elsewhere, don't you, in general society?'
'I don't go out much now that Lady Kirkaldy is not in town; but he
always seems to turn up everywhere that one goes.'
'Ursula, I'm very glad of that tone of yours. I was afraid--'
'Afraid of what?' cried Nuttie in a defiant tone.
'That you liked him, and he is not really nice, Nuttie. Mark knows
all about him; and so did I when I lived with the Delmars.'
Nuttie laughed rather bitterly. 'Thank you, Annaple. As if I could
care for that man--or he for me, for that matter! I know but too
well,' she added gravely, 'that nobody nice is ever intimate at
'I beg your pardon. I would not have worried you about it, only I
think you must take care, Nuttie, for Blanche mentioned it to us last
'Blanche is an arrant gossip! If she saw a grandfather and great
grandmother gossiping she would say they were going to be married.'
'Yes, as Mark says, one always swallows Blanche with a
'You may be quite sure, Annaple, that nothing like that will ever be
true about me! Why, what would ever become of my poor little Wyn if
I was so horrid as to want to go and marry?'
She said it with an ineffable tone of contempt, just like the
original Nuttie, who seemed to be recalled by association with
That sojourn of Mark and his wife at Springfield House was a bright
spot in that summer. If it had been only that Annaple's presence
gave the free entree to such an island of old Micklethwayte, it would
have been a great pleasure to her; but there was besides the
happiness of confidence and unrestraint in their society, a restful
enjoyment only to be appreciated by living the guarded life of
constraint that was hers. She was so seldom thrown among people whom
she could admire and look up to. Annaple told her husband of
Nuttie's vehement repudiation of any intention of marriage. 'I am
sure she meant it,' she observed, 'it was only a little too strong.
I wonder if that poor youth who came to her first ball, and helped to
pick us out of the hole in Bluepost Bridge, had anything to do with
Annaple had an opportunity of judging. Mr. Dutton would not have
brought about a meeting which might be painful and unsettling to
both; but one afternoon, when Nuttie was 'off duty' with her father,
and had come in to share Annaple's five o'clock tea, Gerard Godfrey,
looking the curate from head to foot, made his appearance, having
come up from the far east, about some call on Mr. Dutton's purse.
The two shook hands with pleased surprise, and a little heightening
of colour, but that was all. Nuttie had been out to luncheon, and
was dressed 'like a mere fashionable young lady' in his eyes; and
when, after the classes and clubs and schools of his district had
been discussed, he asked, 'And I suppose you are taking part in
'No, that I can't!'
'Indeed! I know Porlock, the second curate here very well, and he
tells me that his vicar has a wonderful faculty of finding
appropriate work for every one. Of course you know him?'
'No, I don't;' said Nuttie.
'Miss Egremont has her appropriate work,' said Mr. Dutton, and the
deacon felt himself pushed into his old position at Micklethwayte.
He knew the clergy of the district very well, and how persistently
either Mr. Egremont, or perhaps Gregorio, prevented their gaining
admittance at his house; and he guessed, but did not know, that
Nuttie could not have got into personal intercourse with them without
Annaple threw herself into the breach, and talked of St. Wulstan's;
and the encounter ended, leaving the sense of having drifted entirely
away from one another, and being perfectly heart whole, though on the
one hand Ursula's feeling was of respect and honour; and Gerard's had
a considerable element of pity and disapprobation.
'No!' said Annaple when they were gone, 'he will not cry like the
kloarek in the Breton ballad who wetted three great missals through
with his tears at his first mass. He is very good, I am sure, but he
is a bit of a prig!'
'It is very hard to youth to be good without priggishness,' said Mr.
Dutton. 'Self-assertion is necessary, and it may easily be carried
'Buttresses are useful, but they are not beauties,' rejoined Annaple.
The warehouse arrangement was finally adopted, and after the three
weeks necessary for the cleaning and fitting of their floor, and the
bringing in of their furniture, Mark and Annaple began what she
termed 'Life among the Blacks.'
Nuttie had great designs of constantly seeing Annaple, sending her
supplies from the gardens and preserves at Bridgefield, taking her
out for drives, and cultivating a friendship between Alwyn and
Willie, who had taken to each other very kindly on the whole. They
could not exactly understand each other's language, and had great
fights from time to time over toys, for though there was a year
between them they were nearly equal in strength; but they cared for
each other's company more than for anything else, were always asking
to go to one another, and roared when the time of parting came; at
least Alwyn did so unreservedly, for Nuttie had begun to perceive
with compunction that Billy-boy was much the most under control, and
could try to be good at his mother's word, without other bribe than
her kiss and smile. Ah! but he had a mother!
'Three hundred pounds and possibilities.'
Merry Wives of Windsor.
Again Nuttie's plans were doomed to be frustrated. It did not prove
to be half so easy to befriend Mr. and Mrs. Mark Egremont as she
expected, at the distance of half London apart, and with no special
turn for being patronised on their side.
Her father took a fancy for almost daily drives with her in the park,
because then he could have Alwyn with him; and the little fellow's
chatter had become his chief amusement. Or if she had the carriage
to herself, there was sure to be something needful to be done which
made it impossible to go into the city to take up and set down Mrs.
Mark Egremont; and to leave her to make her way home would be no
kindness. So Nuttie only accomplished a visit once before going out
of town, and that was by her own exertions--by underground railway
and cab. Then she found all going prosperously; the blacks not half
so obnoxious as had been expected (of course not, thought Nuttie, in
the middle of the summer); the look-out over the yard very amusing to
Billy-boy; and the large old-fashioned pannelled rooms, so cool and
airy that Annaple was quite delighted with them, and contemned the
idea of needing a holiday. She had made them very pretty and
pleasant with her Micklethwayte furniture, whose only fault was being
on too small a scale for these larger spaces, but that had been
remedied by piecing, and making what had been used for two serve for
The kitchen was on the same floor, close at hand, which was well, for
Annaple did a good deal there, having only one young maid for the
rougher work. She had taken lessons in the School of Cookery, and
practised a good deal even at Micklethwayte, and she was proud of her
skill and economy. Mark came in for his mid-day refreshment, and
looked greatly brightened, as if the worst had come and was by no
means so bad as he expected. All the time he had been at Mr.
Dutton's he had been depressed and anxious, but now, with his boy on
his knee, he was merrier than Nuttie had ever known him. As to
exercise, there were delightful evening walks, sometimes early
marketings in the long summer mornings before business began--and
altogether it seemed, as Nuttie told her father afterwards, as if she
had had a glimpse into a little City Arcadia.
'Hein!' said he, 'how long will it last?'
And Nuttie was carried away to Cowes, where he had been persuaded to
recur to his old favourite sport of yachting. She would have rather
liked this if Clarence Fane had not been there too, and continually
haunting them. She had been distrustful of him ever since Annaple's
warning, and it became a continual worry to the motherless girl to
decide whether his civil attentions really meant anything, or whether
she were only foolish and ridiculous in not accepting them as freely
and simply as before.
Of one thing she became sure, namely, that Gregorio was doing
whatever in him lay to bring them together.
In this seaside temporary abode, great part of the London
establishment was left behind, and Gregorio condescended to act the
part of butler, with only a single man-servant under him, and thus he
had much more opportunity of regulating the admission of visitors
than at home; and he certainly often turned Mr. Fane in upon her,
when she had intended that gentleman to be excluded, and contrived to
turn a deaf or uncomprehending ear when she desired that there should
be no admission of visitors unless her father was absolutely ready
for them; and also there were times when he must have suggested an
invitation to dinner, or a joining in a sail. No doubt Gregorio
would have been delighted to see her married, and to be thus free
from any counter influence over his master; but as she said to
herself, 'Catch me! Even if I cared a rush for the man, I could not
do it. I don't do my poor father much good, but as to leaving poor
little Alwyn in his clutches--I must be perfectly demented with love
even to think of it.'
There was a desire on the valet's part to coax and court little Alwyn
of which she felt somewhat jealous. The boy was naturally the pet of
every one in the household, but he was much less out of Gregorio's
reach in the present confined quarters, and she could not bear to see
him lifted up in the valet's arms, allowed to play with his watch,
held to look at distant sails on board the yacht, or even fed with
sweet biscuits or chocolate creams.
The Rectory nursery had gone on a strict regimen and nurse was as
angry as Nuttie herself; but there was no preventing it, for his
father was not above cupboard love, and never resisted the entreaties
that were always excited by the sight of dainties, only laughing when
Nuttie remonstrated, or even saying, 'Never mind sister, Wynnie,
she's got Mrs. Teachem's cap on,' and making the child laugh by
pretending to smuggle in papers of sweets by stealth, apart from the
severe eyes of sister or nurse.
That cut Nuttie to the heart. To speak of the evils for which self-
indulgence was a preparation would only make her father sneer at her
for a second Hannah More. It was a language he did not understand;
and as to the physical unwholesomeness, he simply did not choose to
believe it. She almost wished Alwyn would for once be sick enough to
frighten him, but that never happened, nor would he accept nurse's
statement of the boy being out of order.
Poor little Alwyn, he was less and less of an unmixed joy to her as
he was growing out of the bounds of babyhood, and her notions of
discipline were thwarted by her father's unbounded indulgence. To
her the child was a living soul, to be trained for a responsible
position here and for the eternal world beyond; to her father he was
a delightful plaything, never to be vexed, whose very tempers were
amusing, especially when they teased the serious elder sister.
'Oh father! do you ever think what it will come to?' Nuttie could not
help saying one day when Mr. Egremont had prevented her from carrying
him off in disgrace to the nursery for tying the rolls up in dinner
napkins to enact Punch and Judy, in spite of his own endeavours to
prevent the consequent desolation of the preparations.
Mr. Egremont shrugged his shoulders, and only observed, 'An excuse
for a little home tyranny, eh? No, no, Wyn; we don't want tame
little muffs here.'
Nuttie was obliged to run out of the room and--it must be confessed--
dance and stamp out her agony of indignation and misery that her
father should be bent on ruining his child, for she could not
understand that all this was simply the instinctive self-indulgence
of a drugged brain and dulled conscience.
She did, however, get a little support and help during a brief stay
in the shooting season at Bridgefield. The Canoness was visiting the
Condamines at the Rectory, and very soon understood all the state of
things, more perhaps from her former nurse than from Ursula. She was
witness to one of those trying scenes, when Nuttie had been
forbidding the misuse of a beautiful elaborate book of nursery
rhymes, where Alwyn thought proper to 'kill' with repeated stabs the
old woman of the shoe, when preparing to beat her progeny.
Just as she was getting the dagger paper-knife out of his little
hand, and was diverting the pout on his swelling lip, his father
became aware of the contest, and immediately the half conquered boy
appealed to him. 'Sister naughty. Won't let Wynnie kill cross ugly
old woman, beating poor little children.'
'A fellow feeling! eh, sister? Kill her away, boy, tear her out!
Yes, give her to sister, and tell her that's the way to serve sour
females! I declare, Ursula, she has got something of your
'Oh Wynnie, Wynnie!' said Nuttie, as he trotted up to her, 'is sister
cross and ugly?' and she opened her arms to him.
'Sister, Wyn's own sister,' said the child affectionately, letting
himself be kissed as he saw her grieved. 'She shan't be ugly old
woman--ugly old woman go in fire.'
So perilously near the flame did he run to burn the old woman that
Mr. Egremont shouted to her that in spite of all that humbug, she was
perfectly careless of the child, although if she had withheld him she
would probably have been blamed for thwarting him.
'Are you quite fair towards Ursula?' the aunt ventured to say when
the girl had gone to dress for walking down with her to the Rectory.
'It is hard on her, and not good for the boy to upset her authority.'
'Eh? Why, the girl is just a governess manquee, imbued with the
spirit of all those old women who bred her up. A nice life the poor
child would have of it, but for me.'
'I am sure she is devotedly attached to him.'
'Hein! So she thinks; but trust human nature for loving to wreak
discipline on the child who has cut her out.'
'That is scarcely just, Alwyn. She was greatly relieved to be cut
Mr. Egremont laughed at this, and his sister-in-law indignantly added
with all the authority of a successful parent, 'Anyway, nothing is so
bad for a child as collision between the authorities in a family.
Ursula is doing her best to act as a mother to that child, and it
will be very injurious to him to interfere with her influences.'
'She's a good girl enough--gives very little trouble,' he allowed,
'but I'm not going to have the boy sat upon.'
As he spoke the words, Nuttie returned, and as soon as she was out of
the house and out of hearing she exclaimed, 'Oh, Aunt Jane, you see
how it is! How am I to prevent my boy from being utterly ruined?'
'I have been speaking to your father,' said Mrs. Egremont, 'but he
does not seem to understand. Men don't. A child's faults and
fancies seem such trifles to them that they can't see the harm of
indulging them, and, besides, they expect to be amused.'
'And is that poor dear little fellow to grow up spoilt?' said Nuttie,
her eyes hot with unshed tears.
'I hope not, Ursula. I have great confidence in your influence, for
I see you are a sensible girl.' This was astonishing praise from the
Canoness. 'But you will throw away your chances if you keep up a
continual opposition to what your father allows. It will be much
less hurtful if Alwyn does get too much indulgence, and does a little
unnecessary mischief, than for him to learn to think you the enemy of
his pleasures, always wanting to check and punish him. Oh yes,' as
Nuttie was going to answer, 'I know it is for his real good, but how
is that baby to understand that? Indeed, my dear, I know how it is;
I have gone through the same sort of thing with Basil.'
'Oh, it could never have been so bad!'
'No, of course not; but I have had to allow what I did not like for
the child rather than let him see the shadow of difference of opinion
between us, and I don't think it has done him any harm. The great
point is that you should keep that poor little fellow's affection and
respect, and make him unwilling to vex you.'
'That he is, dear little man. He is sorry when he sees sister
grieved. He is always distressed if anything is hurt or pained. He
is really tender-hearted.'
'Yes, but boys are boys. That feeling will fail you if you work it
too hard, and especially if you show vexation at his pleasures. Keep
that for real evils, like falsehood or cruelty.'
'Not for disobedience?'
'The evil of disobedience depends much more upon the authority of an
order than on the child itself. If he disobeys you under his
father's licence, you cannot make much of it. You have him a good
deal to yourself?'
'Then make use of that time to strengthen his principles and sense of
right and wrong, as well as to secure his affections. My dear, I
never saw a girl in a more difficult position than yours, but I see
you are doing your utmost; only I am afraid the love of sedatives is
'Oh aunt, I did think he had given it up!'
'You are inexperienced, my dear. I see it in his eyes. Well, I'm
afraid there is no stopping that.'
'Mother--' and Nuttie's voice was choked.
'She did her best, but you have not the same opportunities. It can't
be helped with a man of that age. Mark might have done something,
but he is out of the question now, poor fellow!'
'Indeed, Aunt Jane, I think Mark and Annaple are some of the happiest
people I ever saw. I only wish my poor Alwyn were as forward as
their Billy, but I'm not even allowed to teach him his letters,
because once he cried over them.'
'I wish they had anything to fall back upon,' said Mrs. Egremont
anxiously. 'They are so unwilling to let any one know of their
difficulties that I feel as if I never knew in what straits they may
be. You will be sure to let me know, Ursula, if there is anything
that I can do for them.'
That conversation was a great comfort and help to Nuttie, who was
pleased to find herself treated as a real friend by her aunt, and
perceived the wisdom of her advice. But the watching over the Mark
Egremonts was a very difficult matter to accomplish, for when she
went back to London she was warned that Billy had the whooping cough,
rendering them unapproachable all the winter, so that she could only
hear of them through Mr. Dutton, whom she continued to see
occasionally whenever there was anything to communicate. Mr.
Egremont rather liked him, and on meeting him in the street, would
ask him casually in to dinner, or to make up a rubber, or play
piquet, for he excelled in these arts, and still more in chess, and
an evening with Mr. Dutton was quite a red-letter time with Nuttie.
It gave her an indefinable sense of safety and protection; but it was
not always to be had, for her friend had many engagements, being one
of the active lay church workers, and devoting two regular evenings
in each week to Gerard Godfrey's eastern district, where he kept all
the accounts, had a model court and evening class, besides hospitably
resting tired clergymen and their wives in his pleasant quiet house.
In the spring Mr. Egremont was laid up with the worst rheumatic
attack he had yet had, in consequence of yielding to the imperious
will of his son, who had insisted on standing in a bleak corner to
see the Life Guards pass by. On this occasion Nuttie did not prove
herself the heaven-born nurse that the true heroine ought to be, but
was extremely frightened, and altogether dependent on Gregorio, who
knew all about the symptoms, and when to send for the doctor and a
garde-malade. Gregorio always talked French to Nuttie when he felt
himself in the ascendant, as he certainly was at present; but he
became much less gracious when he heard that Mrs. William Egremont
might be expected, declaring that madame would only excite his
master, and that her presence was quite unnecessary. Her coming had
been volunteered, but it was a great boon to Ursula, who was thus
helped out in many perplexities, although Mrs. Egremont was a great
deal at her step-son's, and neither lady was of much avail in the
sick-room, during the stress of the illness. It was never actually
dangerous, but there was great suffering and much excitement, and for
four or five days the distress and anxiety were considerable. After
this passed off Ursula was surprised to find her company preferred to
that of her aunt. She was a better souffre-douleur, was less of a
restraint, and was besides his regular reader and amanuensis, so that
as the force of the attack abated, he kept her a good deal in his
room during the latter part of the day, imparting scraps of
intelligence, skimming the papers for him, and reading his letters.
There was a lease to be signed, and, as soon as might be, Mr.
Bulfinch, the Redcastle solicitor, brought it up, and had to be
entertained at luncheon. While he was waiting in the drawing-room
for Mr. Egremont to be made ready for him, he looked with deep
interest on the little heir, whom Ursula presently led off to the
other end of the room to the hoard of downstair toys; and an
elaborate camp was under construction, when by the fireside, the
Canoness inquired in a low confidential tone, 'May I ask whether you
came about a will?'
'No, Mrs. Egremont. I wish I were. It is only about the lease of
'Then there is none?'
'None that I am aware of. None has ever been drawn up by us.
Indeed, I was wishing that some influence could be brought to bear
which might show the expedience of making some arrangement. Any
melancholy event is, I trust, far distant, but contingencies should
be provided for.'
'Exactly so. He is recovering now, but these attacks always leave
effects on the heart, and at his age, with his habits, no one knows
what may happen. Of course it would not make much difference to the
'No, the Court of Chancery would appoint the most suitable natural
'But,' said Mrs. Egremont, 'I am afraid that the personal property
when divided would not be much of a provision for her.'
'You are right. The investments are unfortunately and
'She ought either to have them all, or there should be a charge on
the estate,' said the Canoness decisively. 'If possible, he must be
made to move.'
'Oh, don't!' cried Nuttie, jumping up from the floor. 'He mustn't be
upset on any account.'
'My dear, I had no notion that you heard us!' exclaimed her aunt. 'I
thought Alwyn was making too much noise with his soldiers.'
'I beg your pardon,' said Nuttie, 'perhaps I should have spoken
sooner, but indeed he must not be worried and disturbed,' she added,
'Don't be afraid, my dear,' said her aunt. 'Mr. Bulfinch knows that
your father is in no condition to have such matters brought before
'Certainly,' said the old lawyer politely;' and we will trust that
Miss Egremont's prospects may soon come forward on a more auspicious
Nuttie could have beaten him, but she was obliged to content herself
with such a sweeping charge of her Zulus among Alwyn's Englishmen,
that their general shrieked out in indignation against such a
variation of the accustomed programme of all their games.
Nuttie thought she had defended her patient sufficiently, but she
found she had been mistaken, for when her aunt had left them, some
days later, her father began, 'We are well quit of her. Those
troublesome dictatorial women always get worse when they are left
widows--taking upon them to say what their dear husbands would have
'Aunt Jane was very kind to me,' said Ursula, not in the least
knowing what he was thinking of.
'To you. Ay, I should think so, taking upon her to lecture me about
securing a provision for you.'
'Oh! I hoped--'
'What?' he broke in. 'You knew of it! You set her on, I suppose.'
'Oh! no, no, father. She and Mr. Bulfinch began about it, not
meaning me to hear--about a will, I mean--and I told them I wasn't
going to have you worried, and I thought I had stopped it
'Stop a woman bent on her duty? Hein! But you are a good girl, and
shall come to no loss when we have to make your marriage settlement.'
'You won't have to do that, father!'
'Hein! What do you keep that poor fellow Clarence Fane dangling in
attendance on you for? '
'I don't! I'm sure I don't want him. I would do anything to keep
him at a distance!'
'How now! I thought your Grace condescended to him more than to any
'I don't dislike him unless he has _that_ in his head; but as to
marrying him! Oh--h--h,' such a note of horror that elicited a
'So hot against him, are we? Who is it then? Not the umbrella
'Father! how can you?' she cried, with a burning flush of
indignation. He--why--he! He has always been a sort of uncle, ever
since I was a little girl.'
'Oh yes, adopted uncles are very devout when young ladies rush out to
morning prayers at unearthly hours--'
'Father!' with her voice trembling, 'I assure you he doesn't--I mean
he always goes to St. Michael's, unless he has anything particular to
say to me.'
'Oh yes, I understand,' and Mr. Egremont indulged in a hearty laugh,
which almost drove poor Nuttie beside herself.
'Indeed--indeed,' she stammered, in her confusion and suppressed
wrath; 'it is nothing of that sort. He is a regular old bachelor--he
'At what age do men become old bachelors? For he seems to me about
the age of poor Clarry, whom you seem to view as a bugbear.'
'I wish you would not think of such things, father; I have not the
slightest intention of leaving you and dear little Wynnie! Nothing
should tempt me!'
'Nothing? Hein! Then you may as well be on your guard, Miss
Egremont, or we shall have pleadings that you have encouraged them--
church and world--or both, maybe. You pious folk take your little
diversions and flirtations just like your poor sisters whom you shake
your heads at, never guessing how Gregorio and I have looked out at
you and your adopted uncle parading the street.'
'I wish Gregorio would mind his own business, and not put such things
in your head!' burst out Nuttie.
At which Mr. Egremont laughed longer and louder than ever.
Poor Nuttie! It was terrible discomfiture, not only for the moment,
but a notion had been planted in her mind that seemed cruel, almost
profane, and yet which would not be dismissed, and made her heart
leap with strange bounds at the wild thought, 'Could it be true?'
then sink again with shame at her own presumptuous folly in
entertaining such a thought for a moment.
Yet whenever she actually encountered Mr. Dutton her habitual comfort
and reliance on him revived, and dispelled all the embarrassment
which at other times she expected to feel in his presence.
SPES NON FRACTA.
Summer had quite set in before Mr. Egremont was able to go out for a
drive, and then he was ordered to Buxton.
Nuttie only once saw her cousins before leaving town, for their
little boy fulfilled the nursery superstition by whooping till May;
and all intercourse was prohibited, till he had ceased for a whole
week to utter a suspicious sound. Mr. Dutton had insisted on the
family spending a fortnight at Springfield House for change of air,
and it was there that Nuttie was permitted to see them, though the
children were still forbidden to meet.
Annaple looked very thin, but rattled as merrily as ever. 'No one
could guess,' she said, 'what a delight it was not to know what one
was to have for dinner?'
'To do more than know, I am afraid,' said Ursula.
'Well, next to the delight of knowing nothing at all about it--and
even that is only good for a holiday--is the delight of seeing a
pudding come out smooth and comfortable and unbroken from its basin.
"Something attempted, something done," you know. It is quite as good
a work of art as a water-coloured drawing.'
'Only not quite so permanent.'
'No; it is only one's first pudding that one wants to embalm in a
glass case for being so good as not to leave its better part behind
in the basin, or to collapse as soon as it is in the dish.'
'Which my puddings always did in the happy days of old, but then I
was always hunted ignominiously out of the kitchen and told I wasted
good food,' said Nuttie.
'Yes, and waste is fearful when Mark and Billy have to eat it all the
same, like the poor cows with spoilt hay. I wonder whether your old
experiences recall the joy of finding trustworthy eggs within your
'Ah, I was not housekeeper. I only remember being in disgrace for
grumbling when there was no pudding, because the hens would not lay.'
'Though I heard a woman declaring the other day that there ought to
be a machine for them. Oh, the scenes that I encounter when I am
marketing! If I only could describe them for Punch! I walked home
once with our porter's wife, carrying two most brilliant sticks of
rhubarb, all carmine stalk and gamboge leaf, and expressing a very
natural opinion that the rhubarb tree must be very showy to look at,
and curious to know in what kind of fruit the medicine grew.'
'Oh, Annaple! do you go yourself in that way?'
'Mark used to go with me, but, poor old fellow, he has ruinous ideas
about prices and quantities, and besides, now he is so hard worked-up
and down all day--he wants a little more of his bed in the morning.'
'And what do you want?'
'I never was a sleepy creature, and I get back in time to dress the
boy. I generally find him at high-jinks on his father's bed. It
uses up a little superfluous energy before the dressing.'
'But surely you have a servant now?'
'I've come to the conclusion that a workman's wife charing is a
better institution. No. 1, a pet of Miss Nugent's, was a nice
creature, but the London air did for her at once. No. 2, also from
Micklethwayte, instantly set up a young man, highly respectable, and
ready to marry on the spot, as they did, though their united ages
don't amount to thirty-nine. No. 3 was a Cockney, and couldn't stay
because the look-out was so dull; and No. 4 gossiped with her kind
when I thought her safe in the Temple Gardens with Billy, whereby he
caught the whooping-cough, and as she also took the liberty of
wearing my fur cloak, and was not particular as to accuracy, we
parted on short notice; and I got this woman to come in every day to
scrub, help make the bed, etc. It is much less trouble, and the only
fault I have to find with her is an absolute incapability of
discerning blacks. I believe she thinks I have a monomania against
Still Annaple insisted that she did not work half so hard as her
nieces, Muriel and Janet, in their London season, and that her
economy was not nearly so trying and difficult as that which Lady
Delmar had been practising for years in order to afford them a summer
there; nor was her anxiety to make both ends meet by any means equal
to her sister's in keeping up appearances, and avoiding detrimentals.
The two sisters met occasionally, but Lady Delmar was so
compassionate and patronising that Annaple's spirit recoiled in off-
hand levity and rattle, and neither regretted the occupation that
prevented them from seeing much of one another.
A year passed by, chiefly spent by Mr. Egremont in the pursuit of
comparative health, at Buxton, Bagneres, and Biarritz, during which
his daughter could do little but attend to him and to little Alwyn.
The boy had been enough left to her and nurse during his father's
acute illness to have become more amenable. He was an affectionate
child, inheriting, with his mother's face, her sweetness and docility
of nature, and he was old enough to be a good deal impressed with the
fact that he had made poor papa so ill by teasing him to stand in the
cold. Mr. Egremont was not at rest without a sight of the child
every day, if only for a moment, and the helplessness and suffering
had awed the little fellow a good deal. It was touching to see him
pause when galloping about the house when he went past the sick-room,
and hush his merry voice of his own accord.
And in the journeys, when his father's invalided state would have
made a fractious or wilful child a serious inconvenience, his good
temper and contentment were invaluable. He would sit for hours on
his sister's lap, listening to whispered oft-told tales, or playing
at impromptu quiet games; he could go to sleep anywhere, and the
wonderful discoveries he made at each new place were the amusement of
all his auditors. Sister was always his playfellow and companion
whenever she could be spared from her father, and she had an ever-
increasing influence over him which she did her best to raise into
Perhaps she never had a happier moment than when she heard how he had
put his hands behind him and steadily refused when Gregorio had
offered to regale him at a stall of bonbons forming only a thin crust
to liqueurs, which unfortunately he had already been taught to like.
'But I told him sister said I mustn't have them,' said Alwyn. 'And
then he made a face and said something in French about you. I know
'twas you, for he said "soeur." What was it?'
'Never mind, Wynnie dear. We had much better never know. You were
sister's own dear steadfast boy, and you shall kiss mother's
Nuttie had a beautiful coloured photograph of her mother, finished
like a miniature, which had been taken at Nice, in the time of Alice
Egremont's most complete and matured beauty. She had taught Alwyn to
kiss and greet it every evening before his prayers, and such a kiss
was his reward when he had shown any special act of goodness, for
which, as she told him, 'mother would have been pleased with her
Such another boon was his one Sunday evening at Biarritz, when she
found that while she was shut up at dinner with her father he had
voluntarily gone to church with nurse instead of playing on the beach
with some other English children. 'It was all very long and
tiresome,' he said, when asked if he liked it.
'Then why did you go, old man? There was no need to drag you there,'
said his father.
'She didn't drag me,' said the boy; 'I walked.'
'You need not have walked then, Master Dignity.'
'Poor nursie couldn't go without me,' said Alwyn, 'and sister says
there's a blessing on those that go.'
'A blessing? eh! and what idea does that little head entertain of a
blessing?' said Mr. Egremont.
Alwyn lifted his soft brown eyes reverently and said, 'It is
something good,' speaking, as he always did, in a baby lisp
'And it comes from God.'
'Well, what is it? Can you see it?'
'No'--he looked in perplexity towards Nuttie, who was in agony all
the time, lest there should be a scoff that might remain in the
'Never mind sister. Can you feel it?'
'Yes;' and the little face lighted with such a reality that the
incipient mockery turned into wonder on the next question.
'And how does it feel?'
'Oh, so nice! It makes Wynnie glad here,' and he spread his hands
over his breast; and gave a little caper like a kid for very
'There!' said Mr. Egremont, leaning back fairly conquered. 'Any one
might envy Wynnie! Goodnight, my boy, blessing and all. I wonder if
one felt like that when one was a little shaver,' he pursued, as
Alwyn went off to his bed.
'I think I did sometimes,' said Nuttie, 'but I never was half as good
'What?' exclaimed her father. 'You! bred up among the saints.'
'Ah! but I hadn't the same nature. I never was like--_her_.'
'Well--'tis very pretty now, and I don't know how we could stand a
young Turk, but you mustn't make a girl of him.'
'There's no fear of that,' said Nuttie. 'He is full of spirit. That
old bathing woman calls him "un vrai petit diable d'Anglais," he is
Which delighted Mr. Egremont as much as the concession that the boy's
faith was 'pretty' delighted Ursula. Indeed, he went a little
further, for when she came back from her few minutes at Alwyn's
bedside he proceeded to tell her of the absolute neglect in which his
mother, a belle of the Almacks days, had left her nursery. It was
the first time he had ever hinted at a shadow of perception that
anything in his own life had been amiss, and Ursula could not but
feel a dreamy, hopeful wonder whether her sweet little Alwyn could be
the destined means of doing that in which her mother had failed. It
was at least enough to quicken those prayers which had been more
dutiful than trustful.
And then her hope sank again when she realised that her father's days
were spent between the lull of opiate, followed by a certain
serenity, then in a period of irritability, each being more or less
prolonged, according to health, weather, or entertainment, and closed
again by the sedatives in various forms. It relieved her indeed, but
she felt it a wickedness to be glad of the calm, and she was aware
that the habit was making inroads on her father's powers. Between
that and his defect of eyesight, he was often much confused,
especially about money matters, and was more and more dependent.
Would that it had been only upon her, but she was constantly certain
that Gregorio was taking advantage of his master's helplessness, and
keeping it up by all means in his power. Yet what could be done?
For the valet was absolutely necessary to his comfort, and yet she
sometimes thought her father half in dread of him, and afraid to
expostulate about personal neglects, which became more frequent.
Things, that would have enraged him from others, were only grumbled
and fretted over, when Gregorio caused him real inconvenience by
absence or forgetfulness, and made very insufficient apology. It
seemed like a bondage; Nuttie thought of her mother's efforts, and
blamed herself in vain.
It was during this journey that she heard of good Miss Headworth's
death. The old lady's mind had long failed, and the actual present
loss to Nuttie was not great; but it seemed to close a long account
of gratitude such as she had not thoroughly felt or understood
before; and the link with Micklethwayte was severed.
For Mark and Annaple prevailed on Mrs. Egremont to install Miss
Nugent as governess to Rosalind and Adela. In that capacity Nuttie
hoped to see a good deal of her; but of course was again
disappointed, for her father would not hear of returning to
Bridgefield. It was draughty, and dull, and desolate, and nothing
suited him but London.
BLACKS IN THE ASCENDANT.
'Man's work ends with set of sun,
Woman's work is never done.'--Proverb.
It was far on in May when Ursula found herself again in the sitting-
room over the warehouse. Somehow it had not the dainty well-cared-
for air of erst. The pretty table ornaments were out of sight; the
glass over the clock was dim, the hands had stopped; some of
Annaple's foes, the blacks, had effected a lodgment on the Parian
figures; the chintzes showed wear and wash, almost grime; the
carpet's pattern was worn; a basket full of socks was on the sofa;
and on the table a dress, once belonging to Annaple's trousseau, was
laid out, converted into its component parts. The wails of a baby
could be heard in the distance, and the first person to appear was
Master William, sturdy and happy in spite of wofully darned knees to
'Mother's coming, if baby will stop crying,' he said, 'and lie in her
'Your little sister! What's her name?'
'Jane Christian,' said the boy, with a much more distinct enunciation
than Alwyn, though a year older, had yet acquired. 'She does cry so!
She won't let mother make my new knickies out of her blue gown!'
Thoughts of the suits that Alwyn was discarding came across Nuttie.
Could they be offered without offence? She asked, however, 'Do you
remember Alwyn--my Wynnie?'
'Wynnie gave me my horse,' cried the boy, unstabling a steed which
had seen hard service since the presentation. 'Where's Wynnie?'
'He is at home. You must come and see him,' said Nuttie, who had not
been allowed to bring him till secure of a clean bill of health.
'But see, just outside the door, there's something for Billy.'
She had made her servant bring up the parcels to the passage outside,
and Billy was soon hugging a magnificent box of soldiers, wherewith
he pranced off to show them to his mother, leaving the doors open, so
that Ursula could more decidedly hear the baby's voice, not a healthy
child's lusty cry, but a poor little feeble wail, interspersed with
attempts at consolation. 'Come, won't she go to Emily? Oh, Billy-
boy, how splendid! I hope you thanked Cousin Ursula. Baby Jenny,
now can't you let any one speak but yourself? Oh! shall I never
teach you that "Balow, my babe," is not "bellow, my babe." That's
better! Now can't you let Emily have you, while I go to Cousin
'Let me come! Mayn't I?' exclaimed Ursula, invading the room that
served as kitchen, where Annaple was trying to hush off the child and
make her over to a little twelve years old maid, who stood in
waiting, helping Willie meantime to unpack his soldiers, with
smothered exclamations of delight.
'Oh, Nuttie, how good of you! Please to excuse the accompaniment.
There never was such a young lady for self-assertion to make up for
there being so little of her.'
And Annaple, very thin and tired looking, held up the child,
fearfully small and pinched for four months old, to be kissed by
'Does she always go on like this?'
''Cept when she is asleep,' said Willie.
'Poor wee lassie,' said Annaple; 'there's great excuse for her, for
the food has not yet been invented that suits her ladyship.'
'You must come and consult nurse.'
'And how are you all? I'm glad you are at hand, Nuttie! Is Mr.
'As well as ever he is--lame and altogether an invalid,--but he has
not had such bad attacks of pain lately.'
'And his eyes?'
'About the same. He can write, and tell one card from another, but
he can't read--or rather it hurts him to do so, and he can't bear a
strong light. But, Annaple, how are you? That child is wearing you
to a shadow.'
'Oh! I'm quite well--perfectly. There, I think she is gone off at
last. You had better walk her about a little, Emily; she will break
out again if we try to put her in the cradle.'
And having handed over the child with only a very low murmur, Annaple
left her combined kitchen and nursery. She flew at the flowers
Nuttie had brought like a thirsty person, crying, as she buried her
face in them, 'Now for beauty! Now Mark will be refreshed! Ah!
here's a pretty pickle for a reception room.'
'Oh, don't put it away! I could help you; I do so like that kind of
work. It is so like old times.'
'It must be put away, thank you, for Mark will be coming in. And the
saying about the public washing of garments is specially true of
one's own husband. Ways and means are worrying to the masculine
'I thought it was too early for Mark?'
'He has an appointment to keep at Charing Cross or thereabouts, so I
made him promise to come in in time to "put a bit in his head," as
our Irish charwoman says.'
'Then I can take him. I have the carriage, and I must be at home by
half-past twelve. I wish you would come too, Annaple. There's
plenty of room. You could show the baby to nurse, and the boys could
have a good game. I would send you back in the evening. Mark could
come on after his business is done.'
'Thank you, Nuttie, I can't to-day--for a whole heap of domestic
reasons; but, if you can get Mark to come, do, it would be so good
'How is Mark?'
'He is well, quite well,' said Annaple; 'and so good and patient.
But you see, it does take it out of a man when that doleful little
noise won't stop all night! We are both acquiring a form of
somnambulism, but when there's real out-of-door business to be done,
it is not like proper sleep.'
'Or when there's woman's indoor business, I am afraid,' said Nuttie,
much concerned at the extreme thinness of Annaple's face and hands,
and the weary look of her large eyes.
'Oh, one makes that up at odd times!' she answered brightly. 'One
thing is, this work suits Mark, he feels that he can do it, and he
gets on well with the men. They asked him to join in their club, and
he was so much pleased. He gets up subjects for them, and I am so
glad he has such a pleasure and interest to keep him from missing the
society he was used to.'
'It must be very good for them too. Mr. Dutton said he really
thought Mark had kept them from going in for a strike.'
'Besides the glory of the thing,' said Annaple drawing herself up,
'Mr. Dobbs thought so too, and raised us ten pounds; which made us
able to import that little Bridgefield lassie to hold baby--when--
when Miss Jenny will let her. He has some law copying to do besides,
but I don't like that; it burns the candle at both ends, and he does
get bad headaches sometimes, and goes on all the same.'
'You must both come and see my Wyn.'
'Ah! I had never asked after him. I suppose he is as pretty as
ever,' said Annaple, who secretly thought his beauty too girlish
compared with her sturdy Billy.
'Prettier, I think, as he gets more expression. We can't persuade
ourselves to cut his hair, and it looks so lovely on his sailor suit.
And he is so good. I could not have believed a child could be so
quiet and considerate on a journey. You should have seen him
standing by my father's knee in the railway carriage, and amusing him
with all that was to be seen, and stopping at the least hint that he
was chattering too much.'
'Billy is wonderfully helpful. Ah--' and Annaple's eyes lighted up
as the step that had music in't came up the stair; and as Mark came
in, Nuttie thought him grown older, his hair thinner, his shoulders
rounded, and his office coat shabby, but she saw something in his
countenance there had never been before. Ever since she had known
him he had worn a certain air of depression, or perhaps more truly of
failure and perplexity, which kept before her conscious mind the
Desdichado on Ivanhoe's shield, even when he was a gentleman at ease
at the luxurious Rectory; but there was now not only the settled air
of a man who had found his vocation, but something of the self-
respect and eagerness of one who was doing it well, and feeling
'Is baby--' he began. 'Oh, Nuttie! Are you there? Mr. Dutton told
me you were coming. How is my uncle?' And the voice was much
brisker than in the days of lawn-tennis.
'Father, father, look!' cried the boy.
'Why, Billy-boy, you are set up! Zouaves and chasseurs! I see where
they came from.'
During the mixture of greetings and inquiries, admiration of the
flowers, and the exhibition of Billy's treasures, Annaple glided
away, and presently placed before him a tray, daintily benapkinned
and set forth with a little cup of soup.
'Baby is really asleep, and Emily as proud as a Hielandman,' she
said. 'Now eat this, without more ado, for that good Nuttie is going
to set you down at Charing Cross.'
'This is the way we spoil our husbands, Nuttie,' said Mark.
'Refections served up at every turn.'
'Only bones! The immortal pot au feu,' said Annaple. 'And you are
to go on after you have interviewed your man of steel, and have tea
with Nuttie, and pay your respects to your uncle, like a dutiful
'No, that I can't, Nannie; I promised Dobbs to go and see a man for
him, and I must come back as soon as I can after that.'
He looked--as to figure and air--much more like his old self when he
had changed his coat. They fed him, almost against his will, with a
few of the forced strawberries Nuttie had brought. Billy pressed on
him wonders from a Paris bonbon box, and Annaple fastened a rose and
a pink in his button-hole, and came down to the street door with her
boy to see him off.
'What do you think of her?' was Mark's first inquiry.
'Think! As Mr. Dutton said long ago, never was braver lady!'
'Never was there a truer word! I meant as to her health? As to
courage, spirits, and temper, there is no question; I never saw them
fail; but are they not almost too much for the frame?' he asked
It echoed Nuttie's fear, but she tried to frame a cheerful answer.
'She is very thin, but she seems well.'
'She never complains, but I am sure her strength is not what it was.
She cannot walk out as she did at first. Indeed, she gets no real
rest day nor night, and there's no relieving her!'
'She says you don't get much rest either.'
'More than my share,' said Mark. 'The poor little thing never sleeps
except in someone's arms, and if awake, is not content for a moment
except in her mother's.'
'And that has been going on four months?'
'Three. Ever since we brought her back from Redcastle. I have
nearly determined to move into some suburb when I get a rise at
Michaelmas, unless she improves.'
'Nurse might suggest something.'
'Or at any rate tell us what to think. We showed her to a doctor,
and all he could propose was some kind of food, which was no more
successful than the rest. Did you look at her, Nuttie? She is a
pretty little thing when she is quiet, but she dwindles away--at
least so it seems to me, though Annaple will not see it, and--and if
we are not permitted to keep the little one, I dread what the effect
may be on her.'
Nuttie said something about bravery and goodness, thinking in her
heart that, if the blow fell, it would be better for all than the
perpetual suffering of the poor little sickly being.
'Ah! you don't know what her affections are,' said Mark. 'You did
not see her when she lost her mother, and there had been no strain on
her powers then. However, I've no business to croak. Many a child
gets over troubles of this kind, and, as Annaple says, little Jenny
will be all the more to us for what we go through with her.'
The carriage stopped, and Nuttie asked him if it would delay him too
long if she executed a commission about her father's glasses. He had
plenty of time, but she was delayed longer than she expected, and on
her return was surprised to find that he had dropped asleep.
'Ah! that's what comes of a moment's quiet;' he said, smiling.
'Fine quiet in the roar of Ludgate Hill!'
'To a Cockney 'tis as the mill to the miller! I like the full stir
and tide,' he added, looking out upon it. 'I never knew what life
'I should have thought you never knew what hardness and hard work
'That's just it,' he answered, smiling. 'The swing of it is
exhilaration--very different from being a cumberer of the ground.'
'Oh, Mark, all the privations and anxiety!'
'The privation! that's nothing. Indeed I am afraid--yes, I am
ashamed to say--it falls more on my dear wife than myself, but if we
can only wear through a year or two we shall get a further rise, and
my poor Annaple may get out of this drudgery. Please God, she and
the little one can stand it for a time, and I think she has a spring
within her that will;' then, as he saw tears in his cousin's eyes, he
added, 'Don't be unhappy about it, Nuttie; I have had it in my mind
ever so long to tell you that the finding you at Micklethwayte was
the best thing that ever happened to me!'
Yes, so far as character went, Ursula could believe that it had been
so. He was twice the man he would have been without the incentive to
work, and the constant exercise of patience and cheerfulness; but her
heart was heavy with apprehension that the weight of the trial might
be too heavy. To her eyes the baby's life seemed extremely doubtful,
and Annaple looked so fragile that the increase of her burthens, any
saddening of the heart, might destroy her elasticity, and crush her
outright; while even Mark seemed to her to be toiling so close within
the limits of his powers that a straw might break the camel's back!
She longed to talk to Mr. Dutton about them, but she found herself
doomed to a day that perhaps Annaple would have thought more trying
than her harrowed life. She was a little later than she had
intended, and her father had been waiting impatiently to have a note
read to him, so he growled at her impatience to run after 'that
Scotch girl.' And the note happened to be of an irritating nature;
moreover, the cutlets at luncheon were said to be akin to
indiarubber, and there was the wrong flavour in the sauce. Ursula
let that cook do what she pleased without remonstrance.
Even Alwyn did not afford as much satisfaction as usual, for the boy
was in high spirits and wanted to blow a little trumpet, which was
more than his father could stand. He was very good when this was
silenced, but he then began to rush round the room daring his sister
to catch the wild colt as he went by. This had likewise to be
stopped, with the murmur that Ursula spoilt the child.
She tried to compose matters by turning out the old toys in the
ottoman, but Alwyn had outgrown most of them, and did not care for
any except a certain wooden donkey, minus one ear and a leg, which
went by the name of Sambo, and had absorbed a good deal of his
affection. He had with difficulty been consoled for Sambo being left
behind, and now turned over everything with considerable clatter in
search of him. Alas! Sambo could nowhere be found in the room, and
Alwyn dashed off to inquire of all the household after him. His
father meanwhile growled at the child's noise, and went on trying the
glasses Nuttie had brought, and pronouncing each pair in turn
useless, vowing that it was no use to send her anywhere.
Upon this, back came Alwyn, terribly distressed and indignant, for he
had extracted from the housemaid left in charge, who was as cross as
she was trustworthy, 'What! that old broken thing, Master Egremont?
I threw it on the fire! I'd never have thought a young gentleman of
your age would have cared for such rubbish as that.'
'You are a wicked cruel woman,' returned Alwyn, with flashing eyes;
'I shall tell papa and sister of you.'
And in he flew, sobbing with grief and wrath for the dear Sambo,
feeling as if it had been a live donkey burnt to death, and hiding
his face on his sister's breast for consolation.
'Come, come, Wyn,' said his father, who did not brook interruption;
'here's half a sovereign to go and buy a new donkey.'
'It won't be Sambo,' said Alwyn ruefully.
'But you should thank papa,' said Nuttie.
'Thank you, papa,' he said, with quivering lip, 'but I don't want a
new one. Oh Sambo, Sambo! burnt!' and he climbed on Nuttie's lap,
hid his face against her and cried, but her comfortings were broken
off by, 'How can you encourage the child in being so foolish? Have
done, Wyn; don't be such a baby! Go out with nurse and buy what you
like, but I can't have crying here.'
He tried to stop in sheer amazement, but the ground swell of sob
could not be controlled. Nuttie was going to lead him away, and
console him with more imaginative sympathy than could be expected
from the maids, but her father sharply called her back. He wanted
her himself, and indeed there was no question which was the worse
spoilt child. He might idolise Alwyn, but not so as to clash with
his own comforts. The glasses being unsuccessful, Nuttie proposed to
drive back to Ludgate Hill for him to choose for himself, but he
would not hear of going into the heat of the City, and growled at her
for thinking of such a thing.
They took an aimless drive instead in the park, and Nuttie was nearly
baked while the carriage was stopped for her father to have a long
talk over the prospects of the Derby day with one of his most
unpleasant associates, who stood leaning over the door on the shady
side of the carriage, no one recking how little protection she
derived from her small fringed parasol.
She came home tired out, and thankful that her father went to rest in
his own room. She climbed to the nursery, thinking to share Alwyn's
tea and comfort him, but she found only nurse there. Nurse had a bad
foot, and dreaded hot pavement, so she had sent Master Alwyn out with
her subordinate, a country girl, to play in Mr. Dutton's garden till
it should be cool enough to go and make his purchase, and a message
had since arrived that he was going to drink tea there, and Mr.
Dutton would take him out.
His sister envied him the green shades, and had just done her best to
cool the back drawing-room and rest herself with a book, when Mr.
Fane was announced. He talked pleasantly enough, and lingered and
lingered, no doubt intending to be asked to dinner, but she was
equally determined to do no such thing. She had heard enough of
races for one day, she thought, and at last he took his leave, only
just before she dressed for dinner.
'I thought Fane was here,' said Mr. Egremont as he came in; no doubt
told by Gregorio.
'He has been, but he is gone.'
'You didn't ask him to stay and dine?'
'I did not know you wished it.'
'You might have known that I should have liked to see him. I suppose
you think your sweet self society enough for any man?'
'I am sorry--'
'I'm sick of hearing you are sorry! I believe there's nothing you
like so well as doing an ungracious thing to a friend of mine.'
Nuttie had learnt to hold her tongue on such occasions.
Dinner was nearly over, and her father had been grumbling again at
having no one to take a hand at cards with him, when the door opened
a little way, and Alwyn's pretty glowing face looked in. He was come
to say good-night rather later than usual, and he ran up to his
sister with a little bouquet of yellow banksia and forget-me-nots.
'Mithter Button'--so Alwyn called him--'sent you this. He said you
would like it, 'cause it came from one that grew at Mittletwait. And
oh, look, look!'
He was hugging a little ship, which he proudly exhibited, while his
father's brow had darkened at the message. 'Did you buy that?' asked
'Yes, Mr. Button went with me, and we sailed it. We sailed it by the
fountain in Mr. Button's garden, And we made a storm!'
He danced about with glee, and Mr. Egremont observed, 'A dear
purchase for ten shillings. Did it cost all that, Wyn?'
'They gived me a big silver half-crown, and I gived that to a little
boy what came to speak to Mr. Button, and had his toes through his
boots, and he was so glad.'
'Your money is not for beggars, Wyn.'
'The little boy was not a beggar, papa. He came with a newspaper to
Mr. Button, and he is so good to his poor sick mother,' said Alwyn.
'See, see, sister!' turning the prow of his small vessel towards her,
and showing a word on it in pencil which he required her to spell
out. It was Ursula.
'Oh Wynnie!' she said, duly flattered, 'did Mr. Dutton do that?'
'He held my hand, and I did!' cried Alwyn, triumphantly, 'and he will
paint it on Saturday. Then it will dry all Sunday, and not come off,
so it will be the Ursula for ever and always.'
Here nurse claimed her charge; and when the goodnights were over, and
a murmur recommenced, Nuttie suggested that if Mr. Dutton was at home
perhaps he would come in and make up the game, but she encountered
the old humour. 'I'll tell you what, Ursula, I'll not have that
umbrella fellow encouraged about the house, and if that child is to
be made the medium of communication, I'll put a stop to it.'
The words were spoken just as Gregorio had entered the room with a
handkerchief of his master's. Nuttie, colouring deeply at the
insult, met his triumphant eyes, bit her lips, and deigned no word of
An undefined but very slight odour, that told her of opium smoke,
pervaded the stairs that night. It was the only refuge from
fretfulness; but her heart ached for her father, herself, and most of
all for her little brother. And was she to be cut off from her only
THE LOST HEIR.
'Seemed to the boy some comrade gay
Led him forth to the woods to play.'--SCOTT.
Though it was the Derby day, Mr. Egremont's racing days were over,
and he only took his daughter with him in quest of the spectacles he
wanted. When they came back, Nuttie mounted to the nursery, but no
little brother met her on the stairs, and she found nurse in deep
displeasure with her subordinate.
'I sent him out with Ellen to play in the garden at Springfield, and
swim his ship, where he couldn't come to no harm,' said nurse; 'being
that my foot is that bad I can't walk the length of the street; and
what does the girl do but lets that there Gregorio take the dear
child and go--goodness knows where--without her.'
'I'm sure, ma'am,' said the girl crying, 'I would never have done it,
but Mr. Gregory said as how 'twas his papa's wish.'
'What was?' said Nuttie.
'That he shouldn't never go and play at Mr. Dutton's again,' said
'I told her she was to take her orders off me, and no one else,'
returned nurse, 'except, of course, you, Miss Egremont, as has the
'Quite so; you should have told Mr. Gregorio so, Ellen.'
'I did, ma'am, but he said those was Mr. Egremont's orders; and he
said,' cried the girl, unable to withstand the pleasure of repeating
something disagreeable, 'that Mr. Egremont wouldn't have no
messengers between you and a low tradesman fellow, as made umbrellas,
and wanted to insinuate himself in here.'
'That's quite enough, Ellen; I don't want to hear any impertinences.
Perhaps you did not understand his foreign accent. Did he say where
he was going?'
'I think he said he'd take him to the Serpentine to sail his ship,'
said Ellen, disposed to carry on asseverations of the correctness of
her report, but nurse ordered her off the scene, and proceeded, as a
confidential servant, 'The girl had no call to repeat it; but there's
not a doubt of it he did say something of the sort. There's not one
of us but knows he is dead against Mr. Dutton, because he tried to
get master to get to sleep without that nasty opium smoke of his.'
There was bitter feud between nurse and valet, and Nuttie could have
exchanged with her many a lament, but she contented herself with
saying, 'I wish he would let Master Alwyn alone. It is high time
they should come in.'
'The child will be tired to death, and all dirt! His nice new sailor
suit too! Going grubbing about at the Serpentine with no one knows
who, as isn't fit for a young gentleman,' moaned nurse.
This, however, was the worst fear she entertained, and it was with a
certain malicious satisfaction that she heard her master's bell for
Nuttie descended to explain, and whereas the need was not very
urgent, and she looked distressed and angered at the valet, her
father received her complaint with, 'Well, the boy is getting too big
to be tied for ever to a nursery-maid. It will do him good to go
about with a man.'
But as dressing-time came on, and still neither Gregorio nor Alwyn
appeared, Mr. Egremont became impatient, and declared that the valet
had no business to keep the child out so long; indeed, he would
sooner have taken alarm but for Nuttie's manifest agony of anxiety,
starting and rushing to listen at every ring at the bell or sound of
wheels near at hand. At last, at eight o'clock, there was a peal of
the servants' bell, and the footman who answered it turned round to
the anxious crowd: 'Mr. Gregory! He just asked if the child was come
home, and went off like lightning.'
'The villain! He's lost him!' shrieked nurse, with a wild scream.
'Run after him, James! Catch him up!' suggested the butler at the
same moment. 'Make him tell where he saw him last!'
James was not a genius, but the hall boy, an alert young fellow, had
already dashed down the steps in pursuit, and came up with the valet
so as to delay him till the other servants stood round, and Gregorio
turned back with them, pale, breathless, evidently terribly dismayed
and unwilling to face his master, who stood at the top of the steps,
white with alarm and wrath.
'Sir,' cried Gregorio, with a stammering of mixed languages, 'I have
been searching everywhere! I was going to give notice to the police.
Je ferai tout! Je le trouverai.'
'Where did you lose him?' demanded Mr. Egremont in a hoarse voice,
such as Nuttie had never heard.
'In the Park, near the bridge over the Serpentine. I was speaking
for a few moments to a friend. Bah! Il etait parti. Mais je le
trouverai. Parker, he seeks too. Fear not, sir, I shall find him.'
'Find him, you scoundrel, or never dare to see me again! I've borne
with your insolences long, and now you've brought them to a height.
Go, I say, find my boy!' exclaimed Mr. Egremont, with a fierce oath
and passionate gesture, and Gregorio vanished again.
'Bring the carriage--no, call a cab;' commanded Mr. Egremont,
snatching up his hat. 'Who is this Parker?'
The servants hesitated, but the butler said he believed the man to be
a friend of Gregorio's employed at one of the clubs. Nuttie
meanwhile begging her father not to go without her, flew upstairs to
put on her hat, and coming down at full speed found that Mr. Dutton,
passing by and seeing the open door and the terrified servants on the
steps, had turned in to ask what was the matter, and was hearing in
no measured terms from Mr. Egremont how the child had been taken away
from his nurse and lost in the Park while that scamp Gregorio was
chattering to some good-for-nothing friend.
To Nuttie's great relief, Mr. Dutton offered to go with the father to
assist in the search, and the coachman, far too anxious and excited
to let his master go without him in a cab, contrived to bring up the
carriage. Some of the servants were ordered off to the various
police offices. Poor nurse, who was nearly distracted, started in a
hansom on her own account, persuaded that she should see and
recognise traces of her darling at the scene of his loss, and she
almost raced the carriage, which was bound for the same spot.
Sluggish natures like Mr. Egremont's can sometimes be roused to great
violence, and then pour forth the long pent-up accumulations kept
back by indolence and indifference. His only occupation during the
rapid drive was to vituperate his valet, the curse of his life, he
said. To hear him talk, it would have seemed as if Gregorio had been
the tyrant who had kept him in bondage all these years, fully aware
of his falsehood, peculation, and other rascality, but as unable to
break the yoke as if he had been in truth the slave of anything but
his own evil habit and helpless acquiescence.
Would it last if Gregorio made his appearance at that instant with
Alwyn in his hand? Or even, as Mr. Dutton confidently predicted, a
policeman might bring the boy home, before many hours were passed.
The chief doubt here was that Alwyn's defective pronunciation, which
had been rather foolishly encouraged, might make it difficult to
understand his mode of saying his own name, or even that of the
street, if he knew it perfectly; but the year he had been absent from
London had prevented him from acquiring the curious ready local
instinct of the true town child, and he had been so much guarded and
watched that he was likely to be utterly at a loss when left alone;
and Nuttie was wretched at the thought of his terror and loneliness,
even while Mr. Dutton told her of speedy recoveries of lost children
through kind people or the police.
They found all the officials of the Park already aware and on the
alert, and quite certain of the impossibility of nurse's prime dread
that the boy had fallen into the water unseen by any one and been
drowned. She was even ready to look into every bush, in case he had
been frightened and hidden himself; and nothing would satisfy her but
to stay making these researches, when her master had decided on
endeavouring to find 'Parker' at the club, and to ascertain from him
particulars of time and place.
He was found there. The dinner-hour had brought him back, he being a
man in authority there, very well dressed and deferential, declaring
himself immensely distressed at the occurrence, and at having
accosted Gregorio and attracted his attention. It was about four
o'clock, he thought, and he described the exact spot where the little
boy had been sailing his vessel fastened to a string. They might
have been talking twenty minutes or half an hour when Gregorio missed
his charge, and since that time both had been doing all in their
power to find him, until half-past seven, when he had to return to
his club, and Gregorio went to see whether the child had been taken
By this time Mr. Egremont looked so utterly exhausted, that Mr.
Dutton availed himself of the hope that the boy might be found safe
at home to take him back; but alas! nothing had been heard there.
The poor man was in a restless, unmanageable state of excitement,
almost as terrifying to his daughter as the distress that occasioned
it. He swallowed a tumblerful of claret, but would not eat nor go to
bed; and indeed, Gregorio alone having had the personal charge of
him, latterly sleeping in his dressing-room, none of the other
servants knew what to do for him. Mr. Dutton agreed with her that it
would be better to send for his doctor, as probably he ought to have
a sedative, and neither would take the responsibility of giving it;
while he himself declared he neither would nor could rest till he had
his boy again.
The doctor was dining out, and they had two terrible hours; while Mr.
Egremont paced to the windows; threw himself on the sofa; denounced
Gregorio; or, for a change, all the system of police which had made
no discovery; and Ursula for letting the boy be so helpless. Mr.
Dutton sometimes diverted his attention for a few minutes, and hoped
he would doze, but the least sound brought him to his feet again, and
the only congenial occupation was the composition of a description of
poor little Alwyn's person and dress, which set Nuttie crying so
uncontrollably, that she had to run out of the room.
Dr. Brownlow came at last, and was very kind and helpful, taking the
command, and insisting that Mr. Egremont should go to bed, and take
the dose which he mixed. Broadbent, the butler, was to take
Gregorio's place, but he was a ponderous man, without much tact, and
unused to the valet's office. 'I might just as well have a
rhinoceros about me,' said Mr. Egremont, in a fit of irritation; and
it ended, Nuttie hardly knew how, in Mr. Dutton's going upstairs to
smooth matters. He came down after a time and said: 'I am not
satisfied to leave him alone or to Broadbent; I have his consent to
my sleeping in the dressing-room. I am just going home to fetch my
things. Let me find you gone when I come back. You will hear no
more to-night. Even if he is found, they will keep him till
'It is of no use; I can't sleep.'
'Even if you don't, the mere restful position will make you fitter
for the morrow. Will you promise me to undress and really go to
'Oh yes! if you say I must,' said Nuttie drearily; following an
instinct of obedience.
'And remember,' he said, 'though I do not say it will be so, this may
be deliverance from bondage.'
'But what a terrible deliverance!'
'Bonds are not burst without something terrible. No; don't be
frightened. Remember there is safekeeping for that sweet little
fellow, wherever he may be.'
'Oh, Mr. Dutton, if I could pray for him; but the turmoil seems to
have driven away all such things! My boy, my boy, where is he now?
Who has heard him say his little prayers?'
'His Heavenly Father has; of that we may be secure. You will feel it
in the quiet of your own room. Good-night.'
'And I shall know you are praying, better than I can,' murmured
Nuttie, as she returned his good-night, and crept up to her chamber.
'The gods are just, and of our pleasant sins
Make whips to scourge us.'--King Lear.
There was no real sleep for Ursula that short summer night. She saw
the early dawn, listened to the distant roll of market-carts, and
wondered when it would be reasonable to be afoot, and ready to hear,
if aught there was to hear. At any hour after seven, surely the
finders would have mercy and bring the welcome news. And just before
seven she fell asleep, deeply, soundly, and never woke till past
eight, but that was just enough to revive the power of hope, and give
the sense of a new day. But there was nothing to hear--no news. She
found Mr. Dutton in the dining-room. He had had to administer
another draught to her father, and had left him in a sleep which
would probably last for some time. If she would go and sit in the
outer room, after her breakfast, he would go out to obtain
'You must have some breakfast,' she said, ringing the bell, and
wistfully looking over the blinds; then exclaiming: 'Oh, there's
Mark! Has he heard anything?' and out she darted, opening the door
before he rang. 'Mark! have you found him?'
'Yes,' he said gravely, looking utterly amazed as she clasped her
hands, and seemed ready to fling herself on his neck with joy. 'I
came because it will be a great shock to my uncle.'
'Then it is so! Nurse was right,' said Nuttie, turning deadly pale,
and standing as if before a iring platoon. 'Tell me, Mark, where did
they find him?'
'At the Faringdon Station. I was sent for to identify him.'
'Stay,' said Mr. Dutton, as there was a wild horrified look in
Nuttie's eyes. 'Do you mean little Alwyn?'
'Little Alwyn! No, certainly not. What of him?'
'Gregorio managed to lose him in the park yesterday,' put in Mr.
'That accounts for it, then,' said Mark. 'No, it was Gregorio
himself, poor man. He was knocked down by the engine, and killed on
the spot, just by the station, at eleven o'clock last night. Our
name was found on him, and I was sent for early this morning. There
was no doubt about it, so I came on here at once to let my uncle
know, little thinking--'
'Oh, it is dreadful!' cried Nuttie, sinking into a chair. 'Do you
remember, my father told him never to see his face again unless he
Broadbent came in at the moment with the coffee-pot, and stood
suspended, as he was told what had happened, Mark adding the detail:
'He was crossing the line in front of the engine.'
'Yes, sir,' said the butler. 'It is an awful dispensation. No doubt
he knew it was all up with him. You may not be aware, sir, of the
subject of his conversation in the park. Mr. Parker had just seen a
telegram of the result of the Derby, and he had heavy bets on Lady
Edina. I am afraid, sir, there can be no doubt that he found a
'We will not talk of that. We cannot judge,' said Mark, shuddering.
'I said I would send some one from here to arrange what was to be
done after the inquest.'
Broadbent immediately undertook to go, if his master did not require
him, and this was thought advisable, as his services were certainly
not acceptable to Mr. Egremont. Mark had thought himself likely to
be detained and had provided for his absence, and the awe-stricken
trio were consulting together over the breakfast-table, eating
mechanically, from the very exhaustion of agitation, when the door
opened, and Mr. Egremont in his dressing-gown was among them,
exclaiming: 'You are keeping it from me.' He had been wakened by the
whispers and rushes of the excited maids, had rung his bell in vain,