Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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man, Robinson, had all this time been lying insensible,
not dead, for he moaned, but apparently with a broken
le^, if nothing worse. Indeed, the men had known it
all along, but, until the ladies had been rescued, nothing
had been possible but to put his cushion under his
head and his rug over him. The ladies were much
shocked, and Mrs. William Egremont decided that he
must be laid at the bottom of the waggonette, and
that she would take him straight to the hospital.

They were only a mile and a half from Lescombe,
and it was pronounced safe to cross on foot by the
remains of the bridge, so that Annaple, who had a
pair of fur boots, had already decided on going home
on foot. The other girls wanted to accompany her,
and, as May and Nuttie both had overshoes, they were
permitted to do so, and desired to go to bed, and wait
to be picked up by the waggonette, which must return
to Bridgefield by the Lescombe road. Blanche, having
a delicate throat, was sentenced to go with her step-
mother. Mark undertook to ride the horse through the
river, and escort the three girls, and Gerard Godfrey
also joined them. The place where he was staying
lay a couple of miles beyond Lescombe, and when
Mrs. Elmore's fly had been met and turned back by
Mr. Egremont, he had jumped off to render assistance,
and had done so effectively enough to win j\Lark's
gratitude.

It was by this time about half-past live, as was
ascertained by the light of the waning moon, the
carriage-lamp having burnt out. It was a line frosty
morning, and the moon was still i)owerful enough to



XIV.] GOING AGEE. 143

reveal the droll figures of the girls. May had a fur
cloak, with the hood tied over her head by Mrs. Yj^'g-
mont's lace shawl; Nuttie had a huge white cloud
over her head, and a light blue opera cloak ; Annaple
had ' rowed herself in a plaidie ' like the Scotch girl
she was, and her eyes flashed out merrily from its
dark folds. They all disdained the gentlemen's self-
denying offers of their ulsters, and only Nuttie con-
sented to have the carriage-rug added to her trappings,
and ingeniously tied on cloak-fashion with her sash
by Gerard. He and Mark piloted the three ladies
over the narrow border of the hole, which looked a
very black open gulf. Annaple had thanked the men,
and bidden them come to Lescombe the next day to
be paid for their assistance. Then they all stood to
watch Mark ride through the river, at the shallowest
place, indicated both by her and the labourers. It
was perfectly fordable, so Annaple's were mock heroics
when she quoted —

' Never heavier man and horse
Stemmed a midnight torrent's force.'

And ISTuttie responded in a few seconds —

' Yet through good heart and our Ladye's grace
Full soon he gained the landing place.'

They were both in high spirits, admiring each
other's droll appearance, and speculating on the ghosts
they might appear to any one who chanced to look out
of window. Annaple walked at the horse's head,
calling him poor old Kobin Hood, and caressing him,
while Gerard and Nuttie kept together.

May began to repent of her determination to walk ;
Lescombe seemed very far off, and she had an instinct



144 nuttie's father. [chap.

that she was an awkward fifth wheel. Either because
Eobin Hood walked too fast for her weary limbs, or
because she felt it a greater duty to chaperon Xuttie than
Annaple, she fell back on the couple in the rear, and was
rather surprised at tlie tenor of their conversation.

This ' umbrella man ' was telling of his vicar's de-
liglit in the beautiful chalice veil that liad been sent
by Mre. Egremont, and Nuttie was communicating, as
a secret she ought not to tell, tliat mother was working a
set of stoles, and hoped to have the wliite ones ready by
the dedication anniversary ; also that there was a box
being filled for the St. Ambrose Christmas tree. They
were trying to get something nice for each of the choir
boys and of the old women ; and therewith, to ]\Iay's
surprise, this youth, whom she regarded as a sort of
shopman, fell into full narration of all the events of
a liighly- worked parish, — all about tlie choral festival,
and the guilds, and the choir, and the temperance
work. A great deal of it was a strange language to
May, but she half-disapproved of it, as entirely unlike
the ' soberness ' of Bridgefield ways, and like the Eed-
castle vicar, whom her father commonly called ' that
madman.' Still, she had a practical soul for parisli
work, and could appreciate the earnestness that mani-
fested itself, and the exertions made for people of the
classes whom she had always supposed too bad or else
too well off to come under clerical supervision. And
her aunt and cousin and this young man all evidently
liad their hearts in it ! For Nuttie — though her new
world had put the old one apparently aside — had
plunged into all the old interests, and asked questions
eagerly, and listened to their answers, as if !Mickle-
thwayte news was water to the tliirsty. The two
were too happy to meet, and, it must be confessed, liad



XIV. J COINCI AGEE. 145

not quite manners enoiigli, to feel it needful to include
in their conversation the weary figure that plodded
along at a little distance from them, hardly attending
to the details of their chatter, yet deriving new notions
from it of the former life of Ursula and her mother,
matters which she had hitherto thought beneath her
attention, except so far as to be thankful that they
had emerged from it so presentable. That it was a
more actively religious, and perhaps a more intellectual
one than her own, she had thought impossible, where
everything must be second-rate. And yet, when her
attention had wandered from an account of Mr. Button's
dealings with a refractory choir boy bent on going to
the races, she found a discussion going on about some
past lectures upon astronomy, and Nuttie vehemently
regretting the not attending two courses promised for
the coming winter upon electricity and on Italian art,
and mournfully observing, ' We never go to anything
sensible here.'

May at first thought, ' Impertinent little thing,' and
felt affronted, but then owned to herself that it was
all too true. Otherwise there was hardly anything
said about the contrast with Nuttie's present life;
Gerard knew already that the church atmosphere was
very different, and with the rector's daughter within
earshot, he could not utter his commiseration, nor
Nuttie her regrets.

Once there was a general start, and the whole five
came together at the sight of a spectrally black appa-
rition, with a huge tufted head on high, bearing down
over a low hedge npon them. Nobody screamed
except Nuttie, but everybody started, though the next
moment it was plain that they were only chimney-
sweepers on their way.

L



146 NUTTIE'S KATHKII. [. ii.U'.

' Eetribution for our desire to act ghosts ! ' said
Annaple, wlieu the sable forms had been warned of
the broken bridge. * l*oor ]\Iay, you are awfully tired !
Shouldn't you like a lift in their cart ? '

'Or I could put you up un liubiu Hood/ said
:\Iark.

' Thank you, I don't think 1 could stick on. Is it
much farther ? '

* Only up tlie hill and across the park/ said An-
naple, still cheerily.'

' Take my arm, old woman,' said Mark, and then
there was a pause, before Annaple said in an odd voice,
' You may tell her, Mark/

' Oh, Annaple ! Mark ! is it so ? ' cried ]\Iay joy-
ously, but under her breath ; and with a glance to see
how near the other coujde were.

* Yes/ said Annaple between crying and laughing.
' Poor Janet, she'll think we have taken a frightfully
mean advantage of her, but I am sure I never dreamt
of such a thing ; and the queer thing is, that ]\Iark
says she put it into his head ! '

' No, no/ said Mark ; ' you know better than
that '

' Why, you told me you only found it out when
she began to trample on the fallen '

' I told you I had only understood my own heart.'

' And I said very nuich the same — she nuide me so
angry, you see/

* I can't but admire your motives ! ' said ^lay,
exceedingly rejoiced all the time, and ready to have
embraced them both, if it had not been for the spec-
tators behind. * In fact, it was opposition you both
wanted. I wonder how long you would have gone on
ii(»t iinding it out, if all had bi'cii smootli !'



XI v.] GOING AGEE. 147

' Tlie worst of it is/ said Annaj)le, ' tliat I'm afraid
it is a very bad thing for Mark/

' Not a bit of it/ retorted lie. ' It is the only
thing that could have put life into my work, or made
me care to find any ! And find it I will now ! j\Iust
we let the whole w^orld in to know before I have
found it, Annaple ? '

' I could not but tell my mother/ said Annaple.
' It would come out in spite of me, even if I wished
to keep it back/

' Oh yes ! Lady Eonnisglen is a different thing/
said Mark. ' Just as May here is '

'And she will say nothing, I know, till we are
ready — my dear old minnie,' said Annaple. ' Only,
Mark, do pray have something definite to hinder Janet
with if there are any symptoms of hawldng her com-
modity about.'

* I luili; said Mark. ' If we could only emigrate ! '

' Ah, if we could ! ' said Annaple. ' Eonald is
doing so weU in New Zealand, but I don't think my
mother could spare me. She could not come out, and
she must be with me, wherever I am. You know —
don't you — that I am seven years younger than Alick.
I was a regular surprise, and the old nurse at Eonnis-
glen said ' Depend upon it, my Leddy, she is given to
be the comfort of your old age.' And I have always
made up my mind never to leave her. I don't think
she would get on with Janet or any of them without
me, so you'll have to take her too, Mark.'

' With all my heart,' he answered. ' And, indeed, I
have promised my father not to emigrate. I must, and
will, find work at hand, and make a home for you both!'

' But you will tell papa at once ? ' said May. ' It
will hurt him if you do not.'



148 NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

* You are right, May ; T knew it when Aiinaple
spoke of lier mother, but tliere is uo need that it should
go further.'

The intelligence had lightened tlie way a good deal,
and they were at the lodge gates by tliis tune. Gerard
began rather ruefully to take leave ; but Annaj^le, in
large-hearted happiness and gratitude, begged him to
come and rest at the house, and wait for daylight, and
this he was only too glad to do, especially as May's
secession had made the conversation a little more
personal.

Nuttie was in a certain way realising for the first
time what her mother's loyalty had checked her in
expressing, even if the tumult of novelties had given
her full time to dwell on it.

* Everybody outside is kind,' she said to Gerard ;
' they are nice in a way, and good, but oh ! they are
centuries behind in church matters and feeling, just
like the old rector.'

' I gathered that ; I am very sorry for you. Is
there no one fit to be a guide ? '

' I don't know,' said Nuttie. ' 1 didn't think — I
must, somehow, before Lent.'

'There is Advent close at hand,' he said gravely.
' If you could only be at our mission services ; we hope
to get Father Smith ! '

' Oh, if only I could ! But mother never likes to
talk about those kind of things. She says our duty
is to my father.'

' Not the foremost.'

* No, she would not say that. Jhit oli, (Jerard !
if he should be making her worldly ! '

' It nmst be your w^ork to hinder it,' lie said, look-
ing at her aliectionately.



XIV.] GOING AGEE. 149

' Oh, Gerard ! Init I'm afraid I'm gettiii^i:,' so myself.
I have thought a great deal about lawn-teiniis, and
dress, and this ball,' said Nuttie. * Somehow it has
never quite felt real, but as if I were out on a visit.'

' You are in it, but not of it,' said Gerard admiringly.

' No, I'm not so good as that ! I like it all —
almost all. I thought I liked it better till you came
and brought a real true breath of Micklethwayte.
Oh ! if I could only see Monsieur's dear curly head
and bright eyes ! '

This had been the tenor of the talk, and these were
the actual last words before the whole five — just in
the first streaks of dawn — coalesced before the front
door, to be admitted by a sleepy servant ; Mark tied
up the horse for a moment, while Annaple sent the
man to waken Sir John Delmar, and say there had
been a slight accident, but no one was much hurt;
and, as they all entered the warm, dimly-lighted hall,
they were keenly sensible that they had been dancing
or walking all night.

Eest in the chairs which stood round the big hearth
and smouldering wood -fire was so extremely comfort-
able, as they all dropped down, that nobody moved or
spoke, or knew how long it was before there was a
voice on the stairs — ' Eh ? what's this, Annaple ? An
accident? Where's Janet?' and a tall burly figure,
candle in hand, in a dressing-gown and slippers, was
added to the group.

'Janet will be at home presently, I hope,' said
Annaple, ' but she got a cut with some broken glass,
and we sent her round by Dr. Eaymond's to get it set
to rights. Oh, John ! we came to grief on Bluepost
Bridge after all, and I'm afraid Eol:)inson has got his
leg broken ! '



150 NUTTIE's father. [


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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 10 of 28)