Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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She was really angry now, and so \vas Gerard.

' Is that your ultimatum ?' he asked, in a voice that
he strove to render calm.

' Certainly ; I'm not going to take the pledge.'

Having quarrelled in childhood, made quarrelling
now easier, and Gerard answered bitterly :

'Very well, I hope you will have no cause to
repent it.'

* 'Tis not the way to make me repent it, to see how
it seems to affect some people's common sense. It is
just as if all your brains had run to water!' said
Nuttie, laughing a little ; but Gerard was desperately
serious, and coloured vehemently.

' Very well, Miss Egremont, I understand. I have
had my answer,' he said, gathering up his papers and
marching out of the room.

She stood still, offended, and not in the least in-
clined to run after him and take back her w^ords.
He, poor fellow, stumbled down the steps, and held
by the garden rail to collect his senses and compose
himself.

' What's the matter, Gerard, are you ill or giddy V
asked Miss Nugent, coming up in the winter twilight.

' No, oh no ! Only the dream of my life is over,'
he answered, scarce knowing what he said.



250 NUTTIE'S father. [chai-. XXII.

* You haven't ' cried Mary aghast.

*0h no/ he said, understanding the Llank, 'only
she won't take the pledge !'

' I don't see how she could or ought/ responded
Mary. 'Is that all?'

' 1 had made it the tost/ muttered poor Gerard.
*It is right! It is all over now. I shall know how
to go on my way. It is Lest so — I know it is — only
I did not know whether anything was due to her.' It
was almost a sol).

* Dear old (Jerard/ said Mary, ' I see you meant to
do right. It is well your mind should be settled. I
think you'll find comfort in your good work.'

He wrung her hand, and she went in, half amused,
for she was fidly aware of the one-sidedness of the
mania for temperance under which he acted, yet honour-
ing his high, pure motives, and rejoicing that he had
found this indirect mode of gauging Nuttie's feelings
towards him — that is, if he was right about them, and
there was no revulsion.

Far from it. Nuttie was still angry. ' Gerard had
been so ridiculous,' she said, ' teasing her to take the
pledge, and quite incapable of understanding her reasons.
I can't think why Gerard has grown so stupid.'

' Enthusiasms carry people away/ returned Mary.

*If Mr. Dutton had only stayed, ho would have
kept Gerard like himself/ said Nuttie.

But there was no relenting. The two young people
avoided each other ; and perhaps Xuttie was secretly
relieved that the romance she had outgrown no longer
entangled her.



CHAPTER XXIIL

A FAILURE.
• Would I had lovod her more !'— Mrs. Hemaxr.

' Ox the 14tli of January, at Bridgefield Egremont, the
wife of Alwyn Piercefield Egremont, Esquire, a son
and heir.'

Ursula had been prepared for this event for about
a fortnight by a long tender letter from her mother,
mourning over the not meeting at Christmas, and the
long separation, but saying that she had wished to
spare the long anxiety, and that it had been a trying
time which she felt herself able to cope with better
alone, than even w^ith her dear Nuttie, knowing her
to be happy and safe with Aunt Ursel. Now, if
all went well, they would have a happy meeting, and
begin on a new score. 'If the will of God should be
otherwise/ added Alice, ' I am sure I need not entreat
my Nuttie to do and be all that she can to her father.
My child, you do not know how sorely he needs such
love and tendance and prayer as you can give him. I
know you have thought I have set you aside — if not
better things, for his sake. Indeed I could not help it.'
Then there was something tear-stained and blotted out,



252 nuttie's father. [chap.

and it eiidc'd uitli, ' He is ljcity iiiitl condolence, but she could not escape
when her uncle took her hand, made her sit down by
him, with * I want to speak to you, my dear ; ' and
told her briefly and tenderly what her mother's effort
had been, and of the message and task she had
bequeatlied. The poor girl's heart fainted within lier.

* Oh ! but, Uncle William, how can I ? How can I
ever? Mother could do things I never could! He
dicl care for her ! lie does not care for me ! '

'You must teacli liini to do so, Nuttie.'

' Oh ! ' she said, wdtli a hopeless sound.

The Canon did think it very hopeless in his heart,
but he persevered, as in duty bound. ' I told y


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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 17 of 28)