Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Nuttie's father online

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bottom of everything.'

'I hope — may I ask — is everything embarked in
the poor old firm ? ' said ]\Ir. Button with some hesi-
tation.

'All that is mine,' said Mark, with his elbow on
the table and his chin on his hand.

' But I've got a hundred a year, charged on poor
old Eonnisglen's estate,' said Annaple. ' All the others
gave theirs up when they married, and I wanted to do
so, but my dear mother would not let me ; she said I
had better try how I got on first. Think of tliat,
Mark, a hundred a year ! Why, old Gunner or Thorpe
would think themselves rolling in riches if they only
heard that they had a hundred a year ! '

' You won't find it go far ! '



296 NUTTIE's FATHElt. [chap.

* Yes, I shall, for I shall make you live on porridge,
with now and then a sheep's head for a treat ! Be-
sides, there will be something to do. It will be work-
ing up again, you know. But seriously, Mr. Button, I
have some things here of my dear mother's that really
belong to Eonnisglen, and I was only keeping till he
comes home. Should not they be got out of the
way?'

* My dear, we are not come to that yet ! I hope it
may be averted ! ' cried ^lark.

But Mv. Button agreed with the young wife that
it would be much better to send these things away
before their going could excite suspicion. There was
only a tiny silver saucepan, valued as a gift of * Queen'
Clementina to an ancestress, also a silver teapot and
some old point, and some not very valuable jewellery,
all well able to go into a small box, which Mr. Button
undertook to deposit with Lord Eonnisglen's bankers.
He was struck with the scrupulous veracity with which
Annaple decided between what had become her own
property and the heirlooms, though what she claimed
might probably be sacrificed to the creditors.

Mark could hardly endure to see what made the
crisis so terribly real. ' That I should have brought
you to this ! ' lie said to his wife, when their visitor
had at leiigtli bidden them good-night.

* If we begin at that work,' said Annaple, * it was I
who l)rouglit you ! I have often thought since it was
ratlier selfish not to have consented to your hel])ing
poor Ursula with her heavy handful of a fatlier ! It
was all money grubbing and grabbing, you see, and if
we had tliouglit more of our neigliboiir tlian ourselves
we niiglit have been luxuriating at tlie Home Farm, or
even if your uncle liad (piarreUed wilh you, lie would



XXVI.] THREE YEARS LATER. 297

not have devoured your substance. I have tliought so
often, ever since I began to see this coming/

' My dear child, you don't mean that you have seen
this coming ! '

* My prophetic soul ! Why, ]\Iark, you have as
good as inferred it over and over again. I've felt like
scratching that Badenough whenever I met him in the
street. I must indulge myself by calling him so for
once in strict privacy.'

' You have guessed it all the time, while I only
thought how unconscious you were.'

'Not to say stupid, considering all you told me.
Besides, what would have been the use of howling and
moaning and being dismal before the time ? For my
part, I could clap my hands even now at getting rid
of Goodenough, and his jaunty, gracious air ! Come,
Mark, it won't be so bad after all, you'll see.'

' jSTothing can be " so bad," while you are what you
are, my Nan.'

' That's ricjht. Wliile we have each other and the
Billy-boy, nothing matters much. There's plenty of
work in us both, and that good man will find it for us ;
or if he doesn't, we'll get a yellow van, and knit
stockings, and sell them round the country. How
jolly that would be ! Imagine Janet's face. There,
that's right,' as her mimicry evoked a smile, ' I should
be ashamed to be unhappy about this, when our good
name is saved, and when there is a blessing on the
poor,' she added in a lower voice, tenderly kissing her
husband's weary brow.



CHAPTErt XXYU.

THE BOY OF EGREMOXT.

* And the boy that walked beside me,
He could not understand
Why, closer in mine, ah, closer,
I press'd his warm soft hand.' — Longfellow.

The agony of a firm like Greenleaf, Goodenough, and
Co. could not be a rapid thing, and Mr. Diitton
lived between London and Micklethwayte for several
weeks, having much to endure on all sides. The
senior partners thought it an almost malicious and
decidedly ungrateful thing in him not to throw in his
means, or at any rate, offer his guarantee to tide them
over their diiliculties. Goodenou«]:h's teri^dversations
and concealments needed a practised hand and acute
head to unravel them, and often deceived Mr. Green-
leaf himself; and when, for a time, lie was convinced
that the whole state was so rotten tliat a crash was
inevitable, his wife's lamentations and complaints of ]Mr.
Dutton would undo the whole, and it was as if he were
doing them an injury that the pair accepted the comfort-
able i)rospect he was able to offer them in Australia.

He would have made the like ]U'0])()sal to the
Egremonts, but found that Mark held himself bound



CHAP. XXVII.] THE BOY OF EGREMONT. 299

by liis promise to liis fatlier not to emigrate, and
thouglit of some kind of otfice-work. Before trying to
procure this for him, however, Mr. Dutton intended to
see his uncle, and try whether the agency, once rejected,
coukl still be obtained for him. Learning from Miss
Nugent that the Egremonts were in town, he went up
thither with the purpose of asking for an interview.

There was a new church in the immediate neiiih-
bourhood of his house in a state of growth and
development congenial to the St. Ambrose trained
mind, and here Mr. Dutton, after old Micklethwayte
custom, was attending the early matins, wdien, in the
alternate verses of the psalm, he heard a fresh young
voice that seemed to renew those days gone by, and
looking across the central aisle his eyes met a pair of
dark ones which gave a sudden glitter of gladness at
the encounter. That was all he saw or cared to see.
He did not take in the finished completeness of the
very plain dark dress and hat, nor the womanly air of
the little figure, until they clasped hands in the porch,
and in the old tones ISTuttie exclaimed : ' I've been
hoping you would come to London. How is Mon-
sieur ? '

'In high health, thank you, the darling of the
steamer both going and coming. I hope your charges
are well ? '

' My father is tolerable, just as usual, and my little
Alwyn is getting more delicious every day. He will
be so delighted to see Monsieur. I have told him so
many stories about him ! '

' Do you think I may call on Mr. Egremont ? '

' Oh do ! He is ready to be called on between two
and three, and w^e always have Wynnie downstairs
then, so that you will see him too. And you have



300 NUTTIE's father. [chap.

been at Micklethwayte. 1 am afraid you f(juiKl a great
change in Aunt Ui-sel.'

* Yes ; l)ut slie is vuiy peaceful and liappy.'

' And I have to leave her altogether to dear
excellent ]\liss Nugent. It seems very, very wrong,
but I cannot help it ! And how about !Mark and
Aunaple ? '

' I think she is the bravest woman I ever met/

* Then things are really going badly with the dear
old firm ? '

' I am hoping to talk to ]\Ir. Egremont aljout it.'

'Ah!'

Nuttie paused. Towards IMr. Button she always
had a stronger impulse of confidence than towards any
one else she had ever met ; but she felt that he might
think it unbecoming to say that she had perceived a
certain dislike on her father's part towards Mark ever
since the rejection of the agency and the marriage,
which perhaps was regarded as a rejection of
herself. He had a habit of dependence on ]\Iark,
whicli resulted in personal liking, when in actual con-
tact, but in absence the distaste and offence always
revived, fostered, no doubt, by Gregorio ; and Canon
Egremont's death had broken the link which had
brought them together. However, for his brother's
sake, and for the sake of the name, the head of the
family might be willing to do something. It was one
of Nuttie's difficulties that she never could calculate
on the way her father would take any matter.
Whether for better or for worse, he always seemed to
decide in diametrical opposition to her expectation.
And, as she was certainly less impetuous and more
dutiful, she parted witli ^Ir. Dutton at her own door
without any such liiiit.



XXVII. 1 THE J50Y OF EGREMONT. 301

These three years had heeii discipline such as the
tenderest, wisest hand coiikl not have given her, thongli
it liad been insensible. She had been obliged to
attend to her father and watch over her little brother,
and thongli neither task had seemed congenial to her
disposition, the honest endeavour to do them rightly
had produced the affection born of solicitude towards
her father, and the strong warm tenderness of the true
mother-sister towards little Alwyn.

Ursula Egremont was one of those natures to which
responsibility is the best training. If she had had
any one to guard or restrain her, she might have gone
to the utmost limits before she yielded to the curb.
As it was, she had to take care of herself, to bear and
forbear with her father, to walk warily with her house-
hold, and to be very guarded with the society into
which she was thrown from time to time. It was no
sudden change, but one brought about by experience.
An outbreak of impatience or temper towards her
father was sure to be followed by his galling sneer, or
by some mortification to her desires ; any act of mis-
management towards the servants brought its own
punishment ; and if she was tempted by girlish spirits
to relax the quiet, stiff courtesy which she observed
towards her father's guests, there followed jests, or
semi-patronage, or a tone of conversation that offended
her, and made her repent it. Happily, ]\Ir. Egremont
did not wish her to be otherwise. One day, when she
had been betrayed into rattling and giggling, he spoke
to her afterwards with a cutting irony which bitterly
angered her at the moment, and which she never
forgot. Each irksome duty, each privation, each
disappointment, each recurrence of the sweeping sense
of desolation and loneliness had had one effect — it



302 KUTTIE's father. [chap.

had sent her to her knees. She had no one else to go
to. Slie turned to lier Fatlier in lieaven. Sometimes,
indeed, it was in nnirnuirinij; and C()m])laint at her lot,
but still it was to Him and Him alomv, and repentance
sooner or lat


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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 20 of 28)