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thing never sleeps except in some one's arms, and if
awake, is not content for a moment except in her
mother's.'

* And that has been going on four months V
'Three. Ever since we brought her back from

Eedcastle. I have nearly determined to move into
some suburb when I get a rise at Michaelmas, unless
she improves.'

' Nurse might suggest something.'



358 nuttik's FATiir.ru [chap.

' Or at any rate tell \is ^v]lat to tliink. 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 ([uiet, but she dwindles away
— at lea^st so it seems to me, though Annai)le 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.*

Xuttie 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
]\Iark. ' 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. ]\Iauy 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.'

Tlie carriage stopped, and Xuttie asked him if it
would delay him too long if she executed a commission
about her father's glasses. He had plenty of time,
l)ut she was delayed longer than she expected, and on
her return was surprised to find that he had dropped
asleep.

'All! that's what comes of a moment's quiet;' he
said, smiling.

' Inne 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.
' 1 never knew what life was before ! '

' 1 sliould have thought you never knew what lianl-
ness and hard work were.'

' Tliat's just it,' he answered, smiling. * Tlie swing



xxxTT.] BLACKS IN THE ASCENDANT. 359

of it is exhilaration — very different from being a
cnniberer 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
tlirough 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 Mickle-
thwayte 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 con-
stant 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 j)owers 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 im-
patience to run after ' that Scotch girl.' And the note
happened to be of an irritating nature ; moreover, the



360 NUTTIE's father. [chap.

cutlets at luncheon were said to be akin to india-
rubber, and there was the wrong flavour in the sauce.
Ursula let tliat cook do what slie pleased without
remonstrance.

Even Alwyn did not afford as much satisfaction as
usual, for the boy was in liigh spirits and wanted to
blow a little trumpet, which was more tlian his fatlier
could stand. He was very good wliun tliis was
silenced, but lie then began to rush round the room
daring liis sister to catcli the wild colt as lie 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 cer-
tain 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 con-
soled 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 daslied off to inquire of all the household
after him. His father meanwhile growled at the
child's noise, and went on trying the glasses Xuttie
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 house-
maid left in charge, who was as cross as she was
trustwortliy, ' What ! that old broken thing, blaster
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 tliat.'

* You are a wicked cruel woman,' returned Alwyn,



XXXII.] BLACKS IN THE ASCENDANT. 361

with flashing eyes; 'I shall tell papa aud sister of
you.'

And in he flew, sobbing with grief and wratli 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 g(j 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
o-round 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 ques-
tion which was the worse spoilt child. He might idol-
ise Alwyn, but not so as to clash with his own comforts.
The glasses being unsuccessful, Xuttie proposed to
drive back to Ludgate Hill for him to choose for him-
self, 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



3G2 xuttik's FATIIKK. [chap.

stopped for her fatliiT to Jiave a loni^f talk over the
prospects of the Derhy day M'ith one of his most uu-
pleasant associates, wlio stood leaning over the door
on tlie shady side of the carriage, no one recking
liow little protection she derived from her small fringed
]>arasol.

She came home tired out, and thankful that her
fatlier went to rest in his own room. Slie climbed to
tlie nursery, thinking to share Ahvyn's tea and com-
fort liim, hut she found only nurse there. Xurse had
a l>ad foot, and dreaded hot pavement, so she had sent
blaster Alwyn out with her subordinate, a country girl,
to play in ^Ir. ])utton's garden till it should be cool
enough to g(^ and make his purchase, and a message
had since arrived that he was going to drink tea there,
and ]\Ir. 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 ]\Ir. Fane was an-
nounced. 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.
Slie had heard enough of races for one day, she thought,
and at last he took his leave, only just before she dressed
for dinner.

' T thought Fane was here,' said 'My. Egremont as
lie came in ; no doubt told by Clregorio.

' lie has been, but he is gone.'

' You didn't ask him to stay and dine V

* I did not know you wished it.'

' Vou miglit have known tliat T shouid liave liked
to see him. I suppose you think your sweet self
society enough for any man V

' I am sorry '



xxxir.] 15LACKS IX TIIK ASCENDANT. .303

* I'm sick of hearing you arc sorry ! I believe
there's nothing yon 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 his sister.

* 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, AVyn.'

'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 1 '
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.



364 XUTTIE's father. [chap. XXXII.

' Oh Wynnie ! ' slie said, duly flattered, ' did Mr.
Button do that ? '

* lie liL'hl my liand, and I did ! ' cried Ahvyn
triunipliantly, * and lie 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 good-
nights were over, and a murmur recommenced, Nuttie
suggested that if ]\lr. iJutton was at home perhaps he
would come in and make up the game, but she en-
countered the old huuKjur. ' 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 reply.

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
counsellor ?



CHAPTER XXXIII.

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 wisli.'

' What was ? ' said Nuttie.

'That he shouldn't never go and play at Mr.
Button's again,' said Ellen.

* I told her she was to take her orders off me, and



3CG NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

no one else,' returned nurse, * except, of course, you,
]\Iiss Ej^a-eniont, as has the right.'

' Quite so; you should have told Mr. Gregorio so,
Kllcn.'

* I did, ma'am, but he said those was Mr. Egre-
mont's orders ; and he said,' cried the girl, unable to
withstand the pleasure of repeating something disagree-
able, * that Mr. Egremont wouldn't have no messengers
between you and a low tradesman fellow, as made
imibrellas, and wanted to insinuate himself in here.'

' That's tpiite enough, Ellen ; T don't want to hear
any impertinences. l*erhaps you did not understand
his foreign accent. Did he say wdiere he was going ? '

* I think he said he'd take him to the Serpentine to
sail his ship,' said Ellen, disposed to carry on assevera-
tions 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.
Button, 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
Kuttie could have exchanged with her many a lament,
but she contented herself with saying, * I wish he
would let Master .Vlwyn alone. It is high time they
should come in.'

' The child Mill 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 lit 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 Grey:orio.



xxxiu.] THE LOST llKlli. 307

N'uttie descended to explain, and ^vlioreas tlie need
Avas 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 uursery-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. ' Eun after him, James ! Catch him
up ! ' suggested the butler at the same moment. ' ]\Iake
him tell wdiere 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 stammerinc^ of mixed
languages, ' I have been searching everywhere ! I was
going to give notice to the police. Jc fcmi tout ! Jc
le troumrai!

* Where did you lose him ? ' demanded Mr. Egre-



368 NUTTIE'S FATIIKR. [chap.

iiioiit in a lioarso voice, sucli as Xiittie had never
heard.

' In the Park, near tlie bridge over the Serpentine.
I was speaking for a few moments to a friend. Bah !
// etait parti. Mais jc Ic troitvcrai. Parker, lie seeks
too. Fear not, sir, I sliall find liiiii.'

* 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 be-
lieved 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.
Button, 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 hearini? 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, i\Ir. Dutton offered to go
with the father to assist in the search, and the coach-
man, 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 liansom on her own account, persuaded
that she should see and recognise traces of her darling



XXXIII.] THE LOST IIEIK. 369

at the scene of his loss, and she ahnost raced the carriage,
which was bound for the same spot.

Shiggish natures like Mr. Egremont's can sometimes
be roused to great violence, and then pour forth tlie
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
liis 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 cliief doubt here was that Alwyn's defective pro-
nunciation, 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

2 B



370 NUTTIF/S father. [(^hap.

fallen into the water unseen l)y 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 clulj, and to ascer-
tain from him ])articulars of time and place.

He was found there. The dinner-hdur liad l)r()ught
him back, he Ijeing a man in authority there, very
well dressed and deferential, declaring himself im-
mensely distressed at the occurrence, and at having
accosted Gregorio and attracted his attention. It was
aboiit 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 home.

]jy this time ]\Ir. Egremont looked so utterly ex-
hausted, that ]\Ir. Dutton availed himself of the hope
that the boy might be found safe at home to take
hnn 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
tumbhirful 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. iJutton agreed with her tliat it would be better to
send for his doctor, as ])robaltly he ought to have a
sedative, and neither would take the responsibility of



XXXIII.] THE LOST HEIR. 371



o



aivinu" it; wliik' lie liiniself declared lie neither would
nor could rest till lie luid his boy again.

The doctor was dining ont, and they had two
terrible hours ; wdiile j\Ir. Egreniont paced to the
windows ; threw himself on the sofa ; denounced
Oregorio ; or, for a change, all the system of ])olice
Avhich had made no discovery ; and Ursula for letting
the boy be so helpless. Mr. Button sometimes
diverted his attention for a few minutes, and hoped he
would doze, but the least sound brouglit 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 ISTuttie crying so uncon-
trollably, 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 Gre-
gorio's place, but he was a ponderous man, witliout
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, ISTuttie
hardly knew how, in Mr. Button's going upstairs to
smooth matters. He came dow^n 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 w^hen I come back.
You will hear no more to-night. Even if he is found,
they will keep him till morning.'

' It is of no use ; I can't sleep.'

' Even if you don't, the mere restful position will
make you fitter fur the morrow. AYill you jn-omise
me to undress and really go to bed ? '



372 NUTTIK's FATIIEK. [chap, xxxiii.

* Oh yes ! if you say I must,' said Xuttie drearily ;
following an instinct of obedience.

' And remember,' lie said, ' though I do not say it
will be so, this may be deliverance from bondage.'

* But what a terrible deliverance ! '

* ]^onds are not burst without sometliing terrible.
No ; don't be frightened. Remember there is safe-
keeping for that sweet little fellow, wherever he may
be.'

' Oh, Mr. Button, 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 q^iiet of your own
room. Good-niglit.'

' 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.



CHAPTEE XXXIV.

FETTERS RENT.

' The gods are just, and of our pleasant sins
Make whips to scourge us.' — Kincj Lear.

There was no real sleep for Ursula that short summer
night. She saw the early dawn, listened to the distant
roil 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


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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 24 of 28)