Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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sternation as violently inclined May to laugh, and he
obediently and hesitatingly began, * Oh yes, sir, I beg
your pardon. Of course there may be instances,'
thereby bringing an intense glow of carnation into
Alice's cheeks, while the Canon, ready for the occasion,
replied, ' And George Johnson considers himself one of
them. He will repair the old moat house, I suppose.'

And his wife, though she would rather have beaten
Mrs. Edwards, demanded how many blankets would be
wanted that wdnter.

The effect of this little episode was that Mark
announced to his father that evening his strong desire
to emigrate, an intention which the Canon combated
with all his might. He was apparently a hale and
hearty man, but he had had one or two attacks of
illness that made him doubt whether he would be long-
lived ; and not only could he not bear to have his eldest
son out of reach, but he dreaded leaving his family to
such a head as his brother. IMark scarcely tliought
the reasons valid, considering the rapidity of communi-
cation with Canada, but it was not possible to -with-
stand the entreaties of a father with tears in his eyes ;
and though he could not bring himself to consent to
preparing to be his fatlier's curate, he promised to do
nothing tliat would remove him to another (puirter of
the world, and in two or three days more, started for
Monks Horton to see what advice Ids uncle and aunt
there could give liim ; indeed, Lord Xirkakly's inlhi-

XI r.] OUT OF WOT^K. 127

ence was reckoned on by his family almost as a sure
card in the diplomatic line.

The Kirkaldys were very fond of Mark, and had
an odd feeling of being accountable for the discovery
which had changed his prospects. They ^vould have
done anything for him that they could, but all Lord
Kirkaldy's interest was at the foreign office, or with
his fellow -diplomates, and here he soon found an
insuperable bar. Mark's education had stood still
from the time of Miss Headworth's flight till his
father's second marriage, his energies having been
solely devoted to struggles with the grim varieties of
governess purveyed by his grandmother, and he had
thus missed all chance of foundation of foreign lan-
guages, and when once at school, he had shared in the
average English boy's contempt and aversion for the
French masters who outscreamed a whole class.

In consequence. Lord Kirkaldy, an accurate and
elegant scholar in European tongues, besides speaking
them with the cosmopolitan ease of an ambassador's
son, was horrified, not only at Mark's pronunciation,
but at his attempts at letter-writing and translation,
made with all the good will in the world, but fit for
nothing but to furnish the good stories which the kind
uncle refrained from telling any one but his wife.
Unluckily, too, a Piedmontese family, some of them
not strong in their English, were on a visit at Monks
Horton, and the dialect in which the old marquis and
Mark tried at times to interchange ideas about phea-
sants was something fearful. And as in the course of
a week Mark showed no signs of improvement in ver-
nacular French or Italian, Lord Kirkaldy's conscience
would let him give no other advice than that his
nephew should stick to English law living still on the

12S NUTTIE's FATHER. [chap.

allowance his father gave him, ;iiul lioping for one of
tlie chance appointments open to an English barrister
of good family and fair ability.

Of course Mark had gone at once to carry tidings
of ' Aunt Alice,' as he scrupulously called lier, to old
Miss Headworth, whom his aunt had continued to
visit at intervals. That good lady had given up her
boarders, having realised enough to provide for her
own old age, and she had joined forces with the
Nugents, Mary being very thankful to have her com-
panionship for Mrs. Nugent, wdio was growing too
blind and feeble to be satisfactorily left alone all day.

Mark delighted the old ladies by his visits and
accounts of their darling's success and popularity,
wdiich he could paint so briglitly that they could not
help exulting, even though there might be secret mis-
givings as to the endurance of these palmy days. He
was a great hero in their eyes, and they had too good
taste to oppress him with their admiration, so that he
really was more at ease in their little drawing-room
than anywhere at Monks Horton, whither the Italians
could penetrate. The marchesino spoke English very
well, but that was all tlie worse for Mark, since it gave
such a sense of inferiority. He was an intelligent man
too, bent on being acquainted with English industries of
all kinds ; and thus it was that a party was organised
to see the umbrella factory. It was conducted by Mr.
Button, with whom Lord Kirkaldy, between charities
and public business, had become acquainted.

To Mark's secret shame, this manufacturer spoke
French perfectly, and even got into such a lively con-
versation with the old marquis about Cavour, tliat
Lord Kirkahly begged him to come to dinner and con-
tinue it. They were all surprised, not only by the

XTi.] OUT OF WOKK. 129

details of the manufacture and tlie multitude of
artizans, male and female, whom it employed, but by
the number of warehouse-clerks whom they found at
work, and who, it appeared, were in correspondence
wdth agencies and depots in London and all the prin-
cipal towns in the kingdom. Gerard Godfrey was
there, — casting looks askance at the young Egremont,
whom he regarded as a Idnd of robber.

The marchesino asked from what class these young
men were taken, and Mr. Button made reply that
most of them were sons of professional men. If they
could obtain a small capital and take shares in the
business they were encouraged to do so, and rose to
the headship of the agencies, obtaining a fair income.

* And you don't exact an examination,' said Mark.

' Except in handwriting and book-keeping/ said
Mr. Button.

' Poor Mark, you look for your bugbear everywhere !'
sighed his aunt.

They went over the Institute, coffee-rooms, eating-
rooms, and lodging-houses, by which the umbrella firm
strove to keep their hands respectable and contented,
and were highly pleased with all, most especially with
Mr. Button, who, though his name did not come pro-
minently forward, had been the prime mover and
contriver of all these things, and might have been a
wealthier man if he had not undertaken expenses
which he could not charge upon the company.

Gerard Godfrey came in to Mrs. ISTugent's that
evening in the lowest spirits. He had a sister married
to a curate in the same county with Bridgefield, and
she had sent him a local paper which 'understood
that a marriage was arranged between Mark de Lyon-
nais Egremont, Esquire, and Ursula, daughter of Alwyn


130 NUTTIE's father. [( hap. XII.

Piercefield Egremont, Esquire, of Bridgefield Egremont/
and he could not lielp coming to display it to Miss
Headworth in all its impertinence and prematurity.

'Indeed he said nothing to me ahout it/ said
Miss Headworth, ' and I think he ^V()uld if it had
been true.'

' No doubt he intends it, and is trying to recom-
mend himself through you,* said Gerard.

'I should not think he needed that,' returned
Aunt Ursel, * though I should be very glad, I am sure.
He is an excellent young man, and it is quite the
obvious thing.'

' People don't always do the obvious thing,' put in
Mary Nugent.

' Certainly it didn't look like it,' said Miss Head-
worth, ' when he told us about the great annual Hunt
Ball at Ptedcastle that Nuttie and his sister Blanche
are to come out at ; he said he did not intend to go
home for it if he could help it.'

' Struggling against fate,' said ]Miss Nugent.

*The puppy!' burst out Gerard.

Having ascertained the particulars of this same
Hunt Ball, Gerard became possessed with a vehement
desire to visit his sister, and so earnestly solicited a
few days' leave of absence that it was granted to him.
* Poor l3oy, he may settle down when he has ascertained
what an ass he is,' said i\Ir. Dutton.

' Ah !' said Mary. ' I thought he was very bad
when I saw he had not changed tlie green markers
for St. Luke's Day.'



' That tongue of yours at times wags more than charity allows ;
And if you're strong, be merciful, great woman of three cows.'

J. C. Mangan.

Nine miles was a severe distance through country
lanes in November to go to a ball ; but the Eeclcastle
Hunt Ball was the ball of the year, uniting all the
county magnates; and young ladies were hardly reckoned
as 'come out' till they had appeared there. Mrs.
Egremont's position would hardly be established till
she had been presented to the notabilities who lived
beyond calling intercourse ; and her husband pre-
pared himself to be victimised with an amount of
grumbling that was intended to impress her with the
magnitude of the sacrifice, but which only made her
offer to forego the gaiety, and be told that she would
never have any common sense.

So their carriage led the way, and was followed by
the Rectory waggonette containing the ladies and Mark,
who had been decisively summoned home, since his
stepmother disliked public balls witliout a gentleman
in attendance, and his fatlier was not to be detached
from his fireside.

132 NUTTIE'S father. [chap.

And in a ;:,TOup near the door, got up as elaborately
as his powers could accomplish, stood Gerard Godfrey.
He knew nobody there except a family in his sister's
parish, who had good-naturedly given him a seat in
their fly, and ha\ang fulfilled his duty by asking the
dauirhter to dance, he had nothing to disturb him in
watching for the cynosure whose attraction had led
him into these unknown regions, and, as he remembered
with a qualm, on the eve of St. Britius. However,
with such a purpose, one might surely grant oneself a
dispensation from the vigil of a black letter saint.

There at length he beheld the entrance. There
was the ogre himself, high bred, almost handsome, as
long as he was not too closely scrutinised, and on his
arm the well-known figure, metamorphosed by deli-
cately-tinted satin sheen and pearls, and still more by
the gentle blushing gladness on the fair cheeks and
the soft eyes that used to droop. Then followed a
stately form in mulberry moire and point lace, leaning
on Gerard's more especial abhorrence, — ' that puppy/
who had been the author of all the mischief; and
behind them three girls, one in black, the other two in
white, and, what was provoking, he really could not
decide which was Ursula. The carefully-dressed hair
and stylish evening dress and equipments had alto-
gether transformed the little homely schoolgirl, so that,
though he was sure that she was not the fair-haired
damsel with pale blue flowers, he did not know how
to decide between the white and daisies and tlie black
and grasses. Indeed, he thought the two whites most
likely to be sisters, and all the more when the black
lace halted to exchange greetings with some one, and
her face ])ut on an expression so familiar to him, that
lie started forward and tried to catch her eye ; but in


vain, and he suilerecl agonies of doubt whether she luid
been perverted by greatness.

It was some comfort that, wlien presently a rush of
waltzers floated by, she was not with her cousin ; but
to provoke him still more, as the daisies neared liim,
he beheld for a moment in the whirl the queer smile,
half-frightened, half-exultant, which he had seen on
Nuttie's face when swinging sky-high !

When the pause came and people walked about,
the black lady stood talking so near him that he
ventured at last on a step forward and an eager
' Miss Egremont,' but, as she turned, he found himself
obliged to say, ' I beg your pardon.'

' Did you mean my cousin. We often get mistaken
for each other,' said May civilly.

He brightened. ' I beg your pardon,' he said, ' I
knew her at Micklethwayte. I am here — quite by
accident. Mrs. Elmore was so good as to bring me/

May was rather entertained. ' There's my cousin,'
she said, 'Lord Philip Molyneux is asking her to
dance,' and she left him most unnecessarily infuriated
with Lord Philip Molyneux.

A steward introduced him to a dull -looking girl,
but fortune favoured him, for this time he did catch the
real Nuttie's eye, and all herself, as soon as the dance
was over, she came up with outstretched hands, * Oh
Gerard ! to think of your being here! Come to mother !'

And, beautiful and radiant, Mrs. Egremont w^as
greeting him, and there were ten minutes of delicious
exchange of news. But ' pleasures are as poppies fled,'
Nuttie had no dance to spare, her card was full, and she
had not learnt fashionable effrontery enough to play tricks
with engagements, and just then Mr. Egremont descended
on them — ' I wish to introduce you to the Duchess,' he

134 nuttie's father. Uhai-.

said to his wife ; and on the way lie demanded —
' Who is that young cul3 ? '

Gerard Godfrey — an old neighbour.'

* I thought I had seen him racketing about there
with Ursula. I'll not have those umbrella fellows
coming about ! '

* Does he really make umbrellas, Nuttie ? ' asked
Blanche, catching her hand.

'No such thing !' said Nuttie hotly, 'he is in the office.
His father was a surgeon; his sisters married clergymen!'

'And he came here to meet you,' said Annaple
Euthven. * Poor fellow, what a shame it is ! Can't
you give him one turn ! '

* Oh dear ! I'm engaged all through ! To Mark
this time.'

* Give him one of the extras ! Throw !Mark over to
me ! No,' as she looked at the faces of the two girls,
' I suppose that wouldn't do, but I'm free this time —
I'm not the fashion. Introduce me ; I'll do my best
as consolation.'

Nuttie had just performed the feat, with great
shyness, when Mark appeared, having been sent in
quest of his cousin, when her father perceived that she
had hung back.

Poor Gerard led off Miss Euthven the more
gloomily, and could not help sighing out, ' I suppose
that is an engagement ! '

* Oh ! you believe that impertinent gossip in the
paper/ returned Annaple. * I wonder they don't con-
tradict it ; but ])erhaps they treat it with magnificent

*No doubt they know that it is only premature.'
' If tkcij means tlic elders, I daresay lliey wish it,
but we aren't in France or Italy.'


' Then you don't think, Miss Euthven, tliat it will
come off ? '

'I don't see the slightest present prospect/ said
Annaple, unable to resist the Idndly impulse of giving
immediate pleasure, though she knew the prospect
might be even slighter for her partner.

However, he * footed it ' all the more lightly and
joyously for the assurance, and the good-natured
maiden afterwards made him conduct her to the tea-
room, whither Mark and Nuttie were also tending, and
there all four contrived to get mixed up together;
and Nuttie had time to hear of Monsieur's new accom-
plishment of going home for Mr. Button's luncheon
and bringing it in a basket to the olftce, before fate
again descended ; Mr. Egremont, who had been at the
far end of the room among some congeners, who pre-
ferred stronger refreshment, suddenly heard her laugh,
stepped up, and, with a look of thunder towards her,
observed in a low voice, ' Mark, you will oblige me by
taking your cousin back to her mother.'

'The gray tyrant father,' murmured Annaple in
sympathy. ' That being the case, I may as well go
back in that direction also.'

This resulted in finding Lady Delmar and the two
Mrs. Egremonts together, comparing notes about the two
different roads to Eedcastle from their several homes.

Lady Delmar was declaring that her coachman was
the most obstinate man in existence, and that her
husband believed in him to any extent.

' Which way did you come ? ' she asked.

' By Bankside Lane,' said the Canoness.

' Over Bluepost Bridge ! There, Janet,' said An-

* So much the worse. I know we shall come to

136 NUTTIE'S FATIIElf. [cuap.

grief over Bluepost Bridge, and now tliere will be
treble weight to break it down. I dreamt it, I tell
you, and there's second sight in the family.'

* Yes, but you should tell what you did dream,
Janet,' said her sister. ' She thought Robinson, the
coachman, was waltzing with her over it, and they
went into a hole and stuck fast, wliile the red -flag
traction engineman prodded her with an umbrella till
she was all over blood. Now, if it had been anything
rational, I should have thought something of her
second sight ! I tell her 'twas suggested by —

" London Bridge is broken down,
Dance o'er my lady Lee ! " '

'"Well, I am quite certain those traction-engines
will break it some time or other,' said Lady Delmar.
' I am always trying to get John to bring it before
the magistrates, but he only laughs at me, and nothing
will induce Eobinson to go the other way, because
they have just been mending the road on Lescombe
Hill ! Aunaple, my dear, I can't allow you another
waltz ; Mark must excuse you — I am going. It is
half-past two, and the carriage was ordered at two !
Eobinson will be in a worse temper than ever if we
keep him waiting.'

She bore her sister off to the cloak-room, and there,
nearly an hour later, the Egremonts found them still
waiting the pleasure of the implacable Eobinson ; but
what was that in consideration of having kept her
sister from such a detrimental as poor Mark had
become ? So nmttered ]\lr. Egremont, in the satisfac-
tion of having himself, with gentlemanly severity,
intimated the insuperable gidf between Miss Egremont
of BridL^elield and the ^lan of Umbrellas.


Moreover, liis sister-in-law took care that lie should
hear that the Duchess of Eedcastle had pronounced liis
wife sweetly pretty and lady-like, and talked of invit-
ing them for a visit of a few nights.

' A bore,' observed he ungratefully, ' 'tis as dull as
ditchwater.' But, in truth, though the Canon's
family, when in residence, were intimate with the
ducal family, Alwyn Egremont had never been at
the castle since the days of his earliest youth, and
he was not quite prepared to owe his toleration
there to his wife's charms, or the Canoness's patronage
of her.

And innocent Alice only knew that everybody had
been very kind to her, and it was only a pity that
her husband did not like her to notice poor Gerard


'Gin ye were a brig as auld as me.' — Burns.

' What's the matter ? ' exclaimed Mrs. Egremont, wak-
ing from a doze, — * that bridge ? '

* Bridge ! Don't be such a fool ! We aren't near
it yet.'

The servant, his face looking blurred through the
window, came to explain that the delay was caused by
an agricultural engine, w^hich had chosen this unlucky
night, or morning, to travel from one farm to another.
There was a long delay, while the monster could l)e
heard coughing frightfully before it could be backed
with its spiky companion into a field so as to let tlie
carriages pass by ; and meantime Mr. Egremont was
betrayed into uttering ejaculations which made poor
Nuttie round her eyes in the dark as she sat by his
feet on tlie back seat, and Alice try to bury her oars
in lier liood in the corner.

On they went at last, for about a mile, and then
came another sudden stop — another fierce growl from
Mr. Egremont, anotlier apparition of tlie servant at
the window, saying, in liis alert deferential manner.


GOING AGKi:. 139

' Sir, the bridge have broke under a carriage in
front. Lady Dehnar's, sir. The horse is plunging

The door was torn open, and all three, regardless of
ball costumes, precipitated themselves out.

The moon was up, and they saw the Eectory
carriage safe on the road before them, but on the
bridge beyond was a struggling mass, dimly illuminated .
by a single carriage lamp. Mr. Egremont and the
groom hurried forward where Mark and the Eectory
coachman w^ere already rendering what help they
could, May standing at the horses' heads, and her
mother trying to wrap everybody up, since stay in
their carriages they could not. Transferring the horses
to ISTuttie, the two sisters hurried on towards the scene
of action, but Blanche's white satin boots did not carry
her far, and she turned on meeting her uncle. He
spoke with a briskness and alacrity that made him
like another man in this emergency, as he assured the
anxious ladies that their friends were safe, but that
they could not be extricated till the carriage was lifted
from the hole into which it had sunk amid bricks,
stones, and broken timbers. He sent his own coach-
man to assist, as being the stronger man, and, mount-
ing the box, turned and drove off in quest of further
help, at a wayside cottage, or from the attendants on
the engine, whose weight had probably done the mis-
chief, and prepared the trap for the next comer.

As May came near, her brother made her available
by putting the lamp into her hand, bidding her hold
it so as to light those who were endeavouring to re-
lease the horse, which had cleared the portion of the
bridoe before the break -down under the brougham,
and now lay on the road, its struggles quelled by a

140 NUTTIE'S FATIIE15. [chai-.

servant at its head. Nearly the whole of the liiiid
wheels and most of the door had disa];)peared on one
side, and, though more was visible on the other, it was
impossible to open the door, as a mass of rubbish lay
on it. Annaple was on this side, and her voice was
heard calling to May in fits of the laughter which is
perhaps near akin to screams —

' " London bridge is broken down,
Dance o'er my lady Lee !"

Janet will go in for second-sight ever after. Yes, she's
all right, except a scratch from the glass, and that
I'm sitting on her more or less. How are they get-
tins: on?' 'The horse is all but out. Not hurt,
they think. Here's another man come to help — a
gentleman — my dear, it is your partner, Nuttie's
umbrella man.' ' Oh, making it complete — hopes,
Janet — I'm sorry, but I can't help squashing you !
I can't help subsiding on you ! What is it now ?'
as the lamp-light vanished.

' Tliey are looking for something to make levers of,'
returned May ; ' these wooden rails are too rotten.

* Can't they get us through the window ? ' sighed a
muffled voice.

* Not unless we could be elongated, like the Hope
of the Katzekopfs.'

' We shall manage now,' cried ]\Iark ; ' we have
found some iron bars to the hatch down there. But
you must prepare for a sliock or two before you can
be set free.'

The two gentlemen and lliree siTvants strove and
struggled, hoisted and pushed, to the time of supi)ressed
sounds, half of sobs, half of laugliter, till at last the
carriage was heaved up sulUciently to be dragged

xiy.l GOING AGEE. 141

backwards beyond the hole ; but even then it would
not stand, for the wheels on the undermost side were
crushed, neither could either door be readily opened,
one being smashed in, and the other jammed fast.
Annaple, however, still tried to keep up her own spirits
and her sister's, observing that she now knew how to
sympathise with Johnnie's tin soldiers in their box
turned upside down.

Two sturdy labourers here made their appearance,
having been roused in the cottage and brought back
by Mr. Egremont, and at last one door was forced open
by main force, and the ladies emerged, Annaple, helping
her sister, beginning some droll thanks, but pausing as
she perceived that Lady Delmar's dress was covered
with blood.

'My dear Janet. This is worse than I guessed.
Why did you not speak ? '

* It is not much,' said the poor lady, rather faintly.
' My neck '

The elder ladies came about her, and seated her on
cushions, where, by the light of May's lamp, Alice,
who had been to an ambulance class at Micklethwayte,
detected the extent of the cut, extracted a fragment of
glass, and staunched the bleeding with handkerchiefs
and strips of the girls' tulle skirts, but she advised her
patient to be driven at once to a surgeon to secure that
no morsel of glass remained. Mr. Egremont, gratified to
see his wife come to the front, undertook to drive her
back to Eedcastle. Indeed, they must return thither
to cross by the higher bridge. ' You will go with me,'
entreated Lady Delmar, holding Alice's hand ; and the
one hastily consigning Nuttie to her aunt's care, the
other giving injunctions not to alarm her mother to
Annaple, who had declared her intention of walking


home, the two ladies went olf imder Mr. J^gremont's

Just then it was discovered that the Delmar coach-

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeNuttie's father → online text (page 9 of 28)