Charlotte Mary Yonge.

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dress-coat big enough for him to get into, and I had forgotten to
secure my black silk before abandoning my room. We could not ask
him to eat in the best kitchen, as was our practice, and he showed
himself rather dismayed at our having only one sitting-room, saying
he had not thought the cottage such a dog-hole, or known that it
would be inhabited by a lady; and then he paid some pretty
compliment on the feminine hand evident in the room. We had laid
the table before he came down, but the waiting was managed by
ourselves, or rather, by Charles, for Mr. Newton's politeness made
him jump up whenever I moved; so that I had to sit still and do the
lady hostess, while my brother changed plates and brought in relays
of the chops from the kitchen. They were a great success. Mr.
Newton eyed them for a moment distrustfully, but Betsey had turned
them out beautifully - all fair and delicate with transparent fat,
and a brown stripe telling of the gridiron. He refused the egg
alternative, and greatly enjoyed them and our Brussels sprouts,
speaking highly of the pleasure of country fare, and apologising
about the good appetising effects of a journey, when Charlie tempted
him with a third chop, the hottest and most perfect of all.

I think we also produced a rhubarb tart, and I know he commended our
prudence in having no wine, and though he refused my brother's ale,
seemed highly satisfied with a tumbler of brandy and water, when I
quitted the gentlemen to see to the coffee, while they talked over
the scheme for farm-buildings, which Charlie had sent up to him.

When I bade him good-night, a couple of hours later, he was
evidently in a serene state of mind, regarding us as very superior
young people.

In the middle of the night, Betsey and I were appalled by a
tremendous knocking on the wall. I threw on a dressing-gown and
made for the door, while Betsey felt for the matches. As I opened a
crack of the door, Charlie's voice was to be heard, 'Yes, yes; I'll
get you some, sir. You'll be better presently,' interspersed with
heavy groans; then, seeing me wide awake, he begged that Betsey
would go down and get some hot water - 'and mustard,' called out a
suffering voice. 'Oh, those chops!'

Poor Mr. Newton had, it appeared, wakened with a horrible oppression
on his chest, and at once attributing it to his unwonted meal of
pork chops, he had begun, in the dark, knocking and calling with
great energy. Charlie had stumbled in in the dark, not waiting to
light a candle, and indeed ours were chiefly lamps, which took time
to light. Betsey had hers, however, and had bustled into some
clothes, tumbling downstairs to see whether any water were still hot
in the copper, Charlie running down to help her, while I fumbled
about for a lamp and listened with awe to the groans from within,
wondering which of us would have to go for the doctor.

Up came Charlie, in his shirt sleeves, with a steaming jug in one
hand and a lamp in the other. Up came Betsey, in a scarlet
petticoat and plaid shawl, her gray locks in curl-papers, and a
tallow-candle in hand. The door was thrown open, Charlie observing,

'Now, sir,' then breaking out into 'Thunder and turf' (his favourite
Hibernian ejaculation); 'Ssssssss!' and therewith, her green eyes
all one glare, out burst this cat! She was the nightmare! She had
been sitting on the unfortunate man's chest, and all her weight had
been laid to the score of the chops!

No doubt she had been attracted by the fire, stolen up in the
confusion of the house, remained hidden whilst Mr. Newton was going
to bed, and when the fire went out, settled herself on his chest, as
it seems he slept on his back, and it was a warm position.

Probably his knockings on the wall dislodged her; but if so,
imagination carried on the sense of oppression, and with feline
pertinacity she had returned as soon as he was still again.

Poor old gentleman! I am afraid he heard some irrepressible
laughter, and it was very sore to him to be ridiculous. His grave
dignity and politeness when he came down very late the next morning
were something awful, and it must have been very dreadful to him
that he could not get away till half the day was over.

So dry and short was he over matters of business that Charles
actually thought we might begin to pack up and make our arrangements
for emigrating. Grave, dry, and civil as ever, he departed, and I
never saw him more, nor do I think he ever entirely forgave me.
There did not, however, come any dismissal, and when Charlie had
occasion to go up to his office and see him, he was just the same as
ever, and acceded to the various arrangements which have made this a
civilised, though still rather remote place.

And when he died, a year ago, to our surprise we found that this
same reclaimed property was left to my brother. The consequence
whereof you well know, my dear little sister that is to be. Poor
old Chops! you had nearly marred our fortunes; and now, will you go
with me to my home at the Rectory, or do you prefer your old abode
to your old mistress?



Footnotes:

{127} [In the book this genealogy is a diagram. It is rendered as
text here. - DP] John Fulford: sons: John Fulford {127a} (married
Margaret Lacy) and Henry {127b}.

{127a} John Fulford and Margaret Lacy: Sir Edward Fulford (married
Avice Lee - died after two years), Arthur, Q.C. (married Edith
Ganler) {127c}, Martyn (Professor, married Mary Alwyn) {127d},
Charlotte, Emily, Margaret (married Rev. H. Druce) {127e}.

{127b} Henry had a son called Henry - whose son was also Henry -
whose daughter was Isabel.

{127c} Arthur, Q.C. and Edith Ganler: Margaret called Metelill,
Charlotte called Charley, Sons not at New Cove.

{127d} Martyn (Professor) and Mary Alwyn: Margaret called Pica,
Avice and Uchtred.

{127e} Margaret and Rev. H. Druce: Jane and large family.




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Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeMore Bywords → online text (page 14 of 14)