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shook as if all the panes had been fastened together by pack-
thread ; and the door would not shut close ; and all day long,
and all night, too — as I found afterwards — there was the
moan of the wind through that and the window, even on a
quiet day, — so any one may guess what it was likely to be
on a stormy one. No doubt there are many worse places in
which people sleep comfortably enough ; but I confess it did
provoke me that no one should have had the sense to move
the bed a few inches to the left, where it might have been
out of the way of the draught ; and this was the first thing
I tried to do. But Jenny was in no condition to bear being
disturbed even for her own comfort. She was very bad, she
said ; she didn't know but what she was a-going to die.
Daddy (as she called her husband) was gone for the doctor,
and she hadn't no one but the little maid to wait upon her ;
— but for all I could say, she would not have anything, or
do anything, or allow anything to be done for her. She
would lie there with wind enough to turn a mill rushing upon
her down the chimney. When I tried to pull the mattress
along myself, she cried out as though I was going to cut ofi" one
of her legs ; so at last I had nothing to do but to insist upon
pinning a shawl across the fire-place to shut out the draught,
and leave her till the doctor came.



URSULA. 163

A comfortable beginning, and a pleasant prospect for
Mrs. Weir the next day ! But there was all the more rea-
son for exertion ; and as soon as I had made up the kitchen
fire, and put the tea-kettle on, that I might have a little tea
instead of supper, for I knew it would be more comforting,
I went over the house to see whai kind of state things were
in. The drawing-room was habitable enough. It was a
pretty little room with a deep, square window, commanding
a lovely view of the bay and the whole cliff. In shape it
was not so very unlike the drawing-room at Dene ; and when
the furniture was arranged properly, I thought Mrs. Weir
might rather take to it. But the dining-room was dark, and
filled with boxes and rubbish ; and in the passages, and up
the stairs, litter of all kinds was lying about, — ^just the kind
of litter which it was impossible to know what to do with.
I hope I was not hard upon Miss Milicent, but I could not
help thinking that it was because the last two or three times
when^ furniture and books had been sent over from Dene,
Miss Milicent had undertaken to see the boxes unpacked at
the cottage, and had taken things out and thrown them down
anywhere, instead of arranging them as she went on.

Up-stairs, Mrs. Weir's bed-room was what I should have
called pretty and neat; but she would doubtless see fifty
things that were wanted. It was a good size, which was the
most important point in my eyes, and had a cheerful look-
out towards the south-east, and a square window like the
drawing-room. There was a dressing-room to it, besides an-
other good-sized room for Miss Milicent, over the dining-
room ; and a little room which I was to have, and two attics.

I took off my bonnet and shawl, and then I went down-
stairs, and called Polly to come and help me clear some of
the rubbish from the passage and the stairs. But it was
growing dark, and we had scarcely begun our task, when
Dale came back from Compton with the Doctor, who looked
grave about Jenny, and said she must be well looked after,
and he would send her some medicine, and come and see her
again the first thing in the morning. I could not leave her
without Polly after that, so I sent the child to sit with her,
and went on with my work by myself.

I was standing a minute to rest myself, and looking out



164 URSULA.

of the dra'wing-room window, trying to make out what it was
impossible to see because of the darkness that was coming,
when I fancied I heard the front door bell ring. I listened,
but not hearing it again, I thought it must have been my
mistake ; presently, however, I caught the sound of footsteps,
and going out into the passage, I saw two persons there, a
little gentleman and a stout lady, strangers.

" Is Mrs. Weir at home ? " said the gentleman in a meek
voice.

" You had better ask for your cousin, my dear," said the
lady. " We want to see Miss Weir," she added, not wait-
ing for him to answer. " This is Mr. Temple, and I am
Mrs. Temple, and we are just come. You had better go at
once and announce us ; now, my dear," and she walked past
him to go forward to the drawing-room. The gentle-
man followed.

" Mrs. Weir is not here, Ma'am," I said as soon as the
opportunity for speaking was given me.

" Not here ! " she stopped short ; " very provoking !
You should not have brought me, my dear," she added, ad-
dressing her husband. " You should have come first to in-
quire. I told you there was just the chance of not finding
them. I am quite exhausted."

The lady threw herself down in the arm-chair, her floun-
ces spreading out, so as to make her three times the size she
was naturally. To judge by her brilliant complexion, high
colom-, and clear sparkling eyes, she was not likely to be
overcome by fatigue, but appearances are deceitful. The
gentleman, who had been gifted by nature with a very meek
countenance, which he had vainly endeavoured to render
fierce by the help of a sandy moustache, stood by her sub-
missively. She handed him a little bag, which she carried
in her hand, and he took out a scent-bottle, and gave it her,
though I don't believe he thought she was going to faint any
more than I did.

" I am very sorry there has been any mistake. Sir," I
said, " but Mrs. Weir is not expected till to-morrow. I am
just come over myself to put things in order for her."

" We can have beds here, I suppose ? " said the lady.

" I am afraid, Ma'am," 1 replied, a little surprised I



URSULA. 165

must confess at such a bold request, " it could not be witb-
out Mrs. Weir's knowledge."

" I thought that being Mrs. Weir's relations, there
might have been some accommodation for us," said the
gentleman.

" And Mrs. Weir would wish it, I am sure," replied the
lady ; " in fact we quite reckoned upon it." She spoke an-
grily, and was evidently not at all inclined to faint now.

" I am very sorry," I replied, " but I could not take it
upon myself, without Mrs. Weir's permission ; and indeed
there is no room properly ready, except just where I am to
sleep myself. Mrs. Weir had no notion you were coming,
Sir."

" It was a sudden thought," replied the Captain,
" but "

" Young woman," interrupted Mrs. Temple, ''you will
be sorry for being uncivil to us ; your mistress will be much
displeased when she hears of it. I am Mrs. AVeir's favourite
niece. This gentleman is come to transact most important
business with her, and he is not accustomed to disrespect, he
never puts up with it. You had better at once go and pre-
pare the rooms, and get us some tea, for we have had a very
long journey. This is a most out-of-the-way place ; I won-
der how any one can think of living in it," she added, speak-
ing to her husband.

" I am afraid I could not get tea to suit you. Ma'am," I
replied. " I don't know what there is in the house, and you
will find everything vei'y comfortable at the hotel, if you
will please to go there to-night ; and no doubt Mrs. Weir
and Miss Milicent will make everything easy to-morrow."

" My dear — what do you — what do you think ? " said
the Captain.

" That I shall stay where I am," she replied. " The
hotel is not to be put up with, it is too full. That room we
were shown into was a mere hole."

" You will be much better off there than here. Ma'am,"
I answered. " There is no one to wait upon you here but
myself"

" And I suppose you know how to wait," she answered.

" Not very well. Ma'am. I am not Mrs. Weir's servant.



166 URSULA.

I only came over for a time to help arrange tilings for her,
and I have much to do to-night ; I don't think I could possi-
bly undertake it."

" Extremely uncivil ! " exclaimed the lady. " I shall
go up stairs and judge of the state of the house for
myself."

" If you please, Ma'am," I replied, but I did not offer
to show her the way ; I was quite confounded by her
coolness.

" My dear," — she beckoned to her husband to follow,
and he went after her quite tamely. I heard her stumble
over a box at the doorway, and hard work I knew they
would have to make their way up-stairs, such a number of
things were lying about ; but it was all so much the better
for me, for it gave me time to think, and whilst they were
gone I sat down to consider what was to come next. A very
odd business, certainly, it was.

Mrs. Temple's name I had heard often enough, but I had
never understood that there was much kindness between her
and Mrs. Weir, at least since her marriage, when there had
been differences about money matters. What business she
had to come troubling for Mrs. Weir just at this time was
more than I could guess. Of course I was unwilling to do
anything disagreeable, but as to their sleeping in the house
that night it was out of the question. Mrs. Temple was
so long away that it is my belief she must have gone uj) to
the attics, but down-stairs she came at last.

" The room over this will do very well ; you can make up
the bed, and we shall not expect to have everything perfect.
The dressing-room will be large enough for Mr. Temple
when you have moved out the boxes."

" I could not well put you into Mrs. Weir's room,
Ma'am, I replied ; " it is kept for her; and the boxes, I fear,
are too heavy to be moved. I am sorry to be unaccommodat-
ing, but if you will please to go to the hotel to-night, Mrs.
Weir will be here to make her own arrangements to-morrow.
I must ask you to excuse my leaving you now, as I have
work to do."

When I had said this, I walked, out of the room, for I
was not going to discuss the point with her any further.



URSULA. 167

I heard them talking to each other, the lady's voice be-
coming louder and louder, as she seemed to be trying to
convince her husband of something against his will ; I did
not go near them, however, but went up to see Jenny and
give her her medicine, and then, as she seemed better, Polly
and I set to work again by candlelight to clear away the
rubbish. At last, when more than a quarter of an hour had
gone by, Polly saw them go down the passage and out of the
house-door, and so we were rid of them.

I can't say I was comfortable ; I did not know how I
could have done diiferently, but I had been quite put out of
my usual way. Ever since I could remember, I had been
taught to treat persons according to their station, and though
I was proud and wilful, yet I had a natural feeling of respect
for pei-sons better born and educated than myself. Even
when Miss Milicent provoked me to speak out as she some-
times did, it was more that I caught something of her off-
hand tone before I was aware of it, than that I had the
slightest intention of being uncivil ; but Mrs. Temple made
something rise up in my heart quite unlike any other feeling.
It was not for myself I really think. She did not know wlio
I was, and if I had tried to make her understand, I dou't
suppose I should have succeeded. But, besides the incon-
venience of her request, she had claimed as a right what only
ought to have been asked as a favour, and this was what I
had never been accustomed to. Mrs. Weir used to say to
me sometimes in former days, " Never take a liberty with
any person, Ursula, and never let any one take a liberty with
you ; and then you will know how to behave in every position
in which it may please God to place you." I am sure she
acted upon the advice herself, for all the time I was with
her she never forgot that I had my own claims to respect
and consideration, in spite of my inferior position.

Polly began asking questions about the visitors, and
would have run out into the road after them, to look at them,
if I would have allowed her ; but I stopped her directly, and
told her nothing. We worked on till nearly nine o'clock,
and then I thought it was time to send her to bed. Dale
had had his supper, and was gone up-stairs ; so I had the
kitchen to myself, and I stirred up the fire, wliich had been



168 URSULA.

let down again very low, and sat down, listening to the
howling of the wind, and the dash of the waves upon the
shore ; and thinking how much I should have to tell Roger
when we mot again. As a pleasant end to the evening, there
was no milk in the house, and no butter — so my hope of a
warm, comforting tea came to nothing ; but I contented my-
self with some bread and cheese, and a glass of beer, and
after seeing that Jenny had everything she wanted, I went to
bed, and being quite tired out, soon fell asleep.



CHAPTER XXIII.

My new acquaintances did not intrude upon me the nest
morning. I suppose they had had enough of me. Polly
said she saw them going down the cliffs to the sea, but that
was all I heard of them, and nearly all I thought about
them, for there was business enough to take up every moment.
Work as hard as I, and Dale, and Polly, and Williams the
carpenter, and a girl from the village could, it seemed as
though the house never would be straight by the time Mrs,
Weir arrived. I was most anxious that it should be, for she
was one of those persons with whom first impressions are
everything ; and if, on coming to the Heath, she was to see
the place untidy, I knew well enough she might take a pre-
judice which nothing would overcome.

Jenny was still quite ill, though the doctor spoke less
gravely about her than he did the night before. But it was
useless for her to think of moving ; and I had all her work
to attend to as well as my own. Mrs. Weir was to come to
dinner, and a roast chicken was to be provided for her. Dale,
and Polly, and I, dined off some cold mutton, without
potatoes, and but little leisure we had to eat that.

About four o'clock the fly drove up to the gate. Wil-
liams had only time to gather up some of the carpentering
tools, and rush out of the drawing-room window, whilst Polly
carried away in her lap every scrap of litter she could see,
before it was at the front door. My heart beat quite fast.
It came over me all at once what a dreary thing the new



URSULA. 169

home would be to Mrs. Weir ; and when the flyman let down
the step, and I went forward to give her my arm, I scarcely
had courage to look her in the face.

But I had no reason to be afraid. Mrs. Weir was not a
person to give way in great trials. She rested her hand
upon my arm, but I did not feel it even tremble; and, when
she stood upon the ground, the first words she said were,
" God is very good, Ursula ; He gives us friends to receive
us everywhere." I hoped Miss Milicent would have come
with her into the drawing room, but she always left her mother
to me when I was there, so I took the poor lady in myself.
The strangeness of everything did then rather overcome her,
and she sat down and cried a little, but they were very cjuiet
tears — not at all like those of a person who considered herself
suifering from a great grief. She brightened up after a few
minutes, and began admiring the room, and saying how com-
fortable it Avas. She was always gracious and thoughtful when
people had been working for her. And then I thought of
telling her a little about the time it had taken to put every-
thing in order, thinking by that means to distract her
tlioughts. It was all very awkward and odd ; I could not
tell what to do next, and I was wishing to be in half-a-dozen
places at once. But my work was soon settled, for in walked
Miss Milicent, and with her Mr. and Mrs. Temple.

I can't say how cross I felt. Just at the very moment
Mrs. Weir wanted to rest and be alone ! And Miss Milicent
not to know better than to bring them straight into the draw-
ing-room without notice ! But it was exactly like her.

" Mother," she said, and she went up to Mrs. Weir, " here
is Matilda Temple, and her husband, too. They have been
waiting to see you. "

Mrs. Weir looked up as though in a dream ; she made no
answer.

Mr. Temple held back, but his wife urged him on. '' 1
am afraid we have called at an awkward moment," he began.

" Only it was impossible to resist the temptation," inter-
rupted Mrs. Temple. " Being in this part of the world, we
felt you would consider it so unkind, my dear aunt, if we
passed the house without coming in. And our time is so
short, — only till to-morrow, — and there is so much to see, —
Vol. T.— S



170 U K S U L A .

such lovely scenery ; " and then, putting her head a little
to one side, and twisting her mouth, she added, " Besides, it
is so sweet to meet the friends one loves."

I watched Mrs. Weir's face all the time Mrs. Temple
was speaking, expecting to see something of anger or annoy-
ance in it. But not the least ! As gently and sweetly as
ever she answered, " I was not quite prepared to see you,
Matilda ; but Milicent and I will do our best to make you
and Stephen welcome."

" We must make ourselves welcome first, mother," said
Miss Milicent, bluntly. " Cousin Matilda, I think you and
Stephen had better go now, and come again by an by."

" It is a very short peep," said Mrs. Temple.

" Ursula," Mrs. Weir turned to me. " I think I feel
rather tired. Matilda, you will excuse me. I am a little
" Her voice failed her, and she looked extremely pale.

"Faint," said Mrs. Temple; she came forward to push
me aside, and support Mrs. Weir's head.

But I kept my place.

" If you will excuse me. Ma'am," I said, " I think Mrs.
Weir is most used to me ; and. Miss Milicent, if you would
be good enough to pour out the sal volatile, and if Mrs. Weir
might be left quite alone."

I was obliged to speak plainly, and Mr. Temple took the
hint, walked to the door, and looked back, expecting his wife
to follow.

" Yes, go, my dear," she said, nodding her head at him,
" I shall come presently ; she will be better ; it is only
fatigue — nervousness. I dare say the pleasure of seeing us
was a little too much. I shall come presently. Don't wait
for me, my dear."

I made sure Miss Milicent would have burst out then.
She was not usually so cowed ; — but no — she went out of the
room, and sent Cotton in, and left her, and Mrs. Temple,
and me together.

No doubt it was fortunate for me that we were obliged
to think of Mrs. Weir instead of ourselves, or Mrs. Temple
and I might not have been such good friends. We had a
difficult matter to bring Mrs. Weir round. It was full a
quarter of an hour before she recovered enough to speak,



URSULA. 171

tliougli I don't think she ever quite lost her consciousness.
Mrs. Temple was sensible and helpful enough in what she
did, but the nonsense she talked was not to bo imagined.
She seemed to think it was quite fortunate that she happened
to be there, and declared several times that she couldn't think
how we should have managed without her. " But all things
were so Providentially ordered," she said. I don't believe it
once entered, her head that she had worried Mrs. Weir by
thrusting herself upon her at a wrong time.

At last, when it was a question of taking Mrs. Weir up-
stairs, I made a stand. Cotton and I knew very well what
to do ; and Mrs. Temple should not come, I was resolved. I
whispered to Mrs. Weir to beg her to go ; and the poor lady,
in a very feeble voice, thanked her niece as though she had
done the most self-denying act possible, and hoped to be
better, and see her again in the evening.

I did not think even then that we should have got rid of
her f but she twisted her mouth, and said it was a delightful
privilege to be permitted to help a friend ; and then she kissed
Mrs. Weir and departed.

All that evening Mrs. Weir kept her room. Mr. and
Mrs. Temple called again, but I urged Miss Milicent to
send them down word that her mother was not well enough
to see them, and so they were not admitted. And, as they
were to go the next day, I pleased myself with thinking we
should be left to arrange our own affairs without interrup-
tion, and that, if Mr. Temple had business to talk over,
he would just spend an hour with Mrs. Weu' in the morning,
and there would be an end of it. But little I knew of Mrs.
Temple.

Mrs. Weir was better the next morning ; and a message
came over from the hotel to say that Mr. Temple would like
to see her if she was able. What passed I don't exactly
know. It was not a very long talk, and I don't expect it
was one of much consequence, except that Mr. Temple
was anxious to put in a claim for some old debt, of a couple
of hundred pounds, which, now that the Dene estate was sold,
he thought might as well be paid off. A letter to the
lawyer would have managed the business just as well, as far
as I could ever understand ; and, as to Mrs. Temple being a



172 U E S U L A .

favourite, Miss Miliceut herself told me that her cousin
Matilda had been the torment of the family for the last ten
years, though her mother had always been willing to think
the best of her.

Whilst Mr. Temple was with Miss Milieent, IVIrs. Temple
insisted upon going up-stairs to sit with Mrs. Weir, and it
was no use for me to try and prevent it, as I had to be in the
kitchen looking after the cooking, Jenny being still too ill
to move or do anything but sit up for about an hour, and
there being no one at hand to take her place. I wondered
to myself at what time Mrs. Temple and her husband meant
to go, and wished I could see a fly drive up to take them
away, for I had" a misgiving that we should have no peace
till they were gone ; but just as I had Mrs. Weir's luncheon
ready, and was putting it on the tray to be taken up-stairs,
down came Cotton from Mrs. Weir's room.

" Well ! Miss G-rant," she said (I was always called Miss
Grant by the servants because of its being more respectful),
" What are we to do now ? I should like to know how the
house is to hold us alh"

" What is the matter ? " I asked. " Why won't the house
hold us all to-day, as well as it did yesterday ? "

" We filled it yesterday," she answered ; " and when
there are two more to be put in, I won't undertake to say
where they are to be quartered."

"■ Two more ! " I said, and I felt very uncomfortable.
" Mr. and Mrs. Temple in the back room, and Miss Mill-
cent in the little room, and then what is to become of you,
Miss Grant ? I would make a stir about it, that I would.
I would not submit to be put up in the attic."
" They can't come," I said ; " it's nonsense."
" They will come," she answered, " and it's no nonsense."
I did not believe her — I could not ; it seemed so mon-
strous. Mrs. Weir being just come into the house, nothing
arranged, and she, herself, ill and in great grief, and having
lost so much of her fortune, I thought it impossible than any
persons could have the face to accept such an invitation even
if it had been made.

As for sleeping in the attic, I did not choose to talk about
that with Cotton. If it had been a real benefit to any one,



URSULA. 173

I would have slept in the kitchen or the scullery. It was
not that I cared for, but the notion of having that dreadful
woman entirely in the house, never to be free from her ; for
the moment I did think that I must give up and go oiF at
once to Sandcombe.

" The luncheon will be cold if you don't take it up at
once," I said to Cotton, trying not to show that I thought
anything of her news.

" Not so cold as somebody's welcome should be, if I had
my will," she replied ; " but you are very strange. Miss
Grrant. I don't think you know a bit when you are put
upon."

Cotton was wrong ; I did know very well, but when
persons serve for love their shoulders can bear a tolerably
heavy burden.

As we were speaking Miss Milicent came out from the
drawing-room, looking feverish and hurried. She sent Cot-
ton-away, and then said, " Ursie, what have we got in the
house ? We must have dinner at six o'clock."

" There are some cutlets and the remains of the chicken,
which I was going to fricassee," I said ; " I thought, with
a bit of bacon and a pudding, that would be enough, Miss
Milicent, for you and Mrs. Weir."

" You had better get a leg of lamb, Ursie. Mr. and Mrs.
Temple are likely to be here."

" To stay, Ma'am ? " I said, for I thought I would have
it out with her at once.

" That is as may be," she answered gruffly. " They won't
stay for my asking, but my mother is so easily taken over.
She has no more power of saying ' No' than a baby. And as
for Matilda Temple, she would come over a hyena."

" Then I am sure, Miss Milicent, I am worse than a


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