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George MacDonald.

Mary Marston. A novel online

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respective duties, she was left alone. Then Mrs, Perkin sent
for her.

When she entered her room, she found her occupied Avith
the cook, and was allowed to stand unnoticed.

**When shall I be able to sec Mrs. Redmain, ma'am ?" she
asked, when the cook at length turned to go.

" Wait," rejoined Mrs. Perkin, with a quiet dignity, well
copied, *^ until you arc addressed, young woman." — Then first
casting a glance at her, and perhaps perceiving on her counte-
nance a glimmer of the amusement ^fary felt, she began to
gather a murc correct suspicion of tlie sort of being she might
possibly be, and hastily added, '* Pray, take a scat."

The idea of making a blunder was unendurable to ^frs.
Perkin, and she was most unwilling to believe she had done
so ; but, even if she had, to show that she knew it would only
be to render it the more diflicult to recover her pride of place.
An involuntary twinkle about tiic corners of Mary's mouth
made her hasten to answer her question.

*' I am sorry," she said, '* that I can give you no pros})ect
of an interview with Mrs. Kedmain before three o'clock. She
will very likely not be out of her room before one. — 1 suppose
you saw her at Durum el ling ?"

^* Yes, ma'am," answered Mary, *' — and at Testbridge."

It kept growing on the housekeeper that she had made a
mistake — though to what extent she sought in vam to deter-
mine.

**You will find it rather wearisome waiting," she said
next ; " — would you not like to help me with my work ?"

Already she had the sunflowers under her creative hands. •

" I should be very glad — if I can do it well enough to
please you, ma'am," answered Mary. ^*But," she added,
'Mvould you kindly see that Mrs. Redmain is told, as soon as
she wakes, that I am here ? "



224: MARY MARSTON.

"Oblige me by ringing tlie bell," said Mrs. Perkin.— r
"Send Mrs. Folter here."

A rather cross-looking, red-faced, thin woman appeared,
whom she requested to let her mistress know, as soon as
was proper, that there was a young person in the house
who said she had come from Testbridge by appointment to
see her.

" Yes, ma'am," said Folter, with a supercilious yet famil-
iar nod to Mary ; "I'll take care she knows."

Mary passed what would haye been a dreary morning to
one dependent on her company. It was quite three o'clock
when she was at length summoned to Mrs. Redmain's boudoir.
Folter, who was her guide thither, lingered, in the soft closing
of the door, long enough to learn that her mistress received the
young person with a kiss — almost as much to Mary's surprise
as Folter's annoyance, which annoyance partly to relieve,
partly to pass on to Mrs. Perkin, whose reception of Mary she
had learned, Folter hastened to report the fact, and succeeded
thereby in occasioning no small uneasiness in the bosom of the
housekeeper, who was almost as much afraid of her mistress as
the other servants were of herself. Some time she spent in
expectant trepidation, but gradually, as nothing came of it,
calmed her fears, and concluded that her behavior to Mary
had been quite correct, seeing the girl had made it no ground
of complaint.

But, although Hesper, being at the moment in tolerable
spirits, in reaction from her depression of the day before, re-
ceived Mary with a kiss, she did not ask her a question about
her journey, or as to how she had spent the night. She was
there, and looking all right, and that was enough. On the
other hand, she did proceed to have her at once properly set-
tled.

The little room appointed her looked upon a small court or
yard, and was dark, but otherwise very comfortable. As soon
as she was left to herself, she opened her boxes, put her things
away in drawers and wardrobe, arranged her books within easy
reach of the low chair Hesper had sent for from the drawing-
room for her, and sat down to read a little, brood a little, and



HER POSITION. 225

build a few castles in the air, more lovely than eyanescent :
no other house is so like its builder as this sort of castle.

About eight o'clock, Folter summoned her to go to Mrs.
Redmain. By this time she was tired : she was accustomed to
tea in the afternoon, and since her dinner with the house-
keeper she had had nothing.

She found Mrs. Redmain dressed for the evening. As soon
as Mary entered, she dismissed Folter.

'* I am going out to dinner," she said. ^* Are you (^uite
comfortable V *'

"I am rather cold, and should like some tea," said Mary.

" My poor girl ! have you had no tea ?" siiid llespor, witli
some concern, and more annoyance. "You are looking ((uitc
pale, L see ! When did you have anything to cat ?"

"I had a good dinner at one o'clock," replied Mary, witli a
rather weary smile.

"' 'J'his is dreadful ! '' .



Online LibraryGeorge MacDonaldMary Marston. A novel → online text (page 20 of 40)