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almost anything with a horse," cried Pennie, who
overheard her.

Do almost anything with a horse ! She might
have said, too, that she could do almost anything
with a tree, a wall, a hurdle to climb, a race to run,
a boat to row, a bird to shoot, a dog to break.
These things came natural to her. It was a
thousand pities she was not a boy, for she never
would be a lady. It was, however, within the
limits of possibility that she might be a straight-
forward, practical, honest little gentlewoman ; and
as she grew up, it became more and more certain
every day that this was what she would be. Small,
plain, outspoken, romantic, generous, simple, coura-
geous, dutiful — those were the outlines of Mr.


Wynyard's ward, when his circumstances and
Mr. Hargrove's alarm di'ove him into exile.

Pennie was likely to feel his absence less than
anybody at Eastwold. She was out. That had been
accomplished the previous October, at the Nor-
minster Hunt Ball, when she was j)i'oiiC)uiiced by
a high provincial authority, the ugliest three-year-
old he had ever seen, but with a pot of money,
and no end of fun in her. Her mother, who still
presided in rosy widowhood and prosperity over
Mayfield Farm, was kept well informed of every
event that transpired at Eastwold. News of Mr.
Wynyard's journey reached her through the usual
channel — the weekly letter from her daughter — and
common fame told her the rest. She was not dis-
posed to be anxious about Pennie's fortune, but
she was very much disposed to bewail her pro-

*' Why, the house' 11 be ever so dull ; there'll
be no company for her, poor thing, no beaux, nor
nothing." Thus she opened her mind to her con-
fidential gossip, Mrs. Jones, of Beckby Farm. She
had set her heart on Pennie's marrying early.

70 MR. wynyard's ward.

" Then I shall, maybe, get her more to myself," was
her wily expectation.

" It wasn't fair of Jonathan, w^as it, Mrs. Jones,
to take the bairn away from us all, for her to grow
up a stranger to her own mother and kin ? Not that
she's proud, bless her, not a bit of it ! She's the
same with one as with another, for she has got a real
sensy head of her own, just like her father. If she
were only bonny ! She'd better have taken after
Listers than after Crofts. Listers has all clean
skins, and wears well ; Crofts is sallow, and ages
soon. I don't want her to marry high — ^there'd be
no comfort if she married high. I should like to
see her take up with Mr. Tom Boothby now, or her
cousin, Dick Lister. I could go to their houses,
and feel at home with my own child. But if she
was to take up with a dandy fellow, such as young
Eaymond at Eskford, ov Captain Bangham, with his
gi-eat red beard, she'd be further off nor ever.'

" Get her over to Mayfield for a week or two,"
suggested Mrs. Jones, entering cordially into her
neighbour's feelings. " I'll give the young folks a
dance and a supper, and I'm sure her Aunt Lister'll


do the same. If it was me was her mother, I
should he all for keeping the money in the family.
Dick Lister's a ra'el fine fellow, and good-looking ;
Tom Boothhy tosses a glass overmuch sometimes,
and he's a dreadful temper."

*' Then I'd rather see her in her coffin than tied
to him ; for had temper in a man is what I can't
abide. Jonathan had his faults — who's without ?
hut grumbling and nattering was never one of 'em.
He was the satisfiedest man at home that you'd wish
to see. Penelope has just his easy way — so con-
siderate she always is."

" She is a nice little lass. It is only a pity she
does not favour more of your fam'ly, Mrs. Croft;
though she hasn't to sing like a many gels, ' my
face is my fortune, sir, she said.' "

*' \Ye got churning over'd to-day. If weather
holds up, I'll take a drive to Eastwold to-morrow,
and bring her hack."

'' Do. You'll not repent it."

The weather did hold up, and in the morning at
eleven o'clock, Mrs. Croft mounted into the high
phaeton which it was her custom to drive herself, and.


with a lad in tlie back-seat to open tlie gates, set
forth on her mission. She was in full visiting
costume — velvet bonnet and feather, scarlet Paisley
shawl, ruby satinette gown, " stiff enough to stand
of itself," and new, pale driving-gloves. The mare
was a beaut}' ; the harness silver-plated ; the whole
turn-out well-to-do and well kept. Everybody who
met the comfortable widow on her way greeted her
cordially and respectfully. She had her half-crown
ready for Crabtree, in case he was at the lodge, and
even that cranky personage abated his asperity under
the glow of her broad and beaming countenance.
He condescended to touch his hat as he accepted the
fee, and to add for information that Miss Pennie
and Miss Anna were about in the park " a-gathering
of snow-drops."

*' I shall meet them, I dessay ; " and nodding
her thanks, Mrs. Croft drove gently on, keeping a
look-out on either side between the trees for her

Pennie espied her first. " Oh, Anna, there's my
mother ! " and away she ran, dropping the flowers
from her basket as she went, and jumped up into the

PE^^:LOPE at mayfield. 73

pliaeton with a spring, almost knocking the velvet
bonnet from its propriety in the ardom- of her

" Eh, Pennie, my darling, bless thee ! " gasped
the \N-idow. " There now — easy, easy, whoa, easy, I
say," to the mare. '' Sit down, Pennie. How d'ye
do. Miss Anna "? She's fresh : easy, easy — she hasn't
been out of stable three or fower days. And how
are you, honey, and how are they all '? "

" She'll be off again, mother, mind her." The
mare gave her diiver enough to do for the next
mmute or two, and then they were at the door.
The lad held her head while his mistress alertly
extracted herself from her \M'aps and descended, and
then he led her away to the stables, tossing and
prancing, and ready for anything in the way of
high jinks.

" She has a hard mouth, that's the worst of her,"
observed the ^idow, watching soHcitously. '*' It isn't
temper, she has no ^*ice, and Ned's steady enough.
Well, Pennie, my love, I'm come to beg a holiday for
you. I want you at Mayfield a bit. Will Mrs. W^ti-
yard spare you, d'ye think ? "

74 ]vrR. wynyard's ward.

" Oh, yes. Come into the house ; it is so different
now." The last sentence was whispered sadly and
confidentially, and w^as acknowledged hy a pathetic
closing of the widow's e3'es, and shaking of her head.

^' I've heard all, Pennie. It can't help hut he
different. What's doing here ? " They were now in
the hall, where a man was at work with lath and
plaster, closing up the dining-room door.

" That side of the house is to he let with the
farm to Mr. Dykes, and so it is to be quite shut off
from our part." Mrs. Crofts shook her head again,
and sighed, hut said no more. Pennie entered the
drawing-room, and announced her mother, who dropt
a little curtsey as she advanced to meet Mrs. Wyn-
yard's outstretched hand.

*' I am glad to see you, Mrs. Croft, and so, from
her face, is Pennie. Take your mother's shawl,
Pennie dear, and give her a stool for her feet. You
must have had a cold drive, I'm afraid : the wind is
rather high ; " thus IMrs. Wynyard in her usual kind
way, only perhaps in a voice somewhat strained, as
of a woman fretting inwardly.

" It was not unpleasant ; the sun warmed the air.


"We are going to have fine, open weather after the
frost, I hope. It is needed. And how are you,
ma'am, and the children, and Mr. Wynyard when
you heard from him ? "

" All well in health, thank you, Mrs. Croft ; quite
well in health. Lois, you have not shaken hands
with Mrs. Croft." As Mrs. Wynyard spoke, she
glanced aside at the child, standing by the table with
a slate, her hair ruffled up into a golden mop, and
her face set determinedly over a line of figures which
she was multiplying by seven. Lois half abstractedly
laid her task down, crossed the rug to the visitor,
and pouted her rosy lips to be kissed.

" She is a good little busy gM, I'm sure," said
Mrs. Croft. " She loves her book, don't you, dear ? "

" Not without Maurice," and Lois sighed, as she
shook her mop, and resumed the slate.

Pennie sat unobtrusively on a low chair in the
fireside corner by her mother, until the conversation
wound round to her, and leave was asked and given
for her to go to Mayfield. " Eastwold '11 spare you
for a month, I dessay," added Mrs. Croft, with amiable

76 MR. wynyard's ward.

Mrs. Wynyard assented. " Yes, we will spare
her for a montli, and then I think her services will
be wanted at Brackenfield. My youngest sister is
about to be married, and Pennie has been bespoken
for one of her bridesmaids."

" Won't it be charming, mother ? I have been
longing to go to a wedding," cried Pennie, exuberant.

" I heerd of Mr. Michael Forester's arrival. And
he's to marry Miss Hutton, is he ? I'm right glad
of it. • Foresters is a good sort. But is it true,
ma'am, that he's got a fam'ly by a black wife ? "

'' I hope not— I have not heard of it." Mrs. Wyn-
yard could hardly forbear smiling, and Pennie looked
amazed with wrath.

" How folks will talk ! Why, they'd got black
wife and bairns quite pat at Saturday's market-table,
I was told."

It was decided that Pennie should ride her own
pony over to Mayfield, and after the early dinner
which Mrs. Wynyard, in her diminished household,
now shared with the children, she went immediately
to equip. Pennie ought never to have been seen out
of her riding-habit and hat. Her figure was so


shapely, firm, spirited, and well set-up in her saddle,
that she looked better on horseback than many quite
handsome women.

" Yon's something like riding," reflected her
mother with pardonable pride, as Pennie took a gallop
across the sward to the park-gate, while she steered
the mare, always fidgety at starting, slowly down the
avenue. On the high-road, Pennie reined in, and
kept pace with the phaeton, chattering all the way,
and delighting her mother.

It was a five-mile ride by a way that was beautiful
all the year round. The road lay along the fell side,
the narrow sinuous valley of the Esk below, and steep
slopes of meadow and moorland above. The February
sun shone high and clear in the pale blue sky, and
the tiny becks, full-flooded with melting snows, rushed
singing and laughing over their pebbly-beds.

" It feels almost like spring," said Pennie, snuff"-
ing up the aromatic scent of the fir-wood near Rood
Abbey ; of which was left only a gateway, and a few
arches built into the wall of a long, low, retired
house, with a neglected garden running down to the
river. The o^NTier was just issuing forth as they


passed ; a gentleman of middle stature and dark
visage, who recognized Mrs. Croft with a friendly
touch of his hat, took a rapid survey of the figure on
horseback, and passed on smiling to himself. Pennie
asked who he was.

" Mr. Tindal, my landlord and your uncle Lister's.
He's in a hurry to-day, it seems, unless you've
frightened him, Pennie," replied her mother. " He
has been touring it for five or six years, poor fellow,
and notv he's come home to live. It is a pretty place
in summer-time, is Rood Abbey, but it is let go to
waste shameful."

Another half mile or so brought them to May-
field, with its familiar trimmed yews over-topping the
wall, which screened the garden from the road ; and
the old door for those to enter at, who had no business
at the farmyard beyond. Pennie passed it, telling
her mother she would come in by the other way,
and rode on to the stables where an old lame man
w^elcomed her with an assurance that she looked
as fresh as paint, and he hoped he see'd her

'* I'm thriving, thank ye, Jacob, and how's your-


self ? " said Pennie, who slipped now and then into
the native idiom.

*' I frames to get ahout, but I'se racked wi' rheu-
matiz terrible — terrible.'*

Pennie di'opt lightly from her saddle, gathered
her skirt over her arm, and glancing round at the
busy hens pecking between the stones, at the cows
crowding to the fold-yard gate, at a team of tired
plough-horses going down to water at the pond, made
her way to the back-door, and into the glowing kitchen
whither her mother had preceded her.

" Home's home be it ever so homely, Pennie,
isn't it, now ? " said the widow, warmly.

" Yes, mother, it is." No mistake about Pennie's
sense of satisfaction. She was at her ease at May-
field, and happy.

It was a substantial house with double doors and
no draughts ; crooked stairs in a corner, carpeted
with red, a square hall, tile-paved, long, low, sunny
rooms, with broad windows, cushioned seats, and little
panes ; solid old furniture kept at a wonderful polish,
and in the best parlour, pretty pale chintz curtains
and covers, chosen in deference to Pennie's wishes ;


a piano, and a book-case with glass -doors. Mrs. Croft
preferred the stuffy crimson comfort of the little
dining-room, where she and her husband had always
sat, except on Sunday afternoons, wdien they dozed
in state over good books in the best parlour, to keep
it aired. But during Pennie's visits, the best parlour
was opened for daily use, and as she went upstairs to
the cleanest and sweetest of white dimity bed-rooms,
she saw the gleam of the fire through the door ajar,
and felt how nice it was, for a change, to be more
made of than anybody.

The first evening was not to get over without a
visitor. Pennie had come downstairs, had ensconced
herself before the fire in a chair, especially dedicated
to her service, and was cosily contemplating the red
play of the flames in the half light, and listening to
her mother's voice in high debate with Bessie, when
the garden door banged, somebody tapped at the
window in passing, and Mr. Richard Lister marched
in — a very loud young man, of whom the whole house
became aware the instant he entered it. " There is
no need to ask if that is Dick," said Mrs. Croft,
bustling into the hall. '' You are come to stay ? "


*' I'll have my tea, aunt. Nothing would serve
my mother but I must walk over, and see if you had
brought Pennie."

" Yes, she's there in the best parlour. Pennie
love, here's your cousin Dick."

Pennie rose and presented her small paw, w4iich
the young giant clapt between his two big ones
sonorously : —

"What a mite it is; she doesn't grow a bit,"
said he, and chucked her under the chin, and bade
her look taller.

Poor Pennie hardly knew vv^hether to laugh or
to be angry, and while she was making up her mind,
Dick pulled a chair close along side of hers, and took
possession of her in a masterful, manly sort of way
that there was no getting rid of without being dis-
agreeable. Dick knew he was doing the cousinly to
admiration (as the cousinly was done in those parts),
and if Pennie had given herself airs of dignity, he
would only have teased her. She had wisdom
enough to understand that, and after a momentary
qualm, to take his assiduities in good part. He
helped her at tea to the daintiest messes, he made

VOL. I. 6


lier play, and tried to make lier sing for him ; lie
asked if she could sew worsted work, and promised
to ride with her to the meet of the hounds ; and
before he took himself away, he insisted on a pledge
that she would dance the first dance with him when-
ever the party that was to be at Eood, came off.

"It is to be some day early next week, that's
all I know. But you'll come to-morrow, and see
my mother. Good-night, aunt, good-night, cousin
Pennie. Thafs to be all, is it ? " and touching her
fingers delicately, he made her a formal bow, and
walked with a mock majestic air into the hall.

" Did cousin Dick expect me to give him a kiss,
mother ? " asked Pennie, affronted, when he was gone.

" I daresay he did, love; it's Dick's way. The
gels at home spoil him. But never you heed his



Kood Grange lay in the fields about a quarter of
a mile wide of the abbey. It was mthin a moderate
walk of Mayfield, but Pennie rode and her mother
drove, as on the day before, it being Mrs. Croft's
intention, after showing her daughter at her brother's


house, to go round by Beckby to \'isit Mrs. Jones.
Pennie felt a shy reluctance to encounter again the
boisterous courtesies of her cousin Dick, but she
braced up her mind to bear them with complacency
rather than vex her mother, or make any of her
kinsfolk think she was '' above them " — a tendency
which she had seen and sufiered from on former
occasions. It could therefore be no disappointment
when they got to the Grange to hear that Dick was
gone to Xorminster with his father, and that only
aunt Lister and the girls were at home, with a fire
in their best parlour in expectation of the visit.

Mrs. Lister was a tall, handsome woman of six
or seven and forty, rather austere in her notions,
and veiy proud of her family, whose gravestones for
three hundred years back were to be seen in Eskdale
churchyard. Her daughters, Joanna and Lucy,
were shorter and homelier; without their mother's
beauty, but not v»-ithout her pride. They kissed
Pennie, and sat formally down again in their chairs,
and looked her over while tJic'ir mother and Jicr
mother talked about her in the frankest wa}'.

" She is the moral of Croft, the very moral of


84 MR. WYN yard's WARD.

her father, she is," said her aunt, considering her
visage critically. " But never mind, Pennie, beauty's
but skin deep, and handsome is that handsome

"I don't care for being ugly; I never think of
it unless I am reminded," replied Pennie quickly.

" Aunt Lister didn't mean to remind joii of it,
Pennie love ; she's better manners," said her mother,
patting her arm.

" I don't know what sort of manners Miss
Pennie's used to among th' Wynyards an' Huttons,
an' Raymonds, but I dessay they're much t' same as
our own," rejoined Mrs. Lister, who was piqued at
the allusion to her manners. " My fam'ly's as
good as theirs. Dobbies was in Eskdale before
any of 'em."

The challenge was not taken up. Everybody
who was neighbour to Rood knew Mrs. Lister's pet
theme, and avoided it as judicious people always do
avoid a crotchet and a bore. Joanna turned the
conversation adroitly by asking her mother if she
did not think Pennie's habit a lovely fit. Joanna
wanted a new habit herself.


" Yes, it sets very nice to the figure : I dessay
it's London cut." Mrs. Lister was not mollified in
a moment.

" No, it was made by Eobinson, the tailor at
Norminster," said Pennie.

*' Then, mother, I'll have mine made at Robin-
son's," cried Joanna. Joanna was rather high in
the shoulder, and flat in the waist, but nobody
suggested that there was something in the figure as
well as in the tailor, because nobody present felt
envious of her, or wanted to inflict a mortification
on either mother or dau^ter.

Mrs. Lister's feelings towards Pennie were com-
plex. She thought her as ordinary a little body as
ever stept, and yet she felt jealous of her. She was
aware that her sister-in-law had in her mind that
project about her handsome son, and she was ready
to forward it by evei-y means in her power, and to
hate Pennie, if Dick married her, with a teasing
querulous hatred such as women never indulge in
except to their sons' wives. Pennie was sensible of
her aunt's contemptuous antipathy, which dated from
several years ago, probably from the day when


Jonathan Croft's will was read, and that public
slight of omission put upon his wife's family which
Lister of Kood had never forgiven, and which his
helpmeet had adopted as a reflection on the Dobbies
also. But she was a Christian woman who knew
her duty as a connection, a relative, and a neighbour,
and who plumed herself on fulfilling it in every
contingency. She therefore now stated her hos-
pitable intentions of giving Pennie a party, and said
Thursday in next week would suit her if it would
suit her sister Crofts. The widow was gratified and
showed it.

"A party at Eood, Pennie; what do you think
of that ? Rood's famous for parties and suppers ;
but it's the games and dancing you young 'uns cares
for. Eh, Joanna ? " Joanna laughed, and Pennie
said it would be very nice.

At mention of the games even Lucy, who was of
a sluggish temperament, grew animated. " We want
mother to ask Mr. Tindal, but she says it wouldn't do.
I wonder why it wouldn't do ? " cried she noisily.

" He is as free-spoken as can be," added Joanna ;
^' and I dessay he'd like to come. People is not so


stiff as we are that has lived iu France ; and I'm
sui-e he must find it dull enough at home."

Mrs. Lister looked annoyed. " Mr. Tindal
makes himself verv friendly, talking to the gels,
but he's laughing at 'em half the time. I sha'n't
ask him any more than I shall ask young Squire
Raymond. It is the same thing exac'ly. Let folks
keep to their o'^ii kind. There's more sociability
and comfort \\ithout any of your grandees. No
offence to you, Pennie, you didn't choose where
you'd go live."

" They've not spoilt her, if they have made a lady
of her," said Mrs. Croft, who did not want for spirit.

" I'm not saying they have. But about Mr.
Tindal, gels, your father wouldn't allow of it, if I
would ; and there's things we needn't talk on be-
sides, and so let it rest. You'll have beaux in plenty
without him." Lucy relapsed into silence, aware
that it was useless to dispute when her mother had
spoken ; and Mrs. Croft reminded Pennie that it
was time they were going on to Beckb3\

Pennie was glad to be in her saddle again ; the
social atmosphere at Ptood was not pleasant that


afternoon ; it would liave been pleasanter had Dick
been there. The visit to Beckby was more of a
success. Mrs. Jones was hearty and jovial. She
was all things to all men, and all women too. She
declared Pennie w^as as tall as her cousin Joanna,
and of a deal smarter make ; she admired her pony,
her hat, her whip, the way she did up her curly hair,
her habit, and even her boots. *' A neat foot and
ankle is my weakness," said she. " I was one gel
brought up with five brothers. Miss Pennie, and I
look always at a woman from a man's point of view."
" And I think that's the best and the kindest,"
replied Pennie laughing ; and she told her mother
afterwards that she liked that fat Mrs. Jones who
did not make a stranger of her, much better than her
Aunt Lister.

Mrs. Croft was one of those robust women who
place enjoyment in activity. "Wlien she was alone at
Mayfield she minded her farm, her flocks and herds,
her kitchen, dairy, and poultry-yard ; but when
Pennie was with her, she felt a necessity for doing a
gi'eat deal more. Every day was dull and wasted in


which some excursion had not heen taken or some
visit paid. The weather continued bright and open,
and favoured her roving propensity. Pennie was
carried to see friends who were not seen once a year,
kinsfolk who Uved ten, twelve, fourteen miles off;
and one afternoon even up into bleak, wild, barren
Arkindale, where the clergyman's wife was her
mother's second cousin.

A little church, shingle-roofed, with a square
tower, stood side by side with a little house, also
sliingle-roofed, about which there was not a tree or a
bush, — only a wall with a narrow border under it,
and a grass-plot with a paved path running up from
the gate to the porch. A cluster of cottages hung
on the hill-side, five hundred yards or so to the left,
and some distance beyond them again, over a sharp
ridge, rose a faint cloud of smoke, which came from
the smelting-works at the lead mines. It was a
sunny day, and the bare expanse of fell did not look
so veiy di'eary as Pennie had been told it was.

The Kev. James Burton, in an old coat, with the
collar turned up to protect his ears, and a black felt
wideawake pressed down on his head to meet it, was


digging in a patch of kitclien-garden at the windy
east end of his house, and putting in early peas — too
early, Mrs. Croft warned him. He was a J^oung
man, with abundance of rough energy, and his wife
was like unto him. The visitors found her rocking
her baby's cradle with her foot, and making new
flannel shirts for her husband with her fingers. She
was nice and bright looking, in radiant health, and

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