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LI E> R.AFLY

OF THL

UNIVERSITY

or ILLINOIS

82.3



Digitized by the Internet Arcinive

in 2009 with funding from

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign



http://www.archive.org/details/thisworkadayworl02leeh



THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

VOL. II.



TRINTED BY BALLANTYNE AND COMPANY
EDINBURGH AND LONDON



THIS WORKADAY
WORLD.



HOLME LEE,

AUTHOR OF

'sylvan holt's daughter," "beautiful miss HARRINGTON,

"vicissitudes of BESSIE FAIRFAX."



VOL. II.



LONDON:
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE.

1875.



\






CONTENTS,



CHAP.

I. A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE .




.


PAGE

I


II. A HARVEST FESTIVAL






II


III. AT COMBER PRIORY






22


IV. SWEET SEPTEMBER DAYS .






37


V. CHILL OCTOBER DAYS






52


VI. DREAR NOVEMBER DAYS .






62


VII. OTHER PEOPLE'S TROUBLES






79


VIII. AT HOME FOR CHRISTMAS






102


IX. A WILL OF HER OWN






112


X. SAFETY LIES IN FEAR






127


XL THE WEDDING-DAY AT FOSTON






153


XII. TWO FAREWELLS .






168


XIII. HARD SERVICE






192


XIV. BETWEEN FRIENDS






216


XV. WINNY REVISITS LONDON






231


XVI. MILDRED MARRIED






280


XVII. ANOTHER PAGE OF EXPERIENCE






. 287



s



THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.



CHAPTER I.

A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE.

When Mildred Hutton saw her mother stand-
ing at the garden door, she felt as if a long,
long space of time had elapsed since she left
her. To Winny Hesketh also the interval
since the departure for Rockbro' could not be
measured as common hours of sixty minutes
apiece. Mildred breathed her confession to
her mother, and found it less hard than she
feared. Winny breathed no confession even to
herself, but the firmament of heaven and all
things under heaven were new-made for her.
She was not of an analytical disposition ; she
was bright because she was pleased with her
entertainment, and joyous because life had

VOL. II. A



2 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

revealed an unexpected sweetness in its
innocent and simple pleasures. Mr Durant
was so kind, she said to herself, and everybody
was good to her here.

The same event went on. Daily there were
walks, or drives, or excursions — not far excur-
sions, but to show Miss Hesketh the country,
and when the party had to divide, it was said,
as of course ; * Durant will take care of Winny
Hesketh. They suit, and get on very well
together.' Durant did not like the trouble of
amusing bantering girls, and Winny had no-
thing to say to the very young men, her con-
temporaries. Everybody was satisfied, there-
fore, and the two chiefly concerned were best
satisfied of all.

Durant never forgot to be what Winny
called kind. His temper was mixed largely of
indulgence. He liked her, approved her, took
to her with a genuine friendliness. She was an
agreeable companion ; she could listen in-
telligently, and her ignorance and inexperience
did not prevent her conversing intelligently.
A man of five and thirty can be very tolerant



A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE. 3

of a pretty girl's ignorance. It makes him
occasions of instructing her. Winny, on her
side, felt that Durant's society was improving.
He drew out her powers, and made her exert
them. She learnt from him, and remembered
much about foreign cities and peoples that
would not have so permanently impressed her
mind learnt in any other way. In the progress
of these lessons their eyes met often, and each
became aware that the other was lovable.
He never talked nonsense to her, never dis-
concerted her with compliments, or brought
remark or observation upon her. The success
of her visit to Foston-under-Wold was to be
ascribed in a great measure to Durant's kind-
ness.

And for this reason — Miss Hesketh was
introduced as Miss Hutton's governess-friend,
and at that date, and in that society, a gover-
ness was considered to be, in a fashion, inferior
to girls who had fathers able to keep them in
their own houses, and portion them off in
marriage. Perhaps it is scarcely necessary to
state that Winny Hesketh did not coincide in



4 THIS WORK A-DAY WORLD.

this view. Her notions of feminine independ-
ence were before her time. She put forward
no pretensions to match the young ladies with
dowers in perspective, but she bore herself with
a dignity derived from a sense of being her
own mistress in the present, of having her own
money of her own earning in her own pocket, —
not much of it, but absolutely her own,^to spend
or to keep, and to render no account of to
anybody. Mrs Hutton's numerous sisters, with
the prospect of being themselves governesses
(unless eligible husbands offered for them), liked
to inquire of Miss Hesketh concerning that lot
in life, and she answered them always with a
cheerful resignation which lifted her to their
level of a nice girl who would not refuse to be
happy in the natural way of women if she got
the chance. But Miss Cradock, Miss Dives,
and lively girls of their wealthier sphere, treated
her as an elder, sager, lower person, a duenna
by profession, quite disabled from rivalry with
themselves. And under such circumstances,
when thrown amongst strangers, it was undeni-
ably a comfort to have Mr Durant's unfailing.



A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE. 5

unobtrusive courtesy to rely on. WInny
counted it a necessary element of her pleasure
wherever they met. If she had not been
already awake to the privileges and responsi-
bilities of her vocation she must have suffered
amazement and perplexity. One day there
was a proposal- of a limited picnic to Comber
Prior}^ and Mrs Hutton could not go. Miss
Dives' experience obviated the rising diffi-
culty.

* Oh, Miss Hesketh will chaperone us — won't
you, Miss Hesketh ? * cried she.

* Yes — with the utmost pleasure,' said Winny,
and she said it with the utmost gravity, though
Miss Dives was twice as big as herself, and
probably twelve or fourteen years older. And
to Comber Priory in her brown bonnet and
character of chaperone Winny Hesketh
went. Mr Hutton tried to make game of her,
but she put him to silence by the calm self-
possession of her behaviour, and a concise
assurance that it was what she had to do con-
stantly on behalf of Miss Broome — a young
lady, marriageable and very handsome, more-



6 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

over. ' It is,' she said, ' a mere question of
degree.'

But there was an old lady, one Mrs Brett,
plain and outspoken as countrified old ladies
are yet, and she delivered her mind on the
matter adversely, and before witnesses with
whose presence Winny could have dispensed,
had their exclusion lain in her power. This
terrible old lady was rich, and without visible
kindred or connections, circumstances which
made her peculiarities to be endured with
singular meekness. Mildred Hutton being an
especial favourite of hers, she came over to dine
at the House for the express purpose of making
acquaintance with Mildred's friend. Winny
was bidden to look and behave her prettiest,
and this she did without effort. Durant was
there, the only other guest, and Winny had an
inspired trick of always looking and behaving
her prettiest when he was near.

It was at dessert, when there was no escape.
Mrs Brett put on a large, impressive pair of
gold-rimmed spectacles, and then, lowering her
chin and knitting her brows, she gazed over



A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE. 7

them full at Winny, sitting opposite, and said
with harsh sarcasm (and when she spoke all
the world listened) : 'So you are the miss-
governess that Mildred is so taken up with,
are you ? — Well, I don't see what's to choose
between you and any other miss, that you should
give yourself the freedoms of a married woman.
It is not usual — and *' be ye conformed to this
world" is good morals, and scripture too.
Suppose a man should be impertinent to you
(and let me tell you there are men who are
not particular when they see a girl without
protection), what should you do ? '

' I cannot tell you — it is impossible to be
equipped beforehand for every emergency,'
Winny replied. ' I don't live in fear that men
will be impertinent to me. I go about my
business, and it does not lie in the way of
impertinent men.'

Mrs Brett wagged her head. ' The Lord
keep you ! ' cried she devoutly. * You have
a deal too much confidence.'

Winny's cheeks were carnation, and Durant
next to her, felt that she was a-quiver from head



8 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

to foot With scorn, anger, and conflicting, sup-
pressed emotions. There was a perceptible
pause of silence, and then Mrs Hutton the
elder said, with sympathising moderation : * In
the path of duty there is safety — Miss Winifred
has reason on her side. And whether or not, it
is a pity to dishearten her, when she has to look
to herself You have nobody but your mother,
have you, dear ? '

* I have my brother Dick, but he is in Lon-
don — and more likely to need help than to give
it, poor Dick ! ' Winny had recovered herself,
and though her face still burned, she answered
in a natural, careless tone.

' Oh, that's it, is it ? ' said Mrs Brett partially
ameliorated. * Then I pity you — if the brains
and the pluck run in the women, and the men
of your family are poor trash.'

Winny had by no means meant to convey any-
thing of the sort. She gave one of those silent
rejoinders for which she was famous. Mrs
Brett was acute enough to understand, and
shrewd enough to forgive it, although she had
provoked it.



A MERE QUESTION OF DEGREE. 9

* Eh, mercy! I'll let you be ! There's devil
enough in you for two folks,' she exclaimed in
that voice of hers which signified a lapse into
the highest good-humour. ' But, you'll admit
that it's a joke to see a little lass like you mother-
ing about those ancient chickens Bell Dives and
her sister — because you are a miss-governess,
forsooth, and they are, by courtesy, yotmg ladies.
They were young in the year one, and have my
leave to travel alone from here to Jerusalem —
it is the bachelors want chaperones where Bell
Dives comes. That's a word to the wise —
meaning yotc. But I am of my own opinion
still. There's no make of the matron about
you, whatever there may be, and it is not
seemly you should take upon you that liberty —
Wait till your turn comes.'

' It is a mere question of degree,' Winny said
again with invincible tenacity.

Durant to whom the expression was new,
heard something so comic in it that he could
not keep a grave countenance any longer. He
broke into a merry peal of laughter, in which
Mr Hutton joined. *We must accept Miss



lO THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

Winifred's dictum — I perceive that she has
nailed her flag to the mast, and will stand by
it,' said her host, and he stretched out his hand,
and patted her on the shoulder, as much as to
tell her that she had done right too.

When Winny got an opportunity of stating
her private opinion of that terrible old lady, it
is to be feared that it was not a very mild or
Christian opinion.



CHAPTER II.

A HARVEST FESTIVAL.

This mere question of degree which WInny
Hesketh had decided, proved a vast conveni-
ence when Mr Frank Jarvis arrived at the
House to be formally introduced amongst
Mildred Hutton's family, friends, and acquaint-
ances. The excursions had to be repeated,
and the young people liked to repeat them in
a select company. Durant never hung back,
and Winny was proud to make herself useful.
The happy lovers enjoyed a few rare July holi-
days, for the weather continued glorious. What
roses there were that summer! Then began
August, and the harvest. Mr Hutton was too
busy to be of their pleasure parties any more,
but the pleasure parties went on almost as well
without him. When that great cornfield was
reaped above Rushmead Old Hall, the corn-



1 2 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

field where Mildred and Winny had rested on
the stile one certain hot afternoon half a lifetime
ago, watching for Mr Hutton's return from
Lownde market, Mr Durant took the oppor-
tunity of returning the hospitality of his neigh-
bours by inviting them to assist at the reaping,
and afterwards at a collation in his garden.

His neighbours accepted his invitation, and
mustered in considerable force. They all went
from the House except the two younger boys,
and the harvest-field was noisy with volunteer
reapers in summer suits and binders in white
muslin. Mildred Hutton preferred the cool
shade of the trees in the garden, and kept Winny
near her, unless Frank came discoursing, and
then Winny might wander off if she pleased,
but not far. Winny was lazy too, and was
contented to look on at the picturesque toils of
the reapers and binders instead of helping them.
This country-life, so fresh and idyllic, appeared
to her like a beautiful poem or painting, to be
admired but not possessed.

All the girls from Cranby Rectory were there,
chirping and agile as grasshoppers, and some



A HARVEST FESTIVAL. I3

five or six young men to pair with them, who
were pupils of the engineer engaged in construct-
ing a new Hne of railway to bring this remote
wold-district into closer communication with the
busy world. Winny Hesketh was sitting on the
ground, peaceful and happy, doing nothing and
wanting nothing, when one of these lads espied
her, looked again, and knew her — a very tall,
fair, handsome Scotch lad, Alick Broome, a
favourite cousin at Hall Green. He came run-
ning up, and paid his respects, and asked Miss
Hesketh to come and play at harvesting with
the others, but Winny begged to be excused on
the plea of being better satisfied to stay where
she was. So he would stay with her, to amuse
her, all of his good-nature, though she wished
he would return to his playfellows, and leave
her to her pensive reflections. He did, at
length, leave her, when Mr Durant arriving,
dropt on the grass at her feet, and tossed off
his straw hat wearily. There he lay, reclining
and resting himself, giving this one a word and
that one a word as his guests trooped into the
green enclosure to escape the sultry, dusty,



14 THIS WORK- A- DAY WORLD.

golden glow of four o'clock, until Miss Cradock
broke on his repose with a petition to go through
the house, and let some strangers, her friends,
see the ghost-room.

' Would you like to go ? ' he asked Winny,
and on her acquiescing, said : ' Then come
along — I'll be your guide myself.'

They were only a few who had not seen Rush-
mead Old Hall before. It stood four square,
without bays or other projection than the
porch. It was very old, and at the date of its
building men built for their posterity, using
hard stone and oak timber. The rooms were
long and low, and the windows, glazed in divers
patterns, deep sunk in the walls. It was too
wild and windy a world round Rushmead in
winter for a shrewd architect to expose more
surface to the outer cold than could be avoided.
There had never been any attempt at alteration
or improvement, but neither had there been
any neglect. Round every room the wainscot
rose shoulder-height, and the space above was
painted of some warm tint as a back-ground to
the pictures. Though but rarely lived in, they



A HARVEST FESTIVAL. 1 5

had an inhabited and even homeHke aspect.
Durant's mother might have left her parlour,
and gone out into the garden to entertain his
guests not an hour ago.

Somebody remarked that he must have an
excellent housekeeper. He gave no answer,
but Winny Hesketh, by whom he stood at the
moment, heard him sigh. It was not the spirit
of a hired servant, however devoted, that pre-
served that air of order and affectionate remem-
brance under his roof.

* This is the ghost-room ! ' cried Miss Cradock.
* What a comfortable ghost-room ! Who would
not rather haunt it than lie over yonder in the
melancholy churchyard ? ' A window at the
further end looked that way, along the walk under
the yew-trees that stretched across the meadows.

' And what is the ghost ? ' inquired another
somebody.

* I have never seen it,' said the master of the
house.

* But you believe in it ? Don't deny that you
believe in such a venerable appendage as a good
old family ghost ! '



1 6 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

Durant made a gesture of indifference. * How
many generations have been born and have
died in this house ? Theirs are the ghosts that
haunt it — not one, but a long line of them,' said
he.

' Was there never a murder done, or an heir
suppressed, or a love-distracted maiden ? How
did it get its name of a haunted house ? We
have heard of lights at all hours of the night,
and, indeed, I have spoken with people who
had seen them.'

' No doubt, no doubt. The meadows are
marshy where the brook spreads in the hollow.
And for anything I know when I am absent,
my housewife sleeps in the day-time, and wakes
after dark.' Durant refused to admit the ghost,
and Miss Cradock gambolled off to the upper
story. ' There is nothing to see higher up,
Miss Hesketh. Rest here in the cool till our
friends come down again,' he said, pushing a
chair over to one of the windows which was
open. Winny acceded, and Durant took a seat
near, with his back against the wainscot, and
for several minutes his eyes travelled to and fro



A HARVEST FESTIVAL. 1 7

the room, pausing scrutinisingly now on one
object, now on another. At length he spoke,

' This w^as my mother's parlour. Miss Hesketh.
It was a tender whim of my father to keep it
just as she left it. She died during my first
year at Cambridge. We were often away, my
brother and myself, and my father used to sit
here of an evening alone — for company, as he
told us. Look — these were her favourite books,
her trifles for work and writing — her pearl-
handled pen, her agate seal with the two robins
on it — birthday presents from us boys. I have
heard her protest that none of us ever caused
her a heartache ! '

Durant had stept to the table in front of the
hearth, and Winny, at his beck, went too. He
opened a scarlet morocco folio, and turned over
for her inspection, leaf by leaf, a calendar of the
year, painted in wild flowers, with poetical de-
scriptions, original and selected, written under-
neath each group in a delicate, fine hand.
While they were thus occupied Alick Broome
rushed in and out again, and presently there
was a call from the garden for the master. He

VOL, II. B



1 8 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

prepared to obey it : * I must go now, but you
may look the drawings over by yourself, if you
like,' he said, but still lingered. There was
another call, and Winny asked if he ought not
to make haste. 'Yes — yes. You remind me
of my dear mother herself in your gentle, de-
cisive ways. Miss Hesketh.' Winny smiled and
blushed without lifting her eyes. ' Do I ? ' said
she. He went away, and she remained where
she was, with her pensive reflections.

She was sorry to quit them for conversation
with Mrs Brett who shortly presented herself
in search of an easy-chair, and peace and quiet-
ness. A summons to the lawn and the collation
gave her, however, brief enjoyment of them.
She asked Winny to lend her an arm to lean on
as she walked, for she was lame with rheumatic
gout, and as they issued from the house in this
kindly proximity, a notice was bestowed upon the
young lady which, in her own person, she had
not been able to attract. Mrs Brett's patronage
was a matter of jealous desire. Winny won-
dered why ; for she was far from courting it her-
self. The rich old woman was conscious of her



A HARVEST FESTIVAL. 1 9

social importance in her own neighbourhood, and
might naturally suppose that this insignificant
stranger had been imbued with it by her friends,
but Winny was not flattered when she made
her an abrupt proposal to give up her governess-
ing, and live with her as a useful companion.

' I told Mildred Hutton t other day that I
wished you lived near us — I should often want
to invite you in to amuse me. Mildred professes
that you are clever, and are going to turn out a
book-author — but that's a queer calling for a
female, is it not ? What's there to hinder you
giving up your governessing, and coming as da^ne
de compagnie to me ? I'll treat you well — I'm no
tyrant at home, though you mayn't think it — and
I'll pay you what the other folks pay. All I
should require of you would be good-temper,
and to write my letters — and to read Saturday's
paper.'

' Oh, I could not endure that existence of
passive restraint ! ' cried Winny shaking her
head vehemently, and frowning at the frightful
vision. ' I don't care how hard I work, but
let me do something for my living ! '



20 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

* What has thrown Miss Hesketh into such a
state of agitation ?' inquired Mr Durant laugh-
ing and surprised. They had come upon him
unawares.

* Indeed, but she knows how to give herself
airs — see the tantrum she's in ! ' Mrs Brett
answered him demonstratively. * I knew with-
out telling that she was no milk-and-water chit
— that she had spirit enough, and more than a
dash of the lemon, considerably more. But I
didn't expect to have my kindness flung back
in my face as if it were an affront when I made
her the offer to change her schoolroom for my
house. No, that I didn't. Folks must go from
home to learn news 1 '

More persons listened to Mrs Brett's harangue
than it was addressed to. Winny felt dread-
fully confused, but a pert little girl came unex-
pectedly to her relief with an offer of herself in
the place Miss Hesketh had rejected : ' I wish
you would adopt me,. Mrs Brett! / would
keep you alive ! ' cried she, jumping up and
down, and clapping her hands.



A HARVEST FESTIVAL. 2 I

'Wait until you are asked, Molly Cope/
rejoined the old lady, not displeased.

Winny's eyes appealed to Durant for deliver-
ance, and he answered her promptly by taking
Mrs Brett on his own arm, and placing her in
charge of the clergy. Winny he brought as
close to his own neighbourhood at the table as
the dignity of her elders and betters allowed,
and as far as possible out of Mrs Brett's range;
for the old lady manifested some discontent
at losing her, and inquired of her host what he
had done with her sauce piqtca^ite — she liked her
satice piquante. Winny had Alick Broome
next her, and was pleased in proportion. The
lad was thoroughly amiable, and talked of his
cousins.

There was a dance on the bowling-green to
end with, the music being two fiddles and a
cornet ; and with harvest-songs in chorus
between-times, the day at Rushmead was
brought to a triumphant conclusion.



CHAPTER III.

AT COMBER PRIORY.

The next distinguished event in the annals of
Winny Hesketh's visit to Foston-under-Wold,
was a fete at Comber Priory. The young
people of that part of the world thought it
impossible to go to Comber too often in the
summer. On the road home from Rushmead
Mr Hutton remarked that it was unlucky the
engineers had fixed on the twelfth for their
entertainment — he was afraid the grouse
would prove a rival attraction too strong
for some of their invited guests to resist.

* And you will be gone, Winny,' Mildred
said.

' No, no, Miss Winifred must stay over that
day. What imperative call has she ? ' remon-
strated her host.

Winny replied that she was due at Hall



AT COMBER PRIORY. 23

Green on the twenty-fifth, and she must spend
some time at Gotham with her mother before
her holidays ended — besides she had already
been nearly three weeks at Foston, and they
must be tired of her.

' We will tell you when we are — I have no
objection myself to keep you for another three
weeks. But you shall be allowed to go on the
thirteenth. Between the thirteenth and the
twenty-fifth there is some time.'

Winny's wishes chimed with Mr Huttons
invitation. She was glad to stay for the fete at
Gomber. But it was with a sense of disappoint-
ment she heard Mr Durant, on the following
Sunday, say that he was off to the moors on the
eleventh.

'Won't you be prevailed on to forego two
days' sport for the entertainment the young
railway-fellows are giving themselves so much
trouble to get up?' Mrs Hutton the younger
asked him. ' Frank Jarvis will stretch his
Lusiness-leave to gratify Mildred, and Miss
Hesketh has put off her departure until the day
after Gomber.'



24 THIS WORK-A-DAY WORLD.

Mr Durant looked on the ground, then at
the horizon, as if consulting oracles, and finally
opened his mouth, and said slowly : ' I'll see what
I can do,' — and was silent for ever so long after.

For Winny Hesketh the fete at Comber
meant Durant, and it is likely that Durant
guessed it ; and debated betwixt the pleasure


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