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the bandages to see how a wound is healing ! '
With this retaliatory thrust, meant to be very
severe, Winny turned back towards Castle
Green, and Georgie, laughing, but colouring
also, went the other way. She was discon-
certed by the imputation of curiosity, not
because it was cruel but because it was

When they had both gone about a score of
yards they looked behind them, and nodded
and waved a restoration of peace and good-


A few days later, when Winny and her
mother returned in the cool of the evening from
Hoi worth Grange, whither they had been to
drink tea and eat ripe fruit according to old
custom, Susan handed her young mistress a
card, with the announcement that the gentle-
man had called twice since they went out. It
was Mr Durant's card ; and he had left a
message that he should hope to see Miss
Hesketh in the morning.

Winny's face betrayed her to her mother,
who asked in a tremulous, astonished voice :
* Winny, what does this mean ? '

* It means nothing, mother. Mr Durant is
married,' was her answer — a conclusive answer,
as she fancied.

The widow looked still more troubled, and
sat down, shaking all over. * Don't see him,
Winny. Your face tells me a tale. It would
break my heart, indeed, it would!' Her voice
rose almost to a cry.

' I will not break your heart, mother. What
do you fear ? Mr Durant will be going on his
travels again, and wants just to say good-bye.


He IS so kind and pleasant that I see no reason
why we may not be friends.'

* He is the gentleman you spoke of before as
being so kind to you at Foston. Winny dear,
suspect his kindness. A girl cannot be a man's
friend unless she expects to be his wife. And
now you say that he has a wife.'

' Yes — but I did not know it when we first
made acquaintance. I'll tell you the story
another time. He is a good and generous
person, and would not, I'm sure, do me any
wrong. — Are you sorry, mother ? What pains
you took to arm me against the peril of men —
yet unawares love of one has found a way
to creep in — I suppose it's nature ! But
don't fret : there'll be no broken hearts this

Winny sounded rather reckless, but she
wished to pacify her mother; and she had,
indeed, no apprehensions now, either present
or future. In the morning she was silently
disposed and paler than usual. Perhaps, she
had wept, and had not slept much. The
widow knew these signs, and was agitated


with anxiety and distress for her child, and
Mr Nicholls was worse.

* I fear he will not be long/ she said.

* Poor fellow ! ' was Winny's exclamation.
Then : ' Don't take another invalid to lodge
in the house, mother. It is too much for

* I cannot refuse what offers, dear Winny.
Invalids must lodge somewhere, and my rooms
are nice and quiet.'

Winny was already diverted to something
else. She saw Mr Durant across the Green,
and said hastily : ' I'll put on my bonnet, and
walk with him by the river.' To herself she
added, that out-of-doors she would be less
liable to behave foolishly.

Mr Durant had been to London since the
wedding at Foston. He looked himself again,
though he had undergone vexations in the
interim. Whatever private hopes he had
conceived of release from his old bonds by
fiat of law, or of their evasion by means of
the superior laxity of foreign marriage customs,
had been summarily abolished by a visit to a


legal friend. Nothing but the death of his
wife could ever set him really free. In the
absence of other comfort, Durant had been
relieved by the secondary thought that he
had made no one but his legal friend his
confidant. This was something. It enabled
him to meet Miss Hesketh in his easy, simple
way. The total extinction of present hope had
sobered his mind, and restored his clear vision
of what was due to her. It was impossible
that he should repent having won some return
to his passion, and he did not repent. That
was his chief consolation, indeed.

Winny had guessed right. He was going
on his travels again, and he had come to
Gotham to tell her so. He assumed that
he had this right, and Winny was in no state
to deny it. The idea that he was leaving
England quite subdued her pride. She
blushed like a china rose, and tried very
hard to still the quiver of her soft little
mouth, but the effort was a complete failure.

' I don't like to think of Rushmead, shut up


and deserted,' said she, her thoughts reverting
to that bright harvest-day.

' Nor I,' said he. ' But I cannot bear the
stillness. I am tired of roving, but roving is
better than an empty house that is no home.
I always see you now in that room I call my
mother's — you remember ? '

If she remembered ! she did not speak. He
had meant to be quite cool and reasonable, but
the emotion of her face gave him a tenderer
licence. ' You know how I love you,' he said
with a suppressed fervour — ' know it as well
as If I had sworn it to you a thousand times
— no man will ever love you with a truer
affection, a warmer passion. But the luck is
against me. If I have said too much, forgive

He had not said too much. His words were
the sweetest balm to WInny's sore heart : ' Oh,'
said she, * I have nothing to forgive. We are
very unfortunate. It is little to say that I
love you too. I shall always recollect how
good you were to me when I was amongst


Strangers. I do not expect ever again to meet
with so kind a friend.'

Durant smiled at her heedless confession —
she did not perceive it, for her eyes were swim-
ming In tears : ' I think,' said he, ' you are one
who will meet with kind friends everywhere.'
It was lucky they were by the riverside, in the
unsentimental, unsoftened light of day, else he
must have kissed her at that instant for pure
kindness, and the slow, silent tears would have
swelled into a flood.

By -and -by he informed her of where he was
going — on a search expedition In the footsteps
of a party of long ago explorers of the debat-
able regions that lie between the dominions
of Russia and our empire in India. This was
a far cry, indeed! Winny knew nothing of
these regions unless upon the map ; but Durant
had once before penetrated some way Into the
districts that were to be Invaded, and he was
able to give her Information, with a clue where
to seek for more. She was not afraid to express
a frank, warm interest in what concerned him,
and he was pleased and moved by it. After



his long unsettled life he had not a friend un-
occupied enough to care to follow his wander-
ings — unless it were this little friend. Popular
as he was when at home, it was with him as
with others — out of sight, out of mind — and he
knew it. The world is too busy every day to
have much thought to spare for those beyond
its easy ken. Only they who love us, bear us
in mind. He asked Winny if he might write
to her by such rare opportunities as were likely
to occur, and she accepted the offer with lively
gratitude — then she checked herself lest it might
put him to trouble.

' No, indeed,' said he rather plaintively.
* Unless to some Fellow of the Geographical
Society, or to my agent in London, I shall need
to write no letters. It will be a pleasure to
discourse to you- of this, that, and t'other.'

' And if you like I will discourse back to you
of what we are doing at home. Mildred shall
tell me all the news of the wolds.'

' I should like it. The post does not run in
those countries as it runs here, but write, write.
Somewhere I shall pick up your letters. A


letter from England, what a godsend It Is ! To
be quite out of hearing, to feel forgotten,
neglected — ah, the pain of it ! But you don't
know — I hope you never will.'

' You will not be forgotten,' said WInny.

They walked a mile along the river, then
turned on their steps again — the cruelest
moments of their parting over.

' And meanwhile you will be prisoned In a
schoolroom In Rusdale, deep In the wild moors
and fells — doing what ? '

' Doing routine duty with children, and
perhaps, not speaking to a grown-up person
once a week.'

Mr Durant's impulse was to be glad of that.
He was almost tempted to exact a promise
from her, but he looked in her young face,
bethought him of his own years, and his good
sense forbade It. Let her be happy if God
would ! It is proverbially weary work waiting
for vacant shoes, and he would have hated to
perturb her mind with vain hopes, set against the
dark uncertainties of life. It was an Immense
consolation to Winny to be assured that Durant


loved her. Thoughts of him might cheat her
soHtude now of its cheerlessness. And he was
more at rest, knowing her at rest. They did
not make their farewell long. As they crossed
the Green Durant asked if there was not some
one ill in Mrs Hesketh's house, and Winny
told him the pathetic annals of the broken-down
poor curate.

' Oh, but it is a blessed thing to see
the sun!' was Durant's emphatic response.
* Life is very sweet. God grant a long day to
you and me, and leave to meet again in better
times ! '

' Amen,' said Winny with her bright, uplook-
ing smile. And with that they shook hands,
and separated, and Winny went indoors, saying
to herself with rueful resignation that here, then,
was the end of her love-story, cut short in its
first chapters, and without any tragedy that she
could mourn for.

Mr Nicholls continued to decline. He was
wearing away fast. On the afternoon before
Winny Hesketh was to leave home for her new


situation he asked to see her. She went with
some unwilHngness.

' There is nothing to be afraid of,' her mother
told her.

The restlessness and longing for change of
place that often precede death by consumption
had overtaken the poor gentleman, and his bed
had been removed into the parlour. He lay
supported upon high pillows — a daunting and
pitiful spectacle to that girl who had never
before been brought face to face with the dis-
solution of mortality. Hanging from the rail
at the foot of the bed was a small ivory crucifix
that his eyes rested on. He held out a feeble
hand, and Winny put hers into it. His fingers
closed upon her fingers, so soft and warm, but
neither spoke a word. She bit her lip hard to
keep back the springing tears. He looked up
at her, then at the crucifix, and bowing his head
with a gentle significance, looked at her again.
She gave him the same mute token, and went

Dr Archer, when he had paid his evening
visit, told Mrs Hesketh that she must be pre-


pared for the final change at any hour. Winny
heard him, and proposed to go for Nanny
Anson to relieve her mother, and share the dis-
tress of nursing. Nanny Anson was the person
always summoned to the widow Hesketh's
house in any emergency.

' There is daylight enough for me to go, and
she will be with me coming back,' Winny

Her mother raised no obstacle, but only
answered : ' I wish you would, Winny dear —
I feel rather shaken, and Susan was up the
greater part of last night.'

When Winny Hesketh was a little girl the
two miles to the village of Ripley where Nanny
Anson lived were much abridged by taking a
short cut across pleasant green fields ; but these
fields were private gardens now, and scattered
over with houses, and she took the longer way
round by the road. For a considerable distance
It ran through a suburb of small mansions of
gentility, much given to array of flowers in their
windows, but for over a mile it was a lonely
highroad, between thick and lofty hedgerows.


and bordered on one side by a well-gravelled,
wide path of which the townsfolk, dwelling to-
wards that outlet from the town, made a favour-
ite evening stroll. WInny, with all the way to
Ripley to go, did not stroll but walked apace.
She met some whom she knew, and more who
knew her ; for her brief essay at teaching, as
Delphlne Mercler did, had brought her daily
in this direction, and so true to time had she
been that one or two of the shopkeepers with
whom she was friendly had said they could
set their clocks by her. She liked their greet-
ing as she passed their doors, and it seemed to
shorten her walk this evening to meet the old
bookseller and his brother, the politest men In
Cotham, of whom she bought her books, and
the very fat confectioner who from her Infancy
had sold her ounces of comfits and acid drops
without weighing, and as she knew now, had
retained her as a faithful customer at an annu-
ally accumulating loss.

The tower of Ripley church was in sight, and
the leisure saunterers were left behind, w^hen
Winny overtook a person in black, walking


slowly towards the village. She passed her,
but was recalled by name : * Surely that is Miss
Winifred — her quick, light step ? ' and turning
round she saw that it was Miss Hubbard who
spoke — her ancient adversary. Not that she
recollected in the surprise of the moment that
they had ever been adversaries. She made a
respectful acknowledgment to her superior, but
said at the same time that she must not loiter,
she had an errand to do, and to go home

* Decisive as ever. Miss Winifred,' replied
Miss Hubbard, and quickened her own move-
ments to keep up with the young girl.

WInny told her where she was going, and
what for, and then Miss Hubbard returned her
confidence with the information that she was
spending her midsummer holidays in cottage-
lodgings at Ripley, having lost an only married
sister with whom she had been used to make
her home.

* If I had known you were at Ripley I
would have come to see you,' said Winny.
' Would you, indeed } I should have been


glad, for I am quite alone. Mrs Brunton told
me not long since that you were gone to
Foston to be bridesmaid to dear i\Iiss Mildred

Winny gave her an account of the wedding,
and some other items of news respecting old
schoolfellows. And this talk brouo^ht them to
a lane that branched off to the church and new
rectory, near which Miss Hubbard had her
lodgings. Here they parted, and as Winny
w^ent on her way alone, she wondered in her
own mind whether her warm love would waste
and fade with years, as this antipathy had done,
once so lively and pronounced.

Nanny Anson was in her garden, tending her
flowers, and little expecting a summons to
trudge to Cotham so late. ' My joy, what
brings you over here at this time o' night?'
cried she as Winny opened the gate. Nanny
dressed always of an afternoon in light chintz
gowns and big, frilly net caps with bows, and
looked as smart as the bunch of gilly flowers
she held in her hand.

Winny told her errand, and Nanny was


prompt In acquiescence. * I'll come, my honey,
only wait till I put up a few things, and speak
to a woman-neighbour to give puss his milk —
my nephys can't be trusted to do that — not
they. Will you rest in the house a bit, or go
and eat a few currants off the wall — the red
ones are beautiful and ripe. I was thinking
I'd pick 'em to-morrow, and carry to your
mother to make her jelly. And she'll want
some to mix wl' rasps preserving — not that she
uses much preserves since you and Master
Dick's away. How he did love roly-poly, that

Winny went Into the house, and sat down
until Nanny was ready. Once upon a time,
and not so very long a time ago, the cottage
that Nanny Anson lived in was the parsonage-
house. The kitchen was what had served the
parson himself, a large, low-raftered place with
a brick floor and open chimney, and no cooking
apparatus but a bakestone. Nanny's bedroom
next It might have been his wife's parlour, and
her cow-house the retreat of his studious mo-


ments, if any such he had. There was a back-
place, so called, and a step-ladder to the lofts
under the thatch where the nephews slept — all
nice and warm, Nanny averred, and a deal
more for her money than the one-brick-thick
slated houses that were run up for labouring
folk now-a-days.

* We must put our best foot foremost to get to
Cotham ere it's dark,' Nanny said as she locked
the door, and hid the key where the nephews
were used to find it in her absence.

It was already deep, soft twilight, a lovely
night, and the air perfumed with the sweet
breath of hawthorn in the hedges. The bells
of the parish church were chiming ten o'clock as
they began to draw near to the town. There was
no moon, and the lamplighter was running
about with his ladder, lighting the street-lamps.
Mrs Hesketh had been watchinsf for their
arrival, and stood with the door open when
they came up. She looked pale and agitated,
and said that she had begun to fear Nanny
could not be spared from home.


' He is gone,' she said to Winny, ' gone since
you went out.'

Wihny echoed the word with awe :
* Gone ! '

Susan entered from the street, followed by a
decent, quiet man, a joiner, whom Winny had
often stood to watch doing a job of work at the
house when she was a little girl. He nodded to
Mrs Hesketh, and went straight up stairs.
Nanny went too. The widow and her daughter
turned back into the parlour, speaking with
bated breath.

Her mother looked at Winny : * You are
tired — eat your supper, and go to bed. Have
you any packing to finish for to-morrow ? '

* Not much — only what must be left till
the morning. But I would like to sit up with
you, mother.'

* I shall not need to sit up — no one need sit
up now. His sufferings are over. We may
all go to bed, and sleep to-night.'

It seemed so strange, so very strange to
Winny — death was but an incident. On the


morrow she was going fifty miles away, for an
absence, If all went well, that would last a year.
Her mother wished her gone just now, and
forgot for how long she was to lose her.
Winny did not forget, but her mother's anxlous-
ness and pressing cares seemed often to shut
her out from consideration. Some day, per-
haps, there might be a change, when she would
be permitted to live at home in her own way,
and to close the door against strangers — but
here her thoughts paused with pity on the
stranorer that her mother had taken in.

* Poor mother, you are doing a better day's
work than ever I shall do ! ' said she.

* You don't know, Winny. Your day's work
is only in its beginning yet,' replied her

They went upstairs together when the house
was still for the night, and Winny, for the first
time in her life reversing the old order of
things, stayed in her mother's room until she
was laid down in bed.

* It will soon be my turn to tuck you up,
mother,' said she.


But the widow was very serious. * Not yet,
Winny. I am as able and willing for my duty
as ever I was.'

' Yes, indeed. I wish at your age I may be
as willing. But I am afraid I shall not.'

' You must be prudent, and look forward to
the rainy day, and provide against it.'

' Oh yes ! But I shall not put all my treasure
in Gotham Bank — that may break. I shall
have more than a hundred pounds this year,
and twenty serve me for dress ; so, mammy
dear, if you want any, be good and take it.
And don't despise my fairy-money, for I expect
some day that is what I shall have to live on.
There — good-night. You won't have me to-

Winny spoke with a cheerful voice, but when
she went up to her eyrie, and gazed round at
her preparations for the next day, she sighed
and was quite sad and sorry. There were, in-
deed, circumstances attending this, her second
departure to an unknown home, that might ex-
cuse her feeling a little down-hearted. That


very day she had a letter from Mr Durant at
Southampton. Already he had sailed — at this
very moment he was on the great wide, perilous



When Winny Hesketh peremptorily declined
the sinecure office of companion to that rich,
free-spoken, country lady, Mrs Brett, she uttered
a fervent aspiration to be let do something for
her living. As governess to the younger mem-
bers of the family at Hauxwell her aspira-
tion was, at once, in the way of ample fulfil-

It was on a beautiful late June day that she
travelled up into Rusdale. Twelve miles at the
end of her journey were performed in an anti-
quated, market-going machine, compounded
of gig and tax-cart. The horse, however, was
a cheerful goer, and he had need to be ; for all
the way was up-hill and down dale, following
the windings of a broad valley. A river ran
in its depths, and Its large declivities were



dotted with villages, farmsteads, and gentle-
men's seats. A perpetual and enchanting
variety of prospect was revealed, and Haux-
well came into view towards five of the after-
noon, the time of day which shows a summer
landscape at its loveliest. Winny Hesketh
was inexpressibly glad that her reluctant new
service had brought her into such a fine and
populous part of the country, and felt her
spirits rising again to her circumstances.

The house at Hauxwell was built on the
slope of a hill facing south, and was backed
with dark and far-stretching fir-woods. Ex-
ternally it was an old stone house, rambling,
irregular, and without dignity. Inside it was
warm in winter and cool in summer, ugly, but

Miss Hesketh was introduced to Mrs Pere-
grine-Hart in her morning-room, immediately
on her arrival — it was a square room with
sash-windows, and dwarf book-cases round the
walls. Above the book-cases w^ere numerous
paintings of local scenery, harsh and crude in

VOL. II. ' N


colour, the work, probably, of local genius.
The lady of the house was stout, plain, in
manner affable, and possessed of genuine kind-
liness ; and contemplating her gentle serenity,
the new governess, who had heard from more
than one exponent a very alarming account of
her future pupils, permitted herself to hope that
they might not turn out so bad as they were

But when she was conducted to the school-
room where the young people expected her
appearance this hope collapsed. They offered
her no welcome, kept their seats, and looked
her over with defiant curiosity ; and their
survey accomplished, the eldest girl muttered
something at which the rest laughed. Their
mother seemed filled with chagrin, but made
no comment. If Winny had known how she
had been described to them as a person of
terrible force and vast experience in the reduc-
tion to discipline of savage boys and girls,
she miofht have understood their remarkable
behaviour; as it was, she felt disconcerted,
though not daunted, and as if an instant call


for fatiQfuinof and distressinof action were made
upon her.

Mrs Peregrine- Hart retired when she had
named her offspring — Isobel, Jane, Edward
and Clara. And Miss Hesketh observing
that the table was set for tea, and a vacant
chair before the tray, assumed that here she
was to preside over the tea-pot, and seated
herself accordingly. Isobel confronted her
with knitted brows that lowered like a thunder-
cloud over a pair of very handsome dark blue
eyes. Her features were singularly fine, her
hair black and her figure cast in the mould of
a young Roman girl. She was between
twelve and thirteen, but looked older. Jane
was fair, and less noticeable. Edward was a
male copy of his eldest sister. Clara was a little
child of six, another likeness of Isobel. These
three were true Peregrine- Harts ; the fair
daughter took after their milder mother.

The presence of the stranger, and her air
of weary composure, exerted a controlling
Influence over the young bears, who watched
her as real bears might watch a keeper with-


out a whip. And they did not talk so much
as growl in a whisper. Once WInny's lips
parted in an irresistible smile; the scene
struck her as comic, notwithstanding the
painful future scenes it foreshadowed. Wild
creatures are always suspicious. Isobel
reddened and muttered (muttering was her
trick) ' What Is there to grin at ? ' Then as if
suddenly aware of some want at table, she rose
and pulled the bell, and went on pulling until
a neat, scared maid-servant presented herself,
when she cried out with a rough Imperiousness :

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