« VorigeDoorgaan »
She began to read Mrs. Fagg with this s'pose he thinks I'm wanting food and new key, and she wondered at her own such like.” blindness; while she had been fretting He looked ashamed, but he indulged and murmuring at every cross laid on in a grim smile at the simplicity of the her, the wife of poor, ignorant, afflicted clergyman. Dennis had taken all her
“Roger, why don't you say you are not gladly as from a loving Father's hand, poor?” Nuna was horrified at his coulness. and all had turned to blessing.
“Bless you, ma'am, the parson gives “And I thought I had a loving it, accordin' to what he says, more for nature,” she said. “I have loved my the sake of his own soul than for my self, that's all. I see now, if love is needs. Why should I baulk him? it have true, it must conquer.”
done me no harm, and it may be does him Nuna only called in St. John Street, a sight of good." and then she drove off to Bellamount Nuna wished Mrs. Fagg was present, Terrace. She felt strangely puzzled that she did not feel capable of rebuking she had not before thought of consulting Roger. Roger Westropp. She was surprised at “ You see, ma'am, these are the two her own calm when she reached his things I want to speak about. I've a house.
feeling I wouldn't like them "- he The old woman opened the door. pointed to the candlesticks—“as my
" The master's not a-bed,” she said; missus took such a pride in, to be “but he's too weak to move about." sold, maybe, for a few pence to some
Roger lay on the faded green sofa. drunken hussy or another. I'd be fain He was very white and ghastly; and the if you'd see they was put alongside of shadows in his face had that bluish tint me,-that's first. The next's this”— which gives an awfulness to the expres he put bis hand inside his waistcoat, sion.
fumbled a few minutes, and then drew On the table in the middle of the out a creased, soiled paper. “I want room were the two brass candlesticks
you to be so good, ma'am, as to hand that had once stood, as Nuna well this to my daughter Martha; it's the remembered, on the mantelshelf in letter as came from Watty with the Carvingswood Lane.
news of the money. I'd like Patty to Royer smiled as Mrs. Whitmore took read it careful, and to take heed the his wasted hand between hers.
words in it don't come true.” He A sense of comfort stole over the old stopped, and lay looking at Nuna while man when she seated herself close beside she put the paper carefully away. him, and placed the pillow more easily “If I'd lived to see her again,” said under his shoulders.
Roger, “I meant to have told her a thing " Thank ye kindly, ma'am. I think that's been on my
mind. You think, I'm going this time; but there be no ma'am, along of me taking that wine, knowing; still it may happen sudden that I'm not a stickler for truth-it ain't ways, and there's just a thing or two that; I knows parsons and the ways I'd like to put in charge o' you." He they gets in London, they're free-handed paused between his words.
to the poor, and may God bless them “I shall be very glad to be of use, for it, but they takes it out o' those they but"-she spoke cheerfully—“I don't thinks have any to spare.
If I was to think you seem so ill as when I saw go and let that good young gentleman you before, Roger. Your voice is so know I'd ever so little put by, he'd be much stronger."
wanting me to subscribe to no end of A faint flush came up in his face. new-fangled schemes he's got ou hand,
“That's may be along of a parson as and he'd say it would be for my good to comes now and again and sees me. He do it. It's not that; but, ma'am, the says I live too low, so last night he thing I'm meaning's this.”—He raised sends in a small buttie o' port wine. I himself a little while he spoke.—“I
gave my countenance to a lie when Patty Serve him right, in my opinion, for married, and now, as I'm lying here, it's leaving poor Mrs. Whitmore at home heavy on my mind I did it. No wife by herself.” ought to have a secret of her own to keep, and I'm afeard Patty's got too Clermont-Montpellier. Nuna found many."
herself saying the words over and over Could
as if she could never fix them in Roger moved his head.
memory. “She wouldn't heed my writing, but “May I keep this letter?" she said, I'd like her to know it troubled me. “there is something about their journey She's far off now; she mayn't be back which I did not know." afore winter."
Yes, yes, surely ;” but Roger was Nuna could not restrain her eagerness
half asleep. any longer.
Nuna knelt down beside the old man. “Then you hear from her. Where “Good-bye, now," she said, “I'! are they now?”
come again to-morrow if I can." There was again the same movement She closed the door, softly; and then of his head.
she went to the top of the kitchen stairs “No, ma'am. I've an old letter from and called the old woman. Miss Coppock, but there can't be any Her dirty, hag-like appearance disnews in it you bean't acquainted with. tressed Nuna. It lies in that there table-drawer, ma'am" “Don't leave Mr. Westropp alone in |--he looked at a rickety table that stood the house,” she said. “ You shall be beneath the window. Roger closed his paid for your care. Go in and look at eyes, exhausted; he did not see how him every now and then. I will come eagerly Nuna opened the letter, as if or send to-morrow.” she could not read it quickly enough. She tried to keep calm and collected,
but it was hard work. Paul might be “DEAR MR. WESTROPP,
ill, dying perhaps. He had said he “I have intended to write to you would write when he came to a halt, more than once, but the extreme ra and Miss Coppock's letter was dated a pidity with which we have traversed fortnight ago, and yet there was more this interesting country, has hitherto hope than sorrow in Nuna's heart. She prevented the accomplishment of my was going to Paul ; her long exile was wishes. I am far from happy about ended; her brain seemed to spin in the Mrs. D —; she appears to treat her excitement that lay before her. But admirable husband with culpable neglect she mastered the impulsive wish to and indifference, and to devote herself start at once in pursuit of her husband. to the amusement of a foolish young There was yet time to write to her nobleman; also, she bestows more at father, and to seek his advice about her tention on our other travelling com journey; for he had been, as Nuna knew, panion, Mr. W
than I think you much of a traveller in early life. would approve.
He, however, left us She calculated that if her father some days ago ; he stayed at Clermont answered her note at once, she should while we made this détour to Le Puy. I be able to start on her journey next am not sure he will join us again, though evening. he talks of a meeting at Montpellier. I Timid as she was, wholly unused to think he is very injudicious; he says he depend on herself for protection, still shall explore the country in his sketch Nuna resolved to travel alone. She felt ing expeditions, and I should not be sure the journey would be expensive, surprised if he is attacked and robbed. and she thought an English maid I gave
him a hint of my suspicions, but would be a useless encumbrance. She he seemed to think my advice unne could only think of Paul ; her mind saw cessary. He must take his chance. only the end of her journey, and re
fused to take in any obstacles there “I must go alone, Will, for several might be in its accomplishment.
reasons. Now, sit down and listen, * I don't think there's much use in won't you, like a good reasonable Will; going to bed,” she said ;
“I feel as if all you want is to help me, isn't it? rest would never come till I am fairly Well then, isn't it much kinder to help on my way.”
me in my way than in yours? If you To her surprise she slept soundly. will take me to Folkestone, and put me She felt calm and refreshed next morn safe on board the steamer, you will do ing; but there was still a long weary all I need; and then I want you to do day to get through before her father's something else, which will help me letter could reach her.
She finished her packing, and then Will looked like a mastiff, unwilling che resolved to go and see Roger. to yield up a stick he has been told
“I must try and persuade him to havo to guard. a nurse,” she thought.
“You know I can't refuse you anyThe door opened, and there was Will thing," he said, at last, sadly. Bright.
“Will,"—there was a reproach in her Nuna did not know how helpless she voice, and he looked sheepish you had really felt till she saw Will; she won't tell even my father what I am sprang forward and greeted him so going to tell you?" heartily, that a flush of pleasure spread He looked up hopefully; the idea of over his handsome face.
sharing a secret with Nuna was cheering "You can guess why I'm here," he to his dog-like faithfulness. said; “I got to Ashton this morning “It's about Roger Westropp. He is just after your letter came. The rector in London. I've seen him ; he's ill, and was in a sad way about it; he can't he wants taking care of. Will you see stand your going alone at all. I don't after him while I am away? I can tell believe he likes your going ny way, you what I want about him presently. only Mrs. Beaufort said it was the right Now, you really must have something thing for you to do—but it's all right to eat. ' now. You'll let me take care of you, Will's curiosity was excited about won't you, and we'll start to-night.” Roger, but he was still unwilling to let
He had held Nuna's hand while he Nuna travel without him. spoke ; his heart was just then as full of Before they reached Folkestone sho love for her as ever.
had convinced him that he must yield “You !"-Nuna pressed his hand affec to her wishes. tionately, and then drew hers away.- “Good-bye, Nuna,” he said, when the “you good, kind Will—oh, no; in ringing of the bell warned all outsiders deed, I could not take you away, just to leave the steamer ; "you have been now, too, when you are so much wanted harder on me to day than you know. on the farm, and—”
You don't know what it would have “ Confound the farm,” said Will, been to me to have watched over you to stubbornly, "I'm going with you, Nuna, the end, you poor dear, lonely girl ; now, whether you like it or not. I told Mr. don't look vexed ; I may as well say Beaufort I would.”
my mind out this once; you've had He stood looking at her with both your way, remember, but I'd like to be hands in his pockets, and a determined, sure what that husband of yours is at; rather surly expression in his eyes. if he's not ill, Nuna, very ill, mind, -I
Nuna was puzzled; but she had should like to horsewhip him." Jearned how to manage Will in her “ Poor Will !” Nuna watched the tall childhood. A woman can usually stalwart figure, till the boat glided out manage the lover she does not love, of the harbour. “Dear, faithful Will, however much she may fail with the how heartless I am! I don't seem to man she loves herself.
care a bit for him, or to think of all
the trouble he has taken. Oh, my credit such a belief, he could fancy darling! my darling! am I really going that l'atty tried in Lord Charles Seton's to you at last ?”
presence to patronise him ; she and At last! and then came the doubt, the young lord were inseparable comshould she find him?
panions. Strangely enough, the travel. ling companion from whom he had shrunk at the outset with positive dis
like, had been the only one he was CHAPTER LXII.
sorry to part from ; he had grown first “Shall I be able to move in a week ?" to pity and then to like Mr. Downes. an English voice said this in French to He had never seen a man evince such a small buttoned-up Frenchman, a man unwearying devotion to a woman, and with a spectacled wizened face; there Paul was too keen an observer not to was a brown curly wig above the face, see how carelessly it was repaid. There and a red silk handkerchief under it. had been a look of trouble and sadness
The doctor shrugged his shoulders. lately in Mr. Downes's face ; Paul felt
“ Ma foi," he smiled, “if you were sure he was not happy with his wife. my countryman I make answer, 'no;' He stopped behind at Clermont; then you stay where you are a fortnight, he went on to a little village some what do I know, three weeks, perhaps; leagues distant, and there, after painting but you English are different, you have in the heat of the sun beside a pool the strength of horses not of
say of stagnant mud, he sickened with low to you,"—he stopped to take a large typhoid fever. pinch of snuff and spilled some of it on He soon becanie delirious, but happily the table, then blew his nose obstrep for him chiefly at night, so that he had erously in a red pocket-handkerchief been able to understand and to resist nearly as big as himself—“I say to you the doctor's wish to bleed him ; the Monsieur," he shook a dirty finger at two poor women who kept the wretched his patient, “ that a man who refuses to little cabaret where he was lodged be bled for fever and yet recovers, is nursed him as carefully as they could — beyond my calculations; he may relapse, but care and kindness will not atone or get well at once, or die after all, what for dirt and other discomforts, and in do I know. I have the honour to wish his long, restless nights, Paul longed Monsieur good day."
till his heart sickened, for Nuna's sweet Doctor Gerder took his leave; he was face, for her voice, instead of the hoarse very much huffed at his patient's stric- patois of the Frenchwomen ; and, above tures on the treatment to which he had all, he hungered for the love he had again refused to submit.
grown to believe in. For lately, every When the party of travellers reached hour had been teaching Paul his misAuvergne, Paul had been much struck take ; in Mr. Downes's tender devotion with the wild grandeur of the extinct to his wife he had read his own convolcanoes, and he proposed to Lord denination-read how selfishly he had Charles Seton to stay behind the others. returned Nuna's love.
Biit Lord Charles's love of art and his “I had it once,” he said, sometimes; great desire to sketch in Paul's company “if Patty had never come between us, had, seemingly, cooled. “I am not I believe we should have been all right; particularly attracted by the Auvergne but jealousy dwarfs a woman's mind scenery," he said; “I would rather defer completely. I'm afraid Nuna will never iny sketching attempts till we reach the forgive me that concealment about the Spanish frontier.”
picture ; and it was wrong altogether. Paul felt a secret relief, and yet ho I can see at this distance that husbands was chafed, too. Something in Mrs. and wives shouldn't have secrets; she'll Downes's manner towards himself irri. never trust me again. If she were a tated him profoundly; if he could man it would be different."
He repented bitterly that he had not
CHAPTER LXIII. written.
PATIENCE SPEAK S. “I cannot write now; it would be selfish and cowardly to ask her, so Patty stood at a window in the largest timid as she is, to come all this way bedroom of the Croix d'Or. She looked just to nurse me, I couldn't bear her to tired and worn, for the party had only be in such a place; and perhaps, if she just reached Bourges, after a long, hurknew I was ill, she would come. No, I ried journey. The journey, too, had must take my chance.”
been dull. Mr. Downes had been It never occurred to him that all dis almost always sullen and silent, and yet comfort and privation would have been he was constantly beside her, so that she prized by Nuna, if borne for his sake. had not, during the last two days, had Some men know very little of the any of the long talks with Lord Charles hearts of the women they call their Seton, which had become the chief OWN.
amusement of the journey. Paul felt restless when the doctor But it was not only weariness and left him. He longed to attempt the fatigue that had altered Patty's looks journey, but the unsteadiness of his and faded her loveliness.
She was limbs and his brain warned him it was very pale ; but anger, and fear too, were possible to meet with worse mischances in her beautiful blue eyes,—a strange, than a prolonged stay in the dirty little abject fear, that seemed quite out of cabaret.
place on the sweet self-possessed face. Hitherto he had not realized the She was looking down into the court dangerous power of his illness. But yard of the inn. It was empty, except to day, as the hours passed by, it seemed just below the window. Her husband to him that he was growing weaker stood there with Patience Coppock. more feverish. Would it be better to Mr. Downes seemed to be listening send for Nuna ?
with impatience ; he held a stick in his “And who's to say what may happen; hand, and he struck this, as he stood, on for she will come if I send for her," — he the round shining stones of the courthad a painful pleasure in saying this yard; but still, he was listening to his over and over. “And she might take companion's talk, and Mrs. Downes the fever and die of it."
could see how full of eager vehemence And yet, as the hours of that weary
this talk was.
Patience stood with her day went by, and the sun grew hotter, back towards the window; but her and Paul's languor and depression bore shoulders heaved, and her right hand him down to utter prostration, his pale enforced her words with quick, imsunken eyes fixed more and more wist pulsive gesture, and Patty read on fully on the knapsack hanging against her husband's face, as on a mirror, the the bare deal walls of his room. There work that Miss Coppock's words were were writing materials in it.
doing. Once she tried to get courage How easy it would be to write and and go boldly down stairs and stop the summon his wife.
tongue which she felt was blackening Before morning came the power her in her husband's eyes; but fear, of writing was gone, the fever had sick, helpless fear, was too strong. She Teti mel; he was again delirious and grasped at the window-fastening as the unconscious.
thought came ; she drew her breath The women of the house whispered deeply; her lips parted, and showed the together gravely; they knew too well small white teeth tightly closed. the symptoms of the fatal disease, but “She's been so much more patient they did not even know the panie of lately that I never believed she'd turn their lodger, and the doctor Gerder on me—the coward ; she never so much bad said he would die if the fever as threatened. Well, if I come to grief, returned.
it's her doing, not mine ; that's one No. 145.- VOL. XXV.