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CHAPTER IV.

“Take me down this long pretty “Miss Underwood — began road. There must be delicious the perplexed doctor. houses inside the walls. Look here, “It would save trouble to call drive slowly, and let us have a me Nettie-everybody does," said peep in at this open door," said his strange companion; “ besides, Nettie. “ How sweet and cozy! you are my brother in a kind of a and who is that pretty young lady way, and the only person I can concoming out? I saw her in the sult with; for, of course, it would chapel this morning. Oh,” added not do to tell one's difficulties to Nettie, with a little sharpness, "she strangers. Fred may not be very knows you—tell me who she is.” much to depend upon, you know,

“ That is Miss Lucy Wodehouse — but still he is Fred." one of our Carlingford beauties,” “Yes," said the doctor, with a said Dr Rider.

little self-reproach, “still he is “Do you know her very well?” Fred; but pardon me, the name asked the inquisitive Nettie. “How suggests long aggravations. You she stares—why does she stare, do can't tell how often I have had to you suppose? Is there anything ab- put up with affronts and injuries surd about my dress? Look here because it was Fred. I shouldn't don't they wear bonnets just like like to grieve youthis in England ?”

“Never mind about grieving me; “So far as I am able to judge," -I am not in love with him ;-let said the doctor, looking at the tiny me hear all about it !” said Nettie. head overladen with hair, from Dr Rider paused a little; seeing which the bonnet had fallen half the abyss upon the brink of which off.

this brave little girl was standing, “I suppose she is surprised to see he had not the heart to aggravate

Drive on faster, Dr Edward, her by telling the failures of the I want to talk to you. I see Fred past. Better to soften the inevithas been telling us a parcel of able discovery if possible. But his stories. It would be cruel to tell hesitation was quite apparent to Susan, you know, for she believes Nettie. With considerable impain him; but you may quite trust in tience she turned round upon him. me. Is your brother good for any- “If you think I don't know what thing, Dr Edward, do you sup- I am doing, but have gone into this

business like a fool, you are quite “Not very much now, I fear," said mistaken, Dr Edward,” she said, a the doctor.

little sharply. “I see how it is as “Not very much now. I sup- well as anybody can do. I knew pose he never was good for much," how it was when I left the colony. said the indignant Nettie; “but he Don't be alarmed about me. Do was said to be very clever when he you think I am to be turned against first came out to the colony. I can't my own flesh and blood by finding tell why Susan married him. She out their follies; or to grumble at is very self-willed, though you the place God put me in?—Nothing would fancy her so submissive. She of the sort! I know the kind of is one of those people, you know, situation perfectly — but one may who fall ill when they are crossed, make the best of it, you know: and and threaten to die, so that one for that reason tell me everything, daren't cross her. Now, then, what please.” is to be done with them? He will But, Miss Underwood, connot go back to the colony, and I sider,” cried the doctor in condon't care to do it myself. Must I sternation. “You are taking rekeep them here?"

sponsibilities upon yourself which

me.

pose?

nobody could lay upon you ; you! ing those shining eyes, not without young-tender" (the doctor paused a smile lurking in their depths, upon foraword,afraid to be too complimen- him— to see the triumphant, untary)—"delicate! Why, the whole daunted, undoubting youthfulness burden of this family will come which never dreamt of failure-to upon you. There is not one able to note that pretty anxiety, the look help himself in the whole bundle! which might have become a bride I am shocked !-I am alarmed !-I in her first troubles “playing at don't know what to say to you housekeeping,” and think how des

“ Don't say anything, please,” perate was the position she had assaid Nettie. “I know what I am sumed, how dreary the burden she about. Do you call this a street or had taken upon her,—was almost a lane, or what do you call it? Oh, too much for the doctor's self-consuch nice houses ! shouldn't I like trol. He did not know whether to to be able to afford to have one of admire the little heroine as halfthem, and nurses, and governesses, divine, or to turn from her as halfand everything proper for the chil. crazy. Probably, had the strange dren? I should like to dress them little spirit possessed a different so nicely, and give them such a frame, the latter was the sentiment good education. I don't know any- which would have influenced the unthing particular to speak of, myself imaginative mind of Edward Rider. --I shall never be able to teach them But there was no resisting that little when they grow older. If Fred, brown Titania, with her little head now, was only to be trusted, and overladen with its beautiful hair, would go and work like a man and her red, delicate mouth closing firm make something for the children, I and sweet above that little decided daresay I could keep up the house; chin, her eyes which seemed to con– but if he won't do anything, centrate the light. She seemed you know, it will take us every far- only a featherweight when the bething just to live. Look here, Dr wildered doctor helped her to alight Edward : I have two hundred a -an undoubted sprite and creature year ;-Susan had the same, you of romance. But to hear her arknow, but Fred got all the money ranging about all the domestic neceswhen they were married, and mud- sities within, and disclosing her dled it away. Now, how much can future plans for the children, and one do in Carlingford with three all the order of that life of which children upon two hundred a-year ? she took the charge so unhesitating

“Fred will be the meanest black- ly, bewildered the mistress of the guard in existence," cried the doctor, house as much as it did the wonder“if he takes his living from you.”. ing doctor. The two together stood

“He took his living from you, it gazing at her as she moved about appears," said Nettie, coolly, “and the room, pouring forth floods of did not thank you much. We must eager talk. Her words were almost make the best of him. We can't as rapid as her step,-her foot, light help ourselves. Now, there is the as it was, almost as decided and firm pretty church, and there is our little as her resolutions. She was a wonhouse. Come in with me and an der to behold as she pushed about swer for me, Dr Edward. You can the furniture, and considered how it say I am your sister-in-law, you could be brightened up and made know, and then, perhaps, we can more comfortable. Gazing at her get into possession at once ; for," with his silent lips apart, Dr Rider said Nettie, suddenly turning round sighed at the word. Comfortable ! upon the doctor with her brilliant Was she to give her mind to making eyes shining out quaintly under the Fred and his children comfortable little brow all puckered into curves such a creature as this? Involunof foresight, “it is so sadly expen- tarily it occurred to Edward that, sive living where we are now.” under such ministrations, sundry

To look at the creature thus flash- changes might come over the aspect

of that prim apartment in which heral as it was untrue. The more had seen her first; the room with worthless a fellow is, the more all the bookcase and the red curtains, the women connected with him and the prints over the mantelpiece cling to him and make excuses for -a very tidy, comfortable room him, said Edward Rider in his inbefore any bewitching imp came to dignant heart. Mother and sister haunt it, and whisper suspicions of in the past—wife and Nettie nowits imperfection—the doctor's own to think how Fred had secured for retirement where he had chewed the himself perpetual ministrations, by cud of sweet and bitter fancies often neglecting all the duties of life. No enough, without much thought of wonder an indignant pang transhis surroundings. But Nettie now fixed the lonely bosom of the virhad taken possession of that prosaic tuous doctor, solitary and unconplace, and, all unconscious of that soled as he was. His laborious days spiritual occupation, was as busy knew no such solace. And as he and as excited about Mrs Smith's fretted and pondered no visions lodgings at St Roque's Cottage as of Bessie Christian perplexed his if it were an ideal home she was pre- thoughts. He had forgotten that paring, and the life to be lived in it young woman. All his mind was was the brightest and most hopeful fully occupied chafing at the sacriin the world.

fice of Nettie. He was not sorry, When Dr Rider reached home he was angry, to think of her odd that night, and took his lonely position, and the duties she had meal in his lonely room, certain taken upon herself. What had she bitter thoughts of unequal fortune to do with those wretched children, occupied the young man's mind and that faded spiteful mother? Let a fellow be but useless, thank- Edward Rider was supremely disless, and heartless enough, and peo- gusted. He said to himself, with ple spring up on all sides to do his the highest moral indignation, that work for him, said the doctor to such a girl ought not to be permithimself, with a bitterness as natu- ted to tie herself to such a fate.

CHAPTER V.

St Roque's Cottage was consider- showing more in the destitution of ed rather a triumph of local archi- the flower-borders than in any more tecture. A "Carlingford artist had sensible sign. It was a pretty spot built it "after" the church, which enough for a roadside. St Roque's was one of Gilbert Scott's churches, stood on the edge of a little common, and perfect in its way, so that its over which, at the other margin, you Gothic qualities were unquestion- could see some white cottages, naable. The only thing wanting was tural to the soil, in a little hamletsize, which was certainly an unfor- cluster, dropped along the edge of tunate blemish, and niade this adapt- the grey-green unequal grass, while ation of ecclesiastical architecture to between the church and the cottage domestic purposes a very doubtful ran the merest shadow of a brook, experiment. However, in bright just enough to give place and nutrisunshine, when the abundance of ment to three willow-trees which light neutralised the want of win- had been the feature of the scene dow, all was well, and there was before St Roque's was, and which still abundance of sunshine in Car- now greatly helped the composition lingford in October, three months of the little landscape, and harmonafter the entrance of Fred Rider ised the new building with the old and his family into Mrs Smith's soil. St Roque's Cottage, by special little rooms. It was a bright au- intervention of Mr Wentworth, the tumn day, still mild, though with a perpetual curate, had dropped no crispness in the air, the late season intervening wall between its garden and those trees; but, not without mild elderly horizon with bewildermany fears, had contented itself ing unintelligible light. with a wooden paling on the side "My dear," said Miss Wodehouse, nearest the willows. Consequent "things used to be very different ly, the slope of grass at that side, when I was young. When we were which Mrs Smith was too prudent to girls we thought about our own plant with anything that could be pleasures—and—and vanities of all abstracted, was a pretty slope with kinds," said the good woman, with the irregular willow shadows swept a little sigh ; "and, indeed, I can't over it, thin, but still presenting a think it is natural still to see you pale obstruction to the flood of sun- devoting yourself like this to your shine on this special afternoon. sister's family. It is wonderful ; There a little group was collected, but dear, dear me! it isn't natural, in full enjoyment of the warmth Nettie, such self-devotion.” and the light. Mrs Rider, still “I do wish you wouldn't speak!" faded, but no longer travel-worn, said Nettie, with a sudden startsat farther up in the garden, on the "self-devotion ! stuff! I am only green bench, which had been soft- doing what must be done. Freddy ened with cushions for her use, can't go on wearing one frock for leisurely working at some piece of ever, can he-does it stand to reaneedlework, in lonely possession of son Would you have me sit idle the chrysanthemums and Michael- and see the child's petticoats drop mas daisies round her; while on the to pieces? I am a colonial girl—I grass, dropped over with yellow don't know what people do in Engflecks of willow leaves, lightly land. Where I was brought up we loosened by every passing touch were used to be busy about whatof wind, sat Nettie, all brown and ever lay nearest to our hand.” bright, working with the most rapid “It isn't Freddy's frock," said fingers at a child's frock, and “mind- Miss Wodehouse, with a little soling” with a corner of her eye the emnity. “ You know very well possessor of the same, the tiny what I mean. And suppose you Freddy, an imp of mischief, un- were to marry — what would hapcontrollable by other hand or look pen supposing you were to marry, than hers. A little lower down, Nettie ?” poking into the invisible brook "It is quite time enough to think through the paling, was the eldest of that when there is any likelihood boy, silent from sheer delight in of it happening," said Nettie, with the unexpected pleasure of coating a little toss of her head. “It is himself with mud without remark only idle people who have time to from Nettie. This unprecedented think of falling in love and such escape arose from the fact that nonsense. When one is very busy Nettie had a visitor, a lady who it never comes into one's head. had bent down beside her in a half- Why, you have never married, Miss kneeling attitude, and was contem- Wodehouse; and when I know that plating her with a mingled amaze I have everything I possibly could and pity which intensified the pre- desire, why should I ?" vailing expression of kindness in the Miss Wodehouse bent her troumildest face in the world. It was bled, sweet old face over the Miss Wodehouse, in her soft dove- handle of her parasol, and did not coloured dress and large soft check- say anything for a few minutes. ed shawl. Her mild eyes were fix- “ It is all very well as long as you ed upon that brilliant brown crea- are young,” she said, with a wistful ture, all buoyant and sparkling with look; "and somehow you young youth. These wonderful young creatures are so much handier than people perplexed Miss Wodehouse; we used to be. Our little Lucy, here was another incomprehensible you know, that I can remember specimen - most incomprehensible quite a baby-I am twice as old perhaps of all that ever crossed her as she is,” cried Miss Wodehouse, “and she is twice as much use in doing anything disagreeable," added the world as I. Well, it is all very the little heroine, flashing those eyes strange. But, dear, you know, this which had confused Edward Rider isn't natural all the same.”

-those brilliant, resolute, obstinate “It is dreadful to say so—it is eyes, always, with the smile of youth, dreadful to think so!” cried Nettie. incredulous of evil, lurking in them, “I know what you mean - not upon her bewildered adviser. “Í Freddy's frock, to be sure, but only am living as I like to live." one's whole life and heart. Should There was a pause—at least there one desert the only people belong was a pause in the argument, but ing to one in the world because one not in Nettie's talk, which ran on happens to have a little income and in an eager stream, addressed to they have none? If one's friends Freddy, Johnnie, things in general. are not very sensible, is that a rea- Miss Wodehouse pondered over the son why one should go and leave handle of her parasol. She had them? Is it right to make one's absolutely nothing to say ; but, escape directly whenever one feels thoroughly unconvinced and exone is wanted ? or what do you asperated at Nettie's logic, could mean, Miss Wodehouse ?” said the not yet retire from the field. vehement girl. “That is what it “ It is all very well to talk just comes to, you know. Do you ima- now," said the gentle woman at gine I had any choice about coming last, retiring upon that potent femiover to England when Susan was nine argument, “but Nettie, think! breaking her heart about her hus- If you were to marryband ? could one let one's sister Miss Wodehouse paused, appalled die, do you suppose ? And now by the image she herself had conthat they are all together, what jured up. choice have I? They can't do Marrying is really a dreadful much for each other— there is business, anyhow,” she added, with actually nobody but me to take a sigh ; "so few people, you kı w, care of them all. You may say it can, when they might. There is is not natural, or it is not right, or poor Mr Wentworth, who brought anything you please, but what else me here first ; unless he gets precan one do? That is the practical ferment, poor fellow And there question,” said Nettie, triumph- is Dr Rider. Things are very much antly. “ If you will answer that, changed from what they used to be then I shall know what to say to in my young days."

“Is Dr Rider in the same dilMiss Wodehouse gazed at her emma? I suppose, of course, you with a certain mild exasperation, mean Dr Edward,'

, cried Nettie, shook her head, wrung her hands, with a little flash of mischievous but could find nothing to answer. curiosity. “Why? He has nobody

“I thought so," said Nettie, with but himself. I should like to know a little outburst of jubilee ; " that why he can't marry—that is, if is how it always happens to ab- anybody would have him—when stract people. Put the practical he pleases. Tell me ; you know he question before them, and they have is my brother-in-law. not a word to say to you. Freddy, Miss Wodehouse had been thinkcut the grass with the scissors, ing of Bessie Christian. She paused, don't cut my trimmings; they are partly for Dr Rider's sake, partly for your own frock, you little sav- because it was quite contrary to age. If I were to say it was my decorum, to suppose that Bessie, duty and all that sort of stuff, you now Mrs Brown, might possibly a would understand me, Miss Wode- year ago have married somebody house; but one only says it is one's else. She faltered a little in her duty when one has something dis- answer. “A professional man never agreeable to do; and I am not marries till he has a position,"

you."

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