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church there. I dare say they are all right,” | Through all she was so dainty, so pretty, said the doctor, “ but it is a long way off, and her rapid fingers so shapely, her eager talk inconvenient, and"
so sweet-toned, that it was beyond the power “ That is just why I want it,” said Nettie. of mortal man to remain uninterested. It “We never were used to conveniences, and was a development of womankind unknown none of us want to be much in the town, so to Dr. Rider. Bessie Christian had exfar as I know. It is the very thing. Why hausted the race for him until now; but has not lunch come up ?--what do these Nettie was a thousand times more piquant people mean, Susan, by not attending to than Bessie Christian. He gazed and wontheir orders ? Ring the bell, Freddy-ring dered, and moralized secretly in his own loud ; and after lunch, as your drag is at the mind, what was to become of the girl Pdoor, Dr. Edward, you'll drive me down to what could she do ? this place again, that I may secure it, wont
“ You have left some of your things at my you? I want to have a talk with you besides. house, Fred,” said the doctor, making an Lunch, please, immediately. I ordered it to attempt to approach his sullen brother, who be ready at one—now it is half-past. We evidently expected no overtures of friendship. can't have our time wasted this way. Dr. 6. Yes. Mrs. Rider, you see, arrived unexEdward, please, you'll stay."
pectedly,” said Fred, with confusion—" in The doctor gazed with ever-increasing fact, I knew nothing about it, or—or I should amazement at the little speaker. Nobody have told you—Nettie" else had spoken a word. Fred had nodded “Nettie thought it best to come off at once, to him sullenly. Fred's wife had sunk back without writing,” explained Fred's wife. on the sofa—everybody seemed to recognize “ What was the use of writing ?
” cried Nettie as supreme. He hesitated, it must that little person. “ You had written to be confessed, to put his grievances so en- Fred for six months without ever getting an tirely aside as to sit down in perfect amity answer. You made everybody unhappy with Fred and his household ; but to refuse round you with your fears and troubles about to drive Nettie to St. Roque's was impossi- him. I knew perfectly he was quite well and ble. The blood rushed to the doctor's face enjoying himself; but, of course, Susan at the thought. What the world of Carling- would not be convinced. So what was there ford would say to see his well-known vehicle for it but bringing her away? What else proceeding down Grange Lane, through Dr. could I do, Dr. Edward ? And to leave the Marjoribanks' territories, under such circum- children would have been preposterous. In stances, was a question he did not choose to the first place, I should have been miserable consider ; neither did he enter too minutely about them; and so, as soon as she found into the special moment at which his next Fred was all right, would Susan : and somepatient might be expecting him. The young thing would certainly have happened—scarman was under the spell and did not strug- let fever or something--and at the end of gle against it. He yielded to the invitation, all I should have had to go out again to which was a command. He drew near the fetch them. So the shortest way was to table at which Nettie, without hesitation, bring them at once. Don't you think so ? took the presiding place. A dull amount of And to see us all here so comfortable, I am conversation, often interrupted by that lively sure is enough to repay any one for the little woman, rose in the uncongenial party. trouble. Fred, don't drink any more beer.” Nettie cut up the meat for those staring imps Nettie put out her tiny hand as she spoke of children--did them all up in snowy nap- to arrest the bottle. Fred stared at her with kins-kept them silent and in order. She a dull red flush on his face; but he gave in, regulated what Susan was to have, and which in the most inexplicable way; it seemed a things were best for Fred. She appealed to matter of course to yield to Nettie. The Dr. Edward perpetually, taking him into doctor's amazement began to be mingled her confidence in a way which could not fail with amusement. To see how she managed to be flattering to that young man, and ac- them all was worth the sacrifice of a little tually reduced to the calmness of an or- time-unconsciously he became more fraterdinary friendly party this circle so full nal in his thoughts. He spoke to foolish, of smouldering elements of commotion. faded Mrs. Fred with a total forgiveness
and forgetfulness of her spiteful speech. He “ That is Miss Lucy Wodehouse--one of hoped she would like Carlingford; he said our Carlingford beauties,” said Dr. Rider. something to the children. But it was not “Do you know her very well ? " asked the easy to talk in the presence of that amazing inquisitive Nettie. “ How she stares—why family party, the existence of which he had does she stare, do you suppose ? . Is there not dreamed of a few days ago. To see his any thing absurd about my dress ? Look brother at the head of such a group had, in here-don't they wear bonnets just like this spite of himself, a wonderful effect upon Dr. in England ? " Rider. Their children, of course, must be “So far as I am able to judge,” said the supported somehow. Who was to do it? doctor, looking at the tiny head overladen Was their father, grown incapable and use- with hair, from which the bonnet had fallen less in the middle of his days, to be forced half off. into the current of life again? Was it a “I suppose she is surprised to see me. vague faith in Providence which had brought Drive on faster, Dr. Edward, I want to talk the helpless household here; or was it a more to you. I see Fred has been telling us a distinct, if not so elevated, confidence in parcel of stories. It would be cruel to tell Nettie? The doctor's heart sank once more Susan, you know, for she believes in him ; within him as he looked round the table. but you may quite trust in me. Is your Three helpless by nature—two equally help- brother good for any thing, Dr. Edward, do less who ought in nature to have been the you suppose ? support of the whole—nothing but one bright “ Not very much now, I fear," said the ready little spirit between them all and des- doctor. titution: and what could Nettie do to stave “ Not very much now. I
suppose that wolf from the door? Once more Dr. never was good for much,” said the indigRider's countenance fell. If the household nant Nettie ; “but he was said to be very broke down in its attempt at independence, clever when he first came out to the colony. who had they to turn to but himself ?—such I can't tell why Susan married him. She is & prospect was not comfortable. When a very self-willed, though you would fancy her man works himself to death for his own so submissive. She is one of those people, family, he takes the pleasure with the pain; you know, who fall ill when they are crossed, but when another's family threatens to fall and threaten to die, so that one daren't cross upon his hands, the prospect is naturally her. Now, then, what is to be done with appalling—and even if Fred could do them ? He will not go back to the colony,
any thing, what was Fred's life, undermined by and I don't care to do it myself. Must I evil habit, to depend upon ? Silence once keep them here ?" more fell over the little company-silence
"Miss Underwood—” began the perplexed from all but Nettie and the children, who doctor. referred to her naturally instead of to their
“ It would save trouble to call me Nettie mother. Fred was sullen, and his wife took —everybody does,” said his strange companher cue from him. Edward was uneasy and ion ; “ besides, you are my brother in a kind dismayed. Family parties suddenly assem- of a way, and the only person I can consult bled without due warning are seldom greatly with; for, of course, it would not do to tell successful; and even Nettie could not make one's difficulties to strangers. Fred may not immediate reconciliation and fraternal kind- be very much to depend upon, you know, but ness out of this.
still he is Fred.” CHAPTER IV.
“ Yes," said the doctor, with a little self“Take me down this long, pretty road. reproach, “ still he is Fred; but pardon me, There must be delicious houses inside the
the name suggests long aggravations. You walls. Look here, drive slowly, and let us
can't tell how often I have had to put up have a peep in at this open door,” said Net
with affronts and injuries because it was
Fred. I shouldn't like to grieve you—" tie. “How sweet and cozy! and who is that
“Never mind about grieving me ;-I am pretty young lady coming out? I saw her in the chapel this morning.
not in love with him ;-let me hear all about Oh,” added
it!” said Nettie. Nettie, with a little sharpness, “she knows you tell me who she is."
Dr. Rider paused a little ; seeing the abyss
upon the brink of which this brave little “ Fred will be the meanest blackguard in girl was standing, he had not the heart to existence,” cried the doctor, “ if he takes his aggravate her by telling the failures of the living from you." past. Better to soften the inevitable discov- “ He took his living from you, it appears," ery if possible. But his hesitation was quite said Nettie, coolly, “and did not thank you apparent to Nettie. With considerable im- much. We must make the best of him. We patience she turned round upon him. can't help ourselves. Now, there is the
“ If you think I don't know what I am do- pretty church, and there is our little house. ing, but have gone into this business like a Come in with me and answer for me, Dr. fool, you are quite mistaken, Dr. Edward,” Edward. You can say I am your sister-inshe said, a little sharply. “I see how it is law, you know, and then, perhaps, we can as well as anybody can do. I knew how it get into possession at once; for,” said Netwas when I left the colony. Don't be tie, suddenly turning round upon the doctor alarmed about me. Do you think I am to with her brilliant eyes shining out quaintly be turned against my own flesh and blood under the little brow all puckered into curves by finding out their follies; or to grumble of foresight, “it is so sadly expensive living at the place God put me in ? Nothing of where we are now.” the sort! I know the kind of situation To look at the creature thus flashing those perfectly—but one may make the best of it, shining eyes, not without a smile lurking in you know: and for that reason tell me every their depths, upon him—to see the triumthing, please."
phant, undaunted, undoubting youthfulness “But, Miss Underwood, consider," cried which never dreamt of failure-to note that the doctor in consternation. “You are tak- pretty anxiety, the look which might have ing responsibilities upon yourself which no- become a bride in her first troubles “playbody could lay upon you ; you ! young, ten- ing at housekeeping,” and think how desder,”—the doctor paused for a word, afraid perate was the position she had assumed, to be too complimentary,--"delicate! Why, how dreary the burden she had taken upon the whole burden of this family will come her,-was almost too much for the doctor's upon you. There is not one able to help self-control. He did not know whether to himself in the whole bundle! I am shocked! admire the little heroine as half divine, or -I am alarmed !- I don't know what to say to turn from her as half crazy. Probably, to you"
had the strange little spirit possessed a dif“ Don't say any thing please," said Nettie. ferent frame, the latter was the sentiment “I know what I am about. Do you call this which would have influenced the unimagina. a street or a lane, or what do you call it ? | tive mind of Edward Rider. But there was Oh, such nice houses ! shouldn't I like to be no resisting that little brown Titania, with able to afford to have one of them, and her little head overladen with its beautiful nurses, and governesses, and every thing hair, her red, delicate mouth closing firm and proper for the children? I should like to sweet above that little decided chin, her eyes dress them so nicely, and give them such a which seemed to concentrate the light. She good education. I don't know any thing seemed only a featherweight when the beparticular to speak of, myself-I shall never wildered doctor helped her to alight-an unbe able to teach them when they grow older. doubted sprite and creature of romance. If Fred, now, was only to be trusted, and But to hear her arranging about all the dowould go and work like a man and make mestic necessities within, and disclosing her something for the children, I daresay I could future plans for the children, and all the orkeep up the house ;—but if he wont do any der of that life of which she took the charge thing, you know, it will take us every far- so unhesitatingly, bewildered the mistress of thing just to live. Look here, Dr. Edward : the house as much as it did the wondering I have two hundred a year ;-Susan had the doctor. The two together stood gazing at same, you know, but Fred got all the money her as she moved about the room, pouring when they were married, and muddled it forth floods of eager talk. Her words were away. Now, how much can one do in Car- almost as rapid as her step,—her foot, light lingford with three children upon two hun- as it was, almost as decided and firm as her dred a year ?”
resolutions. She was a wonder to behold
as she pushed about the furniture, and con- est moral indignation, that such a girl ought sidered how it could be brightened up and not to be permitted to tie herself to such a made more comfortable. Gazing at her with fate. his silent lips apart, Dr. Rider sighed at the
CHAPTER V. word. Comfortable! Was she to give her ST. ROQUE'S COTTAGE was considered mind to making Fred and his children com- rather a triumph of local architecture. A fortable such a creature as this ? Involun- Carlingford artist had built it “after " the tarily it occurred to Edward that, under such church, which was one of Gilbert Scott's ministrations, sundry changes might come Gothic qualities were unquestionable. The
churches, and perfect in its way, so that its over the aspect of that prim apartment in only thing wanting was size, which was cerwhich he had seen her first; the room with tainly an unfortunate blemish, and made the bookcase and the red curtains, and the this adaptation of ecclesiastical architecture prints over the mantlepiece-a very tidy, to domestic purposes a very doubtful expericomfortable room before any bewitching imp ment. However, in bright sunshine, when came to haunt it, and whisper suspicions of the abundance of light neutralized the want its imperfection-the doctor's own retire
of window, all was well, and there was abunment where he had chewed the cud of sweet three months after the entrance of Fred Rider
dance of sunshine in Carlingford in October, and bitter fancies often enough, without and his family into Mrs. Smith's little rooms. much thought of his surroundings. But It was a bright autumn day, still mild, though Nettie now had taken possession of that pro- with a crispness in the air, the late season saic place, and, all unconscious of that spir- showing more in the destitution of the floweritual occupation, was as busy and as excited borders than in any more sensible sign. It about Mrs. Smith’s lodgings at St. Roque’s St. Roque's stood on the edge of a little com
was a pretty spot enough for a roadside. Cottage as if were an ideal home she was
mon, over which, at the other margin, you preparing, and the life to be lived in it was could see some white cottages, natural to the the brightest and most hopeful in the world. soil
, in a little hamlet-cluster, dropped along When Dr. Rider reached home that night, the edge of the gray-green unequal grass, and took his lonely meal in his lonely room, while between the church and the cottage certain bitter thoughts of unequal fortune ran the merest shadow of a brook, just occupied the young man's mind. Let a fel- enough to give place and nutriment to three
willow-trees which had been the feature of low be but useless, thankless, and heartless the scene before St. Roque's was, and which enough, and people spring up on all sides to now greatly helped the composition of the do his work for him, said the doctor to him- little landscape, and harmonized the new self, with a bitterness as natural as it was building with the old soil. St. Roque's Cotuntrue. The more worthless a fellow is, the tage, by special intervention of Mr. Wentmore all the women connected with him cling worth the perpetual curate, had dropped no to him and make excuses for him, said Ed intervening wall between its garden and those ward Rider in his indignant heart. Mother contented itself with a wooden paling on the
trees ; but, not without many fears, had and sister in the past—wife and Nettie now side nearest the willows. Consequently, the to think how Fred had secured for him- slope of grass at that side, which Mrs. Smith self perpetual ministrations, by neglecting was too prudent to plant with any thing that all the duties of life. No wonder an indig- could be abstracted, was a pretty slope with nant pang transfixed the lonely bosom of the the irregular willow shadows swept over it, virtuous doctor, solitary and unconsoled as
thin, but still presenting a pale obstruction His laborious days knew no such
to the flood of sunshine on this special aftersolace. And as he fretted and pondered no in full enjoyment of the warmth and the
noon. There a little group was collected, visions of Bessie Christian perplexed his light. Mrs. Rider, still faded, but no longer thoughts. He had forgotten that young travel-worn, sat farther up in the garden, on woman. All his mind was fully occupied the green bench, which had been softened chaffing at the sacrifice of Nettie. He was with cushions for her use, leisurely working not sorry, he was angry, to think of her odd at some piece of needlework, in lonely posposition, and the duties she had taken upon session of the chrysanthemums and Michaelherself. What had she to do with those mas daisies round her; while on the grass, wretched children, and that faded spiteful dropped over with yellow flecks of willow mother? Edward Rider was supremely dis- leaves, lightly loosened by every passing gusted. He said to himself, with the high- touch of wind, sat Nettie, all brown and
bright, working with the most rapid fingers did not say any thing for a few minutes. at à child's frock, and “minding." with a ". It is all very well as long as you are young," corner of her eye the possessor of the same, she said, with a wistful look ;'“ and somehow the tiny Freddy, an imp of mischief, uncon- you young creatures are so much handier trollable by other hand or look than hers. than we used to be. Our little Lucy, you A little lower down, poking into the invisi- know, that I can remember quite a baby-I ble brook through the paling, was the eldest am twice as old as she is," cried Miss Wodeboy, silent from sheer delight in the unex- house, “ and she is twice as nuch use in the pected pleasure of coating himself with mud world as I. Well, it is all very strange. But, without remark from Neitie. This unprece- dear, you know, this isn't natural all the dented escape arose from the fact that Net- same.' tie had a visitor, a lady who had bent down “ It is dreadful to say so--it is dreadful beside her in a half-kneeling attitude, and to think so!” cried Nettie. “I know what was contemplating her with a mingled amaze you mean—not Freddy's frock, to be sure, and pity which intensified the prevailing ex. but only one's whole life and heart. Should pression of kindness in the mildest face in one desert the only people belonging to one the world. It was Miss Wodehouse, in her in the world because one happens to have a soft dove-colored dress and large soft checked little income and they have none? If one's shawl. Her mild eyes were fixed upon that friends are not very sensible, is that a reabrilliant brown creature, all buoyant and son why one should go and leave them ? Is sparkling with youth. These wonderful it right to make one's escape directly whenyoung people perplexed Miss Wodehouse ; ever one feels one is wanted ? or what do here was another incomprehensible specimen you mean, Miss Wodehouse ? ” said the ve-most incomprehensible perhaps of all that hement girl. “ That is what it comes to, ever crossed her mild elderly horizon with you know. Do you imagine I had any choice bewildering unintelligible light.
about coming over to England when Susan “My dear,” said Miss Wodehouse, “things was breaking her heart about her husband ? used to be very different when I was young. could one let one's sister die, do you suppose ? When we were girls we thought about our And now that they are all together, what own pleasures—and and vanities of all choice have I? They can't do much for each kinds," said the good woman, with a little other there is actually nobody but me to sigh; " and, indeed, I can't think it is nat- take care of them all. You may say it is not ural still to see you devoting yourself like natural, or it is not right, or any thing you this to your sister's family. It is wonderful; please, but what else can one do? That is but dear, dear me! it isn't natural, Nettie, the practical question," said Nettie, triumphsuch self-devotion."
antly. “If you will answer that, then I shall “ I do wish you wouldn't speak!” said know what to say to you.” Nettie, with a sudden start>"self-devotion! Miss Wodehouse gazed at her with a cerstuff! I am only doing what must be done. tain mild exasperation, shook her head, Freddy can't go on wearing one frock for- wrung her hands, but could find nothing to ever, can he does it stand to reason ? answer. Would you have me sit idle and see the “I thought so," said Nettie, with a little child's petticoats drop to pieces ? I am a outburst of jubilee; "that is how it always colonial girl—I don't know what people do happens to abstract people. Put the pracin England. Where I was brought up we tical question before them, and they have were used to be busy about whatever lay not a word to say to you. Freddy, cut the nearest to our hand.”
grass with the scissors, don't cut my trim“ It isn't Freddy's frock,” said Miss Wode- mings; they are for your own frock, you lithouse, with a little solemnity. “ You know tle savage. If I were to say it was my duty very well what I mean. And suppose you and all that sort of stuff, you would underwere to marry—what would happen suppos- stand me, Miss Wodehouse ; but one only ing you were to marry, Nettie ?"
says it is one's duty when one has something " It is quite time enough to think of that disagreeable to do; and I am not doing any when there is any likelihood of it happening," thing disagreeable,” added the little heroine, said Nettie, with a little toss of her head. “It flashing those eyes which had confused Edis only idle people who have time to think of ward Rider—those brilliant, resolute, obstifalling in love and such nonsense. When one nate eyes, always, with the smile of youth, is very busy it never comes into one's head. incredulous of evil, lurking in them, upon Why, you have never married, Miss Wode- her bewildered adviser. “I am living as I house : and when I know that I have every like to live.” thing I possibly could desire, why should I ? " There was a pause at least there was a
Miss Wodehouse bent her troubled, sweet pause in the argument, but not in Nettie's old face over the handle of her parasol, and I talk, which ran on in an eager stream, ad