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will trouble you to inquire for it there—it is only a pleasant walk," and closing the carriage-door, Stephen leaped up into the saddle, and was presently out of sight.
It was full midnight, when they came to a little town, that lay as calmly and quietly amidst green fields, and flowering orchards, as if sin and sorrow had never been heard of in the world; there was the old-fashioned bridge, spanning a tiny stream, that lay dark and deep beneath its arches, and presently flowed out like a silver thread between green banks, and whispering woods; and beyond that stood the quaint old church, from the ivied towers of which, the midnight chimes came, with a drowsy sort of melody, most pleasant to listen to, at such an hour. I once heard them, to the full as sweet as Dinah did now, up among the lakes, in a quiet old town, on such a night when, if ever angels come down and walk with men, they would surely choose so balmy and sweet a time for their holy ministrations.
But all this time, Stephen and Dinah, or Stephen, rather, is clamouring lustily for admission at the door of the quaint old inn which proclaims its calling, most undeniably, by the trough and stirrup-stone before the door; there is a lazy old sign somewhere about the place, that creaks and flaps o' winter nights, with a rampant lion, limned by some village Teniers, duly emblazoned thereon, but it is so seldom seen, that its existence is almost traditional; they are quiet folks, in that old-world place, and so Stephen has a pretty to do, to make them hear.
At last a night-capped head is thrust forth from a window overhead, the owner of which demands in a sleepy tone, what they please to want, at that hour of the night.
« Shelter and a lodging,” cried Stephen, testily.
“Shelter, and a lodging, good lack, murmured this christian Gotobed, in a wandering tone; “ Jonas, dost hear them, there be a young man in a chay and four 'osses, as wants a bed, I guess.
“Two beds, my good dame !" interposed Stephen.
“Alack-a-day-dost hear Jonas?" and the voice died away, as Mrs. Gotobed popped her head into the connubial chamber once more, and thereupon a confused murmur of a couple of tongues, was all that was audible for several minutes, and then the window was closed.
In another minute some one was heard descending the stairs, and a little old woman presently appeared at the open door, holding a candle above her head.
“Sure now, there's a gal with him,” she ejaculated, uneasily, as soon as she caught a glimpse of Dinah's pale face; “lack a day, Jonas, thou must just get up, and call Job to take t' chay
January, 1849.- VOL. LIV, NO. OCXIII,
in, by; dearie! dearie ! how cold you are, miss; do come in, by, sure now, and sit down," and the queer-looking hostess, without more ado, led the way into a great rambling old kitchen, where the ashes of a wood-fire still smouldered in the grate.
To throw a couple of logs upon this, and to get a cheerful blaze, was but the work of a moment; it scarcely took longer to prepare a dish of good tea for Dinah, which the little old woman made her drink, with many apologies that it was no better-Stephen had a huge cheese and loaf, and a flagon of beer brought him, out of which he managed to make a very hearty meal.
“Heart alive, where can ’ee put you, dearie,” said Mrs. Gotobed, when Dinah had finished; “ we rarely have company staying here, and a’most the only bed we have, is occupied; there's a very decent young ’oman asleep in it just enow, but p'raps 'ee wouldn't like to sleep with her; though sure now its rare and big enough to hold the two."
“I am so wretchedly tired, I could sleep anywhere,” said Dinah, with a most unmistakeable yawn.
“Then 'ee must just try it,” said the old body, briskly ; "will’ee come up stairs, mim, and I'll lend 'ee one of my night jackets."
Dinah unconsciously glanced over to the good-natured old creature, as she put the question, and unhappy as she was, could scarcely refrain from laughing outright.
The “ jacket” in question, was a queer, quaint, tight-fitting kind of an invention, manufactured, apparently, out of a piece of chintz, which gathered tight, round the throat and waist, and swelled out from the latter with a kind of short tail all round; there was a petticoat under this, and a queer fly-away nightcap above, and that was the old lady's costume.
“Bid the young man good night, lovey, and come away wi’ 'ee," said the old dame, good humouredly; and Dinah, giving Stephen a kiss, followed her up the creaking stairs, into a little room immediately overhead, which was evidently the best bedroom, for it had a great casement window, with a magnificent white curtain, and a heavily carved old bedstead, quite as splendid in its way.
“Is the young man husband to 'ee, dearie?” inquired the old woman, sitting down in a chair, to get her breath again,
“Husband-oh dear, no !” said Dinah, frankly.
“Oh! 'ee is'nt gaun away wi' him, I hope, lovey?" demanded the simple old creature, earnestly.
“Going away! what do you mean?” said Dinah, looking her full in the face.
“ 'Loping, dearie."
“Oh dear, no-he is my cousin,” said our heroine, with great simplicity.
“I'm glad to hear it, dearie ; for when I saw you kiss him, my mind misgave me. Shall I leave the candle?”
“ If you please,” said Dinah, yawning.
“ Put it in the chimney, dearie, when you've done—good night," and Mrs. Gotobed bustled briskly out of the room.
Dinah knelt down and said her prayers, and then taking the candle, surveyed her bed-fellow with some curiosity; somehow or other, the features seemed familiar, but where she had seen them, or when, or who this personage could be, she quite failed to bring to her recollection. Besides, she was very sleepy, and the bed looked very inviting, and so she blew out the candle, and crept into bed, and although the day had been such an agitating one, she was soon fast asleep.
She was awoke in the morning by a heavy hand being thrown across her face, and the next moment, a voice, that sounded rather familiar to her ears, screamed out, “Oh, lor 'a massey, what a conflagration ! help! help! good people, here's a thief in the bed !”
Pray, be calm,” said Dinah, sitting up, and now for the first time getting a distinct view of her companion's face; “really, I think I remember your face.”
The woman thus addressed so quietly, looked at her in turn, and then bursting into a cry, and then into a laugh, ejaculated, “Oh my! it's Miss Di, and nobody else; oh, Miss Di, where is Mr. Walter? and how do you come here ? and where is that horrid Pestle? oh, I wish I had her here, Miss Di-wouldn't I scrunch her nasty scaramouch of a face for her. I'm going up. to Lun'on, mum, for I can't a bear these country folk at all, and a sorry day it was for me when I listened to that hodious Pestle, and came down into these parts."
“I am going up to London, too,” said Dinah.
“Just to think of that, now !” ejaculated Miss Noggles, with her old laugh; “of course, Miss Di, you will allow me to accompany you?”
“ We shall see,” said Dinah; “my cousin Stephen is here, and we must consult him, you know.”
“Oh, Mr. Stephen is to be the happy man after all, is he? cried Miss Noggles, eagerly. "Well, things do turn out strange, sometimes, there was that drummer in the regimental at Chatam-how he did go on and rave himself almost into a frenzy about me! and it was only last week as ever I saw him, with a nasty, slovenly thing, arm in arm, with him. To be sure, he was a black, and therefore not answerable for his shortcomings—and so Mr. Stephen's the man, is he, Miss Di?" she added, suddenly cutting short her speculations touching her dingy lover's tergiversations,
“Perhaps I shall never be married, after all, Kitty," said Dinah, laughing
“Oh my, but you will, though; it would be a sin to waste that pretty face, Miss Di. I should so like to dress you on the day, Miss Di,” cried Noggles, with a sudden burst of professional enthusiasm.
“Well, you shall, if it ever happens,” said Dinah, demurely. “Now, can we not get up, Kitty, or have we to lie here all
“Just lie you still, and let me get dressed first,” said Miss Noggles, tumbling out of bed in a very extraordinary manner; “it will be such a treat to dress a real lady, after that
hodious Pestlemoh my, what rich velvet, and what lace, Miss Di! real Valency! three fingers broad! Now, Miss Di, just out of curiosity, do tell me what you paid for that Valency."
Dinah satisfied her on this point, and then had to answer half-a-dozen more; and this being done, Miss Noggles graciously gave her permission to get up, and then insisted upon assisting at her toilet. This being completed, the pair went down stairs into the quaint-looking, little, sanded parlour, where Stephen was already ensconced in an easy chair, by the open window, at sight of whom, Miss Noggles pursed up her mouth, and bridled her head, and honoured him with a very stiff curtsey indeed.
The breakfast was soon despatched, and the reckoning was scarcely discharged, before the coach-horn was heard twanging in the distance, as the heavy, lumbering old thing came rumbling over the bridge. Fortunately, there proved to be a couple of places to spare inside, and Dinah and her new "ally being safely stowed away, Stephen leaped to the roof, and with a wave of the hand to the simple old pair of the Gotobeds, away they went again on their travels.
An hour after they had gone, there limped into the selfsame parlour that they had made so bright and cheery with their presence, a gentleman, whose bandaged head, tattered clothes, and miserable visage, at once proclaimed him to have met with rough usage, at a very recent date.
“That is my carriage at the door, landlord,” said he, in a weak voice; "some one brought it here last night-eh?”
“Yes, zur,” said Jonas Gotobed; “ does 'ee want vresh
osses, zur ? »
“No; I shall remain here some time; has the rascal gone that came with it?"
“Ees, zur-just a-gone."
“ Very well, then I shall stay here-get me a bed ready at once.” And stay he did, and kept his bed, too, for a month or more; so that Dinah was revenged after all.
Dinah and Stephen, in the mean time, rolled on gaily to the metropolis, which they reached, without any further adventure, late on the same evening.
“ You must come and live with mother and me again, at the Abbey Holme, until Walter and you make a match of it, Dinah, said Stephen, abruptly, as they entered the mighty Babylon, in a quieter mood than any they had experienced during the day. Mr. Linton's house can be no home for you after what has happened, nor shall you ever put foot in it again.”
“I have never been happy, Stephen, dear, since I left dear grandmamma,” said Dinah, gently; “ and if you will take me back-"
“ Take you back, indeed, you little foul,” retorted Stephen, snatching a kiss; "only try us now."
Dinah laughed, and said she was sure they would not, after she had deserted them so long, and then immediately grew grave, as she recollected the conversation they had had only a few minutes before, and in which both had agreed that Mr. Linton had been perfectly cognisant, and must, in fact, have been the originator of her late abduction.
“ If Wat should have got back before us, what a state he will be in !" cried Stephen, after a long pause; “ I'm sure, Dinah, he'll be neither to bind nor to hold, if they tell him all that's happened."
“Oh! but I really hope they won't,” said Dinah, in a subdued voice; “I am sure we have had misery and discomfort enough already. Lucy, I'm certain, would not say anything, until some tidings of either you or me arrived."
“Well, I hope they won't, but if they do he'll he terrible," said Stephen, laughing; “I wonder how his lordship feels hinself now–By jove, Dinah, I could scarcely keep from laughing all the time I was belabouring him, he looked so precious helpless."
“ Oh! Stephen, don't talk about it,” said Dinah, who became more and more nervous every moment; “ how can you think of any body but Walter just now? I wish you hadn't made me think about the chance of his being back before us; I do, indeed.”
“Well, well, you know he mayn't be back after all; ten to one he never comes back at all,” said Stephen, in a bantering tone.
“ Ah! I'm not afraid of that,” said Dinah, laughing gaily; “now that idea is just as good as a tonic for my nervous fears, and I shan't torment myself with any new terrors, until we arrive at the hotel.”
“ Here we are, then,” cried Stephen, as the chaise drew up.