Imágenes de páginas

than even in those days when he led her to the altar, as his dear and happy bride.

Mr. Lascelles was obliged to return home, and Protheroe also; but Sophia remained while her father's weakness required her presence. But we must attend to the hero of our story.

The reader has heard that the domestic economy of the Brow was changed, and the number of in-door servants increased ; and that it arose from the circumstance of the unkind reports respecting them. There were many families in the village who envied Michael, and Jem Brown, who retained his old affection for him, and his especial anxiety that, as a religious character, all should go well beneath his roof, never failed to bring every report that could at all touch Michael's reputation. Now, though many of the servants at the Rectory were very worthy, and most of them religious characters, yet there was one gossiping girl whom Mrs. Lascelles had taken from Farmer Jennings as dairymaid: she had been occasionally elevated to the post of waiting-maid to the Miss Jennings, and had inherited some of their cast-off finery, and much of their spirit; and having gathered from the tattle of her young ladies that Mr. Kemp was a sort of Methodist, and knowing that Jem was his friend, at the same time finding all her smartness lost on the young gardener, she turned her partiality into dislike, and lost no opportunity of teazing him. She would frequently say, “ for her part she had not tasted a good bit of vegetables since she left Sizors, and she did believe that the best of the things went up to the Brow.”

Jem had borne a good deal from her in a very Christian spirit; but when she said this, he only waited till the old gardener came in to take it up seriously. “Andrews,” said Jem,“ here's sad goings on between you and I; Sukey's upright mind cannot bear it.” The old man sat smoking his pipe in the corner, and as he stopped it, he looked up at Jem with an enquiring eye, “And well, what now?” The dairy-maid was working, and cook sat by; and Robinson, Jem's first friend, was pacing up and down, talking of foreign parts that he had seen with his master. - What now?Jem.Why, nothing more nor less than this, that I carry the best vegetables out of the garden up to my friends at the Brow Farm.” “ Pooh,” said the old man,

“ never mind that. An honest conscience, boy, will carry us through more than that.” Sukey sat swelling and

louring, and working amazingly quick ; and Robinson turning round short, taking

[ocr errors]

the snuffers in his hand, snuffed the candle, at which the women sat working.

If,” said he, and he looked steadily at Sukey, “if the conscience of the accused party may carry them safely through, what is to become of the accuser. I cannot think that such charges ought to be passed over silently; it is not safe to live among those who bring false accusations; I may be charged with wearing my master's clothes; cook with giving away victuals without leave; no man is safe where there are false accusers. All this time Sukey kept reddening, till at last her passion became too much for her, and she said,

she hoped people might be allowed to speak of what they see'd with their own eyes.” At this poor old Andrews could sit no longer, but putting his hand upon the shoulder of the accusing party, said,

Whatever you have seen, Susan, I charge you speak.” After some conflict with her pride in doing even mischief when she was desired to do it, she said, Why, hav’nt I seen the frail baskets as belongs to master fetched by that William from the Brow full of things ? and hav'nt I seen you, James Brown, many's the time with the flowers and the fruit going yourself?Never,” said James, my master's order.” “ And what does


or but by

[ocr errors]

see ?

that little carter's boy do here, two or three times every week hanging about the garden door? Do you think, as I can't

First,” said Andrews, " for William with the frail baskets, your master is very fond of lettuce.

56 'He don't see much of it,” said the pert dairy-maid. Andrews went on. “ Your master is very fond of lettuce, I say, and the snails have been very busy in our garden this year; they ate out the very heart of almost all we had.

Well, master went up to the Brow, and there he saw some very fine ones growing on the open ground before any of our neighbours had them. Mr. Kemp was quite glad that he had any thing that could be of any use to master, and he begged Jem to come whenever he liked to have them: and ever since that time in our master's own basket, Sukey;" and he looked at her very archly; "we have been fetching away Mr. Kemp's lettuces; and if we did not fetch them, Mr. Kemp's own man was sure to come very kindly down to bring them; and then, as for the little carter's boy, he has brought us manure for the hot-bed whenever we wanted it. So you see your master is greatly injured by Mr. Kemp, Jem Brown, and old Andrews; and if you injure him as much in the dairy as we do in the gar

[ocr errors]

den, I know not what will become of him.” And here Andrews lit a fresh pipe, and began to smoke; but Sukey was not to be silenced so easily. She said, “ It was well known, that with all their religion, Mr. Kemp's servants were oftener at the public than any; and as for Sunday, why they did not mind it a bit, and that the best of them were always going of errands with dinnerings and supperings to Mr. Kemp's new relations. For her part, she had it from the best authority from them as was sent with them, as was’nt mighty fond of going neither, them as thought they had enough to do all the week, and might have a bit of rest on the Sunday.”

Now, though these charges were very difficult to make out, and really led to nothing seriously wrong, it had this effect upon Michael's and upon Esther's mind,

we will take our servants into the house, watch over their conduct, and endeavour to make friends of them." This small link in the chain of Providence led to very important results at the Brow: they altered the whole plan of their establishment, and had only four out-door servants besides stone pickers; and as the reader may take some interest in the internal management of such very old friends, we will describe their plans


« AnteriorContinuar »