“My dear Laura,” said
Uncle Josiah that same evening, “you misjudge
me; Lindon’s welfare is as dear to me as that
of my little Kitty.”
“But you seemed to be so hard and stern with
“That is your weak womanly way
of looking at it, my dear I may have been stern, but
no more so than the matter warranted. No, my
dear sister, can you not see that I mean all this
as a lesson for Lindon? You know how discontented
he has been with his lot, like many more boys at his
time of life, when they do not judge very well as to
whether they are well off.”
“Yes, he has been unsettled lately.”
“Exactly, and this is due to
his connection with that ne’er-do-weel scoundrel,
for whom the boy has displayed an unconquerable liking.
Lindon has begged the man on again four times after
he had been discharged from the yard for drunkenness
“I did not know this,”
said Mrs Lavington. “No, I do not bring
all my business troubles home. I consented because
I wished Lindon to realise for himself the kind of
man whose cause he advocated; but I never expected
that it would be brought home to him so severely as
“Then indeed, Josiah, you do not think Lindon
“Bah! Of course not, you
foolish little woman. The boy is too frank and
manly, too much of a gentleman to degrade himself in
such a way. Guilty? Nonsense! Guilty
of being proud and obstinate and stubborn. Guilty
of neglecting his work to listen to that idle scoundrel’s
romancing about places he has never seen.”
“He is so young.”
“Young? Old enough to know better.”
“But if you could bring it home to him more
“I think the present way is
an admirable one for showing the boy his folly.
The bird who kept company with the jackdaws had his
neck wrung, innocent as he was. I want Lindon
to see how very near he has been to having his neck
wrung through keeping company with a jackdaw.
Now, my dear Laura, leave it to me. The magistrates
will grasp the case at once, and Master Lindon will
receive a severe admonition from some one else, which
will bring him to his senses, and then we shall go
on quite smoothly again.”
“You cannot tell how happy you
have made me feel,” said Mrs Lavington, as she
“Well,” said Uncle Josiah,
“I want to make you happy, you poor timid little
bird. Now, then, try to believe that I am acting
for the best.”
“And you will not be so stern with him?”
“As far as my lights will illumine
me, I will do what is right by my sister’s boy,
Laura the lad I want to see grow up into
a straightforward Englishman, proud of his name.
There, can I say more fairly than that?”
“No. I only beg that you
will think of Lindon as a high-spirited boy, who,
though he does not always do as you wish, is still
“Proud and stubborn, eh, Laura?”
“I will say no more, my own brother, only leave
myself in your hands.”
“Yes, you may well look at the
clock,” said Uncle Josiah, laughing, as he put
his arm round his sister, and kissed her very tenderly;
“the young dog is unconscionably late.”
“You do not think after what I said?”
No, no. Lindon is too manly for that.
Here, I am sure that you have a terrible headache,
and you are worn out. Go to bed, and I’ll
sit up for the young rascal, and have a talk to him
when he comes in.”
“No, no!” exclaimed Mrs
Lavington excitedly; “I do not like you to sit
up for him. I will.”
“Not you. Too tired out
as it is. No, my dear, you shall go to bed,
and I will sit up for him.”
“Then let neither of us sit up.”
“Afraid I shall scold him, eh?”
“I cannot help being afraid of something of
the kind, dear.”
“Very well, then we will both go, and let Jessie
The maid was rung for, and entered.
“We are going to bed, Jessie.
Master Lindon has not returned yet. You will
sit up until he comes in.”
The maid left the room, and brother
and sister sat looking at each other.
“Did you speak, Josiah?” said Mrs Lavington.
“No; I was only thinking that
I do not trust you and you don’t trust me.”
“What do you mean?” faltered
the poor woman, who looked more agitated now.
“You were not going to bed,
but to listen for Lindon’s return, and were
then going to watch whether I left my room to talk
Mrs Lavington was silent.
“Guilty,” said Uncle Josiah,
smiling. “Come now, fair play. Will
you go to your room and promise to stay there till
breakfast time to-morrow morning, if I give you my
word to do the same?”
“Yes,” said the shrinking woman eagerly.
“That’s agreed to, then. Good-night,
Laura, my dear.”
Ten minutes after all was still in
the house, but matters did not turn out quite as Uncle
Josiah intended. For before he was undressed,
a bedroom door was opened very gently, and the creak
it gave produced a low ejaculation of dismay.
Then there was five minutes’
interval before a slight little figure stole gently
downstairs and glided into the kitchen, where round
red-faced Jessie was seated in a window, her chair
being opposite to what looked like a lady’s
back, making the most careful bows from time to time,
to which the lady made no response, for it was only
Jessie’s cloak hanging on a peg with her old
bonnet just above.
The slight little figure stood in
the kitchen doorway listening, and then Jessie seemed
to be bowing her head to the fresh comer, who did
take some notice of the courtesy, for, crossing the
kitchen rapidly, there was a quick sharp whisper.
“Two new and one stale,” said the maid.
“Oh, how tiresome! Jessie, Jessie!”
“Jessie!” and this time
there was a shake of the maid’s shoulder, and
she jumped up, looking startled.
“Lor, Miss Kitty, how you frightened me!”
“You were asleep.”
“Sleep? Me, miss? That I’m
sure I wasn’t.”
“You were, Jessie, and I heard
father tell you to sit up till Cousin Lindon came
“Well, that’s what I’m
a-doin’ of, miss, as plain as I can,” said
She spoke in an ill-used tone, for
it had been a busy day consequent upon a certain amount
of extra cleaning, but Kitty did not notice it.
“I shall stay till I hear my
cousin’s knock,” she said; “and then
run upstairs. I hope he will not be long.”
“So do I, Miss Kitty,”
said the woman with a yawn. “What’s
made him so late? Is it because of the trouble
at the yard?”
“Yes, Jessie; but you must not talk about it.”
“But I heerd as Master Don took some money.”
“He did not, Jessie!”
cried Kitty indignantly. “There isn’t
a word of truth in it. My Cousin Lindon couldn’t
have done such a thing. It’s all a mistake,
and I want to see him come in, poor boy, and tell him
that I don’t believe it I’ll whisper it
to him just as he’s going up to bed, and it
will make him happy, for I know he thinks I have gone
against him, and I only made believe that I did.”
The sound was very gentle, and Kitty
did not hear it, for she was looking intently toward
the door in the belief that she had heard Don’s
But it was only that of some passer
on his way home, and Kitty went on,
“You mustn’t talk about
it, Jessie, for it is a great trouble, and aunt is
nearly heart-broken, and ”
This time there was so loud and gurgling
a sound that Kitty turned sharply upon the maid, who,
after emitting a painful snore, made her young mistress
the most polite of bows.
“Jessie! You’re asleep.”
Snurrg! And a bow.
“Oh, Jessie, you’re asleep again.
How can you be so tiresome?”
Snurrg! Gurgled Jessie
again, and Kitty gave an impatient stamp of her little
“How can any one sleep at a
time like this?” she half sobbed. “It’s
too bad, that it is.”
Jessie bowed to her politely, and
her head went up and down as if it were fixed at the
end of a very easy moving spring, but when Kitty reproached
her the words had not the slightest effect, and a dull
stupid stare was given, of so irritating a nature
that some people would have felt disposed to awaken
the sleeper by administering a sound slap upon the
hard round cheek.
One hour, two hours, three hours passed
away, and still no Don; and at last, unable to bear
the company of the snoring woman longer, Kitty left
her and went into the drawing-room, where, kneeling
down at the end of the couch under the window, she
remained watching the dark street, waiting for him
who did not come.
Kitty watched till the street began
to look less dark and gloomy, and by degrees the other
side became so plain that she could make out the bricks
on the opposite walls.
Then they grew plainer and plainer,
and there was a bright light in the sky, for the sun
was near to its rising.
Then they grew less plain, then quite
indistinct, for Kitty was crying bitterly, and she
found herself wondering whether Don could have come
in and gone to bed.
A little thought told her that this
was impossible, and the tears fell faster still.
Where could he be? What could
he be doing? Ought she to awaken her aunt?
Kitty could not answer these self-imposed
questions, and as her misery and despair grew greater
it seemed as if the morning was growing very cold
and the bricks of the houses opposite more and more
obscure, and then soon after they were quite invisible,
for she saw them not.