“Well, sir, you know where the old wall runs out into the water, before Caresfoot’s Staff there? Well, at the end of it there’s a post sunk in, with a ring in it to tie boats to. Now, would you believe it? out there at the end of the wall, and tied to the ring by a scarf passed round her middle, was that dreadful child. She was standing there, her back against the post, right in the teeth of the gale, with the spray dashing over her, her arms stretched out before her, her hat gone, her long hair standing out behind straight as an iron bar, and her eyes flashing as though they were on fire, and all the while there were the great trees crashing down all round in a way enough to make a body sick with fright. We got her back safe, thank God; but how long we shall keep her, I’m sure I don’t know. Now she is drowning herself in the lake, for she takes to the water like a duck, and now breaking her neck off trees, and now going to ghosts in the churchyard for company. It’s wearing me to the bone—that’s what it is.”
Mr. Fraser smiled, for, to tell the truth, Pigott’s bones were pretty comfortably covered.
“Come,” he said, “you would not part with her for all her wicked deeds, would you?”
“Part with her,” answered Pigott, in hot indignation, “part with my little beauty? I would rather part with my head. The love, there never was another like her, nor never will be, with her sweet ways; and, if I know anything about girls, she’ll be the beauty of England, she will. She’s made for a beautiful woman; and look at them eyes and forehead and hair—where did you ever see the like? And, as for her queer ways, what can you expect from a child as has got a great empty mind and nothing to put in it, and no one to talk to but a common woman like me, and a father”—here she dropped her voice—“as is a miser, and hates the sight of his own flesh and blood?”
“Hush! you should not say such things, Pigott! Now I will tell you something; I am going on to ask your master to allow me to educate Angela.”
“I’m right glad to hear it, sir. She’s sharp enough to learn anything, and it’s kind of you to teach her. If you can make her mind like what her body will be if she lives, somebody will be a lucky man one of these days. Good-night, sir, and many thanks for bringing missy home.”
Next day Angela began her education.
Reader, we are about to see Angela again, and to see a good deal of her; but you must be prepared for a change in her personal appearance, for the curtain has been down for ten years since last you met the child whose odd propensities excited Pigott’s wonder and indignation and Mr. Fraser’s interest; and ten years, as we all know, can work many changes in the history of the world and individuals. In ten years some have been swept clean off the board, and their places taken by others; a few have grown richer, many poorer, some of us sadder, some wiser, and all of us ten years older. Now, this was exactly what had happened to little Angela—that is, the Angela we knew as little, and ten years make curious differences between the slim child of nine and a half and the woman of nearly twenty.