At last she entered Green street, and came to the house of the kind lady who had furnished her and many others with work; raised the knocker, and gave one humble knock at the door. She had never been at the house before, but she had sometimes had to go to other genteel houses where she had been met with incivility by the domestics.
But “like master, like man,” is a stale old proverb and full of truth. The servant came to the door. He was a grave old man about fifty. His countenance was full of kind meaning, and his manners so gentle, that before hearing her errand, observing how cold she looked, bade her come in and warm herself at the hall stove.
“I have come,” said Lettice, “with the young lady’s work—I had not time to come last night, but I hope I have not put her to any inconvenience—I started before light this morning.”
“Well, my dear, I hope not,” said the servant, “but it was a pity you could not get it done last night. Mrs. Danvers likes to have people exact to the moment. However, I dare say it will be all right.”
As Reynolds, the servant-man, entered the drawing room, Lettice heard a voice, “Is it come at last!” And the young lady, who thus inquired, was Catherine Melvin, who was then making an early breakfast before a noble blazing fire.
“Has the woman brought her bill,” asked Mrs. Danvers.
“I will go and ask,” said the servant. “Stay, ask her to come up. I should like to inquire how she is getting along this cold weather.”
Reynolds obeyed, and soon Lettice found herself in a warm, comfortable breakfast room.
“Good morning,” said Mrs. Danvers. “I am sorry you have had such a cold walk this morning. I am sorry you could not come last night. This young lady is just leaving, and there is barely time to put up the things.” Catherine (for this was the young lady’s name,) had her back turned to the door quietly continuing her breakfast, but when the gentle voice of Lettice replied:
“Indeed, madam, I beg your pardon, I did my very best”—Catherine started, looked up, and rose hastily from her chair—Lettice, advancing a few steps, exclaimed “Catherine.”
And Catherine exclaimed—“It is—it is you!” and coming forward and taking her by the hand, she gazed with astonishment at the wan face and the miserable attire of the work-woman. “You,” she kept repeating. “Lettice! Lettice Arnold! Good Heavens! Where is your father? your mother? your sister?”
“Gone,” said the poor girl, “all gone but poor Myra!”
“And where is she? And you, dear Lettice, how have you come to this?”
Such was the unexpected meeting of these two persons, who were once children of the same village of Castle Rising. Lettice had been working for her school-mate, Catherine Melvin. The result was a happy one, and it was not long before, by the kindness of Catherine, that the two orphan girls were situated pleasantly in life. But as you will wish to know how all this came about, I will give you the circumstances in another story.