Lady Good-for-Nothing eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Lady Good-for-Nothing.

“Women are handier at picking up appearances; ‘adaptable’ ’s the word.  But the trouble with them is to find out whether they have the real thing or not.  For my part, if you want the real thing, I believe there are more gentlemen than gentlewomen in the world; and Batty Langton says you may breed out the old Adam, but you’ll never get rid of Eve. . . .  But, bless my soul, Dicky, it’s early days for you to be discussing the sex!”

Dicky, however, was perfectly serious.

“But I do mean what you call the real thing, papa.  Couldn’t a poor girl be born so that she had it from the start?  Oh, I can’t tell what I mean exactly—­”

“On the contrary, child, you are putting it uncommonly well; at any rate, you are making me understand what you mean, and that’s the A and Z of it, whether in talk or in writing.  ’Is there—­can there be—­such a thing as a natural born lady?’ that’s your question, hey?” The Collector peeled his walnut and smiled to himself.  In other company—­Batty Langton’s, for example—­he would have answered cynically that to him the phenomenon of a natural born lady would first of all suggest a doubt of her mother’s virtue.  “Well, no,” he answered after a while; “if you met such a person, and could trace back her family history, ten to one you’d discover good blood somewhere in it.  Old stocks fail, die away underground, and, as time goes on, are forgotten; then one fine day up springs a shoot nobody can account for.  It’s the old sap taking a fresh start.  See?”

Dicky nodded.  It would take him some time work out the theory, but he liked the look of it.

His drowsed young brain—­for the hour was past bedtime—­applied it idly to a picture that stood out, sharp and vivid, from the endless train of the day’s impressions:  the picture of a girl with quiet, troubled eyes, composed lips, and hands that beat upon a blazing curtain, not flinching at the pain. . . .  And just then, as it were in a dream, he beat of her hands echoed in a soft tapping, the door behind his father opened gently, and Dicky sat up with a start, wide awake again and staring, for the girl herself stood in the doorway.

Chapter V.

RUTH.

“Hey, what is it?” the Collector demanded, slewing himself to the half-about in his chair.

The girl stepped forward into the candle-light.  Over her shoulders she wore a faded plaid, the ends of which her left hand clutched and held together at her bosom.

“Your Honour’s pardon for troubling,” she said, and laying a gold coin on the table, drew back with a slight curtsy.  “But I think you gave me this by mistake; and now is my only chance to give it back.  I am going home in a few minutes.”

The Collector glanced at the coin, and from that to the girl’s face, on which his eyes lingered.

“Gad, I recollect!” he said.  “You were the wench that pulled off my boots?”

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Lady Good-for-Nothing from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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