“Her name is Biddy Bullen, sir; she’s my niece; but ’tis a poor timid little fool, and is always in a fright when gentlefolks happen to speak to her. Go, Biddy,” she continued—“go up into my bedroom, and mind that thread which you’ll find upon the reel.”
“You should try to conquer that timidity,” said Mr. Montague, “by making her answer every stranger who speaks to her; but by taking that office upon yourself, you absolutely encourage the shyness you complain of. Come hither, my little girl,” continued he, observing she was retiring upstairs, “and tell the lady what your name is.”
Encouraged by the kindness of Mr. Montague’s address, the agitated child obeyed the summons, although Mrs. Bullen attempted to force her into resistance.
“Well,” continued the old gentleman, patting her on the cheek, “and where did you get that pretty mole?”
“My mother gave it me, sir,” replied the blushing child; “but I did not see her do it, because Nurse Chapman told me she went to heaven as soon as I was born.”
“Your mother! And what was your mother’s name?” said Mr. Montague.
“Darnley, sir,” said the child, and suddenly recollecting the lesson that had been taught her—“but my name is Biddy Bullen, and that is my aunt.”
“Darnley!” exclaimed Mrs. Montague—“the very child that has been for these twelve months past advertised in all the papers”—then turning to convince herself of the fact—“and the very mole confirms it.”
Mr. Montague immediately attempted to secure the woman, but her activity eluded his grasp, and darting out at the back door she was out of sight in a few moments.
“Is she really gone? Is she gone?” all the little voices at once demanded, and upon Mr. Montague’s assuring them she was really gone for ever, their joy broke out in a thousand different ways—some cried, some laughed, and others jumped. In short, there never was a scene more completely calculated to interest the feelings of a benevolent heart.
Mr. Montague’s carriage at this period arrived, and the footman was desired to fetch a magistrate from Wycombe, while the worthy clergyman resolved to remain there until his arrival, and began questioning all the children. Two had been there from so early a period that they could give no account of their name or origin, but all the rest were so clear in their description that the benevolent Mr. Montague had no doubt of being able to restore them to their afflicted parents.
The magistrate soon arrived, attended by the worthy rector of the place, who, hearing from Mr. Montague’s servant that a child had been stolen, came with the intent of offering his services.
All but Eliza were immediately put under his protection, but Mrs. Montague was so anxious she should be their earliest care that she begged her husband to order a post-chaise directly, and set off immediately for town. This request was willingly complied with, and by three o’clock the next afternoon the party arrived at Darnley Hall.