THE HOUSE ON WESTMINSTER ROAD.
An hour’s ride through some of the most crowded streets of London brought her to her destination—a tall, dingy, three-storied brick house, in a block of the same.
She paid and dismissed the cab at the door, and then went up and rang the bell.
It was answered by an old woman, in a black skirt, red sack, white apron, and white cap.
“Well, to be sure, ma’am, you have taken me unexpected; but I’m main glad to see you so soon. Come in, and I’ll make you comfortable in no time,” said the woman, with kindly respect, as she held the door wide open for her mistress.
“Any one been here sin’ we left Mrs. Rogers?” inquired the traveller.
“No, ma’am—no soul. It is very lonely here without you. Let me take your bag, ma’am. It do seem heavy,” said Mrs. Rogers, as she held out her hand and took hold of the handle of the satchel.
“Na, I thank ye. It’s na that heavy neither,” exclaimed the girl, nervously jerking back the bag, and following her conductor into the house and up stairs.
An unlikely house to be the shelter of thieves and the receptacle of stolen goods. There was a look of sober respectability about its dinginess that might have appertained to a suburban doctor with a large family and a small practice. An old oil cloth, whole, but with its pattern half washed off, covered the narrow hall—an old stair-carpet of originally good quality, but now thread-bare in places, covered the steps. This was all that could be seen from the open door by any chance caller. But upstairs all was very different.
As the girl reached the landing, the old woman opened a door on her left and ushered her into a bright, glaring room, filled up with cheap new furniture, in which blinding colors and bad taste predominated. Carpets, curtains, chair and sofa covers, and hassocks, all bright scarlet; cornices, mirrors, and picture frames, (framing cheap, showy pictures,) all in brassy looking gilt. Through this sitting-room the girl passed into a bedroom, where, also, the furniture was in scarlet and gilt, except the white draperied bed and the dressing-table. Here the girl threw herself down in an easy-chair saying:
“I’ll just bide here a bit and wash my face and hands, while ye’ll gae bring my breakfast.”
“Yes, ma’am. What would you like to have?” inquired the woman.
“Ait meal parritch, fust of a’, to begin wi’ twa kippered herrings; a sausage; a beefsteak; twa eggs; a pot o’ arange marmalade; a plate of milk toast, some muffins, and some fresh rolls,” concluded the girl.
“Anything more, ma’am?” dryly inquired Mrs. Rogers.
“Nay—ay! Ye may bring me a mutton chop, wi’ the lave.”
“Tea or coffee, ma’am?”
“Baith, and mak’ haste wi’ it,” answered the girl.
The old woman, smiling to herself, went out.