It was while this young lady was getting more noise out of Mrs. Dunmaw’s red silk and rosewood piano than had been shaken out of it during the last thirty years, that the lawyer brought his cup of coffee to Miss Betty’s side, and said, suavely, “I here wonderful accounts of Lingborough, dear Miss Betty.”
“I am thankful to say, sir, that the farm is doing well this year. I am very thankful, for the past few years have been unfavourable, and we had begun to face the fact that it might be necessary to sell the old place. And I will not deny, sir, that it would have gone far to break my heart, to say nothing of my sister Kitty’s.”
“Oh, we shouldn’t have let it come to that,” said the lawyer, “I could have raised a loan—”
“Sir,” said Miss Betty with dignity, “if we have our own pride, I hope it’s an honest one. Lingborough will have passed out of our family when it’s kept up on borrowed money.”
“I could live in lodgings,” added Miss Betty, firmly, “little as I’ve been accustomed to it, but not in debt.”
“Well, well, my dear madam, we needn’t talk about it now. But I’m dying of curiosity as to the mainstay of all this good luck.”
“The turnips—” began Miss Betty.
“Bless my soul, Miss Betty!” cried the lawyer, “I’m not talking of turnips. I’m talking of Lob Lie-by-the-fire, as all the country side is for that matter.”
“The country people have plenty of tales of him,” said Miss Betty, with some pride in the family goblin. “He used to haunt the old barns, they say, in my great-grandfather’s time.”
“And now you’ve got him back again,” said the lawyer.
“Not that I know of,” said Miss Betty.
On which the lawyer poured into her astonished ear all the latest news on the subject, and if it had lost nothing before reaching his house in the town, it rather gained in marvels as he repeated it to Miss Betty.
No wonder that the little lady was anxious to get home to question Thomasina, and that somewhat before the usual hour she said,—
“Sister Kitty, if it’s not too soon for the servant—”
And the parson, threading his way to where Mrs. Dunmaw’s china crape shawl (dyed crimson) shone in the bow window, said, “The clergy should keep respectable hours, madam; especially when they are as old as I am. Will you allow me to thank you for a very pleasant evening, and to say good night?”
“Do you think there’d be any harm in leaving it alone, sister Betty?” said Miss Kitty, tremulously.
They had reached Lingborough, and the parson had come in with them, by Miss Betty’s request, and Thomasina had been duly examined.
“Eh, Miss Betty, why should ye chase away good luck with the minister?” cried she.
“Sister Kitty! Thomasina!” said Miss Betty. “I would not accept good luck from a doubtful quarter to save Lingborough. But if It can face this excellent clergyman, the Being who haunted my great-grandfather’s farm is still welcome to the old barns, and you, Thomasina, need not grudge It cream or curds.”