“It was a black day for my poor man,” she said, “when he brought that fellow to the house. I mistrusted him from the first look at his sulky face. A man who can’t look you in the eyes,—well, there! that’s my opinion of him!”
“Why did the farmer bring him here?” asked Hilda. “I have often wondered.”
“Why, ’tis a long story, my dear,” said Nurse Lucy, smoothing her apron and preparing for a comfortable chat ("For,” she said, “Simon will not dare to stir from his room, even if he could get out, which he can’t."). “Of all his brothers, my husband loved his brother Simon best. He was a handsome, clever fellow, Simon was. Don’t you remember, my dear, Farmer speaking of him one day when you first came here, and telling how he wanted to be a gentleman; and I turned the talk when you asked what became of him?” Hilda nodded assent “Well,” Nurse Lucy continued, “that was because no good came of him, and I knew it vexed Farmer to think on it, let alone Simon’s son being there. It was all through his wanting to be a gentleman that Simon got into bad ways. Making friends with people who had money, he got to thinking he must have it, or must make believe he had it; so he spent all he had, and then—oh, dear!—he forged his father’s name, and the farm had to be mortgaged to get him out of prison; and then he took to drinking, and went from bad to worse, and finally died in misery and wretchedness. Dear, dear! it almost broke Jacob’s heart, that it did. He had tried, if ever man tried, to save his brother; but ’twas of no use. It seemed as if he was bound to ruin himself, and nothing could stop him. When he died, his wife (he married her, thinking she had money, and it turned out she hadn’t a penny) took the child and went back to her own people, and we heard nothing more till about two years ago, when this boy came to Jacob with a letter from his mother’s folks. She was dead, and they said they couldn’t do for him any longer, and he didn’t seem inclined to do for himself. Well, that is the story, Hilda dear. He has been here ever since, and he has been no comfort, no pleasure to us, I must say; but we have tried to do our duty by him, and I hoped he might feel in his heart some gratitude to his uncle, though he showed none in his actions. And now to think of it! to think of it! How shall I tell my poor man?”
“What was his mother like?” asked Hildegarde, trying to turn for the moment the current of painful thought.
Nurse Lucy gave a little laugh, even while wiping the tears from her eyes. “Poor Eliza!” she said. “She was a good woman, but—well, there! she had no faculty, as you may say. And homely! you never saw such a homely woman, Hilda; for I don’t believe there could be two in the world. I never think of Eliza without remembering what Jacob said after he saw her for the first time. He’d been over to see Simon; and when he came back he walked into the kitchen and sat down, never