“Lor’, Mas’r Hugh, how you skeered me! Miss ’Lina done order me to take up de carpet, ’case it’s ole miss’s, and she won’t have no low-lived truck tramplin’ over it. That’s what Miss ’Lina say,” and Hannah tossed her head quite conceitedly.
“Miss ’Lina be hanged,” was Hugh’s savage response; “and you, woman, do you hear?—drive those nails back faster than you took them out.”
“Yes, mas’r,” and Hannah hastened down. Whispering to her mistress, Hannah told what Hugh had said, and instantly there came over Mrs. Worthington’s face a look of concern, as if she, too, objected to having the stranger occupy a room wherein an ex-governor had slept, but Hugh’s wish was law to her, and she answered that all was ready. A moment after, Hugh appeared, and taking Adah in his arms, carried her to the upper chamber, where the fire was burning brightly, casting cheerful shadows upon the wall, and making Adah smile gratefully, as she looked up in his face, and murmured:
“God bless you, Mr. Worthington! Adah will pray for you to-night, when she is alone. It’s all that she can do.”
They laid her upon the bed, Hugh himself arranging her pillows, which no one else appeared inclined to touch.
Family opinion was against her, innocent and beautiful as she looked lying there—so helpless, so still, with her long-fringed lashes shading her colorless cheek, and her little hands folded upon her bosom, as if already she were breathing the promised prayer for Hugh. Only in Mrs. Worthington’s heart was there a chord of sympathy. She couldn’t help feeling for the desolate stranger; and when, at her own request, Hannah placed Willie in her lap, ere laying him by his mother, she gave him an involuntary hug, and touched her lips to his fat, round cheek.
“He looks as you did, Hugh, when you were a baby like him,” she said, while Chloe rejoined:
“De very spawn of Mas’r Hugh, now. I ’tected it de fust minit. Can’t cheat dis chile,” and, with a chuckle, which she meant to be very expressive, the fat old woman waddled from the room.
Hugh and his mother were alone, and turning to her son, Mrs. Worthington said, gently:
“This is sad business, Hugh; worse than you imagine. Do you know how folks will talk?”
“Let them talk,” Hugh growled. “It cannot be much worse than it is now. Nobody cares for Hugh Worthington; and why should they, when his own mother and sister are against him, in actions if not in words?—one sighing when his name is mentioned, as if he really were the most provoking son that ever was born, and the other openly berating him as a monster, a clown, a savage, a scarecrow, and all that. I tell you, mother, there is but little to encourage me in the kind of life I’m leading. Neither you nor Ad have tried to make anything of me.”
Choking with tears, Mrs. Worthington said:
“You wrong me, Hugh; I do try to make something of you. You are a dear child to me, dearer than the other, but I’m a weak woman, and ’Lina sways me at will.”