“A harrowing old man, Mis’ess Yeobright,” said Christian despondingly. “I wouldn’t live with him a week, so playward as he is, if I could get away.”
“’Twould be more seemly in ye to stand still and welcome Mis’ess Yeobright, and you the venerablest here, Grandfer Cantle,” said the besom-woman.
“Faith, and so it would,” said the reveller checking himself repentantly. “I’ve such a bad memory, Mis’ess Yeobright, that I forget how I’m looked up to by the rest of ’em. My spirits must be wonderful good, you’ll say? But not always. ’Tis a weight upon a man to be looked up to as commander, and I often feel it.”
“I am sorry to stop the talk,” said Mrs. Yeobright. “But I must be leaving you now. I was passing down the Anglebury Road, towards my niece’s new home, who is returning tonight with her husband; and seeing the bonfire and hearing Olly’s voice among the rest I came up here to learn what was going on. I should like her to walk with me, as her way is mine.”
“Ay, sure, ma’am, I’m just thinking of moving,” said Olly.
“Why, you’ll be safe to meet the reddleman that I told ye of,” said Fairway. “He’s only gone back to get his van. We heard that your niece and her husband were coming straight home as soon as they were married, and we are going down there shortly, to give ’em a song o’ welcome.”
“Thank you indeed,” said Mrs. Yeobright.
“But we shall take a shorter cut through the furze than you can go with long clothes; so we won’t trouble you to wait.”
“Very well—are you ready, Olly?”
“Yes, ma’am. And there’s a light shining from your niece’s window, see. It will help to keep us in the path.”
She indicated the faint light at the bottom of the valley which Fairway had pointed out; and the two women descended the tumulus.
The Halt on the Turnpike Road
Down, downward they went, and yet further down—their descent at each step seeming to outmeasure their advance. Their skirts were scratched noisily by the furze, their shoulders brushed by the ferns, which, though dead and dry, stood erect as when alive, no sufficient winter weather having as yet arrived to beat them down. Their Tartarean situation might by some have been called an imprudent one for two unattended women. But these shaggy recesses were at all seasons a familiar surrounding to Olly and Mrs. Yeobright; and the addition of darkness lends no frightfulness to the face of a friend.
“And so Tamsin has married him at last,” said Olly, when the incline had become so much less steep that their footsteps no longer required undivided attention.
Mrs. Yeobright answered slowly, “Yes: at last.”
“How you will miss her—living with ’ee as a daughter, as she always have.”
“I do miss her.”
Olly, though without the tact to perceive when remarks were untimely, was saved by her very simplicity from rendering them offensive. Questions that would have been resented in others she could ask with impunity. This accounted for Mrs. Yeobright’s acquiescence in the revival of an evidently sore subject.