“That was not manners,” said Dixon, decisively.
“But it was my fault,” replied Ellinor, pleading against the condemnation.
Dixon looked at her pretty sharply from under his ragged bushy eyebrows.
“He had been giving me a lecture, and saying I didn’t do what his sisters did—just as if I were to be always trying to be like somebody else—and I was cross and ran away.”
“Then it was Missy who wouldn’t say good-bye. That was not manners in Missy.”
“But, Dixon, I don’t like being lectured!”
“I reckon you don’t get much of it. But, indeed, my pretty, I daresay Mr. Corbet was in the right; for, you see, master is busy, and Miss Monro is so dreadful learned, and your poor mother is dead and gone, and you have no one to teach you how young ladies go on; and by all accounts Mr. Corbet comes of a good family. I’ve heard say his father had the best stud-farm in all Shropshire, and spared no money upon it; and the young ladies his sisters will have been taught the best of manners; it might be well for my pretty to hear how they go on.”
“You dear old Dixon, you don’t know anything about my lecture, and I’m not going to tell you. Only I daresay Mr. Corbet might be a little bit right, though I’m sure he was a great deal wrong.”
“But you’ll not go on a-fretting—you won’t now, there’s a good young lady—for master won’t like it, and it’ll make him uneasy, and he’s enough of trouble without your red eyes, bless them.”
“Trouble—papa, trouble! Oh, Dixon! what do you mean?” exclaimed Ellinor, her face taking all a woman’s intensity of expression in a minute.
“Nay, I know nought,” said Dixon, evasively. “Only that Dunster fellow is not to my mind, and I think he potters the master sadly with his fid-fad ways.”
“I hate Mr. Dunster!” said Ellinor, vehemently. “I won’t speak a word to him the next time he comes to dine with papa.”
“Missy will do what papa likes best,” said Dixon, admonishingly; and with this the pair of “friends” parted,
The summer afterwards Mr. Corbet came again to read with Mr. Ness. He did not perceive any alteration in himself, and indeed his early-matured character had hardly made progress during the last twelve months whatever intellectual acquirements he might have made. Therefore it was astonishing to him to see the alteration in Ellinor Wilkins. She had shot up from a rather puny girl to a tall, slight young lady, with promise of great beauty in the face, which a year ago had only been remarkable for the fineness of the eyes. Her complexion was clear now, although colourless—twelve months ago he would have called it sallow—her delicate cheek was smooth as marble, her teeth were even and white, and her rare smiles called out a lovely dimple.