‘Yes, he is,’ said Charlotte, recovering from her sobs; ’he rode up as I came in.’
’Well, to be sure, he is come to breakfast! I hope nothin’s amiss with my young Lord! I must run up with a cup and plate, and you, make the place tidy, in case Mr. Poynings comes in. You’d better run into the scullery and wash your face; ’tis all tears! You’re a terrible one to cry, Charlotte!’ with a kind, cheering smile and caress.
Mrs. Beckett bustled off, leaving Charlotte to restore herself to the little handy piece of household mechanism which kind, patient, motherly training had rendered her.
Charlotte Arnold had been fairly educated at a village school, and tenderly brought up at home till left an orphan, when she had been taken into her present place. She had much native refinement and imagination, which, half cultivated, produced a curious mixture of romance and simplicity. Her insatiable taste for reading was meritorious in the eyes of Mrs. Beckett, who, unlearned herself, thought any book better than ‘gadding about,’ and, after hearing her daily portion of the Bible, listened to the most adventurous romances, with a sense of pleasure and duty in keeping the girl to her book. She loved the little fragile orphan, taught her, and had patience with her, and trusted the true high sound principle which she recognised in Charlotte, amid much that she could not fathom, and set down alternately to the score of scholarship and youth.
Taste, modesty, and timidity were guards to Charlotte. A broad stare was terror to her, and she had many a fictitious horror, as well as better-founded ones. Truly she said, she hated the broad words Martha had used. One who craved a true knight to be twitted with a sweetheart! Martha and Tom Madison were almost equally distasteful, as connected with such a reproach; and the little maiden drew into herself, promenaded her fancy in castles and tournaments, kept under Jane’s wing, and was upheld by her as a sensible, prudent girl.
AN OLD SCHOOLMISTRESS.
I praise thee, matron, and thy due
Is praise, heroic praise and true;
With admiration I behold
Thy gladness unsubdued and bold.
Thy looks and gestures all present
The picture of a life well spent;
Our human nature throws away
Its second twilight and looks gay.
Unconscious of Charlotte’s flight and Tom’s affront, the Earl of Ormersfield rode along Dynevor Terrace—a row of houses with handsome cemented fronts, tragic and comic masks alternating over the downstairs windows, and the centre of the block adorned with a pediment and colonnade; but there was an air as if something ailed the place: the gardens were weedy, the glass doors hazy, the cement stained and scarred, and many of the windows closed and dark,