‘Yes, she will, Martha, if you talk to her rightly.’ The servant didn’t reply for a while, but stood looking out of the window. ’You might as well go about the lamb at once, Martha.’
‘So I will, ma’am, when I’ve got it out, all clear.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
’Why just this, ma’am. May I tell Miss Dolly straight out that you want her to come back, and that I’ve been sent to say so?’
‘Then how am I to do it, ma’am?’
‘Do it out of your own head, just as it comes up at the moment.’
‘Out of my own head, ma’am?’
‘Yes just as you feel, you know.’
‘Just as I feel, ma’am?’
‘You understand what I mean, Martha.’
’I’ll do my best, ma’am, and I can’t say no more. And if you scolds me afterwards, ma’am why, of course, I must put up with it.’
‘But I won’t scold you, Martha.’
‘Then I’ll go out to Winslow’s about the lamb at once, ma’am.’
‘Very nice, and not too small, Martha.’
Martha went out and ordered the lamb, and packed it as desired quite clean in a napkin, and fitted it into the basket, and arranged with Giles Hickbody to carry it down for her early in the morning to the station, so that she might take the first train to Lessborough. It was understood that she was to hire a fly at Lessborough to take her to Nuncombe Putney. Now that she understood the importance of her mission and was aware that the present she took with her was only the customary accompaniment of an ambassadress entrusted with a great mission, Martha said nothing even about the expense. The train started for Lessborough at seven, and as she was descending from her room at six, Miss Stanbury in her flannel dressing-gown stepped out of the door of her own room. ‘Just put this in the basket,’ said she, handing a note to her servant. ’I thought last night I’d write a word. Just put it in the basket and say nothing about it.’ The note which she sent was as follows:
’The Close, 8th April, 186-.
MY DEAR DOROTHY
As Martha talks of going over to pay you a visit, I’ve thought that I’d just get her to take you a quarter of lamb, which is coming in now very nice. I do envy her going to see you, my dear, for I had gotten somehow to love to see your pretty face. I’m getting almost strong again; but Sir Peter, who was here this afternoon, just calling as a friend, was uncivil enough to say that I’m too much of an old woman to go out in the east wind. I told him it didn’t much matter for the sooner old women made way for young ones, the better.
I am very desolate and solitary here. But I rather think that women who don’t get married are intended to be desolate; and perhaps it is better for them, if they bestow their time and thoughts properly as I hope you do, my dear. A woman with a family of children has almost too many of the cares of this world, to give her mind as she ought to the other. What shall we say then of those who have no such cares, and yet do not walk uprightly? Dear Dorothy, be not such a one. For myself, I acknowledge bitterly the extent of my shortcomings. Much has been given to me; but if much be expected, how shall I answer the demand?