‘Thou and I will not quarrel, Dorothy,’ returned lady Margaret sweetly; ’for sure am I that would please neither the one nor the other of them.’
Dorothy kissed her hand, and the subject dropped.
After that, Molly never asked the horse to spout, or if she happened to do so, would correct herself instantly, and turn her request to the mother Mary. Nor did the horse ever fail to spout, notwithstanding an evil thought which arose in the protestant part of Dorothy’s mind—the temptation, namely, to try the effect upon Molly of a second failure. All the rest of her being on the instant turned so violently protestant against the suggestion, that no parley with it was possible, and the conscience of her intellect cowered before the conscience of her heart.
It was from this fancy of the child’s for the spouting of the horse that it came to be known in the castle that mistress Dorothy was ruler of Raglan waters. In lord Herbert’s absence not a person in the place but she and Caspar understood their management, and except lady Margaret, the marquis, and lord Charles, no one besides even knew of the existence of such a contrivance as the water-shoot or artificial cataract.
Every night Dorothy and Caspar together set the springs of it, and every morning Caspar detached the lever connecting the stone with the drawbridge.
The damsel which fell sick.
From within the great fortress, like the rough husk whence the green lobe of a living tree was about to break forth, a lovely child-soul, that knew neither of war nor ambition, knew indeed almost nothing save love and pain, was gently rising as from the tomb. The bonds of the earthly life that had for ever conferred upon it the rights and privileges of humanity were giving way, and little, white-faced, big-eyed Molly was leaving father and mother and grandfather and spouting horse and all, to find—what?—To find what she wanted, and wait a little for what she loved.
One sultry evening in the second week of June, the weather had again got inside the inhabitants of the castle, forming different combinations according to the local atmosphere it found in each. Clouds had been slowly steaming up all day from several sides of the horizon, and as the sun went down, they met in the zenith. Not a wing seemed to be abroad under heaven, so still was the region of storms. The air was hot and heavy and hard to breathe—whether from lack of life, or too much of it, oppressing the narrow and weak recipients thereof, as the sun oppresses and extinguishes earthly fires, I at least cannot say. It was weather that made some dogs bite their masters, made most of the maids quarrelsome, and all the men but one or two more or less sullen, made Dorothy sad, Molly long after she knew not what, her mother weep, her grandfather feel himself growing old, and the hearts of all the lovers, within and without the castle, throb for the comfort of each other’s lonely society. The fish lay still in the ponds, the pigeons sat motionless on the roof-ridges, and the fountains did not play; for Dorothy’s heart was so heavy about Molly, that she had forgotten them.