I sit here very often in the summer time, she answered; I used to come here once to cry and mourn, but that was a weary while ago, bless God!
I pluck the daisies as they grow, and take them home, said the old woman after a short silence. I like no flowers so well as these, and havent for five-and-fifty year. Its a long time, and Im getting very old.
Then growing garrulous upon a theme which was new to one listener though it were but a child, she told her how she had wept and moaned and prayed to die herself, when this happened; and how when she first came to that place, a young creature strong in love and grief, she had hoped that her heart was breaking as it seemed to be. But that time passed by, and although she continued to be sad when she came there, still she could bear to come, and so went on until it was pain no longer, but a solemn pleasure, and a duty she had learned to like. And now that five-and-fifty years were gone, she spoke of the dead man as if he had been her son or grandson, with a kind of pity for his youth, growing out of her own old age, and an exalting of his strength and manly beauty as compared with her own weakness and decay; and yet she spoke about him as her husband too, and thinking of herself in connexion with him, as she used to be and not as she was now, talked of their meeting in another world as if he were dead but yesterday, and she, separated from her former self, were thinking of the happiness of that comely girl who seemed to have died with him.
The child left her gathering the flowers that grew upon the grave, and thoughtfully retraced her steps.
The old man was by this time up and dressed. Mr Codlin, still doomed to contemplate the harsh realities of existence, was packing among his linen the candle-ends which had been saved from the previous nights performance; while his companion received the compliments of all the loungers in the stable-yard, who, unable to separate him from the master-mind of Punch, set him down as next in importance to that merry outlaw, and loved him scarcely less. When he had sufficiently acknowledged his popularity he came in to breakfast, at which meal they all sat down together.
And where are you going today? said the little man, addressing himself to Nell.
Indeed I hardly know,we have not determined yet, replied the child.
Were going on to the races, said the little man. If thats your way and you like to have us for company, let us travel together. If you prefer going alone, only say the word and youll find that we shant trouble you.
Well go with you, said the old man, Nell,with them, with them.
The child considered for a moment, and reflecting that she must shortly beg, and could scarcely hope to do so at a better place than where crowds of rich ladies and gentlemen were assembled together for purposes of enjoyment and festivity, determined to accompany these men so far. She therefore thanked the little man for his offer, and said, glancing timidly towards his friend, that if there was no objection to their accompanying them as far as the race town
Objection! said the little man. Now be gracious for once, Tommy, and say that youd rather they went with us. I know you would. Be gracious, Tommy.
Trotters, said Mr Codlin, who talked very slowly and ate very greedily, as is not uncommon with philosophers and misanthropes; youre too free.
Why, what harm can it do? urged the other.
No harm at all in this particular case, perhaps, replied Mr Codlin; but the principles a dangerous one, and youre too free I tell you.
Well, are they to go with us or not?
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