Oh dear no! Why should Barbara be cross? And what right had she to be cross? And what did it matter whether she was cross or not? Who minded her!

‘Why, I do,’ said Kit. ‘Of course I do.’

Barbara didn’t see why it was of course, at all.

Kit was sure she must. Would she think again?

Certainly, Barbara would think again. No, she didn’t see why it was of course. She didn’t understand what Christopher meant. And besides she was sure they wanted her upstairs by this time, and she must go, indeed —

‘No, but Barbara,’ said Kit, detaining her gently, ‘let us part friends. I was always thinking of you, in my troubles. I should have been a great deal more miserable than I was, if it hadn’t been for you.’

Goodness gracious, how pretty Barbara was when she coloured — and when she trembled, like a little shrinking bird!

‘I am telling you the truth, Barbara, upon my word, but not half so strong as I could wish,’ said Kit, earnestly. ‘When I want you to be pleased to see Miss Nell, it’s only because I like you to be pleased with what pleases me — that’s all. As to her, Barbara, I think I could almost die to do her service, but you would think so too if you knew her as I do. I am sure you would.’

Barbara was touched, and sorry to have appeared indifferent.

‘I have been used, you see,’ said Kit, ‘to talk and think of her, almost as if she was an angel. When I look forward to meeting her again, I think of her smiling as she used to do, and being glad to see me, and putting out her hand and saying, “It’s my own old Kit,” or some such words as those — like what she used to say. I think of seeing her happy, and with friends about her, and brought up as she deserves, and as she ought to be. When I think of myself, it’s as her old servant, and one that loved her dearly, as his kind, good, gentle mistress; and who would have gone — yes, and still would go — through any harm to serve her. Once I couldn’t help being afraid that if she came back with friends about her she might forget, or be ashamed of having known, a humble lad like me, and so might speak coldly, which would have cut me, Barbara, deeper than I can tell. But when I came to think again, I felt sure that I was doing her wrong in this; and so I went on as I did at first, hoping to see her once more, just as she used to be. Hoping this, and remembering what she was, has made me feel as if I would always try to please her, and always be what I should like to seem to her if I was still her servant. If I’m the better for that — and I don’t think I’m the worse — I am grateful to her for it, and love and honour her the more. That’s the plain honest truth, dear Barbara, upon my word it is!’

Little Barbara was not of a wayward or capricious nature, and, being full of remorse, melted into tears. To what more conversation this might have led, we need not stop to inquire; for the wheels of the carriage were heard at that moment, and, being followed by a smart ring at the garden gate, caused the bustle in the house, which had laid dormant for a short time, to burst again into tenfold life and vigour.

Simultaneously with the travelling equipage, arrived Mr Chuckster in a hackney, with certain papers and supplies of money for the single gentleman, into whose hands he delivered them. This duty discharged, he subsided into the bosom of the family; and entertaining himself with a strolling or peripatetic breakfast, watched with a genteel indifference the process of loading the carriage.

‘Snobby’s in this I see, Sir?’ he said to Mr Abel Garland. ‘I thought he wasn’t in the last trip because it was expected that his presence wouldn’t be very acceptable to the ancient buffalo.’

‘To whom, Sir?’ demanded Mr Abel.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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