The New Mamma

On Tuesday afternoon, Molly returned home—to the home which was already strange, and what Warwickshire people would call “unked,” to her. New paint, new paper, new colours; grim servants dressed in their best, and objecting to every change—from their master’s marriage to the new oil-cloth in the hall, “which tripped ’em up, and threw ’em down, and was cold to the feet, and smelt just abominable.” All these complaints Molly had to listen to, and it was not a cheerful preparation for the reception which she already felt to be so formidable.

The sound of their carriage-wheels was heard at last, and Molly went to the front door to meet them. Her father got out first, and took her hand and held it, while he helped his bride to alight. Then he kissed her fondly, and passed her on to his wife; but her veil was so securely (and becomingly) fastened down, that it was some time before Mrs. Gibson could get her lips clear to greet her new daughter. Then there was the luggage to be seen about; and both the travellers were occupied in this, while Molly stood by, trembling with excitement, unable to help, and only conscious of Betty’s rather cross looks, as heavy box after heavy box jammed up the passage.

“Molly, my dear, show—your mamma to her room!”

Mr. Gibson had hesitated, because the question of the name by which Molly was to call her new relation had never occurred to him before. The colour flashed into Molly’s face. Was she to call her “mamma”?—the name long appropriated in her mind to some one else—to her own dead mother. The rebellious heart rose against it, but she said nothing. She led the way upstairs, Mrs. Gibson turning round, from time to time, with some fresh direction as to which bag or trunk she needed most. She hardly spoke to Molly, till they were both in the newly-furnished bed-room, where a small fire had been lighted by Molly’s orders.

“Now, my love, we can embrace each other in peace. O dear, how tired I am!”—(after the embrace had been accomplished). “My spirits are so easily affected with fatigue; but your dear papa has been kindness itself. Dear! what an old-fashioned bed! And what a— But it doesn’t signify. By-and-by we’ll renovate the house—won’t we, my dear? And you’ll be my little maid to-night, and help me to arrange a few things; for I’m just worn out with the day’s journey.”

“I’ve ordered a sort of tea-dinner to be ready for you,” said Molly. “Shall I go and tell them to send it in?”

“I’m not sure if I can go down again to-night. It would be very comfortable to have a little table brought in here, and sit in my dressing-gown by this cheerful fire. But, to be sure, there’s your dear papa! I really don’t think he would eat anything, if I were not there. One must not think about oneself, you know. Yes, I’ll come down in a quarter of an hour.”

But Mr. Gibson had found a note awaiting him, with an immediate summons to an old patient, dangerously ill; and, snatching a mouthful of food while his horse was being saddled, he had to resume at once his old habits of attention to his profession above everything.

As soon as Mrs. Gibson found that he was not likely to miss her presence—he had eaten a very tolerable lunch of bread and cold meat in solitude, so her fears about his appetite in her absence were not well- founded—she desired to have her meal upstairs in her own room; and poor Molly, not daring to tell the servants of this whim, had to carry up, first a table, which, however small, was too heavy for her, and afterwards all the choice portions of the meal, which she had taken great pains to arrange on the table, as she had seen such things done at Hamley, intermixed with fruit and flowers that had that morning been sent in from various great houses, where Mr. Gibson was respected and valued. How pretty Molly had thought her handiwork an hour or two before! How dreary it seemed as, at last released from Mrs. Gibson’s conversation, she sate down in solitude to cold tea and the drumsticks of the chicken! No one to look at her preparations, and admire her deft-handedness and taste! She had thought that her father would be gratified by it, and, after all, he had never seen it! She had meant her cares as an offering of good-will to her stepmother, who even now was ringing her bell to have the tray taken away, and Miss Gibson summoned to her bed-room.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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