moans when she was going away. When the door shut upon her he would cry and sobwhereupon Hesters face and manner, which was always exceedingly bland and gentle while her lady was present, would change at once, and she would make faces at him and clench her fist and scream out Hold your tongue, you stoopid old fool, and twirl away his chair from the fire which he loved to look atat which he would cry more. For this was all that was left after more than seventy years of cunning, and struggling, and drinking, and scheming, and sin and selfishnessa whimpering old idiot put in and out of bed and cleaned and fed like a baby.
At last a day came when the nurses occupation was over. Early one morning, as Pitt Crawley was at his stewards and bailiffs books in the study, a knock came to the door, and Hester presented herself, dropping a curtsey, and said,
If you please, Sir Pitt, Sir Pitt died this morning, Sir Pitt. I was a-making of his toast, Sir Pitt, for his gruel, Sir Pitt, which he took every morning regular at six, Sir Pitt, andI thought I heard a moan-like, Sir Pittand andand She dropped another curtsey.
What was it that made Pitts pale face flush quite red? Was it because he was Sir Pitt at last, with a seat in Parliament, and perhaps future honours in prospect? Ill clear the estate now with the ready money, he thought and rapidly calculated its incumbrances and the improvements which he would make. He would not use his aunts money previously lest Sir Pitt should recover and his outlay be in vain.
All the blinds were pulled down at the Hall and Rectory: the church bell was tolled, and the chancel hung in black; and Bute Crawley didnt go to a coursing meeting, but went and dined quietly at Fuddleston, where they talked about his deceased brother and young Sir Pitt over their port. Miss Betsy, who was by this time married to a saddler at Mudbury, cried a good deal. The family surgeon rode over and paid his respectful compliments, and inquiries for the health of their ladyships. The death was talked about at Mudbury and at the Crawley Arms, the landlord whereof had become reconciled with the Rector of late, who was occasionally known to step into the parlour and taste Mr. Horrocks mild beer.
Shall I write to your brotheror will you? asked Lady Jane of her husband, Sir Pitt.
I will write, of course, Sir Pitt said, and invite him to the funeral: it will be but becoming.
AndandMrs. Rawdon, said Lady Jane timidly.
Jane! said Lady Southdown, how can you think of such a thing?
Mrs. Rawdon must of course be asked, said Sir Pitt, resolutely.
Not whilst I am in the house! said Lady Southdown.
Your Ladyship will be pleased to recollect that I am the head of this family, Sir Pitt replied. If you please, Lady Jane, you will write a letter to Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, requesting her presence upon this melancholy occasion.
Jane, I forbid you to put pen to paper! cried the Countess.
I believe I am the head of this family, Sir Pitt repeated; and however much I may regret any circumstance which may lead to your Ladyship quitting this house, must, if you please, continue to govern it as I see fit.
Lady Southdown rose up as magnificent as Mrs. Siddons in Lady Macbeth and ordered that horses might be put to her carriage. If her son and daughter turned her out of their house, she would hide her sorrows somewhere in loneliness and pray for their conversion to better thoughts.
We dont turn you out of our house, Mamma, said the timid Lady Jane imploringly.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|