‘Get out of that now, Betty,’ I said in my politest manner, for really Betty was now become a great domestic evil. She would have her own way so, and of all things the most distressful was for a man to try to reason.

‘Zider-press,’ cried Betty again, for she thought it a fine joke to call me that, because of my size, and my hatred of it; ‘here be a rare get up, anyhow.’

‘A rare good dinner, you mean, Betty. Well, and I have a rare good appetite.’ With that I wanted to go and smell it, and not to stop for Betty.

‘Troost thee for thiccy, Jan Ridd. But thee must keep it bit langer, I reckon. Her baint coom, Maister Ziderpress. Whatt’e mak of that now?’

‘Do you mean to say that Uncle Ben has not arrived yet, Betty?’

‘Raived! I knaws nout about that, whuther a hath of noo. Only I tell ’e, her baint coom. Rackon them Dooneses hath gat ’un.’

And Betty, who hated Uncle Ben, because he never gave her a groat, and she was not allowed to dine with him, I am sorry to say that Betty Muxworthy grinned all across, and poked me again with the greasy saucepan cover. But I misliking so to be treated, strode through the kitchen indignantly, for Betty behaved to me even now, as if I were only Eliza.

‘Oh, Johnny, Johnny,’ my mother cried, running out of the grand show-parlour, where the case of stuffed birds was, and peacock-feathers, and the white hare killed by grandfather; ‘I am so glad you are come at last. There is something sadly amiss, Johnny.’

Mother had upon her wrists something very wonderful, of the nature of fal-lal as we say, and for which she had an inborn turn, being of good draper family, and polished above the yeomanry. Nevertheless I could never bear it, partly because I felt it to be out of place in our good farm-house, partly because I hate frippery, partly because it seemed to me to have nothing to do with father, and partly because I never could tell the reason of my hating it. And yet the poor soul had put them on, not to show her hands off (which were above her station) but simply for her children’s sake, because Uncle Ben had given them. But another thing, I never could bear for man or woman to call me, ‘Johnny,’ ‘Jack,’ or ‘John,’ I cared not which; and that was honest enough, and no smallness of me there, I say.

‘Well, mother, what is the matter, then?’

‘I am sure you need not be angry, Johnny. I only hope it is nothing to grieve about, instead of being angry. You are very sweet-tempered, I know, John Ridd, and perhaps a little too sweet at times’—here she meant the Snowe girls, and I hanged my head—’but what would you say if the people there’—she never would call them ‘Doones’—’had gotten your poor Uncle Reuben, horse, and Sunday coat, and all?’

‘Why, mother, I should be sorry for them. He would set up a shop by the river-side, and come away with all their money.’

‘That all you have to say, John! And my dinner done to a very turn, and the supper all fit to go down, and no worry, only to eat and be done with it! And all the new plates come from Watchett, with the Watchett blue upon them, at the risk of the lives of everybody, and the capias from good Aunt Jane for stuffing a curlew with onion before he begins to get cold, and make a woodcock of him, and the way to turn the flap over in the inside of a roasting pig—’

‘Well, mother dear, I am very sorry. But let us have our dinner. You know we promised not to wait for him after one o’clock; and you only make us hungry. Everything will be spoiled, mother, and what a pity to think of! After that I will go to seek for him in the thick of the fog, like a needle in a hay-band. That

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