upon me. If I offend him, as I would in a moment, for the sake of a brave and straightforward man’—here she gave me a glance which I scarcely knew what to do with—’my grandfather, upright as he is, would leave me without a shilling. And I often wish it were so. So many miseries come upon me from the miserable money—’ Here she broke down, and burst out crying, and ran away with a faint good- bye; while we three looked at one another, and felt that we had the worst of it.

‘Impudent little dwarf!’ said my mother, recovering her breath after ever so long. ‘Oh, John, how thankful you ought to be! What a life she would have led you!’

‘Well, I am sure!’ said Annie, throwing her arms around poor mother: ‘who could have thought that little atomy had such an outrageous spirit! For my part I cannot think how she can have been sly enough to hide it in that crafty manner, that John might think her an angel!’

‘Well, for my part,’ I answered, laughing, ‘I never admired Ruth Huckaback half, or a quarter so much before. She is rare stuff. I would have been glad to have married her to-morrow, if I had never seen my Lorna.’

‘And a nice nobody I should have been, in my own house!’ cried mother: ‘I never can be thankful enough to darling Lorna for saving me. Did you see how her eyes flashed?’

‘That I did; and very fine they were. Now nine maidens out of ten would have feigned not to have heard one word that was said, and have borne black malice in their hearts. Come, Annie, now, would not you have done so?’

‘I think,’ said Annie, ‘although of course I cannot tell, you know, John, that I should have been ashamed at hearing what was never meant for me, and should have been almost as angry with myself as anybody.’

‘So you would,’ replied my mother; ‘so any daughter of mine would have done, instead of railing and reviling. However, I am very sorry that any words of mine which the poor little thing chose to overhear should have made her so forget herself. I shall beg her pardon before she goes, and I shall expect her to beg mine.’

‘That she will never do,’ said I; ‘a more resolute little maiden never yet had right upon her side; although it was a mere accident. I might have said the same thing myself, and she was hard upon you, mother dear.’

After this, we said no more, at least about that matter; and little Ruth, the next morning, left us, in spite of all that we could do. She vowed an everlasting friendship to my younger sister Eliza; but she looked at Annie with some resentment, when they said good-bye, for being so much taller. At any rate so Annie fancied, but she may have been quite wrong. I rode beside the little maid till far beyond Exeford, when all danger of the moor was past, and then I left her with John Fry, not wishing to be too particular, after all the talk about her money. She had tears in her eyes when she bade me farewell, and she sent a kind message home to mother, and promised to come again at Christmas, if she could win permission.

Upon the whole, my opinion was that she had behaved uncommonly well for a maid whose self-love was outraged, with spirit, I mean, and proper pride; and yet with a great endeavour to forgive, which is, meseems, the hardest of all things to a woman, outside of her own family.

After this, for another month, nothing worthy of notice happened, except of course that I found it needful, according to the strictest good sense and honour, to visit Lorna immediately after my discourse with mother, and to tell her all about it. My beauty gave me one sweet kiss with all her heart (as she always did, when she kissed at all), and I begged for one more to take to our mother, and before leaving, I obtained it. It is not for me to tell all she said, even supposing (what is not likely) that any one cared to know it, being more and more peculiar to ourselves and no one else. But one thing that she said was this, and I took good care to carry it, word for word, to my mother and Annie:—

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