Chapter 162363249

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleAT DULVERTON.
Chapter Url
Full Date1896-10-03
Page Number37
Word Count1752
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Ducies of Dulverton
article text



Author of " A Quaker Girl," &c., &c.



Cissy liardly recognised herself the next morning when she awoke. She positively sprang out of bed as if she enjoyed existence. Snehadan object in life. She was going to tilt against her windmills as if they were real foes. There was no Sancho Panza to restrain her enthusiasm. She wouldn't have listened to him if there had been. The glimpse of Miss PriBoilla's inner life whioli she had let her see yesterday charmed Cissy. There was a Moated Grange flavour about it whicli was delightful. Would she hoar

All day within the dreamy house

The doors upon the hinges creek;

The blue fly sing in tho panethe mouse

Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek?

She thought with a new-born sense of frivolity, that eho had never heard a mouse shriek. Wouldn't "squeak" be a more appro priate if somewhat les3 poetical word? But then poots must have rhymes, and if the late Laureate chose to make a mouse shriek in his young days (the poet's, not tho mouse's), 110 one dare point to it now. She loved Tenny son so, that if ho had filled tho sea with red lobsters she would have tried to believe that it

was their proper colour.

She hastily dressed, and ran downstairs, to to the great confusion of Perkins, who didn't expect her, and was leisurely reading his paper with his back to the grate. Ho gave a doprocatory "Ahoml" and protended to arrange the ferns in tho fireplace, knowing all tile time that she enjoyed his confusion. A week ago she would not havo been conscious of Perkins's somewhat prosaic existence. Now he appearod in a new light. IIow ho would look down upon her if he only know what was about to happen.

Perkins began to "fold his tent like tho Arabs, and as silently steal away," but she called him back, "Perkins," sko said, gravely.

"Yes, miss."

" Would you mind telling mo what is your idea of a lady holp?"

Perkins snorted—" It's a female, miss, who wants holp to bo a lady," ho replied, with a vague idea that he was very crushing.

" Well, supposing, for tho sake of argumont, Perkins, that I wanted to be a lady help, what would you say then?"

" I should say you was mad, miss," said Perkins. "Why, you're a real lady; you never did a day's work in your life."

" Thank you. And so your idea of a lady iB one that never does any work?',

"Yos, miss."

"That will do, Perkins: you may go,"

Perkins wont and informed the housekeeper that he wasn't there to bo asked questions about lady helps—the " owdacious hussy-bus siosto which tho housekeeper, who hod de

signs on Perkins, said "Very true, Mr. Per kins ; so they are!"

Cissy remained standing on tho hearthrug and blushing with consternation, " I never thought of that," she said. "Doesn't a lady help have to associate with the other—tho


She found tho question answered itself when she arrived at Dulverton Grange and had de scended from tho parental dog-cart. Aftor many scruples of conscience she had decided to go over to Dulverton in the dog-cart. To bo consistent she ought to havo got tho baker or tho butcher to take her over, but sbo rather shrank from so extreme a step. It would be so severe a shock to Colonel L Estrango's feel ings that she felt called upon to spare him

such a blow.

She felt that she was weakly temporizing with the situation, and that it was a bad be ginning for hor to make. As a compromise she would tako the dog-oart, although she pre ferred it to any other vehicle; it was so woll hung and comfortable, and tho high-stepping chestnut mare would soon make light of tho

distance which had taken the Ducie horses three hours of painful toil to accomplish.

Ought she to prevent James from touching his hat as lie stood at the mare's head ? and

should ho not sit beside her instead of spring in? agilely to the pack seat? But some one had to hold the chestnut, and she oouhl not got into the dog-cart and do that at the same time. However, when once she arrived at Delverton all this would ohango, hut she must lot James disappear first; then she would assist in taking in her own portman teaus and bonnet-bosos, and put on hor plainest dress, and subdue all evil longings to have hor own way.

But when she arrived at Dillvorton Grange ehe found that she was not to have her own way about hor boxes and things. Hho drove round to the stable-yard, greatly to Miss Pri soilla's distress. The sloopy coachman was snoring under a che.stnut-treo in the yard, but the staolehelpor solemnly got her things outof the dog-cart and took them into the house.

James touched his hat with his customary deference, and drove quickly away. Ifis fea tures wore almost immovable; but, had Cissy listened attentively, she might have heard tlio words, " Well, if this ain't a rum start," medi tatively addressed to the maro. She didn't hear him, however, and Jamo3 and the mare disappeared.

She had crossed tho Rubicon, burnt her ships, cut off hor retreat. What next?

A rather prim-looking, swoet-o.yed old maid led hor through a succession of oak-panelled winding passages. The light shone in through the stained glass windows, and turned thecom plexion of Martha Tilths—Martha Tilths was the handmaid—to a sickly yellow.

" If you please, Miss," said Martha, with a curtsey, " Miss Prisoiiia wiii do herself the pleasure of waiting on you when you have su'Hciontly recovered from the fatiguo of your journey."

"But, Martha," said poor Cissy, in dismay, "yon musn'tcail mo 'Miss.' Don't you know that I am tho new lady help?"

"Miss Priseilla's instructions, Miss, wore that the lady help—although I don't know what that is, please {another curtsey), is to bo treated just like any other visitor."

Cissy flung herself into a cosy old armchair with a gesture of despair.

"This is too supremely ridiculous," who said, addressing the portrait of a youthful cleric with blue eyes aud a curl which mean dered over hi.s white forehead; "this is too supremely ridiculous. Whatever am f to do? I always used to think with Uriah JJocip that

it behoved one to be "u&ihle,* But Mies Priscilla won't let me bo * 'qmble' when t want

to be so, I don't know that I aver before ex

perienced so passionate a deBire^for humility; it's—it's faroioaL. However; there's one thing I oando, and that is to look after my own room every day during my brief soiourn—for I foresee that it will be very brief—here. Now, for my.surroundings."

But evidence of Miss Priscilla's thoughtful ness wereevery whera. A huge glass of roses perfumed the chamber. All the bureau drawers had little muslin bags of lavender in them, and an air of spotless purity and old world sweetness pervaded the snowy bed half hidden from yiew in a little alcove. A big brass-bound Bible occupied a table at the foot of the bod, and the rest of the furniture was draped in quaint, pretty chintz unknown to the outer world.

"It's the sort of room in which to read Austin Dobson and eat peaches," declared

Cissy with conviction, " l wonder .if I shall

gradually fit into it. And now for my—my miBtress. Ought I to shake hands with her or make a curtsey d la Martha Tibbs?"

Miss Priscilla soon sot the matter at rest by coming briskly into the room and kissing bcr.

" But you really ought not to," Oissy feebly declared, thinking what a sweet old lady Miss Priscilla was. "It's—it's utterly subversive of all discipline. What will my—my fellow servants say?" -

Miss Prisctlla a tailed.

"My dear," sliosaid softly, "it will do us all good to have your sweet young face among us, and you cannot maiutaiu order unless you have authority given you. I am afraid you will find ray sister Dorothea's maid a rather difficult person to deal with, for, to tell you the truth, tny dear, we aro all somewhat afraid of her. She—she rather presumes on so many years' faithful Bervico."

"I think I am accustomed £o dealing with refractory servants," said Cissy. Then she crimsoned at her own stupidity. "You see the force of habit is still upon ine, and 1 forget my position," sbosaid; "Miss Duoio, I must -ask you to make allowances for my inexpe


"Really, my dear," said Miss Priscilla, "I , am delighted to have you. Wo have long been thinking of somo one who could bo a com panion for us, and assist James in his litorary labours. But wo thought it almost impossible to find a young lady who would como to us for —for a pecuniary consideration."

" If over T receivo a—a pecuniary considera tion," BaidCissy, "it will not bo uutil I have done something to earn it. "

"Of course," said Miss Priscilla. "Wo always considered that the task of assisting James would be one requiring a groat deal of olevorness. Ho has a clicking pieco of maohinery which ho calls a typewriter. I am afraid you will find it a rather difficult task to master it. I did try it myself," the poor lady oonfesBcd, "but the noise confused me. It

seemed to be rather like an express train bussing away in the distance, and then all the letters become tangled up in somo mysterious way, and made tuo very hot and very uncom fortable. James said that it was oxoocdingly good of mo to try, but he foarcd my fingers wore not pliable enough."

Miss Prisoilla looked mournfully at her long taper fingers, as if reproaching them with their conservatism in refusing to master the simple mechanism of a typewriter.

"I couldn't get beyond words of one syllable on it," she said, "and I found I could write more quickly in my "own way. But the dinner-bell «ill ring directly. You will find us all in the drawing-room, my dear, whenyou como down."

Loft to herself, CisRy put her hand to her forehead in a bewildered way. " It isn't a bit like what I expected," she said; " but, then, there is the typo-writor—and—and—its