THE YOUNG PEOPLE

After all, no doubt it is the young people who are the kings and queens
of this world. They don’t have it in their own hands, nor their own way
in it, which would not be good for them, but all our plots and plans are
for their advantage whether they know it or not. For their sakes a great
deal of harm is done in this world, which the doers hold excused,
sometimes sanctified, by its motive, and the young creatures themselves
have a great many things to bear which, no doubt, is for their advantage
too. It is the least invidious title of rank which can exist in any
community, for we have all been young–all had a great many things done
for us which we would much rather had been let alone–and all suffered
or profited by the plans of our progenitors. But if they are important
in the actual universe, they are still more important in the world of
fiction. Here we can not do without these young heroes and heroines. To
make a middle-aged man or woman interesting demands genius, the highest
concentration of human power and skill; whereas almost any of us can
frame our innocent little tale about Edwin and Angelina, and tempt a
little circle to listen notwithstanding the familiarity of the subject.
Such is the fact, let us account for it as we may. The youths and
maidens, and their encounters, and their quarrels, and their makings-up,
their walks and talks and simple doings, are the one subject that never
fails; so, though it is a wonder how it should be so, let us go back to
them and consider their young prospects and their relations to each
other before we go farther on in the real progress of our tale.

The way that Sara made acquaintance with the little dweller at her gate
was in this wise. It was the day after the dinner-party, when the
Motherwells were still at Brownlows. Sara had gone out to convey some
consolation to old Betty at the gate, who was a rheumatical old woman.
And she thought she had managed to escape very cleverly out of Lady
Motherwell’s clutches, when, to her horror, Sir Charles overtook her in
the avenue. He carried in his manner and appearance all the dignity of a
man whose mind is made up. He talked very little, certainly, to begin
with–but that was his way; and he caressed his abrupt little black
mustache as men do caress any physical adjunct which is a comfort to
them in a crisis. Sara could not conceal it from herself that something
was coming, and there was no apparent escape for her. The avenue was
long; there was nobody visible coming or going. Had the two been on a
desert island, Sir Charles could scarcely have had less fear of
interruption. I do not pretend to say that Sara was entirely
inexperienced in this sort of thing, and did not know how to snub an
incipient lover or get out of such a dilemma in ordinary cases; but Sir
Charles Motherwell’s was not an ordinary case. In the first place, he
was staying in the house, and would have to continue there till
to-morrow at least, whatever might happen to him now; and in the second,
he was obtuse, and might not understand what any thing short of absolute
refusal meant. He was not a man to be snubbed graciously or
ungraciously, and made to comprehend without words that his suit was
not to be offered. Such a point of understanding was too high for him.
He was meditating between himself and his mustache what he had to say,
and he was impervious to all Sara’s delicate indications of an
indisposition to listen. How could he tell what people meant unless they
said it? Thus he was a man with whom only such solid instruments as Yes
and No were of any use; and it would have been very embarrassing if
Sara, with at least twenty-four hours of his society to look forward to,
had been obliged to say No. She did the very best she could under the
emergency. She talked with all her might and tried to amuse him, and if
possible lead him off his grand intention. She chatted incessantly with
something of the same feelings that inspired Scherazade, speaking
against time, though not precisely for her life, and altogether unaware
that, in so far as her companion could abstract his thought from the
words he was about to say, when he could find them, his complacent
consciousness of the trouble she took to please him was rising higher
and higher. Poor dear little thing! he was saying to himself, how
pleased she will be! But yet, notwithstanding this comfortable thought,
it was a difficult matter to Sir Charles in broad daylight, and with the
eyes of the world, as it were, upon him, to prevail upon the right words
to come.

They were only half way down the avenue when he cleared his throat. Sara
was in despair. She knew by that sound and by the last convulsive twitch
of his mustache that it was just coming. A pause of awful suspense
ensued. She was so frightened that even her own endeavor to ward off
extremities failed her. She could not go on talking in the horror of the
moment. Should she pretend to have forgotten something in the house and
rush back? or should she make believe somebody was calling her and fly
forward? She had thrown herself forward on one foot, ready for a run,
when that blessed diversion came for which she could never be
sufficiently thankful. She gave a start of delightful relief when they
came to that break in the trees. “Who can that be?” she said, much as,
had she been a man, she would have uttered a cheer. It would not have
done for Miss Brownlow to burst forth into an unlooked-for hurrah, so
she gave vent to this question instead, and made a little rush on to the
grass where that figure was visible. It was a pretty little figure in a
red cloak; and it was bending forward, anxiously examining some herbage
about the root of a tree. At the sound of Sara’s exclamation the
stranger raised herself hurriedly, blushed, looked confused, and
finally, with a certain shy promptitude, came forward, as if, Sara said
afterward, she was a perfect little angel out of heaven.

“I beg your pardon,” she said; “perhaps I ought not to be here. I am so
sorry; but–it was for old Betty I came.”

“You are very welcome to come,” said Sara, eagerly–“if you don’t mind
the damp grass. It is you who live at Mrs. Swayne’s? Oh, yes, I know you
quite well. Pray, come whenever you please. There are a great many
pretty walks in the park.”

“Oh, thank you!” said little Pamela. It was the first time she had seen
the young great lady so near, and she took a mental inventory of her,
all that she was like and all that she had on. Seeing Miss Sara on foot,
like any other human creature, was not a thing that occurred every day;
and she took to examining her with a double, or rather triple,
interest–first, because it _was_ Miss Sara, and something very new;
second, to be able to describe minutely the glorious vision to her
mother; and thirdly out of genuine admiration. How beautiful she was!
and how beautifully dressed! and then the tall gentleman by her side, so
unlike any thing Pamela ever saw, who took off his hat to her–actually
to _her_! No doubt, though he was not so handsome as might have been
desired, they were going to be married. He must be very good, gallant,
and noble, as he was not so _very_ good looking. Pamela’s bright eyes
danced with eagerness and excitement as she looked at them. It was as
good as a play or a story-book. It was a romance being performed for her
benefit, actually occurring under her very eyes.

“I know what you were doing,” said Sara, “but it is too early yet.
’Round the ashen roots the violets blow’–I know that is what you were
thinking of.”

Pamela, who knew very little about violets, and nothing about poetry,
opened her eyes very wide. “Indeed,” she said, anxiously, “I was only
looking for some plantain for Betty’s bird–that was all. I did not mean
to take any–flowers. I would not do any thing so–so–ungrateful.”

“But you shall have as many violets as ever you like,” said Sara, who
was eager to find any pretense for prolonging the conversation. “Do come
and walk here by me. I am going to see old Betty. Do you know how she is
to-day? Don’t you think she is a nice old woman? I am going to tell her
she ought to have her grandchild to live with her, and open the gate,
now that her rheumatism has come on. It always lasts three months when
it comes on. Your Mr. Swayne’s, you know, goes on and off. I always hear
all about it from my maid.”

When she paused for breath, Pamela felt that as the tall gentleman took
no part in the conversation, it was incumbent upon her to say something.
She was much flattered by the unexpected grandeur of walking by Miss
Brownlow’s side, and being taken into her confidence; but the emergency
drove every idea out of her head, as was natural. She could not think of
any thing that it would be nice to say, and in desperation hazarded a
question. “Is there much rheumatism about here?” poor Pamela said,
looking up as if her life depended on the answer she received; and then
she grew burning red, and hot all over, and felt as if life itself was
no longer worth having, after thus making a fool of herself. As if Miss
Brownlow knew any thing about the rheumatism here! “What an idiot she
will think me!” said she to herself, longing that the earth would open
and swallow her up. But Miss Brownlow was by no means critical. On the
contrary, Sara rushed into the subject with enthusiasm.

“There is always rheumatism where there are so many trees,” she said,
with decision–“from the damp, you know. Don’t you find it so at
Motherwell, Sir Charles? You have such heaps of trees in that part of
the county. Half my poor people have it here. And the dreadful thing is
that one doesn’t know any cure for it, except flannel. You never can
give them too much flannel,” said Sara, raising her eyes gravely to her
tall companion. “They think flannel is good for every thing under the
skies.”

“Don’t know, I’m sure,” said Sir Charles. “Sure it’s very good of you.
Don’t know much about rheumatism myself. Always see lots about in our
place; flannel pettic–hem–oh–beg your pardon. I’m sure–”

When he uttered that unfortunate remark, poor Sir Charles brought
himself up with a sudden start, and turned very red. It was his horror
and embarrassment, poor man, and fear of having shocked his companion’s
delicacy. But Sara took the meanest advantage of him. She held out her
hand, with a sweet smile. “Are you going?” she said; “it is so kind of
you to have come so far with me. I hope you will have a pleasant ride.
Please make Jack call at the Rectory, and ask if Fanny’s cold is better.
Shall you be back to luncheon? But you never are, you gentlemen. Are you
never hungry in the middle of the day as we are? Till dinner, then,” she
said, waving her hand. Perhaps there was something mesmeric in it. The
disappointed wooer was so startled that he stood still as under a spell.

“Didn’t mean to leave you,” he said: “don’t care for riding. I’d like to
see old Betty too.”

“Oh, but that would be much too polite,” cried Sara. “Please, never mind
_me_. It is so kind of you to have come so far. Good-bye just now. I
hope you will have a pleasant ride.” She was gone before he could move
or recover from his consternation. He stood in dumb amaze for a full
minute looking after her; and then poor Sir Charles turned away with the
obedience of despair. He had been too well brought up on the whole. His
mother had brought him to such a pitch of discipline that he could not
choose but obey the helm, whosesoever hand might touch it. “It was all
those confounded petticoats,” he said to himself. “How could I be such
an ass?” which was the most vigorous speech he had made even to himself
for ages. As for Sara, she relaxed from her usual dignity, and went
along skipping and tripping in the exhilaration of her heart. “Oh, what
a blessing he is gone! oh, what a little angel you were to appear just
when you did!” said Sara; and then she gave a glance at her new
companion’s bewildered face, and composed herself. “But don’t let us
think of him any more,” she continued. “Tell me about yourself–I want
to know all about yourself. Wasn’t it lucky we met? Please tell me your
name, and how old you are, and how you like living here. Of course, you
know I am Sara Brownlow. And oh, to be sure, first of all, why did you
say ungrateful? Have I ever done any thing to make you grateful to me?”

“Oh, yes, please,” said Pamela. “It is so pretty to see you always when
you ride, and when you drive out. I am not quite strong yet, and I don’t
know any body here; but I have only to sit down at the window, and there
is always something going on. Last night you can’t think how pretty it
was. The carriage lamps kept walking up and down like giants with two
big eyes. And I can see all up the avenue from my window; and when I
looked very close, just as they passed Betty’s door, I could see a
little glimpse of the ladies inside. I saw one lovely pink dress; and
then in the next there was a scarlet cloak all trimmed with swan’s down.
I could tell it was swan’s down, it was so fluffy. Oh, I beg your
pardon, I didn’t mean to talk so much; but it is such fun living there,
just opposite the gate. And that is why I am so grateful to you.”

Sara, it was impossible to deny, was much staggered by this speech. Its
frankness amazed and yet attracted her. It drove her into deep
bewilderment as to the rank of her little companion. Was she _a lady_?
She would scarcely have taken so much pleasure in the sight, had it been
within the range of possibility that she could herself join such a
party; but then her voice was a refined voice, and her lovely looks
might, as Sara had thought before, have belonged to a princess. The
young mistress of Brownlows looked very curiously at Pamela, but she
could not fathom her. The red cloak was a little the worse for wear, but
still it was such a garb as any one might have worn. There was no sort
of finery, no sort of pretension, about the little personage. And then
Sara had already made up her mind in any case to take her pretty
neighbor under her protection. The end of the matter was, that in
turning it over in her mind, the amusing side of the question at last
caught her eye. How strange it was! While the awful moment before dinner
was being got through at the great house, this little creature at the
gate was clapping her hands over the sounds and sights out-of-doors. To
her it was not heavy people coming to dinner, to be entertained in body
and mind for three or four mortal hours; but prancing horses and rolling
wheels, and the lamps making their shining progress two and two, and all
the cheerful commotion. How odd it was! She must be (whatever her
“position”) an original little thing, to see so tedious a business in
such a novel light.

“It is very odd,” said Sara, “that I never thought of that before. I
almost think I shouldn’t mind having stupid people now and then if I had
thought of that. And so you think it fun? You wouldn’t think it fun if
you had to watch them eating their dinner, and amuse them all the
evening. It _is_ such hard work; and then to ask them to sing when you
know they can’t sing, no more than peacocks, and to stand and say Thank
you when it is all over! I wonder what made you think of looking at the
lamps. It is very clever of you, you know, to describe them like that.
Do you read a great deal? Are you fond of it? Do you play, or do you
draw, or what do you like best?”

This question staggered Pamela as much as her description had done Sara.
She grew pale and then she grew red. “I am–not in the least clever,”
she said, “nor–nor accomplished–nor–I am not a great lady like you,
Miss Brownlow,” the little girl added, with a sudden pang of
mortification. She had not been in the least envious of Sara, nor
desirous of claiming equality with her. And yet when she thus suddenly
perceived the difference, it went to her heart so sharply that she had
hard ado not to cry.

As for Sara, she laughed softly, not knowing of any bitterness beneath
that reply. She laughed, knowing she was not a great lady, and yet a
little disposed to think she was, and pleased to appear so in her
companion’s eyes. “If you were to speak like that to Lady Motherwell, I
wonder what she would say,” said Sara; “but I don’t want you to be a
great lady. I think you are the prettiest little thing I ever saw in my
life. There now–I suppose it is wrong to say it, but it is quite true.
It is a pleasure just to look at you. If you are not nice and good, it
is a great shame, and very ungrateful of you, when God has made you so
pretty; but I think you must be nice. Don’t blush and tremble like that,
as if I were a gentleman. I am just nineteen. How old are you?”

“Seventeen last midsummer,” said Pamela, under her breath.

“I knew you were quite a child,” said Sara, with dignity. “Don’t look so
frightened. I mean to come and see you almost every day. And you shall
come home with me, and see the flowers, and the pictures, and all my
pretty things. I have quantities of pretty things. Papa is so very kind.
_I_ have no mother; but that–that–old–lady–is your mother, is she?
or your grandmother? Look, there is old Betty at the door. Wicked old
woman! what business has she to come out to the door and make her
rheumatism worse? Come along a little quicker; but, you poor little
dear, what is the matter? Can’t you run?”

“I sprained my ankle,” said Pamela, blushing more and more, and
wondering if Mr. John had perhaps kept that little incident to himself.

“And I trying to make you run!” cried the penitent Sara. “Never mind,
take my arm. I am not in the least in a hurry. Lean upon me–there’s a
good child. They should not let you come so far alone.”

Thus it was that the two arrived at Betty’s cottage, to the old woman’s
intense amazement. Pamela herself was flattered by the kind help
afforded her, but it is doubtful whether she enjoyed it; and in the
exciting novelty of the position, she was glad to sit down in a corner
and collect herself while her brilliant young patroness fulfilled her
benevolent mission. Betty’s lodge was a creation of Miss Brownlow’s from
beginning to end. It was Sara’s design, and Sara had furnished it, up to
the pictures on the wall, which were carefully chosen in accordance with
what might be supposed to be an old woman’s taste, and the little
book-shelf, which was filled on the same principles. The fact was,
however, that Betty had somewhat mortified Sara by pinning up a glorious
colored picture out of the “Illustrated News,” and by taking in a tale
of love and mystery in penny numbers, showing illegitimate tastes both
in literature and art. But she was suffering, and eventually at such a
moment her offenses ought to be forgiven.

“You should not stand at the door like that, and go opening the gate in
such weather,” said Sara. “I came to say you must have one of your son’s
children to help you,–that one you had last year.”

“She’s gone to service, Miss,” said Betty, with a bob.

“Then one of your daughter’s,–the daughter you have at Masterton–she
has dozens and dozens of children. Why can not one of them come out and
take care of you?”

“Please, Miss,” said Betty, “a poor man’s childer is his
fortune–leastways in a place where there’s mills and things. They’re
all a-doing of something, them little things. I’m awful comfortable,
Miss, thanks to you and your good papa”–at this and all other intervals
of her speech, Betty made a courtesy–“but I ain’t got money like to pay
’em wages, and saving when one’s a bit delicate, or that–”

“Betty, sit down, please, and don’t make so many courtesies. I don’t
understand that. If I had a nice old grandmother like you”–said Sara;
and then she paused and blushed, and bethought herself–perhaps it might
be as well not to enter upon that question.

“Anyhow it is very easy to pay them something,” she said. “I will pay it
for you till your rheumatism is better. And then there is your other
son, who was a tailor or something–where is he?”

“Oh, if I could but tell!” said Betty. “Oh, Miss, he’s one o’ them as
brings down gray hairs wi’ sorrow–not as I have a many to lose, though
when I was a young lass, the likes o’ me for a ’ead of ’air wasn’t in
all Dewsbury. But Tom, I’m afeard, I’m afeard, has tooken to terrible
bad ways.”

“Drinking or something?” asked Sara, in the tone of a woman experienced
in such inevitable miseries.

“Worse than that, Miss. I don’t say as it ain’t bad enough when a man
takes to drinking. Many a sore heart it’s giv’ me, but it always comes
kind o’ natural like,” said Betty, with her apron at her eyes. “But poor
Tom, he’s gone and come out for a Radical, Miss, and sets hisself up
a-making speeches and things. It’s that as brought it on me so bad. I’ve
not been so bad before, not sin’ his poor father died.”

“Then don’t stand and courtesy like that, please,” said Sara. “A
Radical–is that all? I am a little of a Radical myself, and so is
papa.”

“Ah, the like of you don’t know,” said Betty. “Mr. John wouldn’t say
nothing for him. He said, ‘That’s very bad, very bad, Betty,’ when I
went and told him; and a young gentleman like that is the one to know.”

“He knows nothing about it,” said Sara; “he’s a University man, and
Eton, you know; he is all in the old world way; but papa and I are
Radicals, like Tom. Are you?–but I suppose you are too young to know.
And oh, here it is just time for luncheon, and you have never told me
your name. Betty, make haste and send for Tom or somebody to help you.
And there’s something coming in a basket; and if you want any thing you
must send up to the house.”

“You’re very kind, Miss,” said Betty, “and the neighbors is real kind,
and Mrs. Swayne, though she has queer ways–And as for Miss Pammly
here–”

“Pamela,” said the little girl, softly, from her chair.

“Is that your name?” said Sara. “Pamela–I never knew any one called
Pamela before. What a pretty name! Sara is horrible. Every soul calls me
Sairah. Look here, you are a little darling; and you don’t know what you
saved me from this morning; and I’ll come to see you the moment Lady
Motherwell goes away.”

Upon which Sara dropped a rapid kiss upon her new friend’s cheek and
rushed forth, passing the window like an arrow, rushing up the long
avenue like a winged creature, with the wind in her hair and in her
dress. The little lodge grew darker to Pamela’s dazzled eyes when she
was gone.

“Is that really Miss Brownlow, Betty?” she said, after the first pause.

“Who could it be else, I would like to know?” said Betty; “a-leaving her
orders like that, and never giving no time to answer or nothing. I
wonder what’s coming in the basket. Not as I’m one o’ the greedy ones as
is always looking for something; but what’s the good o’ serving them
rich common folks if you don’t get no good out of them? Oh for certain
sure it’s Miss Sara; and she taken a fancy to you.”

“What do you mean by common folks?” asked Pamela, already disposed, as
was natural, to take up the cudgels for her new friend. “She is a lady,
oh, all down to the very tips of her shoes.”

“May be as far as you knows,” said Betty, “but I’ve been here off and on
for forty years, and I mind the old Squires; not saying no harm of Miss
Sara, as is very open-handed; but you mind my words, you’ll see plenty
of her for a bit–she’s took a fancy to you.”

“Do you think so, _really_, Betty?” said Pamela, with brightening eyes.

“What I says is for a bit,” said Betty; “don’t you take up as I’m
meaning more–for a bit, Miss Pammly; that’s how them sort does. She’s
one as ’ill come every day, and then, when she’s other things in hand,
like, or other folks, or feels a bit tired–”

“Yes, perhaps,” said Pamela, who had grown very red; “but that need not
have any effect on me. If I was fond of any one, I would never, never
change, whatever they might do–not if they were to be cruel and
unkind–not if they were to forget me–”

Here the little girl started, and became very silent all in a moment.
And the blush of indignation on her cheek passed and was followed by a
softer sweeter color, and her words died away on her lips. And her eyes,
which had been shining on old Betty with all the magnanimity of youth,
went down, and were covered up under the blue-veined, long-fringed
eyelids. The fact was, some one else had come into the lodge–had come
without knocking, in a very noiseless, stealthy sort of way–“as if he
meant it.” And this new-comer was no less a person than Mr. John.

“My sister says you are ill, Betty,” said Jack; “what do you mean by
being ill? I am to send in one of your grandchildren from Masterton.
What do you say? Shall I? or should you rather be alone?”

“It’s allays you for the thoughtful one, Mr. John,” said Betty,
gratefully; “though you’re a gentleman, and it don’t stand to reason.
But Miss Sara’s a-going to pay; and if there’s a little as is to be
arned honest, I’m not one as would send it past my own. There’s little
Betsy, as is a tidy bit of a thing. But I ain’t ill, not to say ill, no
more nor Miss Pammly here is ill–her as had her ankle sprained in that
awful snow.”

Mr. John made what Pamela thought a very grand bow at this point of
Betty’s speech. He had taken his hat off when he came in. Betty’s
doctor, when he came to see her, did not take off his hat, not even when
Pamela was present. The little girl had very quick eyes, and she did not
fail to mark the difference. After he had made his bow, Mr. John somehow
seemed to forget Betty. It was to the little stranger his words, his
eyes, his looks, were addressed. “I hope you are better?” he said. “I
took the liberty of going to your house to ask, but Mrs. Swayne used to
turn me away.”

“Oh, thank you; you are very kind,” said Pamela; and then she added,
“Mrs. Swayne is very funny. Mamma would have liked to have thanked you,
I am sure.”

“And I am sure I did not want any thanks,” said Jack; “only to know. You
are sure you are better now?”

“Oh, much better,” said Pamela; and then there came a pause. It was more
than a pause. It was a dead stop, with no apparent possibility of
revival. Pamela, for her part, like an inexperienced little girl,
fidgeted on her chair, and wrapped herself close in her cloak. Was that
all? His sister had a great deal more to say. Jack, though he was not
inexperienced, was almost for the moment as awkward as Pamela. He went
across the room to look at the picture out of the “Illustrated News;”
and he spoke to Betty’s bird, which had just been regaled with the bit
of plantain Pamela had brought; and, at last, when all those little
exercises had been gone through, he came back.

“I hope you like living here,” he said. “It is cold and bleak now, but
in summer it is very pretty. You came at the worst time of the year; but
I hope you mean to stay?”

“Oh yes, we like it,” said Pamela; and then there came another pause.

“My sister is quite pleased to think of having you for a neighbor,” said
Jack. It was quite extraordinary how stupid he was. He could talk well
enough sometimes; but at this present moment he had not a syllable to
say. “Except Miss Hardcastle at the Rectory, she has nobody near, and my
father and I are so much away.”

Pamela looked up at him with a certain sweet surprise in her eyes. Could
he too really think her a fit friend for his sister? “It is very kind of
Miss Brownlow,” she said, “but I am only–I mean I don’t think I
am–I–I am always with my mother.”

“But your mother would not like you to be shut up,” said Jack, coming a
little nearer. “I always look over the way now when I pass. To see
bright faces instead of blank windows is quite pleasant. I dare say you
never notice us.”

“Oh yes,” cried Pamela. “And that pretty horse! It is such fun to live
there and see you all passing.” She said this forgetting herself, and
then she met old Betty’s gaze and grew conscious again. “I mean we are
always so quiet,” she said, and began once more to examine the binding
of her cloak.

At this moment the bell from the great house began to tinkle pleasantly
in the wintry air: it was another of Pamela’s amusements. And it marked
the dinner hour at which her mother would look for her; but how was she
to move with this young man behind her chair? Betty, however, was not so
delicate. “I always set my clock by the luncheon-bell,” said old Betty.
“There it’s a-going, bless it! I has my dinner by it regular, and I sets
my clock. Don’t you go for to stir, Miss Pammly. Bless you, I don’t mind
you! And Mr. John, he’s a-going to his lunch. Don’t you mind. I’ll set
my little bit of a table ready; but I has it afore the fire in this
cold weather, and it don’t come a-nigh of you.”

“Oh, mamma will want me,” said Pamela. “I shall come back another time
and see you.” She made Jack a little curtsy as she got up, but to her
confusion he came out with her and opened the gate for her, and
sauntered across the road by her side.

“I am not going to lunch–I am going to ride. So you have noticed the
mare?” said Jack. “I am rather proud of her. She _is_ a beauty. You
should see how she goes when the road is clear. I suppose I shall have
to go now, for here come the horses and Motherwell. He is one of those
men who always turn up just when they’re not wanted,” Jack continued,
opening the gate of Mrs. Swayne’s little garden for Pamela. Mrs. Swayne
herself was at the window up stairs, and Mrs. Preston was at the parlor
window looking out for her child. They both saw that wonderful sight.
Young Mr. Brownlow with his hat off holding open the little gate, and
looking down into the little face, which was so flushed with pleasure
and pride, and embarrassment and innocent shame. As for Pamela herself,
she did not know if she were walking on solid ground or on air. When the
door closed behind her, and she found herself in the dingy little
passage with nothing but her dinner before her, and the dusky afternoon,
and her work, her heart gave a little cry of impatience. But she was in
the parlor time enough to see Jack spring on his horse and trot off into
the sunshine with his tall companion. They went off into the sunshine,
but in the parlor it was deepest shade, for Mr. Swayne had so cleverly
contrived his house that the sunshine never entered. Its shadow hung
across the road, stretching to the gate of Brownlows, almost the whole
day, which made every thing dingier than it was naturally. This was what
Pamela experienced when she came in out of the bright air, out of sight
of those young faces and young voices. Could she ever have any thing to
do with them? Or was it only a kind of dream, too pleasant, too sweet to
come to any thing? It was her very first outset in life, and she was
aware that she was not much of a heroine. Perhaps it was only the
accident of an hour; but even that was pleasant if it should be no more.
This, when she had told all about it, and filled the afternoon with the
reflected glory, was the philosophical conclusion to which Pamela came
at last.