Added: Farhan Polly - Date: 23.07.2021 19:29 - Views: 20948 - Clicks: 907
And are you not my dear, dear mother! My feelings have to be set aside as usual. My life is to be one slow glide down a slope of indignity to the grave. Ah, what have I done to deserve such a fate? I must go; it only wants five minutes to nine, and I must not be late the first morning. She had but a few yards to go, for the new school-buildings at Plumton All Saints were in one tolerably attractive architectural group, built upon a piece of land given two years before by Mr William Forth Burge, a gentleman who had left Plumton All Saints thirty—but it should be given in his own words, as he made a point of repeating them to every new-comer:.
Fashion and the speculative builders did the rest. He was a very modest, mild man, this donor of a piece of land of the value of some three hundred and fifty pounds to the parish; and though an ex-butcher, had probably never slain innocent lamb, let alone sheep or ox, in his life.
When he rose to respond he broke forth into a profuse perspiration—a more profuse perspiration than usual; and his application of a fiery orange silk handkerchief to his face, neck, and hands, almost suggested that its contact with his skin would scorch him, or at least make him hiss, what time he told people that he left Plumton thirty year ago, after being two year with old Marks the butcher, etc. Of course, Sir Appleton Burr, M. Mr Samuel Chute smiled, and said that it was a very fine morning, a fact that Hazel Thorne acknowledged, as the schoolmaster replaced his hat.
Hazel thanked him. The heavy latch was twisted up by an awkward ring like a young door-knocker, and went click! Then the new schoolmistress bowed and entered, and Mr Samuel Chute went back to his own entrance, looking puzzled, his forehead full of wrinkles, and so preoccupied that he nearly ran up against Mr William Forth Burge, whom he might have smelt if he had not seen, as he came to the school as usual on Sunday mornings to take his class, and impart useful and religious instruction to the twelve biggest boys.
All about the floor were semicircles marked out by shiny brass-headed nails, as if the boards had been decorated by a mad undertaker after the fashion of a coffin-lid, while between the windows, and in every other vacant place, were hung large drawing copies of a zoological character, embracing the affectionate boa-constrictor, the crafty crocodile, and the playful squirrel, all of which woodcuts had issued from the Sanctuary at Westminster, probably with the idea that some child in Plumton schools might develop into a female Landseer.
She found that there were four classes in her side of the Sunday-school, each with its own teacher, certain ladies coming regularly from the town, chief of whom were the Misses Lambent—Beatrice and Rebecca, the former a pale, handsome, but rather sinister lady of seven or eight-and-twenty, the latter a pale, unhandsome, and very sinister lady of seven or eight-and-thirty, both elegantly dressed, and ready to receive the new mistress with a cold and distant bow that spoke volumes, and was as repellant as hailstones before they have touched the earth.
Hazel Thorne was ready to forget that she was a lady by birth and education. The Misses Lambent were not; and besides, it was two minutes past nine when Hazel entered the room. It was five minutes Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom nine when they rustled in with their stiffest mien and downcast eyes. But they always displayed humility, even when they snubbed the girls of their classes—a humility which prompted them to give up the first class to Miss Burge—christened Betsey, a name of which she was not in the least ashamed, and which, like her brother with his William Forth, she wrote in full.
The third and fourth class girls had an enmity against those of the first for no other reason than that they were under Miss Burge, who heard them say their catechism, and read, and asked questions afterwards out of a little book which she kept half hidden beneath her silk visite ; for pleasant, little, homely, round-faced Miss Burge could hardly have invented a question of an original character to save her life. She was thinner and more graceful than the Misses Lambent, and possibly much older; but that was her secret and one which she never divulged. Miss Penstemon bowed also, plunging her hand afterwards into her black bag for her smelling-bottle, for she thought the room was rather close.
For be it known that Maria Penstemon had a will of her own, and a strong tendency to foster crotchets. The present crotchet was homoeopathy, which, without expressing any belief for or against, the doctor had forbidden her to practise. Shaken down! The words jarred upon the young mistress, who felt that she could never become intimate with Miss Burge, whom she left to her class, and then busied herself with the attendance register and various other little matters connected with her duties.
Now, the only ways to march forty girls two-and-two to church with anything like order are either to put the two smallest pupils in the front, and then go on rising in years till you have the two eldest in the rear, or to pair off the largest and smallest children together. If neither of these plans is adopted, discipline is liable to fail. The experiences she had picked up at Whitelands were forgotten by Hazel Thorne in the flurry and excitement of this Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom first morning with her school.
The stern looks of the lady teachers had made her feel nervous. It was tiresome, too, just at starting that Mr Chute should be holding his boys in hand at the door, with a politeness of which he had never before been guilty, to allow the girls to go on first to church; and Mr William Forth Burge was standing by him, smiling all over his round, closely-shaven face, which was so smooth that it shone in the sun, and preparing himself for the incense of forty bobs, that he would receive from the girls as they went by.
Then bob, bob, bob, bob went the girls as they passed Mr William Forth Burge, who came out of the gate as the last pair passed and smiled his way up to his sister, who was toddling along beside Hazel Thorne, and making Mr Samuel Chute feel annoyed, for he was obliged to leave some little space before starting his boys; and then as he had always been in the habit of walking last, it would have looked peculiar to walk Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom front. Besides which there would have been the risk of little boys straggling behind, and perhaps not appearing in church at all; so, in spite of an intense desire, freshly developed, to keep near the new schoolmistress, he was compelled to walk at a distance of twenty-two doubled boys behind, and this made him metaphorically gnash his teeth.
But it was upon Master Sullins that the vials of his wrath threatened to be emptied. He could not forgive that laugh. What, he asked himself, would Miss Thorne think? It was terrible, and seemed to him like the first step towards blasting the hopes that had already begun to bud after seeing the new mistress only twice. The consequence was, that whenever he told himself never had the boys walked to church so badly before, he glanced at Tommy Sullins, and when he glanced at Tommy Sullins, he thought of a certain length of that thin rattan or rotan cane that grows so beautifully in the Malay Peninsula, running up and down trees in festoons for two or three hundred feet.
Quite disposed to be friendly. Miss Burge, then, while her fellow Sunday-school teachers sailed gracefully on to church, toddled and prattled beside the new-comer to Plumton, feeling pleased and attracted by her gentle ways. Bill, dear, this is our new mistress. Hazel felt more nervous than before. It was very kind and friendly of these people, but they divided her attention, and the schoolgirls wanted it all. For, having succeeded so well over the squinting, and thereby won the admiration of her fellow-pupils, girl-like, Miss Feelier must attempt something new, and this novelty was the giving vent to little mouse-like squeaks, just loud enough to be heard by Ann Straggalls, who began to titter, and of course this was communicated to others near.
The long notes became so marked at last that Hazel had to apologise to her new friends, and hurry to the front and admonish, painfully conscious the while that plenty of the inhabitants were at their windows and doors, watching and commenting upon the appearance of the new mistress, some remarks being loud enough for her to hear. Order being restored, Hazel d her place, and Mr William Forth Burge took up his parable and said:—. Why, when I left Plumton thirty year ago, after being two year with old Marks the butcher, and went up to London to seek my fortune—and I think I found it eh, Betsey?
She had become aware just then that something else was wrong in the van of her little army, and hurrying to the front, she found fat Ann Straggalls furiously red, and choking with laughter. A great girl like you, and setting so bad an example. This was, of course, as the progression went on, and just at that moment, as she was resuming her place.
Hazel Thorne felt as if she had been attacked by a severe spasm. Her heart seemed to stand still, and she turned pale; then it began to beat furiously, and there was a crimson flush in her face and temples as she became aware of the fact that a tall, well-dressed, gentlemanly-looking young man was walking on the other side of the long street leading into the town, and she saw him change his thin, closely-folded umbrella from one hand to the other, ready to raise his hat to her if she would have looked across the road again.
But she let her eyes fall, and this time returned to her place between Mr and Miss Burge, feeling glad that they were there, and almost glorying in the vulgarity of their appearance as a safeguard to her from recollections of the past, and the possibility of troubles in the future. Do you know London, Miss Thorne? The consequence was, that the girls behind followed suit not quite so fast, the next couple caught the infection, and then there was a hiatus, six girls straggling a long way ahead, and after a great gap of twenty or thirty yards there was the rest of the school.
Hazel hurried after her disordered forces, and checked the advance guard till they were ed by the rest, after which she allowed the brother and sister to come up to her, when she once more took her place, looking terribly conscious of the fact that Archibald Graves was on the other side, keeping pace with them, and looking across as if begging for a glance.
My sister here will ask you to bring up some of the best girls to take them on the lawn, and eat cake. Well, of all the aggravating hussies. A, B, and C, are divisions of a column of troops on the march. Portion A forms the advance guard; B the centre; C the rear. If A marched one mile per hour, B two miles per hour, and C three miles per hour, what would be the result?
Setting aside miles per hour. There was nothing for it but for Hazel Thorne to lead the van, leaving little Miss Burge in charge of the rear, seeing which state of affairs, Mr William Forth Burge was about to leave his sister and go up to the front and continue his egotistical discourse; but here he was checked by Miss Burge.
Custom caused this hesitation. So, with a sigh, Mr William Forth Burge refrained from burying the flaming orange silk in the hollow of his hat, thrust it into his pocket, and replaced his glossy head-piece, uttering another sigh the while, and looking very thoughtful the rest of the way. Just as Hazel Thorne was going to her seat in the gallery, the tall gentleman came through the porch, hesitated a moment, and then, seeing that the church was nearly empty, he went quickly up to the young mistress. I must—I will see you after church. That is what people said; and as he had a good home at Kensington, and gave nice, quiet little dinners, he and his were pretty well courted.
The boa-constrictor-like proposition was naturally enough taken by Archibald Graves in its slango-metaphorical sense, and slango-metaphorically Mrs Frederick Thorne was swallowed by the whole of the Graves family, and she did not agree with them.
For Mrs Thorne was not a pleasant woman. Each child she had seemed to be looked upon by her as a fresh grievance—a new cause for tears, and tears she accordingly shed to an extent that might have made any one fancy this was the reason why the Thorne home generally seemed damp and chilly, till Hazel entered the room like so much sunshine, when the chill immediately passed away. Ha, ha, ha! Smithson asked me the other day if you and Hazel were my daughters.
He bought the two bouquets, and they were kept fresh in water, taken to pieces, and spread over his breast, as he lay cold and stern in his coffin: for as he was carefully bearing the box containing the flowers across Waterloo Place on his way home that evening, there was a cry, a shout, the rush of wheels, and the trampling of horses; a barouche came along Pall Mall at a furious rate, with two ladies therein clinging to the sides, and the coachman and footman panic-stricken on the box.
One rein had broken, and the horses tore round the corner towards Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom Street as if mad with fear. It was a gallant act, and people said at the inquest that it saved the ladies and the servants, but it was at the sacrifice of his own life. Mrs Thorne took to her bed at once, and was seriously ill for weeks, while Hazel seemed to have been changed in one moment from a merry thoughtless girl to a saddened far-seeing woman.
For upon her the whole charge of the little household fell. There was the nursing of the sick mother, the care and guidance of Percy, a clever, wilful boy of sixteen, now at an expensive school, and the management of the two little girls, Cissy and Mabel. For the first time in her life she learned the meaning of real trouble, and how dark the world can look at times to those who are under its clouds. The tears had hardly ceased to flow for the affectionate indulgent father, when Hazel had to listen to business matters, a friend of her father calling one morning, and asking to see her.
This was a Mr Edward Geringer, a gentleman in the same way of business as Mr Thorne, and who had been fully in his confidence. He was a thin, fair, keen-looking man of eight-and-thirty or forty, with a close, tight mouth, and a quick, impressive way of speaking; his pale-bluish eyes looking sharply at the person addressed the while. He looked, in fact, what he was—a well-dressed clear-headed man, with one thought—how to make money; and he found out how it was done.
That is hardly fair, though. He had another thought, one which had come into his heart—a small one—when the late Mr Thorne had brought him home one day to dinner and to discuss some monetary scheme. That thought had been to make Hazel Thorne his wife, and he had nursed it in silence till it grew into a great plant which overshadowed his life.
He had seen Hazel light and merry, and had been a witness, at the little evenings at the house in Kensington, of the attentions to her paid by Archibald Graves. He knew, too, that they pleased Hazel; and as he saw her brightened eyes and the smiles she bestowed, the hard, cold City man bit his lips and felt sting after sting in his heart. And now he had come, as soon as he felt it prudent after the funeral, to find that he had waited and that Hazel Thorne was no longer ; and as he saw her in her plain, close-fitting mourning, and the sweet pale face full of care and trouble, he rose to meet her, took both her hands in his, and kissed them with a reverence that won her admiration and respect.
She did not think it strange, but suffered him to lead her to a chair and saw him take one before her. For some minutes they sat in silence, for she could not trust herself to speak, and Geringer waited till she should be more composed. It won her confidence at once. I can wait. I only ask you, my dear Hazel, to try and bear with fortitude the terrible news I have to inflict upon you, and to beg that you will not associate it in future with me.
But pray, pray tell me now, and—and—I will try to bear it as I should. She was choked now by her sobs, and as Geringer tenderly took one of her hands, she let him retain it while he spoke.
Worse; for this house and its furniture must go to defray the debts he has left behind. It is terrible—terrible indeed. His father was rich, and they would have a nice, bright little home somewhere, and mamma and the little girls would live with them. Percy would come home during his holidays, and they would be as happy as the day was long. Certainly, she did shrink a little at the thought of mamma and Archibald; but then she knew he would be as self-denying as herself, and he would do anything for her sake, of course. You will help me, will you not! All looked so easy and bright in the future that it seemed harsh on the part of Fate to crush out hope after hope.
All appeared so promising when Hazel had discussed her position with Mr Geringer, and then during the next few months bit by bit the morsels of blue sky were blotted out of her horizon, till Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom above her seemed cold grey cloud, and her life a blank.
He had thought the matter out thoroughly—for the family, save for a little consideration displayed by the creditors, were absolutely penniless; and he let them go into lodgings, and waited to be asked for help. The first appeal to him was about Percy, the son; and he responded willingly, advising sensibly and well that the lad should go into some City office and fight his way in the world.
So Percy went into the office of Suthers, Rubley, and Spark, the sugar-brokers, and came home grumbling every night. For it was unmistakable: Archibald Graves, the true, the sterling, the handsome, the best of men, had been yielding to home-pressure. Old Graves said it was preposterous. The girl was right enough, but he was not going to see his son throw himself away and set up a home with a penniless girl so as to keep her mother and family as well.
Archibald Graves was indignant at first, then he thought it over. Hazel was the nicest and dearest of girls, but certainly Mrs Thorne only wanted a vowel left out of her name for it to describe her exactly.
Instead of Percy being a help, he was an expense; and everything depended upon her. Under the circumstances, the only prospect open to her was to start a school; but while the grass was growing the steed was starving, and she used to look with envy at Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom smart well-dressed mistress of the national school hard by, with her troop of girls who came pouring out at noon; and at last came like an inspiration the idea—why should not she get a post as mistress?
Hazel, however, obtained a good deal of information as well, ready to ponder over—how she might either go to Whitelands or to Smith Square, Westminster; what would be the cost; the probabilities of her obtaining a school afterwards; the salary; etcetera, etcetera. Like all other difficulties, however, they began to shrink when boldly attacked.
Hazel wrote to two or three relatives, as a forlorn hope, and they who had before only doled out a few pounds unwillingly, jumped at the chance of getting the indigent applicant off their hands, and after a consultation, wrote to her saying they were so pleased with her efforts at self-help, that amongst them they would subscribe the funds for paying her fees, at the training institution and for maintaining Mrs Thorne and the children for a year, or such time as Hazel should get a school. I will never forget that I am a lady.
Write and tell cousin Jane and her husband that, however low we may be reduced by poverty, my daughter will never forget that she is a lady. Oh, what have I done—what have I done to be called upon to suffer this new—this pitiful degradation!
What have I done? It was hard work, but by degrees poor Mrs Thorne was brought round to think that perhaps—perhaps—she would go no farther—it might be less degradation to accept an honourable post and do a great duty therein of helping to make so many girls better women by careful training, than to live in indigence as a kind of respectable pauper, subsisting on the assistance of grudging friends. So the poor, weak, proud woman at last gave way, and the preliminaries being arranged, Hazel was about to leave home for the training institution full of hope, when there was a change in the state of affairs.
All this had taken place unknown to Mr Geringer, who was quite startled when he heard the plans, for they ran counter to his own. It had been quite in keeping with his ideas that the Thornes should taste the bitters of poverty, and know what being impecunious really meant. The poorer they were the easier would be his task.Mistress wanted Waterloo girl or single mom
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