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listened for a moment, and then lift- “And you heard of no harm to ed the wooden latch, and looked in. him since?" inquired Susan. The watcher by the bedside arose, “Bless the lass — no, for sure ! and went to her. Susan would have I've ne'er heard his name named been glad to see Peggy's face once since I saw him go out of the yard more, but was far too weak to turn, as stout a man as ever trod shoeso she lay and listened.
leather.” “How is she?” whispered one It was well, as the nurse said aftertrembling aged voice.
wards to Peggy, that Susan had been “Better,” replied the other. so easily pacified by the equivocating "She's been awake, and had a cup answer in respect to her father. If of tea. She'll do, now."
she had pressed the questions home “ Has she asked after him ?” in this case, as she did in Michael's,
“Hush ! No; she has not spoken she would have learned that he was a word.”
dead and buried more than a month « Poor lass! poor lass !"
before. It was well, too, that in her The door was shut. A weak feel- weak state of convalescence (which ing of sorrow and self-pity came over lasted long after this first day of Susan. What was wrong? Whom consciousness) her perceptions were had she loved? And dawning, dawn- not sharp enough to observe the sad ing, slowly, rose the sun of her change that had taken place in Willie. former life, and all particulars were His bodily strength returned, his apmade distinct to her. She felt that petite was something enormous, but some sorrow was coming to her, his eyes wandered continually, his and cried over it before she knew regard could not be arrested, his what it was, or had strength enough speech became slow, impeded, and to ask. In the dead of night- incoherent. People began to say, and she had never slept again—she that the fever had taken away the softly called to the watcher, and little wit Willie Dixon had ever posasked:
sessed, and that they feared that he " Who?"
would end in being a natural, as they “Who, what?" replied the woman, call an idiot in the Dales. with a conscious affright, ill-veiled by The habitual affection and obedia poor assumption of ease. "Lie ence to Susan lasted longer than any still, there's a darling, and go to other feeling that the boy had had sleep. Sleep's better for you than previous to his illness; and, perall the doctor's stuff.”
haps, this made her be the last to "Who?" repeated Susan. "Some- perceive what every one else had thing is wrong. Who?"
long anticipated. She felt the awak"Oh, dear :" said the woman. ening rude when it did come. It "There's nothing wrong. Willie has was in this wise: taken the turn, and is doing nicely.” One June evening she sat out of Father?"
doors, under the yew-tree, knitting. “Well, he's all right now!" she She was pale still from her recent answerel, looking another way, as if illness; and her languor joined to seking for something
the fact of her black dress, made her “Then it's Michael! Oh, me! look more than usually interesting. oh, me:" She set up a succession She was no longer the buoyant, selfof weak, plaintive, hysterical cries sufficient Susan, equal to every ocbefore the nurse could pacify her, by casion. The men were bringing in declaring that Michael had been at the cows to be milked, and Michael the house not three hours before, to was about in the yard, giving orders
sk after her, and looked as well and and directions with somewhat the air as hearty as ever man did.
of a master; for the farm belonged of right to Willie, and Susan had brother's manner, she looked anxsucceeded to the guardianship of her iously at Michael for an explanation. brother. Michael and she were to Michael was irritated at Willie's debe married as soon as she was strong fiance of him, and did not mince the enough-50, perhaps, his authorita- matter. tive manner was justified; but the “It's just that the fever has left laborers did not like it, although they him silly—he never was as wise as said little. They remembered him other folk, and now I doubt if he a stripling on the farm, knowing far will ever get right." less than they did, and often glad to Susan did not speak, but she went shelter his ignorance of all agricul- very pale, and her lip quivered. She tural matters behind their superior looked long and wistfully at Willie's knowledge. They would have taken face, as he watched the motion of orders from Susan with far more the ducks in the great stable-pool. willingness; nay! Willie himself He laughed softly to himself from might have commanded them, and time to time. for the old hereditary feeling towards “Willie likes to see the ducks go the owners of land they would have overhead," said Susan, instinctively obeyed him with far greater cordial- adopting the form of speech she ity than they now showed to Michael. would have used to a young child. But Susan was tired with even three “Willie, boo! Willie, boo!” he rounds of knitting, and seemed not replied, clapping his hands, and to notice, or to care, how things avoiding her eye. went on around her; and Willie “Speak properly, Willie,” said poor Willie !-there he stood loung- Susan, making a strong effort at selfing against the door-sill, enormously control, and trying to arrest his attengrown and developed, to be sure, tion. but with restless eyes and ever open “You know who I am—tell me mouth, and every now and then set- my name !" She grasped his arm ting up a strange kind of howling almost painfully tight to make him cry, and then smiling vacantly to attend. Now he looked at her, and himself at the sound he had made. for an instant, a gleam of recogniAs the two old laborers passed him, tion quivered over his face; but the they looked at each other ominously, exertion was evidently painful, and and shook their heads.
he began to cry at the vainness of the “Willie, darling,” said Susan, effort to recall her name. He hid "don't make that noise-it makes his face upon her shoulder with the my head ache."
old affectionate trick of manner. She spoke feebly, and Willie did She put him gently away, and went not seem to hear ; at any rate, he into the house into her own little continued his howl from time to bedroom. She locked the door, and time..
did not reply at all to Michael's “Hold thy noise, wilt 'a?” said calls for her, hardly spoke to old Michael roughly, as he passed near Peggy, who tried to tempt her out him, and threatening him with his to receive some homely sympathy, fist. Susan's back was turned to the and through the open casement there pair. The expression of Willie's face still came the idiotic sound of changed from vacancy to fear, and “Willie, boo! Willie, boo !” he came shambling up to Susan, and put her arm around him, and, as if
CHAPTER III. protected by that shelter, he began pulling faces at Michael. Susan saw AFTER the stun of the blow came what was going on, and, as if now the realization of the consequences. first struck by the strangeness of her Susan would sit for hours trying pa
tiently to recall and piece together grave appearance of sorrow whenever fragments of recollection and con he caught her eye. He put up his sciousness in her brother's mind. horse ; for, although he had three She would let him go and pursue miles further to go, the moon was some senseless bit of play, and wait up—the bonny harvest-moon-and until she could catch his eye or his he did not care how late he had to attention again, when she would re- drive on such a road by such a light. sume her self-imposed task. Michael After the supper which Susan had complained that she never had a prepared for the travellers was over, word for him, or a minute of time to Peggy went up stairs to see Willie spend with him now; but she only safe in bed; for he had to have the said she must try, while there was same care taken of him that a little yet a chance, to bring back her chilii of four years old requires. brother's lost wits. As for marriage Michael drew near to Susan. in this state of uncertainty, she had “Susan," said he, “I took Will no heart to think of it. Then to see Dr. Preston, at Kendal. He's Michael stormed, and absented him- the first doctor in the county. I self for two or three days; but it was thought it were better for us—for of no use. When he came back he you—to know at once what chance saw that she had been crying until there were for him.” her eyes were all swollen up, and he “Well?" said Susan, looking gathered from Peggy's scoldings eagerly up. She saw the same strange (which she did not spare him) that glance of satisfaction, the same inSusan had eaten nothing since he stant change to apparent regret and went away. But she was as inflexible pain. “What did he say?” said as ever.
she. “Speak! can't you?” “Not just yet, only not just yet, “He said he would never get and don't say again that I do not better of his weakness." love you," said she, suddenly hiding “Never!” herself in his arms.
“No; never. It is a long word And so matters went on through and hard to bear. And there's August. The crop of oats was worse to come, dearest. The doctor gathered in; the wheat-field was not thinks he will get worse from year to ready as yet, when one fine day year. And he said, if he was usMichael drove up in a borrowed you—he would send him off in time shandry, and offered to take Willie to Lancaster Asylum. They've ways a ride. His manner, when Susan there both of keeping such people in asked him where he was going to, order and making them happy. I was rather confused ; but the answer only tell you what he said," conwas straight and clear enough. tinued he, seeing the gathering
“He had business in Ambleside. storm in her face. He would never lose sight of the lad, “There was no harm in him sayand have him back safe and sound ing it," she replied, with great selfbefore dark.” So Susan let him go. constraint, forcing herself to speak
Before night they were at home coldly instead of angrily. “Folk is again ; Willie in high delight at a welcome to their opinions." little rattling paper windmill that They sate silent for a minute or Michael had bought for him in the two, her breast heaving with supstreet, and striving to imitate this pressed feeling. new sound with perpetual buzzings. “He's counted a very clever Michael, too, looked pleased, Susan man," said Michael, at length. knew the look, although afterwards "He may be. He's none of my she remembered that he had tried to clever men, nor am I going to be veil it from her, and had assumed a guided by him, whatever he may. think. And I don't thank them that tivate, to make profit from, to bewent and took my poor lad to have queath. For some time he had wonsuch harsh notions formed about dered that Susan had been too much him. If I'd been there I could have absorbed in Willie's present, that called out the sense that is in him." she never seemed to look forward to
"Well, I'll not say more to his future state. Michael had long night, Susan. You're not taking it felt the boy to be a trouble ; but of rightly, and I'd best be gone, and late he had absolutely loathed him. leave you to think it over. I'll not His gibbering, his uncouth gestures, deny they are hard words to hear, his loose shambling gait, all irritated but there's sense in them, as I take Michael inexpressibly. He did not it; and I reckon you'll have to come come near the Yew Nook for a couple to 'em. Anyhow, it's a bad way of of days. He thought that he would thanking me for my pains, and I leave her time to become anxious to don't take it well in you, Susan," see him and reconciled to his plan. said he, getting up, as if offended. They were strange, lonely days to
“Michael, I'm beside myself with Susan. They were the first she had sorrow. Don't blame me if I speak spent face to face with the sorrows sharp. He and me are the only ones, that had turned her from a girl into you see. And mother did so charge a woman, for hitherto Michael had me to have a care of him! And this never let twenty-four hours pass by is what he's come to, poor lile without coming to see her since she chap!” She began to cry, and had had the fever. Now that he was Michael to comfort her with caresses. absent it seemed as though some
“Don't,” said she. “It's no use cause of irritation was removed from trying to make me forget poor Willie Will, who was much more gentle and is a natural. I could hate myself for tractable than he had been for many being happy with you, even for just weeks. ' Susan thought that she oba little minute. Go away, and leave served him making efforts at her bidme to face it out."
ding, and there was something “And you'll think it over, Susan, piteous in the way in which he crept and remember what the doctor up to her, and looked wistfully in says?”
her face, as if asking her to restore "I can't forget it," said she. She him the faculties that he felt to be meant she could not forget what the wanting. . doctor had said about the hopeless- “I never will let thee go, lad. ness of her brother's case; he had Never! There's no knowing where referred to the plan of sending Willie they would take thee to, or what away to an asylum, or madhouse, as they would do with thee. Nought they were called in that day and but death shall part thee and me!" place. The idea had been gathering The countryside was full, in those force in Michael's mind for long; days, of stories of the brutal treathe had talked it over with his father, ment offered to the insane ; stories and secretly rejoiced over the pos- that were in fact only too well session of the farm and land which founded, and the truth of one of would then be his in fact, if not in which only would have been a suffilaw, by right of his wife. He had cient reason for the strong prejudice always considered the good penny existing against all such places. Each her father could give her in his cata- succeeding hour that Susan passed, logue of Susan's charms and attrac- alone, or with the poor, affectionate tions. But of late he had grown to lad for her sole companion, served esteem her as the heiress of Yew to deepen her solemn resolution
Nook. He too should have land like never to part with him. So, when • his brother-land to possess, to cul- Michael came, he was annoyed and surprised by the calm way in which “Whatever comes of it, I bide with she spoke, as if following Dr. Pres- Willie." ton's advice was utterly and entirely “Very well," replied Michael, out of the question. He had expected trying to assume an equal composure nothing less than a consent, reluctant of manner. “Then I'll wish you a it might be, but still a consent; and very good night.” He went out of he was extremely irritated. He the house-door half-expecting to be could have repressed his anger, but called back again ; but, instead, he he chose rather to give way to it, heard a hasty step inside, and a bolt thinking that he could so best work drawn. . upon Susan's affection, to gain his “Whew!” said he to himself, point. But, somehow, he over- "I think I must leave lady alone for reached himself; and now he was a week or two, and give her time to astonished in his turn at the pas- come to her senses. She'll not find sion of indignation that she burst it so easy as she thinks to let me go." into.
So he went past the kitchen “Thou wilt not bide in the same window in nonchalant style, and was house with him, say'st thou? There's not seen again at Yew Nook for some no need for thy biding, as far as I weeks. How did he pass the time? can tell. There's solemn reason why For the first day or two he was unI should bide with my own flesh and usually cross with all things and peoblood, and keep to the word I ple that came across him. Then pledged my mother on her death- wheat harvest began, and he was bed ; but, as for thee, there's no tie busy, and exultant about his heavy that I know on to keep thee fra crop. Then a man came from a disgoing to America or Botany Bay this tance to bid for the lease of his farm, very night, if that were thy inclina- which had been offered for sale by tion. I will have no more of your his father's advice, as he himself threats to make me send my bairn was soon likely to remove to the away. If thou marry me, thou'lt help Yew Nook. He had so little idea me to take charge of Willie. If thou that Susan really would remain firm doesn't choose to marry me on those to her determination, that he at once terms-why! I can snap my fingers began to haggle with the man who at thee, never fear. I'm not so far came after his farm, showed him the gone in love as that. But I will not crop just got in, and managed skilhave thee if thou say'st in such a fully enough to make a good bargain hectoring way that Willie must go for himself. Of course the bargain out of the house—and the house his had to be sealed at the public house; own too—before thou'lt set foot in and the companions he met with it. Willie bides here and I bide there soon became friends enough to with him."
tempt him into Langdale, where “ Thou hast maybe spoken a again he met with Eleanor Hebword too much," said Michael, pale thwaite. with rage. “If I am free, as thou How did Susan pass the time? say'st, to go to Canada or Botany For the first day or so she was too Bay, I reckon I'm free to live where angry and offended to cry. She I like, and that will not be with a went about her household duties in natural, who may turn into a mad- a quick, sharp, jerking, yet absent man some day, for aught I know. way; shrinking one moment from Choose between him and me, Susy, Will, overwhelming him with refor I swear to you, you shan't have morseful caresses the next. The both."
third day of Michael's absence she “I have chosen," said Susan, had the relief of a good fit of crynow perfectly composed and still. ing; and after that she grew softer •