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cause of it, and to desire that Reuben would send all the men away.
“Law, miss,” she replied," you need not be so terrified, it's only the old ringers in a passion because the young ones got the start of them, and won't share--that's all."
When Miss Nettleton was informed of this, she insisted upon my taking another guinea for the old ringers, or rather old reprobates, whom I most gladly dismissed with a desire that they would never come near the premises again.
The following day Miss Nettleton determined, as she said, to explore the village, and desired me to accompany her.
It was beautiful weather, or I really think we could never have got through the deep, dank
The first cottage we came to, was miserable enough. Three dirty, ragged children were playing before the door, while their mother was standing by with her arms folded, and her hair hanging about her ears, the very image of dirt and idleness.
Miss Nettleton stopped, and addressing her, asked a few questions as to her condition, which were answered in such a drawling, complaining tone, as produced from my mistress (who was very generous) half-a-crown.
We then passed on to an equally poor cottage, but extremely neat. Seated at the door was a sickly-looking woman with a baby on her lap, while she was busy knitting. By her side were two little urchins, one saying its letters, the other mending some article of clothes, while a fourth was weeding the garden. The poor woman arose, and curtseyed as we approached, and Miss Nettleton began a conversation with her, and found that the poor creature had ten children, and unceasing bad health. She, however, made no complaint, and was, with her little ones, so neat and tidy, that it quite excited my wonder and admiration.
What was my surprise to see my lady pass on without giving her anything, after having only a few minutes before bestowed her bounty
on the idle, dirty creature we had first seen. She, however, explained it, saying, that she was sure the tidy woman was too well off to want assistance, particularly as she had made no complaint.
I ventured to differ from her, and pointed out how very thinly and poorly she was clad, though so clean and neat.
“ Well, if you think so, Theresa, run back and give her this shilling.”
I did so, and I never saw a poor creature look more surprised and grateful.
The next habitation we came to was a farmhouse, in the porch of which, two very finely dressed young ladies were seated, one reading aloud to the other from a greasy, marblecovered book. This sight roused all Miss Nettleton's romance, and she hastened to make (as she said) the acquaintance of two such interesting-looking persons. They appeared surprised, but met her advances with civility, as she announced herself as newly arrived to enjoy the luxury of a country life.
“ I suppose, young ladies, you are, like myself, making a temporary sojourn in this charming place.”
“We live here all the year round,” said one of the young women.
“And tired enough we be of it,” added the other. “If it was not for going on market-days to Candleborough, I am sure I should wish to be hanged.”
“Good heavens,” exclaimed my mistress; “is it possible that two such amiable beings should be so miserable ?"
“ Why, who can help being miserable in such a nasty, dull place as this? I'm sure if it was not for these dear, dreadful books, I don't know what in the world we should do."
Miss Nettleton took up the book, and read on the title-page
“ The Memoirs of an Unhappy and Mysterious Innocent.”
“ Dreadful, I daresay,” sighed my mistress. “Might I beg the favour of you to lend me this work, as soon as you have finished reading it?”
“Oh, yes, if you'll pay half the hire of it.”
“ Certainly,” replied Miss Nettleton, rather startled at the unromantic request.
While we were thus conversing, the door of the house opened, and a bustling, vulgar-looking, elderly woman peeped out, saying, "Well girls, have ye got company?"
“ The lady from Lovegrove Bower, so don't disturb us,” answered one of the young ladies, with a toss of her head.
“I beg I may not detain you," said Miss Nettleton;"perhaps that good woman wants to speak to you.”
“No, she don't," said one of the girls.
“ There, mother, be off,” added the other, and the obedient drudge obeyed.
We soon took leave, even Miss Nettleton perceiving that her amiable new friends were neither more nor less than the vulgar, halfeducated, conceited daughters of a farmer. We arrived next at a pretty, clean, small house,