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A hansom was at last seen approaching, and he stepped forward eagerly to meet it.
Halloa, old fellow, here you are at last, I've been waiting for you ever so long."
“Have you indeed ? It wants three minutes still to the time,” answered his friend, alighting from the hansom.
Two greater contrasts could certainly hardly be found. Edmund Lindsaye was tall, grave, and composed, with a firm, not to say stern mouth, and peculiarly steadfast grey eyes. He was dressed in a well fitting light-coloured suit, very different from his friend's worn dark clothes. He stood quietly by as Jack Ansley hurried about, helping the porter with the luggage, laughing and joking with him all the while.
“Shall I take your ticket, Lindsaye ?” said Jack at last. class do you want ? I am going third.”
“Get me a third too then ; we must of course travel together," answered Lindsaye, a slight shade passing over his face.
The train was punctual, and Edmund Lindsaye soon found himself seated by the window of a third class carriage with his friend next to him, and beyond a hale old farmer and a young servant-maid. Opposite Edmund was a stout woman, much encumbered with a market basket, a large nosegay, and an enormous bundle of dried grasses.
Two freshmen not very gentlemanly in appearance, who were laughing and joking noisily, and a poorly dressed woman with a fat baby who roared at intervals, completed the party. The sun blazed in on Edmund, who looked up expecting to find blinds, but there were none, and as they went along the heat grew more and more intense.
“I hope you don't mind travelling third in this way, old fellow,” broke in Jack; “I am so used to it.
You know I forgot you mightn't like it.”
“ I think it is much the best plan to go together," replied Edmund, “but it is extremely hot.”
Terribly; I'll get out at the next station, and buy some gingerpop.”
“Would you like some berries, sir P” inquired the old woman, “I've got some nice ones here," and opening her basket she displayed strawberries and hairy red gooseberries done up in huge cabbage leaves.
“ That's jolly, let's have some. What do you sell the gooseberries by ?”
“Sixpence a quart, sir." Jack pulled out his 'sixpence. “There, give us a quart; what
* beauties they are," said he, receiving into his hands a cabbage leaf full of over-ripe gooseberries.
Here, Lindsaye, there are some for you.” Poor Edmund received his handful rather unwillingly, though he was much too courteous to refuse them. Red gooseberries were fruit he had never regarded as fit for anything but the birds, these were not attractive, and what was he to do with the skins ? The farmer and maid-servant (for Jack had distributed the fruit all round) swallowed theirs very willingly, but that Edmund felt he could not do. At last he bethought himself of turning to the window and throwing them out. Meanwhile Jack seeing the woman with the baby in difficulties with her fruit, good-naturedly said to her, “Here, give me the little one! Hold my gooseberries, will you, Lindsaye," and to Edmund's amazement he took the little wailing child upon his knee, and began coaxing and feeding him with the gooseberries, until the mother had finished her share.
The distribution of the fruit had broken the ice; the farmer and Jack were soon exchanging remarks about the crops, whilst Edmund wondered at his friend's ease in adapting himself to other people's conversation. Edmund Lindsaye himself felt out of place, and thought the journey would never end. At last however they reached York, and changed for Bickley-pool, the nearest station to Jack's home. The evening was now closing in, and a cool breeze began to blow.
“ Rather better sort of thing this,” said Jack, raising his hat so as to let the cool air fan his brow, “ than when we left Oxford this morning, that was grilling.”
Yes," quietly assented Edmund, but he did not seem disposed to continue the conversation.
“We must be near Bickley-pool now," presently resumed the former, only two more stations : I say, Lindsaye, I'm afraid you don't half know what an out-of-the-way place you are coming to—no station within eight miles of us, and the nearest town eleven miles off. I'm afraid you will be awfully dull.”
“On the contrary, I shall rather enjoy the quiet after Oxford.”
“Well, you certainly did fag pretty hard there, I should think you want a little rest.”
"Do you feel that yourself ?” inquired the other, with a quiet smile, which might be partly ironical, but Jack was of too simple, straightforward a nature to perceive it, and answered, “Well, I shall be uncommonly glad to get home and see all there ; and I did read pretty hard last term,—then you know it is not every fellow that has brains like yours,
and such an uncommon lot of coolness when he goes up for his vivá voce."
Edmund Lindsaye took no notice of the praise implied in the latter half of the speech, but said quietly, “You have a great many brothers and sisters?”
“Yes, an awful lot; small brats tumbling about and kicking up a row in every corner of the house," and Jack smiled as though the prospect was not wholly an unpleasant one. “How many have you got, Lindsaye?” "Only three sisters."
Oh, that's not many. I don't know how many I haven't got. The second one, Maud, is an uncommonly pretty girl. But you're not to fall in love with her, because she's engaged already," and Jack laughed his bright good-natured laugh.
“You needn't fear,” and there was a sort of superior smile on Edmund Lindsaye's face, as if to say that he was not in much danger of falling in love with any one.
“Ah, well, I only thought I would give you the warning; and by the way, I believe I oughtn't to have said anything about the engagement, for we don't proclaim it yet—but I'm the worst fellow in the world for keeping a secret.”
The answer to this speech was another slight smile, which might have been indicative of surprise at any one not being able to keep a secret, but Jack did not notice it, for he was busy arranging himself in the corner of the carriage for a nap, only saying first to his companion, “ You'll wake me at Bickley-pool,” and Edmund Lindsaye was left to his own meditations; to judge by his face these were not altogether pleasant ones.
“Bickley-pool,” shouted the guard at the station, causing Jack to wake with a start, and begin pulling down the umbrellas, &c., which hung in the netting overhead. In a few minutes they were standing beside their portmanteaus on the little platform while the train whizzed
away on its passage still further north. A rosy-cheeked schoolboy built somewhat on Jack's own pattern rushed up and bestowed a warm greeting on his brother, and a scarcely less cordial one on his brother's unknown friend.
"How jolly to see you,” he cried, "we've got the trap waiting round the corner; come along; be quick,” and he hurried them off to where it was standing; a low basket-carriage, which many years' hard wear had denuded of every vestige of paint, drawn by a sturdy old white pony, which Jack stopped to pat and greet by the not inappropriate name of Dumpling, before he assumed the reins. The old pony went slowly, and Edmund had plenty of time to admire the wild scenery of the Yorkshire fells as they jolted along the rough uneven roads. Perhaps it was a good thing the pony was old and steady, for Jack talking fast with his brother, left it to follow its own sweet will in a way that rather disgusted Edmund Lindsaye, himself a first-rate whip.
At length the carriage turned into a rough unused track, at the end of which appeared a low white house, approached by a bad imitation of a carriage drive, and standing in a fairly large garden--that sort of garden now seldom to be seen, the beds filled with old-fashioned plants, chosen for beauty or sweetness, and allowed to grow as they naturally would, not made to imitate ribbons and mosaics, as though people's only idea were to make even their gardens remind them of their favourite millinery and jewellery. Perhaps it was a little untidy, the shrubbery over grown, and the beds in need of a weeding; but the borders were one mass of brilliancy.
“They are all in the hayfield,” said Harry, leading the way across the lawn to the little paddock beyond. There was a buzz of welcome from the large party assembled there, whom Edmund Lindsaye scanned somewhat curiously as soon as he had been introduced to them all. There was Mr. Ansley, a fine tall man of sixty-five, with an intellectual forehead and a mouth that expressed some sense of humour; Mrs. Ansley, a motherly sort of person, in no way remarkable save for her kindly pleasant manner; and Jack's four elder sisters ranging in ages from eighteen to six and twenty. The eldest Henrietta, or Hetta as she was generally called, plain and quiet, very neat in her dress. Maud, the next, certainly merited Jack's commendation of being “an uncommonly pretty girl," tall and slight with soft wavy brown hair, and large blue-grey eyes. Eleanor, a bright looking brunette, with
sweet merry smile. Jenny, tall, fair, and rosy-cheeked, not in the least nice looking but good-natured and sensible. All four were dressed alike, and Edmund privately wondered how his sisters would have liked to appear in their plain striped linen dresses, now rather tumbled, with an afternoon of work and play in the bayfield. There were also several younger children, both boys and girls, of various ages from five to fifteen, all in various degrees of untidiness and covered with hayseeds, playing about the field. It certainly appeared as if Jack had spoken the truth when he told Edmund Lindsaye he had “lots” of brothers and sisters. The hay-making for the day was now over, and they all went into the house, which was one of those commonly built ones to be found in every part of England, rendered still shabbier by wear and tear. In the drawing-room the paint was rubbed off the window sills, the carpet faded, and the entire furniture of the room gave evidence of its having served for use, not ornament, for many years. Still there was an air of pleasant comfort pervading all; and no lack of those small refinements which so characterise a room.
The piano was open, with music on it, and on the centre of the table stood a bowl of roses tastefully arranged.
In a few minutes' time a clanging bell summoned to the diningroom, where was spread a substantial tea. Mrs. Ansley had however disappeared, and Hetta who presided at the urn informed her father that a child in the village had been scalded. Mr. Ansley accepted the excuse as if it were the most natural thing in the world for his wife to be thus called away, but Edmund rather gravely asked his next neighbour, Jenny, why the parents had not sent for the doctor. doctor?” she repeated, staring, “I hope there is no need for that; they said poor little Annie had only scalded her arm.' "Yet they sent for Mrs. Ansley."
Oh, yes, of course, mother is always sent for when there is an accident,” said Jenny cheerily; "they do not have the doctor except in extreme cases ; why we are more than seven miles from one.”
“Is it possible ?” exclaimed Edmund.
“Yes,” said Mr. Ansley, with a somewhat amused smile, “ does it seem to you the very depth of isolation ? Ah, if you had lived here as I have done for the last thirty years, you would not consider it so.”
Here Edmund was interrupted by a request from Hetta for some girdle cake; she held out her plate as she spoke. Edmund looked round for some means of helping her, and received from Fanny a knife