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said to be derived. Revelling in the beauties around her, Helen tripped up the mossy steps, and over the old draw-bridge. The postern leading into the orchard stood open, and as she entered, an under-gardener, wheeling a barrow of weeds, passed out. The man was in a hurry, and did not stop to touch his cap to the young lady, and Helen's proud spirit swelled within her at the slight, which she felt sure was intentional.
Yes,” thought she to herself, “I see how it is, the man knows I have no claim to his deference,—the Carlaverocks are now the masters here, and he is their servant, not mine. It is just as I thought-their only motive in coming here is to triumph over our fallen family, and they will not even teach their servants to be commonly respectful to those whom they have supplanted.”
With these bitter thoughts in her heart, it is little wonder that Helen looked with no complaisant eye on the improvements and changes which were everywhere visible around her. The wilderness of weeds and grass, which had choked up the orchard and garden, had wholly
, disappeared. The turf had been closely mown, the fruit trees pruned, and the lichens torn away from their stems. The garden-beds had been dug and raked, and as Helen went up the terrace steps she saw several men engaged in planting a number of ornamental shrubs and potting out a goodly array of geraniums, roses, and other bright plants in full flower, which had just arrived from one of the Carlisle nurserygardens. The stone balustrades and terraces were thickly strewn with salt, to take off the green, with which years of neglect had ingrained them, and some half-dozen little boys from the village were earning their sixpence a day in clearing away the moss from between the flagstones, and scrubbing the damp-stained vases which bordered the terraces. Old Davie was delivering a sharp lecture to some of these urchins whom he had caught pausing in their work to play marbles, but as soon as he caught sight of Helen, he left the delinquents and came towards her with a look of dissatisfaction on his face. "Well, Davie,” said Helen, as the old man stood and joined her, you are getting on.” Ay, miss, we be,” answered the old man shortly. “Grandmamma said I was to tell you that Sir George and Lady Carlaverock are to arrive here on Friday night,” continued Helen.
“Mair's the pity,” rejoined the old man. “ I'll just tell you what, Miss Helen, I dinna think I'll be for biding lang. It jist angers me
to think that thae Carlaverocks are comin' into the auld place. An’ forbye that, I canna put up wi' a' thae new-fangled folk that are com’t. There's iver sae mony sarvints here a'ready, an' iver sae mony mair are comin' along wi' Sir George and his leddy."
“Well, Davie," answered Helen, not thinking it prudent to reveal to the old steward her own opinions on the matter, " you know it was agreed when the Castle was let that you and Dorothy should keep your places. You mustn't go away or there will be no one left to look after my brother's interests. And besides, you always used to long for the day to come when the Castle should be inhabited again, and plenty of gay doings going on in it, like it was in the old times.”
“ The auld times !” repeated Davie, querulously. “Na, na, it winna be like the good auld times, wi' the Carlav'rock's settin' up
their nebs i' the Cassel. Howsomever, Miss Helen, gin ye think I can do ony guid to the young laird, I'll just bide. My certies ! I'd put up wi' mickle to pleasure either o’ye.”
“Thank you, Davie. And now, good evening. I must run in and see how Dorothy's getting on.”
Great confusion reigned inside the Castle. Everywhere Helen came in contact with busy servants, bustling about under Mrs. Dorothy's directions, laying down carpets, unpacking new furniture and rubbing up old, lighting fires in the long unused rooms, and routing out the dust and cobwebs which had remained undisturbed for so many long years.
Mrs. Dorothy was in her element. It was with very different feelings from those of her husband that she regarded the new era which was opening for the old Castle. She was much younger than he was, and had only lived for a few years as still-room maid under her aunt, the former housekeeper, before the old régime came to an end; and ever since she had longed for the Castle to be occupied again. Small difference did it make to her whether the inhabitants were Carrocks or Carlaverocks, so long as she might reign supreme over a large establishment of servants, and triumph over Mrs. M'Nab by possessing in substance, as well as in empty name, the grand title of housekeeper of the Castle, while her friend could boast of no higher post than that of housekeeper of the cottage. All the habitable rooms in the mansion were to be put in order, so that Lady Carlaverock and her daughters might take their choice among them when they arrived, and Helen found that all her old haunts had been invaded by the enemy, in the
shape of an army of housemaids armed with brooms. All indeed, but the rooms in the ancient keep, which were considered much too dilapidated to be repaired on such short notice. And besides, Mrs. Dorothy was quite sure that her ladyship and the young ladies would not like to sleep in such dark little dens, particularly as they had the uncomfortable reputation of being haunted. So the old tower was left to the rats and the ghosts, and no desecrating broom raised the venerable dust or disturbed the ancestral cobwebs which had descended from one spider to another for generations.
Helen found Mrs. Dorothy in Prince Charlie's room, busily employed in darning a rent in the damask bed-hangings. A fire was burning in the grate, white window-blinds had been put up, a new carpet laid down, and the room showed unmistakable signs of being in course of preparation for a new inhabitant. Helen started at the sight, and the angry colour rushed to her cheeks, for, ever since the Young Chevalier had occupied this chamber, it had been held sacred by the loyal Carrocks, and no meaner head had ever been allowed to press the pillow which had afforded a rest to the hunted heir of the royal Stuarts. No wonder then that Helen, with all her romantic feelings and enthusiastic devotion to the memory of the ill-fated young hero, for whom her ancestors had suffered so much, should feel indignant at the thought that one of his bitterest enemies, one of the hated Carlaverocks, should be the first to break the charm which hung over that room.
• Why, Dorothy !” she exclaimed with warmth, "what is this room being got ready for ? You know very well that it was never allowed to be used in my grandfather's time, and I am sure my brother would be very
vexed if he knew that Prince Charlie's room was to be occupied by one of the new people.”
“Well, Miss Carrock,” replied Mrs. Dorothy, in the consequential, mincing tone which she considered as fitting her exalted position, “I was not aware that them antiquated prejudices were to be maintained any longer. Leastways my orders from her ladyship were that ivery apartment in the Cassel was to be preparated. End, if I may presume to judge, it would be a sin end a shame that the best and most spaciousest bed-chamber we heve, should be allowed to stand empty, just because it had been occupied in the remote ages by some prince or other that's been in his grave for centuries previous to the time when any of us was born. End so, asking your pardon, Miss Carrock, I must follow her ladyship's own directions.”
And, drawing her lips together, Mrs. Dorothy continued her work, under the impression that she had settled the question in the most sensible and firmly-respectful manner possible, and had besides administered a delicate hint to Miss Carrock, that she had no right to interfere in a matter which she considered particularly in her own province. Helen felt very much annoyed at the tone of insolent superiority assumed by the housekeeper. But judging it beneath her dignity to make any reply, she merely delivered the key and her grandmother's message, and left the Castle in no very tranquil state of mind. Passing through the great gateway, she went down the carriage-road, and so entered the village. A knot of men in their working-dress were standing under the great tree in the centre of the green, smoking their pipes and discussing the latest news, of which the approaching arrival of the Carlaverocks formed an important and exciting item. Indeed the whole country-side was not a little indignant that any one should usurp
young laird's place by occupying the Castle. And it was no doubt owing to a warm discussion on the subject, which was going on when Helen passed, that she received an unusually respectful recognition from several of the men. Whatever its cause might be, it gratified and soothed our heroine's wounded feelings, and did much to dispel the soreness which Mrs. Dorothy's insolent speech had produced in her mind. Though perhaps the remark which was made when the young lady was out of hearing, viz., “Puir lassie, she'll hae to gang to the wa’ when these gran' new folks come, I'm thinkin'!” might have had a counteracting effect, had it reached her ear.
Miss Dodds was gardening when Helen reached the Rectory, attired according to her usual taste, which on this occasion displayed itself in a huge poke bonnet and a dress strongly suggestive of spinach and eggs, rolled round her expansive waist, and drawn through the pockethole. In this pleasing costume, the worthy spinster was kneeling on the grassplot, diligently employed in snipping off the blighted shoots from her favourite gooseberry-bushes.
“Good lack, my dear !” she exclaimed, in her loud, hearty voice, as Helen entered the garden. Why, is it you? Ye came upon me so quietly, that ye quite startled me. I've most susceptible nerves, my dear, though you mightn't think it to look at me. 'Pon my word I have,” she went on, looking up at Helen with a merry twinkle in her
little grey eyes.
And now, my dear, you must allow me to continue my work. We
can talk all the time, but I must positively get on with this little business, which has already been put off far too long. It's the only way to save the bonny berry-bushes from those brutes of caterpillars ! Indeed, my dear, I'm sometimes tempted to wish the plaguy beasts where I shouldn't; but I can tell you, they'd try a saint's patience, let alone mine, which isn't of the best. I've waged war against them ever since Sam and I came here. I never had a garden before, you know, and I've tried all ways to get rid of them-lime, guano, and dear knows what; but it wouldn't do, my dear, it wouldn't do. At last I hit upon a cure. As soon as the bushes make their first new shoots, the moth lays its eggs in them, being fresh and green for the young ones when they're hatched, you see. So round I go and snip off every one of the first shoots and the bush is saved, and my conquest over the caterpillars is achieved. This ought to have been done in the spring, but I was away on a visit in Carlisle then; and I've had so much to do since I came home, that somehow I never had time till this evening, and now I fear it's too late. The brutes have got the start of me.
But there, I declare I'm going on like a house on fire about my own concerns, and letting you stand there like patience on a monument, waiting till I run down. It's very true what folks say, that when once I'm wound up, I don't know where to stop. So now, my dear, it's your turn to speak.”
Helen delivered her grandmother's message, and nearly burst out laughing at the comical grimace with which Miss Dodds received it.
Well !” exclaimed the worthy maiden, when Helen had finished, there's nought sae queer as folks, they say, and 'pon my word I believe it now, if I never did before. Well, well: 'a wilful man maun hae his way,' says the proverb, and a wilful woman too, I'm thinking. It's easy for folks to say they can't understand, but when that's interpreted it generally reads, won't understand. But there tell your lady grandmother, I'll do myself the honour of waiting on her tomorrow morning. Goodness! there's Sam calling me! Most likely he wants some more ink. Bless my heart, what gallons of it he uses over his sermons. Coming, Sam, coming. There, my dear, I must go. Won't you come in ? No? Well, my dear, good night!”
And away bustled Miss Dodds, leaving Helen to walk home, smiling to herself at the good lady's odd ways and quaint speeches. Yet, the worthy woman had done her young friend good that evening, though she did not know it.