Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 17. The Result
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 17. The Result Post by :ECLDogStar Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :2793

Click below to download : Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 17. The Result (Format : PDF)

Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 17. The Result

CHAPTER XVII. THE RESULT

Letty would never perhaps have come to herself in the cold of this world, under the shifting tent of the winter night, but for an outcast mongrel dog, which, wandering masterless and hungry, but not selfish, along the road, came upon her where she lay seemingly lifeless, and, recognizing with pity his neighbor in misfortune, began at once to give her--it was all he had that was separable--what help and healing might lie in a warm, honest tongue. Diligently he set himself to lick her face and hands.

By slow degrees her misery returned, and she sat up. Rejoiced at his success, the dog kept dodging about her, catching a lick here and a lick there, wherever he saw a spot of bare within his reach. By slow degrees, next, the knowledge of herself joined on to the knowledge of her misery, and she knew who it was that was miserable. She threw her arms round the dog, laid her head on his, and wept. This relieved her a little: weeping is good, even to such as Alberigo in an ice-pot of hell. But she was cold to the very marrow, almost too cold to feel it; and, when she rose, could scarcely put one foot before the other.

Not once, for all her misery, did she imagine a return to Thornwick. Without a thought of whither, she moved on, unaware even that it was in the direction of the town. The dog, delighted to believe that he had raised up to himself a mistress, followed humbly at her heel: but always when she stopped, as she did every few paces, ran round in front of her, and looked up in her face, as much as to say, "Here I am, mistress! shall I lick again?" If a dog could create, he would make masters and mistresses. Gladly would she then have fondled him, but feared the venture; for, it seemed, were she to stoop, she must fall flat on the road, and never rise more.

Slowly the two went on, with motion scarce enough to keep the blood moving in their veins. Had she not been, for all her late depression, in fine health and strength, Letty could hardly have escaped death from the cold of that night. For many months after, some portion of every night she passed in dreaming over again this dreariest wandering; and in her after life people would be puzzled to think why Mrs. Helmer looked so angry when any one spoke as if the animals died outright. But, although she never forgot this part of the terrible night, she never dreamed of any rescue from it; memory could not join it on to the next part, for again she lost consciousness, and could recall nothing between feeling the dog once more licking her face and finding herself in bed.

When Beenie opened her kitchen-door in the morning to let in the fresh air, she found seated on the step, and leaning against the wall, what she took first for a young woman asleep, and then for the dead body of one; for, when she gave her a little shake, she fell sideways off the door-step. Beenie's heart smote her; for during the last hours of her morning's sleep she had been disturbed by the howling of a dog, apparently in their own yard, but had paid no further attention to it than that of repeated mental objurgation: there stood the offender, looking up at her pitifully--ugly, disreputable, of breed unknown, one of the _canaille! When the girl fell down, he darted at her, licked her cold face for a moment, then stretching out a long, gaunt neck, uttered from the depth of his hidebound frame the most melancholy appeal, not to Beenie, at whom he would not even look again, but to the open door. But, when Beenie, in whom, as in most of us, curiosity had the start of service, stooped, and, peering more closely into the face of the girl, recognized, though uncertainly, a known face, she too uttered a kind of howl, and straightway raising Letty's head drew her into the house. It is the mark of an imperfect humanity, that personal knowledge should spur the sides of hospitable intent: what difference does our knowing or not knowing make to the fact of human need? The good Samaritan would never have been mentioned by the mouth of the True, had he been even an old acquaintance of the "certain man." But it is thus we learn; and, from loving this one and that, we come to love all at last, and then is our humanity complete.

Letty moved not one frozen muscle, and Beenie, growing terrified, flew up the stair to her mistress. Mary sprang from her bed and hurried down. There, on the kitchen-floor, in front of the yet fireless grate, lay the body of Letty Lovel. A hideous dog was sitting on his haunches at her head. The moment she entered, again the animal stretched out a long, bony neck, and sent forth a howl that rang penetrative through the house. It sounded in Mary's ears like the cry of the whole animal creation over the absence of their Maker. They raised her and carried her to Mary's room. There they laid her in the still warm bed, and proceeded to use all possible means for the restoration of heat and the renewal of circulation.

Here I am sorry to have to mention that Beenie, returning, unsuccessful, from their first efforts, to the kitchen, to get hot water, and finding the dog sitting there motionless, with his face turned toward the door by which they had carried Letty out, peevish with disappointment and dread, drove him from the kitchen, and from the court, into the street where that same day he was seen wildly running with a pan at his tail, and the next was found lying dead in a bit of waste ground among stones and shards. God rest all such!

But, as far as Letty was concerned, happily Beenie was not an old woman for nothing. With a woman's sympathy, Mary hesitated to run for the doctor: who could tell what might be involved in so strange an event? If they could but bring her to, first, and learn something to guide them! She pushed delay to the very verge of danger. But, soon after, thanks to Beenie's persistence, indications of success appeared, and Letty began to breathe. It was then resolved between the nurses that, for the present, they would keep the affair to themselves, a conclusion affording much satisfaction to Beenie, in the consciousness that therein she had the better of the Turnbulls, against whom she cherished an ever- renewed indignation.

But, when Mary set herself at length to find out from Letty what had happened, without which she could not tell what to do next, she found her mind so far gone that she understood nothing said to her, or, at least, could return no rational response, although occasionally an individual word would seem to influence the current of her ideas. She kept murmuring almost inarticulately; but, to Mary's uneasiness, every now and then plainly uttered the name _Tom_. What was she to make of it? In terror lest she should betray her, she must yet do something. Matters could not have gone wrong so far that nothing could be done to set them at least a little straight! If only she knew what! A single false step might do no end of mischief! She must see Tom Helmer: without betraying Letty, she might get from him some enlightenment. She knew his open nature, had a better opinion of him than many had, and was a little nearer the right of him. The doctor must be called; but she would, if possible, see Tom first.

It was not more than half an hour's walk to Warrender, and she set out in haste. She must get back before George Turnbull came to open the shop.

When she got near enough to see Mr. Wardour's face, she read in it at once that he was there from the same cause as herself; but there was no good omen to be drawn from its expression: she read there not only keen anxiety and bitter disappointment, but lowering anger; nor was that absent which she felt to be distrust of herself. The sole acknowledgment he made of her approach was to withdraw his foot from the stirrup and stand waiting.

"You know something," he said, looking cold and hard in her face.

"About what?" returned Mary, recovering herself; she was careful, for Letty's sake, to feel her way.

"I hope to goodness," returned Godfrey, almost fiercely, yet with a dash of rude indifference, "_you are not concerned in this--business!"--he was about to use a bad adjective, but suppressed it.

"I _am concerned in it," said Mary, with perfect quietness.

"You knew what was going on?" cried Wardour. "You knew that fellow there came prowling about Thornwick like a fox about a hen-roost? By Heaven! if I had but suspected it--"

"No, Mr. Wardour," interrupted Mary, already catching a glimpse of light, "I knew nothing of that."

"Then what do you mean by saying you are concerned in the matter?"

Mary thought he was behaving so unlike himself that a shock might be of service.

"Only this," she answered, "--that Letty is now lying in my room, whether dead or alive I am in doubt. She must have spent the night in the open air--and that without cloak or bonnet."

"Good God!" cried Godfrey. "And you could leave her like that!"

"She is attended to," replied Mary, with dignity. "There are worse evils to be warded than death, else I should not be here; there are hard judgments and evil tongues.--Will you come and see her, Mr. Wardour?"

"No," answered Godfrey, gruffly.

"Shall I send a note to Mrs. Wardour, then?"

"I will tell her myself."

"What would you have me do about her?"

"I have no concern in the matter, but I suppose you had better send for a doctor. Talk to that fellow there," he added, pointing with his whip toward the cottage, and again putting his foot in the stirrup. "Tell him he has brought her to disgrace--"

"I don't believe it," interrupted Mary, her face flushing with indignant shame. But Godfrey went on without heeding her:

"And get him to marry her off-hand, if you can--for, by God! he _shall marry her, or I will kill him."

He spoke looking round at her over his shoulder, a scowl on his face, his foot in the stirrup, one hand twisted in the mane of his horse, and the other with the whip stretched out as if threatening the universe. Mary stood white but calm, and made no answer. He swung himself into the saddle, and rode away. She turned to the gate.

From behind the shrubbery, Tom had heard all that passed between them, and, meeting her as she entered, led the way to a side- walk, unseen from the house.

"O Miss Marston! what is to be done?" he said. "This is a terrible business! But I am so glad you have got her, poor girl! I heard all you said to that brute, Wardour. Thank you, thank you a thousand times, for taking her part. Indeed, you spoke but the truth for her. Let me tell you all I know."

He had not much to tell, however, beyond what Mary knew already.

"She keeps calling out for you, Mr. Helmer," she said, when he had ended.

"I will go with you. Come, come," he answered.

"You will leave a message for your mother?"

"Never mind my mother. She's good at finding out for herself."

"She ought to be told," said Mary; "but I can't stop to argue it with you. Certainly your first duty is to Letty now. Oh, if people only wouldn't hide things!"

"Come along," cried Tom, hurrying before her; "I will soon set everything right."

"How shall we manage with the doctor?" said Mary, as they went. "We can not do without him, for I am sure she is in danger."

"Oh, no!" said Tom. "She will be all right when she sees me. But we will take the doctor on our way, and prepare him."

When they came to the doctor's house, Mary walked on, and Tom told the doctor he had met Miss Marston on her way to him, and had come instead: she wanted to let him know that Miss Lovel had come to her quite unexpected that morning; that she was delirious, and had apparently wandered from home under an attack of brain-fever, or something of the sort.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 18. Mary And Godfrey Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 18. Mary And Godfrey

Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 18. Mary And Godfrey
CHAPTER XVIII. MARY AND GODFREYEverything went very tolerably, so far as concerned the world of talk, in the matter of Letty's misfortunes. Rumors, it is true-- and more than one of them strange enough--did for a time go floating about the country; but none of them came to the ears of Tom or of Mary, and Letty was safe from hearing anything; and the engagement between her and Tom soon became generally known. Mrs. Helmer was very angry, and did all she could to make Tom break it off--it was so much below him! But in nothing could the folly of
PREVIOUS BOOKS

Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 16. The Morning Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 16. The Morning

Mary Marston: A Novel - Chapter 16. The Morning
CHAPTER XVI. THE MORNINGAt Thornwick, Tom had been descried in the yard, by the spying organs of one of the servants--a woman not very young, and not altogether innocent of nightly interviews. Through the small window of her closet she had seen, and having seen she watched-- not without hope she might be herself the object of the male presence, which she recognized as that of Tom Helmer, whom almost everybody knew. In a few minutes, however, Letty appeared behind him, and therewith a throb of evil joy shot through her bosom: what a chance! what a good joke! what a
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT