Full Online Books
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
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesNorth And South - Chapter XLIII - MARGARET'S FLITTIN'
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
North And South - Chapter XLIII - MARGARET'S FLITTIN' Post by :seasoned Category :Long Stories Author :Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Date :January 2011 Read :727

Click below to download : North And South - Chapter XLIII - MARGARET'S FLITTIN' (Format : PDF)

North And South - Chapter XLIII - MARGARET'S FLITTIN'


'The meanest thing to which we bid adieu,

Loses its meanness in the parting hour.'


Mrs. Shaw took as vehement a dislike as it was possible for one
of her gentle nature to do, against Milton. It was noisy, and
smoky, and the poor people whom she saw in the streets were
dirty, and the rich ladies over-dressed, and not a man that she
saw, high or low, had his clothes made to fit him. She was sure
Margaret would never regain her lost strength while she stayed in
Milton; and she herself was afraid of one of her old attacks of
the nerves. Margaret must return with her, and that quickly.
This, if not the exact force of her words, was at any rate the
spirit of what she urged on Margaret, till the latter, weak,
weary, and broken-spirited, yielded a reluctant promise that, as
soon as Wednesday was over she would prepare to accompany her
aunt back to town, leaving Dixon in charge of all the
arrangements for paying bills, disposing of furniture, and
shutting up the house. Before that Wednesday--that mournful
Wednesday, when Mr. Hale was to be interred, far away from either
of the homes he had known in life, and far away from the wife who
lay lonely among strangers (and this last was Margaret's great
trouble, for she thought that if she had not given way to that
overwhelming stupor during the first sad days, she could have
arranged things otherwise)--before that Wednesday, Margaret
received a letter from Mr. Bell.

'MY DEAR MARGARET:--I did mean to have returned to Milton on
Thursday, but unluckily it turns out to be one of the rare
occasions when we, Plymouth Fellows, are called upon to perform
any kind of duty, and I must not be absent from my post. Captain
Lennox and Mr. Thornton are here. The former seems a smart,
well-meaning man; and has proposed to go over to Milton, and
assist you in any search for the will; of course there is none,
or you would have found it by this time, if you followed my
directions. Then the Captain declares he must take you and his
mother-in-law home; and, in his wife's present state, I don't see
how you can expect him to remain away longer than Friday.
However, that Dixon of yours is trusty; and can hold her, or your
own, till I come. I will put matters into the hands of my Milton
attorney if there is no will; for I doubt this smart captain is
no great man of business. Nevertheless, his moustachios are
splendid. There will have to be a sale, so select what things you
wish reserved. Or you can send a list afterwards. Now two things
more, and I have done. You know, or if you don't, your poor
father did, that you are to have my money and goods when I die.
Not that I mean to die yet; but I name this lust to explain what
is coming. These Lennoxes seem very fond of you now; and perhaps
may continue to be; perhaps not. So it is best to start with a
formal agreement; namely, that you are to pay them two hundred
and fifty pounds a year, as long as you and they find it pleasant
to live together. (This, of course, includes Dixon; mind you
don't be cajoled into paying any more for her.) Then you won't be
thrown adrift, if some day the captain wishes to have his house
to himself, but you can carry yourself and your two hundred and
fifty pounds off somewhere else; if, indeed, I have not claimed
you to come and keep house for me first. Then as to dress, and
Dixon, and personal expenses, and confectionery (all young ladies
eat confectionery till wisdom comes by age), I shall consult some
lady of my acquaintance, and see how much you will have from your
father before fixing this. Now, Margaret, have you flown out
before you have read this far, and wondered what right the old
man has to settle your affairs for you so cavalierly? I make no
doubt you have. Yet the old man has a right. He has loved your
father for five and thirty years; he stood beside him on his
wedding-day; he closed his eyes in death. Moreover, he is your
godfather; and as he cannot do you much good spiritually, having
a hidden consciousness of your superiority in such things, he
would fain do you the poor good of endowing you materially. And
the old man has not a known relation on earth; "who is there to
mourn for Adam Bell?" and his whole heart is set and bent upon
this one thing, and Margaret Hale is not the girl to say him nay.
Write by return, if only two lines, to tell me your answer. But
~no thanks~.'

Margaret took up a pen and scrawled with trembling hand,
'Margaret Hale is not the girl to say him nay.' In her weak state
she could not think of any other words, and yet she was vexed to
use these. But she was so much fatigued even by this slight
exertion, that if she could have thought of another form of
acceptance, she could not have sate up to write a syllable of it.
She was obliged to lie down again, and try not to think.

'My dearest child! Has that letter vexed or troubled you?'

'No!' said Margaret feebly. 'I shall be better when to-morrow is

'I feel sure, darling, you won't be better till I get you out of
this horrid air. How you can have borne it this two years I can't

'Where could I go to? I could not leave papa and mamma.'

'Well! don't distress yourself, my dear. I dare say it was all
for the best, only I had no conception of how you were living.
Our butler's wife lives in a better house than this.'

'It is sometimes very pretty--in summer; you can't judge by what
it is now. I have been very happy here,' and Margaret closed her
eyes by way of stopping the conversation.

The house teemed with comfort now, compared to what it had done.
The evenings were chilly, and by Mrs. Shaw's directions fires
were lighted in every bedroom. She petted Margaret in every
possible way, and bought every delicacy, or soft luxury in which
she herself would have burrowed and sought comfort. But Margaret
was indifferent to all these things; or, if they forced
themselves upon her attention, it was simply as causes for
gratitude to her aunt, who was putting herself so much out of her
way to think of her. She was restless, though so weak. All the
day long, she kept herself from thinking of the ceremony which
was going on at Oxford, by wandering from room to room, and
languidly setting aside such articles as she wished to retain.
Dixon followed her by Mrs. Shaw's desire, ostensibly to receive
instructions, but with a private injunction to soothe her into
repose as soon as might be.

'These books, Dixon, I will keep. All the rest will you send to
Mr. Bell? They are of a kind that he will value for themselves,
as well as for papa's sake. This----I should like you to take
this to Mr. Thornton, after I am gone. Stay; I will write a note
with it.' And she sate down hastily, as if afraid of thinking,
and wrote:

'DEAR SIR,--The accompanying book I am sure will be valued by you
for the sake of my father, to whom it belonged.

'Yours sincerely,


She set out again upon her travels through the house, turning
over articles, known to her from her childhood, with a sort of
caressing reluctance to leave them--old-fashioned, worn and
shabby, as they might be. But she hardly spoke again; and Dixon's
report to Mrs. Shaw was, that 'she doubted whether Miss Hale
heard a word of what she said, though she talked the whole time,
in order to divert her attention.' The consequence of being on
her feet all day was excessive bodily weariness in the evening,
and a better night's rest than she had had since she had heard of
Mr. Hale's death.

At breakfast time the next day, she expressed her wish to go and
bid one or two friends good-bye. Mrs. Shaw objected:

'I am sure, my dear, you can have no friends here with whom you
are sufficiently intimate to justify you in calling upon them so
soon; before you have been at church.'

'But to-day is my only day; if Captain Lennox comes this
afternoon, and if we must--if I must really go to-morrow----'

'Oh, yes; we shall go to-morrow. I am more and more convinced
that this air is bad for you, and makes you look so pale and ill;
besides, Edith expects us; and she may be waiting me; and you
cannot be left alone, my dear, at your age. No; if you must pay
these calls, I will go with you. Dixon can get us a coach, I

So Mrs. Shaw went to take care of Margaret, and took her maid
with her to, take care of the shawls and air-cushions. Margaret's
face was too sad to lighten up into a smile at all this
preparation for paying two visits, that she had often made by
herself at all hours of the day. She was half afraid of owning
that one place to which she was going was Nicholas Higgins'; all
she could do was to hope her aunt would be indisposed to get out
of the coach, and walk up the court, and at every breath of wind
have her face slapped by wet clothes, hanging out to dry on ropes
stretched from house to house.

There was a little battle in Mrs. Shaw's mind between ease and a
sense of matronly propriety; but the former gained the day; and
with many an injunction to Margaret to be careful of herself, and
not to catch any fever, such as was always lurking in such
places, her aunt permitted her to go where she had often been
before without taking any precaution or requiring any permission.

Nicholas was out; only Mary and one or two of the Boucher
children at home. Margaret was vexed with herself for not having
timed her visit better. Mary had a very blunt intellect, although
her feelings were warm and kind; and the instant she understood
what Margaret's purpose was in coming to see them, she began to
cry and sob with so little restraint that Margaret found it
useless to say any of the thousand little things which had
suggested themselves to her as she was coming along in the coach.
She could only try to comfort her a little by suggesting the
vague chance of their meeting again, at some possible time, in
some possible place, and bid her tell her father how much she
wished, if he could manage it, that he should come to see her
when he had done his work in the evening.

As she was leaving the place, she stopped and looked round; then
hesitated a little before she said:

'I should like to have some little thing to remind me of Bessy.'

Instantly Mary's generosity was keenly alive. What could they
give? And on Margaret's singling out a little common
drinking-cup, which she remembered as the one always standing by
Bessy's side with drink for her feverish lips, Mary said:

'Oh, take summut better; that only cost fourpence!'

'That will do, thank you,' said Margaret; and she went quickly
away, while the light caused by the pleasure of having something
to give yet lingered on Mary's face.

'Now to Mrs. Thornton's,' thought she to herself. 'It must be
done.' But she looked rather rigid and pale at the thought of it,
and had hard work to find the exact words in which to explain to
her aunt who Mrs. Thornton was, and why she should go to bid her

They (for Mrs. Shaw alighted here) were shown into the
drawing-room, in which a fire had only just been kindled. Mrs.
Shaw huddled herself up in her shawl, and shivered.

'What an icy room!' she said.

They had to wait for some time before Mrs. Thornton entered.
There was some softening in her heart towards Margaret, now that
she was going away out of her sight. She remembered her spirit,
as shown at various times and places even more than the patience
with which she had endured long and wearing cares. Her
countenance was blander than usual, as she greeted her; there was
even a shade of tenderness in her manner, as she noticed the
white, tear-swollen face, and the quiver in the voice which
Margaret tried to make so steady.

'Allow me to introduce my aunt, Mrs. Shaw. I am going away from
Milton to-morrow; I do not know if you are aware of it; but I
wanted to see you once again, Mrs. Thornton, to--to apologise for
my manner the last time I saw you; and to say that I am sure you
meant kindly--however much we may have misunderstood each other.'

Mrs. Shaw looked extremely perplexed by what Margaret had said.
Thanks for kindness! and apologies for failure in good manners!
But Mrs. Thornton replied:

'Miss Hale, I am glad you do me justice. I did no more than I
believed to be my duty in remonstrating with you as I did. I have
always desired to act the part of a friend to you. I am glad you
do me justice.'

'And,' said Margaret, blushing excessively as she spoke, 'will
you do me justice, and believe that though I cannot--I do not
choose--to give explanations of my conduct, I have not acted in
the unbecoming way you apprehended?'

Margaret's voice was so soft, and her eyes so pleading, that Mrs.
Thornton was for once affected by the charm of manner to which
she had hitherto proved herself invulnerable.

'Yes, I do believe you. Let us say no more about it. Where are
you going to reside, Miss Hale? I understood from Mr. Bell that
you were going to leave Milton. You never liked Milton, you
know,' said Mrs. Thornton, with a sort of grim smile; 'but for
all that, you must not expect me to congratulate you on quitting
it. Where shall you live?'

'With my aunt,' replied Margaret, turning towards Mrs. Shaw.

'My niece will reside with me in Harley Street. She is almost
like a daughter to me,' said Mrs. Shaw, looking fondly at
Margaret; 'and I am glad to acknowledge my own obligation for any
kindness that has been shown to her. If you and your husband ever
come to town, my son and daughter, Captain and Mrs. Lennox, will,
I am sure, join with me in wishing to do anything in our power to
show you attention.'

Mrs. Thornton thought in her own mind, that Margaret had not
taken much care to enlighten her aunt as to the relationship
between the Mr. and Mrs. Thornton, towards whom the fine-lady
aunt was extending her soft patronage; so she answered shortly,

'My husband is dead. Mr. Thornton is my son. I never go to
London; so I am not likely to be able to avail myself of your
polite offers.'

At this instant Mr. Thornton entered the room; he had only just
returned from Oxford. His mourning suit spoke of the reason that
had called him there.

'John,' said his mother, 'this lady is Mrs. Shaw, Miss Hale's
aunt. I am sorry to say, that Miss Hale's call is to wish us

'You are going then!' said he, in a low voice.

'Yes,' said Margaret. 'We leave to-morrow.'

'My son-in-law comes this evening to escort us,' said Mrs. Shaw.

Mr. Thornton turned away. He had not sat down, and now he seemed
to be examining something on the table, almost as if he had
discovered an unopened letter, which had made him forget the
present company. He did not even seem to be aware when they got
up to take leave. He started forwards, however, to hand Mrs. Shaw
down to the carriage. As it drove up, he and Margaret stood close
together on the door-step, and it was impossible but that the
recollection of the day of the riot should force itself into both
their minds. Into his it came associated with the speeches of the
following day; her passionate declaration that there was not a
man in all that violent and desperate crowd, for whom she did not
care as much as for him. And at the remembrance of her taunting
words, his brow grew stern, though his heart beat thick with
longing love. 'No!' said he, 'I put it to the touch once, and I
lost it all. Let her go,--with her stony heart, and her
beauty;--how set and terrible her look is now, for all her
loveliness of feature! She is afraid I shall speak what will
require some stern repression. Let her go. Beauty and heiress as
she may be, she will find it hard to meet with a truer heart than
mine. Let her go!'

And there was no tone of regret, or emotion of any kind in the
voice with which he said good-bye; and the offered hand was taken
with a resolute calmness, and dropped as carelessly as if it had
been a dead and withered flower. But none in his household saw
Mr. Thornton again that day. He was busily engaged; or so he

Margaret's strength was so utterly exhausted by these visits,
that she had to submit to much watching, and petting, and sighing
'I-told-you-so's,' from her aunt. Dixon said she was quite as bad
as she had been on the first day she heard of her father's death;
and she and Mrs. Shaw consulted as to the desirableness of
delaying the morrow's journey. But when her aunt reluctantly
proposed a few days' delay to Margaret, the latter writhed her
body as if in acute suffering, and said:

'Oh! let us go. I cannot be patient here. I shall not get well
here. I want to forget.'

So the arrangements went on; and Captain Lennox came, and with
him news of Edith and the little boy; and Margaret found that the
indifferent, careless conversation of one who, however kind, was
not too warm and anxious a sympathiser, did her good. She roused
up; and by the time that she knew she might expect Higgins, she
was able to leave the room quietly, and await in her own chamber
the expected summons.

'Eh!' said he, as she came in, 'to think of th' oud gentleman
dropping off as he did! Yo' might ha' knocked me down wi' a straw
when they telled me. "Mr. Hale?" said I; "him as was th' parson?"
"Ay," said they. "Then," said I, "there's as good a man gone as
ever lived on this earth, let who will be t' other!" And I came
to see yo', and tell yo' how grieved I were, but them women in
th' kitchen wouldn't tell yo' I were there. They said yo' were
ill,--and butter me, but yo' dunnot look like th' same wench. And
yo're going to be a grand lady up i' Lunnon, aren't yo'?'

'Not a grand lady,' said Margaret, half smiling.

'Well! Thornton said--says he, a day or two ago, "Higgins, have
yo' seen Miss Hale?" "No," says I; "there's a pack o' women who
won't let me at her. But I can bide my time, if she's ill. She
and I knows each other pretty well; and hoo'l not go doubting
that I'm main sorry for th' oud gentleman's death, just because I
can't get at her and tell her so." And says he, "Yo'll not have
much time for to try and see her, my fine chap. She's not for
staying with us a day longer nor she can help. She's got grand
relations, and they're carrying her off; and we sha'n't see her
no more." "Measter," said I, "if I dunnot see her afore hoo goes,
I'll strive to get up to Lunnun next Whissuntide, that I will.
I'll not be baulked of saying her good-bye by any relations
whatsomdever." But, bless yo', I knowed yo'd come. It were only
for to humour the measter, I let on as if I thought yo'd mappen
leave Milton without seeing me.'

'You're quite right,' said Margaret. 'You only do me justice. And
you'll not forget me, I'm sure. If no one else in Milton
remembers me, I'm certain you will; and papa too. You know how
good and how tender he was. Look, Higgins! here is his bible. I
have kept it for you. I can ill spare it; but I know he would
have liked you to have it. I'm sure you'll care for it, and study
what is In it, for his sake.'

'Yo' may say that. If it were the deuce's own scribble, and yo'
axed me to read in it for yo'r sake, and th' oud gentleman's, I'd
do it. Whatten's this, wench? I'm not going for to take yo'r
brass, so dunnot think it. We've been great friends, 'bout the
sound o' money passing between us,'

'For the children--for Boucher's children,' said Margaret,
hurriedly. 'They may need it. You've no right to refuse it for
them. I would not give you a penny,' she said, smiling; 'don't
think there's any of it for you.'

'Well, wench! I can nobbut say, Bless yo'! and bless yo'!--and

If you like this book please share to your friends :

North And South - Chapter XLIV - EASE NOT PEACE North And South - Chapter XLIV - EASE NOT PEACE

North And South - Chapter XLIV - EASE NOT PEACE
CHAPTER XLIV - EASE NOT PEACE 'A dull rotation, never at a stay,Yesterday's face twin image of to-day.'COWPER.'Of what each one should be, he sees the form and rule,And till he reach to that, his joy can ne'er be full.'RUCKERT.It was very well for Margaret that the extreme quiet of theHarley Street house, during Edith's recovery from herconfinement, gave her the natural rest which she needed. It gaveher time to comprehend the sudden change which had taken place inher circumstances within the last two months. She found herselfat once an inmate of a luxurious house the bare knowledgeof the existence

North And South - Chapter XLII - ALONE! ALONE! North And South - Chapter XLII - ALONE! ALONE!

North And South - Chapter XLII - ALONE! ALONE!
CHAPTER XLII - ALONE! ALONE! 'When some beloved voice that was to youBoth sound and sweetness, faileth suddenly,And silence, against which you dare not cry,Aches round you like a strong disease and new--What hope? what help? what music will undoThat silence to your sense?'MRS. BROWNING.The shock had been great. Margaret fell into a state ofprostration, which did not show itself in sobs and tears, or evenfind the relief of words. She lay on the sofa, with her eyesshut, never speaking but when spoken to, and then replying inwhispers. Mr. Bell was perplexed. He dared not leave her; hedared not ask her