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 StoriesThe Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 23. That Fickle Matty
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 23. That Fickle Matty Post by :SimonB Category :Long Stories Author :L. T. Meade Date :May 2012 Read :1569

Click below to download : The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 23. That Fickle Matty (Format : PDF)

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 23. That Fickle Matty


"Well, doctor, and where are you off to now?" The speaker was the doctor's wife. "I do think it's unreasonable of people," continued this good lady, "to send for you just when you are sitting down to your comfortable breakfast, and you so particular as you are about your coffee."

"Who is it, Mary Anne? Who's the messenger from?" turning to the maid-servant, who stood in a waiting attitude half-in, half-out of the door.

"Oh, it's only the Bells. You needn't hurry off to the Bells, Tom."

"As well they as another," retorted Dr. Morris "Tell the messenger I'll be round directly, Mary Anne. Now, what's the matter, old lady? Why should you fidget yourself, and have such a spiteful tone when the Bells are mentioned?"

"Oh, I'm sick of them, and their airs and affectations," growled Mrs. Morris, who suddenly put on her thickest and most bronchial tones. "What with their afternoon tea, and their grand at-homes, and the ridiculous way they've been going on about that little Matty lately, I really lose all patience with them. What's the consequence of all this kind of thing? Mrs. Bell chokes up her small drawing-room so full of visitors who only come to laugh at her, that one can't breathe comfortably there without the window open, and a fine fresh bronchitis I've got in consequence. You feel me, doctor. I'm all shivering and burning, I'm going to be very ill, there isn't a doubt of it."

"Your pulse hasn't quickened," said the doctor, "it's as steady as my own."

"Oh, well, if you don't choose to believe in the sufferings of your wife, exhibited before your very eyes, go to your Bells, and comfort them."

"Now, Jessie, don't talk nonsense, old lady. You know I'm the first to believe you bad if you are. But what's this about Beatrice Meadowsweet? Is she really engaged to young Bertram?"

"It's the gossip, Tom. But maybe it isn't the case. I'll call to see Mrs. Meadowsweet this morning, and find out."

"I would if I were you. Beatrice is a fine girl, and mustn't throw herself away."

"Throw herself away! Why, it's a splendid match for her. A most aristocratic young man! One of the upper ten, and no mistake."

"That's all you women think about. Well, I'm off to the Bells now."

The doctor presently reached that rather humble little dwelling where the Bell family enjoyed domestic felicity.

He was ushered in by the maid, who wore an important and mysterious face. Mrs. Bell quickly joined him, and she looked more important and mysterious still.

"Matty isn't well," she said, sinking her voice to a stage whisper. "Matty has been badly treated; she has had a blight."

"Dear, dear!" said Doctor Morris.

He was a fat, comfortable-looking man, his hands in particular were very fat, and when he warred to show special sympathy he was fond of rubbing them.

"Dear, dear!" he repeated. "A blight! That's more a phrase to apply to the potato than to a blooming young girl."

"All the same, doctor, it's true. Matty has been blighted. She had set her young affections where they were craved and sought, and, so to speak, begged for. She gave them, _not willingly_, doctor, but after all the language that melting eyes, and more melting words, could employ. _The word wasn't spoken, but all else was done. She gave her heart, doctor, not unasked, and now it's sent back to her, and she's blighted, that's the only word for it."

"I should think so," said the doctor, who was far too professional to smile. "A heart returned like that is always a little difficult to dispose of. Might I ask who--but perhaps you'd rather not tell me?"

"No, Doctor Morris, I'd rather tell you; I've sent for you to tell you, and it isn't so much that I blame him, poor young man, for it was all managed between his mother and Beatrice, all, from the very first, and it's my firm belief that he had neither part nor parcel in it. I did what I could, as in duty bound, to give him his chances, but those designers were too many for me."

"You don't mean," said the doctor--he really did not concern himself much about Northbury gossip, and no rumors of Matty's flirtations had reached him--"You don't mean Captain Bertram? Why, I have just heard he is engaged to Beatrice. You can't mean Captain Bertram? Impossible."

"I do mean Captain Bertram, doctor. No more and no less. And I'll thank you not again to mention the name of that siren, Beatrice, in my presence. Now if you'll come upstairs, I'll show you the poor blighted child."

Mrs. Bell had insisted on Matty's staying in bed. After the first awful shock of Mrs. Butler's news had subsided, she had made up her mind that the only _role left to her daughter was that of the dying martyr. All the town should know that Beatrice had robbed her friend, and that this young and innocent friend was now at death's door.

Alice and Sophy were both in the room with their sister, and they were expatiating very loudly on what they considered "ma's cruelty."

"You know perfectly, Matty, that he never cared for you," remarked the candid Sophy. "It was all ma's folly from first to last."

"First to last," echoed Alice.

"And you're not really ill," pursued Sophy. "You slept very sound all last night."

"And snored," continued Alice.

"Only ma will make a fuss, one way or other," proceeded Sophy. "Now you're to be the forsaken one, and what ma would like would be for your funeral bell to toll the day Bee has her wedding chimes."

"And we all love Bee," said Alice.

"And we'd like to go to her wedding," said Sophy. "Wouldn't you, Matty? Say, now, if you were going to have a new white muslin for it?"

It was at this juncture that the doctor and Mrs. Bell entered the room.

For a blighted invalid Matty did not look pale, and the doctor, who quickly discovered that there was no broken heart in the case, ordered his _regime with a certain dry sense of humor, anything but comforting to the poor little victim.

"Miss Matty requires rest," he said. "Absolute rest. And freedom from all undue excitement. I should recommend for the next few days, complete confinement to her bed with a simple diet; _no tea nor coffee, nor any stimulants. Keep her quiet, Mrs. Bell, for while the illness lasts--I give it no name--under which she is laboring, she will have no desire, except to keep herself solitary."

"And you think that will effect a cure, doctor?" asked Mrs. Bell, whose eyes had forced up a little moisture. "The child is frail, oughtn't she to be nourished?"

"In the way I prescribed, my dear madam. Milk diet, without stimulants. I'll see you again in a couple of days, Miss Matty."

"And you say she's not to get up, doctor?"

"On no account, until I call again."

The doctor departed, and Matty submitted to the remarkably dull life laid out for her.

In the course of the afternoon Mrs. Bell went out. To each friend she met she made the same remarks:

"Matty is very ill. I'm dreadfully anxious about her. Dr. Morris is in close attendance. She's to be kept strictly to her bed, and the greatest care has to be exercised to maintain her feeble strength. It's a heavy trial to have one's child so ill--and from such a cause."

"Dear, dear," the sympathizing neighbor would answer. "What can be the matter, and Matty always looked so fresh and hearty? Do you think she has gone and taken anything, Mrs. Bell? Some people prophesy that we are to have an epidemic of small-pox. It can't be that, surely? Taken so sudden too, for she was about yesterday."

"Small-pox!" retorted Mrs. Bell, with withering scorn. "As if a child of mine who had her vaccination beautifully would have small-pox! No, no, it's heart-blight, neighbor, it's heart-blight, and I doubt if my girl will ever get over it."

"Eh, ah--you don't say so," the neighbor would instantly retort. Now the listener was full of intense curiosity, and longing to learn everything. Matty Bell ill with a heart affair! No wonder her mother looked troubled. Ah, men were deceivers ever! And who had dared to trifle with her young affections?

Then Mrs. Bell would sigh deeply, and lower her voice, and point in the direction of the Manor. It wasn't for her to name names, but a certain young man had gone far, very far. Why, they could bring an action against him, only they'd scorn to make public their poor child's feelings. Well, well, he might lead another bride, a certain designer, to the altar, but there would be no luck nor happiness for either of them, that Mrs. Bell would say.

It was in this manner that the good lady spread the report which she desired through the gossiping little town. Rapidly did the little piece of gossip swell and magnify. It even travelled into the country, and so huge did its dimensions grow there, that it not only killed Matty, but buried her, and placed a beautiful tablet in white marble over her grave, erected by the repentant Captain Bertram and the remorseful Beatrice Meadowsweet.

Meantime the dying martyr had a very dull time in her bed. She was not the kind of girl to love very deeply--her mother had done her utmost to make the poor child fall in love with Captain Bertram, but when all was said he had only managed to tickle her vanity. Now she considered that he had put her to shame and derision, and she began to dislike him very much. Her sisters fostered this dislike with the tales they brought in from the outside world.

"You're the laughing-stock of the town," Alice would say. "Everybody is talking about you, and having a laugh at you. You needn't suppose that you are pitied, for you are not."

"Oh," groaned Matty. "How I wish, how I do wish, I had never met that horrid, odious man."

"He's not horrid nor odious at all," retorted the practical Sophy. "He looks lovely when he walks about with Beatrice. I saw them yesterday in the Green, and Beatrice came up at once and asked about you. What do you think ma did, Matty? She turned her back on Bee and sailed away. Poor Bee quite colored up, and didn't know what to make of it."

"They say Beatrice is to have a lovely wedding," said Alice. "And Mr. Ingram is going to have the whole church decorated with flowers. And a bishop is coming down from London to marry them. And Mr. Ingram is going to give Beatrice away himself, for he says she's like a daughter to him. And there's to be another great party at the Rectory the day of her wedding, Matty, and lots of fire-works in the evening."

"Oh, dear," sighed Matty, "I think Captain Bertram is a very base man."

"You'd better give up that idea," said Alice, "for no one else agrees with you. You know perfectly he never paid you attentions. It was all ma who would think so. And you know, Matty, you can't deny it--you did try to squeeze his hand the first day he danced with you."

"I didn't," said Matty, flushing all over with indignation. "I think you both are cruel. I've had a very heavy trial, and you neither of you sympathize a bit. And I'm sure," continued Matty, in a plaintive voice, "not the least part of it is being stuck in bed now."

"I wonder you stay," said Sophy. "You're in perfect health."

"No, I'm not. Dr. Morris is very anxious about me."

"He isn't. No one is anxious about you. There isn't a thing the matter, except that you and ma like that you should pose as the dying martyr. Well, good-bye. Sophy and I are going to have some fun this evening."

"Fun, where? Do tell me."

"At the Jenkinses. Their brother Gus has come home; you know how you and Gus used to flirt long ago, Matty. Well, he's back for a fortnight. He has a long red beard, and his face is all over freckles, but he's full of fun, and he laughs like anything. We saw him and he asked for you. It's a pity you can't come."

"Why can't I come? I don't see why I can't come as well as you."

"Oh, well, we thought you were the dying martyr. Mrs. Jenkins asked us all in to tea, and we are to have tennis afterwards, and then high supper, in honor of Gus. We said you couldn't come, but that we would be there. Alice, it's time for us to dress now. We'll wear our muslins with the pink spots, and those sweet new pink sashes that we got in exchange for the old teapot from Mrs. Middlemass last week. Come along, Alice. We'll show ourselves to you when we are dressed, Matty."

The girls skipped lightly away, and Matty fidgeted and tossed in her small hot bed.

The house was intensely quiet. Mrs. Bell was away, having taken advantage of a proffered lift from a neighbor to drive into the country to purchase some plums. Matty thought how intolerably dull her evening would be. She reflected on the pleasures of the Jenkinses' tea-party; she thought it would be nice, more than nice, to shake hands again with Mr. Gus. Why shouldn't she go? What was to prevent her? Only her mother's whim. Only the doctor's orders. But both doctor and mother were now far away. She would go, she would defy them both.

Slipping out of bed she flew across the room and drew the bolt of the door. Then she began to dress in quick and nervous haste. She put on her daintiest shoes, and open-work stockings. She arranged her limp hair with care, and finally she donned the gorgeous shot-silk.

The few days in bed had taken away some of her burnt appearance, and slightly moderated her high color. She looked really almost nice as she skipped to the door, and showed herself to her astonished sisters.

"I'm coming, too," she said.

"Then you are cured," said Alice. "I'm glad of it, I'm sure. What did I say, Sophy, when I was coming in."

"You said if anyone could mend up Matty it would be Gus," retorted Sophy.

That fickle Matty blushed. It was a way she had.

If you like this book please share to your friends :

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 24. Events Move Apace The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 24. Events Move Apace

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 24. Events Move Apace
CHAPTER XXIV. EVENTS MOVE APACEMrs. Bell was very successful in her purchase of plums. In her way she was a notable housewife, and she returned home about eight o'clock that evening with a large basket of greengages, which were all to be boiled down for preserving the following day. As soon as she entered the house the maid came to meet her. "You take these carefully down and put them in the larder, Hannah," said her mistress. "Be careful you don't knock any of them, or the bloom will go off. Why what's the matter, girl? Is Miss Matty worse?" "Lor,

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 22. Spare The Poor Child's Blushes The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 22. Spare The Poor Child's Blushes

The Honorable Miss: A Story Of An Old-fashioned Town - Chapter 22. Spare The Poor Child's Blushes
CHAPTER XXII. SPARE THE POOR CHILD'S BLUSHESIt was Miss Peters who first spread the news. She heard it whispered at the fishmonger's, spoken of aloud at the butcher's, and confirmed at the baker's. She could doubt this combined testimony no longer, and hurried home to put on her best bonnet with the wallflowers in it, and go forth on a visiting tour. Miss Peters was in the seventh heaven of delight. To have news, and such news, to convey, would make her a welcome inmate that afternoon of every house in Northbury. She was intensely anxious to go out and convey