Put Yourself in His Place - novelonlinefull.com
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Then he washed his face and hands, and made himself dry and glowing; let down his sleeves, and served them some Yorkshire pie, and bread, and salt, and stirred a little sugar into the wine, and poured it into the saucers.
"Now eat a bit, both of you, before you go."
Mr. Coventry responded at once to the invitation.
But Grace said, timidly, "Yes, if you will eat with us."
"No, no," said he. "I've not been perished with snow, nor rolled in a river."
Grace hesitated still; but Coventry attacked the pie directly. It was delicious. "By Jove, sir," said he, "you are the prince of blacksmiths."
"Blacksmiths!" said Grace, coloring high. But Little only smiled satirically.
Grace, who was really faint with hunger, now ate a little; and then the host made her sip some wine.
The food and wine did Mr. Coventry so much good, that he began to recover his superiority, and expressed his obligations to Henry in a tone which was natural, and not meant to be offensive; but yet, it was so, under all the circ.u.mstances: there was an underlying tone of condescension, it made Grace fear he would offer Henry his purse at leaving.
Henry himself writhed under it; but said nothing. Grace, however, saw his ire, his mortification, and his jealousy in his face, and that irritated her; but she did not choose to show either of the men how much it angered her.
She was in a most trying situation, and all the woman's wit and tact were keenly on their guard.
What she did was this; she did not utter one word of remonstrance, but she addressed most of her remarks to Mr. Little; and, though the remarks were nothing in themselves, she contrived to throw profound respect into them. Indeed, she went beyond respect. She took the tone of an inferior addressing a superior.
This was nicely calculated to soothe Henry, and also to make Coventry, who was a man of tact, change his own manner.
Nor was it altogether without that effect. But then it annoyed Coventry, and made him wish to end it.
After a while he said, "My dear Grace, it can't be far from Raby Hall. I think you had better let me take you home at once."
Grace colored high, and bit her lip.
Henry was green with jealous anguish.
"Are you quite recovered yourself?" said Grace, demurely, to Mr.
"Quite; thanks to this good fellow's hospitality."
"Then WOULD you mind going to Raby, and sending some people for me? I really feel hardly equal to fresh exertion just yet."
This proposal brought a flush of pleasure to Henry's cheek, and mortified Mr. Coventry cruelly in his turn.
"What, go and leave you here? Surely you can not be serious."
"Oh, I don't wish you to leave me. Only you seemed in a hurry."
Henry was miserable again.
Coventry did not let well alone, he alluded delicately but tenderly to what had pa.s.sed between them, and said he could not bear her out of his sight until she was safe at Raby. The words and the tone were those of a lover, and Henry was in agony: thereupon Grace laughed it off, "Not bear me out of your sight!" said she. "Why, you ran away from me, and tumbled into the river. Ha! ha! ha! And" (very seriously) "we should both be in another world but for Mr. Little."
"You are very cruel," said Mr. Coventry. "When you gave up in despair, I ran for help. You punish me for failure; punish me savagely."
"Yes, I was ungenerous," said Grace. "Forgive me." But she said it rather coolly, and not with a very penitent air.
She added an explanation more calculated to please Henry than him. "Your gallantry is always graceful; and it is charming, in a drawing-room; but in this wild place, and just after escaping the grave, let us talk like sensible people. If you and I set out for Raby Hall alone, we shall lose our way again, and perish, to a certainty. But I think Mr. Little must know the way to Raby Hall."
"Oh, then," said Coventry, catching at her idea, "perhaps Mr. Little would add to the great obligation, under which he has laid us both, by going to Raby Hall and sending a.s.sistance hither."
"I can't do that," said Henry, roughly.
"And that is not at all what I was going to propose," said Grace, quietly. "But perhaps you would be so good as to go with us to Raby Hall? Then I should feel safe; and I want Mr. Raby to thank you, for I feel how cold and unmeaning all I have said to you is; I seem to have no words." Her voice faltered, and her sweet eyes filled.
"Miss Carden," said the young man, gravely, "I can't do that. Mr. Raby is no friend of mine, and he is a bigoted old man, who would turn me out of this place if he knew. Come, now, when you talk about grat.i.tude to me for not letting you be starved to death, you make me blush. Is there a man in the world that wouldn't? But this I do say; it would be rather hard if you two were to go away, and cut my throat in return; and, if you open your mouths ever so little, either of you, you WILL cut my throat. Why, ask yourselves, have I set up my workshop in such a place as this--by choice? It takes a stout heart to work here, I can tell you, and a stout heart to sleep here over dead bones."
"I see it all. The Trades Unions!"
"That is it. So, now, there are only two ways. You must promise me never to breathe a word to any living soul, or I must give up my livelihood, and leave the country."
"What can not you trust me? Oh, Mr. Little!"
"No, no; it's this gentleman. He is a stranger to me, you know; and, you see, my life may be at stake, as well as my means."
"Mr. Coventry is a gentleman, and a man of honor. He is incapable of betraying you."
"I should hope so," said Coventry. "I pledge you the word of a gentleman I will never let any human creature know that you are working here."
"Give me your hand on that, if you please."
Coventry gave him his hand with warmth and evident sincerity.
Young Little was rea.s.sured. "Come," said he, "I feel I can trust you both. And, sir, Miss Carden will tell you what happened to me in Cheetham's works; and then you will understand what I risk upon your honor."
"I accept the responsibility; and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to show you how deeply I feel indebted to you."
"That is square enough. Well, now my mind is at ease about that, I'll tell you what I'll do; I won't take you quite to Raby Hall; but I'll take you so near to it, you can't miss it; and then I'll go back to my work."
He sighed deeply at the lonely prospect, and Grace heard him.
"Come," said he, almost violently, and led the way out of church. But he stayed behind to lock the door, and then joined them.
They all three went together, Grace in the middle.
There was now but little snow falling, and the air was not so thick; but it was most laborious walking, and soon Mr. Coventry, who was stiff and in pain, fell a little behind, and groaned as he hobbled on.
Grace whispered to Henry: "Be generous. He has hurt himself so."
This made Henry groan in return. But he said nothing. He just turned back to Coventry--"You can't get on without help, sir; lean on me."