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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter VIII

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"Ah, dear, my blessing, he loves you above everything. It's only he can't a-bear the sight of us, as is but natural. And if he doesn't fancy being alone with you, there's always one as does, and that's a comfort at the worst of times. And don't ye fret about what I said a minute ago. I were put out because measter all but pushed me out of his way this morning, without never a word. But I were an old fool for telling ye. And I've really forgotten why I told Fletcher I'd drag ye a bit about to-day. Th' gardener is beginning for to wonder as you don't want to see th' annuals and bedding-out things as you were so particular about in May. And I thought I'd just have a word wi' ye, and then if you'd let me, we'd go together just once round the flower-garden, just to say you've been, you know, and to give them chaps a bit of praise. You'll only have to look on the beds, my pretty, and it must be done some time. So come along!"

He began to pull resolutely in the direction of the flower-garden. Ellinor bit her lips to keep in the cry of repugnance that rose to them. As Dixon stopped to unlock the door, he said:

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"It's not hardness, nothing like it; I've waited till I heerd you were better; but it's in for a penny in for a pound wi' us all; and folk may talk; and bless your little brave heart, you'll stand a deal for your father's sake, and so will I, though I do feel it above a bit, when he puts out his hand as if to keep me off, and I only going to speak to him about Clipper's knees; though I'll own I had wondered many a day when I was to have the good-morrow master never missed sin' he were a boy till--Well! and now you've seen the beds, and can say they looked mighty pretty, and is done all as you wished; and we're got out again, and breathing fresher air than yon sunbaked hole, with its smelling flowers, not half so wholesome to snuff at as good stable-dung."

So the good man chatted on; not without the purpose of giving Ellinor time to recover herself; and partly also to drown his own cares, which lay heavier on his heart than he could say. But he thought himself rewarded by Ellinor's thanks, and warm pressure of his hard hand as she got out at the front door, and bade him good-by.

The break to her days of weary monotony was the letters she constantly received from Mr. Corbet. And yet here again lurked the sting. He was all astonishment and indignation at Mr. Dunster's disappearance, or rather flight, to America. And now that she was growing stronger, he did not scruple to express curiosity respecting the details, never doubting but that she was perfectly acquainted with much that he wanted to know; although he had too much delicacy to question her on the point which was most important of all in his eyes, namely, how far it had affected Mr. Wilkins's worldly prospects; for the report prevalent in Hamley had reached London, that Mr. Dunster had made away with, or carried off, trust property to a considerable extent, for all which Mr. Wilkins would of course be liable.

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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