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A Dark Night's Work Elizabeth Gaskell

Chapter XII

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"I cannot help it, sir; they've quite a different style of hand, and sit all lumpish-like. Now, Miss Ellinor, there -"

"Hush, Dixon," she said, suddenly aware of why the old servant was not popular with his mistress. "I suppose I may be allowed to ask for Dixon's company for an hour or so; we have something to do together before we leave."

The consent given, the two walked away, as by previous appointment, to Hamley churchyard, where he was to point out to her the exact spot where he wished to be buried. Trampling over the long, rank grass, but avoiding passing directly over any of the thickly-strewn graves, he made straight for one spot--a little space of unoccupied ground close by, where Molly, the pretty scullery-maid, lay:

Sacred to the Memory of
Born 1797. Died 1818.
"We part to meet again."

"I put this stone up over her with my first savings," said he, looking at it; and then, pulling out his knife, he began to clean out the letters. "I said then as I would lie by her. And it'll be a comfort to think you'll see me laid here. I trust no one'll be so crabbed as to take a fancy to this 'ere spot of ground."

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Ellinor grasped eagerly at the only pleasure which her money enabled her to give to the old man: and promised him that she would take care and buy the right to that particular piece of ground. This was evidently a gratification Dixon had frequently yearned after; he kept saying, "I'm greatly obleeged to ye, Miss Ellinor. I may say I'm truly obleeged." And when he saw them off by the coach the next day, his last words were, "I cannot justly say how greatly I'm obleeged to you for that matter of the churchyard." It was a much more easy affair to give Miss Monro some additional comforts; she was as cheerful as ever; still working away at her languages in any spare time, but confessing that she was tired of the perpetual teaching in which her life had been spent during the last thirty years. Ellinor was now enabled to set her at liberty from this, and she accepted the kindness from her former pupil with as much simple gratitude as that with which a mother receives a favour from a child. "If Ellinor were but married to Canon Livingstone, I should be happier than I have ever been since my father died," she used to say to herself in the solitude of her bedchamber, for talking aloud had become her wont in the early years of her isolated life as a governess. "And yet," she went on, "I don't know what I should do without her; it is lucky for me that things are not in my hands, for a pretty mess I should make of them, one way or another. Dear! how old Mrs. Cadogan used to hate that word 'mess,' and correct her granddaughters for using it right before my face, when I knew I had said it myself only the moment before! Well! those days are all over now. God be thanked!"

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A Dark Night's Work
Elizabeth Gaskell

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