Hide and Seek, by Wilkie Collins

Chapter VI. Madonna Goes to London.

The clown’s wife had sat very pale and very quiet under the whole overwhelming torrent of Mr. Blyth’s apostrophes, exclamations, and entreaties. She seemed quite unable to speak, after he was fairly gone; and only looked round in a bewildered manner at the rector, with fear as well as amazement expressed vividly in her hearty, healthy face.

“Pray compose yourself, Mrs. Peckover,” said Doctor Joyce; “and kindly give me your best attention to what I am about to say. Let me beg you, in the first place, to excuse Mr. Blyth’s odd behavior, which I see has startled and astonished you. But, however wildly he may talk, I assure you he means honorably and truthfully in all that he says. You will understand this better if you will let me temperately explain to you the proposal, which he has just made so abruptly and confusedly in his own words.”

“Proposal, sir!” exclaimed Mrs. Peckover faintly, looking more frightened than ever — “Proposal! Oh, sir! you don’t mean to say that you’re going to ask me to part from little Mary?”

“I will ask you to do nothing that your own good sense and kind heart may not approve,” answered the rector. “In plain terms then, and not to waste time by useless words of preface, my friend, Mr. Blyth, feels such admiration for your little Mary, and such a desire to help her, as far as may be, in her great misfortune, that he is willing and eager to make her future prospects in life his own peculiar care, by adopting her as his daughter. This offer, though coming, as I am aware, from a perfect stranger, can hardly astonish you, I think, if you reflect on the unusually strong claims which the child has to the compassion and kindness of all her fellow-creatures. Other strangers, as you have told us, have shown the deepest interest in her on many occasions. It is not therefore at all wonderful that a gentleman, whose Christian integrity of motive I have had opportunities of testing during a friendship of nearly twenty years, should prove the sincerity of his sympathy for the poor child, by such a proposal as I have now communicated to you.”

“Don’t ask me to say yes to it, sir!” pleaded Mrs. Peckover, with tears in her eyes. “Don’t ask me to do that! Anything else to prove my gratitude for your kindness to us; but how can I part from my own little Mary? You can’t have the heart to ask it of me!”

“I have the heart, Mrs. Peckover, to feel deeply for your distress at the idea of parting from the child; but, for her sake, I must again ask you to control your feelings. And, more than that, I must appeal to you by your love to her, to grant a fair hearing to the petition which I now make on Mr. Blyth’s behalf.”

“I would, indeed, if I could, sir, — but it’s just because I love her so, that I can’t! Besides, as you yourself said, he’s a perfect stranger.”

“I readily admit the force of that objection on your part, Mrs. Peckover; but let me remind you, that I vouch for the uprightness of his character, and his fitness to be trusted with the child, after twenty years’ experience of him. You may answer to that, that I am a stranger, too; and I can only ask you, in return, frankly to accept my character and position as the best proofs I can offer you that I am not unworthy of your confidence. If you placed little Mary for instruction (as you well might) in an asylum for the deaf and dumb, you would be obliged to put implicit trust in the authorities of that asylum, on much the same grounds as those I now advance to justify you in putting trust in me.”

“Oh, sir! don’t think — pray don’t think I am unwilling to trust you — so kind and good as you have been to us to-day — and a clergyman too — I should be ashamed of myself, if I could doubt — ”

“Let me tell you, plainly and candidly, what advantages to the child Mr. Blyth’s proposal holds out. He has no family of his own, and his wife is, as he has hinted to you, an invalid for life. If you could only see the gentleness and sweet patience with which she bears her affliction, you would acknowledge that little Mary could appeal for an affectionate welcome to no kinder heart than Mrs. Blyth’s. I assure you most seriously, that the only danger I fear for the child in my friend’s house, is that she would be spoilt by excessive indulgence. Though by no means a rich man, Mr. Blyth is in an independent position, and can offer her all the comforts of life. In one word, the home to which he is ready to take her, is a home of love and happiness and security, in the best and purest meaning of those words.”

“Don’t say any more, sir! Don’t break my heart by making me part with her!”

“You will live, Mrs. Peckover, to thank me for trying your fortitude as I try it now. Hear me a little longer, while I tell you what terms Mr. Blyth proposes. He is not only willing but anxious — if you give the child into his charge — that you should have access to her whenever you like. He will leave his address in London with you. He desires, from motives alike honorable to you and to himself, to defray your traveling expenses whenever you wish to see the child. He will always acknowledge your prior right to her affection and her duty. He will offer her every facility in his power for constantly corresponding with you; and if the life she leads in his house be, even in the slightest respect, distasteful to her, he pledges himself to give her up to you again — if you and she desire it — at any sacrifice of his own wishes and his own feelings. These are the terms he proposes, Mrs. Peckover, and I can most solemnly assure you on my honor as a clergyman and a gentleman, that he will hold sacred the strict performance of all and each of these conditions, exactly as I have stated them.”

“I ought to let her go, sir — I know I ought to show how grateful I am for Mr. Blyth’s generosity by letting her go — but how can I, after all the long time she’s been like my own child to me? Oh, ma’am, say a word for me! — I seem so selfish for not giving her up — say a word for me!”

“Will you let me say a word for little Mary, instead?” rejoined Mrs. Joyce. “Will you let me remind you that Mr. Blyth’s proposal offers her a secure protection against that inhuman wretch who has ill-used her already, and who may often ill-use her again, in spite of everything you can do to prevent him. Pray think of that, Mrs. Peckover — pray do!”

Poor Mrs. Peckover showed that she thought of it bitterly enough, by a fresh burst of tears.

The rector poured out a glass of water, and gave it to her. “Do not think us inconsiderate or unfeeling,” he said, “in pressing Mr. Blyth’s offer on you so perseveringly. Only reflect on Mary’s position, if she remains in the circus as she grows up! Would all your watchful kindness be sufficient to shield her against dangers to which I hardly dare allude? — against wickedness which would take advantage of her defenselessness, her innocence, and even her misfortune? Consider all that Mr. Blyth’s proposal promises for her future life; for the sacred preservation of her purity of heart and mind. Look forward to the day when little Mary will have gown up to be a young woman; and I will answer, Mrs. Peckover, for your doing full justice to the importance of my friend’s offer.”

“I know it’s all true, sir; I know I’m an ungrateful, selfish wretch — but only give me a little time to think; a little time longer to be with the poor darling that I love like my own child!”

Doctor Joyce was just drawing his chair closer to Mrs. Peckover before he answered, when the door opened, and the respectable Vance softly entered the room.

“What do you want here?” said the rector, a little irritably. “Didn’t I tell you not to come in again till I rang for you?’

“I beg your pardon, sir,” answered Vance, casting rather a malicious look at the clown’s wife as he closed the door behind him — “but there’s a person waiting in the hall, who says he comes on important business, and must see you directly.”

“Who is he? What’s his name?”

“He says his name is Jubber, if you please, sir.”

Mrs. Peckover started from her chair with a scream. “Don’t — pray, for mercy’s sake, sir, don’t let him into the garden where Mary is!” she gasped, clutching Doctor Joyce by the arm in the extremity of her terror. “He’s found us out, and come here in one of his dreadful passions! He cares for nothing and for nobody, sir: he’s bad enough to ill-treat her even before you. What am I to do? Oh, good gracious heavens! what am I to do?”

“Leave everything to me, and sit down again,” said the rector kindly. Then, turning to Vance, he added:— “Show Mr. Jubber into the cloak-room, and say I will be with him directly.”

“Now, Mrs. Peckover,” continued Doctor Joyce, in the most perfectly composed manner, “before I see this man (whose business I can guess at) I have three important questions to ask of you. In the first place, were you not a witness, last night, of his cruel ill-usage of that poor child? (Mr. Blyth told me of it.) The fellow actually beat her, did he not?”

“Oh, indeed he did, sir! — beat her most cruelly with a cane.”

“And you saw it all yourself?”

“I did, sir. He’d have used her worse, if I hadn’t been by to prevent him.”

“Very well. Now tell me if you or your husband have signed any agreement — any papers, I mean, giving this man a right to claim the child as one of his performers?”

Me sign an agreement, sir! I never did such a thing in all my life. Jubber would think himself insulted, if you only talked of his signing an agreement with such as me or Jemmy.”

“Better and better. Now, my third question refers to little Mary herself. I will undertake to put it out of this blackguard’s power ever to lay a finger on her again — but I can only do so on one condition, which it rests entirely with you to grant.”

“I’ll do anything to save her, sir; I will indeed.”

“The condition is that you consent to Mr. Blyth’s proposal; for I can only ensure the child’s safety on those terms.”

“Then, sir, I consent to it,” said Mrs. Peckover, speaking with a sudden firmness of tone and manner which almost startled Mrs. Joyce, who stood by listening anxiously. “I consent to it; for I should be the vilest wretch in the world, if I could say ‘no’ at such a time as this. I will trust my precious darling treasure to you, sir, and to Mr. Blyth; from this moment. God bless her, and comfort me! for I want comfort badly enough. Oh, Mary! Mary! my own little Mary! to think of you and me ever being parted like this!” The poor woman turned towards the garden as she pronounced those words; all her fortitude forsook her in an instant; and she sank back in her chair, sobbing bitterly.

“Take her out into the shrubbery where the children are, as soon as she recovers a little,” whispered the rector to his wife, as he opened the dining-room door.

Though Mr. Jubber presented, to all appearance, the most scoundrelly aspect that humanity can assume, when he was clothed in his evening uniform, and illuminated by his own circus lamplight, he nevertheless reached an infinitely loftier climax of blackguard perfection when he was arrayed in his private costume, and was submitted to the tremendous ordeal of pure daylight. The most monstrous ape that could be picked from the cages of the Zoological Gardens would have gained by comparison with him as he now appeared, standing in the Rectory cloak-room, with his debauched bloodshot eyes staring grimly contemptuous all about him, with his yellow flabby throat exposed by a turn-down collar and a light blue neck-tie, with the rouge still smeared over his gross unhealthy cheeks, with his mangy shirt-front bespattered with bad embroidery and false jewelry that had not even the politic decency to keep itself clean. He had his hat on, and was sulkily running his dirty fingers through the greasy black ringlets that flowed over his coat-collar, when Doctor Joyce entered the cloak-room.

“You wished to speak with me?” said the rector, not sitting down himself, and not asking Mr. Jubber to sit down.

“Oh! you’re Doctor Joyce?” said the fellow, assuming his most insolent familiarity of manner directly.

“That is my name,” said Dr. Joyce very quietly. “Will you have the goodness to state your business with me immediately, and in the fewest possible words?”

“Hullo! You take that tone with me, do you?” said Jubber, setting his arms akimbo, and tapping his foot fiercely on the floor; “you’re trying to come Tommy Grand over me already, are you? Very good! I’m the man to give you change in your own coin — so here goes! What do you mean by enticing away my Mysterious Foundling? What do you mean by this private swindle of talent that belongs to my circus?”

“You had better proceed a little,” said the rector, more quietly than before. “Thus far I understand nothing whatever, except that you wish to behave offensively to me; which, in a person of your appearance, is, I assure you, of not the slightest consequence. You had much better save time by stating what you have to say in plain words.”

“You want plain words — eh?” cried Jubber, losing his temper. “Then, by God, you shall have them, and plain enough!”

“Stop a minute,” said Doctor Joyce. “If you use oaths in my presence again, I shall ring for my servant, and order him to show you out of the house.”

“You will?”

“I will, most certainly.”

There was a moment’s pause, and the blackguard and the gentleman looked one another straight in the face. It was the old, invariable struggle, between the quiet firmness of good breeding, and the savage obstinacy of bad; and it ended in the old, invariable way. The blackguard flinched first.

“If your servant lays a finger on me, I’ll thrash him within an inch of his life,” said Jubber, looking towards the door, and scowling as he looked. “But that’s not the point, just now — the point is, that I charge you with getting my deaf and dumb girl into your house, to perform before you on the sly. If you’re too virtuous to come to my circus — and better than you have been there — you ought to have paid the proper price for a private performance. What do you mean by treating a public servant, like me, with your infernal aristocratic looks, as if I was dirt under your feet, after such shabby doings as you’ve been guilty of — eh?”

“May I ask how you know that the child you refer to has been at my house to-day?” asked Doctor Joyce, without taking the slightest notice of Mr. Jubber’s indignation.

“One of my people saw that swindling hypocrite of a Peckover taking her in, and told me of it when I missed them at dinner. There! that’s good evidence, I rather think! Deny it if you can.”

“I have not the slightest intention of denying it. The child is now in my house.”

“And has gone through all her performances, of course? Ah! shabby! shabby! I should be ashamed of myself, if I’d tried to do a man out of his rights like that.”

“I am most unaffectedly rejoiced to hear that you are capable, under any circumstances, of being ashamed of yourself at all,” rejoined the rector. “The child, however, has gone through no performances here, not having been sent for with any such purpose as you suppose. But, as you said just now, that’s not the point. Pray, why did you speak of the little girl, a moment ago, as your child?”

“Because she’s one of my performers, of course. But, come! I’ve had enough of this; I can’t stop talking here all day; I want the child — so just deliver her up at once, will you? — and turn out Peck as soon as you like after. I’ll cure them both of ever doing this sort of thing again! I’ll make them stick tight to the circus for the future! I’ll show them — ”

“You would be employing your time much more usefully,” said Doctor Joyce, “if you occupied it in altering the bills of your performance, so as to inform the public that the deaf and dumb child will not appear before them again.”

“Not appear again? — not appear to-night in my circus? Why, hang me! if I don’t think you’re trying to be funny all of a sudden! Alter my bills — eh? Not bad! Upon my soul, not at all bad for a parson! Give us another joke, sir; I’m all attention.” And Mr. Jubber put his hand to his ear, grinning in a perfect fury of sarcasm.

“I am quite in earnest,” said the rector. “A friend of mine has adopted the child, and will take her home with him tomorrow morning. Mrs. Peckover (the only person who has any right to exercise control over her) has consented to this arrangement. If your business here was to take the child back to your circus, it is right to inform you that she will not leave my house till she goes to London to-morrow with my friend.”

“And you think I’m the sort of man to stand this? — and give up the child? — and alter the bills? — and lose money? — and be as mild as mother’s milk all the time? Oh! yes, of course! I’m so devilish fond of you and your friend! You’re such nice men, you can make me do anything! Damn all this jabber and nonsense!” roared the ruffian, passing suddenly from insolence to fury, and striking his fist on the table. “Give me the child at once, do you hear? Give her up, I say. I won’t leave the house till I’ve got her!”

Just as Mr. Jubber swore for the second time, Doctor Joyce rang the bell. “I told you what I should do, if you used oaths in my presence again,” said the rector.

“And I told you I’d kill the servant, if he laid a finger on me,” said Jubber, knocking his hat firmly on his head, and tucking up his cuffs.

Vance appeared at the door, much less pompous than usual and displaying an interesting paleness of complexion. Jubber spat into the palm of each of his hands, and clenched his fists.

“Have you done dinner down stairs?” asked Doctor Joyce, reddening a little, but still very quiet.

“Yes, sir,” answered Vance, in a remarkably conciliating voice.

“Tell James to go to the constable, and say I want him; and let the gardener wait with you outside there in the hall.”

“Now,” said the rector, shutting the door again after issuing these orders, and placing himself once more face to face with Mr. Jubber. “Now I have a last word or two to say, which I recommend you to hear quietly. In the first place, you have no right over the child whatever; for I happen to know that you are without a signed agreement promising you her services. (You had better hear me out for your own sake.) You have no legal right, I say, to control the child in any manner. She is a perfectly free agent, so far as you are concerned. — Yes! yes! you deny it, of course! I have only to say that, if you attempt to back that denial by still asserting your claim to her, and making a disturbance in my house, as sure as you stand there, I’ll ruin you in Rubbleford and in all the country round. (It’s no use laughing — I can do it!) You beat the child in the vilest manner last night. I am a magistrate; and I have my prosecutor and my witness of the assault ready whenever I choose to call them. I can fine or imprison you, which I please. You know the public; you know what they think of people who ill-use helpless children. If you appeared in that character before me, the Rubbleford paper would report it; and, so far as the interests of your circus are concerned, you would be a ruined man in this part of the country — you would, you know it! Now I will spare you this — not from any tenderness towards you — on condition that you take yourself off quietly, and never let us hear from you again. I strongly advise you to go at once; for if you wait till the constable comes, I will not answer for it that my sense of duty may not force me into giving you into custody.” With which words Doctor Joyce threw open the door, and pointed to the hall.

Throughout the delivery of this speech, violent indignation, ungovernable surprise, abject terror, and impotent rage ravaged by turns the breast of Mr. Jubber. He stamped about the room, and uttered fragments of oaths, but did not otherwise interrupt Dr. Joyce, while that gentleman was speaking to him. When the rector had done, the fellow had his insolent answer ready directly. To do him justice, he was consistent, if he was nothing else — he was bully and blackguard to the very last.

“Magistrate or parson,” he cried, snapping his fingers, “I don’t care a damn for you in either capacity. You keep the child here at your peril! I’ll go to the first lawyer in Rubbleford, and bring an action against you. I’ll show you a little legal law! You ruin me indeed! I can prove that I only thrashed the little toad, the nasty deaf idiot, because she deserved it. I’ll be even with you! I’ll have the child back wherever you take her to. I’ll show you a little legal law! (Here he stepped to the hall door.) I’ll be even with you, damme! I’ll charge you with setting on your menial servants to assault me. (Here he looked fiercely at the gardener, a freckled Scotch giant of six feet three, and instantly descended five steps.) Lay a finger on me, if you dare! I’m going straight from this house to the lawyer’s. I’m a free Englishman, and I’ll have my rights and my legal law! I’ll bring my action! I’ll ruin you! I’ll strip your gown off your back I’ll stop your mouth in your own pulpit!” Here he strutted into the front garden; his words grew indistinct, and his gross voice became gradually less and less audible. The coachman at the outer gate saw the last of him, and reported that he made his exit striking viciously at the flowers with his cane, and swearing that he would ruin the rector with “legal law.”

After leaving certain directions with his servants, in the very improbable event of Mr. Jubber’s return, Doctor Joyce repaired immediately to his dining-room. No one was there, so he went on into the garden.

Here he found the family and the visitors all assembled together; but a great change had passed over the whole party during his absence. Mr. Blyth, on being informed of the result of the rector’s conversation with Mrs. Peckover, acted with his usual impetuosity and utter want of discretion; writing down delightedly on little Mary’s slate, without the slightest previous preparation or coaxing, that she was to go home with him to-morrow, and be as happy as the day was long, all the rest of her life. The result of this incautious method of proceeding was that the child became excessively frightened, and ran away from everybody to take refuge with Mrs. Peckover. She was still crying, and holding tight by the good woman’s gown with both hands; and Valentine was still loudly declaring to everybody that he loved her all the better for showing such faithful affection to her earliest and best friend, when the rector joined the party under the coolly-murmuring trees.

Doctor Joyce spoke but briefly of his interview with Mr. Jubber, concealing much that had passed at it, and making very light of the threats which the fellow had uttered on his departure. Mrs. Peckover, whose self-possession seemed in imminent danger of being overthrown by little Mary’s mute demonstrations of affection, listened anxiously to every word the Doctor uttered; and, as soon as he had done, said that she must go back to the circus directly, and tell her husband the truth about all that had occurred, as a necessary set-off against the slanders that were sure to be spoken against her by Mr. Jubber.

“Oh, never mind me, ma’am!” she said, in answer to the apprehensions expressed by Mrs. Joyce about her reception when she got to the circus. “The dear child’s safe; and that’s all I care about. I’m big enough and strong enough to take my own part; and Jemmy, he’s always by to help me when I can’t. May I come back, if you please, sir, this evening; and say — and say? — ”

She would have added, “and say good-bye;” but the thoughts which now gathered round that one word, made it too hard to utter. She silently curtseyed her thanks for the warm invitation that was given to her to return; stooped down to the child; and, kissing her, wrote on the slate, “I shall be back, dear, in the evening, at seven o’clock” — then disengaged the little hands that still held fast by her gown, and hurried from the garden, without once venturing to look behind her as she crossed the sunny lawn.

Mrs. Joyce, and the young ladies, and the rector, all tried their best to console little Mary; and all failed. She resolutely, though very gently, resisted them; walking away into corners by herself, and looking constantly at her slate, as if she could only find comfort in reading the few words which Mrs. Peckover had written on it. At last, Mr. Blyth took her up on his knee. She struggled to get away, for a moment — then looked intently in his face; and, sighing very mournfully, laid her head down on his shoulder. There was a world of promise for the future success of Valentine’s affectionate project in that simple action, and in the preference which it showed.

The day wore on quietly — evening came — seven o’clock struck — then half-past — then eight — and Mrs. Peckover never appeared. Doctor Joyce grew uneasy, and sent Vance to the circus to get some news of her.

It was again Mr. Blyth — and Mr. Blyth only — who succeeded in partially quieting little Mary under the heavy disappointment of not seeing Mrs. Peckover at the appointed time. The child had been restless at first, and had wanted to go to the circus. Finding that they tenderly, but firmly, detained her at the Rectory, she wept bitterly — wept so long, that at last she fairly cried herself asleep in Valentine’s arms. He sat anxiously supporting her with a patience that nothing could tire. The sunset rays, which he had at first carefully kept from falling on her face, vanished from the horizon; the quiet luster of twilight overspread the sky — and still he refused to let her be taken from him; and said he would sit as he was all through the night rather than let her be disturbed.

Vance came back, and brought word that Mrs. Peckover would follow him in half an hour. They had given her some work to do at the circus, which she was obliged to finish before she could return to the Rectory.

Having delivered this message, Vance next produced a handbill, which he said was being widely circulated all over Rubbleford; and which proved to be the composition of Mr. Jubber himself. That ingenious ruffian, having doubtless discovered that “legal law” was powerless to help him to his revenge, and that it would be his wisest proceeding to keep clear of Doctor Joyce in the rectory’s magisterial capacity, was now artfully attempting to turn the loss of the child to his own profit, by dint of prompt lying in his favorite large type, sprinkled with red letters. He informed the public, through the medium of his hand-bills, that the father of the Mysterious Foundling had been “most providentially” discovered, and that he (Mr. Jubber) had given the child up immediately, without a thought of what he might personally suffer, in pocket as well as in mind, by his generosity. After this, he appealed confidently to the sympathy of people of every degree, and of “fond parents” especially, to compensate him by flocking in crowds to the circus; adding, that if additional stimulus were wanting to urge the public into “rallying round the Ring,” he was prepared to administer it forthwith, in the shape of the smallest dwarf in the world, for whose services he was then in treaty, and whose first appearance before a Rubbleford audience would certainly take place in the course of a few days.

Such was Mr. Jubber’s ingenious contrivance for turning to good pecuniary account the ignominious defeat which he had suffered at the hands of Dr. Joyce.

After much patient reasoning and many earnest expostulations, Mrs. Joyce at last succeeded in persuading Mr. Blyth that he might carry little Mary upstairs to her bed, without any danger of awakening her. The moonbeams were streaming through the windows over the broad, old-fashioned landings of the rectory stair-case, and bathed the child’s sleeping face in their lovely light, as Valentine carefully bore her in his own arms to her bedroom. “Oh!” he whispered to himself as he paused for an instant where the moon shone clearest on the landing; and looked down on her — “Oh! if my poor Lavvie could only see little Mary now.”

They laid her, still asleep, on the bed, and covered her over lightly with a shawl — then went down stairs again to wait for Mrs. Peckover.

The clown’s wife came in half an hour, as she had promised. They saw sorrow and weariness in her face, as they looked at her. Besides a bundle with the child’s few clothes in it, she brought the hair bracelet and the pocket-handkerchief which had been found on little Mary’s mother.

“Wherever the child goes,” she said, “these two things must go with her.” She addressed Mr. Blyth as she spoke, and gave the hair bracelet and the handkerchief into his own hands.

It seemed rather a relief than a disappointment to Mrs. Peckover to hear that the child was asleep above stairs. All pain of parting would now be spared, on one side at least. She went up to look at her on her bed, and kissed her — but so lightly that little Mary’s sleep was undisturbed by that farewell token of tenderness and love.

“Tell her to write to me, sir,” said poor Mrs. Peckover, holding Valentine’s hand fast, and looking wistfully in his face through her gathering tears. “I shall prize my first letter from her so much, if it’s only a couple of lines. God bless you, sir; and good-bye. It ought to be a comfort to me, and it is, to know that you will be kind to her — I hope I shall get up to London some day, and see her myself. But don’t forget the letter, sir: I shan’t fret so much after her when once I’ve got that!”

She went away, sadly murmuring these last words many times over, while Valentine was trying to cheer and reassure her, as they walked together to the outer gate. Doctor Joyce accompanied them down the front-garden path, and exacted from her a promise to return often to the Rectory, while the circus was at Rubbleford; saying also that he and his family desired her to look on them always as her fast and firm friends in any emergency. Valentine entreated her, over and over again, to remember the terms of their agreement, and to come and judge for herself of the child’s happiness in her new home. She only answered “Don’t forget the letter, sir!” And so they parted.

Early the next morning, Mr. Blyth and little Mary left the Rectory, and started for London by the first coach.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/collins/wilkie/hide_and_seek/book1.6.html

Last updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 21:30