Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
with delight; asked eagerly if all was well; and being assured in the
affirmative, hastened into the house.
They were stiff with their long and jolting drive from Whitcross,
and chilled with the frosty night air; but their pleasant
countenances expanded to the cheerful firelight. While the driver
and Hannah brought in the boxes, they demanded St. John. At this
moment he advanced from the parlour. They both threw their arms
round his neck at once. He gave each one quiet kiss, said in a low
tone a few words of welcome, stood a while to be talked to, and
then, intimating that he supposed they would soon rejoin him in
the parlour, withdrew there as to a place of refuge.
I had lit their candles to go upstairs, but Diana had first to give
hospitable orders respecting the driver; this done, both followed
me. They were delighted with the renovation and decorations of
their rooms; with the new drapery, and fresh carpets, and rich
tinted china vases: they expressed their gratification ungrudgingly.
I had the pleasure of feeling that my arrangements met their
wishes exactly, and that what I had done added a vivid charm to
their joyous return home.
Sweet was that evening. My cousins, full of exhilaration, were so
eloquent in narrative and comment, that their fluency covered St.
John’s taciturnity: he was sincerely glad to see his sisters; but in
their glow of fervour and flow of joy he could not sympathise. The
event of the day-that is, the return of Diana and Marypleased him;
but the accompaniments of that event, the glad tumult, the
garrulous glee of reception irked him: I saw he wished the calmer
morrow was come. In the very meridian of the night’s enjoyment,
about an hour after tea, a rap was heard at the door. Hannah
entered with the intimation that ‘a poor lad was come, at that
unlikely time, to fetch Mr. Rivers to see his mother, who was
drawing away.’ ‘Where does she live, Hannah?’ ‘Clear up at
Whitcross Brow, almost four miles off, and moor and moss all the
way.’ ‘Tell him I will go.’ ‘I’m sure, sir, you had better not. It’s the
worst road to travel after dark that can be: there’s no track at all
over the bog. And then it is such a bitter night-the keenest wind
you ever felt. You had better send word, sir, that you will be there
in the morning.’ But he was already in the passage, putting on his
cloak; and without one objection, one murmur, he departed. It was
then nine o’clock: he did not return till midnight. Starved and tired
enough he was: but he looked happier than when he set out. He
had performed an act of duty; made an exertion; felt his own
strength to do and deny, and was on better terms with himself.
I am afraid the whole of the ensuing week tried his patience. It was
Christmas week: we took to no settled employment, but spent it in