Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
old-fashioned windows, never cheerful under any circumstances,
looked very dismal, close shut, and with their blinds always drawn
down. There was a covered way across a little paved court, to an
entrance that was never used; and there was one round staircase
window, at odds with all the rest, and the only one unshaded by a
blind, which had the same unoccupied blank look. I do not remember
that I ever saw a light in all the house. If I had been a casual
passer-by, I should have probably supposed that some childless
person lay dead in it. If I had happily possessed no knowledge of
the place, and had seen it often in that changeless state, I should
have pleased my fancy with many ingenious speculations, I dare say.
As it was, I thought as little of it as I might. But my mind could
not go by it and leave it, as my body did; and it usually awakened
a long train of meditations. Coming before me, on this particular
evening that I mention, mingled with the childish recollections and
later fancies, the ghosts of half-formed hopes, the broken shadows
of disappointments dimly seen and understood, the blending of
experience and imagination, incidental to the occupation with which
my thoughts had been busy, it was more than commonly suggestive.
I fell into a brown study as I walked on, and a voice at my side
made me start.
It was a woman's voice, too. I was not long in recollecting Mrs.
Steerforth's little parlour-maid, who had formerly worn blue
ribbons in her cap. She had taken them out now, to adapt herself,
I suppose, to the altered character of the house; and wore but one
or two disconsolate bows of sober brown.
'If you please, sir, would you have the goodness to walk in, and
speak to Miss Dartle?'
'Has Miss Dartle sent you for me?' I inquired.
'Not tonight, sir, but it's just the same. Miss Dartle saw you
a night or two ago; and I was to sit at work on the staircase, and
when I saw you pass again, to ask you to step in and speak to her.'
I turned back, and inquired of my conductor, as we went along, how
Mrs. Steerforth was. She said her lady was but poorly, and kept
her own room a good deal.
When we arrived at the house, I was directed to Miss Dartle in the
garden, and left to make my presence known to her myself. She was