It turned out, however, that the signals in question were merely the reflections of a harmless though charmingly variegated parrot which was the zealous old dame's sole and faithful companion.
On the great stair she encountered M. Froumois, the Intendant's valet, a favorite gossip of the dame's, who used to invite him into her snug parlor, where she regaled him with tea and cake, or, if late in the evening, with wine and nipperkins of Cognac, while he poured into her ear stories of the gay life of Paris and the bonnes fortunes of himself and master for the valet in plush would have disdained being less successful among the maids in the servants' hall than his master in velvet in the boudoirs of their mistresses.
Lady Vernon soon gave Manners a hint that his visit to Haddon might terminate at any time he chose; but, although wounded in spirit by her words, he was in no great hurry to depart from Dorothy's side, and Sir George, eager to make amends for his dame's shortcomings, and ashamed that the traditional hospitality of his mansion should be so roughly contradicted while he was the lord of Haddon, appeared most anxious to prolong the visit, and endeavoured to make the enjoyment of his guest as complete as it could possibly be, the circumstances being duly considered.
Dame Webber resumed her knitting to hide her distress, which betrayed itself, however, in a pellucid tear, that trickled silently down and hung at the end of her peaked nose; while the cat, the only unconcerned member of the family, played with the good dame's ball of worsted, as it rolled about the floor.
The children of the poor were either not educated, or picked up their letters at some charity school or such a country dame's school as is described by Shenstone. A curious proof, however, of rising interest in the question is given by the Sunday Schools movement at the end of the century.
"The only Kano, the only Kano," mused the acolyte over his tea. "So I said, young sir. Is it that your hearing is honorably non-existent?" "Then I presume he is without a son," said the priest as if to himself, and stirred the surmise into his rice with the two long wooden chopsticks Mata had provided. The old dame's muscles worked, but she kept silence.
I could taste a glass of your dame's aqua mirabilis." "I will fetch it," said Ned, giving a nod; and his back was no sooner turned, than the cook walked near the table where Lord Glenvarloch was seated, and regarding him with a look of significance, where more was meant than met the ear, said, "You are a stranger in Greenwich, sir.
To what extent she benefited by the good dame's teaching will appear later, but at any rate she was fond of reading a taste sufficiently remarkable in a girl of her day.
She chafed the flaccid wrists, the temples, the veins about his ears, and then, leaning over, blew on the heavy lids. "Umè-ko, my wife, my wife," he whispered, and tried to smile. A wave of pity swept from the old dame's mind the last barrier of mistrust. "Yes, Master, here is Umè's nurse," she said in soothing tones. "Not Umè-ko, she has gone away from us, but the poor old nurse who loves her.
His letter concluded: 'I am in a small Surrey village over a baker's shop, rent eight shillings per week, a dame's infant school opposite my window, miles of firwood, heath, and bracken openings, for the winged or the nested fancies. Love Nature, she makes you a lord of her boundless, off any ten square feet of common earth. I go through my illusions and come always back on that good truth.