Chapter XLI: The Clouds grow Darker

The Firm of Girdlestone

The Firm of Girdlestone

When Kate had made a clean breast of all her troubles to the widow Scully, and had secured that good woman’s co-operation, a great weight seemed to have been lifted from her heart, and she sprang from the shed a different woman. It would soon be like a dream, all these dreary weeks in the grim old house. Within a day she was sure that either Tom or the major would find means of communicating with her. The thought made her so happy that the colour stole back into her cheeks, and she sang for very lightness of heart as she made her way back to the Priory.

Mrs. Jorrocks and Rebecca observed the change which had come over her and marvelled at it. Kate attempted to aid the former in her household work, but the old crone refused her assistance and repulsed her harshly. Her maid too answered her curtly when she addressed her, and eyed her in anything but a friendly manner.

“You don’t seem much the worse,” she remarked, “for all the wonderful things you seed in the night.”

“Oh, don’t speak of it,” said Kate. “I am afraid that I have given you a great fright. I was feeling far from well, and I suppose that I must have imagined all about that dreadful monk. Yet, at the time, I assure you that I saw it as plainly as I see you now.”

“What’s that she says?” asked Mrs. Jorrocks, with her hand to her ear.

“She says that she saw a ghost last night as plain as she sees you now.”

“Pack of nonsense!” cried the old woman, rattling the poker in the grate. “I’ve been here afore she came—all alone in the house, too—and I hain’t seen nothing of the sort. When she’s got nothing else to grumble about she pretends as she has seen a ghost.”

“No, no,” the girl said cheerily. “I am not grumbling—indeed I am not.”

“It’s like her contrariness to say so,” old Mrs. Jorrocks cried hoarsely. “She’s always a-contradictin’.”

“You’re not in a good temper to-day,” Kate remarked, and went off to her room, going up the steps two at a time with her old springy footstep.

Rebecca followed her, and noticing the change, interpreted it in her own narrow fashion.

“You seems cheerful enough now,” she said, standing at Kate’s door and looking into her room, with a bitter smile on her lips. “To-morrow is Saturday. That’s what’s the matter with you.”

“To-morrow Saturday!” Kate repeated in astonishment.

“Yes; you know what I mean well enough. It’s no use pretending that you don’t.”

The girl’s manner was so aggressive that Kate was astonished.
“I haven’t the least idea of what you mean,” she said.

“Oh no,” cried Rebecca, with her arms akimbo and a sneer on her face. “She doesn’t know what I mean. She doesn’t know that her young man is coming down on the Saturday. She does not know that Mr. Ezra comes all the way from London on that day just for to see her. It isn’t that that makes you cheerful, is it? Oh, you double face!” The girl’s pretty features were all distorted with malice as she spoke, and her two hands were clenched passionately.

“Rebecca!” cried Kate energetically, “I really think that you are the most complete fool that ever I met in my life. I will trouble you to remember that I am your mistress and you are my servant. How dare you speak to me in such a way? Leave my room this instant!”

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