Presently Ruth read "accruing."
"That was the second sixpence. Four sixpences it were in all, besides six-and-eightpence as we bargained at first, and three-and-fourpence parchment. There! that's what I call a will; witnessed, according to law, and all. Master Thurstan will be prettily taken in when I die, and he finds all his extra wage left back to him. But it will teach him it's not so easy as he thinks for, to make a woman give up her way.
The time was now drawing near when little Leonard might be weaned--the time appointed by all three for Ruth to endeavour to support herself in some way more or less independent of Mr. and Miss Benson. This prospect dwelt much in all of their minds, and was in each shaded with some degree of perplexity; but they none of them spoke of it, for fear of accelerating the event. If they had felt clear and determined as to the best course to be pursued, they were none of them deficient in courage to commence upon that course at once. Miss Benson would, perhaps, have objected the most to any alteration in their present daily mode of life; but that was because she had the habit of speaking out her thoughts as they arose, and she particularly disliked and dreaded change. Besides this, she had felt her heart open out, and warm towards the little helpless child, in a strong and powerful manner. Nature had intended her warm instincts to find vent in a mother's duties; her heart had yearned after children, and made her restless in her childless state, without her well knowing why; but now, the delight she experienced in tending, nursing, and contriving for the little boy,--even contriving to the point of sacrificing many of her cherished whims,--made her happy, and satisfied, and peaceful. It was more difficult to sacrifice her whims than her comforts; but all had been given up when and where required by the sweet lordly baby, who reigned paramount in his very helplessness.
From some cause or other, an exchange of ministers for one Sunday was to be effected with a neighbouring congregation, and Mr. Benson went on a short absence from home. When he returned on Monday, he was met at the house-door by his sister, who had evidently been looking out for him for some time. She stepped out to greet him.
"Don't hurry yourself, Thurstan! all's well; only I wanted to tell you something. Don't fidget yourself--baby is quite well, bless him! It's only good news. Come into your room, and let me talk a little quietly with you."
She drew him into his study, which was near the outer door, and then she took off his coat, and put his carpet-bag in a corner, and wheeled a chair to the fire, before she would begin.
"Well, now! to think how often things fall out just as we want them, Thurstan! Have not you often wondered what was to be done with Ruth when the time came at which we promised her she should earn her living? I am sure you have, because I have so often thought about it myself. And yet I never dared to speak out my fear because that seemed giving it a shape. And now Mr. Bradshaw has put all to rights. He invited Mr. Jackson to dinner yesterday, just as we were going into chapel; and then he turned to me and asked me if I would come to tea-- straight from afternoon chapel, because Mrs. Bradshaw wanted to speak to me. He made it very clear I was not to bring Ruth; and, indeed, she was only too happy to stay at home with baby. And so I went; and Mrs. Bradshaw took me into her bedroom, and shut the doors, and said Mr. Bradshaw had told her, that he did not like Jemima being so much confined with the younger ones while they were at their lessons, and that he wanted some one above a nurse-maid to sit with them while their masters were there--some one who would see about their learning their lessons, and who would walk out with them; a sort of nursery governess, I think she meant, though she did not say so; and Mr. Bradshaw (for, of course, I saw his thoughts and words constantly peeping out, though he had told her to speak to me) believed that our Ruth would be the very person. Now, Thurstan, don't look so surprised, as if she had never come into your head! I am sure I saw what Mrs. Bradshaw was driving at, long before she came to the point; and I could scarcely keep from smiling, and saying, 'We'd jump at the proposal'--long before I ought to have known anything about it."
"Oh, I wonder what we ought to do!" said Mr. Benson. "Or, rather, I believe I see what we ought to do, if I durst but do it."
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