Chapter 10 | Gone! | The Adventures of Don Lavington

Chapter Ten.

“Speak, woman!” cried Mrs Lavington hoarsely; and she shook little Sally by the arm. “What do you mean?”

“I don’t know, ma’am. I’m in such trouble,” sobbed Sally. “I’ve been a very, very wicked girl—I mean woman. I was always finding fault, and scolding him.”

“Why?” asked Uncle Josiah sternly.

“I don’t know, sir.”

“But he is a quiet industrious man, and I’m sure he is a good husband.”

“Yes, he’s the best of husbands,” sobbed Sally.

“Then why did you scold him?”

“Because I was so wicked, I suppose. I couldn’t help it, sir.”

“But you think he has run away?”

“Yes, sir; I’m sure of it. He said he would some day if I was so cruel, and that seemed to make me more cruel, and—and—he has gone.”

“It is impossible!” said Uncle Josiah. “He must have met with some accident.”

“No, sir, he has run away and left me. He said he would. I saw him go—out of the window, and he took a bundle with him, and—and—what shall I do? What shall I do?”

“Took a bundle?” said Uncle Josiah, starting.

“Yes, sir, and—and I wish I was dead.”

“Silence, you foolish little woman! How dare you wish such a thing? Stop; listen to what I say. Did my nephew Lindon come to the yard last night?”

“No, sir; but him and my Jem were talking together for ever so long in the office, and I couldn’t get Jem away.”

Uncle Josiah gave vent to a low whistle.

“Please ask Master Don what my Jem said.”

“Do you not understand, my good woman, that my son has not been home all night?” said Mrs Lavington, piteously.

“What? Not been home?” cried Sally, sharply. “Then they’re gone off together.”

Uncle Josiah drew a long breath.

“That Master Don was always talking to my poor Jem, and he has persuaded him, and they’re gone.”

“It is not true!” cried Kitty in a sharp voice as she stood by the table, quivering with anger. “If Cousin Don has gone away, it is your wicked husband who has persuaded him. Father, dear, don’t let them go; pray, pray fetch them back.”

Uncle Josiah’s brow grew more rugged, and there were hard lines about his lips, till his sister laid her hand upon his arm, when he started, and took her hand, looking sadly down in her face.

“You hear what Kitty says,” whispered Mrs Lavington; “pray—pray fetch them back.”

Little Mrs Wimble heard her words, and gave the old merchant an imploring look.

But the old man’s face only grew more hard.

“I am afraid it must be true,” he said. “Foolish boy! Woman, your husband has behaved like an idiot.”

“But you will send and fetch them back, Josiah.”

“Don’t talk nonsense, Laura,” said the old man angrily. “How can I fetch them back? Foolish boy! At a time like this. Is he afraid to face the truth?”

“No, no, Josiah,” cried Mrs Lavington; “it is only that he was hurt.”

“Hurt? He has hurt himself. That man will be before the magistrates to-day, and I passed my word to the constable that Lindon should be present to answer the charge made against him.”

“Yes, dear, and he has been thoughtless. But you will forgive him, and have him brought back.”

“Have him brought back!” cried Uncle Josiah fiercely. “What can I do? The law will have him brought back now.”

“What? Oh, brother, don’t say that!”

“I must tell you the truth,” said Uncle Josiah sternly. “It is the same as breaking faith, and he has given strength to that scoundrel’s charge.”

“But what shall I do?” sobbed little Sally Wimble. “My Jem hadn’t done anything. Oh, please, sir, fetch him back.”

“Your husband has taken his own road, my good woman,” said Uncle Josiah coldly, “and he must suffer for it.”

“But what’s to become of me, sir? What shall I do without a husband?”

“Go back home and wait.”

“But I have no home, sir, now,” sobbed Sally. “You’ll want the cottage for some other man.”

“Go back home and wait.”

“But you’ll try and fetch him back, sir?”

“I don’t know what I shall do yet,” said the old man sternly. “I’m afraid I do not know the worst. There, go away now. Who’s that?”

There was a general excitement, for a loud knock was heard at the door.

Jessie came in directly after, looking round eyed and staring.

“Well, what is it?” said Uncle Josiah.

“If you please, sir, Mr Smithers the constable came, and I was to tell you that you’re to be at the magistrate’s office at eleven, and bring Master Don with you.”

“Yes,” said Uncle Josiah bitterly; “at the magistrate’s office at eleven, and take Lindon with me. Well, Laura, what have you to say to that?”

Mrs Lavington gave him an imploring look.

“Try and find him,” she whispered, “for my sake.”

“Try and find him!” he replied angrily, “I was willing to look over everything—to try and fight his battle and prove to the world that the accusation was false.”

“Yes, yes, and you will do so now—Josiah—brother.”

“I cannot,” said the old man sternly. “He has disgraced me, and openly declared to the world that the accusation of that scoundrel is true.”