Chapter 8 | Kitty Christmas Sits Up | The Adventures of Don Lavington

Chapter Eight.

“My dear Laura,” said Uncle Josiah that same evening, “you misjudge me; Lindon’s welfare is as dear to me as that of my little Kitty.”

“But you seemed to be so hard and stern with him.”

“That is your weak womanly way of looking at it, my dear I may have been stern, but no more so than the matter warranted. No, my dear sister, can you not see that I mean all this as a lesson for Lindon? You know how discontented he has been with his lot, like many more boys at his time of life, when they do not judge very well as to whether they are well off.”

“Yes, he has been unsettled lately.”

“Exactly, and this is due to his connection with that ne’er-do-weel scoundrel, for whom the boy has displayed an unconquerable liking. Lindon has begged the man on again four times after he had been discharged from the yard for drunkenness and neglect.”

“I did not know this,” said Mrs Lavington. “No, I do not bring all my business troubles home. I consented because I wished Lindon to realise for himself the kind of man whose cause he advocated; but I never expected that it would be brought home to him so severely as this.”

“Then indeed, Josiah, you do not think Lindon guilty?”

“Bah! Of course not, you foolish little woman. The boy is too frank and manly, too much of a gentleman to degrade himself in such a way. Guilty? Nonsense! Guilty of being proud and obstinate and stubborn. Guilty of neglecting his work to listen to that idle scoundrel’s romancing about places he has never seen.”

“He is so young.”

“Young? Old enough to know better.”

“But if you could bring it home to him more gently.”

“I think the present way is an admirable one for showing the boy his folly. The bird who kept company with the jackdaws had his neck wrung, innocent as he was. I want Lindon to see how very near he has been to having his neck wrung through keeping company with a jackdaw. Now, my dear Laura, leave it to me. The magistrates will grasp the case at once, and Master Lindon will receive a severe admonition from some one else, which will bring him to his senses, and then we shall go on quite smoothly again.”

“You cannot tell how happy you have made me feel,” said Mrs Lavington, as she wept silently.

“Well,” said Uncle Josiah, “I want to make you happy, you poor timid little bird. Now, then, try to believe that I am acting for the best.”

“And you will not be so stern with him?”

“As far as my lights will illumine me, I will do what is right by my sister’s boy, Laura—the lad I want to see grow up into a straightforward Englishman, proud of his name. There, can I say more fairly than that?”

“No. I only beg that you will think of Lindon as a high-spirited boy, who, though he does not always do as you wish, is still extremely sensitive.”

“Proud and stubborn, eh, Laura?”

“I will say no more, my own brother, only leave myself in your hands.”

“Yes, you may well look at the clock,” said Uncle Josiah, laughing, as he put his arm round his sister, and kissed her very tenderly; “the young dog is unconscionably late.”

“You do not think—after what I said?”

“Think? Nonsense. No, no. Lindon is too manly for that. Here, I am sure that you have a terrible headache, and you are worn out. Go to bed, and I’ll sit up for the young rascal, and have a talk to him when he comes in.”

“No, no!” exclaimed Mrs Lavington excitedly; “I do not like you to sit up for him. I will.”

“Not you. Too tired out as it is. No, my dear, you shall go to bed, and I will sit up for him.”

“Then let neither of us sit up.”

“Afraid I shall scold him, eh?”

“I cannot help being afraid of something of the kind, dear.”

“Very well, then we will both go, and let Jessie sit up.”

The maid was rung for, and entered.

“We are going to bed, Jessie. Master Lindon has not returned yet. You will sit up until he comes in.”

“Yes, sir.”

The maid left the room, and brother and sister sat looking at each other.

“Did you speak, Josiah?” said Mrs Lavington.

“No; I was only thinking that I do not trust you and you don’t trust me.”

“What do you mean?” faltered the poor woman, who looked more agitated now.

“You were not going to bed, but to listen for Lindon’s return, and were then going to watch whether I left my room to talk to him.”

Mrs Lavington was silent.

“Guilty,” said Uncle Josiah, smiling. “Come now, fair play. Will you go to your room and promise to stay there till breakfast time to-morrow morning, if I give you my word to do the same?”

“Yes,” said the shrinking woman eagerly.

“That’s agreed to, then. Good-night, Laura, my dear.”

“Good-night, Josiah.”

Ten minutes after all was still in the house, but matters did not turn out quite as Uncle Josiah intended. For before he was undressed, a bedroom door was opened very gently, and the creak it gave produced a low ejaculation of dismay.

Then there was five minutes’ interval before a slight little figure stole gently downstairs and glided into the kitchen, where round red-faced Jessie was seated in a window, her chair being opposite to what looked like a lady’s back, making the most careful bows from time to time, to which the lady made no response, for it was only Jessie’s cloak hanging on a peg with her old bonnet just above.

The slight little figure stood in the kitchen doorway listening, and then Jessie seemed to be bowing her head to the fresh comer, who did take some notice of the courtesy, for, crossing the kitchen rapidly, there was a quick sharp whisper.

“Jessie, Jessie!”

No reply.

“Jessie, Jessie!”

“Two new and one stale,” said the maid.

“Oh, how tiresome! Jessie, Jessie!”

“Slack baked.”

“Jessie!” and this time there was a shake of the maid’s shoulder, and she jumped up, looking startled.

“Lor, Miss Kitty, how you frightened me!”

“You were asleep.”

“Sleep? Me, miss? That I’m sure I wasn’t.”

“You were, Jessie, and I heard father tell you to sit up till Cousin Lindon came home.”

“Well, that’s what I’m a-doin’ of, miss, as plain as I can,” said Jessie.

She spoke in an ill-used tone, for it had been a busy day consequent upon a certain amount of extra cleaning, but Kitty did not notice it.

“I shall stay till I hear my cousin’s knock,” she said; “and then run upstairs. I hope he will not be long.”

“So do I, Miss Kitty,” said the woman with a yawn. “What’s made him so late? Is it because of the trouble at the yard?”

“Yes, Jessie; but you must not talk about it.”

“But I heerd as Master Don took some money.”

“He did not, Jessie!” cried Kitty indignantly. “There isn’t a word of truth in it. My Cousin Lindon couldn’t have done such a thing. It’s all a mistake, and I want to see him come in, poor boy, and tell him that I don’t believe it I’ll whisper it to him just as he’s going up to bed, and it will make him happy, for I know he thinks I have gone against him, and I only made believe that I did.”


The sound was very gentle, and Kitty did not hear it, for she was looking intently toward the door in the belief that she had heard Don’s footstep.

But it was only that of some passer on his way home, and Kitty went on,—

“You mustn’t talk about it, Jessie, for it is a great trouble, and aunt is nearly heart-broken, and—”


This time there was so loud and gurgling a sound that Kitty turned sharply upon the maid, who, after emitting a painful snore, made her young mistress the most polite of bows.

“Jessie! You’re asleep.”

Snurrg! And a bow.

“Oh, Jessie, you’re asleep again. How can you be so tiresome?”

Snurrg! Gurgled Jessie again, and Kitty gave an impatient stamp of her little foot.

“How can any one sleep at a time like this?” she half sobbed. “It’s too bad, that it is.”

Jessie bowed to her politely, and her head went up and down as if it were fixed at the end of a very easy moving spring, but when Kitty reproached her the words had not the slightest effect, and a dull stupid stare was given, of so irritating a nature that some people would have felt disposed to awaken the sleeper by administering a sound slap upon the hard round cheek.

One hour, two hours, three hours passed away, and still no Don; and at last, unable to bear the company of the snoring woman longer, Kitty left her and went into the drawing-room, where, kneeling down at the end of the couch under the window, she remained watching the dark street, waiting for him who did not come.

Kitty watched till the street began to look less dark and gloomy, and by degrees the other side became so plain that she could make out the bricks on the opposite walls.

Then they grew plainer and plainer, and there was a bright light in the sky, for the sun was near to its rising.

Then they grew less plain, then quite indistinct, for Kitty was crying bitterly, and she found herself wondering whether Don could have come in and gone to bed.

A little thought told her that this was impossible, and the tears fell faster still.

Where could he be? What could he be doing? Ought she to awaken her aunt?

Kitty could not answer these self-imposed questions, and as her misery and despair grew greater it seemed as if the morning was growing very cold and the bricks of the houses opposite more and more obscure, and then soon after they were quite invisible, for she saw them not.