Chapter 9 | A Social Thunderbolt | The Adventures of Don Lavington

Chapter Nine.

“Morning!” said Uncle Josiah, as, after a turn up and down the dining-room, he saw the door open and his sister enter, looking very pale and red-eyed. “Why, Laura, you have not been to bed.”

“Yes,” she said sadly. “I kept my word, and now I feel sorry that I did, for I fell into a heavy sleep from which I did not wake till half an hour ago.”

“Glad of it,” said her brother bluffly. “That’s right, my dear, make the tea; I want my breakfast, for I have plenty of work to-day.”

Mrs Lavington hastily made the tea, for the urn was hissing on the table when she came down, Uncle Josiah’s orders being that it was always to be ready at eight o’clock, and woe betide Jessie if it was not there.

“Have—have you seen Don this morning?”

“No. And when he comes down I shall not say a word. There, try and put a better face on the matter, my dear. He will have to appear at the magistrate’s office, and there will be a few admonitions. That’s all. Isn’t Kitty late?”

“Yes. Shall I send up for her?”

“No; she will be down in a few minutes, I daresay, and Lindon too.”

The few minutes passed, and Uncle Josiah looked stern. Then he rang for the servants, and his brow grew more heavy. Neither Kitty nor Lindon down to prayers.

“Shall I send up, Josiah?”

“No; they know what time we have prayers,” said the old man sternly; and upon the servants entering he read his customary chapter and the prayers, but no one stole in while the service was in progress, and when it was over the old merchant looked more severe than ever.

Mrs Lavington looked more troubled as her brother grew more severe, but she did not speak, feeling that she might make matters worse.

Just then Jessie brought in the ham and eggs, and as she took off the cover, and Mrs Lavington began to pour out tea, the old man said roughly,—

“Go and tell Miss Kitty to come down to breakfast directly.”

The maid left the room.

“You did not send a message to Don, Josiah.”

“No. I suppose his lordship was very late. No business to have gone out.”

Uncle Josiah began his breakfast. Mrs Lavington could not taste hers.

Then Jessie entered, looking startled.

“If you please, sir—”

“Well, if you please what?”

“Miss Kitty, sir.”


“She’s not in her room.”

“Eh?” ejaculated the old merchant. “Humph! Come down and gone for a walk, I suppose. Back soon.”

The breakfast went on, but there was no Kitty, no Don, and Uncle Josiah began to eat his food ferociously.

At last he got up and rang the bell sharply, and Jessie responded.

“What time did Master Lindon come home?” he said.

“Come home, sir?”

“Yes; did I not speak plainly? I said what time did Master Lindon come home?”

“Please, sir, he didn’t come home at all.”

“What!” roared Uncle Josiah, and Mrs Lavington nearly let her cup fall.

“Please, sir, I sat in my chair waiting all the night.”

“And he has not been back?”

“No, sir.”

“Nonsense! Go and knock at his door. Tell him to come at once.”

“Excuse me, Josiah,” said Mrs Lavington excitedly; “let me go.”

Uncle Josiah grunted his consent, and Mrs Lavington hurried out into the hall, and then upstairs.

“Slipped in while you were half asleep,” said the old man to Jessie.

“No, sir, indeed. I’ve been watching carefully all night.”

“Humph! There’s half a crown for you to buy a hat ribbon, Jessie. Well,” he continued as his sister entered hastily, “what does he say?”

“Josiah!” cried the trembling woman, “what does this mean? Don was out when I went up yesterday evening, and he has not been to his room all night.”


“Neither has Kitty been to hers.”

Uncle Josiah thrust back his chair, and left his half-eaten breakfast.

“Look here,” he exclaimed in a hoarse voice; “what nonsense is this?”

“No nonsense, Josiah,” cried Mrs Lavington. “I felt a presentiment.”

“Felt a stuff and nonsense!” he said angrily. “Kitty not in her room? Kitty not been to bed? Here, Jessie!”

“Yes, sir.”

“You did go to sleep, didn’t you?”

“Ye–e–e–s, sir!”

“I thought as much, and,”—here tut-tut-tut—“that would not explain it. Hullo, what do you want?”

This was to the cook, who tapped, opened the door, and then held up her hand as if to command silence.

“Please, ’m, would you mind coming here?” she said softly. Mrs Lavington ran to the door, followed the woman across the hall, unaware of the fact that the old merchant was close at her heels.

They paused as soon as they were inside the drawing-room, impressed by the scene before them, for there, half sitting, half lying, and fast asleep, with the tears on her cheeks still wet, as if she had wept as she lay there unconscious, was Kitty, for the bricks on the opposite wall had been too indistinct for her to see.

“Don’t wake her,” said Uncle Josiah softly, and he signed to them to go back into the hall, where he turned to Jessie.

“Did you see Miss Kitty last night?”

“Ye–es, sir.”


“She comed into the kitchen, sir.”

“After we had gone to bed?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you said nothing just now?”

“No, sir, I didn’t like to.”

“That will do. Be off,” said the old man sternly. “Laura. Here!”

Mrs Lavington followed her brother back into the dining-room.

“The poor child must have been sitting up to watch for Lindon’s return.”

“And he has not returned, Josiah,” sobbed Mrs Lavington.

“Here, stop! What are you going to do?”

“I am going up to his room to see,” said the sobbing woman.

Uncle Josiah made no opposition, for he read the mother’s thought, and followed her upstairs, where a half-open drawer told tales, and in a few moments Mrs Lavington had satisfied herself.

“I cannot say exactly,” she said piteously; “but he has made up a bundle of his things.”

“The coward!” cried Uncle Josiah fiercely.

“Gone! Gone! My poor boy!”

“Hush!” cried the old man sternly. “He has sneaked off like a contemptible cur. No, I will not believe it of him,” he added impetuously. “Lindon has too much stuff in him to play such a despicable part. You are wrong, Laura. Come down and finish breakfast. I will not believe it of the boy.”

“But he has gone, Josiah, he has gone,” sobbed his sister.

“Then if he has, it is the yielding to a sudden impulse, and as soon as he comes to his senses he will return. Lindon will not be such a coward, Laura. Mark my words.”

“You are saying this to comfort me,” said Mrs Lavington sadly.

“I am saying what I think,” cried her brother. “If I thought he had gone right off, I would say so, but I do not think anything of the kind. He may have thought of doing so last night, but this morning he will repent and come back.”

He took his sister’s hand gently, and led her downstairs, making her resume her place at the table, and taking his own again, as he made a pretence of going on with his breakfast; but before he had eaten his second mouthful there was a dull heavy thump at the front door.

“There!” cried the old man; “what did I say? Here he is.”

Before the front door could be opened, Kitty, who had been awakened by the knock, came in looking scared and strange.

“Don,” she said; “I have been asleep. Has he come back?”

“Yes I think this is he,” said the old man gently. “Come here, my pet; don’t shrink like that. I’m not angry.”

“If you please, sir,” said Jessie, “here’s a woman from the yard.”

“Mrs Wimble?”

“Yes, sir; and can she speak to you a minute?”

“Yes, I’ll come—no, show her in here. News. An ambassador, Laura,” said the old man with a grim smile, as Jessie went out. “There, Kitty, my dear, don’t cry. It will be all right soon.”

At that moment little Mrs Wimble entered, white cheeked, red-eyed, limp and miserable looking, the very opposite of the trim little Sally who lorded it over her patient husband.

“Mrs Wimble!” cried Mrs Lavington, catching the little woman’s arm excitedly; “you have brought some news about my son.”

“No,” moaned Sally, with a passionate burst of sobs. “Went out tea-time, and never come back all night.”

“Yes, yes, we know that,” said Uncle Josiah sternly; “but how did you know?”

“Know, sir? I’ve been sitting up for him all this dreadful night.”

“What, for my nephew?”

“No, sir, for my Jem.”

“Lindon—James Wimble!” said Uncle Josiah, as he sank back in his seat. “Impossible! It can’t be true.”