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The Man with a Shadow   By: (1831-1909)

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"Do what, miss?" said Dally Watlock. "That! There, you did it again."

"La, miss; I on'y thought my face might be a bit smudgy, and I wiped it."

"Don't tell me a falsehood, Dally. I know what it means. You felt guilty, and your face burned."

"La, miss; I don't know what you mean."

"Then I'll tell you, Dally. You are growing too light and free, and your conduct is far from becoming, or what it should be for a maid servant at the Rectory. If girls are so foolish they must not be surprised at young men gentlemen taking such liberties. Now go. And mind this: if it ever occurs again, I shall acquaint my brother."

"Well, I couldn't help it, miss. I didn't ask Mr Tom Candlish to kiss me."

"Silence! How dare you? Leave the room."

"I was a going to, miss. He popped out from behind the hedge just as Billy Wilkins had given me the letters, and he says, `Give this note to Miss Leo, Dally,' he says, `and mind no one else sees.'"

"I told you to leave the room, girl."

"Well, miss, I'm a going, ain't I? And then, before I could help it, he put his arm round me and said my cheeks were like apples."

"Will you leave the room?"

"Yes, miss, of course I will; and then he kissed me just as Billy Wilkins looked back, and now he'll go and tell Joe Chegg, and he'll scold me too. I'm a miserable girl."

Red cheeked, ruddy lipped Dally Watlock christened Delia as a compromise for Delilah covered her round face with her apron, and began to sob and try to pump up a few tears to her bright dark eyes, as her young mistress seized her by the shoulders, and literally forced her out of the room, when Dally went sobbing down the passage and through the baize door before she dropped her apron and began to laugh.

"She's as jealous as jel!" cried the girl. "It made her look quite yellow. Deal she's got to talk about, too. Tell master! She daren't! The minx! I could tell too. Who cares for her tallow face? Thinks she's precious good looking; but she ain't everybody, after all. Master Joe Chegg, too, had better mind. I don't care if he does know now."

Then as if the spot burned, or as if a natural instinct taught her that the kiss imprinted upon her cheek was not as cleanly as it should have been, or as one of the honest salutes of the aforesaid Joe Chegg, Dally Watlock lifted her neat white apron, and wiped the place again.

"How dare he kiss her?" said Leo Salis, frowning, as she laid the post letters beside her brother's place at the breakfast table, and then stood with the note in her hand. "I'll punish him for this!"

She hastily tore open the note, which was written in a good, manly hand, but contained in ten lines four specimens of faulty spelling, and a "you was" which looked as big as a blot.

The note was brief and contained a pressing invitation to meet the writer in Red Cliff Wood that morning, as soon after breakfast as she could.

"I won't go," she said passionately. "I'll punish him!"

Then, as if feeling that she would punish herself, the girl stood thinking, and then hastily crushed the note in her hand and walked to the window, to be apparently studying the pretty Warwickshire landscape as her brother and sister entered the room.

"Morning, Leo, dear," said Mary Salis, the elder of the two; a fair English girl, grey eyed, with high forehead and dark brown, wavy hair, her type of countenance, allowing for feminine softness, being wonderfully like that of the robust, manly looking clergyman who entered with his hand resting upon her shoulder.

"Morning, Mary," said Leo quietly; and her handsome dark, almost Spanish, features seemed perfectly calm and inanimate as she returned her sister's salute; and then, in a half weary way, rather distantly held up her cheek for her brother to kiss.

"Get out!" said the latter boisterously, as he caught the handsome girl by the shoulders, and tried to look in her eyes which avoided his. "No nonsense, Leo, my dear... Continue reading book >>

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