Armadale HTML version

might be expected shortly from the clergyman inquiring when it would suit Mr.
Armadale's convenience to take possession personally and publicly of his estates
in Norfolk.
"You will now be able to guess the cause of our sudden departure from the Isle of
Man. The first and foremost idea in your old pupil's mind, as soon as he had read
Mrs. Blanchard's account of the proceedings at the meeting, was the idea of
escaping the public reception, and the one certain way he could see of avoiding it
was to start for Thorpe Ambrose before the clergyman's letter could reach him.
"I tried hard to make him think a little before he acted an his first impulse in this
matter; but he only went on packing his portmanteau in his own impenetrably
good-humored way. In ten minutes his luggage was ready, and in five minutes
more he had given the crew their directions for taking the yacht back to
Somersetshire. The steamer to Liverpool was alongside of us in the harbor, and I
had really no choice but to go on board with him or to let him go by himself. I
spare you the account of our stormy voyage, of our detention at Liverpool, and of
the trains we missed on our journey across the country. You know that we have
got here safely, and that is enough. What the servants think of the new squire's
sudden appearance among them, without a word of warning, is of no great
consequence. What the committee for arranging the public reception may think of
it when the news flies abroad to-morrow is, I am afraid, a more serious matter.
"Having already mentioned the servants, I may proceed to tell you that the latter
part of Mrs. Blanchard's letter was entirely devoted to instructing Allan on the
subject of the domestic establishment which she has left behind her. It seems that
all the servants, indoors and out (with three exceptions), are waiting here, on the
chance that Allan will continue them in their places. Two of these exceptions are
readily accounted for: Mrs. Blanchard's maid and Miss Blanchard's maid go
abroad with their mistresses. The third exceptional case is the case of the upper
housemaid; and here there is a little hitch. In plain words, the housemaid has been
sent away at a moment's notice, for what Mrs. Blanchard rather mysteriously
describes as 'levity of conduct with a stranger.'
"I am afraid you will laugh at me, but I must confess the truth. I have been made
so distrustful (after what happened to us in the Isle of Man) of even the most
trifling misadventures which connect themselves in any way with Allan's
introduction to his new life and prospects, that I have already questioned one of
the men-servants here about this apparently unimportant matter of the
housemaid's going away in disgrace.
"All I can learn is that a strange man had been noticed hanging suspiciously about
the grounds; that the housemaid was so ugly a woman as to render it next to a
certainty that he had some underhand purpose to serve in making himself
agreeable to her; and that he has not as yet been seen again in the neighborhood
since the day of her dismissal. So much for the one servant who has been turned
out at Thorpe Ambrose. I can only hope there is no trouble for Allan brewing in
that quarter. As for the other servants who remain, Mrs. Blanchard describes
them, both men and women, as perfectly trustworthy, and they will all, no doubt,
continue to occupy their present places.