The Woodlanders HTML version

Chapter 17
Grace's exhibition of herself, in the act of pulling-to the window-curtains, had
been the result of an unfortunate incident in the house that day--nothing less than
the illness of Grammer Oliver, a woman who had never till now lain down for
such a reason in her life. Like others to whom unbroken years of health has
made the idea of keeping their bed almost as repugnant as death itself, she had
continued on foot till she literally fell on the floor; and though she had, as yet,
been scarcely a day off duty, she had sickened into quite a different personage
from the independent Grammer of the yard and spar-house. Ill as she was, on
one point she was firm. On no account would she see a doctor; in other words,
The room in which Grace had been discerned was not her own, but the old
woman's. On the girl's way to bed she had received a message from Grammer,
to the effect that she would much like to speak to her that night.
Grace entered, and set the candle on a low chair beside the bed, so that the
profile of Grammer as she lay cast itself in a keen shadow upon the whitened
wall, her large head being still further magnified by an enormous turban, which
was, really, her petticoat wound in a wreath round her temples. Grace put the
room a little in order, and approaching the sick woman, said, "I am come,
Grammer, as you wish. Do let us send for the doctor before it gets later."
"I will not have him," said Grammer Oliver, decisively.
"Then somebody to sit up with you."
"Can't abear it! No; I wanted to see you, Miss Grace, because 'ch have
something on my mind. Dear Miss Grace, I TOOK THAT MONEY OF THE
"What money?"
"The ten pounds."
Grace did not quite understand.
"The ten pounds he offered me for my head, because I've a large brain. I signed
a paper when I took the money, not feeling concerned about it at all. I have not
liked to tell ye that it was really settled with him, because you showed such horror
at the notion. Well, having thought it over more at length, I wish I hadn't done it;
and it weighs upon my mind. John South's death of fear about the tree makes me