I found the old woman, who lived there,
and chatted with her for some time, seeking
for an opportunity of asking after her visitor,
if I could do so without exciting her curiosity.
I brought the conversation round slowly; and
then asked, "who was the young damsel who
called upon her, sometimes?" The old woman
laughed: and then shook her head, as if she
had a sudden attack of palsy, and said, "Take
my advice and do not ask anything about
her. She is my great niece; and I am proud
of her, for she is a fine girl, and sensible
enough; but she is a troublesome creature—
a giddy girl who tires out all her friends.
There is her cousin, Edward, who loved her
better than all the world, and used to make
baskets for her, and a host of other things;
he will have no more to do with her. She
liked him well enough before he became so
kind to her; but, after that, she used to run
away from him and hide herself. You see,
she has been spoiled by schooling. Her
father must send her to a fine school, talking
of making her a governess, and the like,
where they made her unfit for everything;
instead of keeping her at home to learn
useful things—a plague!" The old woman
suddenly took to coughing, as the latch
clicked, and, the door opening, her niece stood
there before us! She did not see me, at first,
but, running up to her aunt, kissed her, and
set her basket on the table. "This is Mr.
Langdon, my neighbour, Alice," said the old
woman. The niece curtsied; and, turning,
began to talk to her aunt—taking no notice of
me whatever. After awhile, I took my leave,
and went back to my work, resolved to think
of her no more. Yet I did think of her again.
Her manner had displeased me, but she did
not cease to haunt me night and day.
Again, one afternoon, I saw her enter by the
wicket gate. She caught my eye, and walked
over the grass-plot, and bade me "Good
day." I stood before my work, to prevent
her seeing it; but she exclaimed, "So you
are making another idol, for your own private
worship, Mr. Langdon."
"I am carving in stone, Miss Paton," said
I, rather coolly.
"In stone," said she, echoing my words;
"and you stand before your work, as if you
yourself were carved in stone, in order to
prevent my seeing it. But I do see it,
notwithstanding. A dog—a very beautiful dog!
Now, if that had been any other kind of dog
I should not have seen it; but being a long,
thin greyhound, the whole of his slender
nose peeps out on one side, while his little
foot is distinctly visible on the other."
I was vexed; but I felt that to stand there
after her raillery, would make me ridiculous;
so I stepped aside to let her see it.
"Perfect! beautiful! " she exclaimed,
"exactly like the life. Really I can pardon you:
I could almost idolise it myself."
"If Miss Paton would accept it," said I,
"the carving shall be hers, when it is finished."
She hesitated; but I pressed her, for I felt
flattered by her praises. At length, she
consented; and I promised to bring it to her at
the park lodge, where she lived with her
relative, the lodge-keeper.
"This is the first work of my hands," I
said, "that I have suffered to be seen; but
since it has pleased you, I cannot think it
"I will prize it," said she, "I will tie a
blue silk ribbon round its neck, and stand it
in my room; where I shall see it every day.
She turned, and walking quickly across the
grass-plot, entered at her aunt's door. When
it grew dark, and I left my work, she was
For some days after, I worked upon my
hound; touching and retouching; bringing
out every line and curve, until I thought it
perfect. Then I took it one afternoon under
my arm, for it was slender and not heavy,
and set out for the park lodge. It was a
small cottage, inside the flower-worked iron
gates, the entrance to the park. The roof
was thatched, and the walls beneath were of
grey plaster, showing a frame-work of oaken
beams. The porch was covered with sweet
clematis, and the little garden, at the side,
was filled with drooping fuchsias and
geraniums. Standing at the doorway, I looked
down a long dusky avenue of limes, whose
branches grew down to the ground; and in
the distance I saw the Tudor turrets of the
mansion. I knocked at the door, and Alice
"Oh, Mr. Langdon; and the dog, too! I
had forgotten all about it; but I see you do
not forget a promise. Come in, and see my
She led me into a parlour, where her sister-
in-law, a tall thin Scotchwoman, sat knitting
"This is Mr. Langdon," said Alice, "a friend
of Aunt Mary's; and see what a present he
"A stawn dog!" she exclaimed; and after
staring at it for a few moments, she went on
with her work. But Alice stood over, looking
down, with her light hair touching the stone.
"You live in a pretty neighbourhood, Miss
Paton," said I. "I should like to see something
of the Park before dark. Perhaps you would
walk with me."
"Wait one moment," she exclaimed, and
putting on her shawl and bonnet we went out
together, and walked down the avenue.
"You come too late to find the limes in
blossom. Look," said she, plucking some
leaves, "three weeks ago every one of these
little green seeds was a flower. The whole
avenue was in blossom from end to end, and
walking here, in the shade, the air was full of
the smell of flowers."
We went on in silence for some time; then
I said, "I think we have time to walk down
to the mansion and back before dusk, if you
do not wish to return immediately."
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