DECEMBER 19, 1909.
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Cousin Isabel Plays Housemayd
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it^f 'M afraid it isn't the- slightest use, sir—we're stuck!"
■Wi I looked round about mo from tinl shelter of tin- little shed like Sta
tion into \\ 11ii ■ 11 Urn train had cruHhcd its WU a good two hoBIl before,
§^a and "here it luul rcinui I. ut the mercy of tln> driving snow, ever since.
A glimpM of tin' overhead sky was iinjiossihit*; there m nothing above
us but a mass of whirling tliikt s I kMW that tWa acre bill! —mountainous hills
all around us; they might have been th« Himalayas for all I could sec of them.
BaTOlld Urn stone Bad timber of the inside of tlic little station there was nothing
to Ml lut snow and the battled train now half smothered in it.
"When you say that we're stuck," 1 said, " 1 suppose you nieau that we can
neither go forward nor gal back,'"
The guard smiled in uncertain fashion —he looked more like weeping.
"That '■ abmi* it, sir," he said. "The fact is. we never might to have tried
to pet past High (Jill—when it snows in these dales ami hills it does snow! But
we Qoderttood at the junction that we must Ml through, air, by hook or crook.
And Ho we came on and here we've got into the worst of it ' "
"And liere «c are!" 1 said. "Yes, 1 know — it's my fault. But I partieu
larly wished to reach HMkthermide Hall to Bight. I suppose it's some way off yetf"
"A good sight miles, sir, across the fells." hi' answered, shaking his head.
"No, you II not gal there tonight, sir, any more than we shall get away from
here. Nor vet tomorrow — we're snowbound in a bit of the wildest country in
I accepted this fact with the philosophy of an old campaigner.
"Well, what's to be donef" I said. "Shall we starve!"
He smiled —this time with pleasant thoughts.
"No, sir," he replied. "It's lucky we got as far as here. There's a com
fortable roadside hotel about two hundred yards away which is a good deal used
by tourists in summer time, and if you can atraggla waist deep as far as that you
can got accommodation there. The driver and stoker and myself will be all right
with the station master here."
"Then if you can gat me that smaller kit bag of mine I'll start," I said.
"The rest of the thing! may stay where they are."
While he floundered through the rapidly increasing drift on the platform to
the compartment which I had left two hours before 1 reviewed the situation. It
was Christ mas eve, anil I had particularly desired to reach Heatherside Hall that
Bight, and in order to do so had left Kondon at an unconscionably early hour in the
morning. There had been delays owing to the snow long before we reached Grey
moor Junction, and them the statien master, finding that I was the only passenger
for the little branch line, had at first flatly refused to let the ordinary train go,
assuring me that it would never pass High < iill. It was only when I revealed my
identity and that < f my hostess, and offered driver, fireman and guard a very
handsome gratuity that I persuaded him to send me forward. And here I was
stranded at a roadside inn, and the three railway men would bo unable to eat
their Christmas pudding with their families!
It was all the more vexing when I thought of what I had expected for the
morrow. I had just returned from nine years' service in India, and among the
first invitations I had received was one from my cousin, Isabel Alliston, now mis
tress of romantic old Heatherside since the death of her father, my uncle, Sir
Percival Alliston, who had fostered my military ambitions, and to whose old regi
ment I now belonged. At the time of my departure from England Isabel was a
lively young lady of fourteen; I had wondered what she would be like now, at
twenty-three, ever since receiving her invitation. And thinking, as I stamped up
and down the little shed, of the lonely Christmas which I should have at the inn
instead of being her guest at the hall, I felt inclined to curae myself for not leav
ing London a day earlier, before this great storm came.
LOS ANGELES HERALD SUNDAY MAGAZINE
"HY'n niKiirbduntl in a bit of the irihlist cnuntry in England."
Copyright, 1000, bf the National Prcsa Agency.
However, it was no use crying over spilt milk, and with a kit bag which con
tained all that I should want I was soon wading through the snow toward the
Woolsack. The WBOH "as not quite waist high, but it was well over my kMM.
even on that high and windswept road, and 1 began to understand how Map it
must be in the railway ratting. 11 took DM ■ gOM half hour to reach the hotel —
as well as 1 could make it out, a long, low erection of rough, gray stone, looking
cold and comfortless under the driving snow. But there were lights in the win
dows, and a genial puff of warm air met me when 1 opened the door and stepped
into the stone-paved hall; and I reflected that I had bivouacked many a time in
WOTM places than Miat by a thousand times.
A stout, gray-haired man—a true Dalesman—came out of a sort of bar, and,
inclining his head respectfully, looked at me with some interest.
"Good afternoon," 1 said. "I suppose you can accommodate me—possibly
for a day or twof The fact is, the train I came here by is snowed up."
He showed no astonishment at that, but said that he would do his very best
and that I could depend on a good and well uarmed bedroom and plenty to eat,
for they always kept a big stock of provisions about that time, and had also their
Christmas fare. Then, alter we had taken a drink together in token of goodwill,
he showed me the coffee room, told me that I should find a maid there to take my
orders when I came down, and took mo up to a bedroom in which a bright fire
was burning, explaining its presence by saying that they were bound to keep up
fires in order to warm the house.
Thinking that I had fallen on my feet, at any rate as far as warmth and
comfort were concerned, I changed my clothes and went down to the coffee room
to see what I could get to eat. Heavy red curtains had been drawn over the win
dows, and ort a table laid with a snowy cloth and shining glass and china stood a
lamp whose shaded rays diffused a welcome glow on the things beneath it. And
on the table also, behind the lamp, stood two china bowls filled with Christmas
"Well, this is all very cosy and comfortable, and very English," I said as I
rang the bell and took up the time-honored English attitude on the hearthrug.
"If only I had some company now "
The door opened presently and a girl, dressed in the conventional waitress
garb, entered the room and advanced upon me. As she came into the full light of
the lamp I almost started at recognizing her elegance and her beauty. Tall,
lissom, she moved with an undulating grace that is ran' aiming western women,
and she held her head with the dignity of a queen. In that first hurried glance
I merely gathered that her eyes were very dark, that her hair shone like the burn
ish on a rook's wing under her coquettish white cap, and that her simple black
gown and white apron made a frame for something undeniably pretty and charm
"What would you like for dinner, sirt" she said, demurely respectful.
I had wanted to hear her speak- —her voice was sweet, full and cultured, with
a touch of North country accent in it which added to its charm. And her eyes, as
she raised them to ask her question, were very steady.
"Well," I replied, smiling, "that depends on what I can have. Perhaps you
had better tell me what there is.''
"Mrs. Thornthwaite, sir, suggested some of her famous soup, a roast chicken
and a dish of cutlets," she answered, "and afterward there is Christmas pudding
or mince pies, and some fine cheese."
"We will leave the pudding until tomorrow," I said. "The rest will do
She bent her head, after the fashion of a perfectly trained domestic, and left
the room; while I, drawing up a chair to the hearth, sat down to enjoy the old-
■ i '.nit inn»*i( -»n Pa«*> <*(* •
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