2i> Lady Audley's Secret.
well-orderect household at the Court; and who was therefora
quite as much the object of envy amongst her particular friend?
as my lady herself in higher circles.
A man who was sitting on tlie broken woodwork of the well,
started as the lady's-maid came out of the dim shade of the
limes, and stood before bim amongst the weeds and brushwood.
I have said before that this was a neglected spot: it lay in
the midst of a low shrubbery, hidden away from the rest of the
gardens, and only visible from the garret windows at the back
of the west wing. " Why, Phoebe, said the man, shutting a
clasp-knife with which he had been stripping the bark from a
blackthorn stake, "you stole upon me so still and sudden, that
I thought you was an evil spirit. I've come across through the
fields, and in here at the gate agen the moat, and I was taldng
a rest before I went up to the house to ask if you was come back."
" I can see the weU from my ted-room window, Luke," Phoel e
answered, pointing to an open lattice in one of the gables. " I
saw you sitting here, and came down to have a chat: it's better
talking out here than in the house, where there's always some¬
The man was a big, broad-shouldered, stupid-looking clod¬
hopper of about twenty-three years of age. His dark-red hair
grew low upon his forehead, and his bushy brows met over a
pair of greenish grey eyes ; his nose was large and well shaped,
but the mouth was coarse in form and animal in expression.
Bosy-cheeked, red-haired, and bull-necked, he was not unHke
one of the stout oxen grazing in the meadows round about the
The girl seated herself lightly upon the woodwork at his side,
and put one of her hands, which had grown white in her new
and easy service, about his thick neck.
"Are you glad to see me, Luke?" she asked.
_" Of course I'm glad, lass," he answered, boorishly, opening
his knife again, and scraping away at the hedge-stake.
They were first cousins, and had been playfellows in child¬
hood, and s^\•ethearts in early youth.
" You don't seem much as if you were glad," said the girl;
" you might look at me, Luke, and teU me if you think mj
journey has improved me."
" It ain't put any colour into your cheeks, my girl," he said,
glancing up at her from under his lowering eyebrows ; " you're
every bit as white as you was when you went away."
" But they say travelHng makes people genteel, Luke. I've
been on the Continent with my lady, through all manner of
curious places; and you know when I was a child, Squire
Horton's daugb ters taught me to speak a little French, and J
found it so nice to be able to talk to the p:ople abroad."