patting the hand that

Now my dear Margery, she said, when the girl was seated, I want you to pay the greatest attention to what I am about to say, and to repeat nothing of my conversation. You are my best friend, said Margery, looking at the peaked white face with adoring eyes. I shall do whatever you say. Good child, said Miss Bull, patting the hand that was laid confidingly on her lap. Listen , child. Lord Derrington is the owner of this house, and he leased it to your aunt by the year–a very strange arrangement, for which there ought to be some explanation. I am going to seek it from Lord Derrington. But he won’t tell you anything, Miss Bull. The old maid tightened her thin lips. I think he will, she said in a rather ominous manner; at all events, there is no harm in my trying. With regard to the annuity—- What annuity? I forgot–you don’t know about that. Well, there is no need that you should. But it seems that Lord Derrington allowed your late aunt an annuity of five hundred a year. I don’t know the reason why he did so, and as such reason is not pertinent to matters in hand I do not wish to know, but the annuity must lapse. It is not likely that Lord Derrington will continue it to you. She paused and looked at the girl. Your parents are dead, I believe, Margery? Yes. For many years I have been with my aunt. She was my only relative, dear Miss Bull. All the better. I don’t want other people interfering, said Miss Bull in her icy way. Well, Margery, I shall see if I can get Lord Derrington to renew the lease to you, and I shall be your security. With the money in hand–I have counted it, and with that in the bank it amounts to two hundred pounds–we can continue the boarding-house. A few of the boarders will go, but many will remain, as they will not get anywhere so cheap a place. You will be the nominal head of the house, but in reality I shall manage. Do you agree? I am your slave, cried Margery with melodramatic intensity. You are my friend, said Miss Bull, her thin lips relaxing. I am a lonely woman, Margery, though I still have a surviving sister– her lips tightened again as she said this–and I love you, my dear, for your goodness. Well, we shall keep on the boarding-house, and you, poor child, will be preserved from the terrible life which would otherwise be your portion. Now my dear Margery, she said, when the girl was seated, I want you to pay the greatest attention to what I am about to say, and to repeat nothing of my conversation. You are my best friend, said Margery, looking at the peaked white face with adoring eyes. I shall do whatever you say. Good child, said Miss Bull, patting the hand that was laid confidingly on her lap. Listen, child. Lord Derrington is the owner of this house, and he leased it to your aunt by the year–a very strange arrangement
, for which there ought to be some explanation. I am going to seek it from Lord Derrington. But he won’t tell you anything, Miss Bull. The old maid tightened her thin lips. I think he will, she said in a rather ominous manner; at all events, there is no harm in my trying. With regard to the annuity—- What annuity? I forgot–you don’t know about that. Well, there is no need that you should. But it seems that Lord Derrington allowed your late aunt an annuity of five hundred a year. I don’t know the reason why he did so, and as such reason is not pertinent to matters in hand I do not wish to know, but the annuity must lapse. It is not likely that Lord Derrington will continue it to you. She paused and looked at the girl. Your parents are dead, I believe, Margery? Yes. For many years I have been with my aunt. She was my only relative, dear Miss Bull. All the better. I don’t want other people interfering, said Miss Bull in her icy way. Well, Margery, I shall see if I can get Lord Derrington to renew the lease to you, and I shall be your security. With the money in hand–I have counted it, and with that in the bank it amounts to two hundred pounds–we can continue the boarding-house. A few of the boarders will go, but many will remain, as they will not get anywhere so cheap a place. You will be the nominal head of the house, but in reality I shall manage. Do you agree? I am your slave, cried Margery with melodramatic intensity. You are my friend, said Miss Bull, her thin lips relaxing. I am a lonely woman, Margery, though I still have a surviving sister– her lips tightened again as she said this–and I love you, my dear, for your goodness. Well, we shall keep on the boarding-house, and you, poor child, will be preserved from the terrible life which would otherwise be your portion. How good you are–how good you are! A little selfish also, said Miss Bull, kissing the girl. I do not wish to leave this place or lose you. I am growing old, and a change would break my heart. She said this as though she really believed that she possessed such an organ. Mrs. Jersey always said that a heart was lacking in Miss Bull’s maiden breast: but certainly the way in which the old woman was treating the helpless girl showed that she was better than she looked. And perhaps–as Mr. James considered–Miss Bull had an ax to grind on her own account. However this might be, from that moment Miss Bull was in charge of the Amelia Square establishment. Whatever means she used to induce Lord Derrington to consent, she certainly managed to get the lease renewed in Margery’s name. Some of the boarders went; but others came in their place, and these being younger added to the gayety of the house. So all was settled, and Miss Bull became a person of importance. She was the power behind the throne, and ruled judiciously . In this way did she do away with the reputation of the house as a place where a crime had been committed. In a year all was forgotten. How good you are–how good you are! A little selfish also, said Miss Bull, kissing the girl. I do not wish to leave this place or lose you. I am growing old, and a change would break my heart. She said this as though she really believed that she possessed such an organ. Mrs. Jersey always said that a heart was lacking in Miss Bull’s maiden breast: but certainly the way in which the old woman was treating the helpless girl showed that she was better than she looked. And perhaps–as Mr. James considered–Miss Bull had an ax to grind on her own account. However this might be, from that moment Miss Bull was in charge of the Amelia Square establishment. Whatever means she used to induce Lord Derrington to consent, she certainly managed to get the lease renewed in Margery’s name. Some of the boarders went; but others came in their place, and these being younger added to the gayety of the house. So all was settled, and Miss Bull became a person of importance. She was the power behind the throne, and ruled judiciously. In this way did she do away with the reputation of the house as a place where a crime had been committed. In a year all was forgotten.

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