Goodness knows!” cried old Mrs. Taylor, the shopkeeper’s mother. I know no more on’t nor if it was a dog. Lord, Miss Milly! to think of poor creatures brought up from their cradles to talk sich stuff as that!”

I was brought up at a grammar-school, ma’am,” said young Taylor himself, with a blush; where it isn’t modern languages, you know, ma’am, that’s the great thing; and, though I know the grammar, I’m not very well up in my French.”

Here his little sister, who had kept nudging him all this time, suddenly whispered, with her face growing crimson, Oh, Alfred! ask Miss Milly!—to be sure she knows.”

And, to tell the truth, though I knew I could never keep up a conversation, I had been privately conning over in my own mind a little scrap of French, though whether he was French or not I knew no more than Jenny Taylor. So I faced round boldly enough, not being afraid of any criticism, and fired off my interrogation at the good-humoured fat fellow. He looked so blank after I had spoken that it was quite apparent he did not understand a word of it. He made a profusion of bows. He entered into a long and animated explanation, which sent Jenny Taylor into fits of laughter, and filled her mother with commiseration. But I caught two words, and these confounded me. The first was Italiano,” over and over repeated; the second which he pronounced, pointing out to the street with many lively gestures, was padrone.” I comprehended the matter all at once, and it made my heart beat. This was the servant whom little Sara had described, and the master, the padrone,” was in the village pursuing his{43} extraordinary inquiries, whatever they were, here. For the moment I could not help being agitated; I felt ielts ukvi test date , I cannot explain why, as if I were on the eve of finding out something. I asked him eagerly, in English, where his master was; and again received a voluble and smiling answer, I have no doubt in very good Italian. Then we shook our heads mutually and laughed, neither quite convinced that the other could not understand if he or she would. But the end was that I got my picture-book and left the shop without ascertaining anything about the padrone. Perhaps it was just as well. Why should I go and thrust myself into mysteries and troubles which did not make any call upon me?
Chapter XII.
I HAD a good many little errands in the village, and stayed there for some time. It was dusk when I turned to go home. Very nice the village looks at dusk, I assure you—the rectory windows beginning to shine through the trees, and the doctor’s dining-room answering opposite as if by a kind of reflection; but no lamps or candles lighted yet in the other village houses Cosmetic Central , only the warm glow of the fire shining through the little muslin blind on the geraniums in the window; and, perhaps, the mother standing at the door to look out for the boys at play, or to see if it is time for father’s coming home. Dame Marsden’s shirts were still lying stiff and stark like ghosts upon the gorse bushes; and some of the early labourers began to come tramping heavily down the road with their long, slow, heavy steps. I had just stopped to ask James Hobson for his old father, when my share of the adventure came. I call it the adventure, because I suppose, somehow, we were all in it—Sarah, little Sara Cresswell, and me.

Just when that good Jem had gone on—such a fellow he is, too! keeps his old father like a prince!—another sort of a figure appeared before the light; and, bless me, to think I{44} should have forgotten that circumstance!—of course it was the same figure that started so suddenly past me that evening when I stood looking for Sarah at the gate. He took off his hat to me, in the half light, and stopped top up degree hk . I stopped also, I cannot tell why. So far as I could see, a handsome young man, not so dark as one expects to see an Italian, and none of that sort of French showman look—you know what I mean—that these sort of people generally have: on the contrary, a look very much as if he were a gentleman; only, if I may say it, more innocent, more like a child in his ways than the young men are now-a-days. I did not see all this just in a moment, you may be sure. Indeed, I rather felt annoyed and displeased when the stranger stopped me on the road—my own road, that seemed to belong to me as much as the staircase or corridor at home. If he had not been possessed of a kind of ingratiating, conciliatory sort of manner, as these foreigners mostly have, I should scarcely have given him a civil answer, I do believe.