Mr. Benson was silent, and walked a step onwards. Miss Benson said boldly out--
"The lady I named in my note, Sally--Mrs. Denbigh, a distant relation."
"Ay, but you said hoo was a widow. Is this chit a widow?"
"Yes, this is Mrs. Denbigh," answered Miss Benson.
"If I'd been her mother, I'd ha' given her a lollypop instead on a husband. Hoo looks fitter for it."
"Hush! Sally, Sally! Look, there's your master trying to move that heavy box." Miss Benson calculated well when she called Sally's attention to her master; for it was believed by every one, and by Sally herself, that his deformity was owing to a fall he had had when he was scarcely more than a baby, and intrusted to her care--a little nurse-girl, as she then was, not many years older than himself. For years the poor girl had cried herself to sleep on her pallet bed, moaning over the blight her carelessness had brought upon her darling; nor was this self-reproach diminished by the forgiveness of the gentle mother, from whom Thurstan Benson derived so much of his character. The way in which comfort stole into Sally's heart was in the gradually-formed resolution that she would never leave him nor forsake him, but serve him faithfully all her life long; and she had kept to her word. She loved Miss Benson, but she almost worshipped the brother. The reverence for him was in her heart, however, and did not always show itself in her manners. But if she scolded him herself, she allowed no one else that privilege. If Miss Benson differed from her brother, and ventured to think his sayings or doings might have been improved, Sally came down upon her like a thunder-clap.
"My goodness gracious, Master Thurstan, when will you learn to leave off meddling with other folks' business? Here, Ben! help me up with these trunks."
The little narrow passage was cleared, and Miss Benson took Ruth into the sitting-room. There were only two sitting-rooms on the ground-floor, one behind the other. Out of the back room the kitchen opened, and for this reason the back parlour was used as the family sitting-room; or else, being, with its garden aspect, so much the pleasanter of the two, both Sally and Miss Benson would have appropriated it for Mr. Benson's study. As it was, the front room, which looked to the street, was his room; and many a person coming for help--help of which giving money was the lowest kind--was admitted, and let forth by Mr. Benson, unknown to any one else in the house. To make amends for his having the least cheerful room on the ground-floor, he had the garden bedroom, while his sister slept over his study. There were two more rooms again over these, with sloping ceilings, though otherwise large and airy. The attic looking into the garden was the spare bedroom; while the front belonged to Sally. There was no room over the kitchen, which was, in fact, a supplement to the house. The sitting-room was called by the pretty, old-fashioned name of the parlour, while Mr. Benson's room was styled the study.