'Do you think they would have a superior man there! Our funds are low, and we must not look for great attainments at present. It is easy to cram a man if he is intelligent; I only want a person who can keep up what is taught, and manage the reading-room on nights when we are not there.'
'Only at Wrangerton as yet; I want to set up another at Coalworth.'
'Then you find it answer? How do you arrange?'
'Two nights in the week we read to them, teach singing, or get up a sort of lecture. The other days there are books, prints, newspapers; and you will be surprised to see how much they appreciate them. There's a lad now learning to draw, whose taste is quite wonderful! And if you could have seen their faces when I read them King Henry IV! I want to have the same thing at Coalworth for the winter--not in summer. I could not ask them to spend a minute, they can help, out of the free air and light; but in winter I cannot see those fine young men and boys dozing themselves into stolidity.'
Was this the man who contemned the whole English peasantry, colliers especially? Theodora rejoiced that his hobby had saved her a world of embarrassment, and still more that their tete-a-tete was interrupted. Lady Elizabeth Brandon begged to know whether Miss Martindale could see her.
She was on her way through London; and having just heard of Colonel Martindale's illness, had come to inquire, and offer to be useful. Emma remained at the hotel. After Lord Martindale's cheerful answer and warm thanks, the gentlemen set off together, and Theodora sat down with her good old friend to give the particulars, with all the fulness belonging to the first relief after imminent peril.
After the first, however, Lady Elizabeth's attention wandered; and before the retrograding story had gone quite back to the original Brogden cough, she suddenly asked if Percival Fotheringham was in England.
'Yes, at Worthbourne. You know it was his cousin--'