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The boy was right. Where the white
blind fluttered was the dominie's bedroom,
and there the dominie lay dying. A gaunt,
square, ugly room, with panelled walls, on
which the paint had cracked and rubbed
and blistered, with such furniture as it
possessed old fashioned, lumbering, and
mean, with evidence of poverty everywhere
evidence of poverty which a woman's
hand had evidently tried to screen and
soften without much effect. The bed, its
well-worn red moreen curtains with a dirty
yellow border having been tightly bound
round each sculptured post for the admittance
of air, stood near the window, on
which its occupant frequently turned his
glazed and sunken eyes. The sun had
gone to rest, the invalid had marked its
sinking, and so had those who watched
him. The same thought had occurred to
all, though not a word had been spoken; but
the roseate flush which he leaves behind
still lingered in the heavens, and, as if in
mockery, gave momentarily to the dying
man's cheek a bright healthy hue, such as
he was destined never to wear in life again.
The flush grew fainter, and faded away,
and then a glance at the face, robbed of its
artificial glory, must have been conclusive
as to the inevitable result. For the cheeks
were hollow and sunken, yellowish-white
in colour, and cold and clammy to the
touch; the eyes, with scarcely any fire left
in them, seemed set in large bistre rings;
the nose was thin and pinched, and the
bloodless lips were tightly compressed with
an expression of acute pain.

The Reverend James Ashurst was dying.
Every one in Helmingham knew that, and
nearly every one had a word of kindness
and commiseration for the stricken man,
and for his wife and daughter. Dr. Osborne
had carried the news up to the Park several
days previously, and Sir Thomas had
hemmed and coughed and said, "Dear
me," and Lady Churchill had shaken her
head piteously, on hearing it. "And nothing
much to leave in the way of——eh,
my dear doctor?" It was the doctor's
turn to shake his head then, and he solaced
himself with a large pinch of snuff, taken
in a flourishing and sonorous manner,
before he replied that he believed matters
in that way were much worse than people
thought; that he did not believe there was
a single pennynot a single penny: indeed,
it was a thing not to be generally talked
of, but he might mention it in the strictest
confidence to Sir Thomas and my lady,
who had always proved themselves such
good friends to the Ashurststhat was, he
had mentioned to Mrs. Ashurst that there
was one faint hope of saving her husband's
life, if he would submit to a certain operation
which only one man in England,
Godby, of St. Vitus's Hospital in London,
could perform. But when he had mentioned
Godby's probable feeand you could not
expect these eminent men to leave their
regular work and come down such a long
distance under a large sumhe saw at
once how the land lay, and that it was impossible
for them to raise the money. Miss
Ashurstcurious girl that, so determined
and all that kind of thinghad indeed
pressed him so hard that he had sent his
man over to the telegraph office at Brocksopp
with a message, inquiring what would
be Godby's exact charge for running down
it was a mere question of distance with
these men, so much a mile and so much for
the operationbut he knew the sum he
had named was not far out.

From the Park Dr. Osborne had driven
his very decorous little four-wheeler to
Woolgreaves, the residence of the Creswells,
his other great patients, and there he
had given a modified version of his story,
with a very much modified result. For old
Mr. Creswell was away in France, and
neither of the two young ladies was of an
age to feel much sympathy, unless with
their intimate relations, and they had been
educated abroad, and seen but little of the
Helmingham folk; and as for Tom Creswell,
he was the imp of the school, having
all Sam Baker's love of mischief without
any of his good heart, and would not have
cared who was ill or who died, provided
illness or death afforded occasion for slacking
work and making holiday. Every one
else in the parish was grieved at the news.
The rectorbland, polished, and well endowed
with worldly goodshad been most
actively compassionate towards his less
fortunate brother; the farmers, who looked
upon "Master Ashurst" as a marvel of
book learning, the labourers who had consented
to the removal of the village sports,
held from time immemorial on the village
green, to a remote meadow whence the
noise could not penetrate to the sick man's
room, and who had considerately lowered
the matter as well as the manner of their
singing as they passed the school-house at
night in jovial chorus; all these people
pitied the old man dying, and the old wife
whom he would leave behind. They did not
say much about the daughter; when they
referred to her it was generally to the effect