A Wayside Waif. 11
' Lady,' she murmured in a low hoarse voice; and then the
tears gathered in the large dark eyes and rolled slowly down
the haggard cheeks.
' Are you ill, or in pain ? ' asked Lucille gently.
' I have been ill, lady. I was laid up in the infirmary at
the Union in London with a fever, and then I got a little
better, and they turned me out; and I set out to walk to
Dover, where I've a friend; but last night I was quite done,
and I slept under a haystack a little way from here; and
when I woke this morning I could hardly move, but I just
crawled across a field, and in through a gap in the fence, and
the place was cool and quiet, so I laid down to sleep, or to
die—I didn't much care which. You wouldn't if you was me.'
'You mustn't talk like that,' said Lucille. 'Are you
' Not now, lady. I'm past that.*
' And you are very tired ? '
' Tired! Yes ; all my bones ache with tiredness.'
' How old are you ? '
' Somewheres between seventeen and eighteen. That's as
much as I know.'
' Have you no parents ? '
' Never had none to remember.'
' No relatives or friends ?'
' None, except him that's at Dover.'
' What is your name ?'
' Your surname ? '
' Never knowed. I was alius called Bess.'
Lucille reflected for a minute or so, and then made up her
mind what must be done with this worn-out wayfarer. It
was more than a mile to the Castle, and it was evident that
the girl could hardly walk half a dozen yards. She had
dropped from sheer exhaustion. To offer her food and com¬
fort and shelter at the end of a mile's walk would be as
meaningless as to offer her a refuge in one of the stars with¬
out supplj'ing the means of transit. No, there was only
one thing to be done : Puck must carry this poor creature
to the Castle.
' I want to take you to my father's house, and to give you
food and rest,' said Lucille. ' Do you think you could sit
upon my pony if I were to lead him ? He's very quiet.'
' I don't know, lady. I don't know as I could stand on
my feet. Things look all of a swim like, as if I was in ft