A young girl, Ellen Melville, working her way in Edinburgh, meets and loves the picturesque Richard Yaverland. When the scene changes to Sussex, where they go to live with Richard's mother, Ellen becomes drawn into a domestic tragedy in which the mother's past and Richard's attachment to her, spin the plot. The tone is intense throughout, the first part lyrical, the last an inexorable Greek tragedy.
in the day but Saturday mornings, and you ken Mr. Philip's away to London for the week-end by the 8.30, so he's seeing him the night. Mr. Philip would be thankful if you'd stop."
"I will so, Mr. James," said Ellen.
"You're sure your mother'll not be feared?"
"What way would my mother be feared," said Ellen, "and me seventeen past?"
"There's many a lassie who's found being seventeen no protection from a wicked world." He emitted some great Burns-night chuckles, and kicked the fire to a blaze.
She said sternly, "Take note, Mr. James, that I haven't done a hand's turn this hour or more, and that not for want of asking for work. Dear knows I have my hand on Mr. Morrison's door-knob half the day."
Mr. James got up to go. "You're a fierce hussy, and mean to be a partner in the firm before you've done with us."
"If I were a man I would be that."
"Better than that for you, lassie, better than that. Wait till a good man comes by."
She snorted at the closing door, but felt that he had come n
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