It was in vain that Dr. Kennedy coaxed and Mrs. Remington threatened. Maude had taken a dislike to the stranger, and as he persisted in calling her Matilda, she persisted in refusing to answer, until at last, hearing Janet pass through the hall, she ran out to her, sure of finding comfort and sympathy there.
"I am afraid I have suffered Maude to have her own way too much, and for the future I must be more strict with her," said Mrs. Remington apologetically; while the doctor replied, "I think, myself, a little wholesome discipline would not be amiss. 'Tis a maxim of mine, spare the rod and spoil the child; but, of course, I shall not interfere in the matter."
This last he said because he saw a shadow flit over the fair face of the widow, who, like most indulgent mothers, did not wholly believe in Solomon. The sight of Janet in the hall suggested a fresh subject to the doctor's mind, and, after coughing a little, he said, "Did I understand that your domestic was intending to join you at Laurel Hill?"
"Yes," returned Mrs. Remington, "Janet came to live with my mother when I was a little girl no larger than Maude. Since my marriage she has lived with me, and I would not part with her for anything."
"But do you not think two kinds of servants are apt to make trouble, particularly if one is black and the other white?" and in the speaker's face there was an expression which puzzled Mrs. Remington, who could scarce refrain from crying at the thoughts of parting with Janet, and who began to have a foretaste of the dreary homesickness which was to wear her life away.
"I can't do without Janet," she said; "she knows all my ways, and I trust her with everything."
"The very reason why she should not go," re turned the doctor." She and old Hannah would quarrel at once. You would take sides with Janet, I with Hannah, and that might produce a feeling which ought never to exist between man and wife. No, my dear, listen to me in this matter, and let Janet remain in Vernon. Old Hannah has been in my family a long time. She was formerly a slave, and belonged to my uncle, who lived in Virginia, and who, at his death, gave her to me. Of course I set her free, for I pride myself on being a man of humanity, and since that time she has lived with us, superintending the household entirely since Mrs. Kennedy's death. She is very peculiar, and would never suffer Janet to dictate, as I am sure, from what you say, she would do. So, my dear, try and think all is for the best. You need not tell her she is not to come, for it is a maxim of mine to avoid all unnecessary scenes, and you can easily write it in a letter."
Poor Mrs. Remington! she knew intuitively that the matter was decided, and was she not to be forgiven if at that moment she thought of the grass-grown grave whose occupant had in life been only too happy granting her slightest wish? But Harry was gone, and the man with whom she now had to deal was an exacting, tyrannical master, to whose will her own must ever be subservient. This, however, she did not then understand. She knew he was not at all like Harry, but she fancied that the difference consisted in his being so much older, graver, and wiser than her husband had been, and so with a sigh she yielded the point, thinking that Janet would be the greater sufferer of the two.