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HOME > Short Stories > Light O' The Morning > CHAPTER XIV. — BITS OF SLANG.
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 Early the next morning Nora was awakened from a somewhat heavy sleep by someone pulling her violently by the arm.  
“Wake up! wake up!” said a voice; and then Nora, who had been dreaming of her father, and also of Andy Neil, started up, crying as she did so, “Oh, don't, Andy! I know father will let you stay a little longer in the cot. Don't, don't, Andy!”
“Who, in the name of fortune, is Andy?” called the clear voice of Molly Hartrick. “Do wake up, Nora, and don't look so dazed. You really are a most exciting person to have staying in the house. Who is Andy, and what cot are you going to turn him out of? Is he a baby?”
Nora now began to laugh.
“I quite forgot that I was in England,” she said. “Am I really in England? Are you—are you——Oh, now I remember everything. You are Molly Hartrick. What is the hour? Is it late? Have I missed breakfast?”
“Bless you, child! lie down and keep quiet; it's not more than six o'clock. I wanted to see some more of you all by myself. I am out of punishment now; it ended at midnight, and I am as free as anybody else; but as it is extremely likely I shall be back in punishment by the evening, I thought we would have a little chat while I was able to have it. Just make way for me in your bed; I'll nestle up close to you, and we'll be ever so jolly.”
“Oh, do,” said Nora, in a hearty tone.
Molly scrambled in, taking the lion's share of the bed, Nora lay on the edge.
“I am glad you are facing the light, for I can examine your features well,” said Molly. “You certainly are very nice-looking. How prettily your eyebrows are arched, and what white teeth you have! And, although you have that wonderful black hair, you have a fair skin, and your cheeks have just enough color; not too much. I hate florid people; but you are just perfect.”
“I wish you would not flatter me, Molly,” said Nora; “nobody flatters me in Ireland.”
“They don't? But I thought they were a perfect nation of flatterers. I am sure it is always said of them.”
“Oh, if you mean the poor people,” said Nora; “they make pretty speeches, but nobody thinks anything about that. Everybody makes pretty speeches to everybody else, except when we are having a violent scold by way of a change.”
“How delicious!” said Molly. “And what sort of house have you? Like this?”
“No, not the least like this,” answered Nora.
“With what emphasis you speak. Do you know that father told me you lived in a beautiful place, a castle hanging over the sea, and that your mountains and your sea and your old castle were things to be proud of?”
“Did he? Did your father really say that?” asked Nora. She sat up on her elbow; her eyes were shining; they assumed a look which Nora's eyes often wore when she was, as she expressed it, “seeing things out of her head.” Far-off castles in the clouds would Nora look at then; rainbow-tinted were they, and their summits reached heaven. Molly gazed at her with deepening interest.
“Yes, Nora,” she said; “he did say it. He told me so before Terence came; but I—do forgive me—I don't care for Terence.”
“You must not talk against him to me,” said Nora, “because he happens to be my brother; but I'll just whisper one thing back to you, Molly—if he was not my brother he would not suit me.”
“How nice of you to say that! We shall get on splendidly. Of course, you must stick up for him, being your brother; he stuck up for you before you came. It is very nice and loyal of you, and I quite understand. But, dear me! I am not likely to see much of you while you are here.”
“Why not? Are you not going to stay here?”
“Oh, my dear, yes; I'll stay. School has just begun over again, you know, and I am always in hot water. I cannot help it; it is a sort of way of mine. This is the kind of way I live. Breakfast every morning; then a lecture from mother or from father. Off I go in low spirits, with a great, sore heart inside me; then comes the hateful discipline of school; and every day I get into disgrace. I have a lot of lessons returned, and am low down in my class, instead of high up, and am treated from first to last as a naughty child. By the middle of the day I am a very naughty child indeed.”
“But you are not a child at all, Molly; you are a woman. Why, you are older than I.”
“Oh, what have years to do with it?” interrupted Molly. “I shall be a child all my days, I tell you. I shall never be really old. I like mischief and insubordination, and—and—let me whisper it to you, little Nora—vulgarity. Yes, I do love to be vulgar. I like shocking mother; I like shocking father. Since Terence came I have had rare fun shocking him. I have learned a lot of slang, and whenever I see Terence I shout it at him. He has got quite nervous lately, and avoids me. He likes Linda awfully, but he avoids me. But, to go on with my day. I am back from school to early dinner, generally in disgrace. I am not allowed to speak at dinner. Back again I go to school, and I am home, or supposed to be home, at half-past four; but not a bit of it, my dear; I don't get home till about six, because I am kept in to learn my lessons. It is disgraceful, of course; but it is a fact. Then back I come, and mother has a talk with me. However busy mother may be, and she is a very busy woman, Nora—you will soon find that out—she always has time to find out if I have done anything naughty; and, as fibs are not any of my accomplishments, I always tell her the truth; and then what do you think happens? An evening quite to myself in my bedroom; my dinner sent up to me there, and I eating it in solitary state. They are all accustomed to it. They open their eyes and almost glare at me when by a mere chance I do come down to dinner. They are quite uncomfortable, because, you see, I am waiting my opportunity to fire slang at one of them. I always do, and always will. I never could fit into the dull life of the English.”
“You must be Irish, really,” said Nora.
“You don't say so! But I am afraid I am not. I would give all the world to be, but am quite certain I am not. There, now, of course I'd be awfully scolded if it was found out that I had awakened you at this hour, and had confided my little history to you. I am over sixteen. I shall be seventeen in ten months' time. And that is my history, insubordination from first to last. I don't suppose anybody really likes me, unless it is poor Annie Jefferson at school.”
“Who is Annie Jefferson, Molly?”
“A very shabby sort of girl, who is always in hot water too. I have taken to her, and she just adores me. There is no one else who loves me; and she, poor child, would not be admitted inside these walls; she is not aristocratic enough. Dear me, Nora! it is wrong of me to give you all this information so soon; and don't look anxious about me, little goose, for I have taken an enormous fancy to you.”
“I will tell you one thing,” said Nora after a pause, “if you will never tell again.”
“Oh, a secret!” said Molly. “Tell it out, Nora. I love secrets. I'll never betray; I have no friends to betray them to. You may tell me with all the heart in the world.”
“Well, it is this,” said Nora; “we are not at all rich at home. We are poor, and have no luxuries and the dear old house is very bare; and, oh! but, Molly, there is no place like it—no place like it. It's worth all the world to me; and when I came here last night, and saw your great, rich, beautiful house, I—I quite hated it, and I almost hated Linda too; and even my uncle, who has been so kind, I could not get up one charitable thought for him, nor for your mother, who is such a beautiful, gracious lady; and even Terence—oh! Terry seemed quite English. Oh, I was miserable! But when I saw you, Molly, I said to myself, 'There is one person who will fit me'; and—oh, don't Molly! What is it?”
“Only, if you say another word I shall squeeze you to death in the hug I am giving you,” said Molly. Her arms were flung tightly round Nora's neck. She kissed her passionately three or four times.
“We'll be friends. I'll stick up for you through thick and thin,” said Molly. “And now I'm off; for if Linda caught me woe betide me.”
“One word before you go, Molly,” called out Nora.
“Yes,” said Molly, standing at the door.
“Try to keep straight to-day, for my sake, for I shall want to say a great deal to you to-night.”
“Oh, yes, so I will,” answered Molly. “Now then, off I go.”
The door was banged behind her. It awoke Mrs. Hartrick, who turned slowly on her pillow, and said to herself, “I am quite certain that wicked girl Molly has been disturbing our poor little traveler.” But she fell asleep, and Nora lay thinking of Molly. How queer she was! And yet—and yet she was the only person in the English home who had yet managed to touch Nora's warm Irish heart.
The rest of the day passed somewhat soberly. Molly and Linda both started for school immediately after an early breakfast. Terence went to town with his uncle, and Nora and her aunt were left alone. She had earnestly hoped that she might have had one of her first important talks with Mr. Hartrick before he left that morning; but he evidently had no idea of giving her an opportunity. He spoke to her kindly, but seemed to regard her already as quite one of the family, and certainly w............
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