I grant myself the freedom of confessing to my Reader that I, lacking strength in composure, even in the lightest situations, could still not well deal with the matter at hand. To my dear friend I have already once said I was not befriended with dear Experience; I was baffled by its substance, as to it I had rarely been exposed - no, forgive me for the euphemism, for now I hardly can recall one event to associate with this strange figure I never knew.
My weak suit in experience, then, was well applied to the predicament: it was my very first with which the compulsion to manage it was directed to me wholly. This leadership position was tender, and so sensitive like an infant; this was but a mere bout in her illness, with which Eliza, who now seemed a dear creature to me, was mildly plagued. Had I allowed several minutes only, and a hearty jug of water, she should have been equally as fine without a doctor. But my instructions were ambiguous and full of leadership quality, and so my compulsion was strong. I would seek help, and so I sought. And yes, it would be irrational to deny that this search would be scary, for the foreignness of the thought of advancing into the town (as I had done only once or twice, and alongside Edgar) was overwhelming. You must excuse this description of my thought, intense, and doubtlessly exaggerated as it might seem; I still recollect my views acutely, and I speak with honesty.
I shrugged on again my cloak, for the haste with which I took it upon myself at the manor Newkirk did not do; I fastened it well. The sun here set very late, and I rounded this wall of stone and the marshy grasses were still very luminous. There was a steepness below the land surrounding my house, and with care I descended down those ruins of steps. I hurried still, in my ginger step. I tried to recollect again that description my brother had given me. How vague it seemed now! This composure I lacked shivered through my hands and so likewise rendered the light of memory in my mind opaque.
This village, of Clemens, was quieter than I remembered. The quietude about my own abode I thought to be from the apartness of my earth. This quietness I did not find appreciation for yet: I would recall the trademark, instead, for he who was to be trusted. What was it? A wider side-window than was usual in these parts. It was not quite so deep-set as were its neighboring dwellings. And, to finish, it was not so far from where I stayed; it lined the end-border of Clemens itself, and it was said that he who it sheltered often sat on the porch these evenings. But there was a storm just passed; I could not know if he would follow his habit to-day.
There was an old bridge over a narrow marsh: previously I always thought it an unnecessary monument, but to-day I saw its purpose, for all below it was entirely submerged in water. I crossed over it, and I saw sparse houses here and there, not so far from where I stood, tripping over these full puddles, these remnants of the tempest.
I tarried about this region, tripping now and then over my own dress. I started far east; there fit no houses to the description provided to me. I even sought higher ground so I might see farther ahead, over this east region over which I peered, there was naught of interest, and there was an ache that nearly tied me down to this ground, and a sharp tug of despair. No: I moved forth, moving a little west, and moving shallowly farther into Clemens. I might have spent an hour in this eastern side, and my spirits sank - why could not have Edgar himself taken me to this man of Carson once before? I knew absolutely naught of this village: my grimace and bitter thoughts stretched farther to whatever parent I had who had left this queer, pathetic man as my brother to be my guardian. I worked stubbornly to divert that passion away from such regret and into search for this man who was promised to aid me in trouble. If he was no where to be found, and disaster to come, then I knew at once all the guilt could fall entirely upon my brother who sailed placidly across the seas, trouble surely not a trace in his thought.
Yes, childish was this anger: but then suppression and all else aside from seeking Carson seemed ridiculous and so provoked all passion of anger and distaste. This compression was not a good one. I found heat rising to my cheeks in this failure streak. There was not a trace of the description. In Clemens, of such standard foundation, doubt constricted vigorously against my throat; I might have been expected to find a herd of pea-chicks making their way to the moor.
There was no hope East. I could not have been expected to conduct inspection deeper into the village; my destination was said to be shallow. I was bound Westward. Round corners I turned; I cared not for those who thought suspiciously of a woman wandering about these shallow parts of Clemens at such an hour. But I must perform what I was expected, and my duty was set forth.
I saw no house of the according description! I saw none! I descended for deeper inspection, spite bubbling in my throat. These thoughts of passion, at least, released that intense pressure that constricted me so tightly. But that constriction returned with a full vengeance, and tears rose to my eyes in this agitation. There was nothing! there was nothing! What house had Edgar so brilliantly informed me of? I turned around again, hoping for a renewed view, some fairy-like change of scene, of any sort, if there were. No: all was monotone, as was what I saw to my left. The tears welled again, turning all to a haze: I saw a figure man in an overcoat coming from the far east, a bundle of letters in his arm. I might, I thought, at least ask someone here, to be my last resort. He did not see me; no. He did not wear a hat. I approached him, dashing away the tears as they came.
I made to clear my throat, but instead a strangled moan issued: the man turned a little but continued his way, still unaware of my presence. I cleared my throat quietly, and a little more successfully.
"Excuse me," said I. My voice sound oddly high-pitched, and tight. He still didn't turn and the tears returned. "Excuse me!" I said this far more loudly than I expected; it sounded far more commanding than appropriate when speaking to a man I hope to receive some help for direction. The man turned well around this time, an illuminated curiosity defined in his visage. He approached nearer to me, and so I continued to speak: "Will be so kind as to direct me to a house - a house on which the side-window is far larger than is common here, and its owner is often on the porch on these evenings -" I paused: my throat caught, but it relaxed on this man's imploring, but concerned countenance. Yet my tears welled too far and fell past my cheek. In this silence, of awkwardness (needless to say), I vigorously wiped away my eyes with the heel of my hand. I pursued still: "It is not far into the village. It is in these shallow parts."
"Who do you seek?" asked he. His voice was smooth, and not entirely deep-rooted; there was a careful enunciation in his each word. But I sensed another quality in his tone, and I frowned as I peered into his face again. There was clear amusement in his eyes.
"Why should I tell you? I only ask for direction to the house. Do you know it?"
"Do you know who lives there?"
I frowned again, and hesitating, I said, "There is a Mr. Carson said to be there: I need him quickly."
The amusement he could not restrict within his visage any longer; they were clear in his eyes, the largest eyes of any man (hardly common that I did meet one) I had ever known. A smile crossed over his lips, his startlingly perfect teeth showing well. I feverishly brushed away the tears and he laughed frivolously. Impatience boiled in my veins at his jesting manner. I must have flushed heavily, for his smile faded before my words angrily tumbled before him:
"Tell me, then! I must know where he is: I need him now! I need him at once!"
"Then do come: for it was to his dwelling I was just to be. We shall go there now, if you please."
In something of a mock-gentlemanly manner, he gestured with his hands and led the way. He turned ahead a short way. Now and then I heard chuckles, even from a good distance behind him, as I stood.
"Just show me Mr. Carson," I said sharply, "and I daresay you shall be as very happy to leave me as I should be to leave you."
"Well, then, you have read my mind!"
His lips curled at my scowl, but I directed my thoughts to firmly following behind him. My eyes were well dry now, comforted that there was a Mr. Carson here. This man before me was all silence as I followed him through a pathway directing eastward to a house of dark grey, a little apart from all the other dwellings here. It was high-roofed, and it contained but only the floor of the ground. For this quality, as he led me in, I thought this manor well to swallow me; but then my frame was exceedingly little; and then again I glanced at this man who led me in here, and he could not have been a foot taller than myself.
I look around: this entrance had led directly to the drawing-room. It was very spacious, its furnishings only simple; the window here was enormous and allowed the pale blue light of an after-storm to fill this entire space. I turned to see the man releasing his bundle from his arm and set it on a little table beside him after comfortably ridding himself of his coat and leaving it on a chair. I observed him taking such liberty here, smoothing his clothes of wrinkles and briefly looking through the envelopes, and then to take his seat and casually re-tie his shoe.
"You have not once taken your eyes away from me, nor rid yourself of that grimace since I consented to take you here," he remarked, but in a cool tone, as though simply stating a fact. He stooped over to adjust his shoe, sweeping away the black hair that fell over his eyes. Heat rose directly to my face and pressure to my head, commanding me to retort at once.
"Your business is not to judge that: if you knew my situation you might have behaved just as I had."
"Firstly, I did not judge you," he responded. "And should I have been in your situation, urgent as it does seem, I hardly think I should have behaved in a repelling manner before he who is to help me. Especially when a man as Mr. Carson notices Edgar's sister rambling as such a time in Clemens, and ought to find her before she wanders too far deeply west; he should like to be civil with her if she is so with him."
I had never colored to fully and with such heat to my cheeks. I felt as though I might have passed out just now: and my tears returned threateningly.
"Oh - oh, Mr. -"
And in hearing that Mr. Carson laughed, but not so as to insult me. It was gentle and there was forgiveness in his gleaming, full, black eyes. He took my hand and bade me to sit, and said softly,
"Well then, you mustn't fret now. Do tell me what is the matter."
Comforted by his acquiesence, I brushed away at the tears and said, "The maid Eliza is very ill."
"And you came to me! You did not send for a doctor?" The amusement in his eye returned wholly, shining brightly. I started and hesitated more before speaking again, but I gave in.
"I do not know a doctor."
"That is fine. Now I consider it, it would not be wise to send for one as he is so far away from Clemens," he said as he again hastened his overcoat and threw my hand back to my side, and pulled upon the door ajar once more. "Come, then!" cried he, and I twisted my hair to one side and folded it underneath my cloak. I turned up, and I might have just seen the flash of a grin to suppress a chuckle, but he was quick to turn away before I could confirm of it. I felt a little twinge of guilt from the identity misunderstanding, but worked to waver it aside and focus on the matter at hand in its stead.
"Mr. Carson," I said, "do allow me to give you my thanks."
"Mr. Carson! Mr. Carson! I shall have none of that: I prefer Spencer, Miss Tabitha."
I was a little startled, I confess, to hear my name pronounced by him; rarely was it said by any other than Edgar, or Eliza, with whom I shared the most company. I said naught, and Mr. Carson surveyed my physiognomy suddenly, while I steadily kept my gaze ahead of me. Almost seeming as though he had just remembered why I sought his help, he sharply turned and it was he who assumed the position once again to lead the way back to the manor Newkirk.