RUBY RUGGLES OBEYS HER GRANDFATHER
Too Long; Didn't ReadThe next day there was great surprise at Sheep's Acre farm, which communicated itself to the towns of Bungay and Beccles, and even affected the ordinary quiet life of Carbury Manor. Ruby Ruggles had gone away, and at about twelve o'clock in the day the old farmer became aware of the fact. She had started early, at about seven in the morning; but Ruggles himself had been out long before that, and had not condescended to ask for her when he returned to the house for his breakfast. There had been a bad scene up in the bedroom overnight, after John Crumb had left the farm. The old man in his anger had tried to expel the girl; but she had hung on to the bed-post and would not go; and he had been frightened, when the maid came up crying and screaming murder. "You'll be out o' this to-morrow as sure as my name's Dannel Ruggles," said the farmer panting for breath. But for the gin which he had taken he would hardly have struck her;—but he had struck her, and pulled her by the hair, and knocked her about;—and in the morning she took him at his word and was away. About twelve he heard from the servant girl that she had gone. She had packed a box and had started up the road carrying the box herself. "Grandfather says I'm to go, and I'm gone," she had said to the girl. At the first cottage she had got a boy to carry her box into Beccles, and to Beccles she had walked. For an hour or two Ruggles sat, quiet, within the house, telling himself that she might do as she pleased with herself,—that he was well rid of her, and that from henceforth he would trouble himself no more about her. But by degrees there came upon him a feeling half of compassion and half of fear, with perhaps some mixture of love, instigating him to make search for her. She had been the same to him as a child, and what would people say of him if he allowed her to depart from him after this fashion? Then he remembered his violence the night before, and the fact that the servant girl had heard if she had not seen it. He could not drop his responsibility in regard to Ruby, even if he would. So, as a first step, he sent in a message to John Crumb, at Bungay, to tell him that Ruby Ruggles had gone off with a box to Beccles. John Crumb went open-mouthed with the news to Joe Mixet, and all Bungay soon knew that Ruby Ruggles had run away.