True Tilda

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TRUE TILDA***

E-text prepared by Lionel G. Sear--A Lifetime Enthusiast of the British Inland Waterway System

Transcriber's note: This was one of the most enjoyable e-texts that I have prepared but also one of the most difficult. Many of the characters use the working class slang and dialect of 100 years ago and the author sticks to this consistently throughout the book. At times there seems to be as many apostrophes as characters! The printers have spaced these out and I hope that I have joined them up acceptably for our purpose.

Chapter X of the original book contained a diagram of a tattoo, and another diagram appeared in Chapter XX. Text has been added to substitute for these diagrams.

TRUE TILDA

By "Q" (A.T. QUILLER-COUCH)

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I AT THE SIGN OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN.

II HOW TRUE TILDA CAME TO DOLOROUS GARD

III A KIDNAPPING

IV IN WHICH CHILDE ARTHUR LOSES ONE MOTHER AND GAINS ANOTHER

V TEMPORARY EMBARRASSMENTS OF A THESPIAN

VI MR. MORTIMER'S ADVENTURE

VII IN WHICH MR. HUCKS TAKES A HAND

VIII FLIGHT

IX FREEDOM

X THE FOUR DIAMONDS.

XI THE "STRATFORD-ON-AVON"

XII PURSUED

XIII ADVENTURE OF THE FURRED COLLAR

XIV ADVENTURE OF THE PRIMROSE FETE

XV ADVENTURE OF THE FAT LADY

XVI ADVENTURES OF THE "FOUR ALLS" AND OF THE CELESTIAL CHEMIST

XVII BY WESTON WEIR

XVIII DOWN AVON

XIX THE S.S. _EVAN EVANS_

XX INISTOW FARM

XXI THE HUNTED STAG

XXII THE VOYAGE

XXIII THE ISLAND

XXIV GLASSON IN CHASE

XXV MISS SALLY BREAKS THE DOORS

XXVI THE RESCUE

EPILOGUE

CHAPTER I

AT THE SIGN OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN

"_That it may please Thee to preserve all that travel by land or by water . . . all sick persons, and young children._"--THE LITANY.

"I love my love with a H'aitch, because he's 'andsome--"

Tilda turned over on her right side--she could do so now without pain-- and lifting herself a little, eyed the occupant of the next bed. The other six beds in the ward were empty.

"I 'ate 'im, because--look 'ere, I don't believe you're listenin'?"

The figure in the next bed stirred feebly; the figure of a woman, straight and gaunt under the hospital bedclothes. A tress of her hair had come uncoiled and looped itself across the pillow--reddish auburn hair, streaked with grey. She had been brought in, three nights ago, drenched, bedraggled, chattering in a high fever; a case of acute pneumonia. Her delirium had kept Tilda--who was preternaturally sharp for her nine years--awake and curious during the better part of two night-watches. Thereafter, for a day and a night and half a day, the patient had lain somnolent, breathing hard, at intervals feebly conscious. In one of these intervals her eyes had wandered and found the child; and since then had painfully sought her a dozen times, and found her again and rested on her.

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