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"I thought it would be dreadful,' continued Mysie, 'when the grown-ups went out on a round of visits, and we had no drawingroom, and no Cousin Rotherwood ; but Cousin Florence came every day, and once she had us to dinner, and that was nice; and once she took us to Boechcroft to see Primrose, and if it was not fine enough for Fly to go out, she came for me, and I went to her cottages with her. Oh, I did like that! And when the whooping-cough came, you can't think how very kind she was, and Miss Elbury too. They both seemed only to think how to make me happy, though I didn't feel ill a bit, except when I whooped ; but they seemed so sorry for me, and so pleased that I didn't make more fuss. I couldn't, you know, when poor Fly was so ill. And when she grew better, we were all so glad, that somehow it made us all like a sort of a kind of a home together, though it could not be that.'
Mysie's English had scarcely improved, whatever her French had done; but Gillian gathered that she had had far more grievances to overcome, and had met them in a very different spirit from herself.
As to the schoolroom arrangements, which would have been so convenient to the aunts, it was evident that the matter had not yet been decisively settled, though the children took it for granted. It was pretty to see how Mysie was almost devoured by Fergus and Valetta, hanging on either side of her as she sat, and Gillian as near as they would allow, while the four tongues went on unceasingly.
It was only horrid, Valetta said, that Mysie should sleep in a different house; but almost as much of her company was vouchsafed on the ensuing day, Sunday, for Miss Elbury had relations at Rockquay, and was released for the entire day; and Fly was still so tired in the morning that she was not allowed to get up early in the day.
Her mother, however, came in to go to church with Adeline Mohun, and Gillian, who had heard so much of the great Marchioness, was surprised to see a small slight woman, not handsome, and wornlooking about the eyes. At the first glance she was plainly dressed ; but the eye of a connoisseur like Aunt Ada could detect the exquisiteness of the material and the taste, and the slow soft tone of her voice ; and every gesture and phrase showed that she had all her life been in the habit of condescending-in fact, thought Gillian, revolving her recent experience, though Lady Liddesdale and all her set are taller, finer-looking people, they are not one bit so grand-no, not that, but so unapproachable, as I am sure she is. She is gracious, while they are just good-natured!
Aunt Ada was evidently pleased with the graciousness, and highly delighted to have to take this distinguished personage to church. Mysie was with her sisters, Valetta was extremely anxious to take her to the Sunday drawing-room class, whether for the sake of showing her to Mrs. Hablot, or Mrs. Hablot to her, did not appear.
Gillian was glad to be asked to sit with Fly in the meantime. It
was a sufficient reason for not repairing to the garden, and she hoped that Kalliope was unaware of her return, little knowing of the replies by which Fergus repaid Alexis for his assistance in mineral hunting. She had no desire to transgress Miss Mohun's desire that no further intercourse should take place till she herself had spoken with Kalliope.
She found little Phyllis Devereux a great deal taller and thinner than the droll childish being who had been so amusing two years before at Silverfold; but eagerly throwing herself into her arms with the same affectionate delight. All the table was spread with pretty books and outlined illuminations waiting to be painted, and some really beautiful illustrated Sunday books, but as Gillian touched the first, Fly cried out, “Oh! don't. I am so tired of all those things! And this is such a stupid window. I thought at least I should see the people going to church, and this looks at nothing but the old sea and a tiresome garden.'
· That is thought a special advantage,' said Gillian, smiling.
•No, and that is nice, and very nice for Mysie. How are all the dear beasts at Silverfold-Begum, and all ?
"I am afraid I do not know more about them than Mysie does. Aunt Jane heard this morning that she must go down there tomorrow to meet the health-man and see what he says; but she won't take any of us because of the diphtheria and the scarlet fever being about.'
Oh dear, how horrid those catching things are! I've not seen Ivinghoe all this winter! Ah! but they are good sometimes! If it had not been for the measles, I should never have had that most delicious time at Silverfold, nor known Mysie. Now, please tell me all about where you have been, and what you have been doing?'
Fly knew some of the younger party that Gillian had met at Rowthorpe; but she was more interested in the revels at Vale Leston, and required a precise description of the theatricals, or still better, of the rehearsals. Never was there a more appreciative audience, of how it all began, from Kit Harewood, the young sailor, having sent home a lion's skin from Africa, which had already served for tableaux of Androcles and of Una-how the boy element had insisted on fun, and the child element on fairies, and how Mrs. William Harewood had suggested Midsummer Night's Dream as the only combination of the three essentials, lion, fun, and fairy, and pronounced that education had progressed far enough for the representation to be 'understanded of the people,' at least by the 6th and 7th standards. On the whole, however, comprehension seemed to have been bounded by intense admiration of the little girl fairies, whom the old women appeared to have taken for angels, for one had declared that to hear little Miss Cherry and Miss Katie singing their hymns like the angels they was, was just like Heaven. She must have had an odd notion of Spotted snakes with double tongues. Moreover, effect was added to the said hymns by Uncle Lance behind the scenes.
Then there was the account of how it had been at first intended that Oberon should be represented by little Sir Adrian, with his Bexley cousin, Pearl Underwood, for his Titania ; but though she was fairy enough for anything, he turned out so stolid, and uttered, 'Well met by moonlight, proud Titania,' the only lines he ever learnt, exactly like a lesson, besides crying whenever asked to study his part, that the attempt had to be given up, and the Fairy sovereigns had to be of large size, Mr. Grinstead pronouncing that probably this was intended by Shakspeare, as Titania was a name of Diana, and he combined Grecian nymphs with English fairies. So Gerald Underwood had to combine the part of Peter Quince (including Thisbe) with that of Oberon, and the queen was offered to Gillian.
‘But I had learnt Hermia,' she said, and I saw it was politeness, so I wouldn't, and Anna Vanderkist is ever so much prettier, besides being used to acting with Gerald. She did look perfectly lovely, asleep on the moss in the scene Mrs. Grinstead painted and devised for her! There was—-'
Oh! not only the prettiness, I don't care for that. One gets enough of the artistic, but the fun—the dear fun.'
• There was fun enough, I am sure,' said Gillian. •Puck was FelixPearl's brother, you know-eleven years old, so clever, and an awful imp—and he was Moon besides ; but the worst of it was that his dog—it was a funuy rough terrier at the Vicarage—was so furious at the lion, when Adrian was roaring under the skin that nobody could hear, and Adrian got frightened, as well he might, and crept out from under it, screaming, and there fell the lion, collapsing flat in the middle of the place. Even Theseus-Major Harewood, you know, who had tried to be as grave as a judge, and so polite to the actors—could not stand that, interpolation as he called it, of "the man in the moon—not to say the dog," came down too soon -Why, Fly
For Fly was in such a paroxysm of laughter, as to end in a violent fit of coughing, and to bring Lady Rotherwood in, vexed and anxious.
Oh, mother! it was only—it was only the lion's skin— ' and off went Fly, laughing and coughing again.
"I was telling her about the acting of Midsummer Night's Dream at Vale Leston,' explained Gillian.
'I should not have thought that a suitable subject for the day,' said the Marchioness gravely, and Fly's endeavour to say it was her fault for asking about it, was silenced by choking, and Gillian found herself courteously dismissed in polite disgrace, and as she felt, not entirely without justice.
It was a great disappointment that Aunt Jane did not think it well to take any of the young people to their home with her. As she said, she did not believe that they would catch anything; but it was better to be on the safe side, and she fully expected that they would spend most of the day with Mysio and Fly.
I wish I could go and talk to Kalliope, my dear,' she said to Gillian ; ‘but I am afraid it must wait another day.'
Oh, never mind,' said Gillian, as they bade each other good-night at their doors; "they don't know that I am come home, so they will not expect me.'
(To be continued.)
BY HELEN SHIPTON, AUTHOR OF CAIRNFROTH,' ETC.
THE HOUSE WARMING.
And the cypress bough is—Death.' TIME passed swiftly on, and brought with it a break up of the party at the Hall. Raymond could no longer neglect the very little business with which he pretended to occupy himself, and went reluctantly back to town, not having made as much progress in his wooing as he could have wished. It was not only that Dagmar's feelings were hard to touch, but his own needed so much arousing. He resolved to try what absence would do, and departed, promising to come back at Christmas.
Agnes Morrison went to her aunt at Brighton for the winter, and Maurice Claughton, perhaps finding a stationary existence somewhat dull, went off to visit some of the English lions, also promising to come back in December.
The family at the Hall were genuinely sorry to lose him. He had become more one of themselves than they had at first imagined possible, and no one who saw his frankly affectionate manner towards Mr. and Mrs. Tyndal would have believed in the shy stiffness which he had shown on his first arrival. Nevertheless the shyness was there, though much in obeyance, and every now and then a chance word or allusion would freeze him up for a time into incomprehensible gloom and stateliness.
But as a rule he was excellent company, and good friends, in a fitful sort of fashion, with Dagmar, and always admired, followed, and looked up to, by Dick.
The repairs at the Court went on but slowly, and were being well and thoroughly done. Some eccentricities the Squire and his ex-ward managed to commit between them, for Mr. Tyndal was apt to give his opinions at random, and Maurice was almost absurdly docile—up to a certain point.
But he would never consent to alter a plan once made, or counterorder what he had once ordered. He would hasten to carry out a suggestion of his old friend's as if he had no will of his own; but the thing once begun or even ordered, was as the laws of the Medes and Persians, and altered not.