In which may be found a full, true, and particular account of the sale
“Uncle Porges, there’s a little man in the hall with a red, red nose, an’ a blue, blue chin,—”
“Yes, I’ve seen him,—also his nose, and chin, my Porges.”
“But he’s sticking little papers with numbers on them, all over my Auntie Anthea’s chairs,—an’ tables. Now what do you s’pose he’s doing that for?”
“Who knows? It’s probably all on account of his red nose, and blue chin, my Porges. Anyway, don’t worry about him,—let us rather, find our Auntie Anthea.”
They found her in the hall. And it was a hall, here, at Dapplemere, wide, and high, and with a minstrel’s gallery at one end; a hall that, years and years ago, had often rung with the clash of men-at-arms, and echoed with loud, and jovial laughter, for this was the most ancient part of the Manor.
It looked rather bare, and barren, just now, for the furniture was all moved out of place,—ranged neatly round the walls, and stacked at the farther end, beneath the gallery where the little man in question, blue of chin, and red of nose, was hovering about it, dabbing little tickets on chairs, and tables,—even as Small Porges had said.
And, in the midst of it all, stood Anthea, a desolate figure, Bellew thought, who, upon his entrance, bent her head to draw on her driving gloves, for she was waiting for the dog-cart which was to bear her, and Small Porges to Cranbrook, far away from the hollow tap of the auctioneer’s hammer.
“We’re getting rid of some of the old furniture, you see, Mr. Bellew,” she said, laying her hand on an antique cabinet nearby,—“we really have much more than we ever use.”
“Yes,” said Bellew. But he noticed that her eyes were very dark and wistful, despite her light tone, and that she had laid her hand upon the old cabinet with a touch very like a caress.
“Why is that man’s nose so awful’ red, and his chin so blue, Auntie Anthea?” enquired Small Porges, in a hissing stage whisper.
“Hush Georgy!—I don’t know,” said Anthea.
“An’ why is he sticking his little numbers all over our best furniture!”
“That is to guide the auctioneer.”
“Where to,—an’ what is an auctioneer?”
But, at this moment, hearing the wheels of the dog-cart at the door, Anthea turned, and hastened out into the sunshine.
“A lovely day it do be for drivin’,” said Adam touching his hat, “an’ Bess be thinkin’ the same, I do believe!” and he patted the glossy coat of the mare, who arched her neck, and pawed the gravel with an impatient hoof. Lightly, and nimbly Anthea swung herself up to the high seat, turning to make Small Porges secure beside her, as Bellew handed him up.
“You’ll—look after things for me, Adam?” said Anthea, glancing back wistfully into the dim recesses of the cool, old hall.