It was evident that she spoke from a sense of duty. Mrs. Lorimer straightened herself with another weary sigh.
“Run along, my dear!” she said. “I am sure you are busy.”
Olive turned, half-vexed and half-relieved, and walked to the door. Her mother watched her wistfully. It was in her mind to call her back, fold her in her arms, and appeal for sympathy. But the severity of the child’s pose was too suggestive of the Vicar’s unbending attitude towards feminine weakness, and she restrained the impulse, knowing that she would appeal in vain. There was infinitely more comfort to be found in the society of Baby Phil, and, smiling wanly at the thought, she went up to the nursery in search of it.
THE LAST DEBT
There was no combating the Vicar’s decision. Avery realized that fact from the outset even before Mrs. Lorimer’s agitated note upon the subject reached her. The fiat had gone forth, and submission was the only course.
Jeanie received the news without a murmur. “I don’t mind really,” she said. “It’s very nice here, but then it’s nice at home too when you are there. And then there is Piers too.”
Yes, there was Piers,—another consideration that filled Avery with uneasiness. No word from Piers had reached her since that early morning on the shore, but his silence did not reassure her. She had half expected a boyish letter of apology, some friendly reassurance, some word at least of his return to Rodding Abbey. But she had heard nothing. She did not so much as know if he had returned or not.
Neither had she heard from her friend Edmund Crowther. With a sense of keen disappointment she wrote to his home in the North to tell him of the change in her plans. She could not ask him to the Vicarage, and it seemed that she might not meet him after all.
She also sent a hurried note to Lennox Tudor, but they had only three days in which to terminate their visit, and she received no reply. Later, she heard that Tudor had been away for those days and did not open the note until the actual day of their return.
The other children were expected home from school during the week before Easter, and Mr. Lorimer desired that Avery should be at the Vicarage to prepare for them. So, early in the week, they returned.
It seemed that Spring had come at last. The hedges were all bursting into tenderest green, and all the world looked young.
“The primroses will be out in the Park woods,” said Jeanie. “We will go and gather heaps and heaps.”
“Are you allowed to go wherever you like there?” asked Avery, thinking of the game.
“Oh no,” said Jeanie thoughtfully. “But we always do. Mr. Marshall chases us sometimes, but we always get away.”
She smiled at the thought, and Avery frankly rejoiced to see her enthusiasm for the wicked game of trespassing in the Squire’s preserves. She did not know that the amusement had been strictly prohibited by the Vicar, and it did not occur to Jeanie to tell her. None of the children had ever paid any attention to the prohibition. There were some rules that no one could keep.