Edward read these letters aloud, not without smiles and shakes of the head. Naturally, too, there were observations made on the persons and on the position of the affair.
“Enough!” Edward cried at last, “it is decided. She comes. You, my love, are provided for, and now we can get forward with our work. It is becoming highly necessary for me to move over to the right wing to the Captain; evenings and mornings are the time for us best to work together, and then you, on your side, will have admirable room for yourself and Ottilie.”
Charlotte made no objection, and Edward sketched out the method in which they should live. Among other things, he cried, “It is really very polite in this niece to be subject to a slight pain on the left side of her head. I have it frequently an the right. If we happen to be afflicted together, and sit opposite one another—I leaning on my right elbow, and she on her left, and our heads on the opposite sides, resting on our hands—what a pretty pair of pictures we shall make.”
The Captain thought that might be dangerous. “No, no!” cried out Edward. “Only do you, my dear friend, take care of the D, for what will become of B, if poor C is taken away from it?”
“That, I should have thought, would have been evident enough,” replied Charlotte.
“And it is, indeed,” cried Edward; “he would turn back to his A, to his Alpha and Omega;” and he sprung up and taking Charlotte in his arms, pressed her to his breast.
The carriage which brought Ottilie drove up to the door. Charlotte went out to receive her. The dear girl ran to meet her, threw herself at her feet, and embraced her knees.
“Why such humility?” said Charlotte, a little embarrassed, and endeavoring to raise her from the ground.
“It is not meant for humility,” Ottilie answered, without moving from the position in which she had placed herself; “I am only thinking of the time when I could not reach higher than to your knees, and when I had just learnt to know how you loved me.”
She stood up, and Charlotte embraced her warmly. She was introduced to the gentlemen, and was at once treated with especial courtesy as a visitor. Beauty is a welcome guest everywhere. She appeared attentive to the conversation, without taking a part in it.
The next morning Edward said to Charlotte, “What an agreeable, entertaining girl she is!”
“Entertaining!” answered Charlotte, with a smile; “why, she has not opened her lips yet!”
“Indeed!” said Edward, as he seemed to bethink himself; “that is very strange.”
Charlotte had to give the new-comer but a very few hints on the management of the household. Ottilie saw rapidly all the arrangements, and what was more, she felt them. She comprehended easily what was to be provided for the whole party, and what for each particular member of it. Everything was done with the utmost punctuality; she knew how to direct, without appearing to be giving orders, and when any one had left anything undone, she at once set it right herself.