“But it will last much longer,” said Emily; “and so you meant this for me, my sweet man. I’ll take care of it for you, and look at it sometimes till you want to spend it; that will be a very nice present for me, and then you can have it back.”
“Papa gave it him,” said Anastasia; “it’s a new one. And may we go now and look at our gardens?”
Hugh appeared to be cogitating over Emily’s proposal; his little grave face was the image of his father’s. “You may if Mrs. Nemily says so,” answered Gladys. “You always want to do what Mrs. Nemily pleases, don’t you?”
“Oh yes,” said the sprite, dancing round the room; and off they set into the garden.
“And so do we all,” said Barbara.
Gladys was sitting at Emily’s feet now, and had a little covered basket in her hand, which rustled as if it contained some living thing.
“Janie and Bertie don’t know—none of the little ones know,” said Barbara; “we thought we had better not tell them.”
Emily did not ask what they meant; she thought she knew. It could make no difference now, yet it was inexpressibly sweet and consoling to her.
“We only said we were coming to call, and when Janie saw the bouquet she said she should send you a present too.” Thereupon the basket was opened, and a small white kitten was placed on Emily’s knee.
There seemed no part for her to play, but to be passive; she could not let them misunderstand; she knew John had not sent them. “We should be so glad if you came,” whispered the one who held her hand. “Oh, Janie,” thought Emily, “if you could only see your children now!”
“And when Johnnie wrote that, he didn’t know it was you,” pleaded the other.
“My darlings!” said Emily, “you must not say any more; and I have nothing to answer but that I love you all very, very much indeed.”
“But we want you to love father too.”
Unheard-of liberty! Emily had no answer ready; but now, as she had wondered what their mother would have felt, she wondered what John would have felt at this utter misunderstanding, this taking for granted that he loved her, and that she did not love him. A sensitive blush spread itself over her face. “Your father would not be pleased, my dears,” she answered lovingly but firmly, “at your saying any more; he would think (though I am sure you do not mean it) that you were taking a great liberty.”
A CHAPTER OF TROUBLES.
“She’s daft to refuse the laird of Cockpen.”
And now John Mortimer had again possession of his ring. Emily had sent it, together with a little book that she had borrowed some time previously, and the whole was so done up in stiff paper that Miss Christie Grant supposed herself to be returning the book only.
“So you gave it to John, auntie,” said Emily, when Miss Christie came back, “and told him I was going out, and he read the note?”