“I wish I saw the application,” answers Barbara, still rocking and sighing.
“Mind that you set a stool for his gouty foot,” says Algy, feeling for his faint mustache, “and run and search for his spectacle-case, when he has mislaid it.”
“Seriously,” say I, “what a grand thing it would be for the family if he were to adopt you, Barbara!”
“Or me,” suggests the Brat, standing before the fire with his coat-tails under his arm. “Why not me? My manners to the aged are always considered particularly happy.”
“Here he is!” cries Tou Tou from the window, whither she has retired, and now stands, like a heron, on one leg, leaning her elbow on the sill. “Here is the dog-cart turning the corner!”
We all make a rush to the casement.
“Yes, there he is! sure enough! our future benefactor!” says Algy, looking over the rest of our heads, and making a counterfeit greeting.— “Welcome, welcome, good old man!”
“And father, all affability, pointing out the house,” supplements Bobby.
We laugh grimly.
“But who is it he has in the fly?” say I, as the second vehicle follows the first. “His harem, I suppose! half a dozen old Wampoos.”
“His valet, to be sure,” replies the Brat, chidingly, “with his stays, and his evening wig, and the calves of his legs.”
The wind is even colder than it was, stronger and more withering now that the sun’s faint warmth is withdrawn, and that the small and chilly stars possess the sky. Nevertheless, both the school-room windows are open. We are all huddled shivering round the hearth, yet no one talks of closing them. The fact is, that amateur cooking, though a graceful accomplishment, has its penalties, and that at the present moment the smell of broiled bones and fried potatoes that fills our place of learning is something appalling. Why may not it penetrate beneath the swing-door, through the passages, and reach the drawing-room? Such a thing has happened once or twice before. At the bare thought we all quake. I am in the pleasant situation, just at present, of owning a chilled body and a blazing face.
Chiefest among the cooks have I been, and now I am sitting trying to fan my red cheeks and redder nose, with the back of an old atlas, gutted in some ancient broil, trying, in deference to Sir Roger, to cool down my appearance a little against prayer-time. Alas! that epoch is nearer than I think. Ting! tang! the loud bell is ringing through the house. My hair is loosened and tumbled with stooping over the fire, and I have burnt a hole right in the fore front of my gown, by letting a hot cinder fall from the grate upon it. There is, however, now no time to repair these dilapidations. We issue from our lair, and en route meet the long string of servants filing from their distant regions. How is it that the cook’s face is so much, much