“How do you know that?” cry I, gayly, and then the recollection of my hint to Sir Roger—a remembrance that always makes me rather hot— comes over me, and causes me to turn my head quickly away with a red blush. “It certainly has a look of Barbara,” I say, glancing toward the Saint Catherine, and rushing quickly into another subject.
“Has it?” he says, apparently unaware of the rapidity of my transition. “Then I wish I knew Barbara.”
“I dare say you do.”
“She is not much like you, I suppose?” he says, turning from the saint’s straight and strict Greek profile to the engaging irregularity of mine.
“Not exactly,” say I, with emphasis. “Ah!” (in a tone of prospective triumph), “wait till you see her!”
“I am afraid that I shall have to wait some time.”
“The Brat—that is one of my brothers, you know—is the one like me,” I say, becoming diffuse, as I always do, when the theme of my family is started; “we are like! We can see it ourselves.”
“Is he one of the thick-skinned six that you told me about?”
“There are not six,” cry I, impatiently. “I do not know what put it into your head that there were six there are only three.”
“You certainly told me there were six.”
“I am he in petticoats,” say I, resuming the thread of my own narrative; “everybody sees the likeness. One day when he was three or four years younger, we dressed him up in my things—my gown and bonnet, you know—and all the servants took him for me; they only found him out because he held up his gown so awkwardly high, and gave it such great kicks to keep it out of his way, that they saw his great nailed boots! Sir Roger thought we were twins the first time he saw us.”
“Sir Roger!” repeats the young man, as if reminded by the name of something he had meant to say. “Oh, by-the-by, if you will not think me impertinent for asking, where did you first fall in with Sir Roger? I should have thought that he was rather out of your beat; you do not hail from his part of the world, do you?”
“No,” reply I, my thoughts traveling back to the day when we made taffy, and tumbled over each other, hot and sticky to the window, to see the dog-cart bearing the stranger roll up the drive. “I never saw him till this last March, when he came to stay with us.”
“To stay with you?”
“Yes,” reply I, thinking of our godless jokes about his wig and his false calves, and smiling gently to myself; “he was an old friend of father’s.”
“A contemporary, I suppose?” (a little inquisitively).
“Yes, he was at school with father,” I answer; and the moment I have given utterance to the abhorred formula I repent.
“At school with him?” (speaking rather slowly, and looking at me, with a sort of flickering smile in lips and eyes). “Oh, I see!”