“For what we have received the Lord make us truly thankful!”
Almost before we have reached “thankful,” there is a noise of several chairs pushed back. Before you could say “knife!” we are all out of the room. All but Sir Roger! In deference, I suppose, to the feelings of the friend of his infancy, and not to appear too anxious to leave him—Sir Roger ought to have married Barbara, they two are always thinking of other people’s feelings—he delays a little, and indeed they emerge together and find me sitting on one of the uncomfortable, stiff hall-chairs, on which nobody ever sits. To my dismay, I hear father say something about the chestnut colt’s legs, and I know that another delay is in store for me. Sir Roger comes over to me, and takes his wide-awake from the stand beside me.
“We are going to the stables,” he says, patting my shoulder.
I make a second hideous face. Often have I been complimented by the boys, on the flexibility of my features.
“I shall be back in ten minutes,” he says, in a low voice; “will you wait for me in the morning-room?”
“I suppose I must,” say I, reluctantly, with a disgusted and disappointed drawing down of the corners of my mouth.
Ten minutes pass; twenty, five-and-twenty! Still he has not come back. I walk up and down the room; I look out of window at the gardeners rolling the grass; I rend a large and comely rose into tatters, while all manner of unpleasant possibilities stalk along in order before my mind’s eye. Perhaps Tempest is burnt down. Perhaps some bank, in which he has put all his money, has broken. Perhaps he has found out that his brother is not really dead after all! I dismiss this last worst suggestion as improbable. The door opens, and he enters.
“Here you are!” I cry, making a joyous rush at him. “I thought you were never coming! Please, is that your idea of ten minutes?”
“I could not help it,” he answers; “he kept me talking; I could not get away any sooner.”
“Why did you go?” say I, dutifully. “Why did not you say, when he asked you, ‘No, I will not?’ He would have done it to you as soon as look at you.”
“That would have been so polite to one’s host and father-in-law, would not it?” he answers, a little ironically. “After all, Nancy, where is the use of vexing people for nothing?”
“Not people generally,” reply I, still chafed; “but I should like some one who was not his child, and in whom it would not be disrespectful, to pay him out for keeping us all as he did this morning; he knew as well as possible that we were dying to be off; that was why he had that last cup: he did not want it any more than I did. He did not drink it; did not you see? he left three-quarters of it.”
Sir Roger does not answer, unless a slight shrug and a passing his hand across his face with a rather dispirited gesture be an answer. I feel ashamed of my petulance.