Warned by my last experience, I said nothing in answer; and after a moment Kilian said:
“Well, if Richard’s having a good time, you may be sure he’s made some favorable negotiation, and comes home with good news for the firm. That’s his idea of a good time, you know.”
“Ah!” said Sophie, gently, “that’s his brother’s idea of his idea. It isn’t mine.”
Charlotte Benson seemed a little nettled at this, and exclaimed,
“Mrs. Hollenbeck! you are making us all unhappy. You are leading us to suspect that the stern man of business is unbending. What’s the influence at work? What makes this journey different from other journeys? Where does he tarry, oh, where?”
“Nonsense!” said Sophie, with a little laugh. “You cannot say I have implied anything of the sort. Cannot Richard enjoy a journey without your censure or suspicion? You must be careful; he does not fancy teasing.”
“O, I shall not accuse him, you may be sure; that is, if he ever comes. Do you believe he really ever will?”
“Not if he thinks you want him,” said Kilian, amiably. “He has a great aversion to being made much of.”
“Yes, a family trait,” interrupted Charlotte, at which everybody laughed, no one more cordially than Miss Leighton.
“Leave off laughing at my Uncle Richard,” said Benny, stoutly, with his cheeks quite flushed.
“We have, dear, and are laughing at your Uncle Kilian. You don’t object to that, I’m sure,” and Charlotte Benson leaned forward and threw him a little kiss past the tutor, who wore a silent, abstracted look, in odd contrast with the animated expressions of the faces all around him.
Benny did not like the joke at all, and got down from his chair and walked away without permission. We all followed him, going into the hall, and from thence to the piazza, as the night was fine. The tutor walked silently through the group in the hall to a seat where lay his book and hat, then passed through the doorway and disappeared from sight.
And now above them pours
a wondrous voice,
(Such as Greek reapers heard in Sicily),
With wounding rapture in it, like love’s arrows.
The next day, the first of my visit, was a very sultry one, and the rest of the party thought it was, no doubt, a very dull one.
Kilian and Mr. Eugene Whitney went away in the early train, not to return, alas, till the evening of the following day. Miss Leighton was languid, and yawned incessantly, though she tried to appear interested in things, and was very attentive to me. Charlotte Benson and Henrietta laid strong-minded plans for the day, and carried them out faithfully. First, they played a game of croquet, under umbrellas, for the sun was blazing on the ground: that was for exercise; then, for mental discipline, they read history for an hour in the library; and then, for relaxation, under veils and sunhats, read Ruskin for two hours by the river.