“I shall hate orange cakes all the rest of my life,” she thought.
“It was kind of Lady Kitson to take you in out of the storm,” remarked her father absently.
“Was it?” she questioned doubtfully. “I suppose it was. But—another time I—I would rather stay out in the very worst storm that ever was,” she added mentally. “Nothing could be worse than what I have gone through, and what I shall feel whenever I remember it.”
STORMS AT HOME AND ABROAD.
Time might soften Kitty Trenire’s recollections of that embarrassing visit of hers, but it could never dim her remembrance of the drive home that night over that wide expanse of moorland which stretched away black and mysterious under a sky which glowed like a furnace, until both were illuminated by lightning so vivid that one could but bow the head and close the eyes before it. A gusty wind, which had sprung up suddenly, chased the carriage all the way, while the rain, which came down in sheets, hissing as it struck the ground, thundered on the hood drawn over their heads, but left their vision clear to gaze in wondering awe at the marvels which surrounded them.
Dr. Trenire presently took the reins from Kitty, and tucking her well up in the wrap that had been lent her, left her free to gaze and gaze her fill. Prue did not relish the din and uproar in the heavens, the flashing lightning, or the rain beating on her; but though she shook her head and flapped her long ears in protest, she stepped out bravely.
When they came at last to the houses and the more shut-in roads the wild beauty was less impressive, and Kitty’s thoughts turned with pleasure to home and dry clothes, and the nice meal Betty had undertaken to have in readiness for them. How jolly it all was, and how she did love her home, and the freedom and comfort of it.
The first sight of the house, though, decidedly tended to damp her pleasant anticipations, for there was not a light to be seen anywhere. All the windows were gaping wide to the storm, while from more than one a bedraggled curtain hung out wet and dirty.
Dr. Trenire drove straight in to the stable-yard, expecting to have to groom down and stable Prue himself. But Jabez had changed his mind about going home and early to bed, and was there ready to receive them. At the sight of his bandaged head Kitty’s thoughts flew to the events of the day, to Aunt Pike and the fatal letter, and she simply ached with anxiety to know if Jabez had posted it or not.
While she was waiting for an opportunity to ask him Dr. Trenire solved the difficulty for her.
“Have you posted those letters I gave you, Jabez?” he asked, with, as it seemed to Kitty, extraordinary calm.
“Oh yes, sir,” said Jabez cheerfully, very proud of himself for his unusual promptness. “I went down with ’em to once. When there’s a hubbub on in the kitchen I’m only too glad to clear out.”