When Allan returned home, he found an invitation had been left for him, in his absence, to spend that evening with a young friend, who had just quitted a public school in London, and was come to pass one night in his father’s house at Widford, previous to his departure the next morning for Edinburgh University.
It was Allan’s bosom friend—they had not met for some months—and it was probable a much longer time must intervene before they should meet again.
Yet Allan could not help looking a little blank when he first heard of the invitation. This was to have been an important evening. But Elinor soon relieved her brother by expressing her readiness to go alone to the cottage.
“I will not lose the pleasure I promised myself, whatever you may determine upon, Allan; I will go by myself rather than be disappointed.”
“Will you, will you, Elinor?”
Elinor promised to go—and I believe, Allan, on a second thought, was not very sorry to be spared the awkwardness of introducing two persons to each other, both so dear to him, but either of whom might happen not much to fancy the other.
At times, indeed, he was confident that Elinor must love Rosamund, and Rosamund must love Elinor; but there were also times in which he felt misgivings—it was an event he could scarce hope for very joy!
Allan’s real presence that evening was more at the cottage than at the house, where his bodily semblance was visiting—his friend could not help complaining of a certain absence of mind, a coldness he called it.
It might have been expected, and in the course of things predicted, that Allan would have asked his friend some questions of what had happened since their last meeting, what his feelings were on leaving school, the probable time when they should meet again, and a, hundred natural questions which friendship is most lavish of at such times; but nothing of all this ever occurred to Allan—they did not even settle the method of their future correspondence.
The consequence was, as might have been expected, Allan’s friend thought him much altered, and, after his departure, sat down to compose a doleful sonnet about a “faithless friend.”—I do not find that he ever finished it—indignation, or a dearth of rhymes, causing him to break off in the middle.
* * * * *
In my catalogue of the little library at the cottage, I forgot to mention a book of Common Prayer. My reader’s fancy might easily have supplied the omission—old ladies of Margaret’s stamp (God bless them!) may as well be without their spectacles, or their elbow-chair, as their prayer-book—I love them for it.
Margaret’s was a handsome octavo, printed by Baskerville, the binding red, and fortified with silver at the edges. Out of this book it was their custom every afternoon to read the proper psalms appointed for the day.