“Much to Vi’s relief, no doubt,” remarked Edward. “Poor Vi! She is devotedly attached to her husband, but Lulu is a sore thorn in her side.”
“I don’t believe she has ever acknowledged as much, or could be induced to,” said Zoe.
“No,” assented Edward; “but it is evident to those who know her well, nevertheless. She tries hard to conceal the fact, and has wonderful patience with the wilful passionate child, really loving her for her father’s sake.”
“And for her own, too, if I mistake not,” Arthur said. “There is something quite lovable about Lulu, in spite of her very serious faults.”
“There is,” said Edward. “I have felt it strongly myself at times. She is warm-hearted, energetic, very generous, and remarkably straight-forward, truthful, and honest.”
Dr. Conly had risen, as if to take leave.
“Now, cousin Arthur,” said Zoe, “please sit down again; for we cannot let you leave us till after tea.”
Edward seconded the invitation.
“Thank you both,” Arthur said, “but”—
“But—no buts,” interrupted Zoe gayly. “I know you were about to plead haste; but there is the tea-bell now, so you will not be delayed; for you have to take time for your meals.”
“Then I accept,” he said, “rejoicing in the opportunity to spend a little longer time in your very pleasant society.”
“Here are a few of the unpleasantest words that ever blotted paper.”
Edward and Zoe now began to look forward to the return of the family as a desirable event not very far in the future. They had been extremely happy in each other during almost the whole time of separation from the rest; but now they were hungering for a sight of “mamma’s sweet face,” and would by no means object to a glimpse of those of grandparents, sisters, and children.
At length a letter was received, fixing the date of the intended departure from Viamede, and stating by what train the party would probably reach the neighboring village of Union, where carriages must be in readiness to receive and convey them to Ion.
And now Edward and Zoe began counting the days: the little matron put on more housewifely airs than was her wont, and was in great glee over her preparations for a grand reception and welcoming feast to the loved travellers.
She insisted on much cleaning and renovating, and on the day of the arrival robbed the green-houses and conservatories for the adornment of the house, the table, and her own person.
Edward laughingly asserted that he was almost, if not quite, as much under her orders at that time as when left in her charge by the doctor, and could have no peace but in showing himself entirely submissive, and ready to carry out all her schemes and wishes.
Fairview also was getting ready to receive its master and mistress; but the indoor preparations there were overseen by Mrs. Lacey of the Laurels,—Edward’s aunt Rose.