This was addressed to poor Milly, who stood at the corner of the chimney-piece, staring with her round eyes and plump cheeks in fear and wonder upon the strange lady.
‘How stupid of me,’ I exclaimed. ’Milly, dear, this is your cousin, Lady Knollys.’
‘And so you are Millicent. Well, dear, I am very glad to see you.’ And Cousin Monica was on her feet again in an instant, with Milly’s hand very cordially in hers; and she gave her a kiss upon each cheek, and patted her head.
Milly, I must mention, was a much more presentable figure than when I first encountered her. Her dresses were at least a quarter of a yard longer. Though very rustic, therefore, she was not so barbarously grotesque, by any means.
COUSIN MONICA AND UNCLE SILAS MEET
Cousin Monica, with her hands upon Milly’s shoulders, looked amusedly and kindly in her face. ‘And,’ said she, ’we must be very good friends—you funny creature, you and I. I’m allowed to be the most saucy old woman in Derbyshire—quite incorrigibly privileged; and nobody is ever affronted with me, so I say the most shocking things constantly.’
‘I’m a bit that way, myself; and I think,’ said poor Milly, making an effort, and growing very red; she quite lost her head at that point, and was incompetent to finish the sentiment she had prefaced.
’You think? Now, take my advice, and never wait to think my dear; talk first, and think afterwards, that is my way; though, indeed, I can’t say I ever think at all. It is a very cowardly habit. Our cold-blooded cousin Maud, there, thinks sometimes; but it is always such a failure that I forgive her. I wonder when your little pre-Adamite butler will return. He speaks the language of the Picts and Ancient Britons, I dare say, and your father requires a little time to translate him. And, Milly dear, I am very hungry, so I won’t wait for your butler, who would give me, I suppose, one of the cakes baked by King Alfred, and some Danish beer in a skull; but I’ll ask you for a little of that nice bread and butter.’
With which accordingly Lady Knollys was quickly supplied; but it did not at all impede her utterance.
’Do you think, girls, you could be ready to come away with me, if Silas gives leave, in an hour or two? I should so like to take you both home with me to Elverston.’