‘I just refused a present from her,’ said odious Milly, in answer to his enquiring look, ‘because I knew she could not spare it.’
The effect of all this was that I blushed one of my overpowering blushes. People told me they became me very much; I hope so, for the misfortune was frequent; and I think nature owed me that compensation.
‘It places you both in a most becoming light,’ said Lord Ilbury, quite innocently. ’I really don’t know which most to admire—the generosity of the offer or of the refusal.’
’Well, it was kind, if you but knew. I’m ‘most tempted to tell him,’ said Milly.
I checked her with a really angry look, and said, ’Perhaps you have not observed it; but I really think, for a sensible person, my cousin Milly here talks more nonsense than any twenty other girls.’
’A twenty-girl power! That’s an immense compliment. I’ve the greatest respect for nonsense, I owe it so much; and I really think if nonsense were banished, the earth would grow insupportable.’
‘Thank you, Lord Ilbury,’ said Milly, who had grown quite easy in his company during our long visit at Elverston; ’and I tell you, Miss Maud, if you grow saucy, I’ll accept your present, and what will you say then?’
’I really don’t know; but just now I want to ask Lord Ilbury how he thinks my uncle looks; neither I nor Milly have seen him since his illness.’
’Very much weaker, I think; but he may be gaining strength. Still, as my business was not quite pleasant, I thought it better to postpone it, and if you think it would be right, I’ll write to Doctor Bryerly to ask him to postpone the discussion for a little time.’
I at once assented, and thanked him; indeed, if I had had my way, the subject should never have been mentioned, I felt so hardhearted and rapacious; but Lord Ilbury explained that the trustees were constrained by the provisions of the will, and that I really had no power to release them; and I hoped that Uncle Silas also understood all this.
‘And now,’ said he, ’we’ve returned to Grange, my sister and I, and it is nearer than Elverston, so that we are really neighbours; and Mary wants Lady Knollys to fix a time she owes us a visit, you know—and you really must come at the same time; it will be so very pleasant, the same party exactly meeting in a new scene; and we have not half explored our neighbourhood; and I’ve got down all those Spanish engravings I told you of, and the Venetian missals, and all the rest. I think I remember very accurately the things you were most interested by, and they’re all there; and really you must promise, you and Miss Millicent Ruthyn. And I forgot to mention—you know you complained that you were ill supplied with books, so Mary thought you would allow her to share her supply—they are the new books, you know—and when you have read yours, you and she can exchange.’