Sophie whose screams had sunk to sobs, now permitted the servant to lift her to her high chair, Kate and the boys slunk shamefacedly into their seats at the table, and Gertrude, muttering something about “people not keeping their promises,” followed their example.
“Come, sit down, my dears,” Miss Fisk said, turning to Violet and her brothers; “the tempest seems to have nearly subsided and I hope will not resume its violence.”
Herbie was clinging to Vi in a frightened way, sobbing “I want mamma!” and Harold’s eyes too were full of tears. It took coaxing and soothing to restore their equanimity and then the breakfast proceeded, everybody seeming to grow brighter and more good humored with the satisfying of the appetite for food.
Vi was a merry little creature, a veritable bit of sunshine wherever she went, and under the influence of her bright looks and ways, sweet rippling laughter and amusing speeches, the whole party at length grew quite merry: especially after Miss Fisk had announced that there were to be no lessons that day but instead a picnic in the woods.
“By sports like these are
all their cares beguil’d,
The sports of children satisfy the child.”
“Good! good!” cried the children. “Oh, delightful! But where are we going?”
“To the grove adjacent to the schoolhouse,” replied the governess. “We could not find a lovelier spot, and its proximity to the mansion renders it most eligible.”
“‘Proximity, eligible, adjacent;’ what do you mean by those words, Miss Fisk?” asked Gertrude, a little contemptuously.
“I desire you to consult one of our standard lexicographers. You will then be far more likely to retain the definitions in your memory,” returned the governess, ignoring the tone of her pupil.
Gertrude shrugged her shoulders, with impatience, muttering audibly, “I wish you’d talk like other people, and not like a dictionary.”
“You quarrel with my phraseology, because you do not understand it,” observed Miss Fisk, nonchalantly, “which is very irrational, since were I never to employ, in conversing with you, words beyond your comprehension, you would lose the advantage of being induced to increase your stock of information by a search for their meaning.”
“If that’s what you do it for, you may as well give it up at once,” returned Gertrude, “for I don’t care enough about your meaning to take half that trouble.”
“Miss Gertrude, permit me to remark that you are lacking in respect to your instructress,” returned Miss Fisk, reddening.
“Do you mean that it is convenient, because of being so near this house, Miss Fisk?” asked Eddie respectfully.
“Yes, convenient and safe; on which account both Mrs. Travilla and Mrs. Ross stipulated that our picnic for to-day should be held there.”