“She is the busiest little creature, ma’am, in the world,” she said to her mistress. “I can’t so well call her little now though, since she’s grown tall and slender to look at; and glad I am she is grown up good to look at; for handsome is that handsome does, ma’am. She thinks no more of her being handsome than I do myself; yet she has as proper a respect for herself, ma’am, as you have; and I always see her neat, and she is always with her mother, or fit people, as a girl should be. As for her mother, she dotes upon her, as well she may; for I should myself if I had half such a daughter, ma’am; and then she has two little brothers, and she’s as good to them and, my boy Philip says, taught them to read more than the school-mistress did; but I beg your pardon, ma’am, I cannot stop myself when I once begin to talk of Susan.”
“You have really said enough to make me wish to see her,” said her mistress. “Pray send for her now; we can see her before we go out to walk.”
The kind housekeeper gladly sent off her boy Philip for Susan, who was never so untidy that she could not come at once when sent for. She had been very busy, but orderly people can be busy and neat at the same time. Putting on her usual straw hat, she set out for the Abbey. On the way she overtook Rose’s mother, who was going there too with a basket of fresh muslin. When Susan reached the Abbey, her simple dress and manners and the good sense with which she answered the questions put to her, pleased the ladies greatly. They saw that the housekeeper had not spoken too highly of the farmer’s daughter.
These two ladies were the sisters of Sir Arthur Somers. They were kind and wise; kind in wishing to spread happiness among their poor neighbors, and wise in wishing these people to be happy in their own way. They did not wish to manage them, but only to help them. As Sir Arthur was always willing to aid his sisters, it seemed as if they would prove a blessing in in the village near which they had come to live. When Susan took leave of the ladies, she was told they would call at her home that evening at six o’clock. Such a grand event as Susan’s visit to the Abbey soon became known to Barbara Case and her maid, and together they watched for her return.
“There she is! She has just gone into her garden,” cried Bab; “we’ll run in at once and hear all about it.”
Susan was gathering some marigolds and parsley for her mother’s soup. “Well, Susan, and how are things going with you to-day?” asked Barbara.
“My mother is rather better, she says; thank you, ma’am.”
“’Ma’am, how polite we have grown all of a sudden!” said Bab, winking at her maid. “One can see you have been in good company. Come, tell us all about it.”
“Did you see the ladies themselves,” asked Betty, “or only the housekeeper?”
“What room were you in?” went on Bab. “Did you see Miss Somers or Sir Arthur?”