Attorney Case listened with surprise. He was annoyed and angry, for he did not understand Sir Arthur’s just mind and kind heart. After the ladies left the dining-room and were walking up and down the large hall, one of them remarked that it would be a charming place for music. Barbara, who like her father always seized any chance of turning the conversation as best pleased herself, said what a fine instrument was the harp. Then she spoke of the prize-giving to the harpers and of the ball that was to follow. “I know a good deal about the ball,” she said, “because a lady in the town where it is to be held offered to take me with her, but although she has a carriage, Papa did not like to let her send it so far.” At this point Barbara fixed her eyes on Miss Somers, that she might, if possible, read her thoughts, but as the lady was at that moment letting down the veil of her hat, her face was not seen.
“Shall we go for a little walk before tea?” said Miss Somers to the other ladies. “I have a pretty guinea-hen to show you.” Barbara now felt hopeful, and when even among the pheasants and peacocks the guinea-hen was much admired, she was sure that Miss Somers must indeed be proud to accept her gift.
At this moment Philip came running by on an errand for his mother. As his eye fell upon the guinea-hen, he exclaimed before he knew, “Why, that is Susan’s guinea-hen!”
“No, it is not Susan’s guinea-hen,” said Miss Barbara, coloring furiously, “it is mine, and I have made a present of it to Miss Somers.”
At the sound of Bab’s voice, Philip turned round, his face ablaze with anger.
“What is the matter, Philip?” asked Miss Somers in a soothing voice, but Philip was not in the mood to be soothed.
“Why, ma’am, may I speak out?” he asked, and without waiting for leave he gave a full account of the loss of Susan’s guinea-fowl, of Rose’s visit to Barbara, and of Barbara’s greedy and cruel conduct.
Barbara denied all that Philip said, and told quite another tale. When she could find no more to say she blushed deeply, for she saw that her story was not believed. One might have thought she was covered with shame, had it not been that the moment Philip was out of sight, she exclaimed, “I am sure I wish I had never seen this wretched guinea-hen! It is all Susan’s fault for letting it stray into our garden.”
Barbara was too angry to notice that she was admitting the truth of Philip’s story.
“Perhaps,” said Miss Somers, “Susan will be more careful now that she has had so hard a lesson. Shall we see? Philip will, I am sure, carry the guinea-hen back to her, if we wish it.”
“If you please, ma’am,” said Barbara sulkily.
So the guinea-hen was given to Philip, who set off with joy and was soon in sight of Farmer Price’s cottage.
A SURPRISE FOR SUSAN