When this was done, which it certainly never could have been had Philip not held the hen for Susan, he remembered his mother had given him a message for Mrs. Price. This led to another quarter of an hour’s delay, for Philip had the whole story of the guinea-hen to tell over again to Mrs. Price, and as the farmer came in while it was going on, it was only polite to begin at the beginning once more. Farmer Price was so pleased to see Susan happy again with her two favorites, that he said he must himself see Daisy fed, and Philip found that he was wanted to hold the jug of milk, from which Susan’s father now filled the pan for Daisy. When Philip at last left the cottage, Bab and her maid Betty were staring out of the window as usual. Seeing them after he had left the garden, he at once turned back to see if he had shut the gate fast, lest the guinea-hen might stray out and again fall into Barbara’s hands.
As the day went on, Miss Barbara became more and more annoyed that her meanness had been found out, but she had no wish to cure herself of the fault. The ball was still her first thought.
“Well,” she said to Betty, “you have heard how things have turned out, but if Miss Somers does not ask me to go with, her, I think I know some one else who will.”
Now, some officers were quartered at the town where the ball was to be held. And because they had got into trouble with a tradesman there, out of which Mr. Case had undertaken to help them, they sometimes invited the Attorney to mess. The officers thought that if they showed some attention to Mr. Case, he would not charge them so much for his help. One of them even asked his wife to take, sometimes, a little notice of Miss Barbara. The name of this officer’s wife was Mrs. Strathspey. It was of Mrs. Strathspey that Barbara was thinking when she said to Betty that if Miss Somers did not take her to the ball, she thought she knew of some one else who would.
“Mrs. Strathspey and the officers are to breakfast here to-morrow,” said Bab. “One of them dined at the Abbey to-day and he said they would all come. They are going somewhere into the country and breakfast here on the way. Pray, Betty, don’t forget that Mrs. Strathspey can’t breakfast without honey. I heard her say so myself.”
“Then, indeed,” said Betty, “I’m afraid Mrs. Strathspey will have to go without breakfast here, for not a spoonful of honey have we, let her long for it ever so much.”
“But, surely,” said Bab, “we can contrive to get some honey in the neighborhood.”
“There’s none to be bought, that I know of,” said Betty.
“But is there none to be begged or borrowed?” said Bab, laughing. “Do you forget Susan’s beehive? Step over to her in the morning with my compliments, and see what you can do. Tell her it’s for Mrs. Strathspey.”