“Yes,” said Sir Arthur, “and I hope on that day, Susan, you will be very happy with your little friends upon their play-green. I shall tell them that it is your good conduct which has won it for them; and if you have anything to ask, any little favor for any of your friends, which we can grant, ask now, Susan.”
“Sir,” said Susan, after glancing at her mother, “there is, to be sure, a favor I should like to ask; it is for Rose.”
“Well, I don’t know who Rose is,” said Sir Arthur, smiling; “but go on.”
“Ma’am, you have seen her, I believe; she is a very good girl indeed,” said Mrs. Price to Miss Somers.
“And works very neatly, ma’am,” continued Susan eagerly, “and she and her mother heard you were looking out for some one to wait upon you.”
“Say no more,” said Miss Somers; “your wish is granted. Tell Rose to come to the Abbey to-morrow morning, or rather come with her yourself, for our housekeeper, I know, wants to talk to you about a certain cake. She wishes, Susan, that you should be the maker of the cake for the dance, and she has good things looked out for it already, I know. It must be large enough for everybody to have a slice, and the housekeeper will ice it for you. I only hope your cake will be as good as your bread. Good-by.”
“How I do wish, now,” said Farmer Price, “how I do wish, wife, that our good friend the harper was only here at this time. It would do his warm old heart good. Well, the best of it is, we shall be able next year, when he comes his rounds, to pay him his money with thanks, being all the time and for ever as much obliged to him as if we kept it. I long to see him in this house again, drinking, as he did, a glass of Susan’s mead, just on this spot.”
“Yes,” said Susan, “and the next time he comes, I can give him one of my guinea-hen’s eggs, and I shall show him Daisy.”
“True, love,” said her mother, “and he will play that tune and sing that pretty ballad. Where is it? I have not finished it.”
“Rose ran away with it, mother, but I’ll run after her, and bring it back to you this minute,” said Susan.
Susan found her friend Rose at the hawthorn, in the midst of a crowd of children, to whom she was reading “Susan’s Lamentation for her Lamb.”
“The words are something, but the tune—the tune—I must have the tune,” cried Philip. “I’ll ask my mother to ask Sir Arthur to try and find out which way that good old man went after the ball; and if he’s to be found, we’ll have him back by Susan’s birthday, and he shall sit here—just exactly here—by our bush, and he shall play—I mean, if he will—that same tune for us, and I shall learn it—I mean, if I can—in a minute.”
The good news that Farmer Price was to collect the rents and that Attorney Case was to leave the parish in a month soon spread over the village. Many came out of their houses to have the pleasure of hearing the joyful tidings from Susan herself. The crowd on the play-green grew bigger every minute.